FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mark Lance 202-425-0512 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, a 23 year-old senior at Evergreen State College, was killed trying to prevent an illegal home demolition by the Israeli military. Rachel, a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was deliberately run down by an IDF soldier driving a Caterpillar D-9 Bulldozer as she stood in front of a Palestinian home and negotiated through a bullhorn with the driver to stop. The driver then backed up and ran over her again. Although she is the first American, she is only the latest civilian to be killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer. She joins Palestinian victims who, over the past few months, have ranged in age from infants to senior citizens who have been killed as Caterpillar bulldozers demolished their homes on top of them.
The Israeli military has destroyed more than 7,000 Palestinian homes since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967, leaving 30,000 people homeless in clear violation of international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits collective punishment and the destruction of personal property in occupied lands.
The majority of these crimes have been carried out by bulldozers supplied to the Israeli military by the Caterpillar Corporation in the United States. Despite receiving detailed documentation of the crimes being committed with their equipment, and despite appeals from churches, human rights organizations, and thousands of individuals, the Caterpillar Corporation refuses to take responsibility for the way its equipment is being used.
Caterpillar executives have so far refused to meet with members of SUSTAIN (Stop U.S. Tax-funded Aid to Israel Now) and other organizations. The activists demand that Caterpillar uphold its own code of conduct by halting sales to the Israeli Defense Forces until civilian home demolitions cease. The company’s code states: “As a global company we can use our strength and resources to improve, and in some cases rebuild, the lives of our neighbors around the world.”
SUSTAIN mourns equally the deaths of all civilians killed by the IDF and demands that the Caterpillar Corporation end its complicity with war crimes.
As America prepares for war on Iraq, a war that many in Israel and Palestine believe may be an occasion for a massive increase in violence by the Sharon government, SUSTAIN joins hundreds of other organizations in calling for international attention to and protection of the Palestinian people. In particular, SUSTAIN asks American citizens to contact the Caterpillar corporation to express their outrage, and to demand an end to all sales to the Israeli military.
In addition, SUSTAIN calls for actions at Caterpillar offices and factories around the world to pressure the company into changing its policy. Said a SUSTAIN representative: “We do not believe that the Caterpillar Corporation wants to be complicit in war crimes and murder. But they know that this is what they are facilitating. It is time to take a stand for what is right. We are ready to meet with them at any time, in any location, to work out the details of their withdrawal from cooperation with the Israeli occupation.”
People should write, or email, Glen Barton, Caterpillar Chairman and CEO, c/o:
100 N.E. Adams St.
Peoria, Illinois 61629