Monday, February 14, 2011

U.S. Boat To Gaza: Report from Madrid

boat logo

We have recently returned from the Madrid meeting of the international flotilla and want to take this opportunity to bring you up to date on the U.S. Boat to Gaza campaign. 

Enthusiasm and support for the international flotilla has continued to build with representatives from 22 countries at the meeting.  Current plans are for the flotilla to sail in the second half of May. Of the 22 countries, only a handful have a boat and are ready to go now, others have raised substantial amounts of money and will either have their own boat or will be ready to join up with others to float an international boat. 

We are thrilled by the success of the people's revolution in Egypt.  Over time, we think this could be a tectonic shift in the environment in the Middle East and change the situation in Gaza as well.  Right now, though, we are not expecting major changes in the siege of Gaza.  Israel has, in fact, stepped up its attacks on fishermen and workers along the land border and has been bombing urban areas in the strip.  Our mission, to break the siege of Gaza, is as necessary as ever. 

Hedy Epstein, human rights activist and Holocaust refugee:  "It's important to break the siege of Gaza which has been imposed by Israel for so many years.  People in Gaza have the right to travel.  People in the world have the right to visit Gaza.  Gaza needs a two way street for its economy."

Medea Benjamin, co-founder CodePink Women for Peace:  "When governments and international institutions fail to pressure Israel to lift the siege of Gaza, it's up to civil society to act.  The flotilla is a lifeline between 1.5 million imprisoned people and the world community."

Anna Baltzer, author, human rights activist and organizer:  "The US Boat to Gaza and the rest of the flotilla exemplify true international solidarity that refuses to wait for permission from Israel to do the right thing and support freedom for the men, women, and children in Gaza.  These defiant boats show that creative people of conscience united around a just cause can be stronger and more resilient than a military superpower."

The U.S. Boat to Gaza has raised more than $300,000 to date.  We are working  in Europe to find the right boat.  Boats we have looked at would accommodate 40-60 passengers and our applications committee has been very busy working through the large number of wonderful people who want to be passengers.

The challenges of organizing and managing the U.S. Boat campaign have led us to create a decision making council comprised of representatives from the active working groups.  

Those groups are:  Applications, Outreach, Legal, Media, Endorsers, Fund raising, Boat/International, Trainers, Webwork, and Finance.

This is a huge effort and, to date, entirely a volunteer effort.  We are hoping to hire one paid staffer as a coordinator.   We welcome participation from anyone who wants to help.  We could use help particularly on fund raising, planning support actions, and working on local media across the country but we would welcome support and ideas in any of the committees.  

To help with the campaign,  contact Nell Hirschmann-Levy at

US Boat to Gaza Council Members

Nic Abramson
Laurie Arbeiter
Lisa Fithian
Felice Gelman
Jane Hirschmann
Nell Hirschmann-Levy
Abdeen Jabara
Ismail Khalidi
Gail Miller
Hannah Schwarzschild
Brad Taylor
Sarah Wellington
Brandon West
Ann Wright




Thank you for your support.


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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Live From Tunisia: Hind Houas: Jasmine Revolt: La Revolution

Five days prior to the release of this interview, 
if Hind Houas has spoken to me, she would have been killed.

 © Hind Houas

Think Twice Radio Promo for Interview

Hind Houas, a 22 year old university student, part of the first revolution, The Jasmine Revolt, sparked nations to overthrow authoritarian regimes.  Tunisia is the northernmost part of Africa, bordered by Algeria and Libya, by the Mediterranean Sea. Tunisia is home to Carthage,  the Roman province of Africa, later by Byzantines then Arabs, then to the French under The Ottoman Empire. In 1956, Habib Bourguiba became 1st President of Tunisia.  Hind resides in Tataouine, the Southern Part of Tunisia.  

 © Hind Houas

From 1987 to 2011, The Kingdom of Tunisia operated as a republic under the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.  For all of her life, Hind has never experienced basic human rights. In Tunisia, under Ben Ali, if one were to speak, report as media or search online independently; they were interrogated, beaten, tortured, sexually abused, and often killed. 

Part One of the interview below:


Hind and I speak of life in Tunisia under Bourguiba, history of politics, and a typical day in the life of the Tunisian people before and after Habib.  

Hind stated, "Habib Bourguiba was a very decent and respectful man.  He was the first Tunisian president after we got independent from France in 1956. He was the man who made education free from fees for all boys and girls with no discrimination. He helped improve the condition of Tunisian women by guaranteeing her many advantages in almost all the fields. We all love him so much. He also tried his best to make sure that our Tunisian Army will always be independent from what happens in the political arena.  Bourguiba made sure that the main role of the Army is to protect the people, and thanks to the Tunisian Army, we managed to stay safe after Ben Ali's fleeing to Saudi Arabia." 

© Haythem Hawass

The horror that occurred when Ben Ali became President in 1987 is indescribable.  The Tunisian people have led a life for 23 years dominated by severe oppression.  Imagine not being able to speak your mind, to search the internet, to talk about politics, humanity, human rights, to have any extra curricular activity, or an opinion.  Imagine waking, eating, attending school or work, if available, coming home, studying, eating then going to sleep. That has been a typical day for all Tunisians under the regime of Ben Ali.  For all of Hinds existence, she has only known this life.  A bleak monotonous oppressive fear filled existence. 

 © Haythem Hawass

Part Two of the interview below:


Hind speaks of  the the absolute non existence of all human rights. Under Ben Ali, they did not exist except for those who knew Ben Ali or were his friends. Hind speaks in depth of the true defining moment where the revolution began, how Tunisians were treated, what they experienced and how she has found a rebirth by simply being able to exist, finally, as a human being. 

© Haythem Hawass

Through Hind, we learn how mentally challenging it has been to retain sanity in a bleak existence while holding onto an optimistic attitude for change. 

  © Haythem Hawass

The Jasmine Revolution, beginning with peaceful protests in 2010, eventually led to the extreme revolt and horrific experiences that successfully removed in January of 2011, Ben Ali and his regime. 

  © Haythem Hawass

Amnesty International, Freedom House and Protection International have documented "that basic human and political rights are not respected.  President Ben Ali's speeches were full of references to the importance of democracy and freedom of speech that cut all Tunisians from the rest of the world." 

  © Haythem Hawass

Amnesty also reports: "the Tunisian government is misleading the world as it conveys a positive image of the human rights situation in the country while abuses by its security forces continue unabated and are committed with impunity".  In January 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton mentioned Tunisia and China as the two countries with the greatest internet censorship. 

  © Haythem Hawass

According to the Committee To Protect Journalists,  "97% of newspaper campaign coverage was devoted to President Ben Ali amid severe restrictions on independent reporting.  Ben Ali’s government went after the country’s journalist union, bringing down its democratically elected board, while his police bullied and harassed critical reporters. Two journalists, one of them a leading critic of the president, were in jail later in the year.  State owned 'Publinet' internet network monitored and filtered all internet traffic. 

  © Haythem Hawass

When demonstrations began in Tunisia in Dec 2010, they constituted the most dramatic wave of social and political unrest in Tunisia in three decades. The brave story of Mohamed Bouazizi and self immolation, sparked the people to finally take a stand. Ben Ali declared a state of emergency in the country. The revolt began.  

  © Haythem Hawass

Through these rare interviews, the real story of a global revolution sparked by the Tunisian people tired of living under the greatest abomination of all human rights is told.  On January 14, 2011, new legislative elections were promised within six months. President Ben Ali has indeed fled, and on January 26 2011, INTERPOL confirmed that its National Central Bureau (NCB) has issued a global alert via INTERPOL's international network to seek the location and arrest of former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and six of his relatives.

  © Haythem Hawass

The Tunisian Revolution, started by the Tunisian people, sparked a global wave of revolutions across this world including yet not limited to: Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Macedonia and now Egypt.  Tunisians are a brave people with immense courage that it humbles me to have met Hind.  The strength of one nation teaches us to never allow oppression, to exercise correctly the rights we do have, to respect such rights and those of others, and to be grateful for existing in a world where we are at least able to voice an opinion. 

  © Haythem Hawass

Hind is a strong young woman. At 22 years old, she has taught me the true definitions of strength and courage. For the first time in 23 years, the Tunisian people are now free.  

© Haythem Hawass

To Hind, my humble gratitude to a fellow human being, sister and lifelong friend, one nation and all oppressed people of this world, I thank you.  May the rest of humanity follow in your footsteps. 

Upon writing this, Hind sent me a message. 

"I listened to the whole interview twice. God, it was so moving for me to listen to it. Though skype was not so clear for us, but I liked it. What matters is that my people's story and mine too, is told as it is  About that, I wrote a poem and if you are interested I can send it to you to read it . So, I'm happy cause I did something I wanted to do since so long, *smile*

Writing about Tunisia would be great cause that would help bring tourists to Tunisia to revive the economy which we really are going to need in future days. By the way, I would love to invite you here one day to Tataouine. That would be great *smile* If ever you need anything about Tunisia, just let me know and I'll do my best to help you."

- Hind Houas, 2011 



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Monday, January 31, 2011

Wake Up World! Show Solidarity: International Action Center

Tracy Chapman: Click Below

4:30 PM


A seemingly all-powerful military, police and media apparatus, that has had the support of the U.S. superpower for decades, is crumbling before the even greater strength of a united people who have first conquered fear and may now push the dictator’s regime into the dustbin of history.

This struggle began in Tunisia in December when a young street vendor chose to burn himself rather than face humiliation. It has spread to Algeria, Yemen, Jordon and now to the largest and most central state in the Arab world, Egypt. This country, with its rich ancient history and impoverished population, with more than 80 million people, it is the largest of the North African states, is now finding its way back into the center stage of world events. 


Ever since the Camp David agreements, Egypt has been a client state of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. has supplied Egypt with $1-2 billion in military aid over the years since 1979, second only to the aid the U.S. gives to the Israeli settler state. This aid includes the tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition supplied the Egyptian riot police. 


In turn, Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt supported the U.S. war against Iraq in 1991; it blocks the entrance to embattled Gaza today. Because Egypt is the lynchpin of U.S. imperialist foreign policy within the Arab countries, the current revolutionary crisis in Egypt raises the possibility, even the likelihood, that Washington will attempt to intervene in Egyptian internal affairs, with a good chance that this will mean military intervention. 

On Jan. 28, President Barack Obama, realizing the Mubarak dictatorship’s days were numbered, made some statements distancing the U.S. from the 30-year-old regime in Egypt. We should remember, however, that in his State of the Union message, President Obama spoke of the U.S.’s alleged role spreading ‘democracy,’ but he pointedly avoided mentioning Egypt.

As an anti-war and anti-imperialist solidarity group working within the United States, the International Action Center pledges to help build actions in solidarity with the people of Egypt and of all of those countries where people are struggling for democracy and freedom from imperialist domination. Thus the IAC will join the actions of the Egyptian community in the United States protesting the Mubarak regime, and it will build actions to demand that the U.S. desist from intervening in Egyptian affairs and especially that there be no military intervention against the Egyptian people. 

 Over the next days there are demonstrations planned in cities around the U.S. to show solidarity with the Egyptian people’s struggle. The IAC calls on its supporters to join these actions.



    International Action Center
    c/o Solidarity Center
    55 W 17th St Suite 5C New York, NY 10011

Raw Footage © Live Leak of protesters being attacked while praying:

Sign here, I did: Artists Against Apartheid

Endorsed by The International Action Center, The International Action Center of Buffalo,
The Western New York Peace Center, Susan Marie Public Relations, Animal Allies of Western New York, Workers World, and Buffalo Women Services.

Press © International Action Center 2011

All photos/video © 2011 Live Leak, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Press TV, Tracy Chapman and our brothers and sisters on the ground.

Om, Ab, Akh, Okht, Salam Alekum.
(Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, 
Peace Be Upon You) 
(Egyptian Arabic)



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Date: Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for Flood Victims: Tues, March 22 8pm

                       New date for event: Tuesday, March 22 at 8:00pm - March 23 at 1:00am

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for Flood Victims

After making 39 deliveries to 29 locations, having raised and disbursed relief items over 52 Million PKR (just from streets, only for flood victims. Over 120 Million PKR till date for various initiatives) since 3rd August, 2010, 

Click image below to go to PYA website: 


Pakistan Youth Alliance now vows to rebuild and renovate schools destroyed by floods. As donations dwindle, we are arranging a fundraiser-charity concert in Islamabad to raise enough funds to renovate 2 schools in Nowshera and Kot Addu respectively.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan shall weave magic by his music and mesmerize Islamabad live. 

PYA, in continuation of its widely acknowledged flood relief efforts shall rebuild 2 schools through funds raised by this concert. 

Shake your souls and help students who cant go to schools as their schools were destroyed by floods. 

Top businessmen, diplomats and politicians will be in attendance. 

Event Managed by: Miradore Productions
Venue: TBA
Donation Tickets: Rs. 5000 per head for single entry
VIP table of 10 including buffet dinner starting from Rs. 300,000

For details:

Pakistan Youth Alliance remains to be the ONLY non-partisan youth organization to be acknowledge at UN Headquarters. New York City for its selfless and continuous work, whenever needed. 

Click below for press conference at UN HQ's mentioning PYA:

For complete international, local media coverage, reports and documentaries; see our facebook albums and our youtube channel 


Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi
Pakistan Youth Alliance
Central Executive Committee --  Khudi Pakistan
Coordinator for Youth Pages of The Islamabad Dateline

BB Pin: 25698CBD
Twitter @Ali_Abbas_Zaidi
Blog: Plastic Tearz: An Insight

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