FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cindy Corrie, [email protected], (360) 359-6790
Olympia, Washington – September 7, 2011 – Due to pressure from social justice groups across the country, the National Building Museum has canceled a public award ceremony to present Caterpillar Inc. with the 2011 Henry C. Turner Prize. Given in partnership with Turner Construction, the prize is awarded annually to recognize “an invention, an innovative methodology, and/or exceptional leadership…in construction technology.”
Opposition to the award stems from Caterpillar’s long history of complicity in widespread human rights violations within the occupied Palestinian Territories. Caterpillar routinely provides Israel with equipment designed specifically for military use knowing it is used to demolish Palestinian homes, to kill and injure Palestinian and international civilians, to destroy olive trees and farmland, and to facilitate expropriation of Palestinian territory through construction of Jewish-only settlements and Israel’s apartheid wall.
As the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, Caterpillar has long been aware of the human rights abuses and violations of international law committed with its help. In 2004, Amnesty International recommended that Caterpillar “take measures – within the company sphere of influence – to guarantee that its bulldozers are not used to commit human rights violations…” The same year, Human Rights Watch demanded that Caterpillar suspend the sale of D9 bulldozers to the Israeli military. Despite these suggestions from leading human rights groups, Caterpillar continues to provide this equipment to Israel, putting the importance of profit above human lives.
In August, a coalition of organizations launched a petition and letter writing campaign, urging the National Building Museum to rescind its award to Caterpillar. The campaign is spearheaded by the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice, based in Olympia, WA. The foundation was founded to continue the work of Rachel Corrie, an American civilian who was killed in 2003 when she was crushed to death by a weaponized Caterpillar D9-R bulldozer as she tried to prevent the Israeli military from demolishing a family’s home in Rafah, Gaza.
“The National Building Museum describes itself as apolitical,” said Cindy Corrie, President of the Rachel Corrie Foundation. “Yet they have made a distinctly political choice recognizing Caterpillar Inc. for advancements in technology — when people around the world know the corporation to be a symbol of destruction of lives, land, and livelihoods in Israel and Palestine.”
Although the public ceremony scheduled for September 14th has been canceled, organizers will continue their campaign to have the prize offer to Caterpillar rescinded. Cindy and Craig Corrie will present the petition, already totaling 5,300 signatures and 55 organizational endorsements, to the National Building Museum within the next week.
Other groups supporting the campaign include Jewish Voice for Peace, Code Pink, the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a coalition of more than 350 organizations around the country.
According to Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace’s Director of Campaigns, “The Museum decided to pull the event out of ‘an abundant concern for the safety of Museum staff and guests.’ Let me assure that our letter writing campaign posed no threat to the safety of the museum. On the other hand, the Caterpillar bulldozers that the Museum is still honoring do pose a real and present threat to thousands of Palestinians whose homes have been demolished or are under the threat of future demolition.”
For more information, please visit: www.rachelcorriefoundation.org