Monthly Archives: April 2014

Resist the Drone Wars – Workshop at Drone Campaign Network’s national gathering

Corporate Watch will be giving a workshop about the use of drones in Gaza. The workshop will focus on findings from interviews carried out with survivors of drone attacks in Winter 2013. More details at https://dronecampaignnetwork.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/resisting-the-drone-wars-campaign-day-14-june/

Gaza’s Ark project attacked with explosives

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Gaza’s Ark in Gaza City port during an activity day. Photo: Corporate Watch, November 2013

Today, the 29th of April 2014, a boat which planned to break the siege of Gaza was attacked in Gaza City port. Early in the morning Gaza’s Ark received a phone call warning of an immediate attack on their vessel docked in Gaza City. Five minutes later an explosion rocked the boat, according to a press release by the group. The boat sustained extensive damage and is currently two thirds submerged in water and resting on the port’s shallow seabed.

Gaza’s Ark is a joint initiative between Palestinians in Gaza and international groups and is part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition -a world wide grassroots solidarity network formed after the attempt to break the siege of Gaza from abroad through a freedom flotilla to the Strip in 2010. This time, with Gaza’s Ark, the tactic is a new one: to try to break the siege from within and to create a trade route out of Gaza port. The old fishing boat that was purchased for this purpose has been going though a transformation into a cargo vessel in Gaza City until it was sunk earlier today. It was due to finally leave the port in the next few weeks. This is not the first time that boats have been target prior to setting sail, boats preparing to partake in flotilla actions have been mysteriously damaged in the past.

In December 2013, Corporate Watch interviewed Charlie Andreasson, an international activist working on Gaza’s Ark, about the progress of the restoration and the hopes for the future. Continue reading

Arms dealers appear in court accused of selling illegal torture equipment

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French arms dealers Magforce appeared at Thames Magistrates Court yesterday to answer charges that they and another company, Tianjin MyWay, sold illegal weapons at the DSEi arms fair last year in London.

Anti arms trade activists have brought the case against Magforce. Susannah Mengesha, the claimant, told Corporate Watch: “Today at the very court where we ourselves were due to stand trial for disrupting the arms fair, two international arms companies will finally begin to be held to account for their promotion of illegal torture weapons at DSEi.

This is a rare opportunity to confront the arms dealers for (some of) their actions on our own terms and for once in a forum of our own choosing.

We are absolutely clear that Magforce and Tianjin MyWay promoted illegal torture weapons at DSEi. It is also true that we oppose the sale for corporate profit of all machines designed to inflict torture and death more widely.

Whatever the outcome of this trial, there is nothing the court could do to undo the experiences of the victims of these despicable electro-shock weapons.

This case is just one aspect of a much wider struggle. The DSEi arms fair cannot be stopped by litigation alone. We must resist the arms fair on all fronts – in the courtroom, via public debate and on the streets.”

The two activists bringing the case had previously been on trial for public order offences during the protests against the 2013 DSEi arms fair. Their charges were dropped after they argued that their actions were justified due to the illegal activities of companies at the fair.

Magforce were represented by Ian Morley, a Queens Counsel from 23 Essex Street. The case is likely to be listed for a full trial later this year.

Avoiding accountability: Life in Ramleh prison hospital

Akram Salameh holds up a picture of himself in prison uniform, taken inside Ramleh prison hospital

Akram Salameh holds up a picture of himself in prison uniform, taken inside Ramleh prison hospital – Photo taken by Corporate Watch, Gaza City, November 2013

Corporate Watch has been investigating the companies involved in the Israeli prison system and interviewing ex-prisoners. This interview is part of a series of articles to be released over the coming months that we hope will serve as a resource for action against companies providing equipment and services to the Israeli Prison ‘Service’ (IPS).

Palestinian organisations are calling for action on 17 April, the international day of solidarity for Palestinian political prisoners, against G4S, a British-Danish multinational company working with the IPS, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major investor in G4S. Click here to find out more. Continue reading

Oxfam’s PR firm helping to greenwash Sodastream

Sodastream's factory in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Adunim - Photo take by Corporate Watch, 2010

Sodastream’s factory in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Adunim – Photo taken by Corporate Watch, 2010

UPDATE 09/04/2014 – Response from Oxfam America: Oxfam claims that Fenton does not do any work for SodaStream at this time. It had a one-year relationship with the company that ended in 2012. Oxfam did not begin to work with Fenton until 2013.” Since this article was written Fenton Communications have removed the Sodasteam logo from their website.

If Fenton’s relationship with Sodastream ended in 2012 it begs the question: why was the Sodastream logo listed on the company website last week?

Here is the original article:

There has been a lot of negative media attention in the last few months on Sodastream, an Israeli fizzy drinks company with a factory in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Adumim. A partnership between Oxfam and Scarlett Johansson ended recently after an international campaign put pressure on the charity to end its relationship with Johansson because she was undertaking ongoing work for Sodastream.

However, a high profile US public relations (PR) firm, which boasts of its “ethical business practices”, is providing services to both Sodastream and Oxfam America. Fenton Communications states on its site that “We do not take on clients that we do not believe in ourselves” and claims that it works “for companies and foundations advocating social change”. Fenton’s corporate social responsibility rhetoric and greenwash doesn’t bear more than a few minutes of scrutiny. The PR firm has a client list which includes large multinationals such as General Mills and Unilever. General Mills jointly own the General Mills (Pillsbury) plant in the Atarot settlement Industrial zone, while Unilever only pulled out of the Barkan settlement industrial zone after years of pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Both companies are also responsible for selling, marketing and lobbying hard for processed foods globally, which are damaging to people’s health. One of Fenton’s other clients is Oxfam America.

In response to the public campaign about Scarlett Johansson, Oxfam stated: “While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms. Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador… Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.” Why then does Oxfam America find it acceptable to work with a PR firm that includes Sodastream on its client list? Continue reading