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Egypt hindering Gaza Freedom March
rights, freedoms and repression |
Friday December 25, 2009 17:46 by Fintan Lane - IPSC media officer 087 1258325
For immediate release
December 25, 2009
The Gaza Freedom March appeals directly to President Mubarak
In an open letter, the organizers of the Gaza Freedom March, representing 1362 individuals from 43 countries, are appealing directly to President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to grant them passage into Gaza.
After being in communication with the Egyptian government for months, denying the March passage to Gaza, which was only communicated to them this past Sunday came as a shock to the organizers. "We had no other option but to appeal to the President directly." said Ann Wright, the March's coordinators.
The letter, attached, will be delivered to the presidential palace in Heliopolis, tomorrow, Saturday, by representatives of the March.
As per the organizers, the Gaza Freedom March is scheduled to take place inside Gaza on December 31 at 11AM, from Ezbet abd-Rabbou to the Erez border crossing demanding that Israel lift its illegal blockade imposed on the Palestinian people in Gaza for years.
For more information:
Medea Benjamin, Cairo +20 18 956 1919
Sandra Ruch, Toronto +1 416 716 4010
Ehab Lotayef, Montreal +1 514 941 9792, Cairo +20 17 638 2628
(add as needed for your country, area)
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUBARAK FROM THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCH
December 25, 2009
Dear President Mubarak;
We, representing 1,362 individuals from 43 countries arriving in Cairo to participate in the Gaza Freedom March, are pleading to the Egyptians and your reputation for hospitality.
We are peacemakers. We have not come to Egypt to create trouble or cause conflict. On the contrary. We have come because we believe that all people -- including the Palestinians of Gaza -- should have access to the resources they need to live in dignity. We have gathered in Egypt because we believed that you would welcome and support our noble goal and help us reach Gaza through your land.
As individuals who believe in justice and human rights, we have spent our hard-earned, and sometimes scarce, resources to buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms and secure transportation only to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza living under a crushing Israeli blockade.
We are doctors, lawyers, students, academics, poets and musicians. We are young and old. We are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and secular. We represent civil society groups in many countries who coordinated this large project with the civil society in Gaza.
We have raised tens of thousands of dollars for medical aid, school supplies and winter clothing for the children of Gaza. But we realize that in addition to material aid, the Palestinians of Gaza need moral support. We came to offer that support on the difficult anniversary of an invasion that brought them so much suffering.
The idea of the Gaza Freedom March—a nonviolent march to the Israeli Erez crossing-- emerged during one of our trips to Gaza in May, a trip that was kindly facilitated by the Egyptian government. Ever since the idea emerged, we have been talking to your government through your embassies overseas and directly with your Foreign Ministries. Your representatives have been kind and supportive. We were asked to furnish information about all the participants—passports, dates of birth, occupations—which we have done in good faith. We have answered every question, met every request. For months we have been working under the assumption that your government would facilitate our passage, as it has done on so many other occasions. We waited and waited for an answer.
Meanwhile, time was getting short and we had to start organizing. Travel over the Christmas season is not easy in the countries where many of us live. Tickets have to be purchased weeks, if not months, in advance. This is what all 1,362 individuals did. They spent their own funds or raised money from their communities to pay their way. Add to this the priceless time, effort and sacrifice by all these people to be away from their homes and loved ones during their festive season.
In Gaza, civil society groups—students, unions, women, farmers, refugee groups—have been working nonstop for months to organize the march. They have organized workshops, concerts, press conferences, endless meetings—all of this with their own scarce resources. They have been buoyed by the anticipated presence of so many global citizens coming to support their just cause.
If the Egyptian government decides to prevent the Gaza Freedom March, all this work and cost is lost.
And that's not all. It is practically impossible, this late in the game, to stop all these people from travelling to Egypt, even if we wanted to. Moreover, most have no plans in Egypt other than to arrive at a predetermined meeting point to head together to the Gaza border. If these plans are cancelled there will be a lot of unjustified suffering for the Palestinians of Gaza and over a thousand internationals who had nothing in mind but noble intentions.
We plead to you to let the Gaza Freedom March continue so that we can join the Palestinians of Gaza to march together on December 31, 2009.
We are truly hopeful that we will receive a positive response from you and thank you for your assistance.
Tighe Barry, Gaza Freedom March coordinator
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK, USA
Kawthar Guediri, Collectif National pour une Paix Juste et Durable entre Palestinens et Israeliens, France
Mark Johnson, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Alessandra Mecozzi, Action for Peace-Italy
Germano Monti, Forum Palestine, Italy
Ehab Lotayef, Gaza Freedom March, Canada
Ziyaad Lunat, Gaza Freedom March, Europe
Thomas Sommer, Focus on The Global South, India
David Torres, ABP, Belgium
Ann Wright, Gaza Freedom March coordinator
Olivia Zemor, Euro-Palestine, France