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Home arrow Censorship arrow Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House - CanPalNet ban reversed
Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House - CanPalNet ban reversed PDF Print E-mail
Jun 23, 2003 at 12:46 AM

Statement by the Canada Palestine Support Network
at a Report back from the West Bank
June 23, 2003

This evening's discussion has been organized by the Canada Palestine Support Network, or CanPalNet for short, which is the name of our website. As a member of the coordinating committee for CanPalNet I warmly welcome all of you.

Some of you already know of the work of CanPalNet. Others of you may not have attended our events before, or had an opportunity to speak with us.

So let me briefly explain that our organization has a very important, but simple goal: to uphold the democratic, human and national rights of the Palestinian people, the same as we would uphold these rights for ourselves in Canada, and uphold them without exception for people everywhere on this globe. Specifically, we dedicate our energies to calling for the implementation of international law, human rights law, and major United Nations resolutions on Palestine. Given that the government of Canada has in practice strayed from these principles, our practical work is to see that our government does uphold them.

In neighbourhoods across the lower mainland, throughout BC and in other parts of Canada, we are proud to have made a modest contribution to the growing awareness of and concern for the democratic, human, and national rights of the Palestinian people.

To the dismay of those dedicated to defending the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinian people, growing numbers of us in Canada have overcome decades of fear to speak simply and openly on this issue. You can see this, for example, by looking – on our literature table and on our website -- at the list of signatories of the statement we issued last year calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of territories invaded by the Israeli military in 1967 and since then illegally settled.

We recognize that some people find this topic controversial and threatening, and fear having a public discussion about it. Sometimes advocates of Israeli government practices seek to prevent the voices of CanPalNet and similar organizations from being heard. However, we believe that it is essential to speak about the Palestinian people as equal members of the human race in respect to their rights and dignity.

We for our part fear no democratic discussion. Indeed we welcome all, including those of you who disagree with us, to this meeting for an open discussion.

Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House has a longstanding history of respect for diversity in their rental policies. Some of you are aware that after agreeing to book this room with the Canada Palestine Support Network and signing a contract with us, the board -- without any prior discussion with us -- cancelled our booking. They told us this was because we were a "political" organization.

We were not alone in finding this an abrogation of Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House's previously healthy, democratic practice of making this publicly financed facility available, without political discrimination, to a wide range of community based organizations like ourselves. To single us out was to go from a non-political practice to a highly politicized one.

Happily, after hearing from numerous concerned groups and individuals, the board reversed its cancellation. We welcome that decision.

Upon its withdrawal of the mistaken cancellation of our booking, we were told that the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of Greater Vancouver will be drafting a revised rental policy consistent with their mandate to remain "non-political"- CanPalNet considers that by opening this facility to the diversity of groups in our communities, which its diversity policy calls for, the neighbourhood house maintains, in accord with its past practice, a non-political policy. By contrast, if they try to impose judgements on what are "unacceptable" topics for people to discuss, democratically and openly, the board and staff will become in essence "political", and be put in the middle of unnecessary, uncomfortable and unending controversy.

We think that many groups, organizations, and individuals in our diverse communities have a vital interest in seeing that the rental policy remain consistent with the Neighbourhood House's past democratic practice.

This and other neighbourhood houses are a most appreciated, valuable, and publicly funded, community service. We encourage others to participate – along with us -- in what we hope will be an open and transparent process of policy formation with regard to rental policy.

So we, you, and some representatives of the neighbourhood house are here this evening for one main purpose: to hear from two women, residents of the lower mainland, who have just returned from the occupied west bank of Palestine and wish to share their experiences. They bring us a voice that we seldom hear from, and that is often silenced: that of Palestinian people who live under this illegal occupation.

Thanks for coming to participate in this evening's event.

Facts and Figures about the Current Darkness in the Gaza Strip

January 23rd 2008

Report from the Palestinian Hydrology Group
  1. Gaza Strip today is facing a very harsh siege which is expected to have severely negative humanitarian impact.
  2. The distribution of drinking water and the collection and treatment of wastewater completely rely on electricity and fuel in Gaza Strip.
  3. For several months now Israel has imposed a cruel siege on the Strip preventing people and goods from free movement. This has immobilized the importing of spare parts, pumps, pipes and other necessary accessories for the water and sanitation providing facilities.
  4. According to different sources the water and sanitation services are expected to be completely paralyzed within a matter of hours due to the lack of fuel reserves.
  5. About 133 water wells are being used for domestic purposes in addition to 33 sewage pump stations and three treatment plants; 10 of these groundwater wells function using fuel while the rest rely on electricity. Diesel powered generators are normally used as backup for the whole system but only for a limited time.
    The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility needs at least 100,000 liters of diesel per month to operate the water system. An additional 100,000 liters of diesel per month are needed for the sewage system to prevent wastewater from flooding the streets and residential areas.
  6. Reducing electricity and fuel supplies are potential causes to trigger an environmental crisis especially in the wastewater pump stations and treatment plants. If wastewater is not treated it will have to be pumped directly to the sea. This will for sure have a direct and negative impact on the groundwater aquifer and marine life.
    During winter time sewage pumps need to operate about 24 hours per day due to rainfall. Therefore, interruptions in fuel and electricity supply would be particularly significant.
  7. The sewage treatment plant in Beit Lahiya is also vulnerable to interruptions in electricity supplies. The treatment lagoons must be pumped regularly, or else the 10,000 people living in the area are in danger.  Six months ago, one of the lagoons over flooded and caused the death of five persons. Proper maintenance could have prevented the disaster.
  8. The water supply in Gaza City, with a total of 600,000 residents, in addition to a major part of the central portion of the Strip is expected to be completely cut-off as a result of ceasing the pumping from the municipal groundwater wells. The City also faces the threat of overflowing wastewater since the pumps (especially Al Samer and Aqoola stations) are expected to stop operating within the next 24 hours.
  9. If the current situation should persist the solid wastes generated in the Strip will accumulate in piles on the streets endangering the health of the locals.

The WaSH Monitoring Program calls on the International Community to push Israel to immediately cease all military operations, reopen the borders to allow the movement of people and goods and provide fuel supply and humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza.

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