Italian Water Festival condemned over Veolia and SodaStream links
Among the sponsors of the Water Festival in L'Aquila, Italy, Sodastream and Veolia, companies complicit with Israeli human rights violations
BDS Italy supports the statement by the Italian Forum of Public Water Movements criticizing the Festival of "privatized" Water being held in L'Aquila, Italy this week. The event is organized by Federutility, the federation that has continuously worked to undermine the referendum against the privatization of water, with 96 percent voting in 2011 to keep it public. The Italian movement for public water condemned this re-branding operation aimed at creating a positive image of those whose goal is to commodify a precious common good.
A look at the sponsors of the festival also reveals companies complicit with and profiting from the violation of human rights and international law: Sodastream and Veolia.
Sodastream is an Israeli company that produces home carbonators for tap water. The company’s main production plant is located in the Israeli settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law by the UN Security Council , the International Court of Justice , the International Red Cross and all European institutions.
With the acquisition of the Italian company CEM Industries in 2011, now known as Sodastream Professional, the company is marketing industrial carbonators for bars, restaurants, hotels and even public municipal water dispensers. Two Federutility members, Gruppo Hera and Romagna Acque, both also sponsors of the festival, are using Sodastream technology in their water dispensers, thereby "polluting " public water.
Israel illegally exercises almost complete control over Palestinian water resources. As documented by Amnesty International and the Palestinian organization Al Haq, Israel’s denial of access to water is a means for forcing Palestinians from their land. Sodastream , which turns a profits from this system of occupation and apartheid imposed by Israel, referred to the festival in L'Aquila as "an opportunity to share our values of sustainability and environmental protection."
The French multinational Veolia, the largest in the water privatization sector and present in Italy as Veolia Water, is also complicit in the Israeli occupation. Veolia Water - Israel operates a wastewater treatment plant in the illegal Israeli settlement of Modi'in Ilit and Veolia Environmental Services - Israel manages the Tovlan landfill, again on Palestinian land, that serves Israeli settlements in the occupied Jordan Valley. In addition, Veolia through its subsidiary Transdev, operates light rail that connects West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
While Israeli policies make it practically impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits to build houses, schools, water cisterns or other infrastructures on their own land, mega companies such as Veolia profit from new infrastructures built for the exclusive use of Israeli citizens and settlers.
Sodastream and Veolia not only profit from the above, but also facilitate the continuation of the institutionalized system of Israeli domination, control and oppression aimed at expelling the Palestinian people from their land. Both companies are therefore the focus of international boycott campaigns in response to the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it respects human rights and international law.
In Italy, organizations such as Legambiente, WWF and Oxfam have cut ties with Sodastream or its associates, while internationally churches, trade unions and student unions have joined the campaign to boycott Sodastream. Thanks to active campaigns in North America and Europe, Veolia has lost contracts worth over Euro 18 billion, resulting recently in the company selling the bus lines that it operated in Israel.
BDS Italy joins with the Italian movements for public water in contesting this branding operation by Federutility via the Water Festival in L' Aquila. BDS Italy invites all those who care about the right to public water, and more generally human rights, to be vigilant and to take steps to prevent local authorities from entering into contracts with companies that profit from the Israeli military occupation and from the violation of international law and Palestinians human rights.