Friday, March 16, 2007

An Open Letter to Halton Co., Local Caterpillar Dealer

March 16, 2007

Dear Mark Fahey:

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today. Today we are writing to urge you to convey to your corporate headquarters our request that Caterpillar stop permitting its D9 and D10 bulldozers to be used by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

We come to you as a people who are directly and indirectly impacted by the human rights violations made possible by Caterpillar products. Many of us have spend time living in the West Bank, visiting with Palestinian families whose home have been slated for demolition and standing in front of piles of rubble that represent the homes and dreams of Palestinians. All of us our tax payers who pay for the $3 billion dollars in aid that goes to Israel each year- . As such, we echo the many international and Israeli human rights organizations who believe that Caterpillar has an obligation to prevent its equipment from being used to commit violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. We call on Caterpillar to:

• Suspend sales of D9 bulldozers and parts to Israel, so long as the product is used to destroy homes and property in violation of international law.

• Take public steps to ensure that Caterpillar’s goods and services will not be used to abuse human rights, in accordance with the U.N. Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights.

We have chosen to visit you today on the 4th anniversary of the death of 23-year-old American Rachel Corrie who was deliberately run over and crushed by a D9 bulldozer as she sought to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home. Rachel Corrie is only one person of many who has been killed during home demolitions performed with Caterpillar products. The D9 and D10 Caterpillar bulldozers have been used to destroy some 12,000 Palestinian homes, leaving an estimated 70,000 people without shelter They have demolished large tracts of the most fertile agricultural land, roads, water and sewer systems in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and uprooted hundreds of thousands of Palestinian olive and fruit trees. They are being used to build Israel’s annexation Wall, in violation of the ruling by the International Court of Justice and intimidate non-violent Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists.

Amnesty International has denounced Israel's razing of Palestinian dwellings as “a grave breach of international humanitarian law.” Human Rights Watch on October 29, 2004 demanded that Caterpillar “immediately suspend” the sale of D9 bulldozers to the Israeli military since it is the “primary weapon to raze Palestinian homes, destroy agriculture and shred roads in violation of the laws of war.” On May 28, 2004, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, wrote to the Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens that Caterpillar bulldozers have been used “to destroy agricultural farms, greenhouses, ancient olive groves and agricultural fields planted with crops, as well as numerous Palestinian homes and sometimes human lives.” Ziegler warned Caterpillar that the delivery of the bulldozers to the Israeli government “might involve complicity or acceptance on the part of your company to actual and potential violations of human rights, including the right to food.”

In its Code of Worldwide Business Conduct Caterpillar makes a commitment to, “accept the responsibilities of global citizenship” and “take into account social priorities.” In light of these high standards, we sincerely believe that Caterpillar will see its way clear to refusing to be complicit in human right violations. We ask you to please convey our heartfelt requests to Caterpillar Corporate Headquarters. We plan to continue to raise this issue and we hope that you will be willing to continue to dialogue with us until Caterpillar’s complicity in these human rights violations is ended.


Representatives of Dorothy Day Portland Catholic Worker House, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Friends of Sabeel and other Portland, Oregon organizations

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