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(Wissam Nassar / Maan Images)

Edinburgh University students vote to ban G4S

The student council of the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) adopted yesterday a motion to ban Danish-British security firm G4S from campus. EUSA wants to bring an end to the university’s relations with G4S because of the company’s involvement in the delivery of security services to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Israeli prisons.

Indeed, G4S has stated in its own promotional material that it supplied security services to the Ofer prison compound, Keztiot prison and Megido prison. These prisons incarcerate 4,900 Palestinian “security prisoners,” according to G4S. All Palestinian political prisoners, including child detainees, are administratively classified as “security prisoners” as if being Palestinian constitutes a threat. At the end of September, Palestinian political prisoners went on hunger strike to improve the deplorable conditions under which they are detained in Israeli prisons. By providing services to Israeli prisons, G4S contributes to the facilitation of Israel’s violations of rights of Palestinian political prisoners

The Students for Justice in Palestine group began a campaign to ban G4S following the adoption of the ‘Boycott Israeli Goods in Edinburgh University shops and supply chains’ motion at EUSA’s general meeting in March. The motion received around 270 votes in favor and 20 votes against. The decision was not binding because the quorum of more than 300 students to attend the meeting was not met. However, the huge level of support for the motion sent a clear signal to the student council of EUSA, the body that decides upon policies.

Almost seven months later, EUSA’s student council overwhelmingly supported a motion to block a contract with G4S, and to lobby the university to follow suit. The press release on the adoption of the “ban G4S” motion clarifies that the campaign to remove G4S from Edinburgh University campus is part of a wider campaign for boycott, divestmet and sanctions (BDS) by the Students for Justice in Palestine group on campus. The statement adds:

G4S currently provide security services to Edinburgh University library, which prompted Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to begin a campaign to force the University to tear up its contract with the security firm. It was then recently discovered that EUSA were also in the process of hiring the firm for money collecting services. This led to a motion quickly going before Student Council and it was clearly passed, meaning the Union’s trustee board must now look for an alternative.

The Danish-British security firm have been under huge scrutiny following the disclosure earlier this year of their role in Israel’s occupation by ‘Who Profits?’ a project by the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace. The group revealed that the company supplies equipment and services to Israel for use at checkpoints, police stations, and settlements in the occupied West Bank and at Israeli prisons. Over the past month Palestinian prisoners have embarked on an open-ended hunger strike to protest the conditions in G4S supplied prisons.

In March earlier this year, due to pressure from the BDS campaign, G4S announced that it would exit from some of its contracts in the West Bank. However it will still deliver security services to illegal settlements in the West Bank and prisons in Israel.

Meanwhile, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association has published an update with lots of information about the situation of the Palestinian political prisoners. They write:

CURRENT ARREST AND DETENTION STATISTICS*

5,374 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention, including:
272 administrative detainees, including 3 women and 18 PLC members
36 women
176 children, including 31 under the age of 16
22 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council
141 prisoners who have been imprisoned for more than 20 years
170 Palestinians from the 1948 Territories
627 prisoners from the Gaza Strip, including 2 detained under the Unlawful Combatants Law
187 prisoners from East Jerusalem
750 approximate number of Palestinians arrested by Israel during the third quarter of 2011 (1 July – 30 September 2011). This marks an 11 percent decrease over the second quarter of 2011, and an 11 percent increase over the same period in 2010.

*Detention statistics are based on reports from the Israeli Prison Service and Addameer’s monitoring. Because the IPS did not publish the latest statistics before the publication of this newsletter, the detention statistics included are current as of 31 August 2011, except for the number of women and PLC member, which are current as of 15 October 2011 and based on Addameer’s own documentation. Arrest statistics are based on figures from the Palestinian Monitoring Group and are current as of 30 September 2011.

Ahmad Saadat, Palestinian lawmaker and Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, entered his 32nd consecutive month in isolation in October, writes Addameer:

On 6 and 9 October, lawyers from Addameer and other organizations were finally able to visit Saadat in Nafha Prison. They reported that he had already lost 5 kg and was showing signs of extreme fatigue and low levels of concentration, with the visits having to be cut short as a result. During both visits, Saadat fainted and reported that he had been coughing up yellow liquid. On 9 October, Addameer sent a request to the IPS for the immediate hospitalization of Saadat and all other hunger-striking prisoners in bad health. On 16 October, the IPS complied with this request, but at the time of publication, Saadat had just been transferred back to Nafha Prison from Ramleh Prison hospital and had his isolation renewed by an Israeli military court.