|ADC Petition for the Palestinian Right of Return to be Presented to the next US President (January 2001)
To the incoming President of the United States:
Mr. President, as you take office we urge you to ensure that the policies of the United States recognize and promote the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees.
As you know, the United States has made the right of refugees to return to their homes a central feature of its diplomacy, from Kosova and Bosnia in Europe, to Rwanda in Africa. The right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes is enshrined not only in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention, but more specifically in UN Resolution 194,
for which the United States voted. 194 provides "that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."
We strongly urge you to uphold a single standard on the human rights of refugees, and recognize the right of the Palestinian people to return to their homes, have their property restored to them and receive compensation for losses incurred as a result of dispossession and exile.
Sign the petition online or print out a petition and send it to: www.adc.org/petition/return.htm www.adc.org/petition/rorpet.pdf
Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Palestinian Right of Return Task Force 9355 Chapman Ave #205 Garden Grove, CA 92841
Canadian right of return initiative established:
On September 15, Canada's Palestinian community announced the launch of a new national organization to support the right of Palestinian refugees, and their descendants, to return to their former homes throughout historic Palestine. The decision to form
the "Right of Return" committee was taken in a meeting of 25 top Palestinian community leaders and activists including 4 former presidents of the national Arab Canadian community organization, the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF).
Palestinians in Denmark establish a right of
return committee: On the 26th August the Preparatory Committee for Palestinian refugees in Europe called a one day meeting to discuss issues concerning the establishment of a right of return committee in Denmark, the means to enhance coordination between European countries and to draw a common strategy towards Palestinian communities, European NGOs and other institutions. The meeting was attended by 35 representatives of associations, clubs, committees and activists, mainly from Denmark and Sweden.
Right-of-return activities in Sweden:
Workshop (27 September 2000): Speakers included cartographer Jan de Jong, Mustafa Bargouthi and EU representative Karin Roxman.
Swedish Delegation to Lebanon and Palestine (November 2000): Composed of Swedish parliamentarians and members of
Palestinians in Syria launch right of return initiative (A'idoun Group): Refugees in Syria have established a new initiative to help crystallize popular refugee activities and lobbying for the right of return, and to work to prevent any agreem-ent that might compromise it. A'idoun Group-Syria also seeks to establish coordination and cooperation channels with all Arab/Palestinian refugee popular initiatives and NGOs active in this field to promote the Palestinian right of return among the international community to achieve their supportfor this right.
More than 50 years after Al-Nakba, Palestinians continue to be deprived of their human and basic natural rights: the right to return to their homes and properties and the right to self-determination on their land, affirmed in various international resolutions. The most important of these is General Assembly Resolution 194, 11 December 1948, adopted immediately after the mass displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by Zionist forces who destroyed their villages and towns, looted their properties, and committed many massacres against them.
On 16 September 1948, Count Bernadotte, the United Nations Mediator, submitted his recommendations for solving the problems of thousands of Palestinian refugees to the United Nations. The most important recommendation was that Palestinian refugees must be allowed to return to their homes and properties, and receive compensation for any loss and damages to their properties. The General Assembly met to review these recommendations on 11 December 1948, and subsequently adopted them as paragraph 11 of Resolution 194,
which: "Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensat-ion should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under the principles of inter-national law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible." Israel's membership in the United Nations, approved by the General Assembly on 11 May 1949, was conditioned upon Israel's acceptance to implement UN resolutions. "Recalling its resolutions of 29 November 1947 (Partition) and 11 December 1948 (right to return and compensation) and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representatives of the Government of Israel before the Ad Hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions".
Ever since Resolution 194 was adopted, it has been confirmed annually by the United Nations. Israel continues to reject the Resolution and thereby, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which it is a signatory. According to the Declaration, (Article 13) "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country", and (Article 17), "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property."
The international community continues to deal with the Palestinian refugee issue only from its humanitarian dimension, ignoring the other political, legal, and moral dimensions. At the same time, the role of the United Nations has been limited to providing some relief assistance through UNRWA, and has failed to implement its resolu-tions concerning the Palestinians' right to return and compensation.
This failure is compounded by the balance of power, which favors Israel, and its rejection of these rights. In response to this miserable situation, refugees in the diaspora have mobilized to defend the right of return and link this right with the right of self-determination. In Syria, Palestinian refugees are accorded the same civil rights as Syrian citizens, and are integrated economically and socially within the Syrian community, but they maintain their national identity. Return to their homeland is still their priority.
In the context of the current dangers that threaten these national rights, consistent with the general framework of the refugee agenda in the diaspora based on the right of return and selfdetermination on our land, and the motivation to be involved, a group of independent Palestinians in Syria gathered to establish A'idoun Group-Syria. A'idoun is an independent forum, not concerned with the political affairs, but with the right of return. This forum is open to any individual who supports this right.