Irish Limerick City might soon become world’s first Caterpillar Free Zone

Limerick City Councillors have a precedent-setting opportunity to declare the City the world’s first Caterpillar Free Zone, thereby sending a resounding message to Caterpillar shareholders and directors when they meet in Chicago on 13 April 2005. Limerick City Council will soon consider a motion put forward by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and supported by the family of the murdered American human rights observer Rachel Corrie, to declare Limerick City the world’s first Caterpillar Free Zone. The motion calls on the City Council to ban the use of all Caterpillar plant and machinery on Council worksites from January 1st 2006, and calls on all traders in Limerick City to implement a voluntary ban on the sale of Caterpillar merchandise.

The Caterpillar company supplies the Israeli military with militarized D-9 bulldozers which it uses to destroy Palestinian homes, farmland and infrastructure in the occupied West Bank , Gaza and East Jerusalem.

On March 16th 2003, Rachel Corrie, a 23 year-old American human rights observer was run over and killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer as she stood in clear view of the Israeli driver. She was attempting non-violently to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian pharmacist’s home in Rafah, Gaza.

No public investigation has been carried out to-date and nobody has been charged in relation to Rachel’s death. The Corrie family have campaigned for the U.S. government to undertake a full, fair and expeditious investigation into her death, but so far without success.

Caterpillar bulldozers are used by the Israeli army in contravention of international human rights laws. They are frequently and systematically used to destroy civilian infrastructure including homes, water and sewage pipes, electrical and telephone services, roads, schools, hospitals, airports, glasshouses, olive groves and farmland in the West Bank and Gaza.

Numerous Human Rights and Palestinian Solidarity groups from all over the world have demanded that Caterpillar stop selling bulldozers to the Israeli army.

Caterpillar has so far ignored all calls to cease these sales to Israel. Amnesty International has called on Caterpillar to take measures to guarantee that its bulldozers are not used to commit human rights violations.

On April 13th Caterpillar shareholders meet in Chicago and will discuss a resolution on the sale of bulldozers to Israel. As long as it continues to profit from sales to Israel, Caterpillar will do so. However, if shareholders sense that the continuation of this trade damages the company’s image and sales internationally, the policy would have to be reconsidered.

Limerick City has the opportunity to be the first city in the world to declare itself a Caterpillar Free Zone thereby sending a resounding message to Caterpillar shareholders. This Limerick initiative, if adopted by the City Council, will be applauded internationally and many other cities will replicate this stance, endorsing the supremacy of human rights over corporate opportunism.

The Corrie family have written a letter asking the City Councillors to unanimously support a motion calling for the creation of the world’s first Caterpillar Free Zone. We ask Limerick City Council to pass a motion banning the use of all Caterpillar plant and machinery on Council worksites from January 1st 2006, and calling on all traders in Limerick City to implement a voluntary ban on the sale of Caterpillar merchandise.

Action Alert

  • Please write to the Mayor and the other city Councillors asking them to support this motion: Michael Hourigan, mayor of Limerick City, Email: michael.hourigan@council.limerickcity.ie. Contact: Limerick City Councillors.

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  • Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign