Tag Archives: Activism

Support needed in Cairo

Hello all,

You can read the newest update (yesterday’s) from Marie and Katerina in Cairo in the blog at: http://studentlifelinetogaza.blogspot.com/ I am including it attached at the end of this message. As you can see from their own message, the most critical thing they need now is support from home. So please keep making calls, sending emails, and letting people know of what is happening.

There are two things I would like to ask you for your support:

  1. First there’s another sample email and list of adresses below. Please either send an email or call.
  2. Secondly and this is very important, I would like to ask you to send me any relevant contact adresses or telephones you can find. Everybody reads English, so most of the sample emails we have can be send to many more adresses. If you can find contact details for the Egyptian embassy in your own country, or in other countries around the world for example, to important politicians again, in your country or others, important (or not so important) media, please send them to me, and we’ll try to put together a more extensive list of contacts that people can use.

_________________________________________

Sample letter:

Dear Sir, Dear Madam,

I am writing to you to urge the Egyptian government to let Code Pink’s Gaza

Freedom March continue so that 1362 international delegates can join the

Palestinians of Gaza to march together on December 31, 2009.

Currently all delegates are stuck in Cairo and have been refused the right

to move towards Gaza.

The UK government and David Miliband have openly condemned the blockade.

This is a crucial moment for the UK to use its influence as an international

player to take responsiblity and act upon behalf of peace, justice and human

rights.

The Code Pink delegates will not stand for this oppressive ban. This

indirectly endorses war crimes and the inhumanity caused by the blockade

onto the Palestinians of Gaza.

The international peace marchers have aid and are ready to deliver it.

They 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. The Gaza Freedom

March offers that support on the difficult anniversary of an invasion that

brought them so much suffering.

Sincerely,

__________

Contacts:

-Foreign & Commonwealth Office Ministerial support team email address

MSU.PublicIn@fco.gov.uk

-Egyptian Embassy in London

Tel: 020 7499 3304/2401

eg.emb_london@mfa.gov.eg

-Egyptian Consulate

consulate@egyptianconsulate.co.uk

Irini Pantelidou has also found these addresses (thanks!):

questions@cabinet.gov.eg

or …complaints@cabinet.gov.eg

Cabinet of Ministers

Address : 2 Maglas El Shaab

Phone : +202-2793-5000

Fax : +202-2795-8048

Email : questions@cabinet.gov.eg

ministry of international cooperation for the egyptian government

Mrs. Fayza Mohamed Aboulnaga

Address : 8 Adly street – Cairo

Tel : 23910008

Fax : 23908159

URL : www.mic.gov.eg/

Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs?

Mr. Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit

Address : Kornish el Nile, Maspiro- Cairo

Tel : 25749820 – 25749821

Fax : 25748822

URL : www.mfa.gov.eg/

E-mail:

General Inquiries:  Info@mfa.gov.eg

Citizens’ Complaint Unit: Contact.Us@mfa.gov.eg

Foreigners and Legalization Affairs: foreign.legalization@mfa.gov.eg

______________________________________________________

6th update from Cairo from Katerina and Marie:

We demonstrated all day at the UN today, demanding that

1) the UN put pressure on the Egyptian government so that we can continue our march

2) help let all our aid through to Gaza

3) organise a small group of delegates to Gaza to at least represent all the countries and be in bloody Gaza!!!

Answer:

No

No

and No.

It was a really peaceful demonstration, with lots of music, dancing, chess playing, talks by Walden Bello and Anna Haas (journalist).

Led by the 85 year old holocaust survivior Hedy Epstein, 14 are now on hunger strike. We were barricaded by police however, not allowing to leave the area for a few hours. Lol, we made a makeshift pee area but the atmosphere was super awesome.

Also, Netanyahu is coming to Cairo, to meet with Mubarak about Gilad Shalit.

The French delegates, around 300, have been camping outside the French embassy for the last 2 days. We will be joining them tonight, but they managed to get the French ambassador to negotiate and talk. The ambassador has been talking to the Egyptian government as a result. However, there were over 1000 riot police and since today they have not allowed any of the French people to leave or enter.

Any attempts for smaller groups to get to Gaza have been stalled. People have either been detained, put under hotel arrest or been forced to return to Cairo.

We are feeling quite demoralised, since we have put so much effort into getting to Gaza as has everyone else here. We are relying on support from back home, so please keep writing.

At this point you have more power than we do.

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Critical new update – Freedom March also blocked

Dear all,

First of all, apologies for the flood of emails and msgs the last few days. Unfortunately things are moving very fast right now, and we’ve now found out that the Freedom March to Gaza from Egypt, is also being blocked now, as is still the convoy which has yet to be allowed to enter Egypt. Hopefully we’ll be able to send fewer messages as things calm down.

I’m forwarding below the latest update from Sam from the ‘Can you help us end the Blockade of Gaza this december?’ group that was set up in facebook (join: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=188973921044 ), which inludes the message send from Cairo from Katerina and Marie, and also a sample letter to send to politicians and Egyptian embassies, together with relevant adresses.

________________________________________________________________

Dear Friends,

Sorry to be spamming your facebook inboxes but everything is proceeding quickly right now (hopefully it will calm down soon) and we do need your help!

Firstly, Katerina and Marie are now in Cairo, they sent this message today:

***********************************************************

Dear Friends,

Marie and I are both in Cairo and have bad news.

Like Viva Palestina, our Free Gaza March has also been banned by the
Egyptian government.
There are 1300 international volunteers in Cairo, who all want to go to
Gaza. We have aid and donations that will go to waste if we stay here.

The Free Gaza March have planned the following activities for the next 2
days:
Sunday
– small protest in the centre of Cairo
– protest at the French Embassy to pressure the European Commission
– public vigil at the Nile

Monday
– we will gather at the bus station to protest against the Egyptian’s ban on
our trip
– public protest in the main square of Cairo

Consensus is that we stay united and so that 1300 people demonstrate
together in Cairo to pressure Mubarak’s government to let us go. Small
individual groups have gone and we are waiting to hear what they encounter and how they get along.

The Egyptian government has put a ban on all freedom marchers meeting in groups of more than 6 people. This is oppressive and denies us the right to stand up to the Palestinians. Please protest against the Egyptian’s decision with us. By holding us back, their oppressive regime is as responsible for
the siege as is Israel’s.

*We need your help, you demonstrate the international spectrum of all of
this. *
*http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8425232.stm*

Sample letter to Embassies & MPs:

Dear Sir, Dear Madam,

I am writing to you to urge the Egyptian government to let Code Pink’s Gaza
Freedom March continue so that 1362 international delegates can join the
Palestinians of Gaza to march together on December 31, 2009.

Currently all delegates are stuck in Cairo and have been refused the right
to move towards Gaza.

The UK government and David Miliband have openly condemned the blockade.
This is a crucial moment for the UK to use its influence as an international
player to take responsiblity and act upon behalf of peace, justice and human
rights.

The Code Pink delegates will not stand for this oppressive ban. This
indirectly endorses war crimes and the inhumanity caused by the blockade
onto the Palestinians of Gaza.

The international peace marchers have aid and are ready to deliver it.
They 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. The Gaza Freedom
March offers that support on the difficult anniversary of an invasion that
brought them so much suffering.

Sincerely,

***********************************************************

EGYPTIAN CONTACTS:
-Egyptian Embassy in London
Tel: 020 7499 3304/2401
eg.emb_london@mfa.gov.eg

-Egyptian Consulate
consulate@egyptianconsulate.co.uk

POLITICIANS:
-Jeremy Corbyn (Labour MP for Islington North)
corbynj@parliament.uk
Office phone:
020 7561 7488

-Clare Short (Independent MP for Birmingham Ladywood)
shortc@parliament.uk
020 7219 4264/4148

-David Miliband (Foreign Secretary/Labour MP for South Shields)
milibandd@parliament.uk
(0191) 456 8910

-Foreign & Commonwealth Office Ministerial support team email address
MSU.PublicIn@fco.gov.uk

-Nick Clegg (Leader of Lib Dems, MP for Sheffield Hallam, wrote this piece in the guardian the other day http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/22/lift-the-gaza-blocade-nick-clegg)
nickclegg@sheffieldhallam.org.uk
cleggn@parliament.uk

-British Embassy in Egypt
Tel: (20)(2)27916000
information.cairo@fco.gov.uk

NB that MPs are not supposed to help UK citizens who live in other constituencies, but those listed above either have shown a personal interest in Gaza (Short, Corbyn, Clegg) or are the Foreign Secretary (Miliband) so you should perhaps make it clear that this is why you are contacting them, not in their formal duties as MP.

Secondly, a reminder of the vigil outside the Israeli embassy in London tomorrow: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index9b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=3&l2_id=62&Content_ID=976 Please come along if you can, this could be helpful for raising awareness of the Convoy and Freedom march inside the UK, which is really something we need to do right now.

I know we are sending out lots of messages but that’s because lots of important information is coming in quickly. We *will* take it easy again when things get back on track—which we hope they will soon. Thank you for your patience!

Season’s greetings,

Sam

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Landmark policy in Manchester University

On Wednesday 11th Feb the student union in Manchester University has passed a motion that marks an almost landmark victory in the UK occupation wave. The motion compares Israel to apartheid South Africa, supports the global Divestment, Boycott and Sanctions movement, and condemns the BBC decision not to air the Disaster Emergency relief for Gaza University.

The following page from the Action Palestine students group  gives more details on the Manchester victory. What it means in terms of a University response is still unclear, at least from our perspective here. The following is a quote from the linked article:

Matt Scholey, a first year Politics and Modern History student, said “This is going to set a precedent, more and more student unions will have the confidence to take similar step. Last year LSE SU called for divestment, now UMSU calls for a complete boycott, and tomorrow the rest of the student movement will follow suite.”

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Manchester occupation under threat

Manchester University is apparently forcefully trying to remove the students in occupation of a room there, having called the police to the site. We’re not sure what the justfication they’re using is… it has always seemed to us that people reserve the right to peaceful protest to promote their viewpoint when the status quo fails- when that right is attempted to be removed under the pretext of law, the law ends being a means towards justice, but becomes an end in itself, with no benefit for those that are bound to follow it.

This is the statement by the Manchester students under occupation that can be found here. As they say, contact the Manchester University and police if you can.

THE UNIVERSITY ARE TRYING TO REMOVE THE STUDENTS IN OCCUPATION, THERE IS A DEMO OUTSIDE TO SUPPORT THEM, PLEASE COME AND JOIN THE PEACEFUL DEMO OUTSIDE!!!!!

and if you can’t come:

THE UNI HAVE CALLED THE POLICE PLEASE CONTACT BOTH THE UNI AND THE POLICE TO COMPLAIN!!!

UNI +44 (0) 161 306 6000
+44 (0)161 306 6010

POLICE 0161 872 5050

(be polite)

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Occupation at Strathclyde university

Similarly to the post before, an occupation is currently going on at Strathclyde university. Their facebook group can be found here, and some pictures here. There are also the beginnings of a blog here. The following is their list of demands. Do visit their facebook group and blog and give them your support. 

We demand:

-Cancel the contract with Eden Springs

-Divest of arms manufacturer BAE Systems and find 
alternative funding for the engineering department

-The SU board must issue a statement condemning Israel’s bombing of Gaza

-Pay for a facilitate 50 scholarships for Palestinian students

-Show solidarity with the Islamic University of Gaza. Write a letter of support, twin SU with the university and send money to help rebuild it

-Condemn the BBC for refusing to broadcast the DEC appeal for Gaza, show the appeal in lecture theatres and hold a fundraising day

-Oppose Israeli academics who promote military research at SU

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Manchester university Occupation in Support of Palestine

As in many other universities around the UK,  Students in Manchester University have occupied a university building, putting forth a list of demands to the university. The following are quotes from the student group’s blog which can be found here. A facebook event can also be found here, so make sure you follow both and give them your support!

The University of Manchester Occupation in solidarity with Gaza
Over 150 University of Manchester students have occupied the main university administration building in a demand for a stronger and more proactive position from the university on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The students have proposed a set of demands on the university’s Vice Chancellor Alan Gilbert, including a boycott of Israeli goods on campus, support for a day of fundraising with proceeds to the DEC fund, and that the university end research into manufacturing arms.

Over 500 students attended an emergency general meeting of the students union to discuss a motion on the issue of the crisis in Gaza, whereby the students marched on University administration headquarters, the John Owens Building, to draw up a list of demands.

The peaceful occupation is planned to continue for as long as it takes to achieve its demands, and promises to welcome high profile speakers during the week.

DEMANDS

1) University of Manchester should issue a formal statement condemning Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip, acknowledging particularly the effects on educational institutions such as the bombing of the Gaza Islamic University and expressing concern about war crimes allegations.

2) Support a day of fundraising across campus with the proceeds going to the DEC Gaza appeal.

3) University to publicise DEC advert in any way possible (including banner on the website) and put pressure on the BBC and sky to show the DEC advert.

4) All furniture & surplus supplies from buildings that are being renovated to be sent to Gaza on the Viva Palestina convoy.

5) Join the BDS movement through stopping sales of Israeli goods on university premises, the University should also stop buying any campus supplies from Israeli companies.

6) That the university divests from all companies directly involved in the manufacture of weaponry. We also demand that the university takes the issue of transparency in their investment seriously.

7) That the university publicly supports its students’ right to protest, such as occupations. That in line with this, the university will provide its facilities for a “Students for Palestine” conference, second week of April 09.

8 ) To send a public message of solidarity to the Islamic University in Gaza, whose campus has been virtually destroyed, and publish it on the university website and distribute it to the university wide e-mail addresses.

9) To give at lease five scholarships for Palestinian students as well as providing at least five scholarships for Israelis who refuse to serve in the IDF.

10) That the university make a module on the history of Palestine available as an optional module for any University of Manchester student.

11) That home fees apply to Palestinians students wanting to study at the University of Manchester.

12) No victimisation for those taking part in the Occupation, and free movement in and out of the occupied spaced.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1) For more information please contact manuni@actionpalestine.org
2) The group have set up a blog with frequent updates at: http://manunioccupation.wordpress.com/
3) Media outlets can contact katan at 07917206282 or 01612 75800

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The BBC and the Gaza appeal – on balance and what you can do

I’m sure many of you must be aware of the issues surrounding the BBC refusing to air the Gaza appeal. If not, the reason for the controversy is the BBC’s decision not to air the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) Gaza Appeal. The committee is made of 13 aid agencies, including British Red Cross, Oxfam, Christian aid, Islamic relief, Save the Children, CAFOD, and Action Aid. 

You can donate yourselves through: 

https://www.donate.bt.com/bt_form_gaza.html

http://www.dec.org.uk/

I’ve heard a number of reasons to excuse the action by the BBC. First is the idea of impartiality, specifically that of the BBC, and how that would be compromised if the appeal was to run. Secondly, the argument is made that the BBC is following a tradition of not airing such appeals. Finally the argument is given that it is doubtful whether the appeal will be able to have an effect and whether the aid will reach Gaza.

Let’s examine those reasons one by one, starting from the last one. Whether or not the appeal is effective is a judgement that should be left to each person individually. It is not for the BBC to make the decision for us, and to judge above us where we spend our money on. It is slightly arrogant of the BBC to pretend greater expertise on the subject than the aid organisations running the appeal. Regardless, even if that is truly how the BBC feels of the appeal, it should still allow its viewers to view it and make their own decisions.

As to the argument that the BBC has not aired such appeals before, I cannot pretend expertise on the subject- I’ve heard otherwise from others, but cannot know for certain. The point is irrelevant in any case. If the BBC made mistakes in the past, it does not mean it should repeat them now, and judging a specific event now, on the precedent of different events in the past is wrong.

But the most offensive argument is that of impartiality. Apparently by running the appeal, the BBC seems to think it will be taking ‘sides’ and be partial in a ‘controversial’ issue. That’s nonsense. A humanitarian appeal is by definition merely humanitarian- it does not endorse or support one side over the other- it provides relief for the innocent.

But what if the decision was, indeed, ‘partial’. This is a reflection of a new dangerous attitude regarding the conflict, that sees so called balanced observers needing to be completely neutral, and treat both sides identically. So whenever a discussion on the conflict is brought up, these new ‘impartial’ commentators cannot criticize Israel once without mentioning a ‘but’ in there, followed by how the Palestininas need to be more reasonable and less agressive at the same time. It is an attitude that wants to show the conflict as two sides of equal blame, who just both need to learn to be reasonable to achieve peace.

I cannot recall who said the following, but it is worth repeating. Balance does not mean giving the same treatment to both sides. Balance means that you start by seeing both sides as equal. 

If by using the same standards of judgement on both sides, its obvious to see that one side is the offending party, and one side violates the rights of the other, then balance ‘demands’ that you give the sides unequal treatment, and punish the offending party.

I will not repeat the entire history of the conflict here. Those who’ve studied it, those who know recent history, and those who follow current news, know full well that this is not a conflict of equal blame and responsibility. What balance was there in South African Apartheid, in African-American racial discrimination, and in German Nazism? 

The BBC ‘is’ indeed not being impartial. It discriminates against the Palestinians, and portrays an unbalanced view of reality.

 

For those of you on facebook, I urge you to join this group: 

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=49390741183

and this event

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=63563925119

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