PRESS ALERT: Protest at Bill Gates Foundation Against G4S Security for Palestinian Prisoners Day [Thursday 17 April, Johannesburg]

To mark the international Palestine Political Prisoners Day (17 April), the Palestine solidarity human rights organisation, BDS South Africa, will be holding a protest at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest charitable foundation in the world (backed by Microsoft Founder and Billionaire Bill Gates). The protest will be calling on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to divest from the controversial security company G4S due to G4S Security's complicity in Israel's illegal detention, torture and incarceration of Palestinian political prisoners.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation currently owns shares worth more than $170 million (over 1 billion rands) in the notorious security company, G4S Security. G4S, the world largest security company, has been the target of several successful international boycott actions and campaigns in recent years due to its controversial involvement in what activists term “Israeli human rights abuses and illegal detainment of Palestinian political prisoners”.
Calling on Bill Gates Foundation to drop G4S complicit in Israeli prisons & torture

WHEN: Tomorrow, Thursday (17 April)
TIME: 11h00- 15h00
WHERE: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation House,
Corner Glenhove Road and 9th Street, Houghton/Rosebank, Johannesburg
LANDMARK: Diagonally across from McDonalds in Rosebank
CONTACT: 0849843078 / 0842119988
SPEAKERS: Several Former Anti-Apartheid South African Political Prisoners, including Mpho Masemola (Chairperson of the Ex-political prisoners Association of South Africa)
Earlier this month Palestinian organizations wrote to the Gates Foundation calling on the Gates Foundation to divest from G4S (click here to see). That letter to the Gates Foundation went unanswered. Palestinian organizations (led by the Palestinian prisoner organization Addameer together with endorsements from over 150 other groups) subsequently, due to the non-response from the Gates Foundation, called on all peace-loving peoples around the world to organize protests this 17th of April (the international Palestinian Political Prisoner Day) outside the offices of the Gates Foundation in the various countries where the Gates Foundation operates. The protest in Johannesburg is one of many that will be taking place on the 17th of April.

Mthunzi Mbuli, a campaigner at BDS South Africa said: "As South Africans we painfully identify with the plight of the Palestinians in general and Palestinian prisoners in particular. When we see the Israeli imprisonment of our Palestinian comrades, we are reminded of how our mothers and fathers were imprisoned during Apartheid. We find it disturbing that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested in the notorious security company G4S which is complicit and is basically profiteering from Israel’s imprisonment, detention and torture of Palestinians - including children. We are disappointed that the Gates Foundation has chosen to not respond to the requests from Palestinian human rights organisation that the Foundation divest from G4S, given this non-response, we will be staging a protest."


According to the United Nations, over 750 000 Palestinians (roughly 40% of Palestinian men) have been imprisoned by Israel at one point in time. According to the European Union, about 100 000 Palestinians have been held by Israel in "administrative detention" (the equivalent of Apartheid South Africa's "Detention without trial"). Similar to the experience of Black families under Apartheid, almost every Palestinian family has been affected by the Israeli imprisonment of a relative. In the last 11 years alone, more than 7500 Palestinian children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention facilities (including being held in solitary confinement) with Muhammad Daoud Dirbas, at the age of six, being the youngest Palestinian child to have been detained by Israeli soldiers. Currently, there are over 5000 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel; 137 of them are being held under Israel's "administrative detention" (Apartheid South Africa's "Detention Without Trial") and 210 of them are children.

In 2007 G4S was contracted to provide and maintain Israeli prisons, torture centres and detention facilities. Although initially claiming that it intends to terminate its Israeli contracts, G4S still operates in Israel and with the Israeli regime. G4S also provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints and Israel's illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank (click here to download the United Nations Special Rapporteur report with details of G4S and its illegal activities in Israel [Pages 15 & 16]). Due to this Israeli involvement, in 2012, Palestinian prisoners and prisoner support organisations called for an international boycott of G4S as part of the global Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. In October 2012, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights made special mention of G4S as one of the international companies that should be boycotted for their involvement in Israel. In a news release, the UN Special Rapporteur, Richard Falk, said: “My main recommendation is that the businesses highlighted in the report – as well as the many other businesses that are profiting from the Israeli settlement enterprise – should be boycotted".
The boycott and BDS campaign against G4S (for its role in Israel) has achieved several successes around the world including in South Africa. In November 2010 the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) in Denmark ended its contract with G4S. Pat Nissen of RCT explaining the RCT decision said: “G4S as a company is helping to facilitate torture.” In October 2011, the Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) overwhelmingly passed a motion through its Student Council to block their contract with G4S in protest of G4S' involvement in "Israeli Apartheid". In January 2012, Amnesty International in Denmark terminated its contract with G4S (after initially trying to influence G4S policies). “We do not want to work with G4S because the company’s global activities do not live up to Amnesty International’s requirements in relation to human rights,” commented Amnesty International secretary Lars Normann Jørgensen. On the 31st of October 2013, the University of Bergen became the second Norwegian university to boycott G4S. Significantly, in this case, G4S presented the lowest priced offer in the security tender proposals but the Norwegian university added an estimated loss of 2,5 million NOK (R4,1 million rands/ $400 000 dollars) related to potential reputational damage that the University would suffer if they chose to award their security contract to G4S due to the involvement of G4S in Israel's illegal detention facilities, torture centers and incarceration of Palestinian political prisoners. On 06 November 2013, the renown Trauma Centre in Cape Town ended its contract with G4S over G4S’ role in Israeli imprisonment of Palestinians.

Office 915 | 9th Floor | Khotso House | 62 Marshall Street | Johannesburg
PO Box 2318 | Houghton | 2041 | Johannesburg
T: +27 (0) 11 492 2414 | M: +27 (0) 84 211 9988 | F: +27 (0) 86 650 4836
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BDS South Africa is a registered Non-Profit Organization. NPO NUMBER: 084 306 NPO
BDS South Africa is a registered Public Benefit Organisation with Section 18A status. PBO NUMBER: 930 037 446