Portland Takes First Step Towards Becoming Occupation Free

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Maxine Fookson, mfookson@gmail.com
Peter Miller, peteskitoo@gmail.com

Portland Takes First Step Towards Becoming Occupation Free
Portland Human Rights Commission endorses placing companies on a “Do Not Buy” List for human rights abuses in Israel/Palestine

Portland, Oregon– Occupation-Free Portland Coalition congratulates the Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) for their unanimous endorsement of the coalition’s proposal to the City Of Portland Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) Committee to place four companies on the City’s “Do Not Buy List” due to their serious human rights violations in the ongoing illegal and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. The companies are Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, G4S, and Motorola Solutions.

The proposal was brought to the HRC by Occupation-Free Portland, a coalition of religious, social justice and human rights groups working for justice for Palestine. The coalition stated: “We applaud the Portland HRC for this action. This endorsement demonstrates that the HRC continues to be a “moral compass” for human rights in our community. They understand that diverse struggles for human rights and dignity are connected and deserve our local attention and commitment to change.”

Occupation-Free Portland is working to encourage city officials to align our municipal investments with values of human rights. Portland’s City Council recently adopted a Socially Responsible Investment policy that establishes “social and values principles” for consideration in the City’s investments. One of the principles in the City’s SRI policy is “concerns about impacts on human rights”. If a company is determined to be committing serious human rights violations, citizens can propose that the city’s SRI Committee recommend to the City Council to move our investments out of that company. If no current investment exists, the City would then commit to not make a future investment in that company until they amend their ways. In doing this, the companies who are profiting from abusive practices will see that their practices are not acceptable to people of good conscience. Occupation-Free Portland’s focus on these four companies’ violations of Palestinian human rights is consistent with Portland’s SRI criteria.

Ned Rosch of Jewish Voice for Peace – Portland said “This is a moral first step towards ending the City of Portland’s complicity with human rights violations and holding corporations accountable for supporting Israel’s illegal occupation.”

Occupation-Free Portland will continue to educate the public about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and will take our proposal to the City of Portland SRI Committee to advocate for the City to take this moral stand.

Roles of each of these 4 companies in the Israeli occupation of Palestine:

Caterpillar sells specially manufactured bulldozers (D9 bulldozers) to the Israeli

military. They are equipped with armor and weapons and are used to demolish Palestinian homes, entire villages and agricultural land. These bulldozers are weapons of warfare. Many of us who live in the Pacific Northwest remember that a Caterpillar bulldozer killed an Evergreen University student, Rachel Corrie, when she attempted to stop a home demolition in occupied Gaza.

G4S is a global private security firm. In Israel, they provide security services and equipment in prisons where Palestinians are jailed and often tortured. Palestinian prisoners are frequently held in “Administrative Detention” (meaning they have not been charged with a crime, have not had a trial, and are often denied legal representation). Since the year 2000, Defense of Children International reports that over 8000 Palestinian children have been held in Israeli jails. G4S is an integral part of that jail system.

Hewlett-Packard—provides identification systems that differentiate by religion and ethnicity between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis. Palestinians are restricted in their movement by their IDs and by H-P monitors at military checkpoints—often preventing them from working, going to school or seeing family members. Like the racist passbooks in Apartheid South Africa, these IDs have a harmful impact on Palestinian life and economic well-being.

Motorola Solutions is profiting from the occupation through providing communication systems to the Israeli military and electronic surveillance systems to the Israeli settlements that are illegally built on Palestinian land.

Occupation-Free Portland is a coalition of groups working for justice for Palestine. Groups in the coalition include Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter; Friends of Sabeel-North America; Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land; the Wider Church Ministry of the Central Pacific Conference, United Church of Christ; Portland Fellowship of Reconciliation; Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights; Veterans for Peace, Chapter 72; Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights; and the International Socialist Organization.

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