Palestinians call out the censorship and lack of education circulating amidst the genocide in Gaza.
Thousands of Montrealers rallied at Dorchester Square on Oct. 22, to demonstrate their support for Palestine. The crowd marched for hours in the rain, demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and condemning Canada’s involvement in Israel’s war crimes against Palestinian civilians.
While many protesters wore the keffiyeh, a traditional Middle Eastern scarf that symbolizes resistance, to show solidarity to the Palestinian people, others raised large posters calling attention to the number of lives that have been taken so far due to Israel’s terrorist attacks on Gazans. Grievances were voiced through chants like “Gaza Gaza don’t you cry, we will never let you die!”
A speaker from the crowd spoke about the painful experience of having to wake up every day and check if his relatives are still alive back home in Gaza. The suppression of Palestinian voices in academic institutions was also denounced by another speaker.
Several other emergency protests have been held in downtown Montreal over the last few weeks, as Israeli airstrikes continuously targeted homes, schools, hospitals, places of worship, the press and humanitarian facilities.
Israel’s siege on Gaza has cut off the electricity supply, means of telecommunication, any access to food, clean water, fuel, and proper medical assistance, leaving over 2 million Gazans in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Since Oct. 7, 7,028 people have been killed in Gaza, along with 18,484 injured, 1,650 reported missing and around 1.4 million internally displaced. Moreover, healthcare facilities continue to shut down due to destruction or lack of supplies. Despite the constant increase in civilian casualties, the Canadian government has refused to call for a ceasefire.
A petition was formed against the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), demanding the removal of their group for “Hate Speech and Terrorism Glorification.” However, a member of the SPHR who will remain anonymous for privacy reasons, assured that this petition has not impacted the organization or their work. “We are not doing anything wrong and everything is abiding by the laws set by the CSU,” they said.
They were met with “very mixed reactions” from people they have tried to educate about the ongoing massacres in Gaza. They claimed that while some held biases against Palestinians, others admitted that they were not well informed about the situation. They argued that “a lot of responses came from the influence of mainstream media unfortunately.”
The SPHR also stated that the university should decry any attempts at doxing Palestinians who speak up about the genocide. “This silence is not acceptable and it takes away from the importance of freedom of speech that we are constantly being reminded of and educated about,” they said.
Basma and Maya, two Palestinian students at Concordia, claimed to have witnessed many people showing their support for Israel on social media, while staying completely silent as the violence and death tolls escalate in Gaza.
Maya emphasized the lack of education amongst those who did not speak up for Palestine. “You don’t want to talk about it because you don’t know enough about it,” she said.
Basma also remarked on how Western media outlets such as CNN repeatedly ask activists and representatives for Palestine whether they condemn Hamas, yet completely disacknowledge the human rights violations Israel has committed against Palestinian civilians.
The two students advise everyone to carefully research and inform themselves about the ongoing genocide, as well as reach out to Palestinian students and ask them questions. “It’s not that complicated, it’s not a conflict, it’s an occupation,” Maya asserted.