DAYS 16-18: Damascus to Amman

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NEWS FROM THE ROAD...

Day 18 – Wednesday Dec 23 ’09

Great piece on Sabbah‘s blog by Stuart Littlewood:

Relax, Holy Father. Viva Palestina and George Galloway are doing the job for you

Dignitaries, emissaries, human rights delegations, fact-finding trippers… they come and go, but Gaza’s suffering continues and day by day gets worse, thanks to the corrupted leadership of the international community who are the scandal of our age. But here’s a spot of Christmas cheer for the starving, desolated Palestinians imprisoned in the tiny coastal enclave. – READ MORE…

NEWS! Lebanon’s Daily Star reports on the Gaza Freedom March, mentions the Convoy: “On the march for human dignity in Gaza” & Egypt’s Shourouknews.com talks about the Convoy’s passage through Egypt. Oh! how about some musical slidehows?

DID YOU KNOW? Jordan hosts 42% (1.9-million) of all Palestinian refugees… read about refugee life in Amman: Palestinian Refugees Live Out Lives in Limbo…

11pm: All OK in Amman… tomorrow 176 miles to Aqaba and another boat trip…

We are fine. Had a good day in Amman. Tomorrow off to Aqaba.@YorktoGaza

9pm: (Almost) dinner time…

Waiting patiently for diner to arrive. Convoy leaving Amman tomorrow and heading for Aquaba down the Kings High Way @linsayc

Full day of rallies in Amman, now waiting for dinner, it’s only 3 hours late! an improvement on last night.@Grant69

BLOGS! 2 London-based blogs with people on the Convoy:

Middle East Monitor (MEMO) joined the Convoy in Damascus, they have some touching personal stories after visiting refugee camps on their few days in Syria: “Day 1 & 2: London to Damascus” & “Day 3: Al-Yarmouk village & Wajeb Centre

& our friends at Waltham Forest PSC have the first update from their ambulance+crew in Jordan:

On the road to Gaza: “Rada, Jo and I are still alive, our ambulance is almost still on one piece and your aid is totally intact. Rock on!…”

NEWS! World Bulletin w/PICS: “Jordan halts Gaza convoy passing, Egypt signals trouble” – Jordanian Govt Press Release… & another front page, Al-Quds:

VOICES FROM THE ROAD!

“The night before the convoy leaves for Jordan, D reflects upon traveling with devout Muslims while being an Atheist herself.”

DIARY! 3 more updates from Pal Telegraph:

Diary #14: Gaziantep to Damascus » #15: Damascus » #16: Damascus to Amman

4pm: Public event under way…

At an outside rally in Amman, soaking in sun, listening to speeches and songs. At least a thousand ppl here!@Pal_S_Campaign

George giving a rousing speech to hundreds in Amman city centre @linsayc

NEWS! 2 3 front pages! Al Ghad [web], Jordan Times [web] & PS Al-Quds

PICTURES! 3rbNews @ Jaber arrival

AmmonNews.net on pre-arrival preparations and WHY the Convoy was delayed enroute to Amman last night:

… Security forces Tuesday night allowed the Viva Palestina convoy to enter Amman after breaking it up into smaller convoys to prevent traffic congestion…. Authorities justified the decision to block the convoy from entering Amman earlier in the day because there are not enough parking spaces for accompanying cars. – Dec 22: Viva Palestina arrives in Amman

Turkish VP mentions the Police ‘Escort’ to Amman & PressTV “… nears Gaza

2pm: Easy day in Amman after last night’s drama…

Happy campers, fed, watered and rested ready for the next stage of our journey. @linsayc

Fantastic reception from the people and governments in Syria and Turkey. Arrived in Amman, Jordan with the Viva Palestina Convoy last night!@Fio_edwards

10am: First morning in Amman, reunited with their جوازات السفر

happy to have got my passport back from the Jordanians.@RamGK

a day off in amman and we have got our passports back@PGPOrg

3am: 425 rooms at the inn…

Housed 425 people in 3 hotels in total chaos in less than 3 hours… success! @linsayc

NEWS! Ad-Dustour has details of today’s ceremony at the Professional Associations Complex & a longer piece on the Jordan leg and GG/Chavez’s plans for VP4.

Day 17 – Tuesday Dec 22 ’09

NEWS! Some bedtime reading…

Jordan Times: “Viva Palestina accorded grand welcome at Jaber crossing

Al R’ai: “Lifeline convoy in Jordan enroute to Gaza

Al Ghad: “Palestinians need is more important than marches and slogans

Ad-Dustour has details of tomorrow’s trade union ceremony & a longer piece on the visit and GG/Chavez’s plans for VP4.

Government announcement @Petra.Gov.Jo:

Prime Minister Samir Rifai on Tuesday called on Chairman of the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO) Ahmad Al-Amian to receive The Life-Line aid convoy to Gaza (Viva Palestina), expected to arrive in Jordan on Tuesday on its way to Gaza Strip. The 220- truck convoy, led by British MP George Galloway, will stay in Jordan for two days and then move on Thursday to Rafah crossing via Aqaba and the Egyptian port of Nweibe.

& another Syrian front page at Al Watan [eng]:

Dec 22: Al Watan - CLICK for a souvenir PDF

11pm: Another hotel…

Safe in Amman, fed, waiting 4 bus to hotel – @YorktoGaza

10pm: Amman! At last!

Entire convoy blockaded on the highway just outside amman by jordanian police. Caused a huge jam! Allowed to continue after heated negotiations. Luckily, george galloway, who crossed with us from syria, escaped on ahead to make it to reception hosted by jordanian engineers’ assoc.

George G speaks at reception and says we’ll camp in the sinai if we have to, if egypt refuses us entry to gaza. lots of cheers – @Pal_S_Campaign

Finally arrived. Parking cars and eating then shipping out to hotels for two nights in Amman. Rallys and press continue to help VP grow. Wonder if we’ll see any more of Amman than we did of Damascus? – @linsayc

NEWS! Middle East Monitor: Viva Palestina arrives in Jordan today

9pm: Gandhi Kermit would be proud?

More police muppetry on approach to #Amman. #Convoy blocking whole highway and pushing thru towards city. @Joti2Gaza

CONVOY 1 : 0 POLICE @ 8.37pm: Gandhi would be proud!

Police have given up trying to split/divert us for now. Convoy has pushed past them and is heading 4 Amman. Direct action!@Joti2Gaza

8pm: To Amman or not to Amman?… Mexican Jordanian Standoff with the Police on the #15 motorway…

More drama on #Amman Rd. Police trying 2 divert convoy. Ended up blocking whole road + pushing on thru. Slow progress tho. – @Joti2Gaza

Memories of Tunisia… Finally moving after a stand off with the Jordanian police on Amman’s central motorway. Locals gave full support. A peaceful and patient protest by a 420 strong international Viva Palestina crew. On the move again. – @linsayc

Convoy wants to go to Amman. Police does not want Convoy to go Amman. Convoy now blockading major hiway! – @Zhat

On highway, looks like cops trying to split convoy by getting in between vehicles. Convoy driving closely to each other. Traffic now on standstill. Convoy refuse to be separated. – @juanajaafar

7pm: With a police escort, they are on their way to AmmanConvoy: Drive Safe & Keep the Faith(s)!

We’re out. Drama. Tweet later. We heading to place we’re putting up at. Many members not happy with situation. – @juanajaafar

6pm: 6 hours later and finally through the border zone… (some) passports held… Jordanians will sleep in safety tonight… here’s a quick Tweetcap:

Still in holding area. Chorus of horns and sirens got us a bit further. Dark now. We’re mystified but patient…. Near 6 hrs. About half convoy with us. We hear about negotiations but not counting on rumours. Will do food soon…. Arrived border 12, now abt 6. Were aiming 4 Aman but told have 2 go 2 Akaba. Taken 1 passport from each vehicle so stuck here… Through border, but one passport from each vehicle kept to be returned at Aqaba. Heading for the reception in Amman…. Have police escort. @YorktoGaza

why keep passports? security or insecurity?… looks like this is gonna take a while… why keep passports? security or insecurity? … we drive on. each car has given 1 passport to be collected at exit when leaving – @PGPOrg

jordanians want our passports… maybe they like the print… now they want 84 passports only… think they tryin to ensure we have to take the aid out of jordan the way it came in and none goes to palestinian refugee camps in jordan… passport problem solved, each car gives one pp and collects is back at al akba when we leave… nt much of a solution, but we drive on! – @RamGK

We have been sitting on JOR border for hours. Now told we gonna be here for at least another hour. Rebellion at border! All sirens on and honking. We’re hungry and we need to move on with our journey… It’s been 4 hours we held at JOR border. Looks like they letting us go. Now slowly inching our way out of gates and into JOR. Hold up very fishy tho guards were friendly. JOR autho stopped us at gate, ask that all drivers passports now be held by autho till we leave/reach Egypt border. You know you’re close to Gaza when shit like this happens. Viva now slow talking autho. Vehicles still stuck in border compound. It’s dark. – @juanajaafar

Still at Jordanian border after nearly 6hrs. Not quite sure why. Roumours abound. Dark, cold, hungry, tired. Time 4 a snooze. Finally got thru #Jordan border. Guards confiscated passpts of all drivers. Hope we c them at other end! Long drive 2 #Amman. – @Joti2Gaza

After 6hrs at Syria-Jordan border, we still held up at border Amman. Some all mighty confusion about passports to be retained by border… – @Zhat

Finally on the move in Jordan. Crossed at Jabir and heading too Annam…. Chaos in Amman, this is what convoys are all about! Viva Palestina! – @linsayc

5pm: Border is dark…

I dream of a world without borders. – @linsayc

[we’ll save the rest of the tweets till they get through… you never know who’s reading ;)]

4pm: Border blues…

Stressed at Jordan border, waiting, drinking tea, deckchairs, footie,dates in sunshine – @YorktoGaza

NEWS! Malaysia’s Bernama TV: More MYs Join “Viva Palestina Convoy” To Gaza

3pm: {(bag +hole) < passport}*72mins = Amman

I have my passport! Almost time to move on to Amman. – @linsayc

1pm: Long line at the border…

Sitting in a huge holding area at Jordan border post, passports taken away in a plastic bag (with a hole in it) by a man on a bike! – @linsayc

Crossing the border into Jordan now. Goodbye to Syrian hospitality. No idea what to expect from now on. Hope 4 the best! – @Joti2Gaza

then its off to amman for a couple of nites, convoy may get larger there were at the border waitin to cross into jordan. – @PGPOrg

12pm: South Africans on their way…

Just left hotel and on the way to JOR border. Gaza, we are roaring your way! Will be staying in Amman for 2 nights. Heard there are vehicles On their way from South Africa coming to join us! Viva. See you in Amman. The heat is really on Egypt as JOR too welcomes convoy warmly. And if S. Africans make it in time then Egypt has convoys coming from 3 continents! Will they tell world that they banning baby milk powder, ambulances, school books, wheelchairs from delivery to Gaza? – @juanajaafar

11am: Early start, crossing into Jordan!

Spent last nite in Damascus, did sightseeing too. Now rolling to Amman via border xing. Good hospitality by Syrians. Hoping Jordan matches. – @Zhat

Exiting Syria with a crowd waving flags at the border to Jordan. Sunshine, music, excitement. Perfect. @Pal_S_Campaign

FLASHBBC mentions Gaza! Aid agencies condemnation of situation a year on. No mention of VP, but a start. Contact Beeb to encourage them, goto: BBC NewsWatch feedback form – Ask them to cover Viva Palestina – @YorktoGaza

VOICES FROM THE ROAD!


Phone interview with the 4 ladies Aunties from Swansea:

2am: Details, shout-outs and another new member of the Convoy’s Tweeterati

In Syria with Viva Palestina Convoy. Fantastic reception from the people… Next stop Jordan. Hope to break the siege in less than a week! – @Fio_edwards

wanna give a shout out to USA, TUR and SYR friends who helped load the baby milk powder into our vans. they didn’t have to, but they did.

so there had to be some reshuffling and reassigning of vehicles in the last couple of days because new vehicles came in in TUR etc. PGPO’s donation to date has been used to purchase 1 ambulance [GBR] and THREE FORD VANS [TUR]. this cancels out previous Tweet that we purchased 4 Renault vans. i hope the media will note this. thanx. finally, with 3 additional PGPO members, we have finalised the vehicles purchased using donations from PGPO and have also assigned our guys to these vehicles. the Bernama crew will also ride in the new Fords. @RamGK and i will maintain in the ambulance. new PGPO vans now carrying precious aid loaded in SYR: BABY MILK POWDER! the ambulance is currently still carrying walkers, wheelchair parts and potties. i really hope we get these things to Gaza safely… @RamGK and i did interview with Bernama this evening. guess it’ll be aired on Astro tomorrow. hope we said the right things! – @juanajaafar

EXTRA! EXTRA! LOTS OF NEWS!

Syria’s Al Watan had the Convoy & our Tony on Monday’s front page:

Dec 21: Al Watan - CLICK for a souvenir PDF

Al Watan also reports from the Monday Press Conference plus reports from Dec 22 & Dec 21 – excuse the translations… not sure if our Arabic is better or Google’s!

Press TV: “Galloway raps Arabs over forsaking Gaza

World Bulletin: “Gaza Convoy Viva Palestina arrive in Damascus

Turkey is still talking about the Convoy….

Front page of the Star Gazete on Monday, an article on the Convoy & Hugo Chavez [eng] (who is teaming up with GG for VP#4) plus another article & pictures [eng] mentioning Convoyers Lia & Nadir from London, Huda from Syria and Richard from Wales:

A peace convoy named Viva Palestina, which set out from the UK with the aim of making the world see the tragedy in Gaza, reached Syria on Sunday after concluding its journey through Turkey. Richard Viner, who has been traveling with the convoy since it left the UK, said he wanted to do something for Gaza after he saw footage of bombs raining down on Gaza being aired on the BBC. He said he would have been ashamed of his lack of humanity had he not joined the convoy – click here for a bad translation of the rest…

Report about the Press conference at the Sahara Hotel from Timeturk.com and IHH in Turkey has several more with plenty of pictures:

PICTURES! Damascus Press Conference #1 & #2

VIDEO! from Press TV on the arrival in Syria:

DAY 16 – Monday Dec 21 ’09

11pm: Culture, speeches, GG, showers, souks, salad and TONNES more… PICTURES! Press Conference…

Rally + cultural event with Palestinian refugees at hotel. Rousing speeches, militant music @georgegalloway, Hamas etc … A day off! A lie-in! Two showers! And a few hours in old Damascus seeing souk, Umayyad Mosque, old Syrian house/restaurant etc … Another lovely Syrian banquet (salad!). Plus an extra 50 tonnes of aid donated from Syria. V early start 2 Jordan 2moro. – @Joti2Gaza

9pm: More aid and news of a Convoy from South Africa

Donor from SYR raised 3mil SYR pounds (~£40k) in 10 days and got aid. PGPO now on standby to load the vans up. – @juanajaafar

… tons of flags & chanting round meeting with Khaled Mashal. Convoy fr S Africa going to meet with VP at Rafah@YorktoGaza

Now we have to accomodate another 100 tonnes of aid in vehicles that are already full to bursting… Long day, not over yet… just witnessed the most amazing gathering of people… – @linsayc

8pm: Another amazing reception for the Convoy…

Am at another fantastic reception for the convoy in damascus. Huge flags, loud music and loads of enthusiasm. Love it! – @Pal_S_Campaign

6pm: Sacrifice in Solidarity…

Viva just had PC. Galloway here. Convoy leader, Kevin, said in Ancona TUR there was woman who pawned her wedding ring to contribute to Convoy. I really don’t know how Kevin can retell that story without breaking down. So sad … – @juanajaafar PIC!

5pm: PRESS CONFERENCE! George Galloway at Sahara Hotel… PGPOrg is Live Tweeting:

pc going on in hotel with galloway… thanking malaysians and tun dr mahathir for efforts … thanking all those from austrlia switz turkey for being here… he says momentum buildng up, they must allow the convoy thru … more @PGPOrg

Hotel swarming with media folk for George Galloway press conference. Jordan tomorrow… – @YorktoGaza

4pm: BBC, CH4, ITN, Al Jazeera: are you listening?

now in damascus, more pgpo ppl have joined pgpo now has 5 reps and bernama tv has 4 reporters till gaza … off to amman tomoro, convoy getting larger everybody is getting a well deserved day’s break here in sahara hotel@PGPOrg

2pm: Planning…

Sun is shining in Damascus now, more relaxed and planning for the next few days. – @Grant69

We are siting in cafe in old city… Leader of hamas in syria at 4 with george galloway – @YorktoGaza

Ok… calming down now, meeting more people form last convoy who know what to expect ahead… more fun and games to come! @linsayc

11am: A welcome day off… grab a scoop of bouza arabiyah from our old friends at Bakdash…

Day off to explore Damascus. Rested last night in HOTEL. In old city met 4 guys fr Lebanon who came specially to be with us at event this pm@YorktoGaza

Crazy mental in the hotel… many off to Damascus and to visit refugee camps. Thank goodness for the Cardamon Coffee! – @Grant69

9am: Meeting some of the 150,000 refugees from Palestine…

Many refugees and their families coming to meet us today. Media and Viva Palestina growing. @linsayc

1am: 2 days in Damascus ahead…

Convoy checked into nice hotel in Damascus after long journey from Turkish border. Warm, friendly reception from public. Here for 2 days. – @Zhat

VIDEO! Slice of Turkey with a side of Greece…


Streets of Turkey (city?) via David Cole

Streets of Thessaloniki via TeacherDude

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