Monday, February 8, 2010

United solidarity with Gaza

Philip Rizk, The Electronic Intifada, 8 February 2010

(Philip Rizk is an Egyptian-German filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Cairo, Egypt. Philip lived in Gaza City from 2005 to 2007 working as a writer for a nongovernmental organization. In 2009 his documentary This Palestinian Life premiered at the London International Documentary Festival. ")

"On the third night of my abduction by Egyptian authorities last year, after intermittent interrogation and being handcuffed and blindfolded in a two by two meter cell, a state security officer asked me why I had so many "international relationships." The following night my kidnappers drove me home. I was never given a reason for why state security agents kidnapped me from a march protesting the ongoing siege on Gaza. Though, judging from the focus of the interrogation, the reason had something to do with the two years I lived and worked in Gaza and solidarity efforts I have been involved in since then.

Upon being reunited with my family I started realizing the explanation of what "Nour" -- my main interrogator -- must have meant by "international relations." During my abduction by the Egyptian state security apparatus, protests were staged around the world, letters were sent to embassies, some friends initiated a widespread Internet campaign and the press covered the story extensively.

During Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip the Egyptian authorities kidnapped or arrested many Egyptian activists that protested or expressed criticism of the Egyptian government's role in the Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave. Most of these activists were beaten, deprived of sleep and tortured. Likely due to my second (German) citizenship I was only threatened with torture during my abduction. From the start I was treated with a different standard than Egyptians without a second passport.......

My question is, how do we take it a step further? Can we coordinate actions between Cairo, Beirut, Gaza and other cities against this wall of shame? On 13 February a joint protest against the wall is planned to happen in Beirut and Cairo. The Arab Contractors company that is constructing the wall along Egypt's border with Gaza operates in 29 countries. Let us move 29 countries to the streets and call for an end to complicity in the siege.

One year on from my abduction I have the liberty to move, act freely and live. The population of the Gaza Strip does not have that luxury. What we have on our side are numbers determined to end the siege on Gaza and call for justice in Palestine. Let us move together. "

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