Roger Fowler on NZ's Humanitarian Convoys to Gaza: Standing For Peace and Justice For Palestinians

Interviewed by

Lisa Er

Roger Fowler on NZ's Humanitarian Convoys to Gaza: Standing For Peace and Justice For Palestinians

In this interview, Roger Fowler, leader of two Kiwi humanitarian convoys to Gaza, encourages us to stand for peace and justice for the Palestinians.

The issue of Israel and Palestine is the world’s largest festering sore that is affecting other countries and by implication - wars. Placing displaced people where other people were already living is a massive international failure, and one that must never be repeated.

The result of this failure is shown in the three Israeli military operations over six years, in addition to nine years of economic blockade, that have ravaged the already debilitated infrastructure of Gaza.

The United Nations has said that the Gaza Strip could become unlivable by 2020 without critical access to reconstruction and humanitarian supplies. The U.N. issued similar warnings four years ago, even before the 50-day war, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead and countless others injured or wounded, most of them civilians.

Among many things, the report cited the degradation of basic water, energy, sanitation and education facilities and the region’s intense overcrowding as factors that may render the enclave uninhabitable by 2020.

Donor fatigue has left Gaza’s reconstruction at a standstill, and there is no political solution on the horizon. After three wars in the tiny strip, one of the few certainties in Gaza is another war within a few years.

The current suffering of the people of Gaza is almost unimaginable.

Nearly 80 percent of Gaza’s approximately 1.8 million people rely on aid agencies for daily sustenance. Unemployment is at 40 percent, more than double the level 15 years ago. Before the most recent war, nearly 60 percent of the population was food insecure, 95 percent of Gaza’s water is unfit for drinking and electricity is available for only a few hours a day.

The most recent military operation compounded already dire socioeconomic conditions and accelerated de-development in the occupied Palestinian territory, a process by which development is not merely hindered but reversed.

Divided in two parts, the State of Palestine is not an independent country and therefore the people have no voice in United Nations and do not have full sovereignty and control over their own territory.

Roger Fowler and Kia Ora Gaza have organised the following projects:

  • Sent a team of 6 Kiwis on the 140-vehicle Viva Palestina land convoy, driving and donating 3 ambulances to Gaza - part of the 7million dollars medical aid delivered in 2010
  • Sent a team of 4 Kiwis on the "Miles of Smiles" land convoy to Gaza with 10 tonnes of medical aid, 2012, and sent a fact-finding mission to Gaza Nov, 2012.

Roger went to Gaza on each of these occasions and in the interview he speaks about his Gaza experience, the occupied territories, and about his activism.

Roger organised the NZ Conference on Palestine 2013 and returned to Gaza on a fact-finding mission last November 2016,

Veteran activist & community organizer, Roger Fowler, played a prominent role in building the local protest movement against the war on Vietnam and Apartheid in the late 1960s & 70s. He was manager of Auckland’s Resistance Bookshop and coordinator of the inner-city People’s Union community organization throughout the 1970s, an active supporter of the protest occupation at Bastion Point, and union delegate in the car assembly industry. Roger is director of the Mangere East Community Centre, and organizer of Kia Ora Gaza which has sponsored NZ involvement in several international solidarity convoys to break Israel’s inhumane siege of Gaza. Roger was awarded a QSM Queens Service Medal in 1999.

Kia Ora Gaza is part of the NZ Palestine Solidarity Network which links up all the pro-Palestine groups throughout NZ. It was established from a series of public meetings to organise Kiwi participation in international efforts to end the siege of Gaza. This followed the Israeli commando raid on the ship the Mavi Mamara, which led the peace flotilla in 2010 which resulted in the deaths of 10 civilian peace activists.

Kia Ora Gaza is currently facilitating the participation of Green Party MP Marama Davidson on the Women’s Boat to Gaza peace flotilla that will leave Italy later this month. (September 2016)

You can DONATE to this and other fundraising for Palestine on the web site:
Kia Ora Gaza: www.kiaoragaza.net

This interview was sponsored by The Awareness Party.

 


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Lisa Er

Lisa Er

Born in the UK Lisa emigrated with her parents to New Zealand at the age of 16. Already politically active Lisa has continued to have a passionate interest in peace, politics, and the philosophy behind what we do.

A primary school teacher for 14 years, Lisa then turned her hand to business and created the well known Lisa's Hummus, which she sold a few years ago. Now Lisa is immersed in creating a better political system via www.theawarenessparty.com

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