January 7, 2010
The 1,362 people from the Gaza Freedom March are just returning home, full of stories about a wild week in Cairo, in the Egyptian border towns of Al Arish and Rafah, in Gaza for those who got inside, and in the West Bank and Erez crossing for those who went to Israel. And people like you, all around the world, people, held solidarity actions that focused world attention on the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza.
It was a rough week for many--battling Egyptian police on the streets, getting rebuffed by our own embassies, joining the hunger strike, debating the Egyptian offer of allowing only 100 people into Gaza. Through it all, however, we can be proud of our many accomplishments:
By focusing worldwide attention on the siege, we lifted the spirits of the isolated people of Gaza. "For us, a population of 1.6 million being imprisoned and starved, the gratitude we express to you, the Gaza freedom marchers, is immense. Thank you all from the depth of our hearts!" - Mohammed Omer, Gaza
We put the spotlight on the negative role Egypt is playing in maintaining the siege and we put pressure on the highest levels of the Egyptian government. "Your presence in Egypt was like an earthquake," said Suzanne, an Egyptian student. "You did more good politically by protesting in Egypt than you could have ever done in Gaza." Check out the hundreds of press hits on the march from dailies around the world!
We forced the Egyptian government to make a concession by letting 100 delegates into Gaza. That delegation took in tens of thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid, allowed Palestinians to see long-lost family members, recorded stories they will disseminate broadly, and put up a stunning mosaic memorial, created by muralist Kathleen Crocetti, in a central location in Gaza City in the name of the international community.
View the photos of the Women's Contingent in action and the whole Gaza Freedom March and solidarity actions from photographers around the world!
We signed on to a lawsuit against the Egyptian government for building a wall to block off the tunnels that have become the commercial lifeline for the people in Gaza.
We reinvigorated our own determination to keep struggling to lift the siege! A new international network formed that can coordinate future work and, initiated by the South African delegation, the Gaza Freedom March committee and various members drafted the Cairo Declaration that outlines a program for moving forward. View and sign on to the Declaration here.
Ann, Dana, Desiree, Emily, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Janet, Jodie, Kit, Kitty, Liz, Marina, Medea, Nancy, Paris, Rae, Suzanne, Tighe and Whitney