"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

BC government’s decision to ban Russian liquor exposes double-speak on human rights Featured

Hanna Kawas Hanna Kawas

 

Gurpreet Singh  

 

Premier John Horgan and opposition leader Kevin Falcon might disagree on number of issues, but the recent developments in faraway Ukraine have brought them on the same page.  

In light of the Russian attack on an Eastern European nation, Falcon asked for banning Russian vodka from BC liquor stores. Horgan did not waste his time and promptly agreed. The two political rivals were then happy to pat themselves on their backs for scoring a point by standing up for the rights of Ukrainians.  

Canadian politicians of all stripes are almost unanimous in their criticism of “tyrant” Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Rallies after rallies are being held across Canada in solidarity with the people facing a Russian onslaught on the ground.  

However, such massive outrage remains missing whenever Palestinians come under attack from Israel. The Israeli occupation of Palestine has continued for years, while Canadian politicians have largely looked away. BC politicians are no exception. Even the NDP government, which has many members from labour backgrounds and from trade unions that often preach international solidarity chose to ignore their cause.  

The ongoing demand to ban Israeli wines from BC liquor stores has been conveniently overlooked. In fact, Palestine activist Hanna Kawas, who has been picketing outside liquor stores for years as part of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, was told by someone in the government that it was a question of “free choice”. Wow. That unwritten rule appears to have been thrown out of window in support of Ukraine.  For the record, the then BC Liberal government did not ban US liquor back in 2003 when our neighbours next door attacked Iraq. 

In contrast to Ukrainians, who are portrayed as heroes while packing off from Canada and traveling back to defend their homeland, BDS has mostly received hostile press. Palestinians trying to rise up against repression remain potential terrorsists in the eyes of many Canadians, whereas Ukrainians' resistance is being romanticised.  

If this doesn’t display the double-speak, then what does?  

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Most BC politicians of Indian origin have also remained silent on the repression of the Indian state against the people of Kashmir and other parts of that nation. Attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, have grown under a right wing Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi, but neither Horgan nor his Indo-Canadian colleagues have ever dared to stand up against brutes in India, The one exception was during the recently concluded farmers’ agitation, when thousands of farmers protested outside New Delhi against unjust farm laws which were finally revoked after their yearlong struggle in 2021.    

The only argument they offer is that it is a federal matter. Again, if that is the case, why jump the Ukrainian bandwagon when the federal government is already speaking about it? 

Why such selectivity? I have no answer. Is it racism as Ukrainians are Europeans, while Palestinians and India minorities are not? Or is it because Israel and India have well-oiled propaganda machines with tentacles spread in Canada? Only Horgan or Falcon can tell.  

 

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