Tonight’s Award Ceremony Canceled Due to Pressure From Social Justice Groups
Craig and Cindy Corrie Hand Deliver Petition of over 7,000 Signatures Today
For Immediate Release
Washington DC – September 14, 2011 – Representatives of numerous organizations that advocate for a just peace in the Middle East are calling today for the National Building Museum to rescind its designation of Caterpillar Inc. for its prestigious Henry C. Turner Prize. Cindy and Craig Corrie for the Rachel Corrie Foundation, and representatives of 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 from throughout the country) will visit the museum today to deliver a call from over 140 regional, national, and international groups and over 7000 individual petitioners who oppose designation of Caterpillar Inc. for the 2011 award. Due to pressure from social justice groups across the country, the museum previously cancelled its Turner Prize public award ceremony scheduled for tonight.
According to Craig Corrie of the Rachel Corrie Foundation, “We hope to help the National Building Museum better understand the role of Caterpillar Inc. in the Israeli occupation, and how CAT continues to supply the Israeli military knowing their equipment is being used to commit human rights violations. We hope, too, to encourage the museum to use this opportunity to explore issues related to construction and destruction in areas of conflict and specifically in areas of occupation.”
Opposition to the award stems from Caterpillar’s long history of designing and routinely supplying equipment used by the Israeli military to demolish Palestinian homes, to destroy olive trees and farmland, and to facilitate expropriation of Palestinian territory through construction of Jewish-only settlements and an Israeli separation-annexation wall. Caterpillar equipment has also been used in the killing and injury of Palestinian and international civilians.
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 recommendations from leading human rights groups, Caterpillar continues to provide this equipment to Israel, putting the importance of profit above human lives.
In a related development, the Presbyterian Church’s Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) on September 9th recommended that Caterpillar Inc. be added to the divestment list of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In its announcement, MRTI stated, “Caterpillar has profited from sales of its products to Israeli military and civilian authorities, including its D-9 bulldozers which are used to demolish Palestinian homes and construct settlements and Israeli-only roads on Palestinian land, acts deemed illegal under international law. The company has never accepted responsibility for how its products are used and has not responded to requests for dialogue since 2009 from MRTI or other religious groups.”
The campaign to urge the National Building Museum to rescind its award to Caterpillar Inc. is spearheaded by the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice, based in Olympia, WA. The organization was founded to continue the work of Rachel Corrie, an American civilian 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.
Sydney Levy, Director for Campaigns of the endorsing organization Jewish Voice for Peace stated, “The National Building Museum has canceled its event honoring Caterpillar – and this is a good first step – but the museum should be consistent in its decision and cancel the award altogether. Rewarding Caterpillar privately is like opposing Palestinian home demolitions by daylight, but supporting them under cover of night.”
For more information, please visit: www.rachelcorriefoundation.org
AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW:
Craig and Cindy Corrie, Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
[email protected] (360) 359-6790
Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace
[email protected] (415) 994-4854
Anna Baltzer, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
[email protected] (202) 332 0994