Jul 12, 2009

Viva Palestina Convoy at Suez Crossing

From Alexandria I write, getting ready to go into a meeting regarding the pickup of the vehicles and the departure. We have been receiving contradictory information regarding what happened to the Cairo contingent of the convoy last night as they tried to cross the Suez Canal into the Sinai and head for the rendezvous point at Al Arish. Because I hear contradictory statements, I send on the official press release.

We are all hoping that this will be the last night in Alexandria, but what appears to be more important now is that we are running out of time. The return flight to the US leaves Cairo on the 17th, so we have five days to rendezvous at Al Arish, deliver the supplies across the border, and high tail it back to Cairo airport for the afternoon of the 17th.

Robert Burns' words keep repeating in my head: "the best laid plans of mice and men oft gang awry" (loose translation from the Scots); but in this case, it appears that some of the going awry is due to diplomatic machinations. The careful listing of passports that has been done all along now apparently is not good enough. That is my speculation. As I wrote in the last one--inshallah has resonance that I never clearly understood before. I hope I will be able to update this one more time, but it may well be that I will not get a chance as we drive and rendezvous.

Check the VP website below regularly for updates.

At least today is slightly overcast and less hot than yesterday, though all night long the power was out and I ended up sleeping on two chairs on the cool rear balcony of the rented apartment. Sorry for no pictures. Unfortunately my camera is incompatible with this internet computer, and the jpg. files are not transferring well from the flash drive.

So here's the latest update from the Viva Palestina group--link to the website is below the press release.

From: Kevin Ovenden Viva Palestina

The 100 Viva Palestina humanitarian volunteers have
decided to stay the night in their buses at the Mubarak Peace Bridge over the Suez Canal despite pressure from the Egyptian security officials to return to Cairo.

The official reason given at the checkpoint for
refusing to allow them to cross is that the officials there did not have a list of the names of the members of the convoy. Such a list was, however, at the request of the Egyptian authorities before any of the convoy members set foot in Egypt sent to the Egyptian ambassadors to Washington, D.C., and London.

The US Embassy in Cairo has now stepped in to forward
a newly provided list of those convoy members aboard the buses at the bridge to the Egyptian foreign ministry to clear the way for the convoy's passage.

Nancy Mansour Leigh, a spokeswoman for the Viva
Palestina delegation at the Suez crossing, says, "It's going to be an uncomfortable night, but it's nothing compared with what the people of Gaza must live through every day. We've already succeeded in securing internet access and are negotiating other necessary facilities. But whatever facilities are provided
or not, our determination will see us through the night and all the way to Gaza."

New York City Councilman Charles Barron is on the
scene at the Suez Canal and acting as chief negotiator with Egyptian security officials. "The Viva Palestina movement has had a great success this morning with our stand at the Suez crossing. We've now got an agreement for us to stay until the list of our convoy members reaches the foreign ministry. It shows what can be achieved with the determination and commitment of a collective body of people. We are determined to cross onto Gaza, and no matter what happens next, out of this first small confrontation, we've achieved a success for the movement
in support of the Palestinian people. The convoy is going to move on, and we ain't gonna let nobody turn us around."

British Member of Parliament George Galloway offered
these words of encouragement for the delegation being held up at the crossing:"This is an American convoy. And Americans are used to refusing to give up seats on buses in the struggle for justice. I regard everyone who's putting themselves on the line tonight at the Suez Canal for the success of this humanitarian mission as nothing short of a hero."

For more updates, visit

No comments: