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Clear warning to Danone company

Call for the Danone Group cancel all its existing contracts with Eden Springs

Relay from Associacion Paz con Dignidad

Sunday 29 May 2005

General Manager of Danone Spain,

Dear Sir/Madam

The undersigned organizations are deeply concerned about violations of human rights and international law, and are commited to the search for a fair peace process in Palestine. We therefore wish to express our grave concern about the development of a commercial association between the Danone Group and the Israeli enterprise Eden Springs.

Eden Springs is located in Katzrin, on the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights is a Syrian sovereign territory occupied by the Israeli Army since the Six Day War, in 1967. Israel has expelled over 120.000 people from that territory (the large majority of them Syrian inhabitants, but also Palestinian refugees) and has destroyed two cities, 133 towns and 61 farms. After this devastation there are only 6.396 people left in six towns.

On the 14th of December 1981, the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, unilateraly annexed the Golan Heights, clearly violating international law. The UN Security Council declared this annexion illegal and to this day has not been recognized by any member state. To the contrary, Israel has built over 40 settlements and has moved in over 15.000 settlers. The Syrian Government has repeatedly requested Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights and the few original people left resist the Israeli seizure of their land.

As in the cases of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, the withdrawal of the Israeli Army and the deconstruction of the settlements is a precondition for any peace agreement in the Middle East conflict. Agreements with any enterprise located on the Golan Heights and in the other occupied territories only serve to reinforce the illegal colonisation of those lands and therefore undermine the foundation of a fair peace process in that region. Furthermore, enterprises that comercialize water are guilty of robbery: the Israeli exploitation of the precious water resources from the illegally occupied territories -including the Golan Heights— is widely known.

The Danone Group has formed an association with Eden Springs in the marketing of water coolers for homes and offices. The company of the joint venture is based in Lausanne (Switzerland) and is headed by the general manager of Eden Springs Europe. The terms of the association state the possibility of its disolution at Danone’s request from 2005 on.

We the undersigned organizations demand that the Danone Group cancel all its existing contracts with Eden Springs. We are promoting a campaign to boycott the products of the Israeli settler enterprises from the occupied territories of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Similar ongoing campaigns already exist in Israel and Palestine, as well as in the USA, Arab countries and in the EU. In these boycotts the enterprise Eden Springs takes up a prominent position.

We understand that Danone promotes an image of environmental responsability, good health and ethics. One would hope that the image is backed up by a real code of ethics and a corresponding corporate responsability. We look forward to an appropriate response explaining how the behaviour of enterprises associated with Danone shall reflect that worthy image.

Yours faithfully,