The annual general meeting of global security company, G4S, was severely disrupted today by campaigners protesting about the company’s alleged complicity in human rights abuses and breaches of international law.
Instead of discussing issues such as capital growth, the AGM was dominated by the subject of G4S’s contracts with the Israeli Prison Service, and its role in servicing checkpoints in the occupied West Bank.
G4S operates in six Israeli prisons where Palestinian children, women and men are held, often without charge or trial, and often tortured. The West Bank checkpoints, which severely restrict Palestinian freedom of movement, are provided with scanners and maintenance services by G4S.
Hugh Lanning, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), was one of a number of PSC executive staff and members who attended the AGM as shareholders.
He presented G4S Chair, John Connolly, with a petition signed by more than 3,000 members of the public calling on G4S to end its involvement with Israeli prisons and checkpoints.
Thirteen of the 26 questions put to the board focused on G4S’s role in Israeli prisons and at checkpoints. G4S Chair, John Connolly, and CEO, Ashley Almanza, refused to give a definitive answer on whether G4S was preparing to withdraw from all its contracts with the Israeli Prison Service.
Other shareholders questioned the board on abuses at G4S-run Oakwood prison, Birmingham, and the death of Angolan asylum seeker, Jimmy Mubenga, while he was being put on a plane at Heathrow by G4S guards for deportation.
The meeting was disrupted seven times near the beginning by protestors shouting slogans, including, ‘Shame on G4S for being complicit in crimes against Palestinians’ and ‘You are supporting the only apartheid in the 21st century’. At least 16 protestors were forcibly ejected from the meeting by G4S guards.
Speaking after the meeting, PSC Chair, Hugh Lanning, said: “G4S will remain a global target for PSC and the solidarity movement until it ends its complicity with breaches of international law.
“Today we have presented to John Connolly a petition of thousands of signatures. This is not a campaign of a few protestors, but of global public opinion. It will not end until G4S changes its attitude”
The Guardian newspaper today published two letters signed by leading global figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, author Alice Walker, and 14 British MPs, calling on G4S to terminate its contracts with Israeli prisons and end its part in the occupation.
Later the Guardian published this report ‘G4S security guards violently remove protesters from AGM‘