BDS founder unable to attend UK Labour event due to visa delay

Sep 22,2019

Palestine Solidarity Campaign blames delay in handling of Omar Barghouti’s visa request on ‘growing efforts by Israel and its allies to suppress Palestinian voices.’

Co-founder of Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) will be unable to speak at an event at the UK Labour Party’s upcoming annual conference due to his visa request being delayed.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), a pro-BDS group hosting the event on the sidelines of the Labour conference in Brighton, said on Friday that Omar Barghouti would instead address the gathering by video due to the UK government’s “unexplained, abnormal delay” in issuing him a visa.

“The unprecedented delay in processing Barghouti’s travel visa application by the British government is part and parcel of the growing efforts by Israel and its allies to suppress Palestinian voices and the movements for Palestinian rights,” PSC said in a statement.

Barghouti had been set to speak at the “Palestine in the age of Trump” event alongside Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Unite union chief Len McCluskey, both allies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“They fear our shining a light of truth that reveals their lies. They dread our tireless quest for freedom, justice and equality,” Barghouti said, according to the PSC statement.

There was no immediate comment from the UK Home Office, which handles visa requests.

Earlier this year, Barghouti was denied entry to the US for a multi-city speaking tour.

The Arab American Institute said at the time that Barghouti, a resident of Acre who is married to an Arab Israeli and holds Israeli permanent resident status, was not provided an explanation for his denial of entry beyond being told it was an “immigration matter.”

James Zogby, the head of the Arab American Institute, called Barghouti’s ban an “arbitrary political decision,” and accused the Trump administration of working to “silence Palestinian voices.”

Israel has barred Barghouti from leaving the county a number of times in recent years by refusing to renew travel documents granted to Palestinian residents of Israel who do not have full citizenship.

The BDS campaign, a non-violent movement, advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

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