June 20, 2009

Tehran shows Palestine the love; now how bout the Saudis?

From Stop the Wall:

Tehran drops Veolia from city transport network
Worldwide Activism, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, June 17th, 2009


Left: The light rail cuts through Jerusalem, linking the surrounding settlements.


Following pressure from BNC, the mayor of Tehran announced that Veolia would no longer have a key role in city's urban transport system. This victory in Iran, along with others France, UK, Sweden, and Holland, has cost Veolia an estimated $7 billion in lost contracts and were key in pushing the company to leave the Jerusalem light rail project.

Veolia and Alstom are both active in Iran. The Tehran Municipality and Veolia had agreed to collaborate on the implementation of some projects concerning the environment and the development of the urban transport system. Alstom has a headquarters in Tehran and received a number of large contracts, including a 192 million euro contract with Iran's state railways in 1999 and a larger 375 million euro contract to supply 50 turbo compressors to Iran in 2002.

In April, representatives from the BNC called on Iran to back up it's rhetorical support for the Palestinian cause by acting on the BDS call and taking "the necessary steps to ban Veolia and Alstom and their subsidiaries from any contracts and operations in the country."

This demand did not go unheeded. The Islamic Human Rights Commission sent out a call in Iran, rallying students to write to Tehran’s Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, pressure him over Veolia’s role in developing the city’s transport system. IHRC also contacted Ghalibaf directly over the matter. After a week's time, Ghalibaf announced the city’s decision to cancel Veolia’s involvement in the Tehran transport project.


A big shukran to the mayor of Tehran. Wish we could say the same to the Saudi rulers. A 2008 call from the BNC for the Saudis not to deal with Alstrom was met with silence. In February it was announced that Alstrom was part of a consortium winning a contract to build part of a proposed Mekka-Medinah high-speed rail. Alstrom, which has not pulled out of the Jerusalem light rail project, of which it owns 20% (Veolia owns 5%), is in the running for the contract to build the rest of the Mekka-Medinah line.

Grass roots pressure cost Veolia 7 billion dollars. It convinced the mayor of Tehran. Here's how you can help nudge the Saudis into doing the right thing by Palestine:

Prevent Alstom from building the Haramain Express Railway

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