Palestine activists target Hewlett Packard
By human rights campaigner and freelance journalist Lucy Dunne.
Occupying a Curry’s PC World may not be everyone’s first choice of activity on a Saturday afternoon, but this is exactly what Palestine activists chose to do this month to kickstart the UK campaign against Hewlett Packard (HP).
Ethical Consumer has recently documented exactly why HP is such a legitimate target in the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. As documented extensively by research group Who Profits, the company has numerous and ongoing contracts with the Israeli government, which includes providing technology and equipment to the army and prison services.
HP also developed and maintains what is called the Basel system, an automated biometric control system used in checkpoints across the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and which serves to systematically deprive Palestinians of freedom of movement in their own land. The company equally provides services to the illegal West Bank settlements of Ariel and Modi’in Ilit.
This autumn, the Boycott Israel Network issued an unprecedented call out for a UK day of action against Hewlett Packard in the run up to Christmas. On Saturday 15th November activists in Brighton responded to this call, and I was one of them. An occupation of a Curry’s PC World store and street theatre in the form of an Israeli checkpoint attracted a huge crowd. Many members of the public stopped to watch as activists dressed as Israeli soldiers subjected those dressed as Palestinians to the humiliation and intimidation of a checkpoint.
Sarah Cobham was among the activists occupying the Curry’s PC World store in the heart of the city centre. Commenting on the action, she said: “Hewlett Packard are up to their necks in the abuse of Palestinian human rights. We are supporting a full boycott of all Hewlett Packard products until they end their complicity in Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land, control of Palestinians at checkpoints, incarceration of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, and attacks on Palestinians fishing off the coast of Gaza.”
A veteran of the boycott movement against South African apartheid, Steve of Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was one of the Palestine activists playing the role of an Israeli soldier. Explaining his involvement, he said: “The mechanisms and systems of Israeli occupation and apartheid are still not fully recognised by ordinary people, which is why direct actions are so important.... They can also lead to what every company dreads - publicity that is not in its interests or that which it cannot control.”
This autumn marks the beginning of a long-standing campaign against Hewlett Packard in the UK. People across the country are being urged to stage their own actions against HP stockists and to press for boycott and divestment as part of a wider BDS strategy. You can start by pledging to boycott HP products.
Read more about the BDS movement.
You can follow Lucy on Twitter @lucydunne_ and visit her website.