Al-Awda, Palestine Right to Return Coalition First Annual Convention
Press Release on resolutions
July 3, 2003
Hundreds of Palestinian exiles from North
America and the Arab Homeland
and their supporters gathered at the
1st Annual Convention of Al-Awda, Palestine
Right to Return Coalition in Toronto, Canada
from the 20th to the 22nd of June, 2003.
The main objective of the Convention was to
reaffirm the centrality of the Palestinian right
of return in light of the existential challenges
facing the Palestinian people and question,
epitomized by the destruction and occupation
of Iraq and the introduction of the "Road Map".
While the former is the first step in a process
aimed at redrawing the political and geo-strategic
map of the Arab Homeland, the latter represents
the latest attempt by the Zionist entity
and the US to liquidate Palestinian national rights.
Motivated by a deep sense of responsibility and appreciation of the enormity of the challenges facing Palestinian aspirations for liberationand return, al-Awda activists and their supporters met to re-energize the right to return movement in North America. Participants, including representatives from Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan,took part in sessions and panels dealing with topics ranging from divestment and the apartheid nature of the Zionist entity to the role of Palestinian women in the struggle for liberation, self-determination and return. Two speakers, Dr. Salaman Abu Sitta of the Palestine Land Society and Mr. Richard Becker of the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R), delivered the keynote addresses at the convention.
At the conclusion of the convention, al-Awda members attending the organizational and strategy session adopted and committed themselves
to the following resolutions and actions.
The Palestinian right of return is a historical, national and collective right rooted in the individual
and collective inviolable right of an individual and a
people to their original homes, property, and homeland,
and to restitution, regardless of agreements,
developments in international law and political framework.
It is a right that transcends generations, political entities,
and is not subject to any form of negation or compromise.
It is an inextricable right from the fundamental right
of unconditional self-determination for the totality of the
Palestinian people regardless of their place of residence or birth.
Al-Awda 2003 Convention opposes the US sponsored Road Map, which aims at suppressing the human and national rights of the Palestinian
people. The Convention expresses support for the struggle of the Palestinian people, currently spearheaded by the Intifada, to achieve national resistance goals including, but not limited to, ending Zionist colonization, implementing the right of return, and achieving self-determination. Al-Awda Convention does not recognize any self-proclaimed Palestinian leadership, elected or appointed,
in compromising any Palestinian national rights, especially the right of return.
Al-Awda 2003 Convention demands the immediate termination of the use of the term "Israel/Palestine",
and any of its combinations, in all and any Al-Awda related documents.
Al-Awda 2003 Convention demands the immediate release of all political
prisoners from all Israeli and Palestinian Authority jails.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL DAYS OF ACTION
Recommendation 1 - National Days of Action
Al-Awda 2003 Convention resolved that the
following days are National & International Days of Action
in support of the Palestinian Right of Return and against
colonial occupations, where events and activities can be
conducted on local, regional, and national scale:
- September 26-28, 2003: Anniversary of the Second
Intifada and the Sabra and Shatila Massacre
- April 9, 2004: Deir Yasin Massacre
- May 15, 2004: 1948 Nakbah
That next Al-Awda Convention will be held in the San Francisco Bay Area or in Southern California, United States.
Al-Awda 2003 Convention calls on al-Awda members
and the Coordinating Committee to implement the following
recommendations of the various workshops:
- The reactivation of al-Awda's Refugee Support Committee and the continuation of Al-Awda support for the work of Palestinian Children Welfare Fund (PCWF)
- Adopting divestment as a strategy by al-Awda members, chapters and committees -- Continuing the excellent media work on behalf of Palestinian rights by using all available media formats and while focusing on alternative media in North America and Europe
- The establishment of a Women for Al-Awda committee in conjunction with supporting women leadership and confronting all forms of oppression
- Continuing and intensifying the campaign against Caterpillars
- Training members to carry out lobbying campaigns
- Highlighting Palestinian Rights during the next elections in the US, especially within the Democratic Party
Among the 2003 Convention's main achievements are the following:
- Putting the world on notice that the struggle for the right of return is alive and well
- Providing activists from North America, Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan with the space to network and plan future projects in
support of the right of return
- Recruiting new activists and establishing a new chapter in Montreal, Canada
- Paving the way for partnering with the Palestine Solidarity Group in South Africa
with the purpose of convening a conference next Winter in Johannesburg aimed at isolating the Zionist entity ion
the international arena
- Discussing with Abnaa' el-Balad's representative from 48 Palestine the possibility of establishing
"Know you Homeland" project
- Establishing mechanisms for better coordination with right of return activists in Lebanon and Palestine