In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, CUPE calls for heightened diplomacy from the Canadian government to stop the violence in the Middle East. It is imperative that any further civilian suffering and death be prevented. Canada must join international calls for an immediate ceasefire and a renewed commitment to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.
January 2, 2009
The Right Honorable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
Re: Middle East Crisis
On behalf of the 570,000 members of CUPE I am writing to demand that the Canadian government condemn the military assault on the people of Gaza that the State of Israel commenced on December 26, 2008.
CUPE condemns all acts of violence in the Middle East, including the Hamas rockets being launched into Israel and the Israeli offensive mentioned above. To date, your government has stated publically your support for the Israeli people to protect themselves from attack. This is a woefully inadequate and frankly shameful response on behalf of Canadians.
Professor Richard Falk, the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories has characterized the Israeli offensive as containing “…severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regards to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war”.
Professor Falk cites three clear violations, including: collective punishment – the entire 1.5 million people who live in the Gaza Strip are being punished. Dozens of civilians have been killed.
Secondly, he cites targeting civilians: The Israeli airstrikes are aimed at the civilian areas of one of the most crowded areas on the planet. Finally he cites, “disproportionate military response”: The air assault has not only destroyed Gaza’s police and security offices, but has killed and injured hundreds of civilians.
He concludes by stating while the Hamas rocket attacks are unlawful they do not give Israel the right either as an Occupying Power or a sovereign state to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response.
CUPE demands that the Canadian government, as a member nation of the UN, condemn the serious violations of humanitarian and international law by the State of Israel as outlined above, and to lend Canada’s voice to those nations seeking an immediate ceasefire and a renewed commitment to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.
Canadian Union of Public Employees
cc: Michael Ignatieff, Liberal Leader
Jack Layton, NDP Leader
Gilles Duceppe, Bloc Québécois Leader
National Executive Board
Ken Georgetti, CLC