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Swedish chain kicks out drink machines made in Israeli settlements

Sodastream lists pressure on companies to leave the West Bank as a “risk factor” in its SEC filing

By Stephanie Westbrook | The Electronic Intifada | 29 August 2011

The summer of 2011 has been a long, hot one for Israeli and international companies complicit in human rights violations in the occupied West Bank.

Facing an intense Europe-wide boycott campaign, Israel’s largest produce exporter, Agrexco, filed for bankruptcy. French multinational Veolia, an urban systems corporation contracted with the Israeli government to provide light rail services for Israeli settlers in the West Bank, announced massive losses due to sustained pressure by activists around the world.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, the Israeli maker of home carbonation devices, Sodastream, took a direct hit when the Coop supermarket chain announced on 19 July that it would stop all purchases of its products due to the company’s activity in illegal Israeli settlements. This marked another important victory for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, as Sweden is Sodastream’s largest market, with an estimated one in five households owning a Sodastream product (“Coop Sweden stops all purchases of Soda Stream carbonation devices,” 21 July 2011).

The Israeli company has been the target of a two-year campaign by Swedish activists who seek to highlight the company’s complicity with the Israeli occupation. The main production facilities for Sodastream are located at Mishor Adumim, the industrial zone of the Israeli settlement Maaleh Adumim in the occupied West Bank.

Sodastream, whose products are sold in 41 countries, has repeatedly attempted to deflect attention from the factory in the occupied West Bank, claiming that it is just one of many around the world.

In an interview last March with the Israeli financial daily The Marker (published by Haaretz), Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum went so far as to say that “all Sodastream products sold in Sweden are made in China, not Israel” (“Sodastream setting up plant within Green Line,” 3 March 2011).

Sodastream’s documents disprove its claims

Sodastream’s own annual report demonstrates Birnbaum’s claims to be patently false. On 30 June, the company filed a report with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as required for publicly traded companies (Sodastream is listed on NASDAQ). That report describes that the 164,214-square-foot facilities at Mishor Adumim include “a metal factory, plastic and bottle blowing factory, machining factory, assembly factory, cylinder manufacturing facility, CO2 refill line and cylinder retest facility,” while two subcontractors in China produce nothing more than “certain components” for Sodastream products (“Sodastream International Ltd.; Annual report,” 30 June 2011 [PDF]).

The widely-trumpeted “factories around the world” — namely Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and the United States — are shown in the annual report to be limited to carbon dioxide refilling services.

Coop Sweden initially tried to defend its ties with Sodastream, repeating claims that the products on Swedish retailer shelves were made in China. However, as highlighted in a report presented to Coop by the Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden (PGS) last January, the main issue was that the company had partnered with Israeli firms complicit in violations of international law (“PGS urges Coop to stop supporting the occupation,” 14 January 2011 [Swedish]).

As the PGS report emphasizes, “[A] product is part of a firm, and if you buy a product from a firm with an unethical operation, then you support the firm’s operation.”

The decision by Coop Sweden, with 21.5 percent of the Swedish grocery retail sector, came after a nationally televised report covering Sodastream’s ongoing operations in Mishor Adumim aired on 4 July. Using information from Israeli journalists and human rights organizations as well as Sodastream’s own corporate data, the TV4 report showed that despite claims to the contrary by both Sodastream and its Swedish distributor, Empire, products sold in Sweden were produced in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. Promises had been made by Empire three years ago that production in the settlement would cease (“TV report: Continued production on occupied land,” 4 July 2011 [Swedish]).

Sodastream taxes finance settlement

Sodastream was a natural choice for the case study in corporate activity in illegal Israeli settlements in the detailed report released in January 2011 by the Who Profits project of the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel (“Sodastream: A case study for Corporate Activity in Illegal Israeli Settlements,” January 2011 [PDF]).

The report underscores how purchasing Sodastream products directly supports the Maaleh Adumim settlement. In its report Who Profits states that the municipal taxes the company pays are used exclusively to “support the growth and development of the settlement.”

Created in 1974, the illegal industrial park at Mishor Adumim was integral to the establishment of the Maaleh Adumim settlement. The ministerial committee tasked with executing the plan to create the industrial park expropriated an area seven times that originally recommended, stealing lands from the surrounding Palestinian towns of Abu Dis, Azarya, al-Tur, Issawiya, Khan al-Ahmar, Anata and Nabi Moussa. The Who Profits report notes this is “considered the largest single expropriation in the history of the Israeli occupation.”

In addition to the industrial park, the ministerial committee also added a camp to the plan “for workers whose work is in the area.” One year later, the workers’ compound was erected and declared the settlement of Maaleh Adumim, and in 1977 as the Likud party gained power, the Israeli government officially recognized Maaleh Adumim as a “civilian community,” according to a report by Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and Bimkom (“The Hidden Agenda: The Establishment and Expansion Plans of Ma’ale Adummim and their Human Rights Ramification,” December 2009 [PDF]).

Today, it is Israel’s largest settlement in terms of geographical area and, with 35,000 settlers, third in population. Strategically positioned to link settlements in East Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, Maaleh Adumim effectively bisects the West Bank, cutting off the north from the south.

Sodastream whitewashes exploitation of Palestinian workers

Meanwhile, the company’s leadership has attempted to paint Sodastream as an attractive place at which Palestinians would be lucky to work.

Sodastream Italy’s marketing director, Petra Schrott, responded with corporate talking points to a question posted on Yahoo Answers last June regarding the company’s West Bank location. Schrott described Sodastream as “a wonderful example of peaceful coexistence” where “160 Palestinians are employed and receive full social and health services” not to mention “daily hot meals” (“A question about Sodastream“ [Italian]).

As the Who Profits report points out, Palestinian workers, left with few choices other than working in settlements due to high unemployment in the West Bank, are “occupied subjects and thus they do not enjoy civil rights, and depend on their employers for work permits.” Efforts by Palestinian workers to organize and demand their due rights often result in the revocation of work permits, leading few to make any requests of their employers at all.

According to the Israeli workers rights organization Kav LaOved, Palestinian workers in Israeli settlements are underpaid, subjected to extensive security checks, exposed to workplace hazards and are left to fend for themselves if injured on the job (“Palestinian Workers in Israeli West Bank Settlements – 2009,” 13 March 2010).

Kav LaOved has assisted workers at the Sodastream factory in their struggle to obtain improved working conditions, better salaries and, at times, unpaid wages.

In 2008, workers complaining of pay far below the required minimum wage and twelve-hour workdays organized a protest at the factory after their appeals for better wages had met with no results. Seventeen workers were fired. It was only after Kav LaOved intervened via letters and meetings with Sodastream management and after Sodastream earned itself unflattering publicity in the Swedish press that the company — begrudgingly — rehired the Palestinian workers and granted them their due rights. However, as Kav LaOved noted, they remain “at the bottom of the hierarchy in the factory and constantly fear their dismissal.”

The story repeated itself in April 2010, when 140 Palestinian workers were fired and not paid their wages for the previous month. Kav LaOved again succeeded in obtaining back pay and in having the workers rehired, except for the two who led the struggle. Since that time, Kav LaOved has been unable to gather any information on working conditions at the Sodastream factory (“Employees at Soda Club fired without wages (follow up report),” 27 April 2010).

Unsurprisingly, the Palestinian workers at the Sodastream factory come from some of the very villages whose land was stolen to create Maaleh Adumim, including Abu Dis and Azarya — Azarya alone lost 57 percent of its village lands.

Greenwashing the occupation

Sodastream markets its products as “eco-friendly.” That’s an idea that is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the very settlement the company financially supports is responsible for “managing” the infamous Abu Dis landfill. That landfill is built on expropriated land from the village of the same name, where garbage from areas in Jerusalem and the surrounding settlements is dumped.

In June 2011, the Jerusalem municipality finally agreed to comply with an order from the Ministry of the Environment filed in October 2010 to reduce the 1,100 tons of waste per day being sent to Abu Dis because the dump was “polluting nearby streams and land” (“J’lem trash crisis solved, Abu Dis dump to be phased out,” The Jerusalem Post, 17 June 2011).

The Abu Dis landfill sits atop the Mountain Aquifer, the primary water source in the occupied West Bank. Under the Oslo accords, the agreement signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s, Israel is granted four times more of the water from the aquifer than are Palestinians.

Furthermore, Palestinians are required to obtain approval for the development and maintenance of their own water resources from the Joint Water Committee. This joint Israeli-Palestinian committee, however, deals only with water and sewage-related issues within the West Bank, effectively giving Israel exclusive veto power on all decisions on water resource and infrastructure development, including in Oslo-designated areas A and B, areas of the West Bank ostensibly under Palestinian administrative control.

Since Oslo, not one new permit for agricultural wells has been issued and 120 existing Palestinian wells are not functioning for lack of approval for repairs, according to water rights organization Ewash. Palestinians are forced to purchase their own water from the Israeli water utility, Mekerot (“Water resources in the West Bank“ [PDF]).

Settlement investment a “risk factor”

In disclosing risk factors as required in SEC filings, Sodastream listed both remaining in and transferring from Mishor Adumim as potential liabilities. The risks associated with staying include “negative publicity, primarily in Western Europe, against companies with facilities in the West Bank” and “consumer boycotts of Israeli products originating in the West Bank.”

Complying with international law and leaving the illegal settlement, on the other hand, would “limit certain tax benefits” enjoyed by companies in industrial parks in illegal settlements.

However, for more and more companies, those tax incentives fail to compensate for the negative publicity. On 19 July, the multinational corporation Unilever, after unsuccessfully attempting to sell its shares in the company, formally announced plans to move its Bagel and Bagel pretzel factory from the Barkan industrial zone in the Ariel settlement bloc to within the green line, Israel’s internationally-recognized armistice line with the occupied West Bank (“Bagel Bagel leaving territories,” 19 July 2011).

And while the Israel Lands Administration announced tenders for six new factories in Mishor Adumim, Israeli settlement watchdog group Peace Now points out that this is a recycled tender issued under the Olmert administration in 2008, which failed to find any takers (“Boycott Law Passes Knesset – Now Govt Establishes New Factories in Settlements,” Peace Now, 14 July 2011).

Sodastream itself has exhibited signs of bowing to international campaigns against the company. A press release on 6 July announced the groundbreaking of a new factory within the green line. The new facility is expected to begin operations in 2013, the same year the lease on the Mishor plant is due to expire (“SodaStream Announces the Groundbreaking of a New Primary Manufacturing Facility,” 6 July 2011).

In the press release, CEO Birnbaum says the company looks forward to leveraging “free trade agreements with the EU and North America.” In 2010, Sodastream was at the center of a European Court of Justice ruling that declared products originating in the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories ineligible for preferential trade tariffs under the EU-Israel Agreement. Though several other legal actions were included in Sodastream’s SEC filings, this particular case was conspicuously missing.

Sodastream looking to expand but meets protest

Sodastream is largely an export company with only three percent of sales made in Israel, according to an article published last February on the Israeli promotional site Israel 21c (“Putting the ‘pop’ back into soda pop,” 22 February 2011).

While Sweden is currently Sodastream’s largest market, the advertising blitz taking place in several European countries and the US indicates the company is looking to expand. On 12 July Sodastream announced a 3.4-million euro ($4.9 million) TV ad campaign in the UK, and in Italy a 1.8-million euro ($2.6 million) campaign was announced in June.

Sodastream’s annual report shows its advertising budget more than doubled from 10.5 million euros ($15 million) in 2009 to 21.5 million euros ($31 million) in 2010.

Sodastream identifies the US as its “most important target market” in its annual report and US activists are gearing up to meet the challenge. In a coordinated action last March, a petition with more than 2,500 signatures calling on Bed Bath & Beyond to stop selling Sodastream products (as well as products from Ahava, the settlement-based cosmetics company), was delivered to 15 locations up and down the West Coast, from Seattle to Los Angeles (“Tell Bed Bath & Beyond to Stop Carrying Illegal Settlement Products!”, CodePink).

Earlier this month, a group of activists dressed as brides held a mock wedding inside Bed Bath & Beyond in Los Angeles calling on concerned brides everywhere to strike Sodastream (and Ahava) off their bridal registries (“BDS Brides Boycott SodaStream and Ahava Sales at Bed Bath & Beyond,” YouTube, 12 August 2011).

The recent decision by Coop Sweden, as well as the financial woes of occupation-complicit companies, will give BDS campaigns around the world a boost. And the comments sections for online Sodastream promotional pieces provide a prime space for activists to get the word out on Sodastream’s complicity in human rights violations.

Stephanie Westbrook is a US citizen based in Rome, Italy. Her articles have been published on Common Dreams, Counterpunch, The Electronic Intifada, In These Times and Z Magazine. She can be reached at steph AT webfabbrica DOT com.

August 29, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | 2 Comments

Exploiting Norway’s Terror

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | August 29, 2011

In the wake of any major terrorist event, it’s generally worth noting who is especially quick off the mark to exploit the tragedy.

Within hours of planes striking the World Trade Center on 9/11, the then former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak was in the BBC’s London studios calling for a “war on terror” against “rogue states” which just happened to be enemies of Israel (none of whose agents, unlike Israel’s, were seen filming and celebrating as the twin towers collapsed into their own footprint). And soon after ICTS International, an Israeli security firm established by former intelligence officers, allowed a young Nigerian without a passport to “slip through” Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to board Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day two years ago, former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, the son of a suspected Mossad operative, was on CNN touting one of his client’s full-body scanners as the answer to America’s airline security problems.

In the case of the July 22 twin terror attacks in Oslo and on Utøya Island, however, some of Israel’s more provocative propagandists appear to have been wrong-footed by Anders Behring Breivik’s apparent admiration for their Islamophobic rants. While the likes of Bat Ye’or, Daniel Pipes and Pamela Geller were seen scrambling to distance themselves from Breivik, Norway’s massacre has indeed been seized upon by others with their own, albeit less transparent, ties to the Jewish state.

Mr. and Mrs. Sikorski’s War on “Dangerous Emotions”

During visits to two European capitals over the following week, Poland’s staunchly pro-Israel foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, appeared to be particularly exercised by the tragedy. While in London for discussions about the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the EU’s Eastern European policy, Sikorski took a swipe at some of his critics in Poland, where he claimed “there is no lack of people who think like Behring Breivik, a man who shot at his own people in order to bring down a government he believed had lost its political and legal right to govern.” The foreign minister, one of the highest-ranking Polish leaders not on board the plane that crashed killing much of Warsaw’s political and military leadership last year, said that his country also has “groups who believe that the democratically elected president and government are traitors who have no real interest in Poland or the Polish people. These are very dangerous emotions which, if stoked, could have unpredictable consequences.” As an example of such “dangerous emotions,” Sikorski cited an ongoing court case in which he is suing a couple of Polish newspapers for failing to remove readers’ anti-Semitic comments about his wife, Anne Applebaum.

Later in Brussels, before an emergency meeting of counter-terrorism officials on how to combat attacks such as Norway’s, the Polish foreign minister repeated his allegations during a press conference with his British counterpart, William Hague. Claiming that “certain political parties had expressed their approval of the terrorist,” Sikorski went on to cite the internet as “a potentially sinister tool for those bent on propagating agendas of hate.” Referring again to the remarks made online about his wife, he described the net as a “cesspool.”

The Polish foreign minister’s legal crusade against “dangerous emotions” had already received a significant endorsement in a May 11 op-ed piece in The Economist magazine from someone writing under the pseudonym “E.L.,” who described Sikorski as “an old friend of mine.” Reproducing one such comment in Polish which was considered “simply too unpleasant to translate,” E.L. cited “another rather milder one” which “merely accuses Mr Sikorski of being the ‘husband of an orthodox Jew, an enemy of Poland controlled by his father-in-law,’ bent on the ‘the destruction and destabilisation of Poland’ and a ‘hidden, ruthless traitor.’” Having disclosed that Sikorski was an “old friend,” E.L. somehow neglected to mention that the Polish foreign minister’s wife accused of betraying Poland to foreign interests is a former editor of The Economist. As for the op-ed writer’s own identity, it may be more than a coincidence that the name of the holding company owned by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and his wife, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, which manages its investments in The Economist Group, owner of The Economist magazine, is E.L. Rothschild.

Sikorski’s allegedly influential father-in-law, Harvey Applebaum, is a partner in Covington and Burling, an international law firm which advises multinational corporations on significant transactional, litigation, regulatory, and public policy matters. Among its more controversial clients are Chiquita, the first major U.S. corporation to be convicted of financing terrorism; and Halliburton and Xe Services (formerly Blackwater), two of the biggest beneficiaries of the “war on terror.” Its current and former attorneys include such proficient pro-Israeli warmongers as John Bolton, senior fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (a former employer of both Mr. and Mrs. Sikorski); Stuart Eizenstat, Special U.S. Envoy for Holocaust Issues during the Clinton administrations; and the aforementioned Michael Chertoff.

Having covered the demise of the Soviet Union as a Warsaw-based correspondent for The Economist during the late 1980s,
Anne Applebaum has long been one of the most prominent anti-Russian advocates of economic and political “liberalisation” in the former Soviet Bloc and beyond. In a 2004 op-ed in The Washington Post, she dismissed as “Freedom Haters” those who saw “insidious neocon plots” behind the supposedly disinterested “democracy promotion” of George Soros and what she sarcastically referred to as “the evil triumvirate” of the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House, which she praised for “diligently training judges, helping election monitors and funding human rights groups around the world for decades, much of the time without getting much attention for it.” Prefiguring her husband’s current concerns, Applebaum bemoaned “the international echo chamber that the Internet has become” in which such cynical ideas “have traction.”

In the wake of Norway’s terror, Anne Applebaum’s response was as swift as it was revealing. Within 48 hours, she had an op-ed piece in The Washington Post entitled “Norway massacre and anti-government obsession.” Sounding a similar note to Sikorski, she opined that Breivik’s obsessions “sprang from an insane conviction that his own government was illegitimate.” Applebaum, however, seemed more concerned about Americans who might think like Breivik. Coining the term “illegitimists” to describe Breivik’s supposed American analogues, she cited Birthers, who claim that Barack Obama isn’t American-born, as the contemporary right-wing manifestation. “It is not accidental,” Applebaum observed, “that the one note of sympathy for Breivik in the U.S. media came from the birtherist and illegitimist Glenn Beck, who helpfully compared the young Norwegians murdered by Breivik to Hitler youth. Presumably if they are Hitler youth, then they deserved to die?”

It is hardly accidental either that Applebaum, who has lauded Daniel Pipes as “one of the best” American analysts of the Middle East, omitted to mention that the Birther movement is spearheaded by Orly Taitz, a Soviet Jewish emigré and pro-Israel activist who had lived in Israel for years prior to her inciting Americans against their president; or that Glenn Beck — whose over-the-top exposés of influential figures such as George Soros conveniently serve to discredit more measured critiques — is engaged in a mutual love affair with the Israeli right-wing, whose backing has been crucial to his lucrative career of demagoguery.

After the Norway massacre, of course, it’s going be even harder for genuine critics of government to publicly express their displeasure. From now on, anyone who questions the bona fides of such avid “freedom lovers” as the Sikorskis and their powerful transnational associates risks being labelled a potential “Breivik” whose “dangerous emotions” need to be kept in check.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst.

August 29, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | Comments Off on Exploiting Norway’s Terror

Gunmen kill Baghdad University professor

By Laith Jawad – Azzaman – August 26, 2011

Unidentified gunmen have killed another university professor in Baghdad, the latest victim of a bloody campaign targeting the cream of Iraqi intelligentsia.

Baghdad University’s Professor Hussein Kadhem was shot dead by a silencer gun as he left his home for work in Baghdad’s al-Adel neighborhood.

Scores of university professors have been killed in Baghdad since the 2003 U.S. invasion, most of them in al-Adel, a neighborhood inhabited mainly by university faculty members.

There are no exact figures on the number of Iraqi intellectuals and scientists who have been killed since the U.S. invasion. But conservative estimates put the number at more than 300, among them highly qualified doctors, nuclear scientists and physicists.

The violence targeting Iraqi scientists has forced many of them to flee the country. Iraqis with higher degrees from top Western universities make a large portion of faculty at universities in Jordan and Arab Gulf states. Hospitals and research centers in the Gulf welcome Iraqi scientists.

August 29, 2011 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Gunmen kill Baghdad University professor

Palestinian man wounds eight Israelis in Tel Aviv

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC News | August 29, 2011

Israeli sources report that a Palestinian man attacked a crowd of Israelis outside a nightclub early Monday morning, stabbing several of them with a knife.

The stabbings came after the man stole a taxi, then ran over a Border Police officer near the nightclub. A barrier had been set up by Border police outside of the Tel Aviv nightclub ‘Hoamin 17’ for a big party attended by 2,000 people. The attacker drove through the barricade, then jumped out of the vehicle and began stabbing both police and partygoers, according to the Israeli police.

One employee of the nightclub told reporters with Ha’aretz newspaper, “We saw the taxi run into the barrier and we ran to help. We thought it was an accident.”

Border police added that they originally thought the driver was drunk, and drove through the barrier by accident. But when he pulled a knife and stabbed people with it while shouting ‘Allahu akbar (God is great)’, they say they realized it was a politically-motivated attack, and subdued the man.

He was taken to a Tel Aviv hospital with wounds sustained when Israeli border police subdued the man. Israeli authorities confirm that he is currently undergoing interrogation by Israeli intelligence services.,

According to Israeli police, the attacker, who resides in Nablus in the West Bank, hailed a cab in the city of Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv, and then stabbed the taxi driver in the hand and stole the taxi.

The attack comes after a week of deadly Israeli airstrikes on Gaza that killed eighteen. A shooting attack against Israeli soldiers and civilians in southern Israel the previous week was initially blamed on Palestinians by the Israeli authorities, but was apparently carried out by Egyptians.

August 29, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | 2 Comments

Honduras: Aguán Massacres Continue to Support Production of Biodiesel

ARMED FORCES “TRAIN” PRIVATE SECURITY FORCES

By Annie Bird | Rights Action | 28 August 2011

Witnesses report that African palm plantation security forces are trained at the 15th Battalion of the Honduran Armed Forces and in private African palm plantations by men in Honduran military uniforms.

There are reports that 40 to 60 Colombians, who wear Honduran army uniforms, are training the paramilitaries. There are reports that US Army Rangers have engaged in training activities, and that the US donated military equipment that has been used in the repression.

Poor campesinos in the Aguán region, in need of a means of survival, are reclaiming lands that have been illegally and violently taken from them by wealthy land-owners backed by the regime. These campesino communities are thus in direct conflict not only with police, military and paramilitary forces, but also organized crime networks (including drug traffickers) who reportedly maintain close collaboration with the police, military, and private security forces.

Extreme corruption of the justice system has not only helped create the conflicts that exist today, by not resolving the legal actions through which campesinos have attempted to regain land rights for over 15 years, but also contributes to the repression through the criminalization of land rights defenders and enforcing total impunity for killers.

According to reports, around noon on Saturday, August 20, 2011 Secundino Ruiz Vallecillo, vice president of the Movimiento Campesion Unificado del Aguan del a Margen Derecha (MUCA-MD), and president of the San Isidro Empresa Campesina Cooperative, was shot and killed while in a taxi in the town of Tocoa by a masked gunman aboard a passing motorcycle.

That afternoon Arnoldo Portillo, member of the 5 de Enero Empresa Campesino Cooperative, of the La Concepcion community, left his home, and did not return. His neighbors began a search early the morning of August 21, 2011. His badly brutalized body was found in the dump of the La Lempira campesino community; he had been killed by machete strikes and gunfire.

Later on August 21, 2011, at approximately 8pm, Pedro Salgado, the president of the 5 de Enero cooperative and his wife, Irene Licona, were murdered in their home by machetes and gunfire. Salgado, like the presidents of all the cooperatives claiming rights to land used by African palm oil businessmen in the Aguan, had been subject to constant death threats. Salgado had recently met with the commander of the Xatruch operation, asking for protection.

OVER 50 CAMPESINOS KILLED, & counting …

These killings occurred amidst a military occupation, called the “Xatruch II” operation, that was launched after two massacres on August 14th and August 15th that left 11 dead.

Since training of African palm oil company paramilitary security forces reportedly began in January 2010, over 50 campesinos have been killed, the majority in drive-by shootings.

COMPLICITY

On July 21, 2011  it was reported that the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) board “undertook an investigation and after full consideration found that the consultation met the CDM requirements under the parameters of its mandate. It’s a matter for Honduras to deal with outstanding land disputes and responsibility for violence in the region.”

This decision is a complete abdication by the United Nations of the United Nations’ mandate to protect human rights – the UN is complicit in violence in the Aguán.

The complicity – direct or indirect – extends to the governments of Canada and the US. Just days before the August 14 massacre, Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper signed a so-called “free” trade agreement on August 12th with Honduras, ignoring the systemic repression carried out by the Honduran regime since the June 2009 military coup. The newly appointed US ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, has focused her career on promoting biofuel investment and free trade agreements.

Contact Rights Action to plan educational presentations in your community, school, place of worship, home (info@rightsaction.org)

August 29, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Honduras: Aguán Massacres Continue to Support Production of Biodiesel