(31 May 2016) PHROC welcomes statements by European officials to uphold the right to participate in and call for BDS measures


Date: 30/5/2016

The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) commends recent statements by European officials on the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. On May 26, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders, affirmed “Statements or meetings concerning BDS are as enshrined in the Dutch Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.” Also on Thursday, Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan stated that BDS “is a legitimate political viewpoint” and that he did “not agree with attempts to demonize those who advocate this policy or to equate them with violent terrorists.”[1] In March, Sweden’s foreign ministry also reportedly noted that BDS “is a civil society movement. Governments should not interfere in civil society organization views.”[2]

These statements are especially important given Israel’s continued attacks against the BDS movement generally, and those against its co-founder, Omar Barghouti, specifically. Earlier this month, Israel provided Omar with written notification rejecting the renewal of his travel document, effectively banning him from travel. Omar’s permanent residency status is now also reportedly under review by Israeli Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri.[3]

PHROC condemns these attacks, and again affirms that Omar and all activists have the right to participate in and call for BDS under international human rights law.  Such actions fall within the right to freedom of expression and the right to hold opinions without interference. Accordingly, PHROC calls on the Dutch and other European governments that support freedom of expression to publicly invite Omar Barghouti to Europe to speak on the BDS movement.
Israel’s attacks against the BDS movement come in the backdrop of a wider campaign against human rights defenders and organizations.[4] In lieu of the international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable for its human rights violations, PHROC organizations underscore the importance of supporting all human rights defenders, activists, and civil society organizations which use peaceful, non-violent measures in working to end Israel’s occupation.


[1] “Human Rights Issues,” Dáil Éireann Debate,26 May 2016, available at http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail2016052600033?opendocument

[2] “Sweden denies Israeli claim that it opposes BDS,” Electronic Intifada, 16 March 2014, available at https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/sweden-denies-israeli-claim-it-opposes-bds

[3] Israel boycott campaigner ‘prevented from travel,’ Times of Israel, 10 May 2016, available at http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-boycott-campaigner-prevented-from-travel/

[4]See “Israeli government must cease intimidation of human rights defenders, protect them from attacks,” Amnesty International, 12 April 2016, available at http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/press-releases/israeli-government-must-cease-intimidation-of-human-rights-defenders-protect-them-from-attacks; “Al-Haq Under Attack- Staff Member’s Life Threatened,” Al-Haq, 3 March 2016, available at http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/human-rights-defenders/1026-al-haq-under-attack-staff-members-life-threatened.