LARGE DELEGATION—MOSTLY AMERICANS--LEAVES CAIRO FOR GAZA;
LAUNCH CAMPAIGN URGING OBAMA TO VISIT GAZA DURING HIS TRIP TO EGYPT NEXT WEEK
When: Friday, May 29, 2009, 9am
Where: parking lot next to the Saudi Arabian Airlines office on Qasr Nile Street, near the Nile Hilton Hotel, CAIRO
With the upcoming visit of President Obama to Cairo on June 4, a 66-person delegation, including Americans from 18 states, leaves Cairo on May 29 for the Gaza Strip. The group of peace activists, bringing toys and building playgrounds for the traumatized children of Gaza, has launched an international petition calling on Obama to visit Gaza and see the destruction for himself. They will return to Cairo on June 4 in time to deliver to the U.S. Embassy the petition asking Obama to visit the war-torn region and to push Israel and Egypt to open the borders.
“We think if President Obama is serious about being even-handed and reversing our country’s past favoritism towards Israel then he should visit Gaza himself,” says Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK that organized the delegation. “We’re sure that if he saw and heard about the suffering personally, he would put the required pressure on the governments of both Israel and Egypt to open the borders now.”
CODEPINK is calling on concerned citizens everywhere to sign its petition to President Obama by visiting http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/424/t/8834/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1837.
They will deliver the signatures to the U.S. Embassy during Obama’s visit, and hold a rally calling on the U.S. to stop funding Israeli war crimes. “If President Obama can, at the last minute, add a visit to Saudi Arabia to have a private dinner with the King, then he certainly can go to Gaza,” said Col. Ann Wright, co-leader of the delegation and a retired U.S. Army colonel and a former U.S. diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.
CODEPINK, a women-led peace group, has led several delegations to Gaza to witness, firsthand, the devastation caused by the 22 day Israeli military attack on the Gaza Strip that began in December, 2008. The group is particularly concerned about the children of Gaza, who make up more than half of the population. Approximately 400 children were killed during the 22 day attack and an estimated 1,346 Gazan children were left without one or both of their parents as a result of the recent Israeli assault. The majority of the children in Gaza were traumatized by the attack and invasion.
The international delegation, which will enter Gaza at the invitation of the United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA), will visit with social service agencies that care for children, deliver sports equipment and toys to schools, and build three playgrounds.
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 0189561919
Pam Rasmussen, delegation coordinator, 0176731483
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK national media coordinator, (US tel.) 646-723-1781
Photo opportunity: Visit and photograph the delegates, with their colorful banners, as they prepare to depart for Rafah.