Protestors gathered outside the London office of G4S on Friday to highlight the private security firm’s role in incarcerating Palestinian prisoners on behalf of Israel.
Organizers demanded the release of several prisoners, including Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar and more than a hundred child detainees.
They also highlighted the ill treatment of prisoners, including alleged incidents of torture.
The protest in London takes place as part of an international day of action to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day, an annual expression of solidarity with Palestinians detained by Israel.
Palestinian Prisoners Day began as a mass action in support of hunger striking political prisoners on April 17, 2012.
It has grown into an annual event marked by human rights organizations and pro-Palestine groups across the world.
More than 100 people confirmed they would attend the protest on its Facebook page.
Organized by Innovative Minds (Inminds), a group which describes itself as online Islamic activists, the demonstration targeted G4S for its operation of two prisons and two detention centers in Israel and one prison in the West Bank.
Some 6,000 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisoners, according to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.
Addameer’s monthly detention report for February 2015 indicates 163 of these prisoners are children, 13 of whom are under 16.
The vast majority of those incarcerated are male, with only 22 female prisoners.
Lina Jarbouni, a female detainee from Galilee, is the longest serving female prisoner having been in jail for 13 consecutive years.
“Systematic torture and ill treatment” of Palestinian prisoners is well documented, according to human rights group War on Want.
Activists say G4S is complicit in this ill treatment by providing security systems for the Israel-based Ketziot and Megiddo prisons, which hold political prisoners arrested within Palestine.
War on Want claims G4S has acted in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of prisoners from an occupied territory to the territory of the occupier.
G4S has become the target of an international boycott, with the South African government resolving to end work contracts with the security firm in November last year.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one of several notable activists, including Noam Chomsky, to sign a petition calling for G4S to end its participation in Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Protestors outside the London office of G4S highlighted the plight of Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel as well as those detained by the security firm.
They demanded the release of Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar, who was arrested by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) earlier this month.
The prominent feminist and human rights activist was sentenced to six months in prison without trial for violating a military injunction, which confines her to the city of Jericho and its surrounding.
Army sources told the Times of Israel the restraining order was based on her “incitement and involvement in terror.”
A spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said Jarrar was heavily involved in the Palestinian Authority’s bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Activists also demanded justice for Jaafar Awad, 22, a Palestinian man who died from health complications resulting from “medical negligence” during his detention in an Israeli prison, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society.
Another key theme of the protest was the detention of children.
Defense for Children International (DCI) launched an urgent appeal in 2012 after documenting 53 cases in which children were held in solitary confinement at the Al Jalame and Petah Tikva interrogation centers, and Hasharon prison.
Children reported being held in solitary confinement in a “foul smelling” cell measuring approximately 2 meters by 3 for an average of 10 days.
DCI reports no education is provided to them and they are denied access to their parents or lawyers while held in the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) controlled detention centers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (RIA Novosti – Aleksey Nikolskyi)
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed the oil-for-goods deal between Moscow and Tehran is “absolutely” a reality and has begun.
Russia has started supplying grain, equipment and construction materials to Iran in exchange for crude oil under the barter deal announced by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Absolutely! Of course,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked by reporters on Tuesday if the statement the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made on Monday was accurate, and the exchange had indeed started. “Focus on the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Peskov said.
On Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made the details of the trading partnership public.
Moscow and Tehran have been hashing out the deal’s small print since early 2014. A big step was taken in August when Russia’s Energy Minister Aleksey Miller and his Indian counterpart Bijan Namdar Zanganeh signed a five-year memorandum
According to Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Russia hasn’t yet received any Iranian oil.
Much of Iran’s oil reserves – the world’s fourth largest – remain untapped. Western sanctions put the brakes on discovery and exploration in the oil and gas industries.
Moscow may buy up to 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day, which would help Iran bring the 20-30 million barrels of crude oil they have in storage to market.
Iran, the third largest Russian grain customer, will ship wheat into the country. Russian state-run power utility Inter RAO and Inter RAO Export, as well as Technopromexport would supply equipment and help construct power stations in Iran, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said previously.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia is lifting the ban on the delivery of S-300 missile rocket systems to Iran. The Kremlin canceled a 2010 self-imposed ban, suggested by the US and allies, not to sell Iran the artillery.
In April, Iran reached a nuclear agreement with the P5+1 countries to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear arms as long as the West lifted sanctions, which have been in place for nearly 40 years. By June 2015, a final agreement is expected to be reached, which will lift sanctions, including the oil embargo against Iran. After sanctions are loosened, Iran’s oil minister thinks the country can increase shipments by one million barrels a day.
Anti-nuclear demonstrators at Faslane naval base, April 13 2015. (Photo by Veronika Tudhope)
Some 36 anti-nuclear activists have been arrested at Faslane naval base in Scotland, according to organizers, as hundreds of protesters blockaded the home of Britain’s nuclear weapons system.
Workers at the naval facility were sent home after failing to gain access to the site due to the blockade, according to The Common Space journalist Liam O’Hare.
Scrap Trident, a coalition of organizations including the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (SCND) and Trident Ploughshares, have been demonstrating outside the facility since 7 a.m.
Protesters are demanding an end to the UK’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, which is up for renewal by the Westminster parliament in 2016.
Trident has become a contentious issue ahead of the general election in May, with Defense Secretary Michael Fallon pledging last week that a Conservative-led government would replace the Vanguard-class nuclear submarines with four new nuclear missile carriers.
Fallon’s election promise followed a statement by Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon, in which she said Trident was a “red line” issue the SNP would not support.
In the event of a hung Parliament, Labour may seek to form a minority government in an informal coalition with SNP.
Critics, including Fallon of the Conservative Party, argue that Labour would abandon the UK’s nuclear weapons program to secure power.
Shadow Defense Secretary Vernon Coaker rejected the idea, insisting last week Labour was committed to renewing Britain’s nuclear weapons program, which is set to cost taxpayers £100 billion over the course of its deployment.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said in January he supported renewing Trident, adding he is “not in favor of unilateral disarmament.”
Monday’s blockade of Faslane naval base follows anti-Trident demonstrations in Glasgow and London over the weekend.
Scrap Trident organizers claim that 36 anti-nuclear activists were arrested in the blockade.
O’Hare, of The Common Space, reports that police have attempted to move anti-nuclear activists camped outside the naval facility’s south gate, while the majority of demonstrators are protesting outside the north gate.
Arthur West, chair of Scottish CND, said in a statement: “The purpose of the event is to draw attention to the fact that all Britain’s nuclear weapons are based just 25 miles away from our biggest city [Glasgow].”
“We say get rid of nuclear weapons and spend the money on decent things like housing, jobs and education.”
Speaking to RT, West added: “Scottish CND are campaigning in cities and towns across Scotland in the run-up to the general election.”
“Our main message to voters at the election is to only support candidates who have given a clear commitment that they will vote against Trident replacement when the issue comes up in the next parliament.”
Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, was among the demonstrators at Faslane on Monday.
Harvie, a member of the Scottish parliament, said in a statement: “Trident is an obscenity. Through direct action and through the ballot box we can make the case for the UK to play a new role on the world stage.”
He added: “By choosing to disarm Trident we can reskill workers on the Clyde to provide defense of the strategically important northern seas, and diversify our economy for social good.”
Around 120 professors at New York University have joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in calling for the institution to divest from companies linked to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Al-Risalah newspaper has reported. The BDS movement has had some success in other parts of the US, notably in California.
According to Al-Risalah, the academics criticised the NYU policy of not disclosing the identity of the companies it is dealing with. This, they say, makes it harder to know whether they deal with the Israeli occupation or not. Students at NYU are pushing their professors to call for transparency in the university’s investments, and for divestment if and when links to the occupation are discovered.
“I support ‘NYU Out of Occupied Palestine’ because I am opposed to apartheid,” said Professor of English Elaine Freedgood in a press statement. “The international boycott of apartheid in South Africa was a significant factor in its demise.”
Other professors who signed the petition include Iraqi novelist Sinan Antoon, historians Greg Grandin and Zachary Lockman, and Ella Shohat, a well-known cultural studies scholar.
There’s a popular movement in Sicily called No MUOS. MUOS means Mobile User Objective System. It’s a satellite communications system created by the U.S. Navy. The primary contractor and profiteer building the satellite equipment at the U.S. Navy base in the desert in Sicily is Lockheed Martin Space Systems. This is one of four ground stations, each intended to include three swivelling very-high-frequency satellite dishes with a diameter of 18.4 meters and two Ultra High Frequency (UHF) helical antennas.
Protests have been growing in the nearby town of Niscemi since 2012. In October 2012, construction was suspended for a few weeks. In early 2013 the President of the Region of Sicily revoked the authorization for the MUOS construction. The Italian government conducted a dubious study of health impacts and concluded the project was safe. Work recommenced. The town of Niscemi appealed, and in April 2014 the Regional Administrative Tribunal requested a new study. Construction goes on, as does resistance.
I spoke with Fabio D’Alessandro, a juornalist and law school graduate living in Niscemi. “I’m part of the No MUOS movement,” he told me, “a movement that works to prevent the installation of the U.S. satellite system called MUOS. To be specific, I’m part of the No MUOS committee of Niscemi, which is part of the coalition of No MUOS committees, a network of committees spread around Sicily and in the major Italian cities.”
“It is very sad,” said D’Alessandro,”to realize that in the United States people know little about MUOS. MUOS is a system for high-frequency and narrowband satellite communications, composed of five satellites and four stations on earth, one of which is planned for Niscemi. MUOS was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense. The purpose of the program is the creation of a global communications network that allows communication in real time with any soldier in any part of the world. In addition it will be possible to send encrypted messages. One of the principal functions of MUOS, apart from the speed of communications, is the ability to remotely pilot drones. Recent tests have demonstrated how MUOS can be used at the North Pole. In short, MUOS will serve to support any U.S. conflict in the Mediterranean or the Middle East or Asia. It’s all part of the effort to automate war, entrusting the choice of targets to machines.”
“There are many reasons to oppose MUOS,” D’Alessandro told me, “first of all the local community has not been advised of the installation. The MUOS satellite dishes and antennas are built within a non-NATO U.S. military base that has existed in Niscemi since 1991. The base was constructed within a nature preserve, destroying thousands of cork oaks and devestating the landscape by means of bulldozers that leveled a hill. The base is larger than the town of Niscemi itself. The presence of the satellite dishes and antennas puts at serious risk a fragile habitat including flora and fauna that exist only in this place. And no study has been conducted of the dangers of the electromagnetic waves emitted, neither for the animal population nor for the human inhabitants and the civilian flights from the Comiso Airport approximately 20 kilometers away.
“Within the base there are already present 46 satellite dishes, surpassing the limit set by Italian law. Moreover, as determined anti-militarists, we oppose further militarizing this area, which already has the base at Sigonella and other U.S. bases in Sicily. We don’t want to be complicit in the next wars. And we don’t want to become a target for whoever attempts to attack the U.S. military.”
What have you done thus far, I asked.
“We’ve engaged in lots of different actions against the base: more than once we’ve cut through the fences; three times we’ve invaded the base en masse; twice we’ve entered the base with thousands demonstrating. We’ve blocked the roads to prevent access for the workers and the American military personnel. There has been sabotage of the optical communication wires, and many other actions.”
The No Dal Molin movement against the new base at Vicenza, Italy, has not stopped that base. Have you learned anything from their efforts? Are you in touch with them?
“We are in constant contact with No Dal Molin, and we know their history well. The company that is building MUOS, Gemmo SPA, is the same that did the work on Dal Molin and is currently under investigation subsequent to the seizure of the MUOS building site by the courts in Caltagirone. Anyone attempting to bring into doubt the legitimacy of U.S. military bases in Italy is obliged to work with political groups on the right and left that have always been pro-NATO. And in this case the first supporters of MUOS were the politicians just as happened at Dal Molin. We often meet with delegations of activists from Vicenza and three times have been their guests.”
I went with representatives of No Dal Molin to meet with Congress Members and Senators and their staffs in Washington, and they simply asked us where the base should go if not Vicenza. We replied “Nowhere.” Have you met with anyone in the U.S. government or communicated with them in any way?
“Many times the U.S. consuls have come to Niscemi but we have never been permitted to speak with them. We have never in any way communicated with U.S. senators/representatives, and none have ever asked to meet with us.”
Where are the other three MOUS sites? Are you in touch with resisters there? Or with the resistance to bases on Jeju Island or Okinawa or the Philippines or elsewhere around the world? The Chagossians seeking to return might make good allies, right? What about the groups studying the military damage to Sardinia? Environmental groups are concerned about Jeju and about Pagan Island Are they helpful in Sicily?
“We are in direct contact with the No Radar group in Sardinia. One of the planners of that struggle has worked (for free) for us. We know the other anti-U.S.-base movements around the world, and thanks to No Dal Molin and to David Vine, we have been able to hold some virtual meetings. Also thanks to the support of Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space we are trying to get in touch with those in Hawaii and Okinawa.”
What would you most like people in the United States to know?
“The imperialism that the United States is imposing on the countries that lost the Second World War is shameful. We are tired of having to be slaves to a foreign politics that to us is crazy and that obliges us to make enormous sacrifices and that makes Sicily and Italy no longer lands of welcome and peace, but lands of war, deserts in use by the U.S. Navy.”
Large crowds of demonstrators have held a massive protest rally in the Indian-administered Kashmir in response to a New Delhi plan to build new townships across the disputed region.
Kashmiri protesters rallied in Srinagar after Friday prayers to voice opposition to a government plan to build new townships for thousands of Hindus in the Muslim-majority region.
The angry protesters chanted pro-independence slogans as they marched toward the city center, Lalchowk, in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Srinagar, which lies in the Kashmir Valley, is the summer capital and largest city of the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Its winter capital is Jammu.
Indian police and paramilitary troops fired teargas and used stun grenades to disperse the crowd. The security forces also arrested nearly a dozen activists, including some prominent regional protest leaders.
The protesters pelted Indian security forces with stones and blocked roads in the region.
The massive rally comes as New Delhi has announced plans to build a number of townships to accommodate some 200,000 Hindus.
Kashmiri leaders have called the plan a conspiracy to create settlements on religious lines, saying the plan will create hatred between Hindus and Muslims.
Mohammed Yasin Malik, the chairman of the pro-independence Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) compared the plan to that of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Malik suggested that they would rather live side by side the Hindus in a merged society.
“We will not allow anybody to turn Kashmir into another Palestine. They (Pandits) are owners of this land as we are, and we welcome them to live in a composite society along with their Muslim brothers,” a media outlet quoted Malik as saying.
Indian authorities have deployed large contingents of police and paramilitary troops to most parts of Srinagar and several other major towns to prevent street demonstrations.
Kashmir lies at the heart of more than 67 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both neighbors claim the region in full but have partial control over it.
The neighbors agreed on a ceasefire in 2003, and launched a peace process the following year. Since then, there have been sporadic clashes, with both sides accusing the other of violating the ceasefire.
Thousands of people have been killed in Kashmir unrest over the past two decades.
Demonstrators march in the Czech capital of Prague in protest against a US military convoy passing through the country on March 28, 2015
Hundreds of demonstrators have staged an anti-NATO rally in the Czech capital of Prague to protest a planned parade by a US military convoy through the East European republic.
The protesters held the rally on Saturday on the eve of a parade by roughly 120 US military vehicles that are to enter the country as part of the Western military alliance’s “Operation Dragon Ride” parading through six NATO member states in Europe.
“This definitely won’t contribute to peace in Europe because the situation is very, very dangerous and very tense. We’re of the opinion that steps like this definitely don’t help,” said Lubomir Ledl, a protest organizer and lawyer from Prague.
Demonstrators waved the Czech national flag and carried placards reading “Tanks? No Thanks!” and “Stop US Army.”
The anti-war protesters were met by a group of pro-NATO demonstrators. Minor clashes broke out between the two groups.
The US military convoy passes through Estonia as part of drills in Eastern Europe on March 21, 2015
The convoy, consisting mostly of armored personnel carriers, began the parade on March 21 in Estonia and passed through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, before entering the Czech Republic on Sunday.
The convoy will stay in the country until April 1 when the vehicles will cross into neighboring Germany to return to a military base in the city of Vilseck.
According to Lieutenant colonel Craig Childs, a spokesman for the US Army in Europe (USAREUR), the military march is aimed at testing “unit maintenance and leadership capabilities while simultaneously providing a highly visible demonstration of US commitment to its NATO allies and demonstrating NATO’s ability to move military forces freely across allied borders in close cooperation.”
Throughout the march, security forces from the six European governments have offered to escort the convoy to fend off opposition as the US military convoy crosses the countries filled with people protesting the move.
The convoy comes as NATO plans to expand its military presence in Eastern Europe amid deteriorating ties with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.
In 2014, NATO forces held some 200 military exercises, with the alliance’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg having promised that such drills would continue.
In addition, the defense ministers of NATO’s 28 member states agreed on February 5 to establish six new command and control posts in the Eastern European nations of Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned NATO’s exercises and military buildup toward its borders. Russia has also repeatedly accused the US of fueling unrest throughout the world by interfering in other countries and pursuing global hegemony and its expansionist policy.
Russia ended on March 21 nationwide military exercises in the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Arctic and the Far East.
More than 80,000 Russian troops with over 10,000 military vehicles, 65 warships, 16 support vessels, 15 submarines and 200 jet fighters and helicopter gunships took part in the maneuvers.
US military convoy parades through Eastern Europe (Screenshot from Ruptly video)
Czech people were told not to throw tomatoes and eggs at a US military convoy rumbling through Eastern Europe, the local media said, citing the laws of the land. Those in love with egg & tomato hurling may get up to three years if convicted.
“Should anyone emerge with the intent to attack the convoy, with [items] such as tomatoes or eggs, it would qualify as disorderly conduct according to Czech legislation (up to 2 years without parole, in recidivist cases up to 3 years) or damage to property (sentences in the range of 6 months to 3 years).”
This statement was aired on Czech TV Nova and cited by the Russian Insider last week, ahead of the planned US military convoy.
Operation ‘Dragoon Ride’, a convoy of US military vehicles, mostly IAV Stryker APCs, started on Saturday. The convoy will make its way through Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, with its final destination being Germany. It will cross the Czech Republic between March 29 and April 1 on its way to a base in the German city of Vilseck.
If skirmishes break out, offenders can expect to spend up to 3 years of prison. However, serious violence may incur 10-year sentences for the perpetrators.
“If (the incident) causes serious injuries, the attacker can receive a sentence of up to 10 years.”
Also if someone decides to sabotage the US operation, he or she would also face charges, said the Czech Army Press.
“Sabotage and/or attacks in the Republic, including attempts to undermine its defense capabilities are subject to imprisonment ranging from 8-12 years or forfeiture of property – § 310 par. 1 of the Criminal Code,” it said.
Earlier local media reported the government of the Czech Republic even instructed its own military to protect the US military convoy as it crosses the country over fears that numerous people protesting the move could stage “provocations.”
On Sunday Czech anti-war activists launched the ‘Tanks? No thanks!’ campaign to protest the procession of US Army hardware through the Eastern European country. They say it has been turned into a “provocative victory parade” near the Russian border.
“The last time that vehicles like this came to the Czech Republic, they were Soviet tanks coming to crush moves towards democracy in 1968. We don’t want such vehicles from foreign armies coming here ever again,” said Tana Bednarova from the ‘World without Wars and without Violence’ organization.
Today, the twelfth anniversary of our daughter and sister Rachel’s stand and death in Gaza, we find ourselves back where our journey for accountability in her case began – in Washington DC. We have come for meetings at the Department of State and in Congress and, also, to join our colleagues in pursuit of a just peace in Israel/Palestine at the national meeting of Jewish Voice for Peace.
Rachel was crushed to death March 16, 2003, by an Israeli military, US-funded, Caterpillar D9R bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza, while nonviolently protesting the impending demolition of the home of a Palestinian family. This was one of thousands of homes eventually destroyed in Gaza in clearing demolitions, described in the 2004 Human Rights Watch Report, Razing Rafah.
The U.S. Department of State reported that on March 17, 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised President Bush that the Israeli Government would undertake a “thorough, credible, and transparent” investigation into Rachel’s killing and report the results to the United States. On March 19, 2003, in a U.S. Department of State press briefing, Richard Boucher said in reference to Rachel, “When we have the death of an American citizen, we want to see it fully investigated. That is one of our key responsibilities overseas, is to look after the welfare of American citizens and to find out what happened in situations like these.”
Through tenures of both the Bush and Obama administrations, high level Department of State officials have continued to call for Israeli investigation in Rachel’s case. During our twelve year journey for accountability, we met with Lawrence B. Wilkerson (Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell), William Burns (then Under Secretary of State) and Antony Blinken (then Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden) – all who have acknowledged lack of an adequate response from the Israeli Government in Rachel’s case.
In a letter to our family in 2008, Michelle Bernier-Toth, U.S. Department of State’s Managing Director of Overseas Citizens Services, wrote, “We have consistently requested that the Government of Israel conduct a full and transparent investigation into Rachel’s death. Our requests have gone unanswered or ignored.”
In March 2005, at the suggestion of the Department of State and to preserve our legal options, our family initiated a civil lawsuit against the State of Israel and Ministry of Defense. After a lengthy Israeli court process, in February of this year, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that said Rachel was killed in a “war activity” for which the state bears no liability under Israeli law. In response, Human Rights Watch wrote,
“The ruling flies in the face of the laws of armed conflict…The ruling grants immunity in civil law to Israeli forces for harming civilians based merely on the determination that the forces were engaged in ‘wartime activity,’ without assessing whether that activity violated the laws of armed conflict, which require parties to the conflict at all times to take all feasible precautions to spare civilian life.”
Our family’s legal options in Israel are nearly exhausted, but our search for justice for Rachel goes forward. Back in Washington DC, we have come full circle. We ask again that U.S. officials address their responsibility to U.S. citizens and to all civilians whose lives are impacted and cut short by military actions supported with U.S. taxpayer funding. We ask that they determine what to do when a promise from a key ally’s head of state to our own goes unfulfilled. March 16, 2003, was the very worst day of our lives. Our family deserves a clear and truthful explanation for how what happened to Rachel that day could occur, and to know there is some consequence to those responsible. Rachel deserves this.
She wrote, “This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop.”
The failure of the Israeli court system to hold its soldiers, officers, and government accountable does not represent a failure on our part. Rachel, herself, went to Rafah looking for justice – a forward looking justice in which all people in the region would enjoy the freedoms, rights, opportunities, and obligations that we each demand for ourselves. The facts uncovered in our legal effort in Israel, and the clear evidence of the Israeli court’s complicity in the occupation revealed in the outcome, lay important legal groundwork for the future. As we look back at Selma fifty years ago and Ferguson today, we realize that our own civil rights struggle is not won in a single march or court case. It is ongoing. As our family continues our journey for justice, we thank those across the U.S., the world, and in Palestine and Israel who travel with us. Together, we will find justice for Rachel – both the justice she deserves and the justice for which she stood.
Professors, lecturers and researchers from the UK, Europe, North America, and beyond, have expressed their “principled and full support for the University of Southampton’s commitment to freedom of speech and scholarly debate.”
Groups such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews and UK Zionist Federation have been lobbying university officials, and last week there was an intervention from Communities minister and Conservative MP Eric Pickles.
The statement in support of the University of Southampton notes with concern these disturbing developments:
We are very concerned that partisan attempts are being made to silence dissenting analyses of the topic in question. For external pressure and interference, especially from political lobby groups and a government minister, to censor lawful academic discussion would set a worrying precedent.
The statement praising the University of Southampton’s commitment to free speech garnered more than 200 signatories in just 24 hours.
The signatories include academics from universities including Oxford, Cambridge, SOAS, London School of Economics (LSE), University College London, as well as North American institutions such as MIT, University of California, Columbia University, University of Toronto, and many more.
The World Ignores the Crisis in Gaza—So Another Gaza Freedom Flotilla is Ready to Sail in First Half of 2015
With the 51 day Israeli attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014 that killed over 2,200, wounded 11,000, destroyed 20,000 homes and displaced 500,000, the closing to humanitarian organizations of the border with Gaza by the Egyptian government, continuing Israeli attacks on fishermen and others, and the lack of international aid through UNWRA for the rebuilding of Gaza, the international Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition has decided to again challenge Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza in an effort to gain publicity for the critical necessity of ending the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the isolation of the people of Gaza.
UNRWA, the main U.N. aid agency in the Gaza Strip has stated that a lack of international funding forced it to suspend grants to tens of thousands of Palestinians for repairs to homes damaged in last summer’s war.
“People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble, children have died of hypothermia,” Robert Turner, Gaza director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said in a statement. He said UNRWA received only $135 million of the $720 million pledged by donors to its cash assistance program for 96,000 refugee families whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the 50-day conflict between the Hamas government and Israel. Little of the total $5.4 billion pledged for Gaza’s reconstruction at a Cairo conference of international donors in October 2014 has reached the Gaza, and thousands of Palestinians have been sheltering in tents near destroyed homes.
“Thousands more have been living in damaged buildings, using plastic sheeting to try to keep out the rain. Around 20,000 displaced are still being housed in U.N.-run schools.”
While we recognize that funds are needed to rebuild Gaza, we feel that the publicity from another flotilla will help gain attention to the plight of the people of Gaza in ways that other initiatives may not. Indeed, governments are forced to react to the flotillas as evidenced through the diplomatic cables obtained by the Center for Constitutional Rights from the U.S. Department of State to U.S. missions in the Middle East region.
At a December, 2014 meeting, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition decided to sail a 3-ship flotilla to challenge the blockade in the first half of 2015. Twenty passengers will be aboard each of the 3 ships for a total of 60 passengers. The coalition will seek representatives from 30 countries with each country having two passengers. The U.S.- Palestinian Solidarity community will participate in Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3 and has a target of $20,000 as their part for renovation expenses and to be able to have two persons as the U.S. delegates.
Nonviolence International of Washington, DC, the 501(c)(3) for U.S. contributions to Gaza’s Ark, is the 501(c)(3) organization. Please make an online contribution here and indicate “Gaza’s Ark/Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3” in the Please designate this gift for a specific purpose “Designation Code” box. Checks payable to “Nonviolence International” (with Gaza’s Ark/Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3 in the memo line) may be mailed to:
4000 Albemarle Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016