New Caravans heading to the Gaza strip and Oaxaca, Mexico

by Ahni, Intercontinental Cry

Despite the armed attacks on two separate aid caravans on April 27th and May 31st, the international community is determined to bring desperately needed supplies to Palestinians in Gaza city and a Triqui village, on the other side of the world, in Oaxaca, Mexico.

On April 27, the international community was stunned to learn that a paramilitary group known as UBISORT had attacked a peaceful humanitarian aid caravan en route to the indigenous Triqui village of San Juan Copala in Oaxaca.

The government of Oaxaca has since blamed the attack, which resulted in the deaths of two human rights observers, on the actual organizers of the caravan. An absurd claim to say the least.

The caravan was attempting to cross an illegal blockade that UBSIORT (an organization founded by members of Oaxaca’s ruling party, the Institutional Revolution Party, or PRI) has imposed on the the Triqui village since January 2010. The blockade has made it impossible for the villagers to leave or gain access to food, water or other basic necessities.

Since April 27, there have been two additional attacks on the Triqui village. On May 14, UBISORT kidnapped six women and five children who had made it past the blockade to the UBISORT controlled community of La Sabana, “where they were told that they would be executed if they tried to return to Copala with food and medicine”, notes a press release from Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Freedom (VOCAL). Fortunately, the group of women and children have since been released.

The second attack occurred 6 days later, on May 20. UBISORT shot and killed Timoteo Alejandro Ramírez, leader of the Indigenous Autonomous Municipality, and his wife Cleriberta Castro.

Despite the clear and immediate danger in Oaxaca, a new caravan has been organized for the Triqui People.

Named “Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola” in honour of the two human rights observers who died on April 27, the caravan was officially announced on May 13.

The caravan, with its accompaniment of about 300 people, is already on its way to San Copala and it is expected to arrive sometime today, June 8.

With “Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola” travelling in Oaxaca, Mexico, the international community continues to cry out over the Israel government’s shameful attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla on May 31.

In total, nine activists were killed and nearly 700 were arrested after Israeli troops raided the convoy of six ships dubbed “the Freedom Flotilla”. The flotilla was carrying roughly 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.

Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2007, when Hamas took control of the Palestinian territory from the rival Palestinian group Fatah. The military blockade has stranded more than 1.4 million Palestinian men, women and children to utter poverty.

It’s a form of “collective punishment,” says Amnesty International. “Rather than targeting armed groups, the blockade mainly hits the most vulnerable, such as children (who make up more than half of the population in Gaza), the elderly, the sick and the Gaza Strip’s large refugee population.” The region is plagued by mass shortages and military attacks.

The Freedom Flotilla, with its 700 unarmed civilians from 40 different countries, was going to pass through the military blockade when it was headed off by Israeli forces.

According to the Flotilla’s organizers, the troops opened fire as soon they stormed the convoy. The government, on the other hand, claims that activists on the flagship attacked them first.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have condemned the brutal military assault; and they, along with scores of human rights groups, the United Nations and several governments are demanding a full and impartial investigation. Others are also calling for a Boycott and for Sanctions against the state of Israel.

Sadly, another Gaza-bound aid ship was seized by Israeli forces 3 days ago, on June 5. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), which dispatched the aid ship dubbed “Rachel Corrie”, has released a statement condemning the “hijacking,” stating, “For the second time in less then a week, Israeli forces stormed and hijacked an unarmed aid ship, kidnapping its passengers and forcing the ship toward Ashdod Port in southern Israel. It is not yet known whether any of the Rachel Corrie’s passengers sustained injuries during the attack, but they are believed to be unharmed.”

The Free Gaza Movement has since announced that they will be sending a second flotilla in place of the Rachel Corrie; but it’s not expected to set out for another couple months.


One comment

  1. All Eyes on San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, As Second Aid Caravan Begins

    Excerpt from article by Kristin Bricker

    On June 4, just days before the caravan is scheduled to take place, the blockade outside San Juan Copala was reinforced with “large rocks” which the Oaxaca-based Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño Human Rights Center says it presumes “were placed there with heavy machinery.”

    On June 5 and 6, an armed group opened fire on San Juan Copala, injuring 20-year-old Melitón Rodríguez Martínez, reportedly as he left his home in an attempt to reach his bathroom, which is not connected to his house. He received 3-4 gunshots in the leg, according to Father Wilfrido Mayén Peláez. The Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño Human Rights Center reports that Rodríguez Martínez has not yet received medical attention because residents have been unable to transport him out of the community to a medical center.

    The new caravan, scheduled to arrive in San Juan Copala the morning of June 8, is considerably larger and higher-profile than the April 27 caravan, which only had about 30 participants. The June 8 caravan is comprised of two contingents: seven buses and trucks that left Mexico City the night of June 7, and one bus from Oaxaca City. In all, over 200 people are expected to participate in the caravan, and they are bringing a three-ton truck full of aid for San Juan Copala residents. Over a dozen federal members of Congress are expected to accompany the caravan.

    The Oaxaca state government has provided no guarantees for the caravan. It has reportedly deployed between 150-350 state police along the route to San Juan Copala. It demanded that caravan organizers provide the government with the names and personal information of all of the caravan organizers and participants, along with the immigration statuses of foreigners. It also requested a complete itinerary for the caravan. Caravan organizers say they will not turn that information over to the government for security reasons.

    For its part, UBISORT has warned the caravan to cancel the June 8 trip, because it says “the conditions don’t exist.” It said the same thing just prior to the first caravan, which its members allegedly ambushed.


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