Indian members of Global March to Jerusalem detained in Lebanon (Then Released)

As the SE Asia delegation to the Global March to Jerusalem docked in Tripoli, Lebanon, after a ten-hour ferry ride from Turkey, hints of problems began to emerge.

The GMJ Facebook account in Arabic proffered further details:

“Quoting Page Arab nationalists: the ship carrying the delegation Asian participant in the Global March to Jerusalem, carrying one and forty participants from India, the Philippines and Iraq who have not received visas to enter the Lebanese territory to the moment, chanting “the people want the liberation of Palestine” 

Disclaimer: The Lebanese authorities have not allow photography ..”

“News last convoy Asian: Asian Convoy latest news 
is still on board the ship 41 Asian solidarity .. Political views and works to collect their visas from the Lebanese government .. Holy God we claim to be part of every one of them with us in the march … 
Out of one hundred fifty activists on board the Convoy ship GM J. Asian, 41 are still on board as some Lebanese political parties work with the Lebanese Government to get visas issued for them.”

“Caravan Asian: 15 hours in detention at the port of Beirut 
Asian Convoy: The convoy is being held for the past 15 hours at Beirut sea port 
Iraq, and 3 from the Philippines, 37 from India .. Are remaining on board the ship convoy Asian .. And still attempts to obtain visas for them to enter the Lebanese territory .. 
An Iraqi, 3 Filipinos, Indians and 37 are still on board the ship convoy Asian .. “

“Since yesterday at ten in the morning and until the moment the Lebanese authorities are holding 40 international solidarity inside the ship coming from Turkey. And prevent them from entering the territory of Lebanon to participate in the march of Jerusalem Global.”

A more complete account of the story comes from Kunal Majumder – the Indian journalist travelling with the convoy.

“The steamer arrived at the Beirut port early on 28 March carrying the 137 GMJ delegates from 13 countries. None of them were allowed to leave the vessel by the immigration authorities. Immigration officials boarded the steamer and handed out the visa on arrival forms, which once filled were taken away along with the delegates’ passports. After hours of wait, no explanations were given to the delegates for the delay in issuing the visas. As the delegates began to raise slogans in protest on the steamer, the immigration authorities allowed the Indonesian delegates to enter the port once their embassy intervened.

Towards the end of the day, with no fresh supplies of food or water, delegates from counties like the United States, Iran, Turkey were allowed to leave the steamer. Interestingly, citizens of these countries do not need a visa to enter Lebanon. The GMJ’s local contacts had been assured that the delegation would be issued visas on arrival as per norm. It was on this assurance that the Turkish authorities allowed the delegation to leave its port.

They are yet to return the passports and issue a visa on arrival to the Indian delegates. The authorities have not furnished any explanation for the delay in issuing a visa on arrival as promised. Even on day two, the delegates have not been allowed to step off the steamer even as water and food supplies run low and sanitation services are hampered.”

Majumder apparently expects his own government to intervene:

UPDATE: The detainees have apparently now been allowed off the ferry and into Lebanon.

 

Tweet Update:


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Global March to Jerusalem journalist/activist Kunal Majumder’s selective reporting

 Kunal Majumder, journalist for the Indian weekly political magazine, Tehelka, is embedded with the SE Asia delegation to the Global March to Jerusalem which, after having been joined by Turkish activists en route, is currently on its way from Turkey to Lebanon.

In his latest article Majumder appears to have succumbed to the phenomenon of an over-active imagination which seems to be plaguing so many GMJ participants.

“As the Asian delegates prepare to leave for Beirut from the Port of Tasucu in Turkey, the talk among the protesters is whether Israeli forces will follow the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) ship like it did last time during the Asian convoy to Gaza. A cargo ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists was followed as it traveled from Latakia port in Syria to Al-Areesh in Egypt on 1 January 2011. The memories of the Mavi Marmara massacre in 2010 are still fresh in the minds of the Turks.”

“Even as activists of GMJ use multiple methods to publicise the event, counter publicity stunts allegedly on behalf of Israel is at work. An anti-GMJ website called http://www.gm2J.co has been constantly following the activities of the march and making numerous allegations. It claims to be a forum to expose “the truth about the Global March to Jerusalem.” Among numerous mails and online forums targeting GMJ, the most amusing attack came from “WORLD MUSLIM ZIONIST ORGANIZATION” based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It claims that there is an extensive history of collaboration of GMJ organizers with the jihadist Palestinian war criminals in Gaza, the Fatah gangsters in Ramallah, and the Hizbullah heretics in Beirut.” The organisers have refused to respond to such allegations.”

Of course Majumder is being somewhat disingenuous here. It is difficult to believe that he does not know of the participation of Ajit Sahi – until fairly recently his former executive editor at Tehelka – in the 2010/11 Asian convoy to Gaza and that Sahi was on board the ship he mentions above as having been followed.

Ajit Sahi (right), senior journalist from India on the caravan

It is also difficult to believe that Majumder is unaware of the fact that among Ajit Sahi’s fellow travelers on that convoy were Global March to Jerusalem organisers Feroze Mithiborwala, Mustapa Mansour, Sandeep Panday, Shaheen Kattiparambil, Gauhar Iqbal, Shaheen Mohideen, Salim Ghafouri and Roohulla Rezvi.

Equally unlikely is the possibility that Majumder is unaware that the Asia to Gaza convoy was aided in its organization by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-linked IHH, or that it visited Iran, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon en-route with its participants meeting senior members of the Syrian Ba’ath party, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Khaled Masha’al , Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud al Zahar in person.

Gauhar Iqbal (first on the left)

Roohulla Rezvi visiting the tomb of Hafez al Assad whilst en route with the Asia to Gaza convoy

Feroze Mithiborwala presenting Khalid Masha'al with a gift in Damascus whilst en route with the Asian convoy in 2010

Mithiborwala meeting Mahmoud al Zahar upon the arrival of the Asia to Gaza convoy

Majumder must also be aware that Ajit Sahi has shown considerable support for and collaboration with both Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and its youth group the Solidarity Youth Movement’. He might even be privy to the fact that even whilst Sahi was still his boss, he was already on the GMJ organiserse-mail list.

He will of course know that just a few days ago Sahi, along with Muthu Krishnan, (both of whom will be joining the GMJ in Jordan) in Hyderabad organized by Hyderabad City Students Islamic Organization and Friends of Palestine in solidarity with the Global March to Jerusalem.

“Addressing the participants of this long March, Mr. Ajit Sahi, Editor Tehelka and a renowned journalist expressed his support for the proposed march and said that the atrocities on Palestinians should be stopped by Israel. He appealed to all the countries of the world to bring Israel to the talking table. It should be imposed many restrictions. Private companies of Israel should not be allowed to transact any business in our country. They should not be allowed to invest money here. Universities and academicians of Israel should also be boycotted. Economic sanctions should be imposed against Israel. Referring to defense deals, he told that all the defense transactions should be withdrawn. All diplomatic ties should be discontinued. Famous columnist Muthu Krishnan condemned the attack on Gaza.

Israel Govt. has deprived the Palestinians of their basic amenities. Even drinking Water and electricity supply has been discontinued. He appealed to the organizers of the rally to express their solidarity to Global Peace March.”

If Kunal Majumder is really unaware of all of the above, one wonders how on earth he got his job as senior correspondent for a magazine which describes itself as ‘investigative’.

If he is better at his job than would seem from his latest articles, then his indignant cries of wolf indicate that he has embraced the role of useful idiot’ for the GMJ convoy and that  ‘unbiased journalist’ he certainly is not.

Further in the above mentioned article, Majumder complained:

The anti-GMJ activists have even started targeting independent participants, including this writer, through Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.”

He also Tweeted his displeasure with certain “anti-GMJ activists”.

Tweet by Majumder

Additional Tweet by Majumder:

In fact, one cannot but wonder if his former executive editor’s well established connections to the Global March to Jerusalem organisers had something to do with his getting the gig in the first place.

Global March to Jerusalem delegate Tweets love for Israel haters

Global March to Jerusalem participant and member of the SE Asia caravan Mansour Kiaei from Iran – who, as has previously been pointed out,  describes himself on his Twitter account as a ‘human rights activist’ – appears to have had a lovely time on the Turkish leg of the trip.

He informed his followers that:

Here are Kiaei’s fellow travellers in Konya, once again displaying their Hizballah and Islamic Jihad flags. 

However, Kiaei’s understanding of the concept of human rights seems to be about as extensive as his knowledge of the history and geo-politics of the Middle East. Whilst en route to Lebanon he also declared:

Global March to Jerusalem participant Mansour Kiaei Tweets “Death to Israel”

Courtesy of self-described Iranian “human rights activist” Mansour Kiaei on Twitter, we have pictures of the SE Asia delegation of the Global March to Jerusalem, of which he is part, on the Turkish leg of its journey. Written commentary from another member of the delegation describing the journey – including the demonstration outside the residence of the Israeli Ambassador – can be read here.

* An example of a Tweet by a ‘human rights activist’:

(Note the yellow Hizballah and black Islamic Jihad flags)

Global March to Jerusalem’s SE Asia caravan reaches Iran, meets Ahmadinejad

The South-East Asian contingent to the Global March to Jerusalem arrived in Iran at the end of last week.

On Saturday the caravan members were received by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Presidential Palace in Tehran.

Note the delegates’ cries of ‘free Palestine’, ‘from the river to the sea’ and ‘b’ruh, b’dam’ which is an often-used chant translating as ‘in spirit and in blood we will redeem Palestine’. 

Ahmadinejad told the visitors that “the existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to freedom, justice and all independent nations” and added:

“The Europe and the US spend tens of billions of their wealth on the Zionists each year to help a criminal regime…continue its occupation [of Palestinian lands]”

He also slammed the Western states for showing no tolerance towards questioning the existence of Israel. 

“Despite all liberal claims of the Western states, nobody is ever allowed to ask a question or conduct a research [sic] on how the Zionist regime was established,”

“The issue of Palestine is not an argument between one person and another or a conflict created between the followers of one prophet and another …but the dispute over Palestine is a dispute over dominating and managing the world,”

According to another report, Ahmadinejad also said that:

“..the Palestinians must rule the land. “No matter how strong the enemies are, they will be destroyed and we must prepare for the great day in which arrogance will be wiped from the face of the earth”. 

And:

“The Zionist regime is like a malignant cancerous cell, and even one or two cells are enough to infect the whole body”

Ali Akbar Velayati – who holds the title of ‘chief advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader in International Affairs’ – said at the reception that:

“Washington and Tel-Aviv have intensified psychological war against Islamic Republic by increasing their accusations; Iran has been the victim of terrorism and has always condemned all kinds of terrorism; any country which has been opposed to Zionist regime and US is accused of terrorism; Zionist regime and US officials have always declared officially that they would use terror to eliminate their opposition around the world.”

Velayati is also reported as having commented that:

“Terror scenarios in India and Georgia and claims by the Zionist regime about Iran’s role in the terrorist operations were also another phase of psychological war against Tehran.

 Iranian officials have strongly dismissed the US allegations as a prefabricated scenario which is totally unfounded and described it as worn-out approaches which are based on the old hostile policies of the American-Zionist axis to sow discord among Muslims.”

And:

“The West aims to break the chain of resistance against Zionist regime and they are not advocates of Syrian nation; Damascus is the pioneer of fight against occupying force of Zionist regime and a big supporter of Lebanese resistance movement, elimination of anti-Zionism thoughts and eliminating Bashar Assad government are the goals of the West efforts,” he added.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.

In October, calm was eventually restored in the Arab state after President Bashar al-Assad started a reform initiative in the country, but the US and Zionist regime plots could spark some new unrests in certain parts of the country.

Velayati concluded that Global March to Beitol Moghadas [Farsi synonym for “Jerusalem”] shows the Muslim public commitment to free Palestine.”

Members of the convoy visited the Iranian parliament where they were addressed by its Speaker.

“Addressing members of the convoy in Tehran, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani noted that even if the UN imposes more sanctions on Iran, the Iranian nation will never stop supporting the Palestinian nation.”  

Larijani (a potential presidential candidate) is also reported as having stated that:

“…the real reason behind the pressure from US, EU and Israel is not its nuclear programme. “One European foreign minister once told me that the real problem is our stand on Palestine. We have refused to allow the Zionist to fulfill their dream. Their nuclear issue is just a farce,” he added.”

According to other reports, Iranian athletes will be joining the convoy in order to take part in the march.

GMJ International Executive Committee and International Central Committee member Feroze Mithiborwala was somewhat coy when interviewed in Pakistan on March 13th about Iranian involvement in the Global March to Jerusalem by a journalist travelling with the convoy.

“A lot of questions are being raised about the Iranian support to your movement. What do you have to say?
We’re very clear about Iran’s support. For us, Iran is our ally, those Arab powers that are anti-American are our allies, Chavez, Putin are our allies. We would like to see the Government of India supporting the anti-Imperialist people movements in South Asia, just as the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia do, although that will be a long time coming. We collect the money from our delegates. They are not from foreign funded NGO backgrounds, they’re not from upper or middle class backgrounds, but are grass root level political activists.

Coming back to the question of Iranian support, what is the nature of help you get from them? Who is sponsoring your event?
We have been very transparent with our activists and the core leadership of the Global March India. Even the first Asian convoy to Gaza had this element of support, but we only took the support of return flight tickets as it was beyond our means. But this time, we have collected money from India. The entire movement in India is being supported by Indians.

Anybody who is working for an anti-Imperialist cause will seek support from sympathetic quarters. Our civil society friends in Iran who have the resources are supporting us. But even other anti-imperialist movements have been getting support from Iran. We’re not foreign funded activists, we’re not FCRA holders, we’re not NGOs. Our support is very clear, from where we’re getting it, be it Iran, be it Lebanon, the people of Jordan, or the people of Egypt—all we’re asking for is support in terms of return tickets. Everyone anti-American is our ally. We seek to build a powerful South Asian anti-imperialist movement.”

After the same journalist had accompanied the GMJ delegation on its visit to Iran, he appeared to have reached his own conclusions:

“Meanwhile, the region is preparing for another major clash between the pro-Palestinian activists who are coming from around the world and Israeli forces on 30 March—the Palestine Land Day. Activists in Asia, Europe and Africa have given a call for a million march to Israeli borders in Lebanon and Jordan. The Iranian government along with Hezbollah in Lebanon has openly supported the call.”