A call from the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Palestine
The farmers and fishers of Gaza, Palestine are under siege as they work to defend their land and sea from occupation and continue their harvest and their livelihoods. Many people in Gaza have always relied on the land and the sea for their livelihood. Generations of Palestinian fishers have worked the sea, and farmers harvested the land, to support their communities and their lives. Today, the fishers and farmers of Gaza are under attack – braving death and imprisonment to continue to harvest the land and sea. The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in Palestine has called for international action and solidarity to support fishers and farmers under siege.
The UAWC, a grassroots organization that works to support Palestinian agricultural workers and develop their steadfastness on their land, connected with the Vancouver Delegation to Gaza on our recent delegation, and has initiated a call to organizations across Canada, and around the world, to hold events, actions and protests in solidarity with Fishers and Farmers under attack in Gaza and throughout Palestine on a Day of Action on Sunday, September 30, 2012.
Gaza, Palestine, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, has been under Israeli occupation since 1967, and under a tight and brutal siege since 2006, denying people and goods access and movement from the small coastal strip, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Over 70% of the people of Gaza are refugees who have lived in Gaza since the 1948 Nakba – the occupation and ethnic cleansing of most of Palestine.
Gaza’s Fishers: Today, over 70,000 Palestinians in Gaza rely on the sea and the fishing industry for their income and their lives. However, the sea in Gaza and the fishers of Gaza are bearing the brunt of one of the most severe aspects of Israel’s siege on Gaza. Israeli warships constantly patrol Gaza’s shores and have unilaterally declared fishing prohibited outside 3 nautical miles. Tens of millions of dollars of income have been lost and fishers families forced into unemployment and poverty. Fishers who venture to the 3 nautical mile “border” are regularly shot at, their boats seized or damaged, and subject to arrest, detention and imprisonment. In 2012, there have already been hundreds of attacks on fishing boats by Israeli warships. (Video of fishers under fire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoIylIT2Cz8)
Gaza’s Farmers: Gaza’s farmers are also subject to an ongoing war against their lives, livelihood and land. Israel has unilaterally declared the northern and eastern edges of the Gaza Strip to be “buffer zones” or “no go zones”, often in some of the most agriculturally proficient areas of the often-dry region, on land farmed by Palestinian families for generations. Anyone who ventures into these areas regularly faces threats to their lives from soldiers, snipers, tanks, helicopters and drones that routinely patrol the area. The “buffer zone” includes 17% of Gaza’s total land mass – but 35% of its agricultural land and 113,000 people. 305 water wells, 197 chicken farms, 377 sheep farms, and over 1000 homes have been destroyed by Israeli occupation military inside the “buffer zone.” (Video of farmers’ struggle for their land: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RMAJi9OPiU)
While Palestinian fishers and farmers are braving gunfire to work their land and sea, the Canadian government of Stephen Harper has nothing but praise for the Israeli state that enforces this siege on Gaza. On March 29, 2006, Canada became the first country in the world to impose a siege on the Palestinian people living in Gaza and the West Bank, declaring cancellation of aid to Palestine. Foreign Minister John Baird recently described Canada as “Israel’s best friend.”
Of course, Israel is not alone in denying indigenous people the right to fish and farm their land – like Israel, Canada was founded upon the theft of indigenous people’s land, a settler colonial reality of genocide and oppression that continues to the present day. Indigenous nations are engaged in constant struggles to defend their fishing rights against attempts to deny their right to fish their own waters commercially, as well as to defend their traditional territories from pipelines and resource extraction.
What can you do to join the Day of Action?
RESOURCES are available for the Day of Action, including flyers and more a http://vancouver2gaza.org/dayofaction
1. Endorse the day of action! Email your endorsement to email@example.com
2. Work with local fishers’ or farmers’ unions or associations to issue official statements and declarations of solidarity with the fishers and farmers of Gaza, Palestine to mark September 30′s day of action.
3. Work with local groups to highlight fishing and land rights inequity and oppression directed at indigenous people, and build connections with the ongoing oppression of Palestinian farmers and fishers.
4. Hold an demonstration, outdoor event or solidarity action with Palestinian farmers and fishers. Let us know what’s happening in your city! Email your event to be included in a national/global calendar firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Hold a film screening or educational event in solidarity with Palestinian fishers and farmers.
Films from the Union of Agricultural Work Committees available online: Doors to the Sea: Gaza’s Fishers Under Siege: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C05UhR9qtiA&feature=plcp My Beloved Olive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uc3BcB0CT9g&feature=plcp Staying: Palestinian Farmers and Fishers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RMAJi9OPiU&feature=plcp
Flyers to be customized for your use in your city: Vancouver Poster for the Day of Action – Colour
Vancouver Poster for the Day of Action – Black and White
Vancouver Flyer – double sided – for the Day of Action
Canada customizable poster for the Day of Action – Colour
Canada customizable poster for the Day of Action – Black and White
International customizable poster for the Day of Action – Colour.
International customizable poster for the Day of Action – Black and White
Informational Leaflet for the Day of Action