Gaza convoyers reject Syria route in favour of Cairo start
Kia Ora Gaza public statement
by Grant Morgan (chair) and Roger Fowler (team captain)
Auckland, New Zealand
16 April 2012
By unanimous decision of our trustees, organisers and convoyers, Kia Ora Gaza has withdrawn our two vehicles and four New Zealand volunteers from the Viva Palestina Arabia convoy to Gaza. Why? Because of a sudden, and unilateral, decision by leaders of Viva Palestina Arabia to reroute the mission through Syria. The convoy is scheduled to depart from England on 22 April 2012.
Instead, Kia Ora Gaza will focus on flying into Cairo to take medical supplies and other humanitarian aid into Gaza. This looks like happening in June 2012 in parallel with Viva Palestina Malaysia, which has also withdrawn its seven vehicles and 15 volunteers from the Viva Palestina Arabia convoy for similar reasons.
Originally, Viva Palestina Arabia was talking about embarking the convoy onto a vehicular ferry in Turkey, which would bypass Syria and sail to Egypt. There the convoy would disembark and drive through Egypt’s Rafah Gate into Gaza.
Right from the outset, Kia Ora Gaza insisted that the convoy avoid crossing Syria, where the Assad regime has killed, jailed and tortured tens of thousands of democracy advocates since March 2011. Despite a recent United Nations peace initiative, the regime’s indefensible repression continues to this day.
Kia Ora Gaza has two reasons for our stance. First, given the Syrian dictator’s inhuman behaviour towards his own citizens, we don’t want the Assad regime making political capital from any humanitarian mission to Gaza. Second, given the devious plots of the Assad regime, the state of Israel and other imperial powers operating in the region, the risk to convoyers crossing Syria would be unacceptably high.
As soon as Kia Ora Gaza became aware of the recent decision to reroute the Viva Palestina Arabia mission through Syria, we raised strong objections with the convoy’s leadership in England. However, our objections were overruled, leaving Kia Ora Gaza with no option except to withdraw.
Our withdrawal is made with heavy hearts. We are open to resuming common work with Viva Palestina Arabia’s leaders on future projects which unite, rather than divide, the international convoy movement.
And perhaps it may turn out for the best. A strategic decision to start Gaza convoys from Cairo will resonate with the great majority of Egyptians, thus weakening the Israeli siege at its already weakest point. And a Cairo start is easily the most cost effective option, thus lifting the dollar ratio of humanitarian aid flowing to desperate people in Gaza.
Kia Ora Gaza will make further public statements as plans mature for an early Cairo to Gaza convoy. We invite expressions of interest from convoy movements in other countries about making this an international project. Our contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, our discussions with Viva Palestina Malaysia will continue. So too will our fund-raising to bring a serious amount of medical supplies and other humanitarian aid into Gaza via Cairo. You can see how to donate to our Gaza Appeal on the sidebar of kiaoragaza.net.