The Sixth Viva Palestina convoy set off this week. You can watch George Galloway bidding them farewell from his new base, in
Blackburn Burnley Brighton Bradford, if you fancy.
Now, as many of you are fond of asking: why doesn’t Viva Palestina organise a convoy to Syria where, as we’ve seen, the Syrian army is torturing, raping and murdering the civilian population?
Well, the news is: this Viva Palestina convoy is visiting Syria. Although not as deliverers of aid.
This has resulted in a falling out among the activists:
By unanimous decision of our trustees, organisers and convoyers, Kia Ora Gaza has withdrawn our two vehicles and four New Zealand volunteers from the Viva Palestina Arabia convoy to Gaza. Why? Because of a sudden, and unilateral, decision by leaders of Viva Palestina Arabia to reroute the mission through Syria. The convoy is scheduled to depart from England on 22 April 2012.
Instead, Kia Ora Gaza will focus on flying into Cairo to take medical supplies and other humanitarian aid into Gaza. This looks like happening in June 2012 in parallel with Viva Palestina Malaysia, which has also withdrawn its seven vehicles and 15 volunteers from the Viva Palestina Arabia convoy for similar reasons.
Originally, Viva Palestina Arabia was talking about embarking the convoy onto a vehicular ferry in Turkey, which would bypass Syria and sail to Egypt. There the convoy would disembark and drive through Egypt’s Rafah Gate into Gaza.
Right from the outset, Kia Ora Gaza insisted that the convoy avoid crossing Syria, where the Assad regime has killed, jailed and tortured tens of thousands of democracy advocates since March 2011. Despite a recent United Nations peace initiative, the regime’s indefensible repression continues to this day.
Kia Ora Gaza has two reasons for our stance. First, given the Syrian dictator’s inhuman behaviour towards his own citizens, we don’t want the Assad regime making political capital from any humanitarian mission to Gaza. Second, given the devious plots of the Assad regime, the state of Israel and other imperial powers operating in the region, the risk to convoyers crossing Syria would be unacceptably high.
As soon as Kia Ora Gaza became aware of the recent decision to reroute the Viva Palestina Arabia mission through Syria, we raised strong objections with the convoy’s leadership in England. However, our objections were overruled, leaving Kia Ora Gaza with no option except to withdraw.
I can’t for the life of me think of any Viva Palestina activist in the United Kingdom who is a fanatical supporter of the Baathist regime in Syria, and who has a track record of fawning to dictators who massacre their own people.