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'Letter from Ramallah'

Sent: 01 April 2002
Subject: under siege in ramallah.. what we need

Dear All:
I am the director of the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre in Ramallah (http://www.sakakini.org). As I am under siege at home, i am sending out this email to journalist friends, & others, to ask to please get our message out & disseminated further.

I hope this message will not become morbid fodder for chain emails to draw pity, or prayers, or donations, but rather actions. We are doing our bit by resisting & or standing steadfast, & ask the world to please do its bit in the name of our common humanity, each according to his her/own capacity. We do not want to become the red indians of the Arab world, but simply want to live free, in peace & dignity on this land.

I will start by a few paragraphs' overview of the situation "live" as i see it, & follow it with 9 suggestions of what we would please like to see happen in the media & elsewhere in the outside world.

Firstly tonight -Sunday- we have heard numerous reports of 30 Palestinian policemen executed in cold blood by Israeli soldiers in a building where they sought refuge on Irssal street in Ramallah. This was after 5 Palestinian officers were executed by being shot to the head & then had their corpses thrown on the pavement for hours on Friday. Ambulances are prevented from reaching their destinations & 2 hospitals have either been broken into (Arabcare) or shot at (Nazer Maternity Hospital). If this continues, it will be another Chechnya or Sarajevo in the making.

Personally, I have been shut at home since Friday morning, like all the tens of thousands of inhabitants of Ramallah & El-Bireh, & no prospect of an end soon. We did not have electricity for one day, but thank God it got reestablished today Sunday.

One of the employees of the Sakakini Center had the Israeli army burst into his village (Kobar) yesterday, destroy belongings & arrest his younger brother, alongside 30 other young men from the village.

The cleaning lady of the Center lives in a house with an outhouse for toilets. For 3 days the Israelis have been posted by the door to her house & preventing all exit. When the eldest today sneaked out to the outhouse, the Israelis caught him & beat him. His school teacher father tried to intervene, the Israelis beat him & arrested him.

One of the board members of our center was arrested with all the employees of the office building where he was working late Thursday night. They were all blindfolded & had their hands tied & placed in one room for 16 hours. The Israelis destroyed some office furniture & stole hard drives from computers. They all untied themselves once they realized the Israelis had gone on to bigger prey..

My brother in law & his wife & their 3 under-10 year old kids are without phone & electricity since Friday & cannot go live w/ someone else as they would be shot at.

My next door neighbor's 70+ year old father lives near Yasser Arafat's office. The Israelis broke into his home Friday, broke everything w/ the butt of their rifles (TV, sinks, furniture, etc.. ) & then stole some money.

There are reports also of Israeli soldiers breaking into banks & change offices & jewelery stores & stealing money & jewelry.

In El Bireh, they arrested Saturday 150 young men between 16-45 years of age after calling out for men of this age bracket to get out, they are grouping them in Ramallah's Old City.

The only local private TV station in town that used to air hourly news & advice (Watan TV) has been seized by the Israelis on Friday, & they are now airing pornographic films. Journalists have been ordered out of Ramallah today Sunday.

All neighborhoods are abuzz with talk of who is next in Israeli home incursions. As for me & many others, there is the human instinct of crying out for help when in danger.

What we have done: With our means we have made phone calls to appeal for help & pressure on the international community to a number of high level officials in a number of neigboring countries, as well as sent appeals to the media like this one.
Below are 9 modest &/or utopic suggestions & requests: 
1- This is a long siege please keep the pressure to have our story told & appeals for action continuous.
2- The Centre's admin.& finance director, Ms. Manal Issa has collected about 10 testimonies by children around her describing conditions under siege as well as drawings she has scanned. These testimonies in Arabic can be obtained directly from her at: issamanal@yahoo.com . I will translate them tomorrow to englsih & have them available. I am also asking that anybody who gets this email directly or forwarded, ask us for copies of these testimonies to have them published as widely as possible.
3- Please ask for pressure on the international community & decision makers to lift the siege on us. We need tens & hundreds of letters daily to: president@whitehouse.gov  & vice.president@white house.gov   
4- If you do not want that, please write mainstream news organizations in the US about the siege.
5- We need daily demonstrations in front of Israeli embassies.
6- We need appeals from Arab artists to western European artists for concerts/demonstrations/appeals to decision makers to lift the siege.
7- We need action by Western/European artists for events to ask for the siege to be lifted on us.
8- If you work for a publication, please keep a section for daily news or weekly news from the siege, interviews with witnesses to repression/the siege, children's testimonies, & information from hospitals.
9-The disastrous health picture can be obtained by calling the Ramallah Hospital & talking to its director Dr. Atari or to the Deputy minister of health who is stationed there Dr. Munther Sharif  (972 2 2 298 2220).
10- Please give us your suggestions for action & for what you need from us to better help us.

Thank you to the Muharraq Club, Bahrein TV, & Dubai's Nadwat al Thaqafa for hearing us already..
Thank you all & we all look forward to hearing from you soon,
Adila Laidi.

Emergency Rafah Relief Fund: 
http://al-awda.org/rafah_fund.htm  
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