by Grant Morgan
Auckland, New Zealand
2 May 2012
After being farewelled from Bradford, England on 22 April by newly-elected Respect MP George Galloway,(1) the 12-vehicle Viva Palestina Arabia aid convoy to Gaza is now crossing Bulgaria and nearing the Turkish border.(2)
Convoy organisers appear committed to driving from Turkey into Syria. Two days ago, on Galloway’s The Real Deal TV show, convoy manager Kevin Ovenden confirmed that the convoy would be going “through Syria”. Galloway asked: “So you’re going through Syria because that’s the road to Palestine?” Ovenden replied: “Indeed.”(3)
However, strong disagreement comes from Abdul Wahab el-Sayed Omar of British Solidarity for Syria. In yesterday’s Times of London, he says the convoy “could easily go through Egypt instead. The only explanation I can see is that this is a propaganda move aimed at helping the Syrian regime.”(4)
The same report in The Times noted that Kia Ora Gaza and Viva Palestina Malaysia had pulled out of the convoy over the “sudden and unilateral decision” by Viva Palestina Arabia to travel via Syria.(5)
Despite a UN “truce”, Syria remains a slaughterhouse as the Assad government’s heavily armed forces continue to bombard and terrorise democracy protesters, including Palestinian refugees in Latakia. Some of the protesters have obtained light weapons and are fighting back. The UN estimates the Syrian death toll to be close to 10,000.
There may be difficulties and dangers even crossing the Turkish border into Syria. The Assad regime’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jihad Makdisi, said in a written statement four days ago that Turkish leaders are “threatening to bring in NATO troops to protect its borders with Syria” with the aim of “aggravating the situation in Syria”.(6)
Yesterday the UN special envoy for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said that since the UN truce was signed on 12 April, “more than 34 children have allegedly been killed”.(7) If that number of children have been killed, how many men and women have fallen during the “truce”?
Meanwhile a war of words has begun over the convoy’s decision to traverse Syria. Galloway accuses pro-Palestinian critics of trying to damage the convoy for “sectarian reasons”, saying the route doesn’t imply support for “any side in any Arab to Arab conflict”.(8)
But opposing views are coming from even longtime supporters of Viva Palestina. For instance, UK-based pro-Palestinian activist Margaret Green, writing on the convoy’s Facebook page, says the Syria route is “a dangerous move on many fronts, your own safety being paramount, and the convoy could be used as propaganda for the murderous Assad regime, giving any legitimacy to this regime is a foolish act.”(9)
To help readers make up their own minds about whether or not the convoy should be crossing Syrian territory, underneath are published four recent videos from and about Syria.
(1) YouTube video, 22 April 2012.
(2) Bradford to Gaza Facebook group, viewed on 2 May 2012.
(3) Press TV’s The Real Deal, 30 April 2012.
(4) The Times of London, 1 May 2012.
(5) The Times is quoting Kia Ora Gaza’s public statement of 16 April 2012.
(6) Today’s Zaman, 29 April 2012.
(7) Al Jazeera’s Syria blog, 2 May 2012.
(8) The Real Deal, 30 April 2012.
(9) Bradford to Gaza Facebook group, viewed on 29 April 2012.
Huge anti-Assad demonstration in the Syrian city of Aleppo, four days ago
The Syrian regime’s slaughter of democracy advocates continues in Hama, five days ago