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Three Irish and American peace activists deported from Egypt

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Thursday March 06, 2014 01:45author by Justin Morahan Report this post to the editors

They were on their way to Gaza

Three peace activists, Mairead Maguire Ann Patterson and Medea Benjamin were detained in Cairo and deported

Mairead Maguire (Nobel Peace Laureate) and Ann Patterson of the Peace People were detained in Cairo for eight hours yesterday, Wednesday. They were deported, according to an e-mail from Ann Patterson received at 2.09pm on Wednesday.
No reason was given for the detention or deportation of the two peace activists.
They were on the way to Gaza for a Women's conference.
Ann Patterson had been with Mairead in Bili'n Israel in 2007 when Mairead was shot and both were gassed during a protest.

On Tuesday, Medea Benjamin an American activist and co-founder of Code Pink was also detained, assaulted and deported according to her own account in the Daily News of Egypt. She was on her way to the same conference as Mairead and Ann. She (Medea) was handcuffed so tightly that her wrists bled.
They threw me down, put a knee on my back, and put two pairs of handcuffs on. She says they pulled so hard on her arms that her shoulder was dislocated. The handcuffs were so tight that her wrists started bleeding, the paper reported.

I am writing to the Egyptian Embassy by e-mail this morning and protesting the detention and deportation of all three activists and the brutal treatment of Medea Benjamin prior to her deportation

Related Link:
author by Justin Morahanpublication date Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:33Report this post to the editors

Dear Ambassador

I protest the detention in Egypt and deportation from Egypt of Nobel
Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Human Rights activist Ann Patterson, and
Co-founder of Code Pink Medea Benjamin.

It is inexcusable that no reasons were given to these three highly
respected women for detaining them in a cold cell at Cairo airport for
eight hours. Also inexcusable that no reasons were given for deporting
them from Egypt.

Mairead Maguire and Ann Patterson are my friends and fellow peace
activists. They believe in truth and justice and non-violence. Likewise
Medea Benjamin and Code Pink are known and respected throughout the world.

It is particularly revolting to read of the absolutely brutal treatment
meted out to Medea Benjamin including the dislocation of her shoulder
and the use of two handcuffs so tightly embedded that her wrists started
to bleed. There was no immediate ambulance service at hand to service
her dislocated shoulder.

That a slightly built, non-violent woman should have been treated in
this way is truly shocking.

I expect to read of a public apology to these three brave women form
your Government and from you at the earliest opportunity.

With best personal wishes

Justin Morahan

pacifist and human rights activist
Scholarstown Park
Dublin 16

author by Justin Morahanpublication date Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:06Report this post to the editors

On "Democracy Now", Amy Goodman interviewed Medea last night

MEDEA: "Well, Im in a lot of pain. Ive gotten two shots of painkiller, but its not enough. They fractured my arm, dislocated my shoulder, tore the ligaments. They jumped on top of me. And this was all never telling me what was the problem. And so, it was a very brutal attack, and Im in a lot of pain.
I arrived at the airport. When I gave in my passport, I was taken aside, brought into a separate room, where I was held for seven hours without anybody ever telling me what was wrong. Then I was put into a jail cell in the airport, held overnight. And in the morning, five very scary-looking men came in and wanted to take me away. And I said, "The embassy is coming. The embassy is coming." They were supposed to have arrived. Instead, they dragged me out, tackled me to the ground, jumped on me, handcuffed my wrists so tight that they started bleeding, and then dislocated my shoulder, and then kept me like that, grabbing my arm. The whole way, I was shouting through the airport, screaming in pain. Then theI demanded to get medical attention. The Egyptian doctors came and said, "This woman cannot travel. Shes in too much pain. She needs to go to the hospital." The Egyptian security refused to take me to a hospital and threw me on the plane. Thank God there was an orthopedic surgeon on the plane who gave me another shot and put the arm back in its should"

She also reports that the US embassy in Cairo never turned up to help her.

author by Justinpublication date Fri Mar 07, 2014 01:22Report this post to the editors

Good Afternoon Mr. Morahan,

Please find attached copy of letter from H.E. Sherif Elkholi, Ambassador of Egypt , Dublin.


Patricia Keating
PA - Ambassador of Egypt

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

Mr Justin Morahan
Pacifist and Human Rights Activist
Scholarstown Park
Dublin 16.

6th March 2014

Dear Mr Morahan

Thank you for your letter of concern received by email on 6th March 2014 and your subsequent phone call.

A copy of your letter has been forwarded to the competent authorities in Egypt for their attention. We will contact you immediately upon receipt of any feedback concerning the individuals mentioned in your letter.

Yours sincerely

Sherif Elkholi


author by Justinpublication date Fri Mar 07, 2014 16:10Report this post to the editors

On 5th March, 2014 Mairead Maguire and Ann Patterson, members of the Peace People, N.Ireland were deported from Egypt as they attempted to enter the country in order to join an international delegation of 100 women wishing to visit Gaza via the Egyptian Rafah Border. The women from around the world had been invited by the Women of Gaza to join them on 8th March, International Womens Day. Only 17 of the 100 women were allowed to enter Egypt and those turned away were given no reason for this decision by the Egyptian Government, who later when challenged, said those refused entry to Egypt had been black-listed. (They gave no criteria for blacklisting the women.) The Egyptian Government has closed the Rafah Border until Sunday 9th March when it is highly unlikely any of the women will be allowed to cross into Gaza to meet with the women of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid, including solar lights. (6 12 hours a day the people is without electricity). On arrival home in Belfast on 5th March, Mairead Maguire appeal to International community to do something to help the people of Gaza get the blockade lifted and support the women of Gaza and their families in their struggle for human rights and freedom. Maguire said:
As pacifists and people of peace wishing to visit Gaza to stand in solidarity with the women and their families on International Womens Day, and support the Palestinians call for the Israeli Government to lift the blockade of Gaza, and uphold human rights and international law, we deeply regret that the Egyptian Government has deported us making it impossible for us to be with the people of Gaza. By such actions such as closing Rafah Border, closing tunnels from Gaza, etc., the Egyptian Government is complicit with the illegal policy of Israeli Government who continues to break the Geneva Convention, by collective punishment of the people of Gaza. Gaza, with a population of l.7 million (mostly youth) has been cut off by Israel, from Palestinians in West Bank and East Bank, with its airport destroyed by Israel, Gaza port closed for over 40 years and borders with Israel and Egypt, open infrequently. They are bombed every few days from the air by Israeli Drone Bombing. Gaza is regarded as the largest open air prison population in the world. Palestinians in Gazas call to open the border crossing and end the occupation falls on deaf ears, as US Gov., continues to finance Israeli military occupation, and also funds the Egyptian military, who are the second highest recipient of USA funding, next to Israel. These apartheid/racist Policies of Israel which are causing so much suffering must be changed and on International Womens Day I would like to appeal to everyone to do something for the Women of Gaza.

author by Justinpublication date Fri Mar 07, 2014 16:22Report this post to the editors

The following statement has just been sent, with accompanying note, form the Ambassador:

"Permanent Mechanism for passage of International Humanitarian Aid into Gaza

In Principle, Egypt welcomes facilitating Aid convoys directed to Gaza with the
following guidelines:
1- Individuals that wish to cross to Gaza via Rafah are requested to apply for a
transit visa from the Egyptian Embassies and Consulates abroad, along with
requesting a permit to cross to Gaza via Rafah. Failure of obtaining both the visa
and the permit will result in denying entry to Egypt.
2- Non Governmental Organizations and civil societies that intend to send aid to
Gaza must apply through their respective Governments of the embarkation ports
to coordinate via their Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Egyptian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs.
3- The request must include the types of aid and the arrival port (Arish Seaport-
Arish Airport) and a list of the accompanying individuals.
4- The request must be presented to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs no
less than 21 working days prior to the proposed arrival date of the aid to the
5- No direct contact with the donating organizations and civil societies but only
with their relevant governments and ministries.
6- The request is not valid until an approval for receiving the aid is given by the
Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
7- Reception of the aid convoys is restricted to sea and air ports of Arish and on
condition that the ships carrying the aid have a keel no deeper than seven meters.
8- Donors will be responsible for all costs involved (offloading, loading,
transportation and storage.) while noting that the Egyptian authorities have
waived all custom duty or taxes on aids in transit.
9- Air or sea aid convoys must comply with the following conditions:
a- The aid must be stored in pallets (120 cm length, 120 cm width and 130 cm
height) weight not to exceed 750 Kg. covered and wrapped by four layers of stretch
plastic wrap, and 3 metal fasteners).
b- The Donor countries must provide the Egyptian authorities with the required
documents: Certificate of origin, health certificate showing date of production and
expiry date, itemized invoice, and a letter presenting the aid to the Egyptian Red
Crescent to deliver to the Palestinian people.
10- The donated aid must not contain any prohibited items and materials.
10- Up to 100 people will be allowed to accompany the aid convoys including
members of the media provided they communicate their names, nationalities and
photocopies of their passports at least 15 days prior to departing from their home
countries. The Egyptian authorities reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone
without giving reasons.
11- Non compliance to the above mechanism will result in refusal of admission to any
aid convoy, and in the case where any items are prohibited from entering the
Rafah gateway; the donating organizations will then coordinate through their
governments to enter Gaza Strip via Eloga or Karam Abu Salem gateways."

author by Justin Morahanpublication date Fri Mar 07, 2014 18:29Report this post to the editors

"Facts about denying access to Gaza for Activists Group
6th March 2014
With reference to the above, its worth noting the following points:
1- In light of the current security circumstances in Northern Sinai, and
the ongoing operations by Egyptian security authorities against
terrorist groups, the Rafah Border point opening to the public has not
been regular for the past 6 months. Therefore, it is everyones
responsibility to apply for crossing permit before traveling. This can be
acquired through Egyptian Embassies abroad or foreign missions
accredited to Egypt.
2- In this specific case, the coordinator of the said Activists Group had
applied for the said permit at the Embassy of Egypt in Paris, and they
were advised that the time set for their visit was not suitable in terms of
security measures bearing in mind the exceptional security
circumstances in Northern Sinai area which may make it difficult to
arrange security services for such a big group of activists.
3- The said group was further advised to consider rescheduling their visit
to Gaza. However, the group coordinator insisted that irrespective of
obtaining the crossing permit or not, they were determined to travel to
Gaza via Rafah Border Point without the consent of the Egyptian
Government. In this regard it is very important that procedures and
laws set out by the Egyptian Government must be observed and
respected by any foreigner visiting Egypt.
4- Its obvious that despite the ongoing security operations in the
Northern Sinai against Terrorism, the Egyptian authorities are clearly
keen to easing the repercussions of the siege imposed on the Palestinian
people in Gaza strip. This has always been conducted through the
facilitation of continued Humanitarian convoys to Gaza via Rafah
border point.
5- It is also worth mentioning that during these exceptional security
circumstances, it is the responsibility of the Egyptian Government to
guarantee the safety and security of those who cross to Gaza via
Egyptian territories. Meanwhile, the Egyptian Government is enduring
restless efforts to guarantee the opening of the Rafah border point as
convenient as possible in front of individuals.
6- Attached herewith, please find permanent guidelines for crossing to
Gaza via Rafah, to be observed by individuals and convoys as set out
by the Egyptian Government. This was previously communicated to
ministries of foreign affairs and foreign missions accredited to Cairo".

author by Bonnie Prince Charliepublication date Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:31Report this post to the editors

It seems to me from what I've read that the Egyptian government has imposed strict controls and a strict protocol on the entry of goods and people into Gaza. Did the peace activists comply with all the Egyptian government requirements?

It should also be noted that the Egyptian government - in keeping with all governments worldwide - retains the right to refuse entry to people whose presence, rightly or wrongly, is deemed not to be conducive to the well-being of the country. Indeed, it makes this clear in its published terms and conditions for the entry of goods and people.

Is it possible that the Egyptians regarded these peace activists as a possible malevolent force, bent on providing succour and support to an organisation (Hamas) which the Egyptian government - along with the USA and the EU inter alia - has declared to be a terrorist organisation?

author by Justin Morahanpublication date Sun Mar 16, 2014 09:53Report this post to the editors

They were not bringing help or succour to a terrorist organization but to the women of Gaza.

They are not a malevolent force.

Even the Egyptian Ambassador doesn't make your ridiculous assumptions about these pacifist activists

You should at least read Mairead Maguire's statement and the contributions of the Ambassador before you comment

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