VANCOUVER — Twenty activists from throughout the Lower Mainland gathered early today at Deltaport for an information picket targeting a major Israeli shipping company, Zim. The action was in solidarity with the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, which included a Canadian Boat and which has been prevented from sailing to the occupied and blockaded Palestinian territory.
Irene MacInnes explained, “While Gazans cannot travel or ship exports by sea, massive Israeli companies like Zim are able to freely do business around the world despite their connection to the unjust policies that bring so much suffering to Palestinians.” MacInnes was one of more than 30 Canadian delegates on the Tahrir, one of the aid flotilla ships prevented by the Greek government and Coast Guard from sailing from that country’s ports to Gaza in June and July of this year.
At Deltaport, activists passed out information for over an hour to dockworkers and truckers coming to and from the port, one of the largest container terminals in Vancovuer, Canada’s largest shipping port. They held signs and banners supporting the flotilla and the campaign for boycott of Zim and other Israeli-owned companies and products. The educational action delayed traffic to the port and accomplished its aim of reaching out to workers handling Zim cargo.
Zim is by far the biggest Israeli shipping company, and one of the 10 largest in the world, with 60 weekly services to 180 ports worldwide, including Deltaport. This year’s Freedom Flotilla was a follow up to a similar effort in May 2010, when Israeli armed forces raided a Turkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, killing nine activists.
Following that massacre, a number of Palestinian labour organizations issued a call for international solidarity. Dockworkers in the U.S., Sweden, Turkey, India and South Africa have responded with support actions.
Media outlets covering the morning picket action included CTV, CityTV, GlobalTV, CKNW radio (AM 980) and both local newspapers, the Delta Optimist and the South Delta Leader. The event was also documented by the organizers. Photos and a video report on the action will be available shortly.
Police attempted to stop or curtail the protest. One activist was arrested and later released, with a court appearance scheduled for September. We will keep people posted if further legal support is needed for this person.
Also today, a small French boat that is part of the Freedom Flotilla, the Dignity, attempted to sail to Gaza but was boarded in international waters by the Israeli navy and forcibly taken to the port of Ashdod. Canadian Boat to Gaza activist Stephan Corriveau was on board and remains in Israeli custody. Solidarity actions are taking place tonight in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal (for more information on support actions visit http://tahrir.ca/).
The Deltaport action was organized by activists from the Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (BIAC) and the Vancouver committee of the Canadian Boat to Gaza (CBG).