As Gaza Freedom Marchers continue to push the Egyptian Government to allow us to leave Cairo for El Arish, they are beginning to push back. This morning at 7am Freedom Marchers met at the garage where we were expecting to board buses headed to El Arish. Instead we were met by a large group of soldiers who turned every bus and taxi away. Until we reached a large crowd, the authorities were forceful, pushing peaceful demonstrators and trying to prevent the filming of the situation.

Some of the Freedom Marchers then went to the French Embassy to offer to support to the 300 French delegates who had camped out at the embassy overnight following a dramatic die-in on the road that stopped traffic and lasted several hours. Ten Canadians entered the barricaded area where spirits were high but were told that if we entered we would not be permitted to leave. However, after approximately one hour the Canadian delegates were allowed out. The French delegates were awaiting an announcement from the Embassy which was to be delivered sometime this morning.

Approximately 20 Egyptian Student Activists, demonstrating separately from the Gaza Freedom March, were brutally beaten by police. Reportedly, what they were asking for was the opportunity for free speech.

Next, the decision was made to march to the UN World Trade Center Cairo to request assistance from the UN to plead our case to Egyptian Authorities. At noon, approximately 900 delegates gathered in song, dance and silent vigil. Holocaust survivor, 85 year old Hettie Epstein announced that she would begin a hunger strike as she sat among school supplies designated for children in Gaza. Five Canadians have agreed to join her and other internationals will undoubtedly come forward. The UN Square was quickly surrounded by police, and later by physical barricades as we continued to sing and dance to songs of peace.

As security around us tightened, an American woman at the front of the barricade was assaulted by a police officer. She was punched in the face. This young woman was able to leave the barricaded area and indicated that she will go to the US embassy to ask for assistance. In addition, we received news that at the French Embassy a Canadian Citizen with dual UK citizenship had been detained by riot police and was being threatened with either detention for a minimum of five days or deportation immediately to the airport. Naomi Katharine Riches is trying to organize support in order to reduce the risk of the use of excessive force. The Canadian Embassy is now closed in Cairo. Local and international press are being turned away and refused entry into the barricaded area.

Several Delegates have entered into discussions with representatives and will ask for UN assistance in negotiating with the Egyptian Government to allow us to proceed to the Rafah Border. Failing that, we will request that a smaller delegation of representatives from each country be allowed to pass to deliver the humanitarian items that have arrived from around the world. Finally, if the Egyptian Authorities will not agree to this we are asking that the UN assist in facilitating the transportation of the humanitarian aid without any delegates.

Delegates have determined that they will hold the space at the UN World Trade Center for as long as possible, continuing to engage in non-violent acts of peace.


Wendy Goldsmith

Wendy Goldsmith

Wendy Goldsmith has been a social worker in London for the past 20 years, working with children, families, newcomers, survivors of abuse and women’s groups. She is committed to promoting peace...