DAYS 32+3&4: Gaza to Cairo Airport

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Day 32+4 – Sunday Jan 10 2010

ACTION! HELP VP Place Your Convoy Member(s)…

Yesterday Viva Palestina convoy members were delayed further at Cairo airport. We are asking for all Viva Palestina volunteers next of kin and friends to contact Viva Palestina informing us if they have heard from participants and to let us know that they have arrived safely home. – VISIT VIVA PALESTINA FOR THE FULL LIST…

10pm:

Passports in hand, boarding cards n luggage. We ready to get the heck out of Egypt! Hurrah! @Zhat

NEWS! Malaysia’s Star: Obstacles in the path of aid agencies & The Egyptian connection

8pm:

we have safely arrived home, and we received a wonderful reception at the airport…thank you so much everybody! – @PGPOrg

7pm: Another delay…

Annoyed again. Me n 8 Belgians still waiting to be taken to boarding gate.Where we r being kept is like police cell. Our psprt have been taken… Our check-in desk is open but we not allowed to go there! A German guy is also here – been waiting TWO DAYS! @Zhat

5pm: Cairo to Belgium and London

Belgian Group n i r some of last ppl to fly tonite from Cairo.Only left r 1 guy flying to Libya n 2 ppl to LHR with cnfirmd tckts for tmrw. I’ll be glad to see t back of this grim airport even tho i have a long wait at BRX before homeward to LHR. Bye Egyptian regime n no thnx! @Zhat

NEWS! Malaysia’s Dr Mahathir: Bernama Should Highlight Gaza’s True Scenario

TV! Al Jazeera’s Inside Story with VP’s John Hurnson

4pm:

Home after breaking the siege on #Gaza for 2 days. So many heartbreaking stories. But Palestinians are so strong & steadfast. Unforgettable. – @Fio_edwards

12pm: More leaving from Cairo to London and some to Istanbul.

NEWS! Bernama: Malaysian Aid Team To Gaza Return Home Safely

10am: Malaysian’s are home!

Touchdown! Alhamdullillah, the PGPO team is back home. I pray that 1 day PLE exiles and refugees can say that too … Ala, so sweet. Dr. M and Tun Siti came to airport to welcome us home … Ayo, family and friends made banners and tshirts and cheered at airport. So sweet! Thanx everyone! @juanajaafar

Day 32+3 – Saturday Jan 9 2010

Dear Egypt: Attacking, Arresting & Deporting Humanitarians is Wrong.

Account from BGLink… CALL FCO!

Once we got to Cairo airport, we were forced straight into the small terminal 2 which is for internal flights. We were told to go through to departure lounge which had little facilities. Those of us who refused to do so, were denied access to toilets (by deploying rows of riot police across the corridor) and intimidated in an effort to force them into the lounge. We new that once through to the lounge, there was no way back out of the airport. Soon the authorities deployed two lines of riot police in full gear and countless plain clothes thugs to intimidate us.This was followed by seven arrests. We were in the lounge until 12pm with no clean water and enough toilet facilities. Under strong protest from us, the authorities transferred us to international terminal and released our brothers and colleagues. 50 of us are still imprisoned in a small section of terminal 4 (International). No drinking water is provided to us until we met with someone from British Consulate at 6.00pm (2pmGMT), we had no free access to toilet facilities or food. The authorities have informed the British consulate that we are deported from Egypt, but no evidence is produced as to why. The British representatives agree that this is collective punishment. There is no reason why, having obtained Egyptian visa, we should not be able to leave the airport. We, as detainees, have requested a visit from the Red Crescent. This has been refused. We have also requested bedding for the night, but this has been refused too. So we will have to sleep on the cold hard marbel floor in bright light and regular loud airport announcements.

Please publicise our plight as far as possible and inform your MP and local papers etc in order to increase the pressure on the Egyptian authorities to improve their treatment of us.

10pm: UK Consul has arrived?!

News fr Mike Couldn’t change flight With 50-60 has been held at Cairo airport all day. Passports taken no credit left on phones. Mike and all at airport don’t know how some convoy members have managed to get to Cairo. Huge frustration among those at airport hearing of some celebrating in Istanbul & others relaxing in Cairo.

BRITISH CONSUL HAS AT LAST TURNED UP ABOUT HALF AN HOUR AGO. Mike was using the Consul’s phone! Hopefully Consul will now help with onward flights for EVERYONE. Mike is now booked on a flight tomorrow morning for Heathrow. @YorktoGaza

Facts from Cairo…

  • 40+ Convoy member are being held at Cairo airport
  • they are all in a small room with only 1 toilet
  • they are not allowed to leave the airport
  • they are being officially deported – yet have committed no crime
  • they are still being forced to pay for their own DEPORTATION flights
  • their passports have been seized
  • they haven’t been fed or been provided water since 2amGMT

However due to weather, flights are scarce and pressure is being put upon them to pay for expensive Egyptian airlines flights. PICTURES! Turkish VP has pictures from Cairo airport…

CALL FCO! 020 7008 1500 – DEMAND ASSISTANCE!

.

NEWS! AP: Problems at Cairo airport as aid activists leave…

Heated arguments have erupted as authorities attempt to send home some 500 international activists who were part of an aid convoy to the blockaded Gaza Strip, a Cairo airport security official said today. The official said many activists could not pay for their plane tickets and the Foreign Ministry was asking their respective embassies to foot the bill.

7pm: Our Super-Tweeting Malaysians are Eastbound… FAREWELL!

Tweeting from plane. Officer sent straight to plane door and only gave back passports when our last person stepped in. Yay, we’re going home @juanajaafar

Updating from the streets of Cairo! Spending the night here before returning to airport tomorrow. – @Zhat

BLOG! Hurry Up Harry – don’t miss the priceless comments: guest post by Charlie, whose sister is on the Viva Palestina convoy

6pm: Closer…

Heather and Steve are in Istanbul. Heroes welcome going on in airport – too much cheering in background to have any conversation. No word yet from Mike who we thought was heading for Istanbul on a different plane. @YorktoGaza

Alhamdulillah we have landed in Turkey and now in IHH office having some food! – @l2g09

NEWS! Turkish VP has pictures of the arrival in Istanbul…

Just got our passes. Passport still with officer who’s now walking us to the gate. Amazing. We’re humanitarian criminals.

Interesting twist. He has taken us to a cafe at the duty free area with normal humans. Just looked at the boarding pass we got, it’s our DXB-KUL leg. Officer holding our CAI-DXB ones. Ahahaha. My goodness … – @juanajaafar

NEWS! Al Jazeera: Egypt bans Gaza aid convoys

4.30pm: Details…

Signage here says here “Long Waiting Transit”. No kidding. We’re still here. We’ve counted the floor tiles few times over.

Tho not explicitly said to us, based on the nature of things, looks like our exit is a deportation. We were not allowed to board Msian embassy vehicles when they came for us in Rafah. We were taken straight here to airport and always with security.

We’re isolated. We’re not checking in our own bags and our boarding pass will be delivered to us here at the smelly section. Deportation or what? Ha! @juanajaafar

3pm: In Cairo…

Convoy fragmented, some on flights some stuck at airport. Will update when further info received. – @viva_palestina

RADIO! Galloway’s own Talksport show was unable to air a call to discuss the Convoy, the FCO and Egypt’s actions from a Convoyer’s wife last night because of OFCOM rules – write a letter to OFCOM…

GG hosted Talksport independ radio prog last nite 2 hrs Started w GG speaking re convoy, anti Egp govt, pro Egp people, UK Emb failure etc… Janice rang in to Talksport prog with GG at 1145. Producer told her could not now talk re convoy & FCO. Against Ofcom regulations! @YorktoGaza

12pm: Threat of arrests! CALL THESE CONTACTS…

Egyptians want to arrest 2 Turks, 2 Brits and a Malaysian from our flight and some others… OK EVERYONE – Get MPs media ALL contacts SHOUT help 4 those in danger of arrest. 2 Turks 2 Brits 1 Malaysian poss more – FCO proved useless yday – @YorktoGaza

Our Msian student detained for questioning has been released and will be making his way back to the UK… Turns out this smelly joint is the H1N1 + other diseases quarantine section. Fanfriggintastic. – @juanajaafar

11.30am:

Just found out we’ll be detained at this smelly waiting corner till 2 hours before our flight. That means 4-5 hours more of this stench. – @juanajaafar

10.30am:

STILL at Cairo Airport! Nuff said.@Zhat

9.30am:

Been told that we will be allowed to travel into Cairo city. Awaiting transport. @Zhat

9am: Something for the FCO and Dom & Jon of Arabia to think about:

The Msian lot now at some backdoor lonely smelly waiting area in Terminal 2. No idea what we’re waiting. Sadly the Msian student is not with Us. He has been taken in for questioning. We have notified Msian embassy here and they’re on the way to help. T minus forever till flight out and nowhere to go to kench eventho the whole lonely ceruk here smell like kench – @juanajaafar

More random palava @ the airport, but now I’m on a flight home. Not deported so much as escorted, the dif being, I had 2 pay! Looks like everyone got to the airport ok. It was mayhem when the last coach arrived this am. Hope all found flights ok. – @Joti2Gaza

REAL NEWS AT LAST Flying Istanbul. Mike has later flight. – @YorktoGaza

There’s just 1 word to describe the EGY immigration staff: MENGARUT. They are even fighting among themselves in their own huge logistical Mess in trying to kick all of us out of the country. There’s so much confusion, even among the EGYs. Mengarut gila diorang ni. – @juanajaafar

If you are trying to guess what the options are – here is Cairo’s departure board!@YorktoGaza

7am:

Finally at Cairo Airport looking for the next flight out… to anywhere! – @LinsayC

Egyptians trying to force us onto DOMESTIC flights. We resisting peacefully. Riot police assembling inside airport. No access to toilets. – @Zhat

6am:

Just arrived CAI airport and waiting to get out of the bus, which could take forever. Local time bout 440am. We left Rafah at 800pm. – @juanajaafar

2am: When they want you to go, you gotta go…

Stopped for food and toilet. Heading for cairo. Have to leave from there. – @YorktoGaza

Its past 2am n only half way yet to cairo. Deports not likely except for the 7 named. Cant see all 500 being penned in at airport for 2 days! – @Zhat

Stopped for toilet break. No idea where we are now. Heard we’re not gonna be allowed out of airport as EGY wants us out of country ASAP. – @juanajaafar

NEWS! almasryalyoum.com on Egyptian newspaper coverage of that night in El-Arish:

The big three state-owned papers ran articles about the general prosecutor’s investigation of damages in Arish Port and calls for the prosecution of seven “trouble-makers” with the Viva Palestina Convoy for their “violent acts” which led to the wounding of 29 soldiers and officers. None of these papers mentioned the number of convoy members who were wounded at the hands of Egyptian security forces. – Read more…

1am:

Spent all day crossing border from Rafah 2Egypt. Now in coach nr Cairo. Rumour is that first group 2 get there were deported. Egyptians so kind, if u deliver aid 2 gaza u’ll get a free flight home. Well u’ll be beaten & then deported – sound appealing? – @Joti2Gaza

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