For Immediate Release
Ann Wright, Egypt (19) 508-1493
Ziyaad Lunat, Egypt +20 191181340
Medea Benjamin, Egypt +20 18 956 1919
Ehab Lotayef, Egypt +20 17 638 2628 (Arabic)
Gaza Freedom Marchers Walled in Behind Police Barricade in Front of UN Office in Cairo
CAIRO, Egypt - Hundreds of activists staged a sit-in outside the United Nations building in Cairo demanding that the world body intervene to facilitate their entry into Gaza.
Egyptian security forces surrounded the demonstration while protesters chanted slogans calling for an end to the Israeli siege. A delegation headed by Filipino senator Walden Bello held negotiations with UN representatives to ask for safe entry into Gaza for all marchers. UN attempts to reach out to the Egyptian government did not yield results, but the UN officials agreed to try to set up a meeting with the Foreign Ministry's Chief of Staff and to deliver the groups' letter to President Mubarak.
Protestors dispersed at the end of the day promising to return with more creative actions. Eleven marchers - four Spanish, three Egyptians, one German, one Italian, one American and one northern Irish - vowed to spend the night at the UN building. Egyptian forces are surrounding them and there are fears for their safety.
Meanwhile, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, 85, began a hunger strike to call the world's attention to the current impasse. She was joined by eleven other hunger strikers.
"We are determined to enter Gaza, the criminal siege cannot continue", said Ziyaad Lunat of the Gaza Freedom March organizing committee.