Thanks to the mobilization of rank and file delegates, an emergency resolution unanimously endorsed by the Canadian Council was overwhelmingly supported by delegates to the Canadian Labour Congress Convention.
It called on the Canadian government to pressure the Israeli government to stop violating international law and to respect the civil and political rights of 1,600 Palestinian prisoners who have been on a hunger strike since April 17.
Durham Labour Council delegate Denise Martins stated that Israel must reinstate the rights of Palestinian prisoners to have family visits, appropriate health care, the right to education in the prisons and the end to solitary confinement and “administrative detention”. As a daughter of political refugee parents, she spoke of the importance of the connection to one’s family members.
CUPW National President Mike Palecek said that the labour movement must have a discussion on Palestinian rights, even if it is difficult. He condemned the Liberal government for not allowing Palestinian labour leaders into Canada to address this convention and he noted that Palestinian postal workers greeted former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper with signs saying “Save Canada Post”.
Opponents to the resolution called it racist because it signaled out Israel and failed to mention the death of Israeli citizens by suicide bombers. What these delegates did not mention, is that the Palestinian liberation movement halted that practice in 20014; nor did they mention the fact that the ratio of Palestinians killed by Israeli bombs in its attack on Gaza was 1300 to 1 in 2008 and 130 to 1 in 2004.
Unifor Human Rights Director Mohamad Alsadi, himself a refugee from Palestine, rejected the argument that the resolution was anti-Semitic and made delegates aware that the resolution of Palestinians’ right to self-determination is key to peace in the Middle East. He urged all delegates to support the resolution. A large majority did just that.
The text of the Resolution
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will:
- a) Call on the Canadian Government to pressure Israel to stop violating international law by illegally detaining Palestinians and depriving them of their basic human, civil and political rights; andb) Work with global union federations, affiliates and civil society organizations in Canada on campaigns in support of Palestinian prisoners.
BECAUSE more than 1600 Palestinian prisoners have been on a hunger strike since April 17, 2017; and
BECAUSE Key demand of the hunger strike include an end to the denial of family visits, the right to appropriate health care, the right to education in prison and an end to solitary confinement and “administrative detention”; and
BECAUSE The CLC supports the right of the Palestinian people to national self-determination and an end to the illegal occupation as the basis for a just peace in the region.