International condemnation of travel ban on BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti

Sixteen organisations from around the world, all supporting the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, have written a letter condemning the Israeli government’s harassment of the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement Omar Barghouti. The letter is being sent to the Foreign Ministers of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Pakistan, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States.

The letter says that the effective ban on Barghouti’s travel, and the threats to his right to Israeli residency and even his life constitute harassment and intimidation against a prominent spokesperson for the entirely non-violent BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.

All the organisations signing the letter have been established to promote the academic and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions. Their number and geographical spread dramatically illustrate the world-wide take-up of the Palestinian call for this boycott.

The letter calls on the Foreign Ministers “to impress on the Israeli government the absolute necessity of ceasing its repressive measures against Palestine’s civil leaders, and in particular to permit Omar Barghouti to play his full role, both inside Israel and without, in representing the aspirations of the Palestinian people”.

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, Chair of BRICUP, and spokesperson for the signatories, said: “Israel’s increasingly desperate attempts to counter the academic and cultural boycott, and the whole BDS movement, indicate just how serious a challenge it now presents to Israel’s sense of impunity. For too long it has continued to violate Palestinian rights with the shameful support of our governments. But civil society is saying to Israel that its actions have consequences.”

Professor Ahmed Abbes, Secretary of AURDIP, who contributed to the preparation of the letter said: “ The effective travel ban imposed on Omar Barghouti by the Israeli government and the direct and indirect threats made by Israeli government ministers against him must be seen in the context of an unprecedented level of impunity that pervades the Israeli establishment today.”

Omar Barghouti said: “Israel’s desperate, mafia-like threats against Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders who are active in the BDS movement for Palestinian rights only prove its utter failure to stop the growth of the movement in the mainstream in recent years. Just as in the struggle against apartheid South Africa, the darkest moments of Israel’s colonial repression may well be those that precede the dawn of freedom, justice and equality.”

Statement

To the Secretaries of State and Ministers of Foreign Affairs :

Susan Malcorra, Argentina
The Hon. Julie Bishop, Australia
Didier Reynders, Belgium
Stephane Dion, Canada
Jean-Marc Ayrault, France
Sushma Swaraj, India
Charles Flanagan TD, Ireland
Paolo Gentiloni, Italy
Børge Brende, Norway
Syed Tariq Fatemi, Pakistan
Margot Wallström, Sweden
The Right Hon Phillip Hammond, MP, UK
John Kerry, USA
Federica Mogherini, High Representative, European Union

Dear Minister/Secretary of State

We are writing to you, and those holding comparable office in other countries, to protest an extraordinary move by the Israeli government against one of the key figures in the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. This is the imposition of an effective travel ban on BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti. This repressive move is being widely seen as a step towards revoking his residency rights, as Israeli ministers threatened a few weeks ago.

The signatories of this letter represent societies round the world which promote the academic and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions. This entirely non-violent strategy is proving to be highly effective in bringing pressure to bear on an Israeli regime which has repeatedly refused to end its colonisation, illegal occupation and racially discriminatory and repressive policies, and to respect the inalienable rights of the Palestinian People accorded by international law and human rights conventions. Omar Barghouti is a founder member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) ; and he is also co-founder of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, and among its most articulate leaders.

BDS is an international movement, as the presence of our signatures to this letter demonstrates. It aims to convince our fellow citizens and governments to put effective pressure on Israel to end its colonisation, and to respect international law and all UN resolutions. Omar Barghouti has travelled the world tirelessly to help bring this about. Israel is now striking against what is a mass movement of the world’s civil society, and openly flouting the principles of free speech. This action against Barghouti is part of an intensifying, indeed alarming, policy of intimidation, censorship, and harassment against human rights workers that has drawn condemnation from international rights groups such as Amnesty International.

Chillingly, Israel’s Intelligence Minister Israel Katz recently called for the “targeted civil elimination” (sikul ezrahi memukad) of BDS leaders such as Barghouti. ‘Targeted elimination’ is the euphemistic Hebrew phrase for targeted assassinations. The ambiguity of Katz’s phrase hangs in the air.

We call on you to use the power and influence that resides in your office to impress on the Israeli government the absolute necessity of ceasing its repressive measures against Palestine’s civil leaders, and in particular to permit Omar Barghouti to play his full role, both inside Israel and without, in representing the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Yours sincerely

(signed)

David Comedi, Coordinator, Academic BDS, Argentina

Jake Lynch, Spokesperson, Sydney Staff for BDS, Australia

Herman De Ley, Committee Member, Belgian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (BACBI), Belgium

Alan Sears, President, Faculty for Palestine, Canada

Organizing Committee, College and University Workers United (CUWU), Canada

Ivar Ekeland, President, Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP), France

Githa Hariharan, Convenor, Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI), India

Ronit Lentin, Chair, Academics for Palestine, Ireland

Organizing Committee, Stop Technion Campaign, Italy

Øystein Grønning, Acting President, Akademisk og Kulturell Boikott av Staten Israel (AKULBI), Norway

Amanullah Kariapper, Coordinator, Pakistanis for Palestine, Pakistan

Jan-Erik Gustafsson, Committee member, Action Group at KTH för Boycott of Israel (PSABI), Sweden

Jonathan Rosenhead, Chair, British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), UK

Hilary Westlake, Chair, Artists for Palestine, UK

Abe Hayeem, RIBA, Chair, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, UK

Sunaina Maira, Organizing Collective Member and Cofounder, US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), USA

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