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Report from IPSC meeting in Maynooth featuring Derek Graham & Ramzi Kysia of the Free Gaza Movement
Tonight, 13th Oct. 2009, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) NUI Maynooth branch hosted a public meeting with Free Gaza Movement Directors Derek Graham and Ramzi Kysia. The event was very well attended by both students and academic staff.
Hassan Ould Moctar, IPSC NUIM Branch President chaired the meeting. Introducing the meeting he stated that the IPSC is a broad-based national organisation who campaign for justice for the Palestinian people through political lobbying at both national and EU level, grass roots activism and promoting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Derek Graham is an Irish activist who has been living in Cyprus for the last four years where he became a member of the Free Gaza Movement. He has since been a crew member on many successful and unsuccessful voyages to Gaza. Recently, in May/June 2009 he and other international activists were kidnapped by Israeli commandos in Gaza waters. Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire was also amongst those taken at gunpoint to an Israeli detention centre were they were held for over a week before being deported.
Ramzi Kysia is an Arab-American writer and organiser. He was co-coordinator of the Iraq Peace Team in Baghdad in 2002-2003, an international effort to draw attention to the human consequences of war in Iraq. He currently serves on the board of directors for the international Free Gaza Movement, and is in Ireland to help support work being done to organize an "Irish Boat" as part of an international flotilla to break the Israeli siege of Gaza. For more information about this initiative, please see http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/ipsc/displayRe...D=161
Derek also stated the “We are aiming for crossparty representation on the next Irish boat.”
The Irish Boat is due to arrive in Gaza in January and will have a number of Irish politicians, musicians, journalists and activists on board. It will carry aid to the beleaguered Gaza strip.
Both Derek and Ramzi spoke of the awful conditions they had witnessed in Gaza and of the complicity of the international community through its inaction towards the ongoing siege of Gaza. They both referred to Israeli breeches of the terms of Article 2 of the Euro Med Agreement through its unjust occupation of Palestine and siege of Gaza.
Ramzi likened the situation in Palestine to that of Apartheid South Africa and stressed that change in that situation came directly from individuals mobilising and putting pressure on their governments.
Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has sailed from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip on several successful voyages, bringing in international witnesses to see first hand the devastating effects of Israeli violence against the Palestinian people. Theirs were the first international boats to journey to Gaza since 1967.
The Free Gaza Movement wants to break the siege of Gaza. They want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation.
When asked about the safety of their voyages given the many Israeli attempts to destroy their boats and halt their missions Ramzi said, “The only protection our ships have is the conscience of the world”. He stressed the need for an Irish media campaign behind this mission in order to safeguard the crew.
IPSC and Amnesty activists based in NUI Maynooth stressed how pro-Palestinian the university is stating that the university president had visited Palestine and many founder members of the IPSC were among the academic staff in the college.
Hassan Ould Moctar, IPSC Branch president closed the meeting by speaking of the moral obligation we all have to get help to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and stressing that no matter how small your action, collectively we can all make a difference.
Derek and Ramzi, along with Caoimhe Butterly, will be speaking in Dublin on Tuesday October 20th in the Central Hotel at 7.30pm. Full details are here: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/94427
If you are interested in getting involved in either campaign please contact email@example.com or see http://www.ipsc.ie and http://www.freegaza.org