On Saturday, 3 June, Samidoun Vancouver organized a flash rally and leaflet distribution to free Walid Daqqah, the Palestinian prisoner, intellectual and freedom fighter jailed by the Israeli occupation since 1986, and all Palestinian prisoners. The Vancouver action took place at the local headquarters of CBC, the state-sponsored broadcaster, which refuses to use the term “Palestine” on air. The action was joined by activists with Canada Palestine Association, BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish, the Masar Badil (Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement) and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) Vancouver.
Daqqah, married to Sana’ Salameh and the father of daughter Milad — born through smuggled sperm — is suffering from the rare bone marrow cancer myelofibrosis and in need of proper medical treatment that he can only obtain outside prison, particularly a bone marrow transplant. His health has declined dramatically on multiple occasions, he has suffered from a stroke, pneumonia, and surgery to remove a large portion of his lung. Nonetheless, he is repeatedly returned to the notorious Ramleh prison clinic, referred to as a “slaughterhouse” by the prisoners.
On Wednesday, 31 May, the Israeli prison system’s “early release committee” hearing the case of Palestinian prisoner and intellectual Walid Daqqah refused to rule on his release, instead once again delaying his case and his treatment by referring his file to the “release committee for prisoners with life sentences.” His family called this decision “permission for his execution.”
Participants distributed leaflets urging liberation for Daqqah and his fellow 4,900 Palestinian prisoners. They also carried signs calling for the freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned and recently isolated general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Georges Abdallah, the Lebanese Arab communist struggler for Palestine imprisoned in France for 38 years; and Ghassan Elashi, Shukri Abu Baker and Mufid Abdulqader of the Holy Land Foundation humanitarians, serving lengthy sentences in U.S. prisons for their charity work for Palestine.
They also took solidarity photos expressing their support for Daqqah and his fellow prisoners, and calling for their liberation.
Following the CBC action, participants marched to the nearby Scotia Tower, local headquarters of Canada’s third largest bank, Scotiabank. As they marched, they chanted: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free! From Turtle Island to Palestine, occupation is a crime!”
Scotiabank currently invests $500 million in Elbit Systems, the Israeli arms company responsible for producing weaponry used to kill Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians. Elbit drones are a key piece of Israel’s assassination policy. As Palestine Action notes, “Elbit Systems, based in Haifa, is Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer and security company. Elbit’s largest customer is the Israeli Ministry of Defence, with Elbit providing up to 85% of Israel’s land-based military equipment and approximately 85% of its drones.”
Palestine Action’s direct action campaign has caused two Elbit locations in Britain to close already, and the campaign is proceeding at additional Elbit sites. Elbit has been divested by a number of banks, including HSBC, and sovereign wealth and pension funds in Australia, Sweden and Norway. Meanwhile, Scotiabank has launched a massive investment in Elbit system, making it Elbit’s largest single foreign investor and an owner of 5% of the firm.
We are demanding that Scotiabank immediately drop Elbit Systems. It’s time to #ShutElbitDown in Canada! The organizations participating in today’s action, as well as the Canadian BDS Coalition, will be announcing a series of actions to bring an end to Scotiabank’s profiting from Palestinian death.
Participants in the action also held up signs denouncing Scotiabank’s “pinkwashing” campaign of putting up large Pride signs while engaging in predatory practices from Turtle Island to Palestine.
Samidoun Vancouver regularly organizes protests, information stands, actions, and educational events. We organize anti-imperialist actions and are dedicated to the liberation of Palestinian prisoners, as part and parcel of the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.