ICAHD UK is a signatory to this open letter to JCB and its owners Anthony and Carole Bamford.
We address this letter to you with some degree of urgency and with a hope that you will share our concern for justice and human rights worldwide. 4 July marks the anniversary of the 2018 preparations to destroy the entire village of Khan al Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank. The demolition of this village has so far been averted, after international outcry. Many of the bulldozers used in that attempted expulsion were manufactured by JCB.
However, Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes carries on almost daily. 461 demolitions were carried out in 2018 in the West Bank alone. These demolitions are an integral part of the Israeli state’s repressive military occupation aimed at displacing Palestinian communities and building Israeli settlements in their place.
During June 2019, five activists from the campaign group Stop the Demolitions went on trial for taking direct action at the UK premises of JCB in September 2018 and March 2019. The activists on trial were seeking to bring to your attention that JCB equipment produced in the UK is being sold or leased by Comasco, JCB’s sole Israeli representative, to the Israeli Civil Administration for use in the demolitions of homes and schools in Palestine. The activists currently on trial were calling your attention to the gravity of the situation in Palestine where many families are displaced and made homeless by home demolitions carried out with JCB machinery.
The planned demolition of Khan Al-Ahmar has been named a war crime by the ICC prosecutor, EU and the United Nations. British Prime Minister Theresa May said last year that she was ‘deeply concerned’ about the impending demolition of the village and school, and called on the Israeli government not to go ahead with the action. Considering this widespread condemnation of the demolition as an imminent war crime, we the undersigned express our support for the activists currently on trial for protesting JCB’s actions, and urge JCB to urgently reconsider its business dealings with the Israeli dealership Comasco. It is within your power to prevent JCB machinery being used in the Israeli state’s demolition policy, and we urge you to take action.
You are no doubt aware of your responsibilities set out by the UN’s Guiding Principles and OECD guidelines to ensure human rights compliance and due diligence in your business supply chain. Several legal and campaign groups have urged your compliance with these responsibilities, including War on War, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, to which you have not replied. We are concerned that your relationship with the sole Israeli dealership of JCB products, Comasco, is currently not fulfilling these international business human rights guidelines. As recent research shows, JCB’s products were used in 2018 in at least 130 demolitions, including 2 schools and 31 homes. These demolitions displaced 163 people, including 31 children. We note that Carole Bamford’s charitable trust supports disadvantaged communities in India and Brazil, and the NSPCC in the UK. As a result of this work, Carole Bamford received an OBE for services to children. As such we urge you to recognise the effect that JCB equipment is having on children and communities in Palestine when schools and homes are demolished, leaving Palestinian children displaced, homeless or unable to attend school safely, not to mention the impact of this trauma on the mental health of children and their families. We want to impress on you the importance of JCB ceasing all business relations with Israeli company Comasco. We also urge you to ensure that JCB products are not sold or leased to any of the authorities carrying out Israel’s home demolition policy, namely the Israeli government, Israeli military, Israeli police and border police, Israeli Lands Administration and Israeli Civil Administration.