Human rights supporters today staged a nonviolent rooftop occupation at the headquarters of multinational security firm G4S near Crawley, West Sussex. They are protesting at what they describe as “illegal and criminal activities” in both the UK and Palestine/Israel.
Early this morning (2 July), two activists climbed on top of the multi-story building and secured themselves in place using superglue and bike locks.
Two banners were seen hanging from the edge of the building. One read “G4S – Profiting from: Israeli Apartheid, Prison Slavery, Deadly Deportations”.
Another dozen protesters surrounded the building on the ground, shouting slogans and holding anti-G4S placards.
Today's protest is the latest in a new, international campaign against the controversial company, which will provide thousands of security guards for the London Olympics this month.
On 7 June, more than 70 people demonstrated outside the G4S Annual General Meeting and handed shareholders an 'Alternative Annual Report' detailing the company's alleged violations of human rights and international law.
G4S provides equipment to prisons inside Israel to which Palestinian political prisoners from occupied territory are transferred. The campaigners say this is in violation of the Geneva Conventions. They accuse the Israeli authorities of torturing prisoners and subjecting them to arbitrary detention.
Under Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel is forbidden to transfer Palestinian prisoners from occupied territories to prisons inside Israel.
A statement from the campaigners said, “Despite this, thousands of Palestinian prisoners are unlawfully held in prisons inside Israel that are supplied by G4S. Palestinian civil society has condemned G4S complicity with Israeli violations of international law and called for action against the company”.
One of the rooftop protesters, Tom Hayes from the Boycott Israel Network, said: “UK businesses should not be profiting from the detention and mistreatment of children.”
He added, “G4S is an example of a business that cynically views the practices of such regimes as good for business.”
In the UK, G4S runs six private prisons. The company also runs three immigration detention centres, where detainees have made repeated claims of abuse and assault.
Last year the company lost a multi-million contract with the UK Border Agency to deport refused migrants after 773 complaints of abuse were made against it and following the death of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan asylum seeker who died as a result of G4S security guards applying restraint techniques found to be illegal.
Despite all this, G4S is being awarded a wide range of public service contracts, from taking over police forces and providing controversial workfare schemes and asylum accommodation on behalf of the government to providing all security at the London Olympics.
The other rooftop protester, Sean Flint from No Borders UK, said, “Awarding control of the police, justice and prison systems to a company with such a blatant disregard for basic human rights, as the government has shown its willingness to do, is truly frightening”.
The campaigners will picket the 12 July meeting of the West Midlands Police Authority. G4S is bidding for a £1.5bn contract to run police services in the West Midlands and Surrey.