CONFERENCE RELEASE: Palestinian Shatat Conference convenes in Vancouver
for Return and Liberation
May 15th, 2013 - In an effort to unite the Palestinian community through
adherence to fundamental principles predicated on return and liberation,
Palestinian activists and their allies in North America convened on
unceded Coast Salish territories at the University of British Columbia
in Vancouver, Canada from May 3 - 5, 2013.
With the firm belief that Palestinians in the Shatat should be actively
engaged and invested in advancing the Palestinian cause as we
commemorate 65 years of Nakba, participants discussed various issues,
including, among others, accurate and accountable representation,
defining the relationship of Palestinians in North America with
Palestinians inside Palestine and the refugee camps, and finding methods
to confront Zionist settler colonialism inside and outside of Palestine.
According to Khaled Barakat, a member of the organizing committee of the
conference, “at a time when the right of return is under attack and
Palestinian land is under threat from occupation attacks and so-called
‘land swaps’, the voice of Palestinians in shatat must be raised. The
conference is a critical step towards addressing these concerns, and a
new forum to engender positive changes in the Palestinian national
The program of the conference included workshops spanning various
topics, such as strengthening Palestinian organizing in the Shatat,
Palestinian shatat participation and leadership in the growing boycott,
divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, forging joint struggles with
justice movements in North America, gender and queer issues, combating
Zionism and normalization, the centrality of the right of return to
Palestinian liberation, discourses on national unity and addressing
issues regarding representation and the Shatat’s relationship with the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The conference, which featured Palestinian freedom fighter Leila Khaled,
who greeted conference attendees for a one-hour presentation via Skype
in which she called for Palestinian national unity on the basis of
resistance and struggle for return and liberation saluted the
Palestinian prisoners in their fight for freedom and liberation, and
reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the Palestinian national
Conference participants included members of Idle No More, as well as
other longtime indigenous activists; conference participants dined on
bannock donated by Indigenous chefs and a Wet’suwet’en drum group
introduced Khaled. According to Omar Shaban, director of Solidarity for
Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) at UBC, “it is important to recognize,
over and again, that this conference was held on unceded indigenous
territory, and that the struggle of the Palestinian people in the Shatat
is incomplete without recognizing and joining the struggle of the
indigenous people of Canada and the United States.”
Throughout the various discussions which spanned various points of
views, political perspectives and diverse ideologies, attendees vowed to
continue the conversation on forging a united front against Zionist
colonization in Palestine. Conference participants formed a follow-up
committee, which will be releasing a proposed action plan for
Palestinian mobilization in the North American diaspora in the coming
For more information please contact:
To get involved with these initiatives and the follow-up work of the
conference, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The points of unity of the conference and its follow-up committee are as
May 2013 marks the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, and the 65th year of
the ongoing struggle for Palestinian refugees’ return and the liberation
1. The Palestinian people are one people and our cause is one cause. Our
objective is to revive the Palestinian national liberation movement and
build the national institutions of the Palestinian people based on
popular participation and direct democracy, in order to achieve the
liberation of the land and people of Palestine and the implementation of
the right of Palestinian refugees to return their homes.
2. The conflict with the settler colonialist state of Israel will only
be resolved through the dismantling of the racist settler colonial
nature of the state, meaning decolonization from Zionism, in all its
forms, social, economic and political.
3. The right of return is the first and foremost step to the exercise of
our right to self-determination.
4. Based on history, language, culture and geography, Palestine is an
integral part of the Arab world and the Palestinian people are an
integral part of the Arab nation.
5. Palestine is part and parcel of international resistance to
colonialism, settler colonialism, imperialism and Zionism. The
Palestinian people’s struggle is the struggle of an indigenous
population directly connected to national liberation movements around
the world facing the same powers, including the struggle of Indigenous
peoples of North America, where this conference is taking place.
6. This effort is part of the struggle to achieve the basic right of
Palestinians to elect our representatives in a democratic manner, and to
overcome all obstacles being placed in front of our people in Palestine
and in the shatat. As Palestinians in shatat, we have a right to
representation and raise the voice of the shatat in our national
7. Palestinians have the right to resist injustice and occupation in
order to achieve the liberation of their land and people.
8. The governments of the United States and Canada are directly
responsible for apartheid, colonization and occupation in Palestine,
through their diplomatic, political, military and economic support for
the state of Israel. We recognize the US and Canada to be settler
colonies built on indigenous lands.
9. We have the responsibility to confront the role of the US and Canada,
hold the governments of the US and Canada accountable, and to build
alliances with oppressed peoples and communities in North America.
10. We recognize the leadership and central role of Palestinian women in
the national liberation movement, in this initiative, and in political
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safsaf.org - 17-05-2013