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Declaration of Solidarity with CUPW

Thursday 20 December 2012

We, the undersigned:

• Commend the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for their ongoing solidarity work abroad and at home

• Declare our support for the right of CUPW members to create their own international and national policies for social justice

• Condemn the Canadian government and their radical right-wing neoliberal agenda which supports environmental and corporate crimes around the world with impunity while attacking progressive organizations fighting for peace and equality

• Condemn the Harper government’s anti-union agenda, including the regressive Bill C-377, which is an attack on trade union rights

• Condemn the politicized false accusations and propaganda of B’nai Brith Canada and Sun Media/QMI

Because ...

In recent weeks, Conservative parliamentarians and Canada’s right-wing media have staged a disturbing smear campaign targeting the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). This attack, backed by B’nai Brith Canada and grounded in blatantly false criticism, attempts to demonize CUPW for sending delegates to participate in a global solidarity forum held in Porto Alegre, Brazil (Nov. 28 – Dec. 1, 2012).

As trade unions, social justice organizations and solidarity activists from around the world, we have a responsibility to challenge this vicious and wholly unwarranted attack against a union committed to workers rights and global justice.

It is clear that this is a politically motivated attack that aims to silence those who support justice for all. CUPW was targeted because it stands firmly on the side of social justice. Those who attack CUPW are opposed to the union’s unwavering struggle against an aggressive government and corporate agenda of privatization and neoliberal restructuring. Their attack is designed to weaken CUPW as a progressive union on the frontline of defending workers’ rights and jobs, collective bargaining rights, public sector institutions and communities struggling against the ravages of global capitalism. Their attack also aims to undermine a union at the forefront of the labour movement in Canada for its commitment to peoples’ struggles for freedom and social justice globally.

We commend the CUPW Executive for setting the record straight. In a recent Bulletin and FAQ the union provided simple and verifiable facts to dismiss the false accusations made in Parliament and the media:

FACT: the union’s decision to send delegates to a global solidarity forum did not involve “misusing taxpayer dollars” (as the B’nai Brith has claimed). No taxpayer money was used.

FACT: CUPW did not file a grievance against Canada Post or take a decision to do so (as was claimed by a Sun Media/QMI reporter).

FACT: CUPW members did not attend a conference session which focused on imprisoned Palestinian leader Ahmad Sa’adat, and an open letter issued by Mr. Sa’adat did not mention of CUPW (as was claimed by a Conservative Member of Parliament).In correcting the media and parliamentarians’ misrepresentation of the facts, we also oppose their implicit attack on freedom of association, free speech and social taxation. Moreover, we reject this attempt to vilify CUPW’s participation in a mainstream global solidarity event by associating it with “terrorism”. It is crucial that we set the record straight on this point. First, we reject the Harper Government’s highly dubious “terrorist list” as a racist mechanism that has been used in the post 9/11 era to intensify the disproportionate targeting and unjust criminalization of Arab, Muslim and Palestinian individuals, communities and organizations. Furthermore, it is the Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper that is exporting environmental and economic terror. Canadian mining corporations, for example, commit heinous crimes worldwide against communities and the environment, and have been associated with death squads in Colombia. It is the war-prone Harper government that supports violence as a way to solve disputes.

We also recognize that this targeted attack on one union threatens all trade unionists and social movements. We are especially aware that this current campaign is double-edged. On the one hand it is being used to increase support for the regressive anti-union Bill C-377. On the other hand, it is a direct attempt to undermine the union’s legitimate support for global solidarity campaigns, including Palestinian human rights. It is essential that we support our sisters and brothers in CUPW for their courageous and democratic decision - in 2008 - to become the first national union in Canada to support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), as called for in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations. We respect the right of CUPW and all unions to make their collective decisions.

CUPW is not alone in supporting BDS. In fact, it is part of a large and fast-growing movement of civil society organizations, unions and individuals who have chosen to respect the global BDS picket line – including Palestinian trade unions. Thousands of activists from 36 countries met at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Brazil to discuss a wide range of social justice issues on the theme of Free Palestine. Over 125 separate panels and workshops conducted over a three-day period reflected the broad and diverse cross-section of the global Palestine solidarity movement including faith groups, unions and workers, women’s movements, artists, prisoners rights groups, queer activists, lawyers and legal advocates, students and professors, youth, environmentalists, refugees and more. Representatives from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers were among about 20 delegates from Canada and Quebec.

The current attack on the World Social Forum is part of a broader attack on all international advocacy, including CUPW’s work for the Cuban Five. The Harper Government is fully complicit in this attack with its ongoing attempts to criminalize Palestine solidarity activism and education in Canada, including defunding organizations like Canadian Arab Federation, Palestine House Education and Cultural Centre and KAIROS Canada. CUPW has always been a leader in promoting global justice far ahead of the Canadian government. It was one of the first organizations in Canada, in 1971, to call for a boycott against apartheid era South Africa.

Ultimately, this demonization of CUPW and the WSF – Free Palestine aims to distract attention from the real issue, namely, Israel’s ongoing war crimes and violations of international law against all Palestinians, including:

• Illegal siege on Gaza, as collective punishment (violates Article 33, Fourth Geneva Convention) · Denial of Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return (violates UN Resolution 194) · Expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Territories (in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention)
• The apartheid wall (deemed illegal by International Court of Justice in 2004)
• Denial of prisoners rights and illegal detention in Israeli prisons (in violation of Geneva Convention Article 76)
• Ongoing systemic and legal discrimination of Palestinians living inside the 1948 Israel border (in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

It is precisely CUPW’s commitment to end these egregious, illegal and often deadly violations that underlies its commitment to the freedom and dignity of the Palestinian people.

Union solidarity on this urgent issue of global justice is a clear threat to the Harper Government’s complicity with Israel’s systematic subjugation of the Palestinian people. As we have seen in this recent attack on CUPW, the Harper government’s response has been deliberate misrepresentation of the facts as a means to isolate Palestine solidarity activism and to undermine global solidarity movements.

Against this attack, we the undersigned side with the words of Martin Luther King in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963 - "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"

TO ENDORSE THIS DECLARATION, E-MAIL: (Put “Endorse” in Subject line)