VEOLIA AGM: The French Connection

London BDS.

Report by BDS Activist

Tuesday, 17 May 2011 – Highlighting the international nature of the campaign against Veolia, ten campaigners from the UK travelled to Paris to join and support French colleagues at the Veolia AGM in the Les Halles area of Paris.

The UK delegation was initiated and organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, BNC and London BDS. The French organisations taking part in the action included the Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS),
Campagne BDS-France and CAPJPO-EuroPalestine.

Veolia has long been an international target of BDS activists due to their complicity in Israel’s violations of war crimes and international law. The company was awarded the contract to build and maintain the Jerusalem Light Rail project designed to connect the city of Jerusalem with the illegal settlements around it.

In addition, Veolia operates bus services for Israeli settlers connecting illegal settlements, which is a major obstacle for a lasting and just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Moreover, Veolia owns and operates the Tovlan landfill in the occupied Jordan Valley using stolen Palestinian land and natural resources for the benefit of Israeli settlers.

If that weren’t enough, Veolia’s subsidiary, Connex, operates bus services to Israeli settlements in the West Bank along Highway 443 which is an apartheid road. Highway 443 was built on expropriated Palestinian land and has been unavailable to Palestinians despite a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court. Israel later opened the route for Palestinians in May 2010, but they are not allowed to access neither Jerusalem nor Ramallah.

In the UK, Veolia has lost contracts worth billions due to the successful efforts of BDS campaigners.

French activists said that they were “very impressed” and “amazed” by the actions carried out in the UK and especially London. It was interesting to note that a major difference between France and the UK is that BDS activists in France are forced to campaign for the boycott of ‘settlement goods’ only, due to strict French race-hate laws.

In the courtyard outside of the Louvre, activists observed a unique structure being built. According to the signage displayed, stones were collected from houses in Bethlehem, Galilee, Hebron and the area between Israel and Syria that fell into ruins. The concrete bags displayed Hebrew characters and one of the Israeli companies involved in the project is ‘Tuff’ (www.tuff.co.il).

After interviewing, filming and photographing each other, as well as a short briefing, the thirty-five British and French BDS campaigners headed over to the Carrousel du Louvre, a posh indoor shopping complex where the Veolia AGM was being held and began a tide of activity leafleting and talking to delegates directly outside the entrance to the AGM.

Despite preventative action being taken by security personnel to prevent a banner being unfurled and a photographer who was manhandled when attempting to video the action, no effort was made to evict the activists who carried placards that read “Veolia, Obey the Law” and “Veolia violates rights and disobeys international law – divest from Veolia.”

The majority of the delegates accepted the flyers with a cheerful “merci” and the action continued until the AGM started.

Inside the AGM, BDS campaigners – those who had purchased shares – asked questions of the chairman about Veolia’s complicity in Israel’s illegal Occupation.

Antoine Frérot, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Veolia Environment looked clearly uncomfortable when, out of a total of fourteen questions asked, six came from BDS campaigners – some of which included asking if Veolia planned to pull out from the West Bank and how much in profits were lost due to Veolia’s activities providing services to Israeli settlements.

Despite interruptions by board members and the microphone being abruptly cut off, French activists were successful in getting out the message that Veolia’s activities are “illegal, immoral and bad for shares” as evidenced by the applause of many shareholders.

During lunch at a nearby cafe, experiences were exchanged, successes were shared and the groundwork was laid for future joint actions.

There can be no doubt among Veolia management and its shareholders as a result of this, and all the other actions by campaigners across the world, that Veolia’s reputation and brand is under a concerted attack by the global BDS movement.

 

 

Veolia AGM – BDS Action For Palestine [inminds.com]

 

About Leeds PSC

Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign