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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Letters of support for Veolia boycott at Cambridge

We are writing to congratulate students at the University of Cambridge campaigning to have the University drop its contracts with Veolia. We encourage students to vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming referendum, calling on the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) to campaign for Veolia’s contract to be cancelled.
Veolia is involved with bus and light rail services and the Tovlan Landfill site, serving illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These projects increase the stranglehold of the occupation on Palestinians, entrenching the settlements and developing an apartheid infrastructure. The international community has responded to Veolia’s human rights abuses with a sustained campaign of boycott, following the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli companies and institutions. As a result, Veolia has lost contracts worth more than €10 billion since 2005.
Cutting Cambridge’s ties to Veolia would be a great contribution to this growing movement, and an act of solidarity with universities in Occupied Palestine. As Palestinian academics, we are aware that universities are never separable from their political circumstances. Palestinian universities are regularly attacked by the IDF. Israeli universities directly contribute to the occupation through military research and development.
By retaining a contract with Veolia, Cambridge is also implicated in Israel’s crimes. Dropping the contract would not be an inappropriate political intervention, but a rectification of one. Cambridge can live up to its reputation as an internationally leading institution by refusing ties with Veolia, leading the way against Israeli organizations that trample Palestinian human rights.
Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees
We write, as a group of Cambridge academics and University teaching staff, to express our support for the upcoming CUSU referendum that calls upon the University to boycott the French multinational Veolia.
As has been widely documented, Veolia are complicit with Israel’s breaches of international law because of its work in settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. For this reason alone they ought to be boycotted. The company has already lost a number of significant contracts because of its work in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Moreover, boycotting is an effective tactic; it was instrumental in bringing about the downfall of the apartheid regime in South Africa. It is a heartening sign that the growth of such a peaceful solidarity movement is now emerging in support of the Palestinian cause for independence and against military occupation.
To momentarily adopt the lexicon of the bureaucracy: in choosing to employ Veolia for its waste management, the University poses a serious ‘reputational risk’ to itself. The University’s employment of Veolia for waste management makes dubious its claims of being committed to ethical conduct. ‘Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation!’ Cassio’s lines can be heard echoing through the Old Schools.
We support all students who take part in this referendum and vote ‘yes’ to dump Veolia.
Signed by 28 Cambridge academics

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