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MP George Galloway deported from Egypt

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    MP George Galloway deported from Egypt 08/01/2010 Viva Palestina http://www.palestin e-info.co. uk/en/default. aspx?xyz= U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MD I46m9rUxJEpMO%
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      MP George Galloway deported from Egypt
      08/01/2010
      Viva Palestina
      http://www.palestin e-info.co. uk/en/default. aspx?xyz= U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MD I46m9rUxJEpMO% 2bi1s7b1oMQ4MRm1 vYA9s5c0Fbmv2% 2fvFERioaAvp6RmR 1gVwaoxf7h2LbmFX jWG%2bNxRPyAJdAT T74lft3a9NN1sETq oxfAXV%2bBYG9F81 w2N0rtH3Q% 3d


      British MP George Galloway was officially deported from Cairo today (Friday), when Egyptian plain-clothes police officers bundled him onto a London plane.

      Galloway had been trying to return to Rafah after news broke that seven of the Viva Palestina convoy members were said to be arrested. Police, who at one point were numbered at 25 mainly plain-clothes officers, refused to allow him to return.

      Several officers even followed Galloway to the toilet, rest room and a BA lounge.

      The incident began after George Galloway and his colleague Ron McKay arrived at the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt.

      As soon as they emerged onto Egyptian soil both Men were forcibly pushed into a van, refused exit and told that they were leaving the country. They were then driven off in a police convoy. Viva Palestina convoy of 550 people from 17 countries was attacked by Egyptian riot police and plane clothes intelligence officers in the early hours of Wednesday (6th January). 55 of the convoy members were injured and 7 were also arrested.

      However Galloway and Turkish MP's struck a deal with Egyptian authorities, part of this deal was that the 7 detainees were released without charge.

      On the enforced drive to Cairo, news came through of the imminent arrest of the 7 but when Galloway demanded to return to Rafah, permission was repeatedly denied.

      ====

      MP George Galloway deported from Egypt
      08/01/2010
      http://www.palestin e-info.co. uk/en/default. aspx?xyz= U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MD I46m9rUxJEpMO% 2bi1s7b1oMQ4MRm1 vYA9s5c0Fbmv2% 2fvFERioaAvp6RmR 1gVwaoxf7h2LbmFX jWG%2bNxRPyAJdAT T74lft3a9NN1sETq oxfAXV%2bBYG9F81 w2N0rtH3Q% 3d


      British MP George Galloway was officially deported from Cairo today (Friday), when Egyptian plain-clothes police officers bundled him onto a London plane.

      Galloway had been trying to return to Rafah after news broke that seven of the Viva Palestina convoy members were said to be arrested. Police, who at one point were numbered at 25 mainly plain-clothes officers, refused to allow him to return.

      Several officers even followed Galloway to the toilet, rest room and a BA lounge.

      The incident began after George Galloway and his colleague Ron McKay arrived at the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt.

      As soon as they emerged onto Egyptian soil both Men were forcibly pushed into a van, refused exit and told that they were leaving the country. They were then driven off in a police convoy. Viva Palestina convoy of 550 people from 17 countries was attacked by Egyptian riot police and plane clothes intelligence officers in the early hours of Wednesday (6th January). 55 of the convoy members were injured and 7 were also arrested.

      However Galloway and Turkish MP's struck a deal with Egyptian authorities, part of this deal was that the 7 detainees were released without charge.

      On the enforced drive to Cairo, news came through of the imminent arrest of the 7 but when Galloway demanded to return to Rafah, permission was repeatedly denied.

      Source: Viva Palestina

      ===

      Galloway: More convoys expected from Venezuela, South Africa, Malaysia
      07/01/2010
      http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s74yXaEXAZuBpURvFGFK%2fD%2btCf%2b4K91Ml39ish%2bpytEOw40L093rYCKzSMuXgJu%2b2OnJOsIfbN5ZF0bQLMwZRTUVzdj6xuVfIcUWMU4JiDXM0%3d


      GAZA, (PIC)-- British MP George Galloway has vowed that more aid convoys would be organized for Gaza from Venezuela, South Africa and Malaysia.

      Speaking at a program for Al-Jazeera TV on Wednesday night, he said that the Venezuelan and South African presidents would head their countries' convoys while former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohammed would head his country's aid convoy.

      Galloway lashed out at the Egyptian authorities for assaulting members of the Lifeline-3 convoy in El-Arish just for bringing food and medicine to the besieged people of Gaza.

      The Egyptian authorities promised to allow the convoy to enter Gaza through El-Arish harbor but they did not live up to their promises on the contrary they "besieged us, they locked us up, they betrayed us", he said.

      The MP described El-Arish incidents as a "shame on Egypt", expressing conviction that 80% of the Egyptian people do not approve the way his convoy was treated.

      He recalled that other convoys were treated in similar ways, adding that Egypt was playing the role of dividing the Arab world.

      Galloway described statements by the Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Husam Zaki in which he said that the convoy members did not abide by the Egyptian instructions as "Sheer lies".

      ===

      One Egyption dead Palistinians shot in aid convoy clash on Egypt, Gaza border
      CNN
      Jan 06, 2010


      In a (CNN) news release, organizers said protests between activists and Egyptian security forces broke out Tuesday night when Egyptian authorities at Al-Arish ordered some trucks in the convoy to pass through an Israeli-controlled checkpoint. The activists preferred the goods to be transported via Egypt's Rafah crossing, which sits directly on the border of Gaza. Galloway told Britain's Sky News Wednesday that it was "completely unconscionable" that Egypt would direct 25 percent of the convoy to an Israeli crossing, saying it "would never make it to Gaza."

      Convoy participants said more than 1,000 security personnel were deployed by Egypt, and that ten members of the convoy were injured, four of them seriously, and seven others arrested. "It is shocking that the Egyptian government is behaving in this way. There can be no justification for preventing this aid, and the people who have worked so hard to provide it, from reaching Gaza," said Betty Hunter, a convoy organizer.

      ===

      Viva Palestina Starts Entry To Gaza
      Wednesday January 06, 2010 21:28
      Report by George Galloway


      The Viva Palestina Convoy, and after facing ongoing Egyptian rejection and violent attacks by the Egyptian security forces, started on Wednesday evening to roll into the besieged Gaza Strip.

      Thousands of Palestinians, carrying flowers and flags, gathered in the streets while the convoy continued to move in.

      A Press conference would be held on Thursday and would be followed by the official ceremony of handing the international humanitarian aid.

      The Qatar-based Al Jazeera reported that a convoy of eight truck started crossing the Rafeh Terminal.

      On its website the Viva Palestina reported that "convoy continues to move into the strip to be greeted by flowers and flag-waving crowds. Press conference later to be followed tomorrow with ceremony to hand over the aid".

      ===

      17.30 GMT Wednesday 6th January


      One month, thousands of miles, ten countries, one ship and a four flights later, Viva Palestina has begun to enter the besieged Gaza Strip.

      "We are all emotional to see that all of Gaza are out to greet us! Our Viva Palestina convoy is symbolic! It shows the Palestianian people just how much the people of the West do care.
      " We come in peace to deliver humanitarian aid and we hope that our convoy (and convoy's like ours) will help to build pressure on the Israeli government to break the siege."
      Kevin Ovenden, convoy leader

      18.30 GMT - Convoy continues to move into the strip to be greeted by flowers and flag-waving crowds. Press conference later to be followed tomorrow with ceremony to hand over the aid.

      ====

      2 Palestinians shot in Egypt border protest
      Wed, 06 Jan 2010
      http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=115490§ionid=351020202


      Egyptian forces Wednesday inflicted gunshot wounds on at least two Palestinians during protests against Cairo's steeling its border with the blockaded Gaza Strip.

      The incident occurred when security forces confronted the protesters on the Egypt-Gaza border, Reuters reported.

      The Egyptian government is building a steel wall along the border to prevent the trafficking of any goods to the strip.

      The coastal sliver continues to suffer from an all-out Israeli-imposed blockade which has deprived it of its basic necessities for over two years.

      On Wednesday, Egyptian riot police injured 55 people during clashes with Gaza-bound human rights activists.

      ===

      European organizations, Turkish masses protest Egyptian assault
      06/01/2010
      http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7RawNLZr%2fUEr%2fKuR9zS2iUWIKYfW8x2RZeBaKPbWru69zOdHjL9KC%2fCZdmtThR8JFpZOvoEqjRV9D0pzDPYJWBssr6f19mP9QDUk3hEIAHQo%3d


      LONDON, (PIC)-- An alliance of solidarity with the Palestinian people in Europe has called for demonstrations in front of the Egyptian embassies in a number of European capitals to protest the Egyptian security authorities' assault on members of the international aid convoy Lifeline-3 in El-Arish on Tuesday night.

      The alliance, grouping 14 European organizations, said that the rallies would take place at the same time in a bid to pressure Cairo into halting the blackmail against the Lifeline convoy and to protest the savage assault on its members.

      The alliance, in a press release, predicted that thousands would attend the sit-ins including Palestinian and Arab communities in addition to foreign sympathizers and human rights groups.

      Meanwhile, hundreds of Turkish people gathered in front of the Egyptian consulate in Istanbul after midnight Tuesday to denounce the Egyptian assault, which injured many of the international solidarity activists.

      A number of angry protestors threw stones at the consulate building and threatened to storm the premises in the event the Egyptian authorities attacked the convoy anew.

      The convoy includes five Turkish lawmakers and tens of Turkish trucks.

      ===

      Galloway convoy plans Gaza entry
      05/01/2010
      http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=252068


      British MP George Galloway [MaanImages]

      Jerusalem – Ma'an – A long-delayed British-led aid convoy expects to enter the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing from Egypt at 2pm local time on Tuesday, the convoy's spokeswoman Alice Howard told Ma'an.

      Early Tuesday morning, Egyptian authorities withheld the passports of 157 people travelling with the convoy at the airport in the city of Al-Arish, including that of British Member of Parliament George Galloway.

      Those that had arrived in Al-Arish were told that the remaining 400 volunteers due to enter Gaza with the convoy on Tuesday would not be allowed to transit, the Viva Palestina organization said.

      The passports were stamped with entry and exit stamps, but were then returned to their holders with the exit stamp removed, the campaigners said.

      Despite the setback, the convoy carrying medical and humanitarian aid intends to enter Gaza on Tuesday.

      The convoy was left stranded in Aqaba, Jordan on Christmas Eve when Egyptian authorities announced that the convoy would not be allowed to dock in Nuweibeh. Following negotiations, the convoy was told to return to Syria and send its supplies to Al-Arish by ferry.

      Volunteers from 17 countries around the world will leave over 150 vehicles they have travelled in for the Palestinian population in Gaza.

      Galloway led two successful convoys to Gaza last year.

      ===

      Unbreakable in Cairo
      Dana Elborno writing from Cairo, Live from Palestine, 4 January 2010


      International activists hold a Palestinian flag at the pyramids in Cairo. (Dana Elborno)

      Though I have lived most of my life in and around Chicago, it has never been my complete home. My sisters and I were born as first-generation Palestinian-Americans coming from Kuwait and for this reason our lives in Chicago always felt temporary -- we were only supposed to stay until the Gulf War was over, we finished school, the occupation ended, the siege was broken, etc. The only accepted rhetoric about our presence in America was and continues to be, "This is not our home, we are from Gaza." The semantics of a Gazan home are lovely, but the only sense of Gaza I have is as fleeting as gusts of dust that blow off of old pictures. These faded images of a time and place that no longer exist leave us with nostalgia for memories we never even lived. It is the most porous of identities and I feel the gaps palpably.

      For this reason -- and maybe more so, for our political agenda -- my older sister and I signed up for the Gaza Freedom March. Aside from the family history that draws us to Gaza, we are unwavering in our belief that the siege must end and the humanity of Palestinians in Gaza has been grossly disregarded throughout this whole catastrophe that began more than 60 years ago, and especially during Israel's assault on Gaza last winter. The Gaza Freedom March gave us an outlet to voice these beliefs and mobilize with a global community of like-minded activists -- almost 1,400 of them from over 40 countries.

      When we made our way to Cairo, the march that was planned to take place side by side with Palestinians in Gaza quickly turned into a round of protests against the Egyptian government after they canceled our permits to travel to and enter the besieged territory. Our personal narrative quickly became overpowered by the political situation between Egypt, Israel, the Arab World and the "West." We protested for four days straight. In contexts like these, all of us fighting for the freeing of Palestine are Palestinians. There was a beautiful strength in our numbers and diversity. We were empowered and united, fighting to go to Gaza together.

      Then Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, so "graciously" offered to send only 100 of us to Gaza to deliver our small amounts of humanitarian aid. The GFM organizers only had a couple of hours to respond and eventually agreed under these pressing conditions. That night, we stayed up late in the Lotus Hotel with organizers, passionately debating whether the decision made was the right one, and if we were to accept it, who should go. By the time we left the Lotus, the GFM steering committee in Gaza wanted 100 to come and join their march. They believed international presence was crucial to keeping the march an effort of civil society and ultimately protecting the 50,000 Gazans who had mobilized to fill the streets and march towards the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing. So, in spite of all the controversy, a list of 100 persons was made to fill the seats on the two buses and priority was given to internationals of Palestinian descent who have never seen Gaza, people just like me and my sister.

      Six hours later, it was Thursday morning and we showed up to the bus loading zone in downtown Cairo. The GFM's steering committee in Cairo announced that organizers in Gaza reversed their decision late in the night; they no longer supported the deal reached with the Egyptian government. Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor on hunger strike to protest the Egyptian government's refusal to let us travel to Gaza, chose not to board the bus and gave a beautiful, emotional and painful speech explaining her decision. Not even the organizers in Cairo endorsed these buses anymore, but they left it up to us to decide whether or not we would board them. Immediately, internal tensions escalated and there seemed to be no right decision; we found ourselves in the belly of a directionless beast and our personal momentum to go home for the first time was directly conflicting with the political priorities for Gaza.

      Accepting these buses and boarding them was in effect changing our political goal to a weak humanitarian goal. The Gaza Freedom March was supposed to stand as a testament of a global voice yelling, "Enough is enough, break the siege." These buses turned us into a small delegation of people carrying humanitarian aid into a land under siege. That is simply not who we are. Or even worse, these buses had turned us into a disconnected group of people with individual reasons for going to Gaza. Again, this is not at all who we were. Of course I am not saying that I was not ambivalent about wanting to go as an individual; all I have ever wanted to do is go to Gaza and walk into the pictures of our home that hang on walls and sit on mantles in our house in Chicago. But as a part of a political group, neither my sister nor I could board that bus with a clear conscience.

      It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, but in the end I was sure: it was either all of us go or none of us. If only 100 went, the news story would have changed from 1,400 protest against the siege in Gaza to Egypt allows 100 activists into Gaza. I did not want to be used as a pawn by the Egyptian government to save their face in the Arab world, nor did I want to weaken the political message of the Gaza Freedom March. The work we were doing in Cairo had been effective and I wanted to continue being a part of it. Our protests were on the front page of every Egyptian newspaper and our efforts were actively discussed on late-night talk shows in the Middle East. Suddenly everyone had something to say about these foreigners in Egypt protesting for Gaza. Political pundits were asking all over Egypt's airwaves, "Why do foreigners care more about the plight of Palestinians than the Arab World?" and "Why isn't Egypt opening the borders?"

      The next day I woke up in Cairo, feeling even more empowered. All of the confusion had really put us in a position to define who we were, what our goals were, what we wanted and the risks we were willing to take to get it. We pulled up to the next protest in front of the Egyptian National Museum at 10am, entrenched in this renewed clarity, and uniquely hopeful. As I crossed the street to get to the mass of protesters and police, I saw the police building their barricade around protesters who were trying to stage a symbolic march to Gaza. A woman about 60 years old was resisting the police who were forcibly trying to barricade her. I saw Egyptian police forces drag and beat her in the street and at the time, my reflex was to photograph the abuse. While pressing up against the commotion and shooting countless pictures, I made eye contact with one of the officers. Immediately, four men jumped on me and held me down. One of the officers covered my eyes with his hands, while other officers beat me and and pried my camera out of the cage I was creating around it with my body. They told me they were going to shatter my camera in the street and I started a desperate plea with the officers to return it to me and let me leave. As I tried to get up, my hair was pulled and I was back on the ground. The officers eventually returned my camera after taking my memory card and threw me on to a pile of protesters inside the barricades.

      That was the worst of it. Soon things calmed down and everyone was sitting. We fell back into our default chants, "Free Gaza! Free Gaza!"

      Though chanting, I felt broken -- we didn't get to Gaza, the siege continues and we had been publicly abused. Furthermore, the media focused on the 85 persons who went to Gaza, though they had disassociated themselves from Gaza Freedom March, and our efforts in Cairo became old news. I couldn't help but wonder, "What's it all worth?" Ultimately though, I realize that this is exactly how politics of activism can break a political activist and I won't let that happen. On a personal level, I fervently hope that someday the strangers on the streets of Gaza City will look familiar and my relatives in Gaza will no longer appear only in photographs -- but that isn't the priority. My priorities are political. The humanity of Palestinians in Gaza must be validated and this will never happen while Gaza is under siege. At this point, my sisters and I are in the third generation of activists to march, stand, sit and protest for Palestine. The persistence of Palestine as a humanitarian crisis can be wildly disheartening, but the persistence of the resistance movement is equally -- if not more so -- heartening. That's what it's all worth. The spirit of the resistance movement has not yet been broken, despite everything that has let us down or disappointed us. We are a people united for Palestine and we embrace this struggle. It is at times emotionally exhausting, but we aren't broken and we will break the siege of Gaza.

      Dana Elborno is a 20-year-old journalism student in Chicago.

      ===

      Fanning the Flames of Freedom from Cairo to Gaza and Beyond
      Written by by Emily Ratner
      Sunday, 03 January 2010 20:17


      http://mondoweiss.net/2010/01/from-the-pyramids-to-the-strip-we-have-had-many-victories-in-cairo.html

      http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/01/fanning-the-flames-of-freedom-from-cairo-to-gaza-and-beyond/


      / January 3rd, 2010

      The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class–it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of freedom.

      –Anna Julia Cooper, page 27, my US passport

      The Gaza Freedom March announced the Cairo Declaration to End Israeli Apartheid on January 1st, and so yesterday hundreds of Marchers smuggled freedom's smoke signals in our luggage as we climbed into buses, vans, and taxis and made a mad dash for the Rafah border crossing. My own van was pulled over at the first checkpoint on the way out of Cairo, where we sat on a dusty curb for two hours before being forced to turn back. As we waited for guards to run our passport numbers and strategized about next steps, a small bus filled with our French friends sped by on the other side of the road, headed back to Cairo. Their hands formed peace signs through the windows as they shouted at border guards, and we were reminded once again of the historic nature of these days, when more than 1,300 people have come to Egypt from 43 different countries to support our sisters and brothers in Gaza. When we were first pulled over I felt silly for thinking our small van, filled with aging activists and suitcases overflowing with medicine and other forms of aid, would be permitted to pass to Rafah. As we drove away from the checkpoint, where we picked up two stragglers who had been pulled from buses and told they must return as well, my thinking began to change: Even if none of us arrive in Gaza (an impossibility given the resourcefulness of this remarkable group), our global solidarity community has accomplished something amazing here in Cairo, and in countries around the world. We will now leave Egypt, either for Gaza or for our homes, with a unified call to action, and a concrete plan to continue this crucial work.

      We have seen so many victories here in Cairo in the crazy days since the Egyptian Foreign Minister announced we would not be permitted to cross the Rafah border. There are some moments when the haze of Cairo clouds our eyes with dust and disappointment, but we sing our successes into the smog of this city, reminding ourselves and our allies around the world that our efforts will not be deterred by Egyptian guards at checkpoints and the Israeli politicians who are calling the shots:

      On December 27, the French group of over 300 allies and mentors took over Giza/Charles de Gaulle St, a terrifyingly busy thoroughfare, when their Rafah-bound buses did not arrive at the French Embassy. They held the street for a full hour before agreeing to wait for the buses on the sidewalk in front of the Embassy. They camped in "Giza Strip" for a full five days, guarded by three rows of riot police.

      On December 29, Hedy Epstein, an 85 year-old Holocaust survivor, began a widely reported hunger strike with thirty activists, announcing that they will feast when all of Gaza feasts.

      Later that night, hundreds of internationals stood alongside hundreds of Egyptians, who bravely protested Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to Egypt and demanded an end to the siege.

      On December 30, the Egyptian government sent two buses of marchers to Gaza in an effort to temper the terrible press Mubarak is receiving in Egypt and throughout the Arab world. So many of us refused to be satisfied by this token gesture that the buses were not full when they reached Gaza.

      Later that day, hundreds protested at the American Embassy, where police managed to fracture them into small, highly guarded groups but could not divide the loud, unified voice with which they demanded an end to the siege, both from the streets in front of the Embassy and from negotiations inside.

      Also on December 30, 25 French activists raced an enormous Palestinian flag to the top of one of the pyramids as hundreds of Egyptians and others cheered them on in this highly illegal act. This was the flag's second trip to the top of the pyramid since we've arrived.

      On December 31, more than 500 internationals set out on a Freedom March to Gaza from the Egyptian Museum, where they stopped heavy traffic on Tahrir Square and fought fearlessly against guards who violently moved them to pedestrian areas. In Gaza, internationals joined Palestinian marchers in the trek to the Erez crossing, where hundreds upon hundreds protested the siege from the Israeli side of the border. Thousands more joined solidarity protests around the world.

      On January 1, more than 500 protested at the Israeli Embassy, forcing global attention on the government that is desperately seeking to divert our efforts to the Egyptian government's role in the siege. We have proved that we will not be fooled.

      Later that night, the South African delegation officially announced the Cairo Declaration that we have worked together to create in partnership with our sisters and brothers in Gaza. The Declaration demands an end to Israeli Apartheid, lists our renewed commitments, and provides an action plan as we move forward in this important work. In a week of historic events, this document proves we have accomplished the mission that brought us to Cairo: We are now united with the people in Gaza, and have a unified plan as we move forward in our crucial work.

      While Egyptians turn us away from check points and borders, we remember that it is the Israeli government that has demanded we be kept out of Gaza. And the Israelis have made this demand because they are terrified of our movement. Their weapons and soldiers are no match for the ideas we carry with us, sparked in Palestine and now aflame in Egypt and throughout the world. Our global community join Palestinian civil society in some demands of our own, which the Israelis cannot quell by preventing our passage to Gaza. As the Cairo Declaration states, we demand Self-Determination for all Palestinians. We demand an End to the Occupation. We demand Equal Rights for All within historic Palestine. We demand the full Right of Return for all People of Palestine.

      And we insist that as a global solidarity movement, we have the right to make these demands. Egyptian guards have been unable to stop us as we scream our demands from atop the pyramids, from the sidewalks of the U.S. and Israeli Embassies, and from the front pages of newspapers in Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen, and around the world. Allies have stamped these demands into the world's streets as they march for Palestine's freedom.

      We must make these demands because our work is too important to wait for the the governments of the world to acknowledge that the Israelis will never offer Palestinians what they are owed. We can make these demands because we have the power of a global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement that will some day be strong enough to cripple the Israeli economy, if we do the work we have promised here in Cairo. And, as Anna Julia Cooper so eloquently states in the US passport that was rejected by Egyptians working on behalf of Israelis yesterday, we will make these demands because freedom is the birthright of humankind.

      We celebrate our sisters and brothers in Gaza and throughout Palestine, who have worked so hard to bring us to this historic moment. We celebrate allies here in Cairo and around the world, who are renewing their commitment to their crucial solidarity work by endorsing the Cairo Declaration. And we celebrate all of the travelers who slowly make their way to Rafah, whether they arrive or not. May the Egyptians run our passport numbers thousands of times as they turn us back. May the Israelis be reminded again and again that they have only encouraged us to work more tirelessly than we have so far. May the U.S. government be reminded of the wisdom of Cooper's words, spat on every time we are rejected at a checkpoint or border crossing. May we leave Cairo with more hope than when we arrived that the siege will end and Gaza and all of Palestine will be free.

      Emily Ratner is an organizer and mediamaker based in New Orleans. In June she traveled to Gaza with a New Orleans delegation. This month she will be joining thousands of Palestinians and internationals for the Gaza Freedom March on December 31st. Help us get there. She can be reached at: emily@... This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

      ===

      55 activists injured in clashes in Egypt
      Wednesday, January 6, 2010 10:00 AM
      http://alethonews.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/55-activists-injured-in-clashes-in-egypt/


      Press TV – January 6, 2010 03:16:54 GMT
      Around 55 people have been injured in clashes between Egyptian riot police and Viva Palestina activists at the Egyptian port of El-Arish.
      The scuffles broke out after Egypt said it would not allow 59 humanitarian assistance trucks of the Viva Palestina convoy to enter Gaza.

      Talks in which a delegation of Turkish lawmakers sought to convince Egyptian officials to change their minds proved fruitless.
      The convoy arrived in El-Arish to attempt to break the siege of Gaza.
      Earlier, Cairo had said it would only allow 157 members of the Viva Palestina convoy, which is led by British politician George Galloway, to drive to Gaza. However, later the Egyptian government agreed to allow 400 of the group's volunteers entry to the Gaza Strip.
      The convoy has over 200 vehicles laden with basic food items and medical supplies.

      ===

      Fanning the Flames of Freedom from Cairo to Gaza and Beyond
      by Emily Ratner
      Sunday, 03 January 2010
      http://mondoweiss.net/2010/01/from-the-pyramids-to-the-strip-we-have-had-many-victories-in-cairo.html

      http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/01/fanning-the-flames-of-freedom-from-cairo-to-gaza-and-beyond/


      The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class–it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of freedom.

      –Anna Julia Cooper, page 27, my US passport


      The Gaza Freedom March announced the Cairo Declaration to End Israeli Apartheid on January 1st, and so yesterday hundreds of Marchers smuggled freedom's smoke signals in our luggage as we climbed into buses, vans, and taxis and made a mad dash for the Rafah border crossing. My own van was pulled over at the first checkpoint on the way out of Cairo, where we sat on a dusty curb for two hours before being forced to turn back. As we waited for guards to run our passport numbers and strategized about next steps, a small bus filled with our French friends sped by on the other side of the road, headed back to Cairo. Their hands formed peace signs through the windows as they shouted at border guards, and we were reminded once again of the historic nature of these days, when more than 1,300 people have come to Egypt from 43 different countries to support our sisters and brothers in Gaza. When we were first pulled over I felt silly for thinking our small van, filled with aging activists and suitcases overflowing with medicine and other forms of aid, would be permitted to pass to Rafah. As we drove away from the checkpoint, where we picked up two stragglers who had been pulled from buses and told they must return as well, my thinking began to change: Even if none of us arrive in Gaza (an impossibility given the resourcefulness of this remarkable group), our global solidarity community has accomplished something amazing here in Cairo, and in countries around the world. We will now leave Egypt, either for Gaza or for our homes, with a unified call to action, and a concrete plan to continue this crucial work.

      We have seen so many victories here in Cairo in the crazy days since the Egyptian Foreign Minister announced we would not be permitted to cross the Rafah border. There are some moments when the haze of Cairo clouds our eyes with dust and disappointment, but we sing our successes into the smog of this city, reminding ourselves and our allies around the world that our efforts will not be deterred by Egyptian guards at checkpoints and the Israeli politicians who are calling the shots:

      On December 27, the French group of over 300 allies and mentors took over Giza/Charles de Gaulle St, a terrifyingly busy thoroughfare, when their Rafah-bound buses did not arrive at the French Embassy. They held the street for a full hour before agreeing to wait for the buses on the sidewalk in front of the Embassy. They camped in "Giza Strip" for a full five days, guarded by three rows of riot police.

      On December 29, Hedy Epstein, an 85 year-old Holocaust survivor, began a widely reported hunger strike with thirty activists, announcing that they will feast when all of Gaza feasts.

      Later that night, hundreds of internationals stood alongside hundreds of Egyptians, who bravely protested Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to Egypt and demanded an end to the siege.

      On December 30, the Egyptian government sent two buses of marchers to Gaza in an effort to temper the terrible press Mubarak is receiving in Egypt and throughout the Arab world. So many of us refused to be satisfied by this token gesture that the buses were not full when they reached Gaza.

      Later that day, hundreds protested at the American Embassy, where police managed to fracture them into small, highly guarded groups but could not divide the loud, unified voice with which they demanded an end to the siege, both from the streets in front of the Embassy and from negotiations inside.

      Also on December 30, 25 French activists raced an enormous Palestinian flag to the top of one of the pyramids as hundreds of Egyptians and others cheered them on in this highly illegal act. This was the flag's second trip to the top of the pyramid since we've arrived.

      On December 31, more than 500 internationals set out on a Freedom March to Gaza from the Egyptian Museum, where they stopped heavy traffic on Tahrir Square and fought fearlessly against guards who violently moved them to pedestrian areas. In Gaza, internationals joined Palestinian marchers in the trek to the Erez crossing, where hundreds upon hundreds protested the siege from the Israeli side of the border. Thousands more joined solidarity protests around the world.

      On January 1, more than 500 protested at the Israeli Embassy, forcing global attention on the government that is desperately seeking to divert our efforts to the Egyptian government's role in the siege. We have proved that we will not be fooled.

      Later that night, the South African delegation officially announced the Cairo Declaration that we have worked together to create in partnership with our sisters and brothers in Gaza. The Declaration demands an end to Israeli Apartheid, lists our renewed commitments, and provides an action plan as we move forward in this important work. In a week of historic events, this document proves we have accomplished the mission that brought us to Cairo: We are now united with the people in Gaza, and have a unified plan as we move forward in our crucial work.

      While Egyptians turn us away from check points and borders, we remember that it is the Israeli government that has demanded we be kept out of Gaza. And the Israelis have made this demand because they are terrified of our movement. Their weapons and soldiers are no match for the ideas we carry with us, sparked in Palestine and now aflame in Egypt and throughout the world. Our global community join Palestinian civil society in some demands of our own, which the Israelis cannot quell by preventing our passage to Gaza. As the Cairo Declaration states, we demand Self-Determination for all Palestinians. We demand an End to the Occupation. We demand Equal Rights for All within historic Palestine. We demand the full Right of Return for all People of Palestine.

      And we insist that as a global solidarity movement, we have the right to make these demands. Egyptian guards have been unable to stop us as we scream our demands from atop the pyramids, from the sidewalks of the U.S. and Israeli Embassies, and from the front pages of newspapers in Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen, and around the world. Allies have stamped these demands into the world's streets as they march for Palestine's freedom.

      We must make these demands because our work is too important to wait for the the governments of the world to acknowledge that the Israelis will never offer Palestinians what they are owed. We can make these demands because we have the power of a global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement that will some day be strong enough to cripple the Israeli economy, if we do the work we have promised here in Cairo. And, as Anna Julia Cooper so eloquently states in the US passport that was rejected by Egyptians working on behalf of Israelis yesterday, we will make these demands because freedom is the birthright of humankind.

      We celebrate our sisters and brothers in Gaza and throughout Palestine, who have worked so hard to bring us to this historic moment. We celebrate allies here in Cairo and around the world, who are renewing their commitment to their crucial solidarity work by endorsing the Cairo Declaration. And we celebrate all of the travelers who slowly make their way to Rafah, whether they arrive or not. May the Egyptians run our passport numbers thousands of times as they turn us back. May the Israelis be reminded again and again that they have only encouraged us to work more tirelessly than we have so far. May the U.S. government be reminded of the wisdom of Cooper's words, spat on every time we are rejected at a checkpoint or border crossing. May we leave Cairo with more hope than when we arrived that the siege will end and Gaza and all of Palestine will be free.

      Emily Ratner is an organizer and mediamaker based in New Orleans. In June she traveled to Gaza with a New Orleans delegation. This month she will be joining thousands of Palestinians and internationals for the Gaza Freedom March on December 31st. Help us get there. She can be reached at: emily@... This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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