A group of pro-Palestinian activists briefly occupied the Portland, Oregon offices of global security company G4S on Thursday, to protest its affiliation with the Israeli prison system.
U.K.-based G4S, the world's largest security company in terms of revenue, has operations in some 125 countries, including 11 Arab states. Members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in Portland targeted G4S because it holds contracts to "provide equipment and services to Israeli prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners, including child prisoners, are detained and mistreated." They also cited G4S for providing "equipment and services to checkpoints, illegal settlements and businesses within these settlements."
G4S announced in early June that it would end all Israeli prison contracts within the next three years, but activists assert that the company has made similar promises in past without following through.
The company recently won a contract to provide security for the city of Portland to provide security in several city-owned buildings, including Portland's City Hall.
According to the International Middle East Media Center, activists briefly occupied the company's office in an effort to shut it down for the day before being forced out by security.
"One local organizer stated: 'As bombs continue to fall on the besieged Gaza Strip, we, as anti- Occupation Jews, Americans, Israelis, and other people of conscience call on G4S to heed the call of Palestinian civil society and divest from Israel until it complies with International law and the Universal Principles of Human Rights.'
The activists' press release included quotes from members of the local Jewish community.
"Businesses that profit from human rights abuses, war, and possible crimes against humanity should have no place working for Trimet or City Hall," said Jonathan Irwin, 28, who was quoted as a "Jewish American."
"If G4S would like to keep its local contracts, they must pull out of Israel/Palestine and follow their own human rights policy more carefully," he added.
Maya Rotem, stated in the press release: "As an Israeli Jew I have seen the Israeli military system that is used to oppress Palestinians and that violates human rights daily. G4S is a full accomplice in operating and maintaining this system, its checkpoints and military courts & jails. I urge G4S to sever its ties with Israel and stop its participation in the Israeli occupation and international human rights violations."
The protesters demanded that G4S "honor its prior commitments to withdraw from Ofer prison, affiliated checkpoints, and affiliated West Bank police stations," lay out plans to end contracts related to the West Bank, abide by its human rights guidance policy and review all its contracts throughout the world to make sure they adhere to its human rights guidance policy.
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