Civil society response to Bush declaration on right of return

6 May 2004

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Galilee, October 1948, expelled Palestinians on their way to Lebanon (Photo: PalestineRemembered)


In a resounding response, more than 1,250 organizations, networks, coalitions, grassroots activists, community leaders, and intellectuals from across the world have joined in few days the “International Response” to the declaration made by President George W. Bush supporting the policies of Ariel Sharon.

The Palestinian Right to Return movement in its entirety and organizations representing Palestinian refugees and those exiled took the lead in standing firm and unified in their collective demand to exercise the inalienable right to return. Grassroots activists from all walks of life joined with influential intellectuals and organizations from across the glob to echo the very same demand.

On May 15, 2004, this response and signatories will be sent to all members of the United Nations General Assembly and other relevant parties.

International Response to the Bush Declaration on the Palestinian Right to Return

In response to the most recent declaration given by President of the United States, George W. Bush, to Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, on April 14, 2004, at the White House, we, the undersigned affirm the full individual and collective inalienable Right to Return of the Palestinian Arab People to their homes, property and land of origin. We assert in no uncertain terms that such a fundamental right is inviolable as it is based on the unbreakable natural belonging of a people to their property and place of origin, as enshrined in international law. Accordingly, we hold that the Palestinian Right to Return is an indispensable obligatory prerequisite for the achievement of any justice and peace.

We consider any attempt to weaken, lessen, or alter such a right in any form through any proclamations or agreements between any parties to be counter to the human, political, civil, and national collective right of the Palestinian Arab People. Hence, such an attempt, along with its implications and ramifications, are null and void in total, regardless of the passage of time and the entities entering into such agreements or issuing such proclamations.

On November 2, 1917, Great Britain issued the Balfour Declaration that promised Palestine to a European settler colonial movement, amounting to the inevitable dispossession and exile of the Palestinian people. Today, at a time when another Deir Yassin massacre is carried out in Fallujah in an attempt to cement the US occupation of Iraq, the Bush Administration is simultaneously attempting to complete the Balfour project of 1917 by nullifying the Palestinian Right to Return, and by giving an international cover to the creation of a truncated and walled collection of Bantustans that would normalize and legitimize the process of ethnic cleansing.

Recognizing this existential and imminent danger, we stand against this new Balfour Declaration, and reaffirm our unwavering position that the Palestinian Right to Return is an inextricable anchor and prerequisite to full Palestinian self-determination, freedom, and liberty.

(This public declaration will be submitted to all members of the UN General Assembly and other relevant parties on May 15, 2004. For endorsement, please write to: responsetobush@yahoo.com)

1,276 Signatories

To join this campaign, institutions, organizations and individuals are encouraged to endorse this statement by writing to responsetobush@yahoo.com.

For a full list of activists, intellectuals, writers, journalists, and community leaders, please visit: ror-congress.org

Abnaa Al-Ballad Movement, Palestine 48; A’idun Group – Lebanon; Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition, United Kingdom; Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition, USA; Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Center, Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, Palestine; BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights, Bethlehem, Palestine; Center for Development, Documentation and Information Palestine; Children and Youth Center, Shatila Camp, Lebanon; ‘Diwans’ of Palestinian refugees in the camps of: (1) al-Baq’a, (2) Wehdat, (3) Hussein, (4) Amman, (5) Hittin, (6) al-Awda, (7) Zarqa, (8) Madaba, (9) Souf, (10) Gaza/’Jarash,’ (11) al-Hussn, (12) Irbid, Jordan; General Union of Palestinian Women – Lebanon; High Committee for the Defense of the Palestinian Right of Return and its branches in Palestinian refugee camps and communities in Jordan; Houleh Club Association, Borj Al Shamali Camp, Lebanon; Nabila Brier Social Foundation, Ain El Helwi Camp, Lebanon; Palestine Right of Return Congress, Europe; Palestine Right of Return Congress, Jordan; Palestine Right of Return Congress, Lebanon; Palestine Right of Return Congress, North America; Palestine Right of Return Congress, Palestine – Gaza Strip Section; Palestine Right of Return Congress, Palestine – West Bank Section; Palestine Right of Return Congress, Syria; Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza Strip, Palestine; Social Care Association, Ain El Helwi Camp, Lebanon; Social Communication Center (Ajyal), Beirut, Lebanon; Societies and Diwans of (1) Bir es-Sabe’, (2) Lydda, (3) Ramle, (4) Salama, (5) Jaffa; (6) Latroun villages of Emwas, (7) Yalo, (8) Bayt Nuba, Jordan; The Abu Jihad AL Wazir Institution, Rashidiya Camp, Lebanon; The Committee for the Defense of Palestinian Refugees Rights, Palestine; The Forum of Palestinian NGO’s Working on Refugee Camps of Lebanon (18 NGO’s); The General Union of Palestinian Women, Palestine; The Palestinian Human Rights Organization- PHRO, Lebanon; Women’s Humanitarian Organization, Borj Al Barajnh, Lebanon; 20th of March Movement for Change, Egypt; Adala – Canadian Arab Justice Committee, Canada; AIWA (Arab and International Women’s Organization), San Antonio, Texas, USA; Al-Adab Publishing House, Beirut, Lebanon; Alawda Magazine, USA; Albassa and Friends Association; Al-Bireh Palestine Society, USA; Alexandria Association for Human Rights Advocates, Egypt; Alliance for Free Palestine, San Diego State University, USA; Alrabita Alarabiya; Al-Saaha Cultural Club, Beirut, Lebanon; Al-Shorouq Newspaper- Canada; American Muslims for Jerusalem, USA; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Greater Houston Chapter, USA; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Greater Sacramento Area Chapter, USA; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter, USA; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, USA; Anti Globalization Egyptian Group (AGEG), Egypt; Arab Commission for Human Rights, France; Arab Lawyers Union, Cairo - Egypt; Arab Muslim American Federation, USA; Arab National Congress (Al-Mu’tamar Al-Qawmi Al-Arabi); Arab Student Union (UCSD), University of California, San Diego, USA; Arab-American Press Guild, USA; Association of Palestinian Australian Graduates, Sydney, Australia; Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain; Birzeit Society, USA; Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel, Beirut, Lebanon; Canada Palestine Association, Canada; Canadian Muslim Forum (CMF), Montreal; Canadian Palestinian foundation of Quebec, Canada; Centro de Estudios Palestinos, Panama; Chilean-Palestinian Community of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile; Coalition for Justice, Stanford, USA; Deir Yassin Society of New York, USA; Deir Yassin Society of Ramallah, USA; Egyptian American Students Association at UIUC; Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Egypt; El Nadim for Victims of Violence, Egypt; Free Palestine Alliance, USA; Habitat International Coalition, Cairo, Egypt; Housing and Land Rights Network, Cairo, Egypt; Human Rights First - Saudi Arabia; Islamic Association for Palestine in North America; Islamic Society of Stanford University, USA; Justice for Palestine - University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Kana’an Review, Palestine/USA; Middle East Cultural and Information Center (MECIC), USA; Middle East Students Association (USC), University of Southern California, USA; Muslim Student Awareness Network, Stanford, USA; Muslim Students Association – National, USA; Muslim Students Association (CSULB), California State University, Long Beach, USA; Muslim Students Association (CSUS), California State University, Sacramento, USA; Muslim Students Association (UCD), University of California, Davis, USA; National Council of Arab Americans (NCA), USA; Niagara Palestinian Association; Organization of Arab American Students, Stanford, USA; Palestine Aid Society, USA; Palestine Community Center-Vancouver, Canada; Palestine House Educational and Cultural Center - the 1948 Uprooted Palestinians in Canada; Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Britain; Palestine Solidarity Group, Chicago, USA; Palestine Solidarity Group, Vancouver, Canada; Palestinian Academic Unionist Teem , An-Najah University , Nablus , Palestine; Palestinian American Congress, USA; Palestinian American Women’s Association of Southern California, USA; Pan Arab Union For Peace, NYC, NY, USA; Society of Arab Students (UCI), University of California, Irvine, USA; Students for Justice in Palestine - College of San Mateo, California; Students for Justice in Palestine (CSUS), California State University, Sacramento, USA; Students for Justice in Palestine (UCB), University of California, Berkeley, USA; Students for Justice in Palestine (UCD), University of California, Davis, USA; Students for Justice in Palestine (UCLA), University of California, Los Angeles, USA; Students for Justice in Palestine (USC), University of Southern California, USA; Students for Palestine at UIUC; Students for Palestinian Rights, SFPR, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; Sydney Arab Feminist Alliance (SAFA), Sydney, Australia; Sydney University Arab Students Association, Sydney, Australia; The Australian Arabic Council, Australia; The Australian Arabic Council, Australia; The Egyptian Association against Torture, Egypt; The National Institution of Social Care and Vocational Training, Lebanon; Union of Palestinian American Women, USA; United Arab Society at UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles, USA; A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; A.N.S.W.E.R./CV (California Central Valley) Organizing Committee; Alternative Perspective Media (APM-RAM), Montreal; American Educational Trust, USA; American Muslim Voice, USA; Americans for A Just Peace in the Middle East, USA; Americans for Justice in Palestine-Israel, USA; Arab Cause Solidarity Committe (CSCA), Spain; Arise for Social Justice; Artists Against the Occupation, International; Asians 4 Jericho/Mumia of Southern California; ASKAPENA (Basque Solidarity with the People); Association for One Democratic State for Palestine/Israel - Colorado Section, USA; Australian Friends of Palestine Association, Australia; Bay Area United Against War, USA; BAYAN-Philippines (New patriotic Alliance-Philiipines); Bend-Condega Friendship Project; Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, USA; Café Intifada, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Campaign for Social Justice, California, USA; Central Texas Anti-Racist Action; Chattanooga First Amendment Radio; Citizens’ Action for Peace in Redlands, CA; Citizens for Fair Legislation, USA; Coalition for Equity-Restorative Justice (CERJ), USA; Collision Course Media Productions, San Francisco, USA; Colorado Palestine Solidarity Campaign, USA; Committee Against the U$ Empire (the CAU$E); Committee to Defend Palestinian Human Rights, Worcester, MA, USA; Declare Peace Project, United Kingdom; Defenders of Peace; Educational Alliance for Peace - Marin County, California, USA; Fellowship of Reconciliation, Louisville Chapter, Kentucky, USA; Florida Palestine Solidarity Network; For Mother Earth, Scotland; Freedom Socialist Party, Australia; Fresno State Campus Peace and Civil Liberties Coalition; Friends of Al-Aqsa, Cape Town, South Africa; GoodHarvest; Granada Center for Human Rights, Chicago, USA; Green Party, USA; Hammerhard MediaWorks, Chicago, IL, USA; Hereford Peace Coalition, United Kingdom; Houston Coalition for Justice Not War; Human Rights Action Hamamatu; INCITE! Women of Color against Violence; Incorruptible Media; Independent Anglo-Catholic Church of American, USA; International Action Center, USA; International League of Peoples’ Struggle; International Socialist Organization, USA; International Women’s Peace Service; Iranian-American Community; Iraq-U.S.A. Committee, Florence, Italy; Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Belfast Branch; Irish Human Rights Coalition (IHRC), USA; Islamic Political Party of America, USA; Ithaca Palestine Fair Trade Initiative, NY, USA; Jewish People’s Liberation Organization, Canada; Jewish Friends of Palestine Project; Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation (JWCEO), Toronto, Ontario; Jews Against Zionism, London, UK; Justice 4 Homeless San Francisco, USA; Kentucky Interfaith Taskforce on Latin America and the Caribbean, Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Taskforce on Latin America and the Caribbean, Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Knights of the Socially Conscious, USA; KOMADA, Satoshi, Demining for the Children, Japan; Korea Truth Commission; LAGAI — Queer Insurrection, USA; Latinos Por La Paz; LifeDance Theater, San Francisco, USA; Louisville Committee for Peace in the Middle East, Louisville, Kentucky, USA; LOVEARTH NETWORK; Mahina Movement, NYC, NY, USA; Marginalized Workers Action League: Direct Action for Workers Rights; Marina Drummer- Community Futures Collective, USA; Mexico Solidarity Network, USA; Middle East Children’s Alliance, USA; Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa; National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, USA; National Lawyers Guild, Bay Area Chapter, USA; National Lawyers Guild, USA; National Lawyers Guild—Loyola Law School Chapter, Los Angeles, USA; National Youth & Student A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; Nebraskans for Justice in Palestine, USA; New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine, New Jersey, USA; New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW), USA; New York Committee to Defend Palestine, USA; New Zealand Peace Council; Niagara Coalition for Peace; Niagara region Human Rights Youth Council; Nicaragua Network, USA; Northwest Suburban SUSTAIN, Chicago, USA; Pakistan American Alliance, USA; Palestine en Marche, France; Palestine Solidarity Committee - South Africa; Palestine Support Committee, Durban, South Africa; Partnership for Civil Justice, Washington, DC, USA; Pax Christi Naples; Peace Fresno, USA; Poets for Peace, Hamilton, Ontario – Canada; Progressive Workers Organizing Committee, Houston-Galveston, Texas, USA; Pueblo Insurgente, Republica Bolivariana de Venazuela; Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!), USA; Radical Women, San Francisco, CA USA; Restoring Environmental And Political Justice, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA; Rød Valgallianse - Red Electoral Alliance, Norway; Sacramento Area Peace Action, CA, USA; SALAAM Theatre (South Asian League of Artists in AMerica), USA; San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper, USA; SANE Sedona Activist Network Educators, USA; Sasha Keen, Somerville, NJ; Sawiyan - Palestine Solidarity, Sydney Australia; Sedona Activists Network Educators; SNUR-CGIL Trade Union University of Florence, Italy; SOAS PALESTINE SOCIETY; Southampton’s User Advocacy Forum; Sozialistische Alternative/Solidarität - Basel, Switzerland; St Pete for Peace; Students for Social Justice, Chicago, IL, USA; SUSTAIN-St. Louis Chapter, USA; Swiss Peace Movement (Member of World Peace Council); SWOP (South Western Ontario Poets), Canada; Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, Taipei, Taiwan; The Action Center For Justice, North Carolina, USA; The Anti-War on the World Coalition, Santa Monica College, Santa Monica College*, CA USA; The Freedom Archives; The Freeway Twenty, USA; The Independent Anglo-Catholic Church of America, USA; The Levant Institute, London, UK; The Nablus News, Japan; The National Coalition to Free the Angola Three, USA; The New England Committee to Defend Palestine, USA; The Peace Foundation, Aotearoa, New Zealand; The Saugeen Peacemongers, Durham, Ontario, Canada; The Theater fo the Oppressed Laboratory, New York, New York; The United Peoples; The West Covina Neighbors for Peace and Justice, USA; The workers of Bohemian Farms Produce Cooperative; Third World Forum (UCD), University of California, Davis, USA; Tri-Taylor Neighbors for Peace, Chicago, IL, USA; U.S. Citizens Against War, Florence, Italy; University of Southampton Socialist Student Society, UK; US-EL Salvador Sister Cities; Veterans For Peace, Savannah Area Chapter (forming); Voice of Roma, USA and Kosovo; Women In Black- San Francisco, USA

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