Saturday, December 26, 2009

[GFM] Urgent updates for the Gaza freedom march

From: Medea Benjamin Date: Sat, Dec 26, 2009 at 4:37 PMSubject: [GFM] Urgent updates for the Gaza freedom marchTo: GFM delegation ,

Dear Delegates,
As we are poised to commemorate the December 27 invasion of Gaza, our delegates from around the world are gathering in Cairo. As you can imagine, the situation is changing moment by moment and there are lots of rumors.

Tonight, the Ma’am News Agency put out a release saying, “Despite earlier announcements that the crossing would be closed until January, Egyptian officials will open the Rafah crossing for four days next week, three for general traffic and a fourth for Egyptian citizens. Head of the Administration of crossings in the de facto government Ghazi Hamad announced Saturday that the crossings would be open starting Tuesday 29 December.

On Friday Egyptian nationals only will be permitted to cross. Each day 10-12 buses loaded with 60-70 passengers each will leave Gaza” The Foreign Ministry, however, has told us they knew nothing about this and that our situation, i.e. being denied entry, had not changed. For us, however, this represents a major change because it means there might be an opening since the government can no longer say that the border is too unsafe.

In light of this, we are re-adjusting plans to try to leave Cairo on the morning of December 28, as planned. Below are the latest plans for Sunday and Monday….

Sunday, December 27

8:30 am briefing: For those of you already in Cairo, we will be having meetings in the morning at
8:30am in 3 hotels: Lotus Hotel - 12 Talaat Harb Street, Sun Hotel - 2 Talaat Harb Street (at Tahrir Square), and the Select Hotel - 19 Adly Street. If you cannot make these meetings, don’t worry. We’ll be going over the same issues in the evening.

11 am-1pm Bridge memorial at the Kasr al Nil Bridge: Notice: The 6 October Bridge will no longer be the location of the action tomorrow as we were concerned with how easy pedestrian traffic could access the bridge. The Kasr Al Nil Bridge will be used instead. The bridge runs between Tahrir Square and Zamalek and has large statues of lions on the end of it. When in Tahrir Square, if you face the Nile, you will see the Semiramis Hotel on the left side and the Nile Hilton on the right. The Kasr al Nil Bridge is right in between. If you ask anyone, they'll be able to direct you to the bridge.

4:30 pm Boat memorial: Gather at Cairo's Garden City Nile Cornice (next to the Grand Hyatt and opposite the Four Seasons.) to take feluccas (river boats) at sunset. We are going to take tens of them onto the Nile and place 1400 lighted candles to mark those who died in the December 2008 invasion. This will be a beautiful action, with lots of press interest—so be sure to join if you can.

6 pm Lawyers Sindicat (union)—optional: A group of Egyptians will be holding a commemoration for Gaza and a call to lift the siege and we are invited. The address is Abd Al Khaliq Sarwat and Ramsis Street, near the High Court.

8 pm MeetingThe government took away our permit for the church we had reserved. We will have people at the church to greet those who have not heard this. We are still trying to secure a place to meet (not easy for foreigners without permits). So we will have to tell you about this tomorrow….So sorry.

Monday, December 28
Given that the border is supposed to be open, we will attempt to leave Cairo for Al-Arish as planned.; we will begin to gather at 7am at "The Garage," located where Ramsis Street meets the October 6th Bridge (across the street from the Isis Hotel, 33 Ramsis St. It’s actually just a walled-in parking lot, but this is how it is referred to by the Egyptians. If you get into a taxi and say "the garage in Maarouf” or “the garage at the beginning of Ramsis Street,” or “the garage at the October 6th Bridge," the driver will get you there.

An important word of caution: We might very well be stopped by the Egyptians and not allowed to board the busses to Arish. But we think it is well worth a try. We’ll talk about this all tomorrow.Despite all the changes, this is an experience you and the people of Gaza will never forget!!! Thank you for your patience.

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