ICLMG statement: Canada Must Oppose Genocide in Gaza and Defend Free Expression at Home

As United Nations officials and many legal experts have alarmingly stated: There is a genocide underway in Gaza. A “humanitarian pause” was not enough. As of December 6, Israel has killed more than 21,731 Gazans, including 8,697 children and shows no intention of stopping until Gaza is “erased.”

Genocide is never justified, including in the “fight against terrorism.”

The UN Genocide Convention – which Canada has ratified – stipulates that “states that have the capacity to influence others have a duty to employ all means reasonably available to them to prevent genocide.” Therefore, Canada has the obligation to not only call for a permanent and immediate ceasefire, but to immediately halt all arm sales, transfers and military aid to Israel.

Furthermore, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) is deeply alarmed by the overwhelming reports of incidents of Islamophobia and antisemitism, the fact that people are being investigated, suspended and/or fired by their employer for expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and/or calling for a ceasefire, as well as the growing instances of criminalization of dissent.

Support for the human rights and lives of Palestinians must not be conflated with support for hate or terrorism. Already, governments internationally have moved to criminalize or outright ban protests and restrict speech in support of Palestinian lives and against the decades-long Israeli occupation and the ongoing genocide. In Canada, the arrest of eleven people for engaging in a political protest against the head of a charity that supports IDF soldiers raises serious concerns about the policing of political speech.

It is necessary that you publicly, clearly and without delay, reassert the importance of upholding freedom of expression and the right to dissent – in Canada and elsewhere.

These actions and sentiments are disturbingly similar to those we saw in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, and in response to the protests against the so-called “War on Terror” that followed. Governments – including the Canadian government – used a climate of fear and division to justify limits on freedom of expression and assembly, to drastically increase surveillance, and to undermine the civil liberties of vast swaths of the population, particularly Muslims and Arabs.

We thus urge Canadian officials to defend the freedom of expression and other human rights of all people in Canada and to support human rights, respect for international law, and justice globally.

– The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Click below to send this statement to the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Public Safety, as well as your MP. And please share widely. Thank you!