More than 300 human rights and aid organisations, church groups, trade unions and political parties from across the continent are urging the European Union (EU) to defend the right of individuals and institutions to take part in the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
The 352 signatories include Transform! Europe – a network of 28 European organizations from 19 countries, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, The Norwegian United Federation of Trade Unions, Parti de Gauche in France, Podemos in Spain, Norwegian Church Aid, the Flemish branch of Oxfam in Belgium, Greenpeace in Germany, and major French Catholic NGO Terre Solidaire.
The letter calls on the EU commission to “introduce the human rights guidelines guaranteeing freedom of speech and right to boycott and to use all other means you have in your disposal to support European citizens in their struggle to uphold basic human rights.”
The letter comes in response to recent efforts by European governments, at the request of the Israeli authorities, to introduce anti-democratic legislation and take other repressive measures to undermine the BDS movement.
Aneta Jerska, the coordinator of the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP), one of the organisations that has signed the statement, said:
“It is empowering to see so many European civil society organisations and representative bodies publicly declaring their support for the right to participate in the BDS movement that aims to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and human rights.”
Riya Hassan, Europe Campaigns Officer for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said:
“RATHER THAN HELPING ISRAEL TO REPRESS THE BDS MOVEMENT, IT IS TIME FOR THE EU TO MEET ITS OBLIGATIONS UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW AND HOLD ISRAEL ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW. THE EU MUST UPHOLD THE RIGHT OF EUROPEAN, PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI CITIZENS TO UPHOLD HUMAN RIGHTS AND TAKE PART IN THE NONVIOLENT BDS MOVEMENT.”
The letter comes as the BDS movement is asking people to add their names to an appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to take the necessary measures to uphold and protect the rights of Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders who campaign non-violently for Palestinian rights, including through the BDS movement.