Wednesday, 20 May 2009

At least four injured in Israeli air strikes

Israeli aircraft have bombed several targets in the Gaza Strip several hours after a rocket was fired at an Israeli town.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Gaza city, said at least four people, including two civilians, were injured in the Israeli raids. more

March to and 'kettle' New Scotland Yard 23 May - end police violence

Saturday 23 May - assemble 3pm Trafalgar Square
March via Downing Street to New Scotland Yard.

The United Campaign Against Police Violence has called a national demonstration to highlight the issues of police violence and demand justice for those who have died in police custody.

The police tactic of "kettling" demonstrators - essentially detaining protestors and bystanders without charge - will be turned on its head on the protest, when we kettle New Scotland Yard.

At the end of the protest there will be a naming of the dead for those who have died in police custody, led by the families of the bereaved who have yet to receive justice. Over 1000 people have died in police custody in the last 40 years - yet no one has been found responsible.

Protestors will demand the disbanding of the Territorial Support Group, the resignation of "Independent" Police Complaints Commission chair Nick Hardwick, justice for those killed in police custody and for the right to protest.

John McDonnell MP, chair of Labour Representation Committee, said:
"Increasingly, evidence demonstrates policing of major demonstrations has got out of control and specialist police units have been acting with virtual impunity.

"This campaign is about achieving democratic control over policing and securing protection from state violence and harassment for members of our communities."

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services union, said:
"The right to protest is a fundamental right which in these times is more important than ever. That's why everyone should support this campaign to ensure people can protest without the threat of brutality."

The Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign, said:
"We believe in standing up for our moral and human rights and for speaking for our loved ones who can no longer speak for themselves - Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Roger Sylvester, Azelle Rodney, Mikey Powell, Ricky Bishop to name a few... They are among thousands who have received no justice for their death and their blood is crying out from beneath the grave - these lost lives must not be forgotten, their cases need to be re-opened and re-examined, like that of David Oluwale, so that true justice can prevail.

"For Sean Rigg, Paps Ullah, Ian Tomlinson and many others we expect independent investigations that are robust, fully competent and unbiased towards the police in their search for the unequivocal truth - the IPCC are not fit for that purpose . Overall we demand full accountability of police officers who kill due to violence or negligence - why should they have impunity from prosecution? No Justice, No Peace!"

Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the Greater London Assembly and Metropolitan Police Authority, said:
"This is a demo with a difference - we are going to show the Met that we are tired of the illegal imprisonment that they call 'containment' and that we want them to change their attitude to protesters and become law abiding themselves.

"Change is hard, but the Met is losing public confidence and it's time they understood that their job is to reduce violence, not add to it."

Chris Nineham, Stop the War Coalition, said:
"What happened at the G20 was part of a trend. In recent months the police have attacked many of our protests. They have raided the homes of people who came on our demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza. They are trying to prosecute others who protested against George Bush's visit in 2008. This is a very important demonstration because the attempt to criminalise protest and intimidate protestors must be stopped."

Remembrance vigil for people who have died in police custody 6.30pm New Scotland Yard

New Scotland Yard - Wednesday 20 May, 6.30pm

In preparation for demonstration on Saturday, the families of some of those who have died in police custody will join campaigners to lay flowers and candles at New Scotland Yard in remembrance.

This is before the demonstration on Saturday from Trafalgar Square to New Scotland Yard, where campaigners for justice and the right to protest will "kettle" New Scotland Yard.

07894 49 7705

UK medics on hunger strike at Gaza border

Solidarity Tent at Egyptian Embassy: UK medics on hunger strike at Gaza border

From Islington Friends of Yibna:

Dear All,


Please join the Solidarity Tent with the UK medics who started today a hunger strike at the Gaza border.


We hope enough people would be able to keep the Solidarity Tent going for as long as the UK medics continue with their hunger strike.  


Please join the Solidarity Tent at any time you can from noon tomorrow, Wednesday 20 May. We hope to keep the Solidarity Tent going at all hours, so please come at any time you can.


We'll be protesting against the collusion of the Egyptian authorities with the barbaric siege imposed by Israel and against the UK Foreign Office obstruction of even humanitarian aid.


Place:  Egyptian Embassy, 26 South Street, London W1K 1DW [nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner]

Time: Wednesday 20 May from noon onward


At the Solidarity Tent we'll hold a symbolic hunger strike to express solidarity with besieged Gaza and the medics who refuse to give up on their humanitarian mission to Gaza.


Details of the UK medics' hunger strike see:

The full Guardian article is included below.


Also below is a letter from Dr David Shove, who was with the PIMA group of doctors, and has just returned from the Gaza border.


Look forward to seeing you and please let us know of any help you may be able to offer.


Yael Kahn
Chair of Islington Friends of Yibna [IFY]
07880 731 865


UK medics go on hunger strike after being refused entry into Gaza

• Hammersmith team stuck in Egypt at Rafa crossing since 4 May
• Group on humanitarian mission to set up cardiac hospital unit

Three British medics began a hunger strike in Egypt today to protest against being refused entry into Gaza for a humanitarian mission.
Their aim is to establish a cardiac surgery unit at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, which currently has no such facility, and to help train medical students and junior doctors there. But the British medics have been denied access to the Palestinian territory at the Rafah crossing since the beginning of May.
Omar Mangoush, a cardiac surgeon at Hammersmith hospital, in London, told he had been to the crossing with his colleagues every day since arriving in Egypt on 4 May, only to be told they did not have permission to enter.
"We are on hunger strike until they let us through," he said. "We'll stay [at the crossing] until they let us in. We want to put pressure on the British embassy. We believe if the British embassy wanted us to do this they could exert pressure [on the Egyptian authorities]."
Mangoush said he had been told by the British embassy that it had received a letter from the Egyptian foreign ministry saying the medics' request for access to Gaza had been "postponed".
But he claimed American aid workers had gained entry to Gaza at their first attempt with the support of the US embassy.
Mangoush named the other British medics on hunger strike as Christopher Burns-Cox, a retired consultant, and Kirsty Wong, a nurse at Hammersmith hospital. Another six people are on hunger strike, including three Belgians, he said.
The cardiac surgeon took a month's holiday from work to take part in the mission for the Manchester-based charity Palestine International Medical Aid (PIMA)
"This is very important for us," he said. "There are loads of people with heart disease [in Gaza]. They can't get here [to Egypt], they can't get to Israel. If it's this hard for us to get to, how difficult is it for the Palestinians to get out?"
PIMA's director, Dr Ahmed Almari, said: "It's unbelievable. They're a group of doctors, they went for education and teaching, to set up a cardiac unit. It's unfair and sad that it is only as a result of a hunger strike that anybody pays attention. There's no reason to stop them from crossing."
Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing largely closed since Hamas won the Gaza elections three years ago. One of the main demands of Hamas has been that all crossings into Gaza should be allowed to reopen permanently. A number of aid groups have said the closure of the crossings is contributing to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Palestinian medical sources reported today that a one-year-old infant died yesterday at a local hospital in Rafah owing to several complications, including pneumonia, as his transfer to a hospital outside of the Gaza Strip was not possible due to the ongoing Israeli siege.




---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: David Shove <>

Date: 2009/5/19

Subject: British Doctors on Hunger Strike at Gaza Border



I have just returned from my second unsuccessful attempt to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing as part of a PIMA group of doctors. PIMA (Palestine International Medical Aid) is a non profit organisation set up in response to the growing medical needs of Palestinians within the Palestinian Territories as well as within refugee camps outside Palestine.


The mission of a cardiac surgeon and theatre sister from the Hammersmith hospital was to help in the setting up of a much needed cardiac surgical unit in Gaza.

The mission of a senior consultant physician from Bristol was to offer his considerable knowledge and experience in the teaching of junior doctors.

My own particular Mission was to deliver much needed textbooks to Medical Students at the Rafah European Hospital in Southern Gaza. It was also my hope to visit the Yibna Refugee Camp which is supported by Islington Friends of Yibna, of which I am a member

Previous PIMA convoys had found the trips exceptionally moving and inspirational as they were able to bring not only medical aid and expertise, but also hope to the beleagued and persecuted Palestininians and the knowledge that they are not forgotten.

From the beginning of May we travelled every day from Al Arish where we were staying to The Rafah border on the Egyptian side. Although we were in daily contact with the British Embassy in Cairo and were assured that it had passed on our names to the appropriate Egyptian Authorities, the Egyptian Security at the border claimed not to have received the faxes from the Embassy and each day we were denied entry to Gaza.

After a week, it was necessary for me to return to London, but with the assurance that the border would be open on the 16th and 17th May allowing our team to cross into Gaza. It now transpires that once again the PIMA group was denied entry on these days. The group believes that this decision was in the hands of the Egyptian Authorities, but they also have no doubt that the British Embassy in Cairo did not help them. This is in contrast to the Irish and US groups who put huge pressure on their Embassies, and who were allowed to enter Gaza.

The implication is that the Foreign Office and the British Embassy in Cairo could have done more to expedite entry.

As a consequence, our five British citizens, as well as three Belgians and one Greek citizen are to go on hunger strike, starting today. These comprise three doctors, four aid workers and one nurse.

The assessment by previous PIMA convoys of the medical crisis in Gaza is that there is a lack of essential medical equipment and supplies. In addition, medical staff in Gaza lack sufficient knowledge and training to deal with day to day problems, exacerbated by the recent devastating bombardment.

It is a scandal that highly skilled medical staff from this country, who have offered their services freely to help alleviate the suffering in Gaza should be denied entry, and this, it would appear, due possibly in part to the unwillingness of the Foreign Office to offer as much help as they could have.    

Dr David Shove