Death of a minister: Open letter to Hon. John Baird


Palestinian Government Minister Ziad Abu Ein scuffles with Israeli police at a demonstration on December 9th shortly before his death. He was unarmed. A longtime leader of Palestinian civil society groups, Mr. Ziad had been appointed this year to head a government-backed protest group, the Committee to Resist Settlements and the Wall.

Open letter to Foreign Minister John Baird ( Dear Minister Baird Two days ago, Ziad Abu Ein, 55, a Palestinian minister without portfolio, died after a confrontation with Israeli police. He was leading a demonstration against Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories. Mr. Ziad, whose responsibilities included the issue of Israeli settlements and the separation wall, died as he was being rushed to hospital after becoming involved in clashes while trying to plant olive trees in Turmusiya, a village near Ramallah. The reasons for his death are contested. The Palestinians say he was killed by Israeli police brutality. Photos show him being grabbed by the throat. Foreign reporters who were there say he was beaten and that a large amount of tear gas was used. According to the Globe and Mail “pictures taken by Reuters do not show Abu Ein responding with any violence”. The Israelis deny that his death had anything to do with their treatment of him. However, several elements are uncontested. The demonstration was peaceful. He was unarmed. The incident took place in territory that Canada recognizes as “occupied”. He was peacefully protesting settlements which Canada agrees are “illegal”. He was doing his job.

Mr Baird,

  • In the name of human compassion, I urge you to offer your sympathies to Mr. Ziad’s family by paying a condolence visit to the Palestinian Representative Office here in Ottawa,
  • In the name of justice, I urge you to ask your Ramallah office (which includes RCMP and Canadian military personnel) for a full report on the incident
  • In the name of our obligations under the 4th Geneva Convention, to which Canada is a signatory, I urge you to call the Israeli Ambassador, as the representative of the occupying power, to give you a full explanation.

Thank you Peter Larson, Chair, National Education Committee on Israel/Palestine cc. Paul Dewar (, Marc Garneau (, Elizabeth May (

One comment

  1. Peter, an excellent letter. I was in Ramallah when this was going on. There were lots of injuries as a consequence for three days of “mourning.”

    My question to you is, what purpose is served by writing Baird?

Comments are closed.