Vancouver protest denounces annexation, demands justice and freedom for Palestine

On Sunday, 12 July, student organizations in Vancouver, including Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Independent Jewish Voices UBC and the Arab Students Association, along with Vancouver Allies, organized a demonstration outside the Vanocuver Art Gallery as part of the global “Day of Rage” protests against Israeli annexation of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. A number of organizations participated in the protest, including Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Sulong UBC (a Filipino national democratic student organization), the Canada Palestine Association and BDS Vancouver.

Speakers highlighted the settler colonial nature of the Israeli state and the Zionist project, emphasizing the connections with settler colonialism in Canada and the genocide of Indigenous nations and the Canadian government’s decades of complicity with Zionist colonialism in Palestine. Protesters emphasized that they were part of a global movement against racism and oppression. They demanded an end to Canadian government support for Israeli occupation, apartheid, settler colonialism and genocide.

They joined in spirited chants for justice and liberation in Palestine, raising Palestinian flags and signs denouncing annexation.

Speaking on behalf of Sulong UBC, Lara Maestro expressed solidarity with Palestinian student prisoners in Israeli jails, highlighting the cases of Mays Abu Ghosh, Tareq Mattar and Layan Kayed. She also noted the ongoing solidarity between liberation movements in Palestine and the Philippines, highlighting the similarities between the Netanyahu regime in Israel and the Duterte regime in the Philippines.

Speakers representing SPHR UBC discussed Palestinian identity, organizing and resistance inside and outside Palestine, even as Palestinians have faced over 70 years of ongoing Nakba – and ongoing resistance. The speaker representing Independent Jewish Voices emphasized that Israel is a colonial project, emphasizing support for Palestinian and indigenous resistance.

Charlotte Kates, the international coordinator of Samidoun, spoke at the protest, focusing on the situation of Palestinian political prisoners, including the widespread use of torture by Israeli interrogators, the arrest and imprisonment of Palestinian children and the targeting of Palestinian students.

She emphasized the global, anti-imperialist nature of the Palestinian struggle and the importance of standing and struggling together with all movements confronting racism, imperialism and oppression. She closed with the chant, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

On behalf of Canada Palestine Association and BDS Vancouver, Alan Roberts emphasized the ongoing complicity of the Canadian government in Israeli crimes, expressed solidarity with the Black liberation movement and Indigenous struggles and called for the boycott of Israel and complicit corporations.

The event concluded with several cultural performances, highlighting ongoing Palestinian cultural resistance. Malak Musik sang Palestinian national songs, while poets Diana and Luay highlighted Palestinian experience, identity and ongoing struggle through their powerful concluding words.

The protest followed an earlier street picket organized on 26 June by the Canada Palestine Association and BDS Vancouver. Protesters lined up at the crowded rush-hour intersection of Broadway and Clark in Vancouver with large signs, banners and Palestinian flags, chanting loudly and denouncing Israeli annexation while demanding justice and liberation for Palestine.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network has called for Days of Resistance to continue these actions between 7-9 August in cities and communities around the world. Click here to learn more about the Days of Resistance call, endorse the statement or get involved.