Palestinian activist missed Labour conference as visa delayed

25th Oct 2019

Harun Nasrullah

Prominent Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), Omar Barghouti, missed a planned appearance at a Labour Party conference event last month after his visa was delayed.

Barghouti was due to speak at the event alongside the Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, the Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey and Labour MP Lisa Nandy. Barghouti applied for his visa on September 2 but was informed his application would not be processed within the normal timeframe.

In an email to Barghouti, the British Embassy in Jordan said his application process had ‘not been straightforward’, and they were ‘unable to make a decision’ on his application within the usual time.

Barghouti was due to speak at The World Transformed, Momentum’s alternative Labour conference in an event titled ‘Palestine in the age of Trump.’ He appeared through video link instead. Barghouti branded the delay to his visa “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 UK complicity in maintaining this regime.”

In April, Barghouti was barred from entering the US, where he was scheduled to meet with policymakers and journalists. He has previously visited both the UK and the US. He added: “Israel’s escalating war on BDS, supported mostly by far-right regimes and autocratic populists, follows Israel’s failure to stop support for Palestinian rights and BDS from growing worldwide.”

A spokesperson from The World Transformed said: “Omar Barghouti is an internationally renowned human rights defender working to amplify the voice of the Palestinian people struggling for their internationally recognised rights. We were excited to welcome him to share his perspective and experience of the criminalisation of solidarity, a problem which this incident further highlights.”

Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Kamel Hawwash, said: “This abnormal delay” in processing Barghouti’s visa application “comes in the context of statements by UK Government ministers expressing their intention to suppress UK support for the Palestinian-led BDS movement. Omar’s voice will be heard at the Labour conference and all of those committed to supporting universal principles of freedom, justice and equality will continue to stand strong in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our service standard is to decide straightforward applications within 15 working days, although more complex cases take longer.”

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