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US bars entry to Palestinian co-founder of BDS movement

April 12, 2019 at 4:10 am

Palestinian researcher, commentator, and human rights activist Omar Barghouti speaks during a conferenceat the ULB university in Brussels, on 30 April 2013. [AFP PHOTO / BELGA – ERIC LALMAND / Getty]

The US has denied entry to the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Washington-based advocacy group the Arab American Institute (AAI) said Thursday, Anadolu reports.

AAI said Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian activist, was barred from taking a flight to New York on Wednesday. He was stopped at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, according to the institute, which had been coordinating his trip to the US

Barghouti, the co-founder of the BDS movement, had a valid US visa as well as the proper travel documents, AAI said.

“Omar Barghouti is a leading Palestinian voice on human rights. Omar’s denial of entry into the US is the latest example of the Trump administration’s disregard for those rights,” James Zogby, president of AAI, said in a statement.

Barghouti also released a statement, which was posted online, saying the denial of entry is part of Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people.

Read: Minor, woman among 15 Palestinians detained by Israeli forces

“The US entry ban against me, which is ideologically and politically motivated, is part of Israel’s escalating repression against Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders in the BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality,” Barghouti said, according to the statement, which was posted on the BDS movement’s Twitter account.

“Supporters of Israeli apartheid in the US are desperately trying to deny US lawmakers, media, diverse audiences at universities, a bookstore and a synagogue their right to listen, first-hand, to a Palestinian human rights advocate calling for ending US complicity in Israel’s crimes against our people,” he added.

“But all my talks will go ahead, with me speaking online.”

The BDS movement was formed in 2005 by 170 Palestinian civil society and rights groups and calls for a boycott of Israeli companies involved in violating Palestinian human rights and for institutions to withdraw their investments in those companies as a form of non-violent pressure on Israel.

It also calls for sanctions campaigns to pressure governments to fulfil their legal obligation to hold Israel to account.

The movement works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law, according to its official website.

The ban on Barghouti’s entry comes as Republicans in the House of Representatives pushed forward a petition to force the Senate to vote on a bill that would allow state and city governments to penalize entities seeking to boycott, divest from or sanction the state of Israel.

Some 26 states across the US have imposed anti-BDS measures.

READ: Is there anything Palestinians can do? (Part 1)