Group Cites Human Rights Violations by MBCR Stakeholder Veolia
A coalition of activist and community groups asked the MBTA Board to drop its current contract with Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail (MBCR) and re-open the bidding process for the commuter rail contract at Wednesday's MassDOT/MBTA Board of Directors’ public meeting.
Representatives from a coalition of 13 community groups including American Friends Service Committee, Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Community Church of Boston, Grassroots International, Pax Christi Boston, Jewish Voice for Peace Boston, and United for Justice with Peace presented the Board with their unanswered letter of Oct. 18, 2012, detailing their demands and documenting MBCR’s misdeeds as well as Veolia’s human rights violations. They also presented the Board with signatures from over 1,000 Massachusetts residents who join them in asking the MBTA Board to drop MBCR/Veolia.
MBCR has a record of poor service, double-billing, and OSHA violations. Despite this misconduct, MBCR is widely believed to be the inside bidder for the new MBTA commuter rail contract, which has discouraged potential competitors.
MBCR is also 60% owned by French multinational Veolia, which operates buses in the illegally occupied West Bank in Palestine that connect Israeli settlements to one another and to Jerusalem. Human rights organizations like Amnesty International and B'Tselem have repeatedly condemned Israel’s construction of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem as a violation of international law. Moreover, the Israeli military prevents Palestinians from boarding Veolia’s buses or entering the settlements. Veolia’s buses and light-rail system entrench Israel’s colonial outposts and facilitate segregation. In essence, Veolia runs a de facto Jim Crow transportation system in the West Bank.
Israel is now considering giving this segregation the force of law by creating an entirely separate transit system for Palestinians altogether.
The Board had no response to activists’ demands. Earlier this year, the coalition confronted Veolia North America CEO Mark Joseph at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He denied that Veolia has lost revenue due to its unsavory activities in the West Bank and claimed personally to oppose Veolia ceasing its segregated operations in Palestine.
Since 2005, however, Veolia has lost over $13 billion in contracts and countless investors worldwide due to its unsavory activities in the West Bank. Activists all over the world have successfully targeted Veolia in response to the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends its occupation and dismantles the wall, recognizes the equal rights of Palestinian citizens, and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees. In demanding the MBTA drop its contract with Veolia/MBCR, Bostonians are proud to be part of the global BDS movement and stand against racism, segregation, and apartheid in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
To learn more: