The Canadian Boat to Gaza

The Canadian Boat to Gaza

February 09, 2011 05:00 ET

Egypt Uprising Could Help Break Siege, Sea Route Still Needed: Canadian Boat to Gaza

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Feb. 9, 2011) - The dramatic uprising in Egypt -- which has seen another surge of protesters flood the streets today as it enters its third week -- is bolstering the prospects of the Canadian Boat to Gaza and the upcoming Freedom Flotilla 2, say organizers.

More and more people are hoping that in the coming days and weeks the Mubarak regime in Egypt will come to an end. Under Mubarak's rule, Egypt has played a key role in enforcing the siege of Gaza by keeping the Egypt-Gaza land border closed. Some aid convoys have managed to pass into Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah crossing, but only after significant repression and delays from the Mubarak regime.

"The uprising in Egypt is an inspiration to the people of the world," says Jase Tanner, an organizer with the Canadian Boat to Gaza who just returned from a Codepink-led delegation to Cairo. The international Codepink delegation had intended to travel to Gaza, but were unable to because the border at Rafah was sealed.

"The integrity and dignity of the anti-regime protesters should be an example for us all," adds Tanner, a Vancouver-based film-maker. "Though they expressed anger at Western governments for supporting Mubarak's repressive regime, the Egyptians we met showed genuine openness and friendliness towards us as people from Western countries."

Last week, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon endorsed Mubarak's plans for a "transition" which would see the dictator step down in September. Cannon also admitted that the Harper government was concerned about the impact that the democracy movement in Egypt would have on Israel.

"The Mubarak regime in Egypt, like the Harper government here in Canada, has been a key backer of the siege of Gaza, despite the will of the Egyptian and Canadian peoples," says Ehab Lotayef, a member of the Canadian Boat to Gaza steering committee, who was born in Cairo and now lives in Montreal. "If and when the Mubarak regime comes to an end, an end to the siege of Gaza may not be far behind."

News reports have indicated that the Rafah border has been sealed indefinitely, underlining the importance of opening a sea route to the port of Gaza. Whatever happens in Egypt in the coming days and weeks, organizers of the Canadian Boat to Gaza are planning to sail with the Freedom Flotilla 2 to break the illegal siege in the second half of May 2011. The Canadian campaign has now raised more than $200,000; two-thirds of their fundraising goal.

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