Opinion: I Was Stopped From Speaking Out Against Israel’s Crimes. Britain’s Complicity In Palestinian Repression Must End

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
Palestinian
Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist with BDS, had his visa delayed and couldn’t attend a conference in the U.K. In this photo, British soldiers are pictured in the old city of Jerusalem during the British Mandate. Britain controlled Palestine from 1923 to 1948.

A Palestinian human rights activist and the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement failed to make a planned appearance at a U.K. Labour Party conference fringe event after his visa was delayed.

Omar Barghouti was due to speak at the Sept. 22 conference on “Palestine in the Age of Trump” but did not get his visa approved in time despite making an application well in advance.

“I was planning to expose the deepening complicity of the British government, corporations and institutions, in enabling Israel’s brutal system of oppression,” Barghouti wrote in a guest column in British online newspaper The Independent.

That did not go over well.

“Barghouti is unable to travel to the U.K. because his visa was abnormally delayed by the British government without explanation,” the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said in a statement posted on their website.

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Delay tactics for Palestinian activist

The British embassy in Amman wrote to Barghouti saying they could not reach a decision on his visa application in the standard amount of time.

“This is a desperate attempt to silence Palestinian human rights defenders, especially BDS advocates, who challenge not only Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid but also U.K. complicity in maintaining this regime,” Barghouti said in a statement published by The Independent.

In April, Barghouti was barred from entering the U.S., where he was scheduled to meet with policymakers and journalists. He has previously visited both the U.K. and the U.S.