First Published: 2009-12-31

International protesters beaten in Cairo

Protest organizers say Gaza Freedom March activists, including women, kicked, beaten to ground by Egyptís police.


Middle East Online

CAIRO - Police punched and kicked international activists during scuffles in the Egyptian capital on Thursday which left one person with broken ribs, protest organisers said.

"Members of the Gaza Freedom March are being forcibly detained in hotels around (Cairo) as well as violently forced into pens in Tahrir Square by Egyptian police and additional security forces," a statement from the organisers said.

Scuffles erupted between the police and the protesters which saw "women being kicked, beaten to the ground and dragged into pens, at least one confirmed account of broken ribs and many left bloody," they said.

Witnesses at the protest outside the Cairo Museum said that police punched several activists in the face.

At least 200 international activists had gathered in central Cairo on Thursday as part of a series of week-long demonstrations to protest at Egypt's refusal to let 1,300 members of the Gaza Freedom March from 42 countries into the Gaza Strip.

"We are barricaded in our hotel. There is a police cordon and six riot police vans outside the hotel entrance and we were told we couldn't leave," one of the organisers, Portuguese Ziyaad Lunat, said.

On Wednesday 86 international activists were allowed to enter Gaza from Egypt after intervention by First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, but organisers say they went as individuals and not in the name of the Gaza Freedom March.

"Some of them have family in Gaza so they went, but the Gaza Freedom March rejected the offer to let only a few in," Lunat said, adding that those left behind in Cairo were still trying to get into the impoverished enclave.

Israel and Egypt have sealed the Gaza Strip off from all but vital humanitarian aid since the Islamist Hamas group took control there in June 2007.

On December 27, 2008, Israel launched a massive military offensive on Gaza which killed 1,400 Palestinians. Thirteen Israelis were also killed during the 22-day conflict.


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