Israeli Company Barred from Rio 2016, Say Palestinian Activists

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SHAFAQNA – Palestinian solidarity campaigners say Israeli security firm ISDS has lost out on a contract for the 2016 Olympics worth US$2.2 billion. Brazil’s government has heeded calls from Palestinian solidarity activists to bar an Israeli security firm from a 2016 Olympics contract, according to reports Tuesday. “Due to Palestine solidarity activists, the company will not be enjoying as much profit as it had hoped to reap in Brazil next year,” pro-Palestinian website Electronic Intifada declared.

According to the website, activists are “celebrating” the government’s decision to exclude Israeli firm International Security and Defense Systems (ISDS) from a lucrative security contract for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s justice ministry first announced the company hadn’t been awarded any contracts for the 2016 games. “Any contract made by Rio 2016 won’t result in compromises by the Brazilian government,” the ministry said in a statement released on April 8. According to the official website of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the statement has been interpreted by activists as confirmation from the government that ISDS won’t be handed a contact for the 2016 games.

ISDS is the Olympic Committee’s official security supplier for the games, and in 2014 the company claimed it had already secured the 2016 contract. The deal was worth US$2.2 billion, according to Israeli media reports at the time. ISDS has not publicly confirmed whether the deal is still going ahead. While the deal had been seen as a major success for the Israeli security industry, activists argued it represented a blow to human rights in Palestine. More than 30 Brazilian progressive organizations had backed calls for the government to ditch the deal with ISDS, including the country’s largest workers’ union federation, CUT.

“We are glad that the government distances itself from ISDS,” CUT’s head Julio Turra stated, according to Electronic Intifada. “It would be illegal and shameful to hire a company that develops its technologies in complicity with Israeli crimes and that accumulates complaints about its participation in Central American dictatorships,” Turra said, referring to allegations ISDS provided training to security forces for authoritarian states in Central America in the 1980s. According to Jaman Juma, coordinator of the Stop the Wall movement, “Israel develops its methodologies and technologies through the killing and repression of the Palestinian people, and then it sells them worldwide.” “The end of military and security relations with Israel is an act of defense. Not only for the Palestinian people, it is an act of defense for humanity,” Juma stated.

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