On Tuesday 17th May 2011, ten BDS activists from the UK, from various groups including London BDS, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the BDS National Committee, as well as Innovative Minds travelled to Paris to show solidarity and support for French BDS activists in their action outside the Veolia AGM.
Three French BDS groups had come together for the action: Association France Palestine Solidarite (AFPS), Campagne BDS-France and CAPJPO EuroPalestine.
Veolia has long been complicit in Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
Veolia is helping build and operate the Jerusalem Light Railway, a project which the UN Human Rights Council has declared is a "clear violation of international law". The tram line runs across stolen Palestinian land connecting illegal Israeli settlements to Israel thereby helping consolidate the occupation.
Jerusalem Light Railway
Veolia also runs bus services for Israeli settlers runing on apartheid highway 443 which is built on expropriated Palestinian land which until recently was totally barred to Palestinians.
Apartheid Road 443
Veolia's shameful crimes in Palestine also includes the Tovlan landfill site it operates in the occupied Jordan Valley where it helps Israel dump its toxic waste on to Palestinian land next to the Palestinian village of Abu Ajaj. The villagers now suffer persistent breathing problems and their animals have shorter lives and more still births are recorded.
Tovlan landfill site
The Veolia AGM was held at the conference hall in the Carrousel du Louvre, a shopping centre located in the Louvre Palace.
Inside the Carrousel, around 35 bds activists from France the UK united to inform Veolia's shareholders of Veolia's crimes in Palestine.
Whilst security personnel prevented banners from being unfurled and prevented filming of the action they did not prevent the activists from holding placards and giving out leaflets to shareholders as they entered the AGM.
In the AGM, shareholder after shareholder raised concerns about Veolia's actions in Palestine and the resulting loss of contracts around the word due to the BDS movement. Their questions dominated the AGM and received applause from the floor.
Veolia's chairman clearly shaken, abruptly cut the microphone, but it was too late. The BDS activists had succeeded, the message was out, Veolia's dirty secrets were out and Veolia's shareholders were asking questions and demanding answers.
"You cannot simplify the question of violence.. You look at human history - the American revolution, the civil war, the end of slavery in the United States, the African National Congress, the end of colonialism - by and large these were some combination of popular social uprisings and social movements and non-violent protests AND armed resistance. Now that doesn't mean I'm advocating for any armed action today, I'm not. I'm committed to finding ways of acting and speaking and making people laugh and doing art and disrupting the war machine in other ways, but I think focusing on violence when we have the comfort of being protected by mass of armed violence is not non-violence at all.. if you are pointing to the mass of violence and who's doing the mass of violence in the world today, you have to look to state violence - that's people bombing whole cities from the air.. "