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G4S AGM backsliding

Stop G4S campaigners from a variety of organisations joined local activists from Sutton for Peace and Justice to protest outside the G4S AGM held at the Holiday Inn in Sutton on 26 May.  They wanted to send a clear message to the G4S executives and shareholders that G4S could not continue to profit from war, instability, occupation and exploitation.

However, in the AGM G4S verbally recommitted to doing business in Israel. This was a surprise as just a few months ago G4S announced in its Annual Report that it would sell off its Israeli branch G4S Israel and G4S youth services in the UK and US. This announcement came after several years of campaigning, and significant campaign victories this year as three UN agencies stated that they had not renewed contracts with the company.

In the past, in order to shake off protests and avoid scrutiny, G4S has made verbal and written promises not to renew certain contracts dealing with Israeli checkpoints, police stations and the Israeli prisons. The company failed to keep its own deadlines over the past years. But, G4S  stated on the morning of the AGM that the ‘contracts in question’ (including contracts for equipment and services to Israeli prisons, a West Bank police station, and checkpoints) are due to expire by the end of 2017 and will not be renewed.

However, inside the AGM (where no recording devices are allowed) G4S executives were more candid about their intentions. When asked if G4S would be ending its 25 year contract for an Israeli police academy as a part of its sale of G4S Israel. Executive director Ashley Almanza said that G4S “will only conclude the sale of G4S Israel if we receive satisfactory terms and G4S ‘will continue to operate in Israel even if we sell off G4S Israel”. When pressed on the matter of continued G4S business with the illegal Israeli settlements and Apartheid Wall, Almanza dodged the question, stating that ‘G4S, like the UK government, opposes anti-Israel boycotts.’

A few days before the AGM, G4S released a statement rejecting comments by the BDS (Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions) movement and anti-Israel pressure groups claiming that their actions have caused the G4S group to sell G4S Israel.

At the same time the UK and Israeli governments have stepped up their attack on the BDS movement. In the UK, this has mainly been through government statements and proposals designed specifically to silence BDS activities. In the USA, some states like Illinois passed laws to allow for blacklisting of companies that appear to be taking BDS action. Given that a wide range of US groups have gone public on their joining the Stop G4S campaign, the timing of such statements is no coincidence.

Inside the meeting, it became clear that G4S abuses all over the world are still a pressing issue for many. Of 20 questions allowed from the floor, all but two touched on G4S abuses. There were questions on G4S abuses in Palestine and the scandal exposed at a youth detention facility in Medway (Kent) in January 2016, where G4S staff assaulted young inmates. Another issue brought up was that of negligence in detention centres run by G4S, particularly in HMP Altcourse, where levels of self-harm and suicide are high. In addition there was the scandal of the G4S ‘red doors’ where the doors of asylum-seekers were painted red, stigmatising them and making them targets for violence. The G4S executives were furious when it was suggested from the floor that there is a common thread running through all G4S work: profiting from violence and abuse.

Perhaps G4S will follow through on its promise to sell off its business in Israel, while insisting that it is not doing so as a result of the campaign against G4S. Or maybe G4S will continue to do business in Israel in less obvious ways. Regardless, it is clear that G4S cannot be trusted, and that the campaigns against the company must continue.

(Report by Mike McLoughin with information from  War on Want)

 

Protest Demonstration at G4S AGM 26th May 2016

Members of Sutton for Peace & Justice joined with War on Want and other campaigners to protest outside the AGM of G4S, held at the Sutton town centre Holiday Inn on 26 May. G4S security services have their head office in Sutton.

G4S PROTEST pic

The main aim of the protest was to get G4S to dis-engage from their contracts to provide security equipment and services to the Israeli prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held illegally, often without trial and subject to torture. In addition, voices were raised against the abuses in the child detention centres in the UK and in the prisons G4S runs in the USA, South Africa and Papua New Guinea.

G4S is the company that failed to fulfil its Olympic contract, necessitating the Army becoming involved in the safety and security work at the games. The company was also the one that in March 2013 was criticised at an inquest on a man who died after his wheelchair, which was not properly fixed, tipped backwards. This was while G4S were providing services under their £3.5 million outsourced contract providing transport services for St Helier Hospital in Sutton. The coroner’s jury said that G4S staff had not received sufficient training to move patients safely between their homes and hospitals.

(Reporting by Mike McLoughlin.)

G4S AGM being held in Sutton on 26 May

Sutton for Peace and Justice is joining with War on Want to protest at the G4S AGM that is being held in Sutton on 26 May.

Previous actions highlighting the company’s role in human rights abuses have led to G4S announcing a change its policy. This AGM is a key time to keep up the pressure  on G4S and to make them turn their words into action.

Please join us and ensure that G4S and their shareholders know we will hold them to account.

We are gathering in front of the Holiday Inn, Gibson Road, Sutton, from 12.45 on Thursday 26 May, until around 3 to 3.30.

There is more information at:

http://waronwant.org/media/protest-g4s-2016-agm

If you intend to come, please let us know by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk
or text message to 07740 594496

March for climate change

On November 29 members of Sutton for Peace and Justice marched with 50,000 campaigners and a smattering of celebrities to demand that global leaders take urgent action to tackle climate change.

 

climatechangemarch

Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima

On 6 August 2015 Sutton for Peace and Justice hosted a commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima at Carshalton Ponds. The event was led by Doris Richards:

On behalf of Sutton for Peace and Justice I wish to thank you for coming to this 70th Anniversary Commemoration event to remember the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We are here to remember the victims and ensure that such barbarity is never repeated. We will start with poetry, then the floating of the lanterns followed by a minute of silence; then there will be time for our own contemplation as we pledge ourselves never to forget.

Hiroshima – a poem by Hiromu Morishita

Watch dutifully
With your eyes
Here, something happened that shouldn’t have,
Here now, something irreparable continues,
Here tomorrow, signs of everyone’s destruction
may appear.
Don’t watch with one eye
Don’t watch with your arm or with your head.
With the heart of one who endures despair

Lighted lanterns were then launched on the pond and a minute silence was observed.

The following poem is inscribed on the Hiroshima Monument

No More Hiroshima – composed by Sankichi Toge

Give back the Human
Give back my father, give back my mother;
Give grandpa back, grandma back;
Give me back myself.
Give back the human race.
As long as this life lasts, this life,
Give back peace
That will never end.

A single bomber. A single bomb. The explosion’s suddenness and simultaneity were dumbfounding. It seemed everywhere in the city at the same time, but each individual experienced it as a direct hit on his or her neighbourhood.

And this marks the aspect of this event’s hugeness: the scale of human suffering.

The number of dead the witnesses saw, the monstrous burns and bloating bodies of those still alive, their insistent and unanswerable appeals for help from all sides. Since the weapon had never been used before, it made no sense and it fitted no pattern of warfare, let alone other human experience.

The bigger the event, the less we are able to recognise that, no matter how many people wail their laments, we will never come to terms with our truest feelings, indeed in our attempts to write and speak atrocity , language itself becomes suspect. Because we still live in this atomic landscape, locating ourselves in relation to Hiroshima informs our current experience.

We remember with deep sorrow the 6th August 1945 when the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and 3 days later on Nagasaki. The bombs and the consequent firestorms raised temperatures to 4000 Degrees Centigrade obliterating the cities and killing everyone within one kilometre – between 150,000 and 246,000 people in total. Those closest to the explosion died instantly, their bodies turned to black char, and within minutes 9 out of 10 people half a mile from ground zero were dead.

We re-affirm that we must do all we can to ensure nuclear weapons are not used again.

The British Government should honour it’s signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which the UK has no right to possess nuclear weapons, is legally bound to disarm.

At this commemorative event we urge the government to scrap the Trident nuclear weapons system, and to spend that money for peaceful purposes – affordable homes, schools and hospitals.

At the dawn of the 21st Century,
We honour this passage through darkness.
We must have the courage to enter
The void again…….and again,
Emerging with new life
Healing only comes through learning to forgive,
And making peace with our past.
Peace cannot be kept by force,
It can only be achieved by understanding.

Please take your time to leave, remember to pass on this message to those around you and those in positions of power who can influence the decision making.

6th August 2015 Carshalton Ponds

6th August 1945 – 6th August 2015.

Remembering Hiroshima – saying ‘never again’.

hiroshima day 2015 candles 1 b

MPs to be lobbied on Gaza

Members of Sutton for Peace and Justice will be taking part in the mass lobby of Parliament for Gaza on 9 September.

They will be joining with hundreds of others from across the country lobbying their MPs to show how much we care about the situation in Palestine.

The lobby is calling for:

  • An immediate and permanent lifting of the blockade on Gaza, allowing free movement of people, goods and humanitarian aid
  • An end to the arms trade, and all military-industrial collaboration, with Israel
  • Sanctions against Israel until they abide by international and human rights law

 

There will be a briefing session to prepare people for meeting their MP, at Westminster Cathedral Hall between 12 and 1.45.

This will be followed by the lobby of MPs at the House of Commons between 2 and 4 pm.

If your MP is Paul Burstow or Tom Brake and you are interested in joining the lobby please contact Saleh Mamon on salehmamon@yahoo.co.uk

The lobby is being organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and there is more information on their website.