The Coalition Against Israel’s War Crimes submitted a letter to Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Joe Volpe. The letter asks Volpe to prohibit Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is scheduled to address the United Jewish Communities 2005 General Assembly in Toronto on Nov. 14.
An excerpt from the letter states that according to Canada’s domestic law, section 35 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act “…renders individuals guilty of committing war crimes or crimes against humanity inadmissible for entry.”
In 1982 Christian Phalangists slaughtered over 2,000 Palestinians in Lebanon, known as the Sabra and Shatila Massacre. Although the Israeli Army was supposed to protect the Palestinian refugees, they fired light bombs into the night sky so that the Phalangists could continue the massacre. An independent, Israeli Commission conducted an investigation and concluded that Sharon was indirectly responsible for the massacres. However, Sharon has not been put on trial for any allegations.
On June 18, 2001, lawyers of 23 survivors of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila Massacre filed a complaint in the Hall of Justice in Belgium against Sharon and nineteen other people. The plaintiffs’ lawyers accused them of active participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity. The legal team based their case on the 1993 controversial genocide law.
In an interview for the documentary, 2000 Terrorists, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs’ team, Michael Verhaeghe said, “In such a high profile case you cannot just accuse someone without solid proof.” However, he affirmed: “…there are strong indications of guilt…” against the members of the accused party.
In February 2002, less than a year after the survivors filed their complaint, two verdicts within The International Court of Justice in The Hague (Netherlands) determined that Sharon would not be prosecuted in Belgium. As long as he is prime minister, he has diplomatic immunity.
The CAIWC’s allegations utilize documented reports that detail human rights violations against Palestinians within the Occupied Territories since March 2001. Reports were authored by U.N. Special Rapporteur John Dugard, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem (The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories).
According to CAIWC Spokesperson Khaled Mouammar, the coalition’s letter was faxed with confirmation to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration on Oct. 28, 2005. The following day two binders containing 608 pages of 34 documents was mailed to the Minister’s House of Commons Consideration Building in Ottawa via Canada Post. Delivery confirmation via a tracking number was received on Nov. 1.
After several attempts of contacting the minister’s office and media contacts, I was told on Nov. 9 that CAIWC’s letter was never received because it was faxed to a # located at the Hill House. A representative stated that the binders mailed to the House of Commons never reached their location, which is approximately six blocks away. No one returned my phone calls with an official media comment.
CAIWC has not received a response. “It shows how inefficient and disorganized these organizations are,” Mouammar said. “Demonstration is taking place on Monday since the whole campaign is because an invitation was extended by a Canadian organization for a war criminal to attend a convention in Toronto and the government took no action to make it clear that he is not welcome in Canada.”
Several organizations were asked why they endorse the letter but the contacted organizations did not provide a media response. There are 75 Canadian organizations that endorse CAIWC’s letter including Canadian Arab Federation, Canadian Islamic Congress, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation, Lawyers Against the War, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Sonia Nettnin writes about social, political, economic, and cultural issues. Her focus is the Middle East.
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