When the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) launched its campaign against the Veolia and Connex companies, all of Melbourne took notice.
Australian visual artist (and PSC member) Van Thanh Rudd contributed a simple yet powerful work to the Melbourne exhibition, “Resisting Subversion of Subversion Resistance: Propositions towards urban (r)evolution exhibition.” Titled “Economy of Movement (a Piece of Palestine),” the work consists of a rock on a stand flanked by two information signs. One sign identifies the rock as coming from East Jerusalem and says that it was thrown at an Occupation tank by Palestinian youth. The other sign states: “IDF tanks are protecting French companies Veolia (Connex) and Alstom as they are conducting illegal* operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory *under international law”
Veolia is the French parent company of Australian Connex; Alstom is a French company that specializes in rail infrastructure. These companies are part of a consortium that is building a light rail to service Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, which puts them in violation of at least two articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Activists around the world have utilized these violations as a tool with which to pressure Veolia into pulling out of the project.
Because the rail is designed to transport settlers into East Jerusalem, it is in violation of article 49, which states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
In addition, the rail is being built on confiscated Palestinian property, thereby violating article 53: “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
Not surprisingly, Zionist supporters in Melbourne complained about the work and managed to have it covered temporarily. Unlike previous attempts to censor Rudd’s work for its controversial stands, however, the principle of free speech prevailed, and the piece was uncovered when the exhibit opened in early March at Plaform Artist artspace at Flinders St Station, a major train station in the city center.
PSC activists in Australia are demanding that the Australian government break its contracts with Connex, and they call on the government to break all political, economic, cultural, and military ties with Israel until it abides by its international obligations.
For information about light rail and what you can do click here.