Update from Cairo: Gaza Freedom March rejects Egyptian offer to allow only 100 protesters into Gaza

on 21 Comments

The latest from Cairo is that the Gaza Freedom March has rejected the Egyptian government’s offer to allow 100 protesters into Gaza. A press release from the march states:

After three days of vigils and demonstrations in downtown Cairo, Suzanne Mubarak’s offer to allow just 100 of 1,300 delegates to enter Gaza was rejected by the Gaza Freedom March.

Coordinating Committee as well as many of the larger contingents – including those from France, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, Sweden and New York State (U.S.).

“We flatly reject Egypt’s offer of a token gesture. We refuse to whitewash the siege of Gaza. Our group will continue working to get all 1362 marchers into Gaza as one step towards the ultimate goal for the complete end of the siege and the liberation of Palestine” said Ziyaad Lunat a member of the march Coordinating Committee.

The clip from Democracy Now above features an interview with Ali Abunimah giving the latest update (starts around 30:00). Abunimah states that between 50-80 people did board a bus to head to Gaza for various reasons, and according to this twitter update the bus may have been turned back at the Suez canal. Abunimah explained his own decision not to go to Gaza on his blog:

This was a very difficult morning. Many delegations to the Gaza Freedom March rejected the Egyptian offer of two buses to Gaza. Personally I wanted nothing more to be in Gaza. I did get on a bus. But I could not go when people I know and trust in Gaza did not want us to come under such conditions and when there was so much opposition to this. For me that was the bottom line. Their fear is this small delegation would be used by the Egyptian government for propaganda and there was great anger at the statements made by the Egyptian foreign minister last night maligning the Gaza Freedom March. I understand the agony of people on those buses who wanted to reach Gaza. I felt that. But it was impossible. We need to keep up the struggle to end the siege. We’ve come this far. Solidarity means standing together and continuing the struggle.

It’s been difficult to piece the situation together online, but clearly the march was put in a near impossible situation by the Egyptian offer and any decision regarding the offer would have been controversial. Here is a fascinating update on how march participants handled the news of the offer, and it’s clear that critics who felt that Egypt was using the march to whitewash their own complicity in the Gaza blockade won out. This decision was supported by Palestinians who were coordinating the march inside Gaza. Here is a statement from the Gaza-Gaza Freedom March Steering Committee:

Gaza 30.12.2009

Over the past week we, representatives of various civil society sectors in Gaza, have been humbled by the sacrifices that you, 1400 people, have made in order to come and support us in breaking the siege.

Despite our grave disappointment that we can not yet meet you all that we are still separated by this medieval siege we feel that your arrival in Cairo has already borne fruits. Your insistence to break the siege in order to be in solidarity with us has inspired many and shamed many others. Thanks to your presence with us, a network to break the siege and free Palestine has been established.

We support any decisions taken by the Gaza Freedom March Coordination Committee about the entry of just 100 of 1400 delegates into Gaza instead of all the delegates presently in Cairo. Obviously it is, as all previous decisions, a majority decision. We, at the Gaza- GFM Steering committee have reiterated our position, namely, that it is up to The Gaza Freedom March Coordination Committee in Cairo to decide. We initially felt that if representatives of all forty some countries can go to Gaza and join a march along Palestinians it would convey a very strong message to the world public opinion. Had they decided to go through with the Egyptian offer, we would have welcomed them in Gaza and deeply appreciated their solidarity.

The decision to send 100 delegates, however, seemed too divisive for the growing solidarity campaign with the Palestinian people. The unity of the global solidarity campaign is of utmost importance for us, the besieged Palestinians of Gaza. We have repeatedly argued that the march itself is not supposed to be only a symbolic gesture, but rather a part of a series of events which will lead to the end of the siege, once and for all. We want to intensify and continue building the solidarity campaign, not divide it.

We salute the GFM delegates and thank them for the tremendous amount of work they have been doing and whatever decision they came up with.

Gaza-GFM Steering Committee

21 Responses

  1. potsherd
    December 30, 2009, 11:09 am

    Mubarak is digging himself deeper into a hole.

    • Chaos4700
      December 30, 2009, 11:39 am

      He really is shooting himself in the foot, isn’t he? If he let the protesters on to Gaza, things would have stayed relatively quiet in Egypt. Now the people under his iron fist get to see in person what they normally only see in news feeds from Iran.

      The Gaza March wasn’t about the situation of the people of Egypt too, explicitly… but it is now.

    • gmeyers
      December 30, 2009, 2:27 pm

      Meanwhile Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) is looking into ‘reports about the [Viva Palestina!] convoy’s links to Hamas’:

      A U.S. congressman is the latest to call for a Justice Department investigation into whether a pro-Palestinian group has been raising money on college campuses for Hamas.

      In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) urged a probe into Viva Palestina USA, a humanitarian aid convoy led by British lawmaker George Galloway that brought medical supplies to Gaza last July.

      Both the Zionist Organization of America and the Anti-Defamation League in recent months have urged Holder to investigate reports about the convoy’s links to Hamas.

      link to hurryupharry.org

  2. annie
    December 30, 2009, 11:21 am

    incredible. thank you very much for the continuing coverage, it is so vital.

  3. Richard Witty
    December 30, 2009, 11:35 am

    It is definitely interesting.

  4. Citizen
    December 30, 2009, 11:48 am

    I think I get the point. The Egyptian clan regime wants to have a token less than 10% slice of protesters to
    parade on tv to show how it is all for free speech; this must be what he allows domestically, a charade to parade, while keeping clamps down on the masses–now his domestic modus operandi
    is being revealed for all the world to see–writ large on a global scale. He’d be better off
    allowing the whole Gaza march contingent in, in front of the eyes of the world–to the extent the march would have world impact, including in the USA, the Egypt tyranny
    would actually be seen more inside and out as a more democratic player–M’s dicing of the baby reveals just how scared he is of his hold on power. He didn’t even offer to cut the baby in half, but merely offered to cut off a limb for PR purposes.

    • Citizen
      December 30, 2009, 11:50 am

      I just noticed I agree with Chaos on this breaking event.

  5. Oscar
    December 30, 2009, 11:59 am

    Hey, what’s the email address of the Egyptian embassy in the US and the US embassy in Egypt? Let’s continue to pressure the diplomats . . .

    • Citizen
      December 30, 2009, 12:24 pm

      Egyptian embassy in the USA:

      link to egyptembassy.net

      • Citizen
        December 30, 2009, 12:28 pm

        USA embassy in Egypt:
        link to cairo.usembassy.gov

      • Citizen
        December 30, 2009, 12:37 pm

        I just called there–they are not answering their phone.

      • Citizen
        December 30, 2009, 12:38 pm

        I mean the Egyptian embassy in DC.

      • Citizen
        December 30, 2009, 12:42 pm

        I just called the USA embassy in Egypt–got a busy signal.

      • Oscar
        December 30, 2009, 1:00 pm

        Citizen, check it out. I sent a protest email to the Egyptian embassy in DC. This is what I got back:

        We’re sorry. There’s a problem with the e-mail address(es) you’re trying
        to send to.

        child status 100…The e-mail message could not be delivered because the user’s mailfolder is full.

        Dude, they’re besieged with emails supporting the GFM.

  6. David
    December 30, 2009, 12:19 pm

    New York Times gives the march some pretty decent coverage:
    link to nytimes.com

  7. Oscar
    December 30, 2009, 4:15 pm

    Update — 100 people now in Gaza for the GFM. link to twitter.com

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