Crowds of activists gathered outside the Commercial-Broadway Skytrain station in Vancouver on a sunny Saturday afternoon to call for freedom for Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners. The rally expressed support for Palestinians struggling for return and liberation in al-Naqab, Jerusalem, and throughout occupied Palestine as well as in exile and diaspora.
The protest was organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, the Palestinian Youth Movement, Canada Palestine Association, BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle as part of the international Week of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian Prisoners. Speakers expressed their strong support for Palestinian political prisoners and urged greater mobilization for Palestinian liberation.
Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun, opened the rally by expressing solidarity with Indigenous struggles for liberation and self-determination on Turtle Island, noting that Canadian settler colonialism has been in league with the Zionist project since its inception and continues to support Israel and its crimes against the Palestinian people on diplomatic, political, economic and even military levels.
Aiyanas Ormond, coordinator of ILPS Canada, spoke about the complicity of the Canadian state in the ongoing crimes taking place against the Palestinian people and urged anti-imperialist struggle and action to stand with Palestinian prisoners and their leaders like Ahmad Sa’adat.
Kathy Copps spoke on behalf of BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish, urging participants to join the campaign to boycott Israeli wines and specifically for the province’s New Democratic Party (NDP) government to live up to the party’s position on settlement products, and get these wines — produced on occupied Palestinian and Syrian land — out of publicly owned BC Liquor Stores. There will be a day of action on 5 February outside the BC Liquor Store at Alberni and Bute in downtown Vancouver to protest and build the boycott of Israel.
In a statement, Canada Philippines Solidarity expressed the common struggle between Palestine and the Philippines, emphasizing the struggle against imperialism in both countries as well as the role of political imprisonment in targeting activists and revolutionaries. They called for freedom for all political prisoners in occupied Palestine and the Philippines.
Javid spoke on behalf of Samidoun Vancouver, focusing on the 500 Palestinian administrative detainees jailed without charge or trial, currently engaged in a collective boycott of the Israeli military court. He focused on the arbitrary and indefinite nature of administrative detention as a form of individual and collective torture, and urged support for the administrative detainees and all Palestinian prisoners struggling for freedom.
Hanna Kawas, chair of the Canada Palestine Association and a veteran organizer for Palestine in Vancouver, emphasized the responsibility of imperialist powers like the United States and Canada for ongoing war crimes in occupied Palestine. In particular, he noted U.S. and Canadian complicity and direct involvement in the massacres being perpetrated in Yemen by Emirati, Saudi and other reactionary forces that are also involved in normalization with Israel. He declared that “the U.S. empire is crumbling!” to cheers from all present.
Kimball Cariou of the Communist Party of Canada spoke about Canada’s history and present reality as a colonial power and how this is reflected in its longstanding support of the Zionist project in occupied Palestine, demanding that Canadian political parties end their complicity and involvement in colonialism on this land and in Palestine.
Speaking on behalf of the Palestinian Youth Movement, Rawan noted that there is an upsurge in activities and organizing taking place outside Palestine to accompany the upsurge inside Palestine, particularly the defense of land taking place in the Naqab and Sheikh Jarrah. She invited people to participate in a banner drop PYM will organize on 29 January in support of Sheikh Jarrah and other upcoming activities to defend Palestinian land and lives.
Isa of Sulong UBC delivered a powerful solidarity statement focusing on the struggle of political prisoners behind bars, from the experience of torture to their leadership in the liberation struggle. She issued a powerful call for solidarity from Palestine to the Philippine to Turtle Island.
Khaled Barakat, Palestinian writer, delivered a powerful closing message on behalf of the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (Masar Badil). He focused on the anti-colonial nature of the Palestinian struggle, expressing support for Indigenous struggle in Turtle Island and the national democratic movement in the Philippines. “We cannot support one struggle and neglect another. We are fighting the same enemy … the enemy of imperialism, capitalism, and exploitation. That is the enemy of the people.”
He emphasized that the Palestinian struggle has the right of Palestinian refugees to return at its core, noting that over half of the Palestinian people are denied their return to occupied Palestine. “We struggle not for a Palestinian state, bu for liberation, justice, sovereignty, and our homeland.” He noted that “Jewish people struggling against Zionism; we know they are part of our struggle.” In closing, he affirmed that Palestine can win and that the Palestinian resistance and people can defeat Israel. “Another world is possible. Another Palestine is possible. Another world in Palestine is possible.”
The event closed with chants for the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea and freedom for all political prisoners jailed by imperialist, Zionist and reactionary regimes, and a quote from Ahmad Sa’adat: “In defense of the justice of our cause and in defense of the legitimate struggle of our people against the occupation, I refuse to recognize the legitimacy of your court or to legitimize your occupation or to stand before either of these. Because what you call a list of accusations and ‘security infractions’ are in reality my patriotic duties…the general duty of resistance against occupation…I would like to reaffirm my pride in belonging to the Palestinian Revolutionary Movement and to the extensions of this movement in the regional, national and international planes that form the components of the international movement against the imperialist system.”
Samidoun is organizing in Vancouver to build solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinian prisoners’ movement. To find out more about how you can get involved, contact Samidoun Vancouver or reach out to the Samidoun Network to get involved in your area.