Monday 28 December, 2009, Cairo.
Pressure to let us in Gaza continues
Sit-in of French Gaza Freedom marchers in front of the French Embassy in Cairo
Yesterday night, more than 200 delegates from France began a sit-in in front of the French embassy on Charles de Gaulle Avenue in Cairo. Their main demand is to ask their Embassy to intervene so that the Egyptian government lets them into Gaza. The action continues, and today is the second day that French delegates are there. (Editors Note: This 2-day action was on France 24).
Protests in the Malouf Garage Depot
Yesterday, Sunday night, the Gaza Freedom March organisers received confirmation that the government was threatening bus companies that were to take us to Al-Arish, and from there, we were to cross the Rafah border by bus to get into Gaza.
We decided that all of us would march to the Malouf Garage in Ramsis Street at 7a.m. In the morning with our backpacks as an action to show our determination to get to Gaza and to break the siege.
There were an immense banners put up right next to the motorway where two main roads at the Ramsis St. and October 6th bridge intersection. There was a press conference there where the organisers spoke, where songs and slogans were chanted to support a free Gaza, to "Break the Siege", "Let us in". We got there with our backpacks, ready to get into the bus to go to Gaza according to plan. It was an action in preparing a build-up.
Egyptian Police`s Repressive Machinery
We, the delegates, had already got a taste of what the Egyptian police is about. We had started to be able to discern ordinary policemen`s uniforms and RIOT police uniforms (they`re like the ones in Mauritius!), and plainclothes policemen, and secret police. Plainclothes and secret police were present there in big numbers, naturally, but they were harder to pick out, especially for people like us, from abroad. But when they act openly, they are just like the SSS (ex-NIU) in Mauritius.
After this action, I met up with the Bulgarian and Turkish delegates for a solidarity visit to the marchers holding a sit-in in front of the French Embassy, and to get fresh news on the situation. The police presence there was incredible. There was a cordon of policemen around the Embassy. There was also a second cordon of RIOT police. There was just a little space left for cars to go through, then there was a whole line of army lorries full of soldiers. They threatened to intervene anytime. As I write, the sit-in continues.
Attempt to block us access to the press
The police have cancelled permission for us to use the venue that we had booked to hold our press conference. It is interesting to note in the pro-government press, there are differences in the coverage of events between the Arabic version and the English version. .
Demonstration in front of the United Nations
At midday, all delegates, myself included, demonstrated in front of UN offices, at Corniche el Nil Street. Demands included that the UN intervene on our behalf so that all delegates and our humanitarian supplies can enter Gaza. A delegation met UN representatives, including Filipino MP Walden Bello.