Thursday, 5 March 2009

Manchester Uni occupation threatened with eviction

The occupying students at Manchester Uni received an ultimatum to
leave the occupation by 5.00pm today. They have defied it and remain
in occupation despite threats of disciplinary action by the vice
chancellor and the filming of all involved for ID purposes. Security
guards have refused to be involved in any filming of students.

Send messages of support to the students and protest to the VC Alan

Visit the blog for the latest developments:

Qatar Airways PR agency getting back to us on Sky News Gaza mess - watch this space

Well, just to keep everyone up-to-date on the Qatar Airways story, its public relations firm in the UK has promised to get back to us in a day or two regarding the sponsorship deal on Sky News's weather segment. Louise Farrell of KTA PR was unable to answer any of the questions put to her and said she would have to get in touch with Doha first.

Suffice to say we haven't heard from the media buyers for Qatar Airways, Starcom, but as soon as we get word from the chief exec we will give them a ring to see if they are worried about losing the account given the embarrassment they will have caused both the client and its customers in the Middle East and beyond, following the naming of the airlines latest addition to its fleet 'Gaza' as a gesture of humanitarian solidarity .

If you demolish people's homes expect them to fight back

Driver Shot Dead After Rampage in Jerusalem
Fighting state terrorism and ethnic cleansing is not a crime.

Egypt and Israel's unholy alliance to stop aid

The 12 doctors we reported on yesterday trying to get into Gaza are still stranded at the Rafah crossing.

And the Glasgow medical aid efforts hoping to bring medical suppplies into Gaza are being obstructed by the Israelis. Israel has now demanded that the truck is unpacked and the medical aid flown to Tel Aviv for inspection before being allowed into Gaza.
Edinburgh Aid which was to transport the aid by truck into Hamas-controlled Gaza has now been told it must be unpacked and taken by air to Tel Aviv, said organiser Glasgow MSP Pauline McNeill.

The truck has idled in Edinburgh for more than two weeks as the organisers faced frustrating obstructions from the Israeli authorities. Organisers have constantly liaised with the Palestinian Embassy in London to find a way to get the aid into Gaza somehow.

Ms McNeill said: "The past weeks have been very frustrating. All we want to do is get these medical supplies to people who are seriously ill and who will die without medical help. more

Egypt still holds hundreds over Gaza protests

[UPDATE - 07:30 GMT 5 March - Despite claims to the contrary in the UK media, we're working well with opposition groups & civic society on crossing through Egypt -]

This is the reason why opposition forces are worried and distressed that the Viva Palestina convoy leaders are possibly allowing themselves to be used by the two-faced and criminal Egyptian regime. We reported on the case of Diaa on 16 February. Unfortunately he is no longer in a position to post 'tittle tattle' on the blogosphere, as Rob Hoveman at George's office commented yesterday when he rightly attacked the Guardian article's cynicism.

From Human Rights Watch

(New York) - Egyptian authorities should immediately charge or free Diaa Eddin Gad, a blogger held since February 6, 2009, Human Rights Watch said today. Gad is among a number of bloggers and activists arrested in relation to protest in Egypt since the beginning of the Gaza offensive in late December 2008.

"Apparently it's not enough for the Egyptian government to imprison its own critics," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "It is now intent on silencing Egyptians who criticize Israel as well."

Caged in Gaza

Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement calls on the State of Israel to fully open Gaza's crossings and to allow the real victims of the closure - 1.5 million human beings - the freedom of movement necessary to realize their dreams and aspirations.

'Yoni Goodman, who was director of animation for the Golden Globe-winning movie, said he was motivated to take part in the project by the recent war in Gaza. His 90-second animation, Closed Zone, follows a young boy chasing a bird through the Gaza Strip who finds his way out blocked at every turn.' The Guardian

Abbas cuts off aid to Hamas prisoners

Is this Abbas's way of achieving reconciliation and building national unity?

GAZA, March 4 (Xinhua) -- The Islamic Hamas movement on Wednesday slammed President Mahmoud Abbas for excluding from fiscal aid prisoners affiliated to Palestinian groups out of the umbrella of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

Abbas has decided to install an urgent payment for prisoners held by Israel, excluding the detainees whose factions are not represented under the PLO, an umbrella organization established in 1964 encompassing eight different groups.

"Abbas' decision puts obstacles on the way of the Palestinian dialogue," said Taher al-Nounou, spokesman for Hamas' administration of Gaza, referring to reconciliation talks between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement.

Israel visits more death on Gaza

From Press TV
A senior Palestinian commander has been killed in an Israeli air strike carried out in cooperation with Shin Bet in northern Gaza.

Khaled Kharb Khalad Shaalan, a senior commander in the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, was killed and his second-in-command Hamzia al-Najah was in a critical condition, AFP reported on Wednesday.

Manchester University students rally for Gaza

Students from across the country attended a protest today to support Gaza and the Manchester student occupation. At 2pm students 200 held a rally outside the Students Union, before marching via the Vice Chancellors building around the campus.

Students there have been occupying a lecture theatre in the University’s Simon Building in support of Gazans. The students have issued a list of demands to the University to take a progressive stance on Gaza crisis. The demands include ending all investment and research in the manufacturing of weapons, providing scholarships for Palestinian students and Israelis who refuse to serve in the IDF, and sending surplus academic supplies from refurbished buildings to students in Gaza.

The students in the Manchester occupation have constantly tried to negotiate with University Management, but the Management has refused to sincerely engage with the students. more

Guantánamo: The Definitive Prisoner List

Andy Worthington, London-based journalist and author of "The Guantánamo Files"
(Pluto Press), has released the first definitive list of the 779 prisoners held
in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The list, which is the result of three years’ research and writing about
Guantánamo, provides details of the 533 prisoners who have been released, and
includes, for the first time ever, accurate dates for their release. It also
provides details of the 241 prisoners who are still held, including the 59
prisoners who have been cleared for release. Although some stories are still
unknown, the stories of nearly 700 prisoners are referenced either by links to
Andy’s extensive archive of articles about Guantánamo, or to the chapters in
"The Guantánamo Files" where they can be found.

Links to the list:

Part 1 (ISNs 002 to 200):

Part 2 (ISNs 201 to 496):

Part 3 (ISNs 497 to 732):

Part 4 (ISNs 743 to 10030):

Andy Worthington says:

“It is my hope that this project will provide an invaluable research tool for
those seeking to understand how it came to pass that the government of the
United States turned its back on domestic and international law, establishing
torture as official US policy, and holding men without charge or trial neither
as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal
suspects to be put forward for trial in a federal court, but as ‘illegal
enemy combatants.’

“I also hope that it provides a compelling explanation of how that same
government, under the leadership of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald
Rumsfeld, established a prison in which the overwhelming majority of those held
-- at least 93 percent of the 779 men and boys imprisoned in total -- were
either completely innocent people, seized as a result of dubious intelligence
or sold for bounty payments, or Taliban foot soldiers, recruited to fight an
inter-Muslim civil war that began long before the terrorist attacks of
September 11, 2001, and that had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden
or international terrorism.”

About the author

Andy Worthington studied English Language and Literature at New College,
Oxford. He writes regularly for the Guardian, the British human rights group
Cageprisoners and the Future of Freedom Foundation. He has also written for the
New York Times, Amnesty International, Index on Censorship, and FAIR (Fairness
and Accuracy in Reporting), and his articles are published regularly on the
Huffington Post, the Raw Story, AlterNet, CounterPunch and other
websites. In 2008, he wrote the entry “Guantánamo Scandal” for the
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia.

"The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal
Prison" is published by Pluto Press, and distributed in the US by Macmillan.

Andy is also the author of two books on modern British social history.

Tel: +44 (0)20 8691 9316

Andy is the author of "The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees
in America's Illegal Prison" (published by Pluto Press/University of Michigan

To receive automatic feeds of Andy's articles on publication, visit:

Thanks to Media Workers Against the War

Viva Palestina responds to Guardian but not to Egyptian opposition

George Galloway's office in London has responded to the Guardian's article but not to the substance of Hossam el-Hamalawy's original posting at 3arabawy. This is how Rob Hoveman, an ex-comrade of mine, puts it:
We are currently negotiating entry into Egypt and passage through to Gaza. The Egyptian authorities are doing everything they can to assist the process and we are in their hands, as we have been with all the other governments whose countries we have crossed in order to take these vital supplies into Gaza.
We wish the convoy well and continue to support the endeavours of all those involved and applaud their commitment, but at the same time continue to worry that any meetings with Mubarak's NDP can only be used by the regime. And is it the case that the opposition is turning its back on the convoy? Also, will George be meeting with the hated steel boss Ahmed Ezz?

To repeat what we have said many times about this journey across the Maghreb: the convoy is engaged in a balancing act - nevertheless it is important to get the balance right and not to be seen to become a tool of the undemocratic Arab regimes of the region. Sure, this may well be easier said than done but it is not good enough to hold to a 'see no politics, hear no politics' position when the actions of the convoy leaders end up providing political cover for the likes of Mubarak.

Per Bjorklund, a Swedish journalist in Egypt writing on his blog, puts it like this:
Note that I'm not condeming the participants in the convoy or suggesting that their initiative is not a "noble undertaking," as the Libyan state-controlled media put it. I'm just saying that activists in Europe should work harder to find ways to support Palestine without alienating the oppresed opposition in Arab countries, as the struggle for a just solution in Palestine must be linked to the struggle for democratic reform and justice in the Middle East.
The sooner the convoy gets to Gaza - thereby removing the imperative of having to 'negotiate' with the Egyptian state that refuses to open the border and oppresses the Palestinian solidarity movement - the better.

And Rob, I agree with you - the Guardian's article was indeed an exercise in cynical journalism as we pointed out earlier today on this blog. Why indeed has it not run a story on the great achievements of the convoy to date?