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Gaza Freedom Marchers Warned by Embassies

The Gaza Freedom March, an international caravan for peace set to culminate in a nonviolent march alongside the people of Gaza on December 31 to end the illegal blockade, has already faced its share of trouble. Though blocked by Egypt, the organizers of Code Pink, one of the main organizing members of the march, have said they will go on, despite any risks.

And members are well aware of the risks they face: not only is there possibility of tension at the Rafah border, but several participants have been warned by their own governments not to participate. One delegate I spoke to, a Portuguese resident, received a phone call from the Portuguese Embassy in Cairo on his personal mobile phone. The delegate explained:

They have all my details and they know I am going to the march. They told me that I should not go to the march and that they can't afford my protection if things go awry. So basically, this is some sort of intimidation to dissuade me from travel.


Canadian citizen Kim Elliott, who is not traveling with the delegation, shared her story publicly on Canadian blog rabble.ca. In the post, she explained that she had received an email from the Canadian Embassy in Cairo, the full length of which is included in the post. An excerpt:

The Canadian Embassy in Cairo would like to advise any Canadians considering taking part in this event that they could be found in violation of their tourist visa and be subject to arrest, detention and/or deportation.

Though it is not unheard of for embassies to warn citizens to stay away from local protests (I know I received my fair share when I lived in Morocco), it is rather uncommon for them to call people who are outside of the country to which they are traveling, such as the Portuguese delegate.

Both delegates I spoke to fully intend to continue with their participation in the Gaza Freedom March.