12.31.2009

canadians to break gaza blockade, please call egyptian embassy

I have two updates on the Gaza Freedom March, one from Sandra Ruch of the Canadian delegation to the Gaza Freedom March, and one from CODEPINK. After the updates, there is a call to action from the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War. We're asked to make a couple of phone calls. Let's do it.

From Sandra Ruch:
Later this morning, Thursday, December 31, beginning at 10 am, more than 50 Canadians will be participating in an illegal march from Cairo to Gaza to break the blockade of Gaza.

The Canadian government has said they will not provide assistance should marchers face prosecution or arrest.

The Canadians are part of the Gaza Freedom March brings over 1300 people from more than 43 countries to join Palestinians of Gaza in a non-violent mass march to the Israeli border.

From CODEPINK:
The Gaza Freedom March continues - in Cairo, we hope in Gaza, and around the world. Because of all your emails and the determination of the almost 1,400 people who came to Cairo to be a part of the March, including 300 French nationals who have been camped out in front of their embassy for three nights, we secured a meeting with Madame Mubarak, the president's wife. Madame Mubarak arranged for 100 marchers to enter Gaza to deliver the humanitarian aid we had brought with us, under the umbrella of her organization The Red Crescent. This was considered a success until we began the difficult task of figuring out which 100 of the 1,400 would go.

To make matters more complicated, the Foreign Minister, who had not wanted ANY of us to be allowed in and was angry he had been overruled by Mrs. Mubarak, decided to fan the flames by saying in a press conference that the 100 seats were for the "good people"; and the rest of us were bad "hooligans" who were being left behind. Some of the country representatives declined their seats, and some delegations decided they would prefer not to send anyone if the whole group was not allowed to go. Those who boarded the buses towards Rafah included journalists who had come to report on the conditions in Gaza, Palestinians who would be reunited with family they had not seen in years, and some members of the team who were committed to delivering the aid that had been collected.

One of the desired results of the march was to focus world attention on the continuing and devastating effects of the blockade on Gaza. The outpouring of support from around the world for the Palestinians in Gaza has been amazing. Twenty-two marchers began a hunger strike in Cairo, including 85-year-old Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor, who has been interviewed by journalists from around the world. This morning's New York Times piece on the march and the hunger strike was a huge success in getting the story of Gaza to a wider audience, and reflected the passion of those who had traveled so far to be a part of this historic movement.

The hunger strikers ask that sometime during the period marking the Operation Cast Lead invasion anniversary -- December 27-January 18 -- you join them in remembrance by skipping a meal, or fasting for a day or a week. Sign up here.

And please be a part of the international solidarity movement for the Palestinians of Gaza by doing what you can to spread the story, tweet or Facebook the NY Times story and keep up with the ever changing tides of the march on the PINKtank.

You can find up to the minute information on our Twitter page. Follow us on twitter and march with us virtually!

Solidarity actions for the Gaza Freedom March began taking place December 27th to mark the one year assault on Gaza, with more actions scheduled through January 1, 2010. The massive mobilization includes candlelight vigils, concerts, processions, marches, demonstrations, art installations, house parties and movie screenings all over the world. View solidarity actions worldwide and visit our Flickr slide show.

Not attending a March or Solidarity Action? Join us in Solidarity Online.

The Gaza Freedom March site is being updated almost hourly, so check it out, share the photos, videos and articles with your friends!

...

So here's a toast to our power and our passion -- we have our work cut out for us in 2010!

Medea Benjamin and the CODEPINK Team
(Dana, Emily, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Janet, Jodie, Kitty, Marina, Nancy, Paris, Rae, Suzanne, and Whitney)

From Toronto Coalition To Stop The War:
URGENT: Support the Gaza Freedom March! Please call the Egyptian Embassy in Ottawa and the Egyptian Consulate in Montreal.

This is a call to all Canadians of conscience.

As many of you may know, Egypt has placed a ban on the Gaza Freedom March (GFM), a group of 1,362 people representing 42 different countries, and the conscience of humanity. They aim to end the siege of Gaza, which imprisons a population of 1.5 million innocent civilians who suffer in despicable ways, and they wish to bring to Gaza desperately needed humanitarian supplies including winter coats for children and specialized baby formula for infants with digestive problems, which Israel has banned from entering Gaza.

Currently in Cairo there are 57 Canadians as part of the GFM including two MPs, a professor from the University of Western Ontario, a young man from Gaza who has not met his father in eight years, students, and ordinary citizens. Five of them have joined an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor on a Hunger Strike to protest the Egyptian government's decision to ban this desperately needed humanitarian initiative.

They are being faced by riot police, detained in hotel rooms, prevented from even leaving Cairo!

We are calling on all Canadians of conscience to make two phone calls on the morning of December 31st, 2009.

Please call:

1) The Egyptian Embassy in Ottawa at 613.234.4931

2) The Egyptian Consulate in Montreal at: 514.866.8455

We ask that you express your support for the 57 Canadians in Cairo and of the entire Gaza Freedom March delegation, and its noble intentions.

We ask that you request and insist that the Egyptian Embassy and the Egyptian Consulate, in Ottawa and Montreal respectively, on behalf of all Canadians of conscience, take action immediately and urge the Egyptian government to allow all members of the Gaza Freedom March to proceed.

For those in Ottawa on December 31, at 11 am, we will assemble outside the Egyptian Embassy located at 454 Laurier Avenue East, for an hour.

For those in Montreal on December 31, at 11 am, we will assemble outside the Egyptian Consulate located at 1000 rue De La Gauchetiere O., Suite 3320, for an hour.

Please use the last day of your year to help humanity, help this historic march proceed, help end the siege of Gaza, help an imprisoned innocent people be free.

Make all phone calls starting at 9 am all the way until noon! Keep calling! Keep the pressure up!

Thank you, sincerely,

From Canadian supporters of the Gaza Freedom March