Palestine solidarity activists on Thursday protested the annual general meeting of G4S, the massive British-Danish private security company heavily invested in Israel and its colonial West Bank settlements.
G4S is highly a controversial company implicated in diverse human rights abuses. In a welcome development, advocates of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel teamed up with activists from other campaigns to protest the AGM. G4S seems to be emerging as the next major BDS target in the UK, not least as it has the potential to draw in a wider number of allies from other campaigns.
Palestine solidarity activists joined anti-deportation and anti-austerity groups for a noisy demonstration outside the annual meeting of private security company G4S in London yesterday.
Chanting by the more than 70 campaigners present could be heard inside the meeting, while shareholders were handed an alternative annual report that looked like an official G4S publication but profiled the company’s human rights abuses in Palestine and the UK.
Palestinain organizations have called for action against G4S over its contract with the Israeli Prison Service to supply security equipment to Israeli prisons in which Palestinian political prisoners are held. Banners and placards at the demonstration displayed solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners and those that remain on hunger strike. G4S also provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints, settlements and the apartheid wall.
In the UK, G4S has come under intense scrutiny after 773 complaints of abuse were made in relation to deportation services it was providing for the UK government and Angolan migrant Jimmy Mubenga died after being “restrained” by G4S guards while being deported. Yet G4S continues to be awarded huge contracts to run privatized prisons, policing and welfare services and will provide security to the Olympics. G4S has hired former senior politicians to senior positions.
The demonstration was partly organized from Palestine Place and many Palestine Place participants took part in the demonstration.
The demonstration was supported by more than 18 organisations, seven of which work on Palestine as their central focus (full list here). With G4S’s record of abuse as horrendus as it is, and given the rate at which it is being allowed to take over public services, campaigners believe that a broad campaign against the company is both possible and necessary.
Major media outlets including The Guardian, Independent and OpenDemocracy covered the demonstration. But perhaps the most exciting media event was the “subvertising” spotted in King’s Cross, outside one of London’s major transport hubs: