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Cathal Og Donnelly who was recently in Gaza on an Irish Friends of Palestine Student Delegation chairs a discussion on Palestine with Derry Friends of Palestine speaker Gerry Maclochlainn who has been to Gaza 6 times.

As part of the National Hungerstrike Commemoration 2012 Derry Friends of Palestine was invited to travel to Dungiven to deliver a talk and discussion on Palestine. The discussion was facilitated and chaired by Cathal Og Donnelly from the Sinn Féin – Republican Youth Committee. The talk covered the recent political situation, the EU trade agreement with israel, possible roles for Ireland, and of course on the heels of our successful Prisoners Conference in May, the event ended with a discussion of Palestinian prisoner issues. A special report on Fishermen in Gaza from our friend Jenny Graham in Gaza was read out. It covered the international work being done to help the fisherman. Jenny painted a dire and dangerous situation facing these fisherman as they come up against the israeli Navy on a frequent basis. Their boats are targetted, and at times their lives are lost, simply trying to make their living as fishermen. Big thanks to Jenny for keeping us updated. You can read Jenny’s report here.

Cathal Og Donnelly was recently in Gaza as part of the Irish Friends of Palestine Freedom and Friendship Student Delegation March/April 2012. Cathal discribed the harsh situation he witnessed in Gaza and told the story of a small boy who was walking to school with his little brother when an israeli missle struck and killed his young brother as he watched in horror. Cathal spoke of how the Delegation visited the boy’s school and witnessed the destruction of the apartment building next door near where the child had been murdered.

Gerry Maclochlainn gave an update on the current political situation in Palestine which covered the EU trade agreement with israel, what roles if any Ireland can play in helping the Palestinians move forward. He ended with a discussion onthe current Palesitnian hungerstrike and prisoners issues and abuses being suffered within the israeli prisons including human rights abuses, torture and internment.

Gerry MacLochlainn talks about the current political situation in Palestine, the EU Trade Agreement with israel and what possible role Ireland can take to help the Palestinians. The talk ended with a discussion of Palestinian Prisoner issues.

The audience then heard a recorded message from a former Palestinian prisoner in Gaza who was recently released as part of the Gilad Shalit negotiated deal between israel and Hamas. The agreement saw hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released, many of whom had been held for years and never having been charged with any crime. This is an illegal practice called “Administrative Detention” better known to us in Ireland as “Internment.”

recently released former Palestinian prisoner Abu Taha speaks about Palestinian prisoners and solidarity between Ireland and Palestine

Ahmed Taha originallly spoke at the “Dying to Live” prisoners conference we held in association with our partners UFree. Abu Taha told the audience of the harsh conditions for prisoners in israeli gaols, and he delivered a heartfelt speech of solidarity and between Ireland and Palestine wiht quotes from Bobby Sands.

The meeting closed with a brief update from the Chair of Irish Friends of Palestine on the upcoming 2nd “Freedom and Friendship Delegation” to Gaza which covered how people can help and get involved with Irish Friends of Palestine.

Please enjoy more photos of the event:

As you watch your favorite teams playing in the Euro2012 games, can you please give thought to 25 year old Mahmoud Sarsak, a skillful footballer who once played for the Palestinian National team. He urgently needs your support as he now faces death at the hands of the oppressive Israeli regime.

Mahmoud Sarsak has been held on Administrative Detention (internment) for 3 years, wihtout charge and without trail. He has been convicted of NO crime! He was on his way to play a game in the West Bank of Palestine 3 years ago he was arrested at a checkpoint and has been illegally held ever since that day. He is now reaching his 92nd day of hunger strike- the longest hunger strike undergone by a Palestinian Political prisoner. Due to the prolonged suffering to his body and immune system his health is deteriorating rapidly and his condition is now more critical than ever.
UFree Palestinian Prisoners Association and Irish Friends of Palestine urge you to support his Mahmoud Sarsak’s case immediately!

Israel should be subjected to the same criticism faced by Poland and Ukraine, who are hosting Euro 2012. It is time to end Israel’s impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.

UFree Palestinian Prisoners Organisation urge you to take the following actions so Sarsak’s life can be saved:

1. Highlight Sarsaks case by contacting parliamentarians and Israeli embassies across the world and subject Israel to the same criticism faced by Poland and Ukraine, who are hosting Euro 2012.
2. To urge FIFA to intervene in the case, expressing grave concern regarding Sarsak’s deteriorating health. http://www.fifa.com/contact/form.html
I urge your support as we call an end to Israel’s impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.

You can copy and send the letter below to your local MP’s and MEP’s, you can contact the Israeli embassy in your country and demand Sarsak be charged or set free!
Letter:

Re: Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Sarsak deteriorating health

As the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship grips the nation I draw your attention to the plight of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak. Once a star player in the Palestinian national team, Sarsak was jailed by Israel in 2009, as he left the Gaza Strip en route to a match. He has since been held without charge or trial. Sarsak had been on a hunger strike since 19 March 2012, after his administrative detention was once again renewed for an astonishing sixth time.

His health condition is now critical and deteriorating fast. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) have said that Sarsak could die at any time. Israel has not allowed the charity to visit him in Ramle Prison until last week. Sarsak has experienced extreme loss of muscle tissue and drastic weight loss. He frequently loses consciousness and suffers memory lapses.

On Sunday 6th of June, Israeli Prisons Service (IPS) transferred Sarsak to Assaf Harofeh hospital because of his rapid deteriorating health. This transfer was due to the inability of both Al Ramla prison hospital and Mair civil hospital to treat Sarsak’s critical health condition.

Sarsak has been interned without trial or charge for 3 years under the infamous “Unlawful Combatants Law”, which allows Israeli authorities to detain Palestinians from Gaza for an unlimited time without trial or charge.

I ask you to please call on Israel to either charge him or release him now!

Yours sincerely,

A letter from Thaer Halahleh, on day 75 of hunger strike against his detention without charge, to his two-year-old daughter Lamar, who he has never seen.

“My Beloved Lamar, forgive me because the occupation took me away from you, and took away from me the pleasure of witnessing my first born child that I have always prayed to God to see, to kiss, to be happy with. It is not your fault, this is our destiny as Palestinian people to have our lives and the lives of our children taken away from us, to be apart from each other and to have a miserable life, nothing is complete in our lives because of this unjust occupation that is lurking on every corner of our lives turning it into eeriness, a continuous pursuit and torture.

Despite that I was deprived from holding you and hearing your voice, from watching you grow up and move around in the house and in your be, and that I was deprived of my rule as a human and a father with my daughter your existence has given me all the power and hope, and when I saw your picture with your mother in the sit-in tent, you were so calm staring in wonder at people, as if you were looking for your father, looking at my pictures that are hung inside the tent asking in silence why is my father not coming back, I felt that you are with me, in my sentiment and inside my mind, as if you are a part of my heartbeats, steadfast and the blood that flows in my veins, opening all doors for me spreading clear skies around me, and unleashing your free childish voice after this long silence”.

“Lamar my love: I know that you are not to be blamed and that you don’t yet understand why your father is going through this battle of the hunger strike for the 75th day, but when you grow up you will understand that the battle of freedom is the battle of going back to you, so that I can never be taken away from you again or to be deprived of your smile or seeing you, so that the occupier will never kidnap me again from you”.

“When you grow up you will understand how injustice was brought upon your father and upon thousands of Palestinians whom the occupation has put in prisons and jail cells, shattering their lives and future for no guilt but their pursuit of freedom, dignity and independence, you will know that your father did not tolerate injustice and submission, that he will never accept insult and compromise, and that he is going through a hunger strike to protest against the Jewish state that wants to turn us into humiliated slaves without any rights or patriotic dignity”.

“My beloved Lamar keep your head up always and be proud of your father, and thank everyone who supported me, who supported the prisoners in their struggle, and don’t be afraid god is with us always, and god never lets people who have faith and patience, we are righteous, and right will always prevail against injustice and wrong doers”.

“Lamar my love: that day will come, and I will make it up to you for everything, and tell you the whole story, and your days that will follow will be more beautiful, so let your days pass now and wear your prettiest clothes, run and then run again in the gardens of your long life, go forward and forward nothing is behind you but the past, and this is your voice I hear all the time as a melody of freedom”.

taken from the Middle East Institute for Understanding HERE

Widyan Sha'at Director of Ethar with Sinead MacLochlainn, Alanna Campbell and women of Ethar

My Dear friend Mags O’Brien (SIPTU & TUFP and Irish Ship to Gaza comrade) who lives in Dublin contacted me around the beginning of March 2012 just before UNISON’S International women’s day festivities which would be held on March 8th 2012 in Belfast. She said that a quilt had been made by women in Ireland who were members of the trade unions and they wanted it delivered to Gaza, was I up for doing it. I said “yes!” and agreed to meet her in Belfast on 8th of March for International Women’s day.

March 8th arrived and I boarded the bus form Derry as Mag’s boarded the bus from Dublin. I was excited about the prospect of delivering this message of love and solidarity to our sisters in Gaza. As I was already planning to travel out to Gaza on March 28th, delivering the quilt on behalf of Irish women could easily be added into my schedule.

International Women's Day Belfast

We both arrived in Belfast and attended the woman’s day march and speeches after. During the speeches I couldn’t help but think to myself “here we are in Ireland as women standing free, exerting our rights as women, marching for what women have achieved and what women will achieve as our struggle continues to move forward” yet, back in Gaza our sisters are struggling in a way many of us here cannot comprehend. See for yourself the reality of life in Gaza for poor women who have lost their homes and/or husbands in Cast Lead.

This woman and her children barely exist in this tiny one room space, nothing else

Barely enough room for one person let alone ten!!

Women with children forced to live in refugee camps, in tiny 3 metre areas that more resemble a stable or a shed rather than a inhabitable home created by a brutal inhumane collective punishment siege! Women who have had to watch their homes destroyed in a flash of white light from Israeli drones or F-16’s. Women who have had to watch their own children die for lack of medical supplies, or parts, and still others have been forced to watch as their child lies dying needlessly before their eyes, simply waiting for a little permit to be approved by Israel for the child to leave Gaza to go to a specialist hospital in Egypt or Israel. Women who have lost their homes and their husbands in Cast Lead and are now left to fend for themselves in the streets of an open air prison. The refugee camps will haunt you, cramped and filled with women and children, so many children. With horrible sewage problems because Israel won’t allow pipes in to fix the bombed out sewer system. The smell of this is a constant reminder and it is never far away, even the sea is polluted with sewage, and the tap water is nothing but contaminated sea water with waste in it. This is life in Gaza, this is a man made disaster of epic proportions which is being ignored by most of the world. And the women are suffering the most. So I was very happy to facilitate this Quilt with a message of Solidarity to our sisters in Gaza from women in Ireland.

“We call for the immediate and complete lifting of the blockade on Gaza. The ongoing siege is a denial of dignity; it is a denial of rights for a people, particularly its women, who yearn to be Free!”

The quilt was sponsored by UNISON and in 2011 it was taken from Belfast in small pieces down to the Women’s Seminar in Cork where women began working on it. The Quilt was then brought back up to Belfast where the finishing work was carried out by Vivien Holding of the Communications Workers Union. Vivien put it together and laboriously sewed the binding and backing.

Mag’s and I met up with Patricia McKeown the Regional Secretary of UNISON in the North of Ireland who facilitated us in making our way to the UNISON building for the remainder of the day’s events and speeches. As we made our way to the UNISION building we discussed with Patricia the possibility of Irish women doing some solidarity work with our sisters in Gaza.

Upon arriving at UNISON the quilt was presented to myself and Mags by Taryn Trainer of UNITE and the Chair of the Woman’s Committee in the North. In a message from Pauline Buchanan regarding the quilt, she said “ The women of Ireland thought that the quote which takes pride of place in the centre would appropriately express to our sisters in Palestine that we support them, and that we will continue to work towards the realization of their human rights.”

Taryn Trainor presents quilt to Mag's O'Brien and Sinead MacLochlainn

From the quilts idea and inception by women in Belfast shortly after Cast Lead, the quilt began its life in Belfast, travelled down to Cork where more women worked on it, then it travelled back to Belfast where still more women completed it. The quilt has travelled across Ireland, then by air across England, France, Italy, Greece to Cairo, Egypt. Where it then began the 7 hour ride across the Sinai desert where on March 28th it crossed into Rafah, Palestine, and then travelled to Kahn Younis where it was received and presented to Widyan Sha’at the Director of Ethar Woman’s Initiative. It is home now.

Ethar Initiative-Gaza

Sinead MacLochlainn made the presentation on behalf of the the Women’s Committee Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ and a mention of the ICTU, NIICTU, UNISON, UNITE, Communications Union Workers as well. Ms. Sha’at speaking on behalf of Ethar Initiative said she wishes to thank the women of Ireland for their solidarity, especially Taryn Trainer and the Women’s Committee in the North, Pauline Buchanan of ICTU and Patricia McKeown of UNISON and Vivien Holding of the Communications Workers Union. The quilt will stand as a reminder to women here in Gaza of the friendship and solidarity between Ireland and Palestine.

The Ethar Initiative will be sending a personal letter of thanks to the ICTU/NIICTU and to those organisations and women who participated in this project of solidarity by creating and sending the Quilt to Gaza.

The Ethar Initiative was set up by women, for women, and is run by women who get no salary, all donations go to the poor women and children that Ethar helps. Ethar is a labour of love run by our sisters, who need our help!! So, please check back on this website as we will be doing an entire report on the Ethar Woman’s Initiative and we hope all the women of Ireland will get on board and get invovled with the campaign to help woman in Gaza by working with our sisters at Ethar. Coming soon in solidarity we will be launching an all Ireland Initiative for women to work with our sisters in Gaza dubbed the “Ireland Gaza Woman’s Initiative ” and we hope Irish women will join us in working directly with our sisters in Gaza! Bookmark our coming website here www.igwi.org and check back to learn about the new Initiative between Ireland and Gaza.

We Stand In Solidarity with Our Sisters

Big Greetings from Hassan Salama School Gaza

PRESS RELEASE
Tuesday 10th April 2012
For Immediate Use

Irish Freedom & Friendship Delegation to Gaza a resounding success

Local Derry/Irish Friends of Palestine delegates returned from the first Irish “Freedom and Friendship Delegation” to Gaza promising to redouble their efforts to build links with our sister city of Khan Younis and to support the people of Gaza by continuing with more delegations in future.

Delegates from Irish Friends of Palestine were Gerry MacLochlainn delegation leader & Charlie McMenamin activist (both former Irish Political Prisoners), Ruairi McLaughlin, Mickey McCrossan, Alanna Campbell and Cathal Og Donnelly (Students and members of Sinn Fein Republican Youth), activist Liam McConway and Freedom & Friendship Delegation organiser Sinead MacLochlainn.

Speaking on arrival home, Derry/Irish Friends of Palestine Chairperson Sinead MacLochlainn said:

“Our delegation was hosted by the Mayor of Khan Younis Mr. Mohammed Al Farra, and the Municipality of Khan Younis, who so graciously offered us the most incredible hospitality, given the current conditions in Gaza which remains under a brutal blockade by Israel. Mayor Al Farra received us on our arrival and ensured a packed programme of visits and meetings with all aspects of society throughout Khan Younis and Gaza City.”

Delegation pictured with Mayor Mohammed Al Farra of Khan Younis, Palestine

“The main purpose of the delegation was to build educational links with the Ministry of Education and HIgher Education and University students. As such our Delegation was received by the heads of some of the main Universities in the Gaza strip, including the Islamic University of Gaza, Al Aqsa University (both the Gaza and Khan Younis Campus) and Khan Younis College of Science and Technology. Despite the siege and lack of electricity or fuel, we were impressed to learn that some 40% of young people in Gaza have access to further or higher education and some 60% of these students are women.”

“The Delegation was invited to a lunch at the Ministry of Education where we were greeted by Mr. Ahmed Ayesh Alnajjar the Director of International and Public Relations of Ministry of Education and Higher Education on behalf of Dr. Osama Elmozini the Minister of Education and Higher Education. The Student leaders on our Delegation were presented with a beautiful Plaque from the Ministry of Education to be presented to the Minister of Education here in the North of Ireland. Additionally a Plaque was also give the the Delegation itself in appreciation of the Educational links being created between Ireland and Gaza.

Plaque Presented to Student Leaders, Alanna Campbell, Ruairi McLaughlin, Mickey McCrossan and Cathal Og Donnelly

“Members of the Irish Delegation also met with representatives of the main political parties in Palestine, including Dr. Hisham Abdelrazic the Fateh leader in Gaza, and Dr. Yousef Al-Mansi, One of Hamas leaders and also the Minister of Telecommunication in the Gaza Government and finally Dr. Ahmed Bahar, Deputy Speaker of the Palestine Legislative Council.”

“In Khan Younis we visited the site of a large play park and International Garden area which is still under construction, here the student delegates joined local families in a soccer game with an idyllic view of the Mediterranean sea in the background. The Students played ball with local children at the park. Even here the realities of Israeli occupation were evident with armed Israeli drones and F-16 fighter planes flying over head. During our stay the F-16’s were our alarm clocks and the early morning call as they criss-crossed Gaza skies terrorising the population. They also dropped leaflets warning that anyone who went to within 300m of the border would be shot. Welcome to life in Palestine.”

“Visiting the packed refugee camps bears witness to the reality of life for many poor or homeless people in Gaza. Many of them had once been in full-time employment before the blockade, still others had their homes destroyed by Israel. Up to 4 generations all living in a 6 by 6 metre shed with broken walls, collapsed roofs and dirt floors with sewage problems. And still they smile at us for visiting them, this is the unbreakable spirit of Palestine!”

Delegation meeting with familly in Refugee Camp

“On our last morning as we had our breakfast we were again reminded of the realities of life for the innocent civilians of Gaza. Fishermen in small wooden crafts who attempt to gather the ever shrinking available fish which swim in the three kilometres of their own waters, the only place that Israel allows them to fish, were to come under fire from Israeli naval ships. We could hear the heavy naval canons interspersed with the pulse of heavy machine guns. We were left wondering if we’d be hearing of yet another fishermen killed for trying to support his family.”

“We also learned that three young children had been burned to death during the night while attempting to read and study by candlelight. The candle fell over and they were trapped in their bedroom, God help them, all that was left of the three children were the scorched books on the floor which they had been studying from. Yet more tiny victims of the collective punishment siege as Israel only allows 6 hours of electricity each day, these few hours can come at any time even in the middle of the night when the population is asleep, so many students rely on dangerous burning candles to study! Myself and Ogra Alanna Campbell of Coalisland attended the children’s wake with other local women. Their Mother came over and handed me her last remaining child to hold in my arms as we cried together. The tiny 3 month old baby sister who was the only survivor, found under a pile of blankets which somehow managed to save her little life by protecting her from the smoke and flames which consumed her 3 siblings.”

“Leaving we were all very silent heading to Rafah to cross back into Egypt and then home to Ireland, just trying to absorb the gravity of what we had all witnessed for the last 8 days. But we pledged we would do all we can to support our friends in Gaza and to tell their stories to the world. Therefore Irish Friends of Palestine and Derry Frinds of Palestine will continue with more Freedom & Friendship Irish Delegations to Gaza until the murderous siege is lifted!”

BOOKMARK OUR PAGE AS WE WILL BE POSTING INDIVIDUAL REPORTS ABOUT ALL THE MEETINGS AND EVENTS WE ATTENDED IN GAZA
some of those inculded are:
Ministry of Education and HIgher Education
Islamic University of Gaza
Al Aqsa University
Khan Younis College of Science and Technology
Jabalia Martyrs Primary School
Refugee camps, meeting the poor and homeless
Global March to Jerusalem/Land Day Events
Khan Younis meetings
Political Meetings with Fateh, Hamas, and the PLC
Ministry of Youth and Sport
Effects of the Siege First Hand
Gaza Harbour
Local Weekly Prisoner Protests
Prisoners and their Families
UFREE Prisoners Conference Gaza City
Ethar Initiative
Emaar & Albasmah Centre
Khan Younis Park and Garden Development
plus much more…..

The Derry Friends of Palestine attended a vigil at Derry’s Guildhall Square callling for the release of Palestinian Hungerstriker Khader Adnan a 33 year old baker being held without trial on Administrative Detention (internment). Khader has been on hungerstrike since the date of his internment on December 17th last and is said to be close to death after 64 days without food.

The medical human rights group Physicians for Human Rights said at the weekend that Mr Adnan had lost 30 kilos and that his condition has deteriorated so significantly that he may die at any time. Mr Adnan is one of more than 300 Palestinians being held under ”administrative detention”, which gives the Israeli authorities power to order the detention of individuals without charge or trial for six months at a time. The State can apply for successive extension of the detention period.

Mr Adnan started his hunger strike one day after his arrest to protest against the refusal of the Israeli authorities to reveal any evidence against him. Local media say this is the seventh time Mr. Adnan has been imprisoned without charge. His wife, Randa, six months pregnant with their third child, had denied that her husband was ever involved in violent activities. An appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court against his detention was denied last week.

Derry Friends of Palestine calls for the immediate release of Mr Adnan.

Derry Friends of Palestine member Clr Gerry MacLochlainn and Jennifer McCann MLA part of CEPR delegation to Gaza

Clr Gerry MacLochlainn of Derry Friends of Palestine along with Jennifer McCann MLA were invited by the Council for European-Palestinian Relations (CEPR) to take part in the largest International Delegation to Gaza. The delegation of more than 100 government officials and advocates includes representatives from Ireland and 40 other countries and is the largest group of national officials yet to visit Gaza.

Saying it is long past time for the international community to step in and force Israel to end its siege on Gaza, a global coalition of statesmen and NGO representatives issued and adopted a unanimous resolution demanding immediate action through all diplomatic, cultural and economic means possible.

Before drafting the resolution, the delegation considered reports from experts documenting the following facts:

• Israel continues to maintain complete control over Gaza’s territorial waters, preventing all movement of people and goods by sea and limiting fishing to a distance of three nautical miles from the Strip’s coastline. Fishermen who defy the ban are shot at and /or their boats are confiscated. An estimated total of 4,5000 residents who had previously supported their families by fishing have thus been stripped of their livelihoods and the entire population of 1.5 million have been deprived of a vital source of natural inexpensive nutrition.

• Likewise, Israel prevents access to a 300-1,500m “buffer zone” along its border with Gaza, cutting residents off from one-third of their most arable land.

• All exports from Gaza continue to be virtually prohibited. Although a minimal amount of strawberries, flowers, peppers and tomatoes were allowed to be shipped out between November 2010 and May 2011, the average rate of export during that time was two truckloads per day, compared to Israel’s commitment in 2005 to allow the export of 400 trucks per day. Since May 12 of this year, no trucks have been allowed to leave the Strip. Without exports, it is impossible for Gazans to build anything close to a healthy, self-sufficient economy. Thus, the official unemployment rate now stands at 25.6%.

• Imports of construction materials continue to be severely restricted, when allowed in at all. Each month since January 2011, approximately 17% of the materials that entered monthly in the years prior to June 2007 (when the siege began) has been allowed in. One consequence is a shortage of 250 schools.

• The resolution calls for free excess for both people and goods by land, sea and air, through both Israel and Egypt.

Resolution

The time for words is past. Governments and human rights organisations worldwide must employ all peaceful powers at their disposal to force an end to the siege. These actions should include economic sanctions, cultural boycotts and diplomatic actions such as ambassador recalls.

Specifically, the International Delegation calls for all governments and NGO’s to use these measures to demand:

• An end to the prohibition on exports.
• An end to all import bans and restrictions related to consumables, healthcare and industry/business.
• The lifting of all control of Gaza’s territorial waters.
• The opening of the “buffer zone” along Gaza’s border with Israel.
• The free flow of people in and out of Gaza, limited only by reasonable security checks and document requirements.
• International acceptance of the Palestinian people’s democratic choices in the next elections, and a commitment to constructively engage with their elected representatives.

Delegation members will work through their own networks to lobby for the implementation of this resolution.

PLEASE JOIN AND SUPPORT THE WORK OF DERRY AND THE IRISH FRIENDS OF PALESTINE IN SUPPORT OF THE RESOLUTION TO END THE SIEGE!! FIND US ON FACEBOOK HERE

Jennifer McCann MLA and Clr Gerry MacLochlainn arrive in Gaza

Derry Friends of Palestine member Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn along with Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann from Belfast, both arrived in Gaza on Monday night to a big Gazan weclome. They are part of the (Council for European Palestinian Relations) CEPR’s largest delegation yet. A fact finding mission consisting of elected members and Parliamentarians from around the world.

Jennifer McCann MLA and Claire Short from the British Labour Party at refugee camp in Gaza

Jennifer McCann MLA reports from yesterday:

Jennifer McCann MLA with women from the Delegation

There’s over 100 people from all over the world on this delegation. Today we visited the Health Facility for wounded children and as you can see from the pictures they have lost limbs in the bombing, one other young girl of 10 years had been shot.

One of many children who have lost limbs when israel attacked their homes

We then went through Beit Lahia just north of Jabalia,the area was totally devastated in the bombing of Dec 2008. This is an area where entire families were wiped out in a single attack, and where the UN school was bombed. We visited the makeshift homes in one of the refugee camps and the conditions over 130,000 people are living in are atrocious, 7 people all living in one or two tiny rooms. They cannot rebuild any of the houses that were bombed as they can’t get access to building materials due to the blockade.

one of the thousands of homeless refugee familys, 7 members forced to live in one room

There were a number of other meetings and presentations with NGO’s and leaders of Civil Society here and we had a reception in the University for applied sciences, the young students have increased in numbers from 300 to 9,000. The Palestinians are very resilient people. There are students who had gained University places in other countries but can’t go due to the blockade.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams with (l to r) Adnan Shabab, Marie Crawley, Dr Nabil Shaath, Padraig MacLochlainn TD, David Morrison, Philip O'Connor and Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD.

For immediate release 13th July 2011:

Adams meets senior Palestinian delegation

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today led a Sinn Féin delegation,including party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Padraig MacLochlainn TD and Aengus O Snodaigh TD, in a meeting with a senior Palestinian delegation, led by Dr. Nabil Shaath, who is a leading member of Fatah, and a former Chief Negotiator and Foreign Minister and for the Palestinian Authority. Dr. Shaath is currently involved in a round of meetings across EU states in which he is advocating support for a UN resolution in support of Palestinian statehood.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking after the meeting said:

“I reiterated Sinn Féin’s support for the Palestinian cause. The Palestinian people have the right to independence and self-determination and to a viable Palestinian state.Sinn Féin supports the Palestinian people in their efforts to achieve statehood, based on the 1967 borders.”

The Sinn Féin leader also said:

“At this critical juncture in the difficult process of achieving a political settlement in that region there is an opportunity for the Irish government to take the lead in encouraging other European governments to support the Palestinian people. “The Irish government should indicate now its full support for Palestinian UN Membership in the autumn.”

Mr. Adams added:

“I have visited the Middle East. I do not underestimate the difficulties in seeking to resolve the multiplicity of issues that need to be resolved, including a viable Palestinian state; Israeli occupation of Palestinian land; the siege of Gaza; the settlements; water rights; refugees; prisoners; the Separation wall and Jerusalem. “However, with international support progress can be made.”

TO LEARN MORE VISIT SADAKA HERE TO HELP THE PALESTINIANS CLAIM UN RECOGNITION

Film maker Iara Lee (center) pictured with friends at the IHH Hedquarters in Turkey after the Mavi Marmara attack May 2010

Iara will be appearing at Sandinos upstairs for one night only on the 11th March from 7:30 to 9:30 PM Everyone is welcome, admission free.

May 31st 2010 the Freedom Flotilla 1 was brutally attacked in international waters, nine activists on board the Mavi Marmara were murdered. Iara Lee and her film crew were on board the Mavi Marmara and survived that attack. Despite the Israeli government’s thorough efforts to confiscate all footage taken during the attack, Iara Lee and director of photography Srdjan Stojilijkovic were able to retain some of her recordings. Iara will be showing some of her video from the Mavi Marmara attack and discussing the events of that fateful night.

Admission free, everyone welcome to come and view her raw footage of the attack on the Mavi Marmara and hear her recount the deadly raid

ABOUT IARA LEE:

Iara is an activist, filmmaker, and founder of the Caipirinha Foundation, an organization that promotes global solidarity and supports peace with justice projects. Iara is currently working on a variety of initiatives, grouped under the umbrella of CulturesOfResistance.org, an activist network that brings together artists and changemakers from around the world. At the center of these initiatives is a feature-length documentary film entitled CULTURES OF RESISTANCE, which explores how creative action contributes to conflict prevention and resolution.
As an activist, Iara has collaborated with numerous grassroots efforts, including the International Campaign to Ban Cluster Munitions, the Conflict Zone Film Fund, the New York Philharmonic’s groundbreaking 2008 music for diplomacy concert in North Korea.

More recently in May 2010, Iara was a passenger on the MV Mavi Marmara, a passenger vessel in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which was attacked in international waters by the Israeli navy, leading to the murder of nine humanitarian aid workers. Among the many people who recorded the events on that ship, her crew was one of the only to successfully hide and retain most of the raid footage, which she later released to the world after a screening at the UN. Iara is very dedicated to the support of Gazan civilians who have been victims of war crimes committed by the Israeli military during “Operation Cast Lead” and who suffer from the Israeli government’s ongoing acts of collective punishment.

At the onset of the Iraq war in 2003, Iara, eager to understand the conflict better, decided to travel and live in the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa). While residing in Lebanon in 2006, Iara experienced firsthand the 34-day Israeli bombardment of that country. Since then, moved by that experience, she has dedicated herself to the pursuit of a just peace in the region, and is an enthusiastic supporter of those initiatives which strengthen adherence to international law in enforcing human rights. In 2008 Iara lived in Iran and supported a number of cultural exchange projects between that country and the West with the goal of promoting arts & culture for global solidarity.

From 1984 to 1989 Iara was the producer of the Sao Paulo International Film Festival. From1989-2003 she was based in New York City, where she ran the mixed-media company Caipirinha Productions to explore the synergy of different art forms (such as film, music, architecture, and poetry). Under that banner, Iara has directed short and feature-length documentaries including Synthetic Pleasures, Modulations, Architettura, and Beneath the Borqa.

Iara Lee is a member of the President’s Council of The International Crisis Group (ICG) and the Council of Advisors of the National Geographic Society, as well as a trustee to the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), North Korea’s first and only university whose faculty will be entirely composed of international professors.

Additionally Saturday 12th of March several people from Belfast, Antrim and Dublin, plus 5 Derry people, along with Iara Lee will be jumping out of an airplane for the Irish Ship to Gaza sailing on the Freedom Flotilla 2 in May on the anniversary of the last flotilla that was brutally attacked. The event will be at the Wild Geese Skydiving school in County Derry. Everyone welcome to come out and watch the skydive event live, for more on the jump or to sponsor the 5 Derry people go HERE
IARA LEE
SANDINOS BAR UPSTAIRS

THIS FRIDAY
11TH MARCH 2011
7:30-9:30PM

ADMISSION FREE
EVERYONE WELCOME

Only 10 months ago, nine people were murdered on the Freedom Flotilla 1. The Freedom Flotilla 2 sails in May on the anniversary of that brutal attack. This time we sail with more ships including an Irish flagged vessel. Three people from Derry will be sailing on the Freedom Flotilla 2, each on a different ship to maximise the chances of someone from Derry making it through to Gaza. Let us hope these scenes below are not repeated:

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