On Saturday, 29 October, in tandem with the March for Return and Liberation in Brussels, advocates for justice in Palestine in Vancouver organized a companion march for Palestinian liberation. The march, organized by Samidoun Vancouver, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Canada, Canada Palestine Association, BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish, BAYAN Canada and the Vancouver Workers’ Assembly, marched from the Commercial-Broadway Skytrain station to Grandview Park, in an active, popular section of the city.
Marchers called for the return of Palestinian refugees, support for the Palestinian resistance, and the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea. Participants denounced Canadian complicity and involvement in the colonization of Palestine, demanding an end to Canadian imperialism in Palestine and everywhere. The march had a strong emphasis on internationalism, emphasizing the need to stand with Indigenous struggles on Turtle Island and to build solidarity with people’s movements confronting imperialism, such as the national democratic movement of the Philippines.
In the opening rally at the transit station, Callum of Samidoun Vancouver opened the rally with a strong call to action, highlighting the Palestinian struggle against Zionism, imperialism and reaction and saluting the Palestinian resistance organizing and struggling on the front lines, while leading the crowd in chants: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
Perry Sorio of BAYAN Canada spoke next; a former political prisoner in the jails of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, he focused on the struggle of Palestinian political prisoners fighting back against administrative detention — arbitrary imprisonment without charge or trial — torture, and repression.
Finally, Hanna Kawas of the Canada Palestine Association delivered a powerful speech on the long-term role of Canadian imperialism in supporting Zionism, noting that many of the same Canadian right-wing forces who denied entry to Canada for Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism were dedicated advocates of Zionist colonization. He linked the struggle for indigenous liberation on this land to the struggle for Palestinian liberation, emphasizing the urgent need to hold Canadian officials accountable for their hostile position toward Palestine.
Participants then took to the street to march down Commercial Drive, led by a banner reading: “Free Palestine: Resistance, Return, Liberation.” Participants carried Palestinian flags, banners, and posters urging freedom for Palestine and for Palestinian political prisoners, as well as for Georges Abdallah, the Lebanese Arab struggler for Palestine jailed in France for over 38 years.
Along the route of the march, demonstrators stopped in front of a government-owned BC Liquor Store to demand an end to the sale of “Israeli wines,” including those produced in illegal colonial settlements in the West Bank of occupied Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
Aiyanas Ormond of BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish noted that the sale of these wines implicates British Columbia provincial officials in war crimes, calling for escalated pressure to end this trade. He highlighted the fact that new premier David Eby had previously refused to do anything about this trade in settlement products when he held the portfolio of the liquor stores. “Boycott Israeli Wines!” the participants chanted enthusiastically.
At the closing rally at Grandview Park, Natasha of the Vancouver Workers’ Assembly spoke about the link between local and global struggles, highlighting the necessity to confront settler colonialism on this land and stand with Indigenous struggles for sovereignty and self-determination. She emphasized that the battle to fight exploitation, poverty and racism is directly tied to the struggle against imperialism.
Next, Caesar and Sean of Anakbayan BC and Sulong UBC delivered a powerful message of solidarity to the Palestinian people and their resistance, led by Palestinian youth. They highlighted the struggle of the people of the Philippines to confront imperialism, fascism and dictatorship, emphasizing the connection between the national democratic movement of the Philippines and the Palestinian liberation struggle.
Trevor, a member of the national coordinating committee of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Canada, spoke about the urgent need for international solidarity with Palestine. He emphasized the connection between struggles for justice confronting imperialism and focused on the importance of confronting the criminalization of revolutionary movements for justice, in particular the use of the “terrorist” label to stigmatize movements resisting oppression and fighting for liberation.
The rally was closed with comments by Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. She spoke about the denial of entry that she and Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat, co-founder of the Masar Badil, faced when they attempted to enter Europe at Amsterdam airport to attend the Brussels events for the Week of Return and Liberation. She emphasized that this was a political action in line with European support for the colonization of Palestine, linking this with Canadian support for the colonization of Palestine. She saluted the Palestinian resistance as defenders of humanity and strugglers for liberation and emphasized that our struggle and organizing must continue until victory and freedom.
The march was part of a global action organized by the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement. Thousands of people marched in Brussels to the European Parliament to confront EU responsibility for Zionist war crimes in Palestine, while Palestinians in Gaza gathered at the colonial borders to demand an end to the siege. This Vancouver action embraced the demands and principles of these marches with global solidarity for Palestinian liberation.