Monday, December 28th, 2009
Before leaving the states, CODEPINK reached out to Mrs. Mubarak, wife of Egyptian premiere Hosni Mubarak about the Gaza Freedom March, and the government's denial of our passage to Gaza. She had interceded on our behalf when we were having the same experience with the Egyptian Government in March, when they refused to let our buses take us to Al Arish, as they did this morning at 7 a.m. In March, we were all able to enter and deliver the thousands of pink baskets of aid to the women of Gaza for International Women's Day.
This morning, I went to Mrs. Mubarak's offices at the Women's International Peace Movement to ask for her help again in opening the border of Gaza for our delegation. Her program manager was quite helpful and delivered a copy of the email thousands had been sending all weekend from the states, translated into Arabic.
Just hours later, an assistant from the office of the First Lady called, and said Mrs. Mubarak wanted to help us: Could I describe what we were taking and what we needed? I told her we needed the 1,300 to be allowed to enter Gaza and deliver the aid we had brought from thousands more who cared deeply for the situation the Gazans are suffering under.
An hour later, the head of the Red Crescent (of which she is Chair) called and said he had been instructed to help us in any way he could. He would send a car for me at 11 a.m. and we would go over all the details of who was with us and what they were bringing. Mrs. Mubarak would take the information to the Foreign Ministry. This call came as we finished stringing the hundreds of prayer flags that came from around the world to be included in our visuals at the vigil.
All this was happening as hundreds held vigil with now-hunger-striking Hedy Epstein in front of the building that houses the UN. Parliamentarians from the Philippines, Walden Bello, Ann Wright, Ali Abunimah, and Medea Benjamin went up and down to the offices with requests to intercede on our behalf. Dozens and dozens of police surrounded us man-to-man and held us like a cage, not letting us out. Those who were able to sneak out where not allowed back in and by the end of the night there were a few arrests.