[Chicago, IL] A shareholder resolution calling on the Caterpillar Board
of Directors to report on foreign sales of weapons-related equipment
and products, including the destination of those products, received a
3.3% vote at the annual shareholder meeting today in Chicago [pending
final certification]. It met the minimum threshold of support required
for placement on the ballot next year.
resolution was backed by investors with holdings estimated to be valued
in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Co-filers included Jewish
Voice for Peace, Sisters of Loretto, Sisters of Mercy, and 11 other
Suha Dabbouseh of the US Campaign to End the Occupation also announced
that the Campaign, JVP, and other co-filers had secured a future
meeting with CAT CEO Jim Owens, who publicly defended the company
against charges that it profited from human rights violations in the
Palestinian Occupied Territories by stating that, "No one is chasing
the car companies," even though cars are being used to blow up people.
Dabbouseh said, "We welcome Owens' commitment to dialogue. But that is
only the first step. We want to see corporate policies that put human
Lynn Pollack of Jewish Voice for Peace introduced the resolution,
saying "We believe that the use of Caterpillar equipment by foreign
militaries in actions that violate human rights and international
humanitarian law raises issues for Caterpillar corporate policy and
risks damage to the company's reputation. ... As it stands, we know one
place where Caterpillar machinery / weapons are being used to
perpetrate human rights abuses in a conflict zone that place is in the
West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza."
The meeting was preceded by a spirited protest out front, and a press
conference with representatives from various human rights organization
including Stop CAT, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Jewish
Voice for Peace and the Arab American Action Network.
Three area residents from Stop CAT were escorted out of the meeting by plainclothes Chicago
policemen when they interrupted the proceedings to say the names of
Palestinians families who had lost their homes to Caterpillar D-9
bulldozers used by the Israeli military. One of the families mentioned
was the Nasrallah family, whose home nonviolent activist Rachel Corrie
was defending when she was killed by a CAT bulldozer. The protestors
each chanted,"Do the right thing!"
Matt Gaines, organizer for Chicago-based Stop CAT said, "Caterpillar's role in destroying Palestine
homes must be stopped. We will sustain or efforts in applying
non-violent, tactics on Caterpillar until they adhere to there own
stated corporate standards."
Over the years,
Caterpillar has come under fire from the international human rights
community--including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the
UN-- for supplying weaponized bulldozers to Israel's military. These bulldozers have been used to destroy thousands of homes and family orchards in the West Bank and Gaza in violation of international law.
Caterpillar continues to face threats of divestment from major
religious denominations including the Presbyterian Church USA, which is
currently engaged in direct talks, will be considering further action next week
at their General Assembly in San Jose, CA; and the World Council of
Churches, which represents some half a billion Christians, in 2005
issued a statement supporting selective divestment from companies that
profit from Israel's occupation.
A group in Seattle is
gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to divest from companies,
including Caterpillar and Halliburton that profit from the occupations
in Iraq and/or the Palestinian Territories.
Caterpillar was also sued by the parents of nonviolent human rights
activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer while
defending a home in Gaza from being destroyed.
Jewish Voice for Peace is the country's largest grassroots Jewish peace
group dedicated to achieving a lasting peace that recognizes the
aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and
self-determination. We work to promote a foreign policy based on peace,
democracy, human rights and respect for international law. Contact JVP
for background information on the silent majority of American Jews who
support an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org