CTIP has received a copy of an open letter from Ahmad Abu Artema, one of the key organizers of the Palestinian ‘Great March of Return’ in Gaza, inviting Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to come and visit Gaza. ‘You will see we are not hate fueled terrorists, but desperate young people searching for a solution to our unfair situation,’ he writes. Read more.
Ahmed Abu Artema is a 33 year old Palestinian living in Gaza. He did a live interview with CNN last May about his hopes for a better life, shortly after the Great March of Return first began. He had great hopes it would change things. It has not been successful because the world still doesn’t understand what people in Gaza need or want. Two months ago, he made a personal appeal to Prime Minister Trudeau (and to other world leaders) to come and see their situation.
Here is his letter to Prime Minister Trudeau dated August 29th.
August 29th, 2018
Gaza City, Gaza
Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
RE: Invitation to visit Gaza, Palestine
My name is Ahmad Abu Artema. I am a 33 year old free-lance Palestinian journalist. All my life I have been forcibly confined in Gaza, unable to travel outside a tiny area which is barely 15% of the size of the City of Ottawa.
I was one of the initial organizers of the protests which we call the “Great March of Return” beginning last March. I explained my motivation for doing so in an op ed published in the New York Times in May. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/14/opinion/gaza-protests-organizer-great-return-march.html
I am not a member of any Palestinian political party or faction. But my generation of young Palestinians is frustrated and angry over our life-long confinement, which we see as unfair and unnecessary.
The March of Return was our attempt to peacefully bring our situation to world attention. We want to see an end to Israel’s blockade which has reduced us to a life of poverty and unemployment. And we want to see our lives improved.
Tens of thousands of people participated week after week in the protests, which were overwhelmingly peaceful. But we had not anticipated the brutality of Israel’s determination to keep us locked up. Israeli snipers have killed over a hundred of us and injured thousands more.
We have still not achieved our goal. But we are encouraged to see that some governments, including yours, have taken significant steps to help alleviate our suffering, including increased financial support for UNRWA, and the $50 million in emergency humanitarian aide you have donated.
We were also grateful for your public response after Dr. Tarek Loubani, a brave Canadian of Palestinian origin, was shot by Israeli snipers while he was performing medical services to our wounded.
However, our situation remains desperate. We still have no jobs and no future.
I would like to invite you to come to see our situation for yourself. When you next visit the Middle east, we would like to show you our overcrowded schools, our overwhelmed hospitals and our inadequate water and sewage. Or if you cannot do so personally, to authorize a parliamentary delegation to do so.
We can show you that, unlike what others might say of us, we are not hate fueled terrorists, but desperate young people searching for a solution to our unfair situation.
We are confident that you will agree that our situation is very bad, and that we deserve better. We think and hope Canada will help us.
Thank you in advance for your attention.
Ahmad Abu Artema
Gaza City, Gaza
- Cc: Hon Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Global Affairs Canada
- Mr. Marwan Tabbara, Chair, Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group
- Mr. Alexandre Boulerice, Vice-Chair, Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group
- Other members, Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group
- Ms. Deborah Lyons, Canadian Ambassador to Israel
- Mr. Scott Proudfoot, Canadian Representative for West Bank and Gaza
UPDATE: The weekly demonstrations in Gaza have now continued for more than 30 weeks. In a more recent article in Middle East Eye, Mr. Artema explains that every week, more young Palestinians are killed by Israeli snipers but they don’t plan to give up.
Mr. Artema has informed CTIP that about a month after sending his letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, a Canadian diplomat based in Ramallah did contact him and came to meet with him in Gaza. He told us that the exchange was friendly, but no commitment was undertaken in response to the invitation to Mr. Trudeau or a Canadian parliamentary delegation to visit Gaza to come and see for themselves. Mr. Artema’s desperate call for help has so far gone unanswered.
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