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Gaza Freedom March: Ragini Kistnasamy's Diary Day 5


To everyone in Mauritius supporting the Gaza Freedom March

The decision not to go to Gaza

Just as I said in yesterday, the decision to choose 100 out of 1,300 delegates would cause problems. It generated a lot of debated and heated discussions on important points.
It will be important to revisit all of the questions raised when we have our evaluation meeting today at 7.30p.m. I have sent the Gaza Freedom March communiqué to marchers here. (It is on our website)

Reason 1
When delegates get into the bus to go to Gaza, the representatives of Palestinian organisations and Palestinians took the floor to explain why no-one should go. They proposed that either all 1,300 delegates go, or no-one go at all. They explained that sending 100 delegates means conceding to Egypt government's conditions and means division.

Reason 2
After debate, Ali Abunimah, founder of Eletronic Intifada telephoned Gaza representatives to ask whether in Gaza they think we should maintain the 100 delegate bus or cancel the bus arrangement. The phone conversation was held close to the microphone so that everyone could hear. The delegates in Gaza said that they thought that reducing the delegation to 100 would definitely affect solidarity work to break the siege on Gaza. In Gaza, the host committee that was receiving us as Gaza Freedom Marchers from Cairo said they hoped that no-one would come under these conditions. They explained that in the interests of the long-term work that needed to be done, they thought it would be best to cancel the bus arrangement.

Reason 3
The report we got on two declarations made by the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister that we learnt about in the morning. The two statements were both on TV and in the press.
I am reproducing a translation of the Egyptian Foreign Minister's statement from the original Arabic version that the Palestinian Think Tank published in their article "Egypt Approves Gaza Freedom March Passage, Viva Palestina Blunders Paperwork and Blames Egypt, By Haitham Sabbah - Dec 29th, 2009 at 23:39

. . . On the demonstrations held by activists from 42 countries and their appeal to President Mubarak to allow them to cross into Gaza Strip, Aboul Gheit said, "This issue has been on the Egyptian state agenda for several months, there is a non-governmental organisation that heads six non-governmental organisations below it with 200 other organisations, and there are groups of activists, idealists and those of different directions. We have asked them early on, so as to heed their wishes, to provide us the details of their names and passports, and to tell us to what extent they wish to go. Some did, and others decided not to respond because they reject the right of the Egyptian state to use its territory to allow or not allow. They said, "we`ll impose on the people of Egypt to accept that we only have the right to impose conditions for those who want to enter our state. You can not (pointing to the journalists) get a visa for Italy or France just because you defend them, or some of you at least. So Egypt has decided that this is matter that needs to be looked at carefully, and then we identified that some of them want to reach the Egyptian Rafah to exercise unlawful acts which deal with the Egyptian construction (referring to the Iron Wall), which means demonstration against Egypt, and some tried to hold contacts in Egypt which we do not accept, and intervened in a clash with the Egyptian state, so Egypt decided not to allow either of these groups to move deep into Sinai, however, as a result of the appeal, the Egyptian state has decided as per instructions from Mr. President to consider allowing a limited number of representatives of groups that we feel are genuine groups, and stands with the Palestinian people, such as ours do with them, in order to express advocacy of the Palestinian people and will allow them to enter in the next few days."

Aboul Gheit added, "Those thousands of people trying to conspire against Egypt, all that we will do is to let them in our streets, seeking to provoke the Egyptians, but the Egyptians are wiser, especially after we saw that all these demonstrations have been limited to those foreigners who tried to invoke the Egyptian security, who had not provoked, stressing that these will be in the hospitality of this magnificent sun, until the end of their desire to stay and they leave.",

This threat of the Minister is hardly veiled. The danger that after the 100 delegates leave for Gaza, the police starts using violence against delegates in Cairo that the Minister has branded 'troublemakers'.
So the decision not to go to Gaza with 100 delegates is a good decision.

Ragini Kistnasamy,
Talaat Harb, Cairo
30-December, 2009
Translated from the original kreol version