Numerous protests against Israel’s apartheid and massacres in Gaza have been held in South Africa. One of the targets has been the Egyptian regime’s role in the siege of Gaza. — Ed.
To President Hosni Mubarak, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt
9 January 2009
We who have gathered today outside the Egyptian Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, declare our belief that your government is complicit in the starvation and massacre of Palestinian people in Gaza.
While the Israeli Occupation Forces continues to butcher Palestinians, your regime refuses fully to open the Rafah crossing. While Israeli bombs devastate schools, mosques and homes, and while Israeli forces have murdered over 600 Palestinians and maimed more than 3,000 in the past two weeks, you refuse to do the one thing that can bring a great deal of succour to an oppressed population. Some 1.5 million people in Gaza are without food, electricity, water or medicines. They are being terrorised with tank shells, missiles and bombs night and day. Illegal weaponry such as white phosphorous and cluster bombs is being used against civilians. It is a human catastrophe. The atrocities include the killing of 42 women and children sheltering at a UN school. Despite the scale of suffering, you remain resolute in your collaboration with Israel and your determination to prevent Palestinian refugees from crossing into Egypt.
In a callous fashion, your government prevents even Egyptian doctors from entering Gaza. It shamefully prevents Egyptians from demonstrating against the carnage; it has arrested hundreds of Egyptian protestors. Despite this repression, tens of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets. We salute them.
We note that on the 25th December 2008, two days before the bombing of Gaza began, the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abul Gheit held hands with Tipsy Livni. To most of us in the rest of the world, this was a signal of your government’s quiescence of the planned massacre of Palestinians. The murderous plan was hatched six months ago — even while Israel was negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas, with your assistance.
Your regime has fully cooperated with Israel’s siege of Gaza, which has prevented goods, fuel, food and medicine from reaching the people. Palestinians built tunnels as lifelines. We again salute the Egyptians who helped them do this.
Mr President, you have said that you will not open the Rafah border unless Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority takes control. In this statement are echoes of the Israeli, US and EU governments. But, have you forgotten that it was Hamas that was democratically elected in an election universally regarded as free and fair — an honour that neither you nor Abbas can claim? You have ensured that, in Egypt, emergency laws have been in operation since 1981 and there have been no real elections. You do not even allow your people legally to demonstrate or strike. Human rights abuses by your security forces, including torture, are rife.
We remember, too, that under the brokerage of the US government, you signed a trade pact with Israel, providing cheap Arab labour for Israeli bosses. The pact makes Egyptian access to US markets conditional on collaboration with Israel. Workers in your country have protested against this economic blackmail, and have been brutally suppressed by your security forces.
We join with people of conscience around the world — including the majority of Egyptians — in calling on you to:
- Open the Rafah Crossing immediately and permanently;
- Facilitate the movement of medical personnel, medical supplies and food into Gaza;
- Recognise the democratic will of the Palestinian people and recognise Hamas as the elected authority for the Palestinian people;
- End all collaboration with the Apartheid state of Israel;
- Invalidate all trade and other cooperation with Israel;
- Rally the rest of the Arab world to support the just cause of the Palestinian people, to end all relations with Israel and to implement sanctions against Israel; and
- Release all those detained by your security forces for their protests against Israel.
This memorandum came to MRZine via Salim Vally, a founding member of COSATU and a leading member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee in South Africa.