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PICTURES: Protestors take Palestinian cause to the streets of Inverness city centre

By Alasdair Fraser

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A large protest highlighting how Highland Council’s pension fund helps bankroll weaponry used against civilians in Palestine and elsewhere around the world took place on Saturday in Inverness city centre.

From noon, the hour-long vigil by the group Highland-Palestine saw dozens of people carrying banners and placards congregate outside the Town House to mark Nakba Day, the international date used to commemorate the destruction of the Palestinian homeland from 1948.

The end of the British mandate for Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel that year led to the permanent displacement of a majority of the Palestinian people.

Nakba, or ‘catastrophe’, is the term given to the process that opponents say is still ongoing today.

Highland Council’s pension fund invests in a portfolio including the US conglomerate General Dynamics which, is it is claimed, sells weapons used by the Israeli air force against Palestinian civilians.

A statement by Highland-Palestine said: “We are calling for an end to the system of apartheid instituted by the State of Israel, as confirmed in recent reports by both B’Tselem and Human Rights watch.

“We are also be calling for the Highland Council Pension Fund (HCPF) to stop investing in war crimes.

“Despite calls by councillors for the pension fund to divest from General Dynamic,s no action has been taken, and a spokesperson for the fund has given the impression that no action will be taken.

“HCPF is dependent on dividend returns from the arms industry, tobacco, gambling, cheap fast food, agrochemicals etc, according to the chair of the HCPF Investment sub-Committee, councillor Ben Thompson.

“Councillor Thompson, who has previously claimed the fund ‘takes environmental, social and governance issues seriously’, made his frank admission in the course of correspondence with Highland-Palestine regarding the future of the fund’s investments in General Dynamics.”

Highland councillors Derek Louden and Craig Fraser argued at a March 18 meeting of the pension fund committee that it was time for the fund to disinvest from General Dynamics.

The Highland-Palestine statement added: “As Highland residents, we have a right to know what action the committee intends to take in response.”

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