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A peaceful citizens' initiative violently repressed Israel

by (CJPP) The Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine

Coalition pour la Justice et la Paix en Palestine (CJPP) 

 The Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine


Press release

For immediate publication

Montreal, November 10th, 2011


The Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine denounces the complicity of the Harper government and demands the resignation of Foreign Minister, John Baird

A peaceful citizens' initiative violently repressed Israel.

November 1, 2011 two ships carrying 27 people of various nationalities, the Canadian boat Tahrir and the Irish boat Saoirse set sail to Gaza in order to non-violently break the illegal blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza, and to deliver medicine to people imprisoned for 5 years now. Israeli forces illegally captured the two boats in international waters. Contrary to the statement suggested by the Israeli military to the effect that "the naval commandos have taken all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of militants on board ship as much as their own," the interception of two ships by Israeli forces was violent and endangered the lives of the activists.

According to the report issued by the US Boat To Gaza on November 6, Israeli commandos began their attack by spraying people on board with high pressure water jets and continued their encircling movement so that the boats collided and nearly capsized. Very well aware that the passengers were unarmed and were acting according to the principle of nonviolence, the soldiers continually pointed their guns at them and beat several Canadian activists, even tasering one of them.
The activists were then led, handcuffed and shackled, and incarcerated in Israel’s Givon prison without the right to communicate with the outside, without information on the fate of their colleagues. Their personal effects and communication equipment (computers, phones, etc.) were stolen by the Israeli authorities. They were pressured to sign a document confessing that "they had entered Israel on their own and illegally"! - they obviously refused to do so. They were treated like common criminals when in fact they were political prisoners. Accredited journalists who were on board the two boats suffered the same fate as all the passengers, in violation of the status of journalists and the right to information. Finally, according to the latest information, Irish activists are still being detained by the Israeli authorities, an act of "sheer malice" according to their lawyer.

This Israeli aggression in international waters, illegal under international maritime law, as was the repression of previous initiatives involving Canadian citizens to peacefully break the illegal blockade of Gaza, was shamefully and cowardly supported by the Harper government in flagrant denial of its responsibilities at the international level. Canada did not choose to confront a foreign government which arrested, beat and illegally imprisoned Canadian citizens. The truth is that the Canadian government is more interested in supporting Israel unconditionally in its systematic violations of international law, then to defend its own citizens who contest it through peaceful means..

Canada's shameful policies towards the Palestinian people

These actions shock us, but do not surprise us. They are another piece of a set of Canadian policies that go against the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. Given Harper’s complicity, silence and unconditional defense of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's actions which he claims are still "proportionate and balanced", the Harper government in fact supports ● the occupation and colonization of Palestine in violation of the Geneva Conventions and UN resolutions ● the Apartheid Wall, against the ruling of the International Court of Justice ● the blockade of Gaza against international law that prohibits collective punishment and deprivation of basic freedoms ● a situation which makes Israel an apartheid state in the opinion of many lawyers, including Israeli lawyers since the Israeli state violates several provisions of the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and others "by the persecution of organizations and those who oppose apartheid by depriving them of their rights and fundamental freedoms ".

In addition, ● Canada rejected the Goldstone Report which accused the Israeli army of committing war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008-2009 that killed more than 1,500 Gazans and injured thousands of civilians in addition to destroying nearly all the infrastructure of their country. ● Mr. Harper was quick to vote against the recognition of a Palestinian state by the UN, even though the official position of Canada is: Canada fully supports the goal of a comprehensive, just and sustainable peace in the Middle East and the creation of a Palestinian state coexisting with Israel in peace and security. (Official website of the Canadian government). ● Finally, in a malicious and vengeful gesture, the Harper government has withdrawn its contribution to UNESCO after the democratic vote of the members of this organization to give Palestine the status of a Member State.

The Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine demands:

· The immediate release of all political prisoners still being held illegally by the Israeli authorities including Irish Saoirse activists.
· The Canadian government officially protest to the Israeli government the mistreatment of Canadian activists at the hands of the Israeli army.
· The immediate return of the Canadian boat Tahrir and its cargo of medicines to Canadians who in fact own them.

Given the magnitude of the systemic nature and severity of breaches of international law constituted by the Canadian policy towards the Palestinian people, in particular for its explicit support to the blockade of Gaza, we demand the resignation of Foreign Minister of Canada John Baird

                                         - 30 -

Contact: Bruce Katz 514-582-1642

*List of organisations which support this press release:

FIQ     Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec

SFPQ Syndicat de la fonction publique du Québec

CRFTQ-MM Conseil régional FTQ Montréal métropolitain

EMI Entraide missionnaire internationale

GRFM Groupe Rezeq Faraj Montréal (pour un seul État laïc et démocratique en Palestine historique)

IJV Independent Jewish Voices

PAJU Palestinian and Jewish Unity

* The list of organisations supporting the press release will be completed as other organisations officially confirm their support.

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