Occupied Borders: Palestine and Tohono O’odham land, human rights activists making change“The Tohono O‘odham Nation is now occupied by a foreign army called the US Border Patrol." Tohono O'odham Mike Wilson.By Brenda NorrellCensored News copyright
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com TUCSON -- An Israeli speaking out for the rights of Palestinians visited the Tohono O’odham border and then shared her insights on the similarities between the treatment of Palestine by Israel, and the treatment of American Indians by the colonizers of the US.
Grassroots solidarity: An end to the occupation, return refugees home The grassroots movement for solidarity in action, means that people say what they are going to do when they go back home. “We want to know what can we do.”Grassroots solidarity is a call to people of conscious. It includes boycotts, sanctions and economic divestments, such as divesting of pension funds. The grassroots movement is calling for an end to the occupation, implementing the right of return of refugees and full equality for Palestinians, including those who live in Israel.The grassroots movement has no political outline, and is based on international law and human rights.“This is something that everyone can agree on,” Baum said.So far, 170 organizations signed the accord.During the discussion and call for boycotts, it was pointed out that individuals are not boycottable. Institutions or corporations that are complacent, including the state of Israel, are boycottable.When asked about the boycott of an Israeli dance company, it was explained that it was boycotted because it was paid for by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to whitewash the occupation. The dance troupe served as cultural ambassadors of Israel. When a dance troupe participates in that exchange, it becomes an arm of the state and normalizes the occupation. Attending or promoting such a cultural activity is complicity.Baum said human rights activists do not boycott all Israeli funded projects for artists. “It is only when the money comes with strings attached.” The events can also serve to educate the people outside the dance troupe performance.One example of taking action at the university, is to ask it to divest in specific corporations or investments.Currently, there is an economic boycott of Veolia, which privatizes public transportation around the world, and provides waste dumping. In Palestine, Veolia brings waste and dumps it on Palestine land, which is in violation of international law. It is done in a place where there was ethnic cleansing. Veolia also operates segregated buses. Meanwhile, in Tucson, Veolia has a contract with the public transportation system, SunTran buses.Referring to actions regarding Veolia, Baum said, “That is the power of this movement. It is truly global.” Because of its action of dumping waste in Palestine, and operating segregated buses, Veolia lost contracts in the UK and Europe in 2006.Boston, Chicago and Sonoma County, Calif. take the lead
Today in the US, three areas have taken the lead in boycotts of companies who violate human rights. In support of Palestinians, Boston, Chicago, and Sonoma County in Calif., have taken the lead.In Sonoma County, Calif., the Human Rights Commission initially said that they could take no action because they have no jurisdiction in Palestine. However, three hours later, following community members objections and input, the conclusion changed.Sonoma County residents said segregated buses in Palestine by Veolia violate human rights. One man said he lives here, but his family lives in Palestine. When he was there, he saw Palestinians removed from a segregated bus.“There is a real problem and we are complicit in it,” said the people of Sonoma County.In southern Arizona, Veolia, G4S, Elbit and CaterpillarSince Veolia has business here in Tucson, there were suggestions as to what could be done. “Buses are a wonderful place for action,“ Baum said With buses, actions can include street theater, a mock segregated bus and educating riders on the bus.Mike Wilson, Tohono O’odham pointed out that G4S has a huge contract with Homeland Security at the US/Mexico border to transport detained migrants. Wilson said Homeland Security has created an occupation on Tohono O‘odham land. “The Tohono O‘odham Nation is now occupied by a foreign army called the US Border Patrol.Wilson said the US Border Patrol now has superior power on O’odham land to that of the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Tohono O’odham Police Department.Wilson is policy director for the Border Action Network. For years, Wilson has placed water in gallon jugs and tanks, on the border for migrants, over the objections of the Tohono O'odham government. This area is where a large number of migrants die each year from heat and dehydration in the Sonoran Desert.While on the O'odham border, Baum said she saw Caterpillar equipment. (Caterpillar has been targeted with protests since Rachel Corrie was ran down and killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer in Palestine.)Tucson activists pointed out that the G4S buses, once labeled Wackenhut, afflict cruel treatment on migrants, since migrants are forced to sit in the sun, or in overheated buses, for hours at a time. Many are already dehydrated and near death when they are taken to the buses at the border.Another company contracted for work at the US/Mexico border in Arizona is Elbit Systems, the Israeli defense contractor who also provides security at the Palestine border. Elbit was subcontracted by Boeing for work on the US border wall and spy towers.Baum said of companies violating Palestinian rights, “We are asking the companies to stop, because we think this will make the company a better company.”During the discussion, it was pointed out that individuals are not targeted in boycotts, and neither are companies whose involvement is over. In the latter case, this would not be conducive to an incentive to change.“We are dealing with corporate policies, trying to make them better,” Baum said.Baum pointed out that Polaroid was the first company to divest in South Africa apartheid and the movement was led by company employees.“It is not against the company, it is for them.”
Baum also suggested fun and creative campaigns to support human rights in Palestine, such as painting bulldozers pink