International League of Peoples’ Struggle assembly in Canada affirms solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, liberation of Palestine

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network participated in the 5th Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle in Canada, held in Ottawa between 1 June through 4 June, alongside a broad alliance of anti-imperialist, national democratic and mass organizations working to achieve liberation from Turtle Island to Palestine to the Philippines.

Samidoun is an ILPS member organization; the ILPS brings together over 400 participating organizations from around the world. The ILPS Canada Assembly brought together participants from organizations across Canada an the United States for actions, panels, discussions and planning to confront U.S.-led imperialism and activate revolutionary struggle. The conference began on 1 June with a strong, militant protest against the CANSEC 2022 arms fair, where participants blocked the highway leading up to the arms fair and delayed the speech of the Canadian Minister of Defense.

Activities continued on 2 June with a packed meeting on confronting anti-Palestinian racism and repression, where participants shared stories and experiences and strategized for future joint struggle and organizing. Khaled Barakat of the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement, and Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun, led a conversation about these attacks and how we can resist them through collective struggle and resistance. They discussed the recent Zionist smear campaign targeting Barakat and Samidoun as part of an overall approach that targets organizations and individuals with a principled stand for Palestinian liberation.

Following the discussion, the conference continued with an anti-imperialist march and rally throughout downtown Ottawa, organized by the Anti-Imperialist Alliance, the local host committee and ILPS organization for the conference (also an affiliate member of the Samidoun Network). Proceeding through the streets, the march blocked traffic in front of Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), the organizer of the CANSEC war fair. After arriving at McNabb park, participants gathered for a teach-in on anti-fascist and anti-imperialist resistance, with speakers from Anakbayan Canada, Anti-Imperialist Alliance, NY Boricua Resistance and other organizations, including Samidoun, as well as musical performances. Charlotte Kates of Samidoun spoke at the event on Palestine, anti-imperialist and anti-fascist resistance:

The conference formally opened on 3 June at Foster Farm Community Centre in Ottawa. In the days leading up to the conference, ILPS itself as well as the conference were subjected to a Zionist smear campaign in an unsuccessful attempt to demand the conference be cancelled. In response, the organizers affirmed their strong commitment to Palestinian liberation that will not be silenced by repressive efforts by right-wing forces. In addition to representatives from Filipino mass organizations like Bayan, Anakbayan, Gabriela, Migrante and Sulong, participants included the Canada Philippines Solidarity Organization, Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, International Women’s Alliance, NY Boricua Resistance, International Migrants Alliance, 32 County Sovereignty Movement and participants in a number of Palestinian and Palestine solidarity organizations, including Samidoun, the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Youth Movement, Students for Justice in Palestine, SPHR, SUPER, and many more organizations and activists.

Aiyanas Ormond, chair of ILPS Canada, opened the conference and introduced the themes and a series of panels to come. Panelists spoke about a range of liberation movements and the struggle against U.S.-led imperialism, including Nina Macapinlac of BAYAN USA, Chris ‘Perry’ Sorio, former political prisoner and BAYAN Canada representative, and author and activist Yves Engler.  The second panel of the day began with a strong presentation by Hanna Kawas, chair of the Canada Palestine Association, on Canada’s role in supporting and sustaining the colonization of Palestine. Billie Pierre, Nlaka’pamux organizer and land defender, Marco Luciano, International Migrants Alliance and Steve da Silva, a writer and class struggle organizer, further explored Canadian imperialism and settler-colonialism as a key threat to the peoples of the world.

The following panel featured Khaled Barakat of the Masar Badil alongside Natalie Knight, an urban Indigenous organizer and chair of the Friends of the Filipino People in Struggle – Coast Salish Territories. Their powerful discussion was accompanied by a video on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-determination and Liberation. Barakat’s speech was a strong call to action that brought participants to their feet, calling for the liberation of Palestine.

The next day, 4 June, the conference continued with workshops on confronting imperialism, building the anti-war and anti-fascist movements. Samidoun coordinator Charlotte Kates and ILPS chair Aiyanas Ormond spoke about the vision and practice for continued organizing toward victory and liberation, including the struggles of Palestinian political prisoners and the Palestinian resistance on the front lines.

The conference then proceeded to the business meeting of the ILPS, which elected the new coordinating committee of ILPS in Canada. The conference passed a number of resolutions, including in support of Indigenous land defense, against targeting of poor and Indigenous families by state agents and officials, against deportations targeting migrant workers, for active building of the anti-war movement and in solidarity with the Filipino people’s struggle confronting the new Marcos-Duterte regime. The conference also adopted a number of resolutions highly relevant to the Palestinian liberation movement, many introduced or co-sponsored by Samidoun, including a resolution against the use of so-called “terror lists” or red-tagging to criminalize liberation movements, a resolution in support of upcoming marches for the right to return to Palestine and a resolution in support of the Peoples’ Tribunal on U.S. Imperialism.

The conference passed a strong resolution on Palestinian prisoners, particularly highlighting the cases of long-term hunger strikers Khalil Awawdeh and Raed Rayan. Following the adoption of the resolution, all present joined in a group photo in front of images of Awawdeh and Rayan, demanding their immediate liberation:

Whereas, Khalil Awawdeh, a Palestinian political prisoner jailed without charge or trial, has been on hunger strike against his illegitimate detention by the Israeli regime for the past 94 days, and

Whereas, Raed Rayan, a Palestinian political prisoner jailed without charge or trial, has been on hunger strike against his illegitimate detention for the past 59 days, and

Whereas, the lives of Khalil and Raed are severely endangered as both have already suffered serious health deterioration during their strikes,

Whereas, there are nearly 600 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under indefinitely renewable administrative detention orders, among approximately 4500 Palestinian prisoners, and

Whereas, all 600 administrative detainees are currently boycotting the occupation military courts in a collective demand to end administrative detention, including 80-year-old Palestinian leader and lawyer Bashir Al Khairy and Jerusalemite lawyer Salah Hamouri, threatened with deportation, and

Whereas, there are nearly 200 Palestinian child prisoners and many more Palestinian youth initially imprisoned as children, including Ahmad Manasra, who are denied education and appropriate physical and mental healthcare, and

Whereas, the colonization of Palestine is funded and backed by imperialist powers including Canada, The US, Britain and European states, and

Whereas, the Palestinian prisoners are leaders of the Palestinian people and their resistance, and their liberation is central to the liberation of Palestine,

Therefore be it resolved that the ILPS

1. calls for the immediate liberation of Khalil Awawdeh and Raed Rayan and calls on ILPS organizations to engage in public campaigns for their freedom;

2. Calls for the end of administrative detention and the liberation of all Palestinians jailed without charge or trial, and urges organizations to publicize and support the administrative detainees’ collective boycott by building boycott campaigns against the Israeli regime;

3. Urges the immediate release of Salah Hamouri and Bashir Al Khairy and will work to stand with Palestinians in Jerusalem fighting further displacement, ethnic cleansing and and forced expulsion and to stand with Palestinian lawyers and people’s rights defenders targeted for their work;

4. Calls for the immediate release of Ahmad Manasra and all child prisoners and pledges to organize, publicize and support campaigns for their release;

5. Urges the immediate release of Palestinian prisoners in imperialist jails such as Georges Ibrahim Abdallah in France and the Holy Land Foundation Five in the US; and

6. Reiterates its commitment to organize for the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners and all political and revolutionary prisoners around the world, as part and parcel of the struggle to defeat Zionism, imperialism and reaction and achieve justice and liberation in Palestine.

The conference also passed a resolution to fight the siege on Gaza:

Whereas, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been subjected to a brutal siege by the Israeli occupation regime for the past 15 years, and

Whereas, this siege is fully backed and implemented by imperialist powers, including Canada, the US, Britain, Australia and European states, and

Whereas, the siege is also carried out with the participation of Arab reactionary regimes such as Egypt that act at the behest of imperialist powers while normalizing with Israel, and

Whereas, the siege has been deadly, cutting access to healthcare, travel, education and economic development for Palestinians in Gaza, and

Whereas, the siege is an expression of settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation, attempting to divide Palestinians from one another and their land, and

Whereas, the siege on Gaza has specifically targeted productive sectors of the economy, such as small farmers and fishers, who are central to Palestinian food sovereignty, and

Whereas, the Gaza Strip is a center of Palestinian resistance that has resisted 4 Israeli wars of destruction in the past 13 years..

Therefore be it resolved that the ILPS in Canada will organize to support efforts to break the siege on Gaza and work together with organizations to highlight and oppose Canadian complicity and responsibility for the siege, and

Be it further resolved that the ILPS reiterates its commitment to ending the siege as part and parcel of the road to the liberation of all of Palestine from the river to the sea, the implementation of the right to return for Palestinian refugees, and our support for the Palestinian people inside and outside Palestine and their organizing and resistance by all means to achieve that liberation.

The conference passed a resolution on Zionist attacks targeting the Palestine movement, including the attempts to shut down the ILPS Assembly:

Whereas, the ILPS strongly supports the Palestinian people’s liberation struggle for justice and freedom throughout occupied Palestine from the river to the sea, the right to return of all exiled and displaced Palestinians, and the right to resist by all means necessary, and

Whereas, the ILPS stands with our Palestinian comrades organizing in Palestine and in exile and diaspora to achieve those goals, and

Whereas, the ILPS strongly supports the efforts in trade unions, universities, churches and other institutions to end complicity with Zionist colonialism in Palestine, including through boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns, and

Whereas, pro-apartheid, right-wing and Zionist organizations such as CIJA, Bnai Brith, Canary Mission, the ADL and others are engaged in smear campaigns against Palestinian activists and Palestine solidarity activists in an attempt to criminalize and repress these activities, and

Whereas, the right-wing National Post published a front page article targeting Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat as part of this campaign of attacks against student organizers, labour organizers, Palestinian community organizers and others working for justice in Palestine, and

Whereas, organizations across Canada including Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, the Palestinian Youth Movement and student organizations such as SPHR and SJP chapters, have been targeted by such attacks, and

Whereas, these attacks have been brought to the floor of the Canadian Senate and emboldened by Canadian official support for Zionism and rejection of all efforts to address and confront apartheid and settler colonialism, and

Whereas, similar attacks are rampant in the United States as well as in Britain and Europe, where the French government has attempted to ban the Collectif Palestine Vaincra and othe Palestine solidarity organizations and where the Berlin police in Germany banned all demonstrations commemorating the 74th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, and

Whereas, the ILPS 5th Assembly was subject to such a campaign in an attempt to bar the ILPS from organizing the assembly in public space,

Be it resolved that the ILPS supports the campaign by the Canada Palestine Association against Zionist smear campaigns and will work to publicize and organize with our Palestinian comrades to confront anti-Palestinian repression and right-wing attacks, and that we support Khaled Barakat, Samidoun, the PYM and the many activists and organizations subjected to these attacks. The ILPS understands Zionism as a form of racism and an expression of colonialism and imperialism and firmly opposes Zionism and the attacks generated by Zionist and imperialist forces

Further, we pledge to escalate our activity for Palestinian liberation and support for the Palestinian people and their resistance as the most important way to challenge these repressive campaigns.

Finally, the assembly adopted a resolution on assassinated journalists, including Shireen Abu Aqleh, and supporting the call to action in memory of Ghassan Kanafani’s assassination on 8 July 2022:

Whereas, Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh was assassinated by Israeli occupation forces in Jenin refugee camp on May 11, 2022, and

Whereas, Palestinian journalist Ghufran Warasneh was assassinated by Israeli occupation forces as she traveled to work on June 1, 2022, and

Whereas, Ghufran Warasneh was a former political prisoner, and

Whereas, there is a long history of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian journalists, writers and spokespeople, including the assassination on July 8, 1972 of Palestinian writer and revolutionary political leader Ghassan Kanafani, and

Whereas, over 50 Palestinian journalists have been killed by the Israeli occupation in the past 22 years and dozens more imprisoned, and

Whereas, imperialist powers like Canada, the US, Britain and European states continue to support this assassination policy in practice even while expressing words of ‘concern’ unaccompanied by sanctions or any meaningful action,

Be it resolved that the ILPS will act to support campaigns to defend and protect Palestinian journalists and all peoples’ journalists targeted for their exposure of the crimes of the Israeli regime, imperialist powers and other reactionary forces, and will participate in and organize activities remembering Shireen Abu Aqleh and all targeted journalists.

Be it further resolved that the ILPS will support the call by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and the Palestinian Youth Movement to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Ghassan Kanafani on July 8, 2022.

Following the official close of the conference, Samidoun convened a cross-country organizing meeting in Ottawa on Sunday, 5 June, where participants planned actions to build the network and the Palestine movement across the country, with intense political discussions and strong commitment to escalating our work to free Palestinian prisoners.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes the ILPS in Canada and all of the participants and organizations who contributed to the success of the 5th Assembly in Ottawa. With multiple strong, explicitly anti-imperialist street actions confronting the war profiteers, meaningful and powerful political discussions and a comprehensive plan of action for the future, the ILPS is well placed for its next steps of struggle. We look forward to organizing together on the road to liberation!