Asia Lifeline caravan to Gaza flagged off

New Delhi: A fifty-man strong caravan of peace and relief was flagged off from the historic Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi, on a peace mission that would include eighteen Asian countries on its way to express Asian solidarity to the Palestine struggle. This Asia lifeline caravan to Gaza shall reach Gaza, Allah willing, on 27th December and shall deliver relief material to its stranded population suffering blockade under a ruthless occupation regime.

India repeated its historical mission by taking an initiative to demonstrate Asian concern to the Gazan cause. While flagging off the caravan, Mani shankar Aiyar and Digvijay Singh expressed the hope that this humanitarian mission would not only fulfill its cause but would be a decisive step in liberating Palestine from occupation.

This is the culmination of a six-month-long hectic and uninterrupted enterprise. Last June they decided first to stage a demonstration at the Israel embassy in Delhi. They felt that mere slogan shouting was not enough. They must do something positive and concrete. They decided that they should march to Gaza to demonstrate solidarity and deliver relief material to helpless brethren. Later on it was decided that other Asians should also be invited to join the mission. Thus, a 200-strong caravan representing eighteen Asian countries shall reach Gaza on 27 December. On their way representatives of various Asian countries shall join the caravan which will pass through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Egypt. While the members of caravan shall go by bus, the relief material worth Rs 28 lakh shall reach through sea route. However, because of delay in visa and denial of surface journey through Pakistan, the members returned from Lahore to go to tehran by air from Delhi on 7 Dec. Pakistan had first denied visa but later on relented to allow them entry upto Lahore only.

Delegates from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Turkey Nepal and Srilanka will join them during their journey from Iran to Egypt.

While welcoming their epoch-making initiative, Zuhair Hamdallah Zaid, the charge d’affaires of the Embassy of State of Palestine in India, in a goodwill statement praised the noble sentiments of the peaceniks but also forewarned that they would be exposed to “the hardship of a long, tedious journey” that will make them realise the “daily chronicle of suffering and endurance of a nation in exile". It acknowledged the fact, “India has historically supported the struggle of the Palestinians for independence and self-sovereignty.” Such an initiative from the land of freedom-loving people should be no surprise to anyone. Expressing their gratitude to Indian government and all other states who facilitated the journey; the Embassy wished the participants good luck. Present at the flagging off ceremony at Rajghat were Congress leaders Mani shankar Aiyar, Digvijay Singh, Palestinian Embassy charge d’affaires, Milli Gazette editor Zafarul-Islam Khan, and others.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2010 on page no. 1

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