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Members of an international group gathered in Cairo to protest against the siege of Gaza have rejected an Egyptian offer to allow 100 of them entry into the Palestinian territory.
Organisers of the Gaza Freedom March (GFM), which is comprised of 1,300 people from 42 different countries, declined the offer on Wednesday, saying "we refuse to whitewash the siege of Gaza".
Egyptian authorities had initially said the group would not be allowed to cross the border, citing security reasons and a "sensitive situation".
The activists were hoping to march into Gaza on the anniversary of Israel's 22-day offensive on the territory as a sign of solidarity with its people, carrying with them aid and supplies. Continue reading this article at al Jazeera.
Click "Read More" below to read the statement from leaders of the Gaza Freedom March explaining their position and reasons for it.
The scene at the French Embassy was inspiring. The French encamped there on the 27th, when their busses were cancelled, and have been there ever since. They came with tents and sleeping bags and the police basically formed a barricade between them and the street and let them stay. They are allowed the use of one toilet inside the Embassy, and supporters have been able to bring them food and water. There was lively chanting (I’ve just resigned myself to the chanting. Maybe if I stop resisting I’ll learn to enjoy it) and Max unfurled his flag and activists danced it up and down the sidewalk. People of all ages were having animated conversations while the cops looked on. Many were interacting with the police, who were dressed in riot gear but had their helmets propped open and were mostly smiling and friendly. The French Embassy is in Giza and the pyramids are tantalizingly close. Read more.
Rae Abileah, a Codepink Gaza Freedom March Coordinator reports from Egypt:
Tonight, Dec. 30, 2009, as part of the initiative led by a subgroup of the GFM, the womens' delegation - CODEPINK, we received news from the Egyptian government, via our efforts with HE Suzanne Mubarak, that we can send two buses of a total of 100 people to Gaza tomorrow. We are in the process of very rapidly selecting the 100 people according to proportional representation by country. We have been contacting leaders of each country by phone and text message, but communications are extremely challenging here, as you know, and we are working on an immediate deadline. Names need to be in in 15 mins. There is no way to adequately honor total consensus process here or to reach everyone because it is not technologically possible.
Haidar Eid, the coordinator of the Gaza Freedom March Steering Committee in Gaza talked with one of the GFM coordinators Tighe Barry and said that he understood that it would not be 1300 delegates, but was elated to hear that there will be 100 people coming tomorrow to represent the over 40 countries. Their group will meet the delegation at the border and will march as planned, in solidarity with the march in Cairo, in Israel at the West Bank, in the West Bank, and around the world. The world community will come together around Gaza.
Cheri Lippmann wrote of her good friend Kathleen Crocetti, a participant in the Gaza Freedom March:
“I am writing this email through tears of relief. Last night due to the efforts of Egyptian First Lady Susan Mubarak and the Codepink organizers, permission was given for 100 delegates to leave tomorrow Dec. 30th at 7 am (tonight at 9 pm our time) to the border and enter Gaza. I just found out that Kathleen is on the two bus list of 100.”
Kathleen wrote on her blog:
By the grace of God and the hands of all my lovely friends I will go into Gaza today, but I will leave Bill and some amazingly big hearted new friends we have made behind in El Ashir. For every delegate that gets in 13 will have been left behind. If it were not for the love and hope promised by the community mural and sweet sweet pencil cases we made together I would be one of those left behind.
by Linda Milazzo
Monday night, in remembrance of the one-year anniversary of Israel's Operation Cast Lead that killed 1,400 Gazans, and in solidarity with the 1,400 international peace pilgrims converging in Egypt from 42 countries for the planned Gaza Freedom March, Los Angelenos gathered in front of the Israeli Consulate for a solemn candlelight vigil.
Photo by Mike Chickey
Arresting Peaceful Protesters in Occupied Palestine
By Stephen Lendman
For decades, Israel has met peaceful Palestinian protesters disruptively with violence, arrests and at times unprovoked killings. It's no surprise that targeting them and their leaders is now common practice in cities and villages like Jayyous and Bil'in.
On August 3, 200 Israeli soldiers raided five Bel'in homes at 3AM arresting eight Palestinians, including Mohammad Khatib, a leader of the Bel'in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. It's part of Israel's repressive routine - late night arrests and imprisonment without charges for indefinite periods. Khatib faces trial, but was released on August 17 on condition he report to a police station with a monitor each Friday until 5PM for its duration. He told supporters:
"The Israeli authorities are worried that the model of popular nonviolent resistance is spreading. They are targeting the popular committees to try to crush (them) but they cannot destroy the spirit of the demonstrations in Bil'in with the arrests of individuals. The whole village is part of the nonviolent resistance and the military would have to arrest (everyone) to stop us from protesting against the Occupation and the theft of our land. Even then, when we all come out of jail, we would continue our struggle."
Getting in to the Gaza Strip is no easy feat, but driving across Egypt should not be this hard.
On Sunday, more than 1,000 international activists from 42 countries around the world descended on Cairo to kick off the Gaza Freedom March, a humanitarian convoy and media spectacle organized by US activist group Code Pink.
The plan was to take buses from Cairo to the Egypt-Gaza border post at Rafah, where they would cross in to Gaza to mark the one-year anniversary of the devastating 22-day Israeli campaign against Hamas, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers.
Organizers say they knew getting into Gaza would be the hard part, so they made sure to check and double check their arrangements with Egyptian authorities. That didn’t stop Egypt from closing the border post and forbidding the activists from driving across the Sinai Peninsula, keeping them from even getting near it.
Much like the humanitarian supplies they were intent on delivering, Gaza Freedom Marchers say they too have been caught in the siege on Gaza. Unable to protest the blockade from within the territory, they have protested it from here. The result has been a tense confrontation between American and European left-wing activism and a repressive police state engaged in a rigorous four-year-long crackdown on critics of the regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Medea Benjamin, an American citizen, cofounder of the antiwar group Code Pink, and one of the march organizers, says she and 50 other US nationals were “beaten up” by Egyptian police when they went to the US Embassy in Cairo to attend a previously scheduled meeting with embassy staff on Tuesday morning. Read more.
Gaza Freedom March participants, numbering 1,360 people from 42 countries, have assembled in Cairo, Egypt, where they plan to break the Israeli imposed siege on Gaza by delivering humanitarian relief supplies, on December 31st. After passing through the Rafah border crossing which divides Egypt and Gaza, they aim to join 50,000 Palestinians in a march across the Gaza Strip, ending at the Erez border crossing which leads into Israel.
But, the Egyptian government has dispersed peaceable assemblies that the marchers organized, in Cairo, and detained activists in multiple locations. Egyptian authorities previously issued permits for public actions, but have now revoked all permits and refused permission for any members of the Gaza Freedom March to even approach the border between Egypt and Gaza. Yesterday, they broke up a gathering of people who were commemorating the 1,409 Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli military's "Operation Cast Lead" assault that began last year, December 27th, and continued for 22 days.
"We're saddened that the Egyptian authorities have blocked our participants' freedom of movement and interfered with a peaceful commemoration of the dead," said Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, one of the March's organizers.
Benjamin added that the Gaza Freedom March participants are continuing to urge the Egyptian government to allow them to proceed to Gaza. They visited the Arab League asking for support, various foreign embassies and the Presidential Palace to deliver an appeal to President Mubarak. They are calling their supporters around the world to contact Egyptian embassies and urge them to free the marchers and allow them to proceed to Gaza. Read more.
Gaza One Year Later
By Stephen Lendman
A December 2009 report prepared by Oxfam International, Amnesty International UK, United Civilians for Peace, Christian Aid, and a dozen other international NGOs (called NGOs below) titled, "Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, no recovery, no more excuses" is hard-hitting and to the point.
It says a year after Operation Cast Lead, extensive damage hasn't been repaired and thousands "are being prevented from rebuilding their shattered society." It's not from a lack of commitment or enough resources with over $4 billion in pledged aid. It's because Israel blocks goods and equipment from entering Gaza. The world community and Arab world do nothing to stop them, so much of the Strip still lies in ruins.
Following Hamas' January 2006 electoral victory, all outside aid was cut off. Sanctions and an economic embargo were imposed, and the democratically elected government was falsely designated a terrorist organization and isolated. Stepped up repression followed as well as regular IFD attacks, killings, targeted assassinations, property destruction, and more. Gazans have been imprisoned ever since.
Since June 2007, the Strip has been under siege, described in an August 2009 OCHA report ("Locked In: The Humanitarian Impact of Two Years of Blockade on the Gaza Strip") as a:
The Occupied West Bank Latroun Villages
By Stephen Lendman
On June 6, 1967, when Israeli forces invaded Gaza and the West Bank, on the second day of the so-called Six-Day War (June 5 - 10, 1967), they entered three Palestinian villages in the Latroun salient - Imwas, Yalo and Beit Nouba, forcibly expelling the residents, numbering over 10,000 at the time. By the next day, most were gone while Israel began razing village lands and erasing their memory in an area well-known for its water resources and fertility, located northwest of Jerusalem along the Green Line. One soldier at the time explained that they:
"were told to take up positions around the approaches to the villages in order to prevent those villagers - who had heard the Israeli assurances over the radio that they could return to their homes in peace - from returning to their homes. The order was - shoot over their heads and tell them there is no access to the village," even though Fourth Geneva's Article 49 states:
"Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive." Doing so is a "grave breach," and those responsible are criminally liable.
Forty-two years later, their former homes gone and land expropriated, the survivors remain displaced, unable to return in violation of international law and Article 11 of UN Resolution 194:
"Resolv(ing) that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."
Israel never complied even though its admission to the UN was conditional on accepting this and other relevant UN resolutions.
Just after midnight I couldn't sleep. Went out to get a bite to eat or maybe a glass of wine to help me sleep.
See several CodePink people and others with the Gaza Freedom March, say they are going to the French embassy -- they had put out an alert:
"As we are writing this hundreds of French delegates are camped outside the French Embassy, pitching tents and sleeping bags on the sidewalk, chanting 'Palestine Freedom!' The French Ambassador and his wife are outside negotiating with the delegates and the police and Egyptian authorities. It is a powerful action and the French invite solidarity and support - come wherever you can! This is a critical situation and the police are surrounding the group. Check it out if you can. We will send out an update when possible."
Indeed, it was a powerful action. By the time we got there, the protest was lively, but almost all on the sidewalk in front of the embassy, it had been on the street. A while after we got there, a long line of at least 100 government forces with riot gear appeared across the street. They had helmets and shields and clubs.
They came towards us.
By Medea Benjamim
One year ago, the brutal Israeli 22-day invasion of the Gaza Strip shocked the world, leaving some 1,400 people dead, thousands more wounded, as well as hospitals, schools, prisons, UN facilities, factories, agricultural processing plants and some 20,000 homes damaged or destroyed.
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the invasion, the plight of the people of Gaza continues unabated:
- Despite pledges of money for reconstruction, Israel refuses to allow in the machinery necessary to clear the rubble or the materials needed to rebuild--banning cement, gravel, wood, pipes, glass, steel bars, aluminum and tar. Many who were made homeless during the bombing are still living in tents amidst the onset of another cold winter. Desperate, some are reverting to the ancient techniques of building homes made of mud.
December 25, 2009
Dear President Mubarak,
We, representing 1,362 individuals from 43 countries arriving in Cairo to participate in the Gaza Freedom March, are pleading to the Egyptians and your reputation for hospitality.
We are peacemakers. We have not come to Egypt to create trouble or cause conflict. On the contrary. We have come because we believe that all people -- including the Palestinians of Gaza -- should have access to the resources they need to live in dignity. We have gathered in Egypt because we believed that you would welcome and support our noble goal and help us reach Gaza through your land.
As individuals who believe in justice and human rights, we have spent our hard-earned, and sometimes scarce, resources to buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms and secure transportation only to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza living under a crushing Israeli blockade.
by Jodie Evans
The Egyptian government announced Monday that the border between Gaza and Egypt will be closed, just in time for 1,346 men, women, and children from 42 countries -- the Gaza Freedom March -- to arrive in Cairo. It's too late to turn back now. We will proceed, and are asking Egypt to permit the march to go on.
This has happened with each delegation we have taken but with the right pressure we have succeeded in crossing the border each time. Our first attempt was made possible thanks to First Lady Suzanne Mubarak. For International Women's Day we were taking in thousands of pink baskets of aid for the women in Gaza. As we made our way to the border we passed truck after truck brimming with rotting material aid that the Egyptians had not allowed into Gaza. But our outreach to Madame Mubarak proved fruitful: we were met by the Egyptian Red Crescent (which she chairs) and we proceeded into Gaza with no problems.
As part of nationwide actions in solidarity with the 2009/2010 Gaza Freedom March
When: Join us this Tuesday, December 29, 2009 at 7 p.m.
Where: in the basement of Grace Lutheran Church, 1124 North 3rd Street, Phoenix AZ 85004-1893
Hear about the upcoming Gaza Freedom March where an international contingent, including Code Pink Liz and three other Arizonans, will participate in a nonviolent march to end the illegal blockade of the Gaza. It has been one year since the Israeli invasion of Gaza.
Watch the film “Occupation 101,” the award winning documentary film on the root causes of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.
Hear the following speakers:
- Barbara Taft, a political scientist who has visited Gaza three times and met with refugees as well as young people injured in clashes with the Israeli military. Ms. Taft will speak on “De-Development: Israel's Strangulation Policy and the Destruction of Gaza's Infrastructure."
- Kevin Greathouse, an Orthodox Sephardic Jew who is intimately familiar with and sensitive to the religious views, historical backgrounds, and the various political positions of the major cultures in the Middle East. Mr. Greathouse endorses the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and will speak on the “Erroneous Religious and Romantic Views Which Desensitize Americans, Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians to Suffering in the Middle East.”
Discuss your views in a respectful dialogue regarding how we can help support a just resolution to the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Monitor Gaza Freedom March events here.
Government of Egypt changes policy to allow humanitarian group Viva Palestina to enter Gaza December 27, 2009
Gaza Freedom March congratulates the Government of Egypt on its change of policy to allow international missions into Gaza during December with the decision to allow the Viva Palestina convoy to go into Gaza on December 27, 2009.
Organizers of Gaza Freedom March were told on December 20, 2009 by Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials that no international missions would be allowed to enter Gaza during December, including the Gaza Freedom March, because of serious security conditions at the border.
Today, December 23, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Gaza Freedom March organizers said that the decision had been made to alter its policy because of the “humanitarian assistance” nature of Viva Palestina.
Since the Gaza Freedom March is also bringing in humanitarian assistance items valued at tens of thousands of dollars and the border is now considered safe, Gaza Freedom March will make a formal request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 24, that that Government of Egypt reconsider the request of the Gaza Freedom March for entry of its 1360 delegates from 42 countries into Gaza through the Rafah crossing on December 27.
Marchers and their friends have been flooding Egyptian embassies throughout the world with calls and emails. Embassies throughout Europe, the United States and Canada have told callers that they have been flooded with telephone calls from persons asking that the Gaza Freedom March be allowed into Gaza. Read more.
Gaza's scars have been frozen in place since Israel waged war a year ago to subdue Hamas and stop rockets from hitting its towns. Entire neighborhoods still lie in rubble, and traumatized residents can't rebuild their lives.
A man who lost two daughters and his home can't visit his surviving 4-year-old girl in a Belgian hospital because Gaza's borders remain sealed. A 15-year-old struggles to walk on her artificial limbs, while dozens of other war amputees still await prostheses.
Couples postpone marriage because not enough apartments survived three weeks of bombing and shelling. Thousands are homeless,and damaged systems mean electricity and water are sporadic. Untreated sewage pours into the Mediterranean.
A three-year-old blockade of Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt makes any large-scale rebuilding impossible, because the embargo includes steel and concrete.
The unprecedented use of Israeli firepower against the Palestinians has had repercussions far beyond the pain inflicted on Gaza's long-suffering 1.5 million people.
It emboldened Gaza's Hamas rulers by failing to topple them, and weakened their Western-backed Fatah rivals, whom Palestinians increasingly see as subordinate to Israel. It deepened the political split between Hamas-ruled Gaza and the Fatah-governed West Bank, making a unified Palestinian government - a prerequisite for any peace deal - even less likely. Read more.
Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.
The admission, by the former head of the country's forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called "antisemitic".
The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran's state-run Press TV tonight reported the story, illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians.
Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab MP, said the report incriminated the Israeli army.
The story emerged in an interview with Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic who released it because of the row between Israel and Sweden over a report in the Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet.
Channel 2 TV reported that in the 1990s, specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives. Read more.
Gaza Freedom March URGENT UPDATE
December 21, 2009
We are determined to break the siege.
We all will continue to do whatever we can to make it happen.
Using the pretext of escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us yesterday that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege, that we do not feel threatened, and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,300 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now. We both agreed to continue our exchanges.
Although we consider this as a setback, it is something we've encountered-and overcome--before. No delegation, large or small, that entered Gaza over the past 12 months has ever received a final OK before arriving at the Rafah border. Most delegations were discouraged from even heading out of Cairo to Rafah. Some had their buses stopped on the way. Some have been told outright that they could not go into Gaza. But after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.
Our efforts and plans will not be altered at this point. We have set out to break the siege of Gaza and march on December 31 against the Israeli blockade. We are continuing in the same direction.
Egyptian embassies and missions all over the world must hear from our supporters (by phone, fax and email)** over the coming crucial days, with a clear message: Let the international delegation enter Gaza and let the Gaza Freedom March proceed.
Contact your local consulate here:
Contact the Palestine Division in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cairo
Ahmed Azzam, tel +202-25749682 Email: email@example.com
If you are in the U.S., contact the Egyptian Embassy, 202-895-5400 and ask for Omar Youssef or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You signed on to support the the Gaza Freedom March, that was the first step. Now call the Egyptian embassy and ask your elected official to call on your behalf. Then, hit the streets and join a solidarity action in your community: www.gazafreedommarch.org/solidarity
Gaza and Israel: David and Goliath - Classic Asymmetric Warfare
By Ann Wright
In military lingo, they call it “asymmetric warfare,” or the “enemy” using tactics that do not correspond in size, force and technology to those tactics used on them--tactics that cause powerful militaries great problems from militia or insurgent forces equipped with simple and inexpensive, but effective, weapons and techniques.
In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, asymmetric warfare centers on Iraqi and Afghan “insurgents” using powerful, but unsophisticated, roadside bombs against the tanks, armored personnel carriers and humvees of the United States military.
In the case of Gaza, it is Palestinians using homemade unguided rockets (and infrequently more sophisticated rockets from Iran), rocks and horses against U.S. supplied F-16 jet fighter planes, Apache attack helicopters, tanks, D9 Caterpiller bulldozers, naval bombardment and white phosphorus and dense inert metal explosive (DIME) bombs, drones and surveillance balloons of the Israeli military.
To continue reading the text with pictures, click the file attachment below.
A senior Israeli scientist has admitted that in the 1990s Israel routinely harvested organs from dead bodies without telling families.
The revelation came from an interview with Dr. Yehuda Hiss, former head of the country's Abu Kabir forensic institute, which was broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 this weekend. "We started to harvest corneas....Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family," Hiss said in the interview.
According to the program, pathologists at the Abu Kabir institute also took skin, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli civilians and Palestinians. They often did so without seeking the permission of relatives. Read more.
Obama Approves $30 Billion in Military Aid to Israel Over Next Decade
$500 Million in Aid Also to Go to Palestinian Authority
by Jason Ditz | Anti-War.com
As the single largest expense of the 2010 foreign aid budget, President Obama approved $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel, the first payment in a decade-long commitment that will reach at least $30 billion.
Last year, Israel’s military budget amounted to $13.3 billion, so the US funding is a significant portion of their overall expenditure. The US formerly provided both military and civilian aid, but it has since been folded entirely into military aid, at Israel’s request.
The money is not a blank check, however. The US requires that Israel spend at least 75% of the money given in military aid with US military contractors, effectively using the foreign aid budget to subsidize domestic weapon-makers. Read more.
Col. Ann Wright (Ret.) wrote:
Here are the new articles added to our massive 50 page list of articles, videos, blogs from our 7 trips to Gaza in 2009, plus articles and videos about the Gaza Freedom March--only 10 days away 27 December - January 2, 2010!!
Please keep everyone in Gaza in your thoughts during the next weeks, the one year anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza!!
All 50 pages of our articles are in the attachment--congratulations on what you have done to bring the story of the people of Gaza to the world!
Access the file in the file attachment below.
December 27 marks the first anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza.
Join: Philly Against War, End Oppression Now and the Philadelphia International Action Center in a Protest on December 18 (3rd Friday).
4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Israeli Consulate, 19th Street and JFK Boulevard in Philadelphia. (1880 John F Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19103)
Make your voices heard in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Lift the siege of Gaza now! Free Palestine!
The total number killed in this massacre is estimated at more than 1400. During the 3-week assault on Gaza (December 27, 2008 -- January 18, 2009), 313 Palestinian children were killed by Israelis. The number of Israeli children who were killed by Palestinians: 0. Approximately 500,000 Gazans were displaced at some point during conflict. Get the facts here.
The population of Gaza is approximately 1,417,000 of which 793,520 (56%) are children. Israel's attack on the people of Gaza - carried out by the world's 4th most powerful military- constitutes a crime against humanity. During the 3-week attack approximately 1 million people lost electricity and drinking water. Water treatment facilities were rendered inoperable and at least 16 schools were damaged or destroyed.
According to the media summary of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict:
The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called for an end to the "absurd situation" in which arrest warrants were being issued to Israeli officials over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.
"Only actions can put an end to this absurd situation, which would have seemed a comedy of errors were it not so serious," said the Foreign Ministry, a day after it emerged that opposition leader Tzipi Livni had canceled her trip to Britain after a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Senior officials in Israel confirmed reports on Monday that a British court had issued an arrest warrant against opposition leader Tzipi Livni for her role in orchestrating Israel's military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip nearly a year ago. Read more.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 10 December 2009, Observed
Iftikhar Chaudri, President of Journalists for International Peace, wrote:
Journalists for International Peace observed the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 2009. In this context, a meeting was held in the head office of JIP, in which participants/ members of JIP presented their reports on various human rights issues the world is confronting.
The participants, members of JIP, deliberated on the objectives of Human Rights Day which was focused on non-discrimination. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. These first few famous words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established 61 years ago, are the basic premise of international human rights law. Yet today, the fight against discrimination remains a daily struggle for millions around the globe.
Iftikhar Chaudri, President JIP, expressed grave concern over the situation of human rights all over the world, in general, which is further deteriorated. “The graph of the poverty-line personifies upward trend. People are devoid of clean drinking water and basic food items. Despite efforts to promote interfaith harmony through a dialogue, the religious and sectarian intolerance increased manifold. The ban on the construction of minarets in Switzerland is a glaring example that infuriates the Muslim minority,” he added.
From Hiroshima to Gaza
By Hisae Ogawa
The first time I met and had a chance to talk to Palestinian women was back in 1975, the United Nations International Women’s Year. I was then working for the Women’s International Democrat Federation (WIDF), one of the Non-Governmental Agencies accredited by the United Nations.
WIDF’s head office was in East Berlin, the capitol of the German Democratic Republic. It had over 100 member groups all around the world and representatives that were called “secretaries” were sent from more than ten countries from Europe, Africa, Asia and America. At the time the General Secretary of WIDF was from Argentina and the President was from Australia. It was indeed an international place. But at the same time I was so disturbed to see the East Berliners suffered lack of freedom due to the wall dividing the city.
One of my co-workers was a young girl from Iraq. She was working hard trying to cover the whole issues in the Middle East. From her I learned what was happening in the Middle East.
It was through her that I got to know the Palestinian issue and made friends with Palestinian women. One day she brought some women from Palestine to the WIDF office. They were touring Europe to publicize their plight. They said Israel was doing the same things to Palestinian people as the Nazis had done to the Jewish people during the World War II.