Tuesday, August 11, 2009


An Appeal to Free Gaza - A Profile of Courage - The Free Gaza Movement - By Christopher and Matthias Chang (20/7/09)

By Christopher and Matthias Chang

Monday, 20 July 2009 00:35

Death creeps on you unexpectedly, sometimes like a thief in the night, sometimes it leaves a calling card, telling us that it is only weeks or months that we have left to make our arrangements and sometimes, it emerges as a savage disease that ravages your body.

The shock and pain lingers on and tried as hard as we can to feint composure and normality, the dark loneliness overwhelms us and we cry out in anger and in anguish - Why? Why now? Why in this way?

To love someone for so long and to see life slipping away is an unbearable burden. It is unfair. It is just not right. We turn back the pages of a life once shared. And it seems like only yesterday that the first word we learned to cherish, would forever linger in our lips – “mummy”.

We remind ourselves to be strong … there are just too many things to be said and yet cannot be said. We are lost for words. And as tears well in our eyes, we are consoled that at the very least, we have our time to say our goodbyes and to seek forgiveness. The final hour is yet to come.

But there are others who are less fortunate and we must not let our own grief and pain to cast a shadow over their plight and suffering – a lingering pain and anguish that seems never to go away, even after fifty long years.

We speak of death and crimes committed against the heroic Palestinian people.

The smell of blood, shed in vain lingers in the air everyday in Palestine.

A bullet splits the skull and a mother is left carrying a dead child in her arms.

An explosion flattens a tenement block but the mangled bodies of women and children beneath steel and rubble are mere statistics.

Homes, schools, hospitals and places of worship are destroyed with impunity with the latest weaponry supplied by the US to Israel but the world turns a blind eye to the atrocities. War Crimes Tribunals are quick to be established against third world tyrants but US and Israeli war criminals are beyond the reach of international law.

For over two years, the Palestinians in Gaza were starved of basic food and other necessities by a cruel and inhumane blockade imposed by Israel and tacitly supported by the US, the European Union and neighbouring countries of the Middle East.

Their cries for help and justice were rebuffed by the international community but the courage of two NGOs – Viva Palestina and The Free Gaza Movement have put to shame the double standards and hypocrisy of several leading member countries of the United Nations. Defying the brutal Israeli regime, the two organizations broke the siege and blockade of Gaza. But more need to be done, for the blockade of Gaza is a humanitarian catastrophe.

Viva Palestina succeeded in bringing two convoy of lorries laden with supplies through the Rafah Crossing, while the Free Gaza Movement since August 2008 and using only small boats and against all odds broke the sea blockade repeatedly.

Although the first five voyages successfully reached Gaza, the only international boats to do so since 1967, the last three attempts have been violently stopped by the Israeli military.

On one occasion their boat, Dignity was rammed by Israeli naval vessels and just recently on June 30, 2009 another boat, The Spirit of Humanity was illegally commandeered in international waters and the volunteers were forcefully arrested by Israeli commandos and incarcerated in prison for six days (some longer) for the alleged offence of intruding into Israel illegally!

Those unlawfully imprisoned included Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire and former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The cargo of medical supplies and children toys were confiscated.

Undeterred by these brutal actions of the Israeli military, the members of The Free Gaza Movement are determined to continue in their efforts to break the illegal siege of Gaza by sailing unarmed boats with human rights workers, journalists and parliamentarians, as well as much needed humanitarian and reconstruction supplies.

The courage and determination of the members of The Free Gaza Movement led by its chairperson, Huwaida Shapiro is exceptional and the only protection they have is the spotlight of world conscience and your unstinting support.

Last week, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and members of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation and the Kuala Lumpur Foundation To Criminalise War met with this incredible team of volunteers and pledge to assist them in their endeavours.

Their number one priority is to get more boats to break the siege of Gaza.

Without boats, supplies cannot get into Gaza.

Each boat costs €200,000 to €300,000 and they need to have at least 5 boats by yesterday.

Winter is coming soon and the Palestinians in Gaza need shelter, food and clothing. Time is of the essence.

We therefore appeal to all Malaysians to come forward to help the Palestinians.

You can help by:

1) Donating generously to acquire the boats to bring supplies to Gaza;

2) Be a volunteer to help the Free Gaza Movement;

3) Disseminate this appeal to as many people as possible;

4) To lobby your Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen and women to support this noble endeavour;

5) More importantly, to lobby the Malaysian Government, specifically the Prime Minister to finance the purchase, at the minimum one boat.

For further enquiries and clarification, contact the following:

Dr. Zulaiha Ismail at +6019-3843913

Mr. Ram Kathegesu at +6012-2270159

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