Several international activists were reported injured by Egyptian riot police during demonstrations with the Gaza Freedom March in Cairo Dec. 31. “There was a Moroccan-Italian woman who was punched in the face and was taken for treatment,” said Medea Benjamin, a prominent US anti-war activist who organized the Gaza initiative. She said a number of people received cuts, bruises and other injuries. “It was quite the brutal scene.”
Benjamin plegded the group would continue protesting, but said the organizers had not decided how long to continue. Egypt this week denied the Gaza Freedom March access to the besieged Strip, allowing passage for only 84 of the 1,300 who registered to participate in the action. The march was planned to call attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza on the one-year anniversary of Israel’s three-week war on the territory.
The Gaza Freedom March released a statement claiming widespread abuse by Egyptian police. “The reports span from women being kicked, beaten to the ground and dragged into pens, at least one confirmed account of broken ribs, and many left bloody,” the statement said.
The identities of the three injured protesters were not immediately released. Sources said they were among the 450 activists from dozens of nations present at the protest outside Egyptian government buildings.
A French woman associated with the March died Dec. 30 of a heart attack. She was not present at any of the protests, organizers with the French delegation said. The French delegates had earlier been camped out on the grounds surrounding the French embassy in Cairo, flanked by two lines of Egyptian police. (Ma’an News Agency, Dec. 31)