Spanish Parliament Affirms Right to BDS as Protected Speech

The Spanish parliament has unanimously passed a motion recognizing the right to advocate for BDS as protected under the right to freedom of expression and association.

June 30, 2017 – On Tuesday, the Spanish parliament unanimously passed a motion recognizing the right to advocate for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as protected under the right to freedom of expression and association. This bill was introduced by the progressive parliamentary coalition “Unidos Podemos-En Comú Podem-En Marea.”

Unidos Podemos said in a statement:

On June 27th the International Cooperation Committee of the Spanish Congress unanimously approved a motion put forward by our parliamentary group supporting the legitimate defense of Human Rights. The amended motion calls on the Government “to recognize and defend the right of human rights activists from Palestine, Israel and other countries to engage in legal and peaceful activities, protected by the right to freedom of speech and assembly, such as the right to promote boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns.”

This approval means that our Government must uphold those rights and act against the harassment of activists, in Spain and in many other countries, engaged in peaceful, legal and legitimate campaigns against the violation of human rights in Palestine. By doing so, our Congress has joined the many voices that have already recognized the right to BDS as freedom of speech, like Federica Mogherini (EU Vice-President and High Representative), the Governments of Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden, and the Parliament of Navarre.

Ana Sanchez, International Campaigns Officer with the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) said:

This is a victory for all those acting on their conscience by participating in the BDS movement for Palestinian human rights.

As boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaigns continue to grow around the world, state institutions in Europe, the United States and beyond are increasingly affirming the right of their citizens to participate in the BDS movement to advance Palestinian human rights. Boycotting all entities complicit with Israel’s military occupation and racist system of apartheid is just as legally protected and morally necessary as was the successful international boycott of apartheid South Africa. In fact, many business operations with Israel are carried out in breach of international law.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Israeli military rule and nearly 70 years of Palestinian dispossession and ethnic cleansing. Enough is enough. It is encouraging to see support for Palestinian human rights grow across the Spanish state. This parliamentary ruling is clearly an expression of that growing popular support.

This is the second time within a short period that Spanish state institutions have affirmed the right to boycott. In late April, the Spanish foreign minister also affirmed that the right to advocate for BDS in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle is protected by laws guaranteeing freedom of expression.

This news also comes on the heels of the Barcelona City Council’s vote to end complicity with Israel’s military occupation and Israel’s construction of illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land. In addition, dozens of Spanish cities have over the course of the last year declared themselves “Free of Israeli Apartheid,” joining the existing network of more than 70 Spanish public institutions, including provincial councils and a regional parliament, that have long taken a position against Israeli Apartheid.

In 2016, the European Union and the governments of Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands upheld the right to advocate for BDS to support Palestinian freedom, justice and equality as protected by freedom of speech and freedom of association principles.

That same year, more than 200 renowned lawyers and legal scholars from 15 European countries, including a former Supreme Court judge in Spain, issued a declaration recognizing BDS as “a lawful exercise of freedom of expression.”

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Visit our website and follow us on Twitter @BDSmovement


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