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Human Rights or No Rights

Pippa Bartolotti writes about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Pippa saying goodbye to the van she used on a previous trip to carry goods to Gaza from Wales

Going to Gaza

As September approaches, a potentially momentous political event looms before us: the admission – or not – of Palestine as a member state of the UN. There are diverse opinions on whether this is a good or bad thing, but the discussion must be held, and quickly. Those of us concerned with the upholding of human rights and fair play in this world know that we cannot ignore this complicated issue which deserves serious and detailed consideration. The fate of the Middle East, so long confused and befuddled by meddling outside powers is on the brink of a breakthrough.

The latest Freedom Flotilla, fifteen boats carrying activists from more than twenty countries, will attempt to break the illegal Israeli siege of Gaza. The last flotilla ended with 9 deaths and many injuries. Six young men were summarily executed by gunshots to the head at point blank range. The event was grossly manipulated by the news press and Israeli propaganda, to the point that the BBC eventually had to make a public apology for breaches of accuracy and impartiality in their report “Death in the Med”. The Israeli government has already called on the UN and the international community to stop the current flotilla despite the fact that it is carrying badly needed humanitarian aid.

Diplomacy does not exclude humanitarian action, and we, as ordinary global citizens have the right not to remain silent in the face of human rights abuses. When I was in Gaza last October I witnessed the traumatised faces of young men terrified to walk in the streets for fear of drones (Unarmed Arial Vehicles which rain death triggered by playstation pilots hundreds or thousands of miles away from the target). I saw the empty stare of children orphaned in the violence of war; experienced days of no food and lived in the stench of raw sewerage because the treatment plants had been bombed out and building materials to repair the works are forbidden by the Israeli blockade to enter.

As a long standing human rights campaigner I find that I cannot sit at peace with myself as similar events unfold in the other occupied territory known as the West Bank. Here, houses and farms are daily requisitioned for illegal (according to the UN) Israeli settlement building; entire Bedouin communities – with Israeli passports – are forced from their land; unarmed peaceful demonstrators are shot dead or maimed every day of the week and you would have to look hard to find any news of this our own mainstream media.

During 8 – 16 July 2011 hundreds of men, women and children from all over the world will fly into Tel Aviv airport to visit the people of the occupied territories on the West Bank in an act of human unity, and for a week of humanitarian volunteer work. I shall be among them. We go in peace, openly and proudly to represent the morality and humanity of our own country and to uphold the right of all human beings to a secure and dignified existence.

Local groups in Europe and in the United States are organising delegations.  Email Palestine Justice Network info@palestinejn.org if you would like to be connected to the organising group in your country. www.palestinejn.org


You can follow events on Pippa’s blog.