Monthly Archives: May 2017

European trade unions statement in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers

European trade unions statement in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers

On 17 April 2017 around 1500 Palestinian political prisoners announced the beginning of an open hunger strike. Striking prisoners are calling for an end to Israel’s practice of abuse, solitary confinement, torture, medical negligence and denial of rights guaranteed under international law—including the right to a fair trial and visitation by family.

Several Palestinian prisoners leading the hunger strike have been moved to solitary confinement. All striking prisoners are being denied lawyer and family visitation.

There are around 6,300 Palestinian political prisoners, including at least 300 children, incarcerated in Israeli jails, according to Adameer – Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association. Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank and Gaza are held in prisons inside Israel and are often denied of regular family visits, a decades-long policy described by Amnesty International as “not only cruel but also a blatant violation of international law”.

As European trade unionists we are alarmed that despite this clear injustice inflicted on the people of Palestine, European states, the European Union (EU) and representative institutions have failed to fulfil their duty to hold Israel accountable for its grave violations of international law and human rights. The EU and multinational corporations reap profits by facilitating the continued oppression and imprisonment of Palestinians.

The European Union includes the Israeli National Police in research projects, like LAW TRAIN, funded by the EU taxpayers money, that aims to further develop interrogation techniques.

Corporations like Hewlett-Packard (HP) and G4S profit from the imprisonment of Palestinians: aside from providing services to the Israeli occupation army and biometric technology that enables Israel to control and enforce its system of racial segregation and apartheid against Palestinians, HP is deeply complicit in technologically enabling the torture-laden Israeli prison system. British-Danish security corporation G4S still has contracts in training Israeli police and as such, remains complicit in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.

We believe that as trade unionists and conscious citizens of this world, we have duty and power to take a stand. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in their demand for fair treatment and justice. We commit to working within our respective unions not to renew contracts with corporations like HP and G4S profiting from the imprisonment of Palestinians. In addition we call on the EU and European member states to end their complicity and hold Israel accountable for its gross violations of human rights.

LIST OF ENDORSING UNIONS:

La Centrale Générale – FGTB (Belgium)

ACV/CSC Brussels (Belgium)

Union Syndicale Solidaires (France)

CGT France – 66

Trade Union Friends of Palestine (Ireland)

Fagforbundet (Norway)

Fagforbundet Bergen (Norway)

Unison (UK)

Confederación Intersindical Galega (CIG) – (Galicia)

ELA (Basque Workers Solidarity) – (Basque Country)

Intersindical Valenciana – (Valencia)

Dundee Trades Union Council (Scotland)

Derry Trades Union Council (Ireland)

Mandate Trade Union Ireland

Craigavon Trades Council (Ireland)

Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance

Civil Public and Services Union (Ireland)

LO Sandefjord (Norway)

Warsaw’s local section of Workers’ Initiative Trade Union (Poland)

LAB (Basque Country)

LO Bergen (Norway)

Palestinawerkgroep-FNV (The Netherlands)

IAC (Catalonia)

LO i Trondheim (Norway)

UNISON Northern Health Branch (N. Ireland)

FNCTTFEL-Landesverban (Luxembourg)

May Day Speech NYC

May Day Speech
Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine; Labor for Standing Rock; Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Union Square NYC, May 1, 2017

*From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go!
*Viva, Viva Palestina!

As we gather here today, more than 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners are in their 15th day of a hunger strike against conditions that Amnesty International calls “unlawful and cruel.” Their action is part of a long international tradition, including the hunger strike held last fall by prisoners in the United States.

But the Israeli government — which receives $3.8b/year in U.S. weapons, and closely coordinates with the NYPD and other police agencies that systematically target Black and Brown communities in this country — has branded the strikers “terrorists,” just as the South African apartheid regime once labeled Nelson Mandela and thousands of other political prisoners.

Despite all this, unjust and oppressive regimes — no matter how powerful they may appear — always fall: Jim Crow fell, South African apartheid fell, Zionism will fall.

That’s why, like Biblical Davids, the Palestinian prisoners have answered today’s Goliath by saying: “Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost.”

I am proud to say that a growing number of workers in the United States are joining them in to stand against the apartheid regime.

Since 2014 alone, West Coast longshore workers have refused to handle Israeli Zim Line cargo; UAW 2865, 2322, and GSOC-2110; the United Electrical Workers, CT State AFL-CIO, and AFT 3220 have endorsed the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) picket line, which demands an end to Israeli military occupation of the 1967 territories; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

These actions are in the highest tradition of solidarity, from Black Lives to Standing Rock, from New York City to Palestine.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, on April 16, 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As trade unionists have always said, “An Injury to One is an Injury to All!”

As we say today:
*Free, Free Palestine
*From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free!