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[OPIRG-EVENTS] Thursday Nov. 29 UN Day of Solidarity and Letter of Appeal
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FROM: CEPAL ¡V the Canadian-Palestinian Educational Exchange
Human Rights and International Norms: 53 Years of Palestinian Refugees.
Cepal's 5th Annual Observation of the United Nations Day of Solidarity with
Palestinians. An evening of discussion and culture, featuring keynote
speaker Professor Michael Lynk.
Thursday, November 29th, 2001 at 7:00 pm
Room 200, West Block, Parliament Hill
Professor Michael Lynk will open the discussion with his keynote address
entitled "Palestine, the Middle East Crisis and International Law".
Professor Lynk will talk about the leading crisis issues -- refugees,
settlements, popular resistance, state, human rights, borders, Jerusalem --
in international law terms. His analysis will focus on explaining the
importance of settling international conflicts peacefully through the rule
of law, and how these crisis issues can be fairly and comprehensively
resolved through the available principles of international law.
Cepal Summer 2001 Program volunteers will share their experience of living
and teaching in the refugee camps. A reception, featuring Arabic finger
foods, will follow the event. Admission is free (donations accepted).
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is observed
by the United Nations each year in accordance with mandates given by the
General Assembly in resolutions 32/40B of 2 December 1997 and 34/35D of 12
December 1979. The official day of solidarity is November 29th. This date
was chosen because of its significance to the Palestinian people. On that
date in 1947 the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), which came to
be known as the Partition Resolution and provided the establishment of a
Jewish State and Arab State in Palestine, with a special international
regime for Jerusalem. Of the two states intended by this resolution, only
one, Israel, has come into being. According to Amnesty International,
Palestinians continue to account for the largest refugee population
currently dispersed throughout the world.
This event is presented by CEPAL ¡V the Canadian-Palestinian Educational
Exchange. Co-sponsors include: Libby Davies, MP Vancouver East, Svend
Robinson, MP Burnaby-Douglas, Alternatives, Medical Aid Palestine, SPHR,
Canaanite Canadian Knowledge Centre, the Association of Palestinian Arab
Canadians, the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations.
To book interviews or for other enquiries, please contact: Madalena Santos
tel: (613)237-0279, e-mail: email@example.com
Backgrounder - Brief Biographies
Professor Michael Lynk
Michael Lynk teaches at the University of Western Ontario¡¦s Faculty at Law.
He has written extensively on labour and human rights law in Canada and
the Middle East. In 1989, he served with the United Nations on the West
Bank during the first Palestinian uprising. In his analyses, Professor Lynk
stresses the importance of settling international conflicts peacefully
through the rule of law, and discusses how these crisis issues can be fairly
and comprehensively resolved through the available principles of
international law, in particular UN resolutions, Geneva Conventions, and
modern treaties. His work deals with the leading crisis issues -- refugees,
settlements, popular resistance, state, human rights, borders, Jerusalem --
in international law terms.
Elisabeth Anctil, Alex Conliffe, Shannon Dow, Hala Khalaf, and Jordan Topp
volunteered with CEPAL over this past summer. They lived and worked with
Palestinian refugees in Bourj el-Barajneh, Shatila and Wavell camps in
Lebanon, where they provided English and French language instruction, as
well as basic computer skills to children and adults.
Elisabeth Anctil graduated from Sherbrooke University with a BA in Economics
in 1996. She is currently preparing to move to Ramallah to take on a
position with Oxfam Quebec.
Alex Conliffe is studying Mechanical Engineering at McGill University. She
volunteers at the Royal Victoria Hospital and leads the McGill chapter of
Engineers Without Borders.
Shannon Dow studies International Development and Anthropology with a
concentration in Medical Anthropology at the University of McGill. She is
looking forward to traveling after the completion of her BA and desires to
take part in an internship with a Canadian development agency.
Hala Khalaf is an English-Rhetoric and Professional Writing student at the
University of Waterloo. She hopes to continue her graduate studies in
Journalism, and eventually work in the field of media and communications.
Jordan Topp studies Social Work at McGill University. She works part-time
at a refugee shelter, and for McGill's Aboriginal Social Work Certificate
Program. In the future Jordan hopes to advocate for fair refugee,
immigrant, labour and welfare policies.
What is Cepal?
CEPAL - the Canadian-Palestinian Educational Exchange - is a not-for-profit
organization founded in 1996 by young Canadians who share a deep commitment
to the respect of human dignity and human rights of all people. CEPAL¡¦s
objective is to assist the Palestinian refugees in the pursuit of their
basic human rights by increasing their access to education and by raising
public awareness in Canada about their struggle. In Canada, CEPAL works in
cooperation with a wide range of organizations such as the Centre for
Developing Areas Studies at McGill University. CEPAL is supported by
community organizations and individuals who donate their time and money.
Why Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon? The situation that confronts
Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon is worsening daily. As much of the world
focuses on the difficulties facing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza,
an even more dire situation of the Palestinian Diaspora in Lebanon is
largely forgotten. Poverty, health crises and illiteracy are all on the
rise among Palestinians in Lebanon. Over 60 percent of Palestinian families
in Lebanon are living below the UN-established poverty-line, and they form a
greater percentage of UN-defined ¡§hardship cases¡¨ than any other
Palestinian community (including Gaza). A recent survey of war-widows in
the Bourj el-Barajneh camp, which contains a very high number of
female-headed households, revealed that nearly 80 percent of women are
illiterate. Nearly every school is operating on double shifts, and 40
percent of the Palestinian refugee population in Lebanon is now considered
illiterate. In spite of this reality, most donor agencies believe that the
Palestinian issue in Lebanon is being ¡§solved¡¨ and have been channeling
their assistance to the West Bank and Gaza. As the Palestinian population
in Lebanon sinks further into political oblivion, they are leaderless and
voiceless, stranded in refugee camps that have only sporadic running water
Why Language Training? CEPAL¡¦s language programs will not solve the
precarious predicament of Palestinians in Lebanon. However, English and
French language skills can open up options in a largely optionless future.
Noted author and anthropologist Rosemary Sayigh suggests ¡¥sending
volunteers to work with Palestinian NGOs in Lebanon e.g. in children¡¦s
summer camps or teaching English¡¦ is a key role North American NGOs should
be playing. In addition to language training, CEPAL has incorporated
computer training into its curriculum.
APPEAL TO All CANADIANS
International Law and Human Rights in the Middle East
On the occasion of the upcoming United Nations United Day of Solidarity with
Palestinians (November 29th), CEPAL is appealing to all Canadians to
actively support efforts to return to peaceful negotiations in the Middle
East including an internationally monitored dialogue based on international
law and human rights.
CEPAL believes that in order to attain a just and durable peace in the
Middle East, there must be a just solution to the refugee issue. The
irresolution of their fate perpetuates the largest, longest-running and most
destabilizing refugee problem in the world today. The Facts are:
„X The 750,000 Palestinians expelled from historical Palestine in 1948 are
now over 3.6 million registered Palestinian refugees living around the world
with 1.1 million refugees living for the third and fourth generation in 59
refugee camps scattered in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and
„X The Palestinian right of return is a human right affirmed by
international law. Resolution 194, calling for their right to return, has
been affirmed by the UN General Assembly, including Canada, over 140 times
in the last 50 years. It is also enshrined in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (Article 13) and in the sanctity of private ownership, which
cannot be extinguished by sovereignty, occupation or passage of time.
„X Over 60% of Palestinian refugees live under UN-established poverty line
and unemployment, illiteracy rates, and child labour are on the rise. It is
increasingly difficult to cope with the overcrowded living quarters (as high
as 4,200 persons per sq. km) and schools (40-60 children in a class with
schools running on double shifts), overburdened medical services, shortage
of water and electricity, contaminated drinking water due to open sewers and
lack of proper garbage disposal, and a lack of adequate mental health and
As a people committed to justice, Canadians have an important role in
promoting the rule of international law in the Middle East. With this
letter, CEPAL affirms its position of supporting Palestinian refugees¡¦
right to choose to return to their homeland or to resettle in another
country, and to compensation for their losses and suffering. As part of its
mandate, CEPAL aims to give Palestinian refugees a much needed voice in
Canada. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are urging CEPAL and the
international non-governmental community to assist in raising awareness of
their rights, especially the right of return.
Every Canadian can contribute to peace in the Middle East! Canadians can:
1) write letters to their Members of Parliament calling on our government to
uphold international law and human rights including the Palestinian
refugee¡¦s right to return; 2) provide small financial contributions to
support CEPAL and other organizations¡¦ grass-roots efforts in providing
basic education and other social services to Palestinian refugees; 3) donate
valuable time to assist organizations in Canada and/or overseas.
Contact CEPAL for suggestions on how to make a contribution and to order a
copy of the recently published ¡§From Refugees to Citizens at Home¡¨ on a
feasible and just solution for Palestinian refugees recently written by
internationally renowned researcher Salman Abu Sittah.
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