Sunday, 15 February 2009

Egyptian workers call strikes

Lorry drivers and now pharmacists are going on a national strike in Egypt.

Video below is from the Mahalla uprising by textile workers at the largest such industrial complex in the region employing 27,000 workers. It began on 6 December 2006 on the lead of the women workers. The workers ended up occupying their factory and after three days won their demands, sparking a wave of similar action that led to virtually all the textile mills in the Nile delta going on strike.

Edinburgh university occupation for Gaza ending Monday morning

Israel scuppering truce moves

Israel, at the last minute, has linked the freeing of one of its soldiers to the opening of the border with Gaza. Israel now risks fracturing its alliance with Mubarak in Egypt.

There are rumours the recent Egyptian clampdown on activists crossing into Gaza through the tunnels is part of a move to take full control before opening the border.

If Olmert and co refuse to open the crossings into Israel it could prove to be irrelevant as there is no reason why all the needs of the Gazan population could not be shipped through the Egyptian border. The downside is that it could make even more permanent the separation of Gazans from their relations in the West Bank.

The political ramifications of the Viva Palestina humanitarian aid convoy arriving in Egypt at the beginning of March will also help to concentrate minds, Mubarak's in particular as he struggles to contain domestic anger at his government's collaboration with the Israeli siege.

The opening of the Rafah crossing could help him defuse some of the rage - although during and since the most recent Israeli massacres started the Muslim Brotherhood, by far Egypt's largest opposition movement, has unfortunately equivocated in calling mass demonstrations for Gaza and against the regime.

From Palestine Information Center
Hamdan: Israel is fully responsible for its retreat from the truce agreement

Osama Hamdan, the representative of the Hamas Movement in Lebanon, on Saturday held Israel fully responsible for any retreat from the understandings of calm, adding that the Egyptian mediator should take a stance towards this Israeli procrastination.

Hamdan told Al-Jazeera TV channel that there was full agreement between Hamas and the Egyptian mediator about the understandings of the truce, but during the search for a final formula for the agreement, there was an Israeli retreat aimed to achieve gains in the last moments.

As for the statements made by Israeli premier Ehud Olmert that Gilad Shalit should be released in order for the truce to take effect, the Hamas representative underlined that the Cairo talks was about the truce, the siege lifting and the timeframe for the calm and it was agreed upon to separate the two files. more

Edinburgh and Manchester occupations hold their ground for Gaza

Students at Manchester and Edinburgh universities have been holding a variety of activities over the weekend, from teach-ins in Edinburgh to an open-day this Sunday at Manchester Uni. Details are on the respective blogs:

Edinburgh occupation blog
Manchester occupation blog

From the Guardian
Students at Glasgow and Manchester [that should actually be Edinburgh and Manchester - Guardian seems to be having difficulty keeping up with the speed of events] are refusing to leave the buildings until their demands are met, after similar occupations at other universities provided tangible results in what is being seen as a new era of highly organised student activism.

Katan Alder, 22, one of 50 Manchester University protesters who have occupied a university building for nine days, said students were abandoning diplomatic tactics in favour of direct action.

"There is a new level of anger among students that we haven't seen before," he said. "There is definitely a new confidence among students who are beginning to realise that if they want to achieve anything simple negotiation won't work, our actions have to escalate."

Students at Goldsmiths, University of London, ended their occupation yesterday after their demand - two scholarships for students from Palestine's al-Quds university - was met. The students campaigned for a year without success, but their demands were met within 24 hours after they occupied Deptford town hall, which houses the university management offices, said James Heywood, 21.

"We were getting ignored and patronised, so when we saw what was happening at other universities we took direct action," he said. more

European MPs see Israel's war crimes

Note: the European delegation has to meet in a tent because Israel has destroyed all government buildings. The Palestine Information Centre is the government-run (Hamas) news service in Gaza

From the Palestine Information Centre
European MPs: Israel committed war crimes against humanity in Gaza
[ 14/02/2009 - 08:20 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- A delegation from the European parliament met Friday with Palestinian lawmakers in a tent prepared to receive guests after the destruction of the PLC headquarters during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, where the visiting delegation affirmed that Israel deliberately committed war crimes against humanity in the Strip.

Karikus Veldelevs, the head of the delegation, stated that their visit is intended for meeting the political leadership in Gaza in addition to witnessing the war crimes intentionally committed by the Israeli war machine.

Veldelevs strongly condemned, on behalf of the delegation, Israel for bombing civil institutions and killing civilians, adding that what the delegation had seen proved that Israel intentionally bombed civilian buildings.

He said that they would report about the witnessed scenes and the testimonies heard from victims to the European parliament, promising that the European parliament would include at the top of its agenda during this week a decision binding Israel to open the Gaza crossings and allow in humanitarian aid.

The delegation head noted that they would also form pressure groups to make the European governments put an end to the aggravating humanitarian situation in Gaza.

In another context, the Palestinian forum in Britain announced that it will hold a festival next Sunday at one pm in central London in celebration of the Gaza victory with the participation of writers, intellectuals and Islamic preachers.