Racism on the Buses in Greater Vancouver‏

By Hanna Kawas. The following open letter was sent to Coast Mountain Bus Company regarding the unjust firing of a Lebanese Canadian activist, Marwan Marwan.

Canada Palestine Association also holds the current federal government responsible for this frightening increase in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hysteria; this government has been promoting and sanctioning this racism by its unconditional and blind support for Israel and its opposition to the Arab and Muslim peoples’ liberation and control of their resources and destiny. On March 21, 2009, we warned in our statement “Jason Kenney is Promoting Racism”, that such policies will promote racism. We stated:

“Mr. Kenney, his government and his Zionist friends should be held responsible for any increase in anti-Semitism, anti-Arab racism and any Islamophobic act.”

Open Letter to Coast Mountain Bus Company

The following article in The Tyee “Off the Bus: Fired Driver Says He’s a Victim of Politics” (http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/08/04/Fired_Driver_Victim/) has recently been brought to our attention. From all indications in the article, we in the Canada Palestine Association are deeply concerned and distressed by the firing of bus driver Marwan Marwan. It appears to us that your actions could regrettably be part of the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hysteria that is engulfing this country (and continent) with no regard for basic international standards of human rights, or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, not to mention simple human decency and integrity.

We further feel that if Marwan was disciplined for his political beliefs about the situation in the “Middle East”, then what happened was motivated by bigotry and Islamophobia.

We feel that Marwan’s human rights were violated; he, our community and his family, including his pregnant wife and three children, were slandered and collectively punished.

Your company professes integrity in its corporate statement, saying “Integrity – We will act honestly and with integrity at all times. We will treat others with dignity and respect and will conduct ourselves in a manner that will instill and foster trust.” (http://www.coastmountainbus.com/aboutus/statements.asp)

Therefore, we call on Coast Mountain Company to:

  • Make public its findings, as we are sure you agree that racism is everybody’s business.
  • Apologize publicly to Marwan, as well as the Lebanese, Arab and Muslim communities for this racist incident.
  • Fire all those who are found responsible or complicit in this bigotry which we hope is an isolated incident in the company.

We hope that the lessons of what happened to Rosa Parks 55 years ago on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama will not be overlooked in your decisions regarding a fair settlement to Marwan’s case.

We are waiting to hear from you and we will make your answer available to the public on our website.

Hanna Kawas,
Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association
Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) http://www.caf.ca/
Canadian Arab Justice Committee (Adala), Vancouver http://www.adala.ca/
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/
Canadian Human Rights Commission http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/
Amnesty International, Canada http://www.amnesty.ca/

(The above open letter is endorsed by Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, UBC)

Support the Canadian Boat to Gaza

Canada Palestine Association (CPA) urges everyone to support the Canadian boat to Gaza by all means, including publicizing the mission and donating funds.

CPA was one of the first organizations in Canada to support the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) financially and politically (see our meeting with the co-founder of the FGM last November in commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people http://workingtv.com/int-day-pal2009.html) and we feel this initiative is an extension of that work.

We urge our supporters to rise up to the challenge and make this solidarity mission a reality. It is important at this stage to send a message to humanity that the Canadian people are in opposition to their government’s policies that endorse Palestinian ethnic cleansing, Israeli Apartheid and war crimes. These policies are against not only the Palestinian people, but also the people of the world as detailed by the Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Peter Kent: “Canada and Israel are natural allies. This affinity extends to our respective engagement in the Americas,” http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90777/90852/7125233.html#

Hanna Kawas
Canada Palestine association

Support the Canadian Boat to Gaza

The time has come to send a Canadian Boat to Gaza (http://www.canadaboatgaza.org) this fall, along with other ships heading to the besieged strip from all around the world. But we need your support to make it happen.

The tragic May attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla has only strengthened the resolve of people from many nations to put together another flotilla to challenge the years-long illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza. This blockade is enforced by Israel’s unlawful attacks on humanitarian aid ships in international waters. The blockade is also sustained by the Canadian government’s unconditional support for Israel. It falls upon us, the Canadian people and our schools, unions, community and faith organizations to change this unjust status quo.
Your help is needed now to send humanitarian aid from the people of Canada to the people Gaza in a bold and direct effort to end Israel’s blockade.

This Canadian Boat to Gaza project has two objectives. First, it will inform Canadians about what Israel is doing to the people of Gaza and to all of the Palestinian people. With your support, this awareness campaign will be achieved through outreach, organizing and media work that encourages Canadians and their organizations to support the Canadian Boat to Gaza’s mission.

Second, the Canadian Boat to Gaza will undermine the blockade by shipping vital supplies into Gaza and returning with exports made in Gaza – thus asserting the right of Palestinians in Gaza to trade with the world, rather than be at the mercy of international aid. We will carry humanitarian aid that Canadians donate. The boat will also carry Canadian public figures and activists trained in non-violence, who are committed to breaking the siege of Gaza, as well as journalists and reporters.

Our mission is part of the next Gaza boat flotilla, working in cooperation with the Free Gaza Movement (http://www.freegaza.org) which has sent and coordinated many boats to break the siege of Gaza over the past years.

The Canadian Boat to Gaza is a peaceful mission — a people-to-people non-violent direct-action We sail with the spirit of promoting human rights for all and the conviction that there can be no peace without justice. Today, Palestinian people are counting on us to help them realize their rights we take for granted – to live in peace, make a living, enjoy free movement, and control their own boarders. We do not represent any government and our relationship with any state or government will not go beyond what is mandated by maritime law.

The estimated cost of this mission is $300,000. Raising this sum will depend on the generosity of those of us who can afford to make large donations as well as substantial ones such as $1,000 or $100 dollars. But every dollar counts and so we ask you to give what you can.

Help us end the blockade of Gaza by supporting the Canadian Boat to Gaza. Spread the word. We sail soon – in October! So please join others across Canada and make your support for the Canadian Boat to Gaza a priority now.

Your endorsement is much needed and your financial support is much appreciated. Please make your checks payable to:
Alternatives (please write: “Canadian Boat to Gaza” in the memo field)
and mail it to:

Canadian Boat to Gaza
C.P. 92087, Portobello
Brossard, Quebec
J4W 3K8