Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Boat launch by monitoring group aims to highlight plight of Gaza's fishermen

On Wednesday April 20th, the "Oliva", a human rights monitoring boat with an international crew, will launch from the port of Gaza City. This initiative has the support of dozens of international organizations and numerous local Palestinian organizations. The crew of the Civil Peace Service, which currently consists of citizens from Spain, the United States, Italy and Belgium, will accompany Gazan fishermen within Palestinian waters. Violations of international law will be monitored and documented. Data and video materials will be collected and disseminated.

Vittorio Arrigoni, the murdered human rights activist, strongly supported this project and therefore a commemoration of his life and work will be held at the end of the press conference.

The launch of Oliva, an 8-meter long white motor boat, will inaugurate the Civil Peace Services mission in Palestinian waters. Since Operation Cast Lead, access to fishing grounds has been unilaterally restricted by Israel to 3 nautical miles. This dramatic reduction of the 20-mile limit which was agreed upon in the Oslo Accords has resulted in the overexploitation of fishing grounds in which stocks are close to exhaustion. Fishermen are threatened by gunfire, confiscation of their boats and fishing tools and arrest by the Israeli Navy which regularly launches attacks and incursions in Palestinian waters.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, nearly 90% of Gaza's 4000 fishermen are now considered either poor (with a monthly income of between 100 and 190 US dollars) or very poor (earning less than 100 dollars a month), up from 50% in 2008. more

Palestinian prisoners' day appeal from campaign to free PFLP's Ahmad Saadat

On Palestinian Prisoners' Day, April 17, 2011, the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat salutes all of the over 5,700 Palestinian prisoners inside the Israeli occupation's jails, and calls upon all those concerned for justice and freedom to join and build the largest possible international movement to secure the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners, and of the entire Palestinian people.

Palestinian prisoners have always stood as the backbone of the Palestinian national movement. Their continued steadfastness in the face of torture, isolation, denial of medical care and family visits, and their continual willingness to confront the occupation, engaging in hunger strikes and protests and demanding their rights, is an inspiration to all.

In moments of Palestinian national division or despair, the voice of prisoners has remained a clarion call and a beacon: an example of national unity, forged in struggle, and full commitment not only to the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners, but also to the liberation of Palestine, to the resistance, to self-determination, to freedom, to the return of Palestinian refugees. The valiant struggle of Palestine's political prisoners is central to the Palestinian movement for national liberation; it is the struggle of the Palestinian people.

We also note today the Palestinian and Arab political prisoners held in jails around the world, many for their own support of the Palestinian struggle and the Palestinian cause, and call for the freedom of all of those prisoners, and of all political prisoners in the jails of their oppressors around the world. We demand that governments end their investigations of and repression against activists supporting Palestine - from the U.S., where 23 activists face grand jury subpoenas and FBI raids for their public activity in support of Palestine, to France, where boycott, divestment and sanctions activists have been threatened with charges for boycotting Israeli goods, to Argentina, where an activist was arrested for organizing a Nakba commemoration - to everywhere around the world. Instead of attempting to suppress and silence voices of justice and solidarity, these governments must act to end their complicity and support for Israeli war crimes and occupation against the Palestinian people.

On Palestinian Prisoners' Day, we urge the new Egypt to mark this day by releasing all remaining Palestinian prisoners in Egyptian jails. We greet the Arab popular movements with solidarity and call for the freedom of all Arab political prisoners in Arab jails.

Furthermore, we also spotlight today the village of Awarta, which has been subject to closure, home invasions, mass kidnappings, detentions, forced DNA testing of hundreds of women, lengthy imprisonment of children, and interrogation of thousands of Palestinians. Awarta is under siege, and we stand today with the people of Awarta subject to massive and arbitrary detention and call for international attention and solidarity with the people of Awarta.

We also stand with the people of Gaza struggling to break their own siege, and note that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails from Gaza have been denied family visits for years. We demand an end to the siege of Gaza and the siege of its prisoners!

For over two years, Ahmad Sa'adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has been held in isolation in the occupation prisons. He has been regularly regularly denied family visits, denied access to books or reading mateial, and denied basic exercise and medical care.

Sa'adat was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation army on March 14, 2006 from where he and his comrades, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Majdi Rimawi, Basil al-Asmar, and Hamdi Qur'an, were imprisoned in the Palestinian Authority's Jericho Prison under U.S. and British guards. The U.S. and British guards removed themselves immediately prior to the Israeli attack, making clear that the U.S. and the U.K. were directly complicit in the attack on Jericho.

Sa'adat, the leader of a major Palestinian political party and an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, had been held in Israeli pri sons for nearly six years at various times, held repeatedly in "administrative detention," where Palestinians are held without charge or trial under secret evidence. He was held in PA prisons for four years before his kidnapping and has now been held in the occupation's prisons for five years.

Ahmad Sa'adat is not only a national leader of the Palestinian people, he is a recognized leader and symbol of the Palestinian prisoners' movement - a symbol of steadfastness and commitment to Palestine and its people in the face of all forms of abuse and violation. And it is because Sa'adat represents that voice - the voice of the prisoners - that he has been placed in isolation, in an attempt to silence not only Sa'adat himself, but the Palestinian prisoners' movement, and through that, the conscience of the Palestinian revolution.

However, neither Ahmad Sa'adat, nor the Palestinian prisoners, nor the Palestinian people, have been compelled into silence or submission by isolation and torture. Rather, their voice is heard, more clearly than ever, calling for justice, freedom, and liberation. Today, and every day, we stand beside Ahmad Sa'adat and the prisoners of freedom, and encourage all around the world to join us in building the call to free Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners!

On Palestinian Prisoners' Day, please write us at info@freeahmadsaadat.org to inform us about actions or events in support of Palestinian political prisoners. We encourage you to hold educational events, demonstrations and activities in support of Palestinian prisoners and distribute information about Ahmad Sa'adat, Palestinian prisoners, and the Palestinian cause.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat

Egyptian foreign minister to make Gaza solidarity visit, says QudsNet

This is great news if it turns out to be true. Egypt has stopped building the steel wall but is yet to fully open the border with besieged Gaza.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil El-Arabi intends to visit Gaza soon, according to the independent Palestinian news website Quds Net (English).

The website reported that "reliable sources" in Egypt said El-Arabi asked his deputies to begin preparations and set a schedule for an upcoming visit to Gaza.

The sources confirmed that El-Arabi took this step to express the Egyptian people’s solidarity with Gaza which is and has been under Israeli blockade for over four consecutive years.

The delegation accompanying El-Arabi will include prominent figures from the Egyptian government, the sources explained. more