Statement of support for human rights defender Omar Barghouti

The Canadian BDS Coalition joins with organizations from across Canada and worldwide, including the BDS National Committee (BNC), Independent Jewish Voices, Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice, and Palestinian and Jewish Unity in condemning the detention of BDS Movement co-founder Omar Barghouti by Israeli authorities with the following statement:

The Canadian BDS Coalition expresses sorrow, anger, and renewed commitment with regard to the interrogation of Omar Barghouti.

Omar Barghouti is a prominent Palestinian human rights defender and the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement for the freedom, justice and equity of the Palestinian people.

BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.

Barghouti’s wife, Safa, was also interrogated for 16 hours, after the Israeli tax authorities barged into their home and detained them on March 19, 2017.

On March 22, 2017, the BDS National Committee (BNC) issued a statement that indicated “the Israeli government has resorted to fabricating a case related to Omar’s alleged income outside of Israel to tarnish his image and intimidate him.” Beyond this questionable investigation, this detention is happening just weeks before Barghouti is scheduled to receive the Gandhi Peace Award with Ralph Nader in a ceremony at Yale University.

The BNC statement asserted that “this latest desperate chapter of repression and intimidation by the Israeli government against Omar Barghouti is the strongest indicator yet of the failure of the Israeli regime of occupation, settler-colonialism, and apartheid to slow down the impressive growth of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights.”

After twelve days of intense interrogation, Barghouti released a statement of gratitude and hope on April 1, 2017. Barghouti said “Many of you have asked how best you can support me to face this latest persecution. My answer is, without hesitation … more BDS!”

The Canadian BDS Coalition recognizes this injustice as just one of those amongst the Government of Israel’s systematic efforts to criminalize the BDS movement, intimidate activists, and stifle freedom of speech.

Our sorrow comes from the fact the Government of Israel continues to target, harass, and attack Barghouti who advocates a non-violent approach to bring Israel to meaningful peace negotiations with Palestinians.

Our anger comes from the fact the Government of Israel maintains an apartheid regime with regard to the legal status of Palestinians such as Barghouti.

Our renewed commitment comes from the fact the reaction of the Government of Israel in terms of barbarism and hostility indicates the increasing success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement.

We too wish to evidence our support for Omar Barghouti and his non-violent approach for attempting to bring the Government of Israel back into the fold of civilized nations willing to abide by resolutions of the United Nations, particularly as those resolutions relate to the (1) issues of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank, (2) a non-apartheid Palestine, and (3) the right of return of the Palestinians ‘cleansed’ during the 1948 Nakba.

The Government of Israel, which considers the BDS movement a “strategic threat” to the Israeli system of injustice against Palestinians, has threatened Barghouti and key BDS human rights defenders with severe measures, including “targeted civil elimination” – a euphemism for civil assassination, and has established a “tarnishing unit”, as exposed by the Israeli daily Haaretz, to shred the reputation of BDS human rights defenders and networks.

No matter what extreme measures of repression the Government of Israel wields against BDS actions, human rights defenders, and a vast network of supporters, the Government cannot stop this movement for basic human rights.

Bullying and repression will not deter a grassroots movement growing in people’s hearts and minds, empowering them to stand on the right side of history against the Government of Israel’s fanatic regime of apartheid, settler-colonial and military occupation, and ethnic cleansing.

Many Canadians have long understood the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as evidenced by the Israeli Apartheid Week which started in Toronto and spread worldwide. Recently, an EKOS poll found that 66 per cent of Canadians are receptive to Canada imposing sanctions on Israel; 78% consider the Palestinian call to boycott to be “reasonable.”

We call on our own Government of Canada to: follow its expressed foreign policy with regard to Israel and Palestine; as a signatory of the Fourth Geneva Convention recognize its responsibility under Article 1 to respect the Convention under all circumstances; and to call upon its close ally Israel to respect International Humanitarian Law, international human rights law and other international law.

This statement has received support of members of the Coalition but the wording may not reflect the agreement of all member organizations.

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