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2016 Olympics: After BDS pressure, Brazilian government denies relations with Israeli company ISDS

More than 30 Brazilian social movements and progressive organisations had called on the Brazilian government to exclude Internatio...

  More than 30 Brazilian social movements and progressive organisations had called on the Brazilian government to exclude International Security and Defence Systems from Olympics contracts after the Israeli company announced in October 2014 that it had been awarded a $2.2bn deal to coordinate security at the games. On April 8, the Ministry of Justice’s Special Secretariat for Mega-events (Sesge/MJ) replied to their letter by explaining that ISDS has not been awarded any contracts. The reply from Sesge/MJ also stated that “any contract made by Rio 2016 won’t result in compromises by the Brazilian government”, a phrase campaigners are interpreting as a clear sign that government officials were sympathetic to their demands. ISDS had originally announced it had been awarded a contract by the Organising Committee for the 2016 Games. When overall responsibility for security at the games shifted to the Brazilian government, Brazilian social movements began calling on the Brazilian government to ensure that the apparent deal would not remain in place. The letter to key Sesge/MJ official Andrei Rodrigues signed by Brazilian social movements, political parties, workers unions, and different associations set out how ISDS is accused of having ties to coups, death squares and dictatorships in Central America, as well as close links with the Israeli military. Campaigners are now preparing to pressure the Olympics Committee to cancel a separate “official supplier” deal with ISDS. Jaman Juma, coordinador of the Stop the Wall movement, said: “For us, boycotting this company is paradigmatic: Israel develops its methodologies and technologies through the killing and repression of the Palestinian people, and then it sells them worldwide. The end of military and security relations with Israel is an act of defense. Not only for the Palestinian people, it is an act of defense for humanity.” Julio Turra, executive director of the biggest Brazilian workers’ union, CUT, one of the signatories of the letter to Coesrio2016, said: “We are glad with the information the government distances itself from ISDS. It would be illegal and shameful to hire a company that develops its technologies in complicity with Israeli crimes and that accumulates complaints about its participation in Central American dictatorships.” Mahmoud Nawajaa, General Coordinador of the BDS Palestinian National Committee (BNC), said: “We welcome the fact that the Brazilian government categorically states it has no commercial relation with ISDS. We expect that no similar company will be hired. It is important that Brazil walks towards a fully military embargo against Israel”. “Brazilians can be sure they will have the support from the Palestinian and international civil society on this campaign against ISDS in the Olympic Games”. As for future actions, Soraya Misleh, from the Front in Defense of the Palestinian People explained: “There will be a wide campaign against the contract celebrated with the 2016 Organizing Committee which makes ISDS an ‘official supplier’ for the Games. We won’t allowed the Olympic Games in our country to have such company’s logo in its publicity. It is an insult against all those who believe in human rights and justice”. Maristela Pinheiro, from the Rio de Janeiro Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People added: “There will be for sure a strong campaign against the supplier deal between ISDS and the 2016 Organizing Committee and we’ll keep monitoring Coesrio. The Olympics can’t beneficiate companies that profit through human rights violations. The Games can’t be intensifying repressive practices in our country, or endorse illegal and immoral actions”. Felipe Butelli, from the Christian Group Kairos Brazil added: “The call for military embargo has the support of important international names, the Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu and Perez Esquivel among them. Brazil can’t follow on the opposite direction”


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