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B.C. group protests global company supplying surveillance cameras to Israel

Hikvision technology being used to monitor Palestinians, Amnesty International found in 2023 report

A group of B.C. protesters staged a demonstration in Burnaby on Tuesday (Feb. 27), calling for an arms embargo on Israel and for a video surveillance company to stop supplying the country with cameras.

Roughly a dozen people showed up for the action outside of security wholesaler ADI Global Distribution on Tuesday morning, where the company in question, Hikvision, was holding an event. The Chinese-state owned manufacturer is accused of being complicit in the deaths of the more than 29,000 Palestinians who have been killed since the Israel-Palestine war began on Oct. 7.

The company has offices around the world, including in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

It is a known supplier of surveillance cameras for Israel, dozens of which Amnesty International identified in the West Bank during a 2022 investigation. Amnesty noted in a subsequent report that Hikvision’s cameras are capable of human and vehicle recognition out-of-box and could be getting combined with an Israeli police-run facial-recognition surveillance network known as Mabat 2000.

In its report, Amnesty said such technologies are “providing the Israeli authorities with powerful new tools for curbing freedom of movement…” Amnesty also expressed concern that the cameras were being used to track Palestinians and curb protests.

The concern among groups, including Tuesday’s demonstrators in Burnaby, is that the cameras are now being harnessed as a means of war, as well.

Hikvision’s products have been banned in the United States, over national security concerns, but are used in Canada.

Amnesty International reached out to the company in 2023 with questions around the use of its cameras and human rights violations, but the Hikvision never responded. Black Press Media also contacted the company, but didn’t receive a response as of Tuesday afternoon.

In Hikvision’s own 2022 Environmental, Social and Governance Report, the company says it is committed to “avoiding actions that impede human rights through misuse of products and technologies” and claims it operates inline with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among other rights documents.

An online petition signed by close to 4,000 people, argues that Hikvision’s cameras are impeding on Palestinians’ rights to freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and right to equality and nondiscrimination.

“We call on Hikvision to pull out of the illegally Occupied Palestinian Territory, cease selling technologies for the continued entrenchment of apartheid, and stop profiting from occupation and rights abuse against Palestinian people,” the petition reads.

Tuesday’s demonstrators echoed that call.

“We will continue to hold the government and all private entities arming Israel to account…,” organizer Aysha Jameel said in a statement.

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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