Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sudbury Residents Protest Attacks on Gaza


SUDBURY, ONTARIO, In October 2008, Glenn Thibeault was elected as Sudbury's Member of Parliament in a campaign in which he raised his voice to call for change.

On Friday, January 9, 2009, at 4 pm, members and supporters of Sudbury Against War and Occupation (SAWO) will be gathering outside the main entrance to the downtown Rainbow Centre to protest the assault of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on the people of the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza. They will also be visiting Thibeault's constituency office to invite him to add his voice to those of other Sudburians who are appalled by the actions of the Israeli government.

This attack occurs in the context of the 41-year Israeli occupation of Gaza and an 18-month blockade of most essentials of life from entering the area. Though a ceasefire had officially existed for the last six months, the Israeli forces never implemented their side of the agreement by easing the blockade and then directly violated Palestinian territory with a military incursion into Gaza last November. Calls from the democratically-elected Palestinian leadership for a more thorough implementation and extension of the ceasefire have been ignored by the Israeli government. Israel has used the low-level exchange of fire between the sides since the November incursion as an excuse for the current assault, but the Israeli media have reported that it had been planned months in advance.

Hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including an estimated 130 children, have already been killed, and many more injured. Schools, the Islamic University, mosques, civilian police stations, United Nations shelters, and private residences have been leveled by Israeli artillery and bombing. "The IDF is one of the most technologically advanced militaries in the world," said SAWO member Alexis Shotwell, "and it is unleashing its firepower against one of the most dense concentrations of civilians on the planet "1.5 million people in a tiny area who have been reduced to the most dire poverty through years of occupation and blockade. It is outrageous."

In a statement released on December 27, 2008, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Miguel D'Escoto said that "The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions." Tens of thousands of Canadians have already taken to the streets in cities across the country demanding and end to the assault, yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper has refused to condemn it and has continued to support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

"Mr. Thibeault says he has already rolled up his sleeves and started working on the issues that matter to the people of Sudbury," said SAWO member Gary Kinsman. "We implore him to make it a part of that work that he speak up locally and in Ottawa against the assault on Gaza and against the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land."

Sudbury Against War and Occupation is a group of Sudbury residents concerned with all forms and consequences of war and occupation. The organization started in early 2007 to object to Canadian support for and involvement in the ongoing occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. They have also been active in supporting the struggles of indigenous peoples in North America.

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