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Saturday, 2 April 2011

Veolia Campaign Hots Up

The multinational company  Veolia is complicit in providing infrastructural support for illegal settler occupation of Palestinian land. Veolia hold the contract for waste management in Brent which is due for renewal in 2014. They are also a likely bidder for the lucrative waste management contract for the West London Waste Authority aided by their possession of a processing facility in Alperton.

This video of a recent demonstration at Veolia Headquarters makes the case against Veolia and should inform councillors making decisions about future contracts.

In a BDS action organised by West London PSC  in commemoration of Palestine Land Day, 27 protestors visited Veolia’s head office on Pentonville Road, near London’s King Cross along with a letter demanding that Veolia cease providing services to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem. The Protestors included independent solidarity activists as well as members of West London, Richmond, Lambeth , Brent and Merton PSC branches.
As protestors entered the head office the security person at the reception desk demanded that protestors cease taking photographs and leave the building.  After explaining their presence, protestors said they would   stay until the letter was accepted.
While waiting for a Veolia representative to come and accept the letter, protestors decorated the lobby with photographs of Israeli atrocities and 20 rubbish bags with large ‘BIN VEOLIA’ and ‘RETURN TO SENDER’  labels attached to them.   Banners were unfurled , Palestine  flags waved  and chants of  ‘BIN, BIN, BIN Veolia!’ and ‘FREE, FREE Palestine!’  filled the lobby space.
Flyers were also distributed to office workers entering and leaving explaining about Veolia’s complicity in Israeli violations of international law and war crimes.
Protestors handed a letter to a Veolia spokesperson explaining and specifying why Veolia’s actions in aiding Israel’s occupation constitute grave breaches of humanitarian and international laws. At the same time a protestor gave the spokesperson an oral summary of the contents of the letter. The Veolia spokesperson then tried to claim that Veolia’s role in the Jerusalem Light Rail project as well as the Tovlan landfill was minimal, and that Veolia did not run ‘Israeli Settler only’ bus services. He became very hostile to having his comments recorded – he did not want to go on camera - and acted aggressively towards someone who was filming his explanations.
Protestors cited detailed facts rebutting each of the spokesperson’s comments to show that Veolia was only telling half-truths at best and untruths at worst. As an example of the spokesperson’s defence of Veolia, he claimed that Veolia had offered to charge Palestinians reduced rates for Veolia taking their waste at the Tovlan landfill. It was pointed out to him that the key issue was that Tovlan landfill was taking waste from illegal Israeli settlements and dumping this on Palestinian land; offering a reduced rate for some Palestinians did not absolve Veolia from this.
Protestors told the Veolia spokesperson that the international campaign to highlight its activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank would continue and that local councils across the UK are being lobbied to exclude Veolia from contracts because of those activities. It is fair to say that the Veolia spokesperson did not look a happy man as protestors left the building having made their point.
For more information about Veolia and its complicity in Israel’s illegal occupation please go to http://www.bigcampaign.org/ veolia/

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