“Olympics without Apartheid!” campaign
The Palestinian-based BDS movement and Brazilian civil society have launched the ‘Olympics without Apartheid’ campaign, with just one year to the start of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The immediate target of the campaign is the International Security and Defense Systems (ISDS), an Israeli company awarded a contract last October by the Rio16 Olympic Organizing Committee. The company is an integral part of the Israeli regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid against Palestinians. It prides itself of being founded on the experience of the Mossad, Israel’s criminal secret services, and is widely accused of training death squads and supporting dictatorships during the 80s across Central America.
As indicated by the BNC, “Israeli military companies, all of which are deeply involved in Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people, among others, see the Olympic Games as an opportunity for profit and a means to export their “field-tested” expertise in maintaining apartheid, repression of people, and militarization of urban spaces across the globe. They must be stopped.”
A series of international events in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro between August 3 and 6 have been organized in coordination with Brazilian movements and the local coalition ‘Olympics for Whom?’ in order to strengthen opposition to the contract in Brazil and call on the world to join the campaign.
Jamal Juma, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign and one of the speakers at the conference, said:
“It is absolutely vital for all of us to stand together to ensure an end to impunity in Palestine and across the globe. It is unacceptable that Israel continues to be allowed to export its expertise in repression and human rights violations to anyone interested in applying those techniques against their own people. It is shocking to see that the Olympics Rio16 are offering ISDS an international platform to whitewash their complicity in gross human rights violations in Palestine and Central America.”
In May 2015, the Brazilian government distanced itself from the company following intense pressure from civil society, frustrating ISDS’s expectations for a bigger slice of the estimated $2.2 billion security bill for the 2016 Olympics.
Brazilian civil society organizations accuse Brazilian authorities of not only being complicit in Israel’s violations of international law, but also using “field-tested” Israeli military technology to repress social movements, with a devastating impact on the lives of black and poor Brazilian youth.
Pedro Charbel, the BNC’s Latin America campaigns coordinator, explains: “ISDS is using the Olympics to showcase its work in Brazil, but the contract between the Olympics Committee and this company is only the tip of the iceberg. Despite its support for Palestinian rights at diplomatic level, Brazil is Israel’s 5th largest export market for weapons. BDS is growing across Latin America and in Brazil, in particular, at an impressive pace, and social movements in the country are determined not to rest before Brazil’s role in maintaining Israeli apartheid is ended.”