Amnesty Urges Action on QUB Corporate Sponsor Caterpillar

Amnesty International is urging Queen's University and its students at to bring pressure on Caterpillar Inc for their role in the destruction of Palestinian homes.

As reported in The Gown, the Queens University student newspaper, The company - which has recently given $100,000 to the university towards the costs of its new library - is one of the biggest equipment suppliers to the Israeli army. Amnesty International has previously reported how Caterpillar bulldozers are being used to destroy thousands of homes of Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The company's bulldozers have also been used in the construction of the fence/wall built around and through the West Bank. In 2004 the International Court of Justice declared the fence/wall to be unlawful.

The company has donated $100,000 to the University towards the cost of its new £45 million library, due for completion in 2009. The library is due to have an area named after the company's charitable wing.

Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director Patrick Corrigan said:

“Caterpillar produces the bulldozers used by the Israeli army to destroy the homes of innocent Palestinians. This is clearly illegal - a serious violation of international law which deprives innocent people of the right to a home.

“Amnesty International has asked Caterpillar to adopt a code of conduct which complies with the United Nations Human Rights Norms for Business. To date, the company has refused to do so and to take steps to prevent their products being used to commit human rights abuses.

Peter McGovern, chairperson of the Amnesty Student Society at Queen's University said:

“Caterpillar's sponsorship of Queen's University provides the perfect opportunity for the university to ask some hard questions of the company. Meanwhile, the student body and faculty should bring pressure to bear on the company to abide by international human rights standards. Caterpillar may see this donation as a positive PR opportunity - let's see them prove their bona fides as good corporate citizens by ending their complicity in these abuses.”

Background

Excerpt from the Amnesty International report, Israel and the Occupied Territories - Under the rubble: House demolition and destruction of land and property, published in 2004.

"Tens of thousands of men, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights have been made homeless or have lost their livelihood as a result of house destruction by the Israeli army. Thousands of other houses have been damaged, and tens of thousands of others are under threat of demolition, their occupants living in fear of homelessness. House demolitions are usually carried out without warning, often at night, and the occupants are forcibly evicted with no time to salvage their belongings. Often the only warning is the rumbling of the Israeli army’s US-made Caterpillar bulldozers beginning to tear down the walls of their homes.

"The victims are often amongst the poorest and most disadvantaged. In most cases the justification given by the Israeli authorities for the destruction is "military/security needs", while in other cases it is the lack of building permits. The result is the same: families are left homeless and destitute, forced to rely on relatives, friends and humanitarian organizations for shelter and subsistence."

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