FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2016
Over 70 Organizations call on Ontario Government to end its intimidation of Palestinian human rights advocacy
TORONTO, Ontario – Throughout Ontario, civil society groups have banded together to defend the rights of Ontarians to support Palestinian human rights advocacy work through presenting the Government with an open letter signed by over 70 organizations.
“We were encouraged to see the Liberal government strongly reject Bill 202, a lie-filled assault on the rights of Ontarians who challenge Israel’s violations of international law through the tactics of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS),” said Tyler Levitan, spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV).
“But we have been dismayed by Premier Wynne’s inferences that BDS is akin to anti-Semitism, which is nothing more than a slur aimed at silencing criticism of Israel’s human rights violations,” Levitan continued. “The BDS demands are consistent with Canada’s official policy: ending Israel’s occupation and removing the separation barrier from occupied territory; ending institutional discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel; and recognizing the rights of Palestinian refugees under UN resolution 194.”
“After Premier Wynne’s statement in the Ontario Legislature on June 2 indicating that she would work towards a motion condemning BDS, we knew that we had to go on the offensive to defend our rights,” stated Levitan.
Bill 202 and Wynne’s June 2 statement to work towards a motion condemning BDS follows a motion in the House of Commons in February, which condemned Canadian organizations and individuals who promote the BDS movement.
“Condemning Canadians who exercise their rights to freedom of expression creates a serious chill on free speech, as Amnesty International pointed out after the House of Commons’ motion in February,” says Mariam Nokerah, spokesperson for Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology/Durham College (UOIT/DC). “Amnesty notes that the Canadian government can disagree with BDS, but it becomes a violation of international human rights law to ‘condemn or oppose the offering of the criticism or the promotion of the campaign itself.’”
“It is our hope that this open letter, which has been sent to every Member of Provincial Parliament, will place positive pressure on the Ontario government to refrain from further intimidating Palestinian human rights advocates,” concluded Levitan.
To view the open letter and list of signatories, click here.
For more information please contact:
Tyler Levitan, spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices Canada