Protesters storm Caterpiller factory
Bulldozing Human Rights!
On Friday May 21 Demonstrators stormed the Caterpillar Factory to
campaign against its support for the Israeli army.
12 of us from the Tyneside Palestine Solidarity
Campaign, invaded and blocked the entrance of Caterpillar in Peterlee,
county Durham. The action was taken to highlight concerns over the
company's continuing sales of giant D9 Bulldozers to the Israeli Army.
Chris Barnes secretary of the Tyneside Palestine
Solidarity Campaign said in a interview to the local press:
"Caterpillar's bulldozers are being used to demolish homes in the
occupied territories, and to wreak a terrible collective punishment on
the Palestinian people.
“These activities are illegal under international law
and yet Caterpillar refuses to suspend sales of its bulldozers to the
"Over 1,000 people have had their homes destroyed in
the last week and we call on Caterpillar to stop its sales of these
machines of death and destruction."
We invaded the Caterpillar plant, lowering the
company's flag and a U.S. flag to half-mast. Some protesters climbed on
several of the firm's bulldozers, and others chained themselves to the
main gates, and the workforce was leafleted.
PSC supporter Phil Capon said: "We asked the
management to accept a letter from us, explaining what use their
vehicles are being put to, but they refused.
"This is just the first in a series of actions we are
planning, and we will follow this up by asking shops selling Caterpillar
clothes and footwear to stop doing so."
Since the beginning of the intifada, in September of
2000, the Israeli military has destroyed over than 3000 Palestinian
homes, offices, buildings and other civilian structures including the
destruction of more than 200,000 Palestinian olive trees have been
uprooted by the bulldozers in the past two years, the main livelihood
for many Palestinians.
The US industrial machinery giant, Caterpillar, is the
main supplier of the specially designed bulldozers which the Israeli
military uses to carry out this destruction. Such acts are a form of
collective punishment and, therefore, considered a war crime under the
Geneva Conventions and by the UN.
A statement released by Caterpillar Inc said: “We
share the world’s concern over the unrest in the middle east and
certainly have compassion for all those affected.
“However, more than two million Caterpillar machines
are at work in every county in every region of the world each day.
“We have neither the legal right or means to police
individual use of equipment”
Caterpillar also states in it‘s “code of practice”:
“As a global company we can use our strength and
resources to improve, and in some cases rebuild, the lives of our
neighbours around the world.”
How can Caterpillar claim to rebuild lives when its
products are used to uproot and punish civilians? Caterpillar are
complicit in the death of innocent Palestinians.
Sales of bulldozers to any government would not
ordinarily raise eyebrows. Unlike tanks or bombs, a bulldozer seems a
relatively innocuous - if powerful - machine which might be used for any
number of productive civilian purposes. In Jerusalem, the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip, however, these machines have been used to carry out
housing demolitions that achieve Israeli strategic and demographic
objectives while violating the human rights of Palestinians.
As one of the demonstrators Louise van der Hoeven said
in an interview to Tyne Tees evening news said: “We came here today to
tell people, what people all over find unacceptable, that Caterpillar
sell their goods to the Israeli Army.
Caterpillar knows what they are doing with their
products, Caterpillar is free to sell to who it likes , but it is
selling bulldozers to the Israeli Army, who are using their product to
knock down homes and make thousands of people homeless”