Press Release: For Immediate Release
Activists Take Direct Action Against World Health Organization Conference in
28th November 2011
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within
(Boycott from Within)
This morning a group of Palestinians and Israeli activists held a protest action in front of the Inbal hotel where the WHO (World Health Organization) held their first 'Health 2020 – The New European Policy for Health' conference [1 ].
The conference participants encountered activists who had been bound and gagged as Palestinian detainees. Israeli physicians are often complicit in the torture and ill-treatment of such detainees, as reported recently by Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR) and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) .
The activists handed the conference delegates with an information kit, alerting them to the basic facts about Israel's apartheid policies, information on the PHR and PCATI report and letters that had been sent to WHO organisers prior to the event.
The activists also held a large banner, reading "WHO is blind to apartheid".
Holding an international conference in West Jerusalem or in any part of Israel works in direct violation of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, which asks international bodies to respect the three basic rights of the Palestinians and refrain from sending a green light to continued Israeli occupation and apartheid .
The WHO conference, which rewards Israel for its ongoing violations of human rights, and international law, had been organized in close cooperation with the Israeli government, in spite of strong global opposition to the event. This opposition includes letters from members of the Health and Nutrition Cluster (HNC), a UN agency as well as from Norway’s largest trade union .
A letter from the HNC states that they believe “...locating a high profile UN conference in Jerusalem gives quiet support to this violation of international law, as well as to the continuation of the violation of human rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to health. Israel’s system of military occupation imposes many barriers to the right to health for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; their physical access to health services, but also their access to basic resources are restricted by the security regime of roadblocks, barriers, permits and closed areas. Many UN reports, including WHO reports, have detailed that access to water, education, food, livelihood, movement and human security are key factors which the Israeli occupation determines”
Representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Health will partake in the conference, while some are keynote speakers. Amongst them is Deputy Minister of Health, Ya’acov Litzman, who is the acting Minister of Health. The Israeli government regards the conference as yet another platform for Israeli propaganda (“Hasbara”) in its effort to portray a false image of Israel as a liberal democracy.
Many of the delegates expressed interest in the action, asking questions and sharing their concerns about Israel's systematic violations of human rights.
Boycott from Within (BfW) is a coalition of Israeli citizens, who support the Palestinian-led campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, due to its consistent violation of Palestinian rights and ongoing policies of colonialization, occupation and apartheid. We call on all international institutions to respect the call for BDS and refrain from lending legitimacy to apartheid by holding conferences in Israel, as long as these policies are in place.
Photos are attached.
Video footage and additional photos - upon request
Please contact [email protected] for further details, or call 0504880969 (Leehee)