Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Press Release about Yusif to GFM

For Immediate Release
Yusif Barakat  at 734-878-0160

Palestinian Refugee Yusif Barakat Returns to Palestine
with 1,000 International Delegates for
Gaza Freedom March to Palestine Border Set for December 31
The Gaza Freedom March, to take place in Gaza on December 31, is an historic initiative to break the siege that has imprisoned the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there. Conceived in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and nonviolent resistance to injustice worldwide, the march will gather people from all over the world to demand that the Israeli government open the borders.
One of the participating marchers is 74-year-old Yusif Barakat, who was born in Haifa, Palestine. Barakat’s family left their home when Jewish immigrants were settled in Palestine after World War II. In August 1947, this 12-year-old shepherd boy landed at Ellis Island with his family, not speaking a word of English. Four years later, his father died, leaving Barakat to take care of his mother and three sisters.
He has been taking care of the needy every since. Now a retired psychotherapist, Barakat has devoted himself to working with boys in the juvenile justice system, helping them develop trust and relationships through his treatment and rehabilitation program.
He also has deep emotional ties to his native Palestine and is deeply saddened that the U.S. government is facilitating the suffering of Palestinians. As Barakat has stated, “I am appalled at the billions of U.S. tax dollars that have gone to the Israeli government, which continues a 60-year-long occupation of Palestinian homelands. And when I saw all the death and destruction from the invasion of Gaza, I knew I had to do something. That’s why I’m joining the Gaza Freedom March.”
Departing for Egypt, Barakat and 1,000 other international activists will caravan into Gaza to witness the still remaining devastation of last year's attacks. On December 31, they will be joining local Palestinians in a non-violent march from Northern Gaza to the Erez/Israeli border. On the Israeli side of the Erez border, Palestinians and Israelis will call on the Israeli government to open the border.

The Gaza Freedom March has global support from thousands of people including Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Caryl Churchill, Christopher Hedges, George Galloway, Gore Vidal, Alexandre Trudeau, Howard Zinn, Mairead Maguire, Noam Chomsky, and Oliver Stone.
Other participants include: Pulitzer Prize winning author, Alice Walker; leading Syrian comedian, Duraid Lahham; South African anti-apartheid leader, Ronnie Kasrils; French Senator, Alima Boumediene–Thiery; author and Filipino Parliament member, Walden Bello; former European Parliamentarian, Luisa Morgantini, from Italy; President of the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney, Michael Ratner; Japanese former Ambassador to Lebanon, Naoto Amaki; French hip-hop artists, Ministere des Affaires Populaires. There will be families of three generations, doctors, lawyers, diplomats, 70 students, an interfaith group that includes rabbis, priests and imams, a women's delegation, a Jewish contingent, a veterans group and Palestinians born overseas who have never seen their families in Gaza.
Inside Gaza, excitement is growing. Representatives of all aspects of civil society, including students, professors, refugee groups, unions, women's organizations, NGOs, have been busy organizing. It is estimated that at least 50,000 Palestinians will participate. People from the different sectors will march in their uniforms--fishermen, doctors, students, farmers, teachers, etc. Local Palestinian rappers, hip-hop bands and Dabkeh dancers will perform on mobile stages.

To contact Gaza Freedom March Organizers in country:
Ann Wright in Egypt (19) 508-1493, Gaza (599) 501-517Tighe Barry, in Egypt (19) 481-2932, Gaza (598) 289-860Medea Benjamin in Egypt (18) 956-1919, Gaza (599) 501-519Haider Eid in Gaza (599) 441 766
Ziyaad Lunat (roaming) 351938349206

Dialing region from US:
011 to get out of the US
202 for Cairo, Egypt / dial 972 for Gaza
phone number

In U.S. contact after departure:
Emily Siegel Emily@codpinkalert.org 202-441-6716
For more information see http://www.gazafreedommarch.org/

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