4 December 2009
The Gaza Freedom March that will take place in Gaza on 31 December is an historic initiative to break the siege that has imprisoned the 1.5 million people who live there. Conceived in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and nonviolent resistance to injustice worldwide, the march will gather people from all over the world to march — hand in hand — with the people of Gaza to demand that the Israelis open the borders.
Marking the one-year anniversary of the December 2008 Israeli invasion that left more than 1,400 dead, this is a grassroots global response to the inaction on the part of world leaders and institutions. More than 1,000 international delegates from 42 countries have already signed up and more are signing on every day.
Participants include Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, leading Syrian comedian Duraid Lahham, French Senator Alima Boumediene-Thiery, author and Filipino Parliament member Walden Bello, former European Parliamentarians Luisa Morgantini from Italy and Eva Quistorp from Germany, President of the US Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney Michael Ratner, Japanese former Ambassador to Lebanon Naoto Amaki, French hip-hop artists Ministere des Affaires Populaires, and 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein.
We also have families of three generations, doctors, lawyers, diplomats, 70 students, an interfaith group that includes rabbis, priests and imams, a women’s delegation, a Jewish contingent, a veterans group and Palestinians born overseas who have never seen their families in Gaza.
The international delegates will enter Gaza via Egypt during the last week of December. In the morning 31 December, they will join Palestinians in a nonviolent march from northern Gaza to the Erez/Israeli border. On the Israeli side of the Erez border will be a gathering of Palestinians and Jews who are also calling on the Israeli government to open the border.
Inside Gaza, excitement is growing. Representatives of all aspects of civil society, including students, professors, refugee groups, unions, women’s organizations, nongovernmental organizations, have been busy organizing and estimate that at least 50,000 Palestinians will participate. People from the different sectors will march in their uniforms — fishermen, doctors, students, farmers, etc. Local Palestinian rappers, hip-hop bands and dabke dancers will perform on mobile stages.