February 2005

Americans Rally for Zundel’s Freedom

IHR Demonstration in Los Angeles Generates Wide Media Attention,
Provokes Jewish Counter-Rally (photos)

Defenders of free speech rallied in coordinated demonstrations at Canadian diplomatic offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4 and 5, 2005, to protest the incarceration in Canada of Ernst Zundel, who has been held for nearly two years in solitary confinement on the pretext that he is a danger to national security.

The most important demonstration, organized by the Institute for Historical Review, was at the Canadian consulate in downtown Los Angeles, where about 30 men and women, including Zundel’s wife, Ingrid Rimland, gathered on Friday at noon. They carried signs reading “Shame on Canada!” and “Free Zundel.” One man held up a large color poster of Zundel. IHR flyers headed “Free Ernst Zundel!: Canada’s Number One 'Thought Criminal’,” were handed out to passersby.

Across the street, about 40 men and women staged a counter-demonstration organized by the Jewish Defense League. Dozens of Los Angeles police stood between the two contending groups to prevent violence.

The head of the Canadian diplomatic mission, Eric Pelletier, came outside to meet with IHR director Mark Weber and Ingrid Rimland. Weber handed the Consul a letter calling for Zundel’s release, and Rimland gave the diplomat a petition signed by the demonstrators, and a file of pro-Zundel letters she had received from people around the world. Pelletier thanked Weber and Rimland for the items, which he said would be forwarded to his government.

Weber addressed the gathering, expressing thanks to everyone who had come to show solidarity with Canada’s foremost “political prisoner.” He stressed the injustice of Zundel’s incarceration, and the lies and criminal record of the Jewish Defense League.

Local media coverage of the demonstrations included reports on Los Angeles radio stations KFI and KFWB, a film report on KTLA television with a portion of an interview with Rimland. In addition, newspapers across the US and Canada carried an AP report about the event. All this represented unprecedented media attention in the American media of Zundel’s ordeal.

Elsewhere:

In Washington, DC, a dozen Zundel supporters who met on Saturday outside the Canadian embassy were attacked by activists of the “Anti-Racist Action” (ARA), a militant Communist group. ARA thugs, some wearing masks, assaulted the demonstrators, threw urine bombs, and tore apart “Free Zundel!” signs.

In San Francisco, demonstrators carrying signs calling for Zundel’s release met on Friday outside the Canadian consulate, and handed out flyers. Four persons went inside to meet with consular officials and present a letter of protest.

In Seattle, demonstrators carrying signs calling for Zundel’s release met on Friday outside the Canadian consulate.

In Minneapolis the next day, a dozen men met for two hours outside the Canadian consulate, where they passed out flyers calling for Zundel’s freedom.

In Tucson, an activist demonstrated outside the Canadian trade office, holding a “Free Ernst Zundel” sign and handing out copies of the IHR’s Zundel flyer to interested persons.  

In Canada, about 20 men and women braving frigid cold rallied on Saturday on behalf of Zundel outside the office in Edmonton of the deputy prime minister, who is responsible for border security. Paul Fromm, director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, organized the demonstration, which received media attention across Canada . 

In Japan, 30 persons holding signs reading “Free Zundel Now” and “Political Prisoner” gathered outside the Canadian embassy in Tokyo. The embassy called the police, who arrived a few minutes later to disband the peaceful demonstration.

In Sweden, about 20 persons rallied on Saturday at the Canadian embassy in central Stockholm to demand freedom for Zundel. The group also distributed hundreds of pro-Zundel flyers.

At a special IHR meeting on Thursday evening, Feb. 3, in southern California, Ingrid Rimland and Mark Weber spoke about Zundel and his ordeal. (Their addresses can be heard on the “Audio Archives” section of the IHR website.) Among the 40 attendees were numerous professional persons, and a few children.

In her moving, first-person address, Rimland spoke about her childhood in an ethnic German Mennonite community in the Soviet Union, her “liberation” by the German army in 1941, shortly before the remnants of the community were about to be deported to Siberia by the Soviets, her westward trek along with the retreating German forces, her terrible ordeal in the final months of the war and the immediate postwar period, and her new life in the United States.

Weber spoke about Ernst Zundel’s character, personality and impact. He recalled their first meeting, his role as a witness in the 1988 “Holocaust Trial” in Toronto, and other aspects of their relationship over the years.


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