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March 3, 2009

Tareq Aziz acquitted

Former Iraq Deputy Prime Minister under Saddam Hussein, Tareq Aziz, has been acquitted of involvement in mass killings by a court in Baghdad.

The judge said there was not enough evidence to convict Aziz over a military crackdown against Shi’ites in Baghdad’s Sadr City in 1999 in which dozens died.

But, in the same case, one of Saddams’ closest aides, Ali Hassan al-Majeed, was given a third death sentence.

Majeed, a cousin of Saddam, earned his nickname for his role in using poison gas to kill thousands of Kurdish villagers.

His previous sentences were for masterminding a campaign against Kurds in the 1980s and killing thousands of Shi’ites after an uprising in the 1991 Gulf War. The execution has been held up by political wrangling.


Interpal news cheers convoy

I promised to write a daily log of my time on the Viva Palestina convoy but my attempts to keep you updated with events have been thwarted ever since we reached North Africa.

There is a very clear agenda by some to keep Gaza out of the news and I am dismayed by the Zionist influence brought to bear in the Maghreb.

First there is the logisitical nightmare of trying to find wifi on the move, or an internet cafe during late night stopovers.

Secondly, internet cafes are few and far between on the open roads and we’ve seen a lot of them since we entered Morocco and Algeria – where both governments seemed keen to keep us out of the main towns and cities.

Finally, all attempts to use the internet were hampered by the less than tolerant Tunisian authorities – but more of them later.

I am now in Libya where our presence is being celebrated in grandstyle by both the authorities and the people, what a refreshing change.

And so I am able to send you this email after driving from the outskirts of Tripoli to the coastal town of Misratah.

Despite being thousands of miles away from home, good news travels fast and so I was delighted to learn Interpal, the UK registered charity that provides humanitarian aid to Gaza, has for the 3rd time been cleared by the UK Charity Commission of malicious allegations made by the US and Israeli governments.

Sadly the bank Lloyds TSB continues to act in line with US and Israeli policy by cutting off banking facilities to Interpal.

But, back to the good news, if you check out the Charity Commission report you will discover the following points:-

* Interpal is cleared of any bias in its work and aid delivery
* Interpal is cleared of the accusation of carrying out non-charitable work
* Interpal’s trustees are cleared of any links to terrorist organisations or activities
* Interpal’s charitable partners are free from any allegations made against them by the BBC Panorama programme and the Israeli Government.

More importantly:-

* The Charity Commission rejects all allegations made and evidence brought against Interpal by the BBC Panorama programme and The Israeli Government
* The American administration failed for the second time to provide the Charity Commission with any credible evidence against Interpal
* Interpal is free to continue its charitable work on behalf of needy Palestinians

The news was greeted with joy by those who know of Interpal’s commitment to Gaza and Palestine as a whole and, as a result, convoy drivers added their own support last night.

Irishman John Hurson from Tyrone said he would be donating his huge Daf truck to interpal along with all the contents (and yes, it has been fixed now and as good as new).

Birmingham councillor Mohamed Ishtiaq said he and his crew would do the same with their vehicles.

So, if you want to show your support to the people of Gaza and slap the Zionists in the face at the same time donate your money to Interpal. Go to their website – go on, do it now.

Editors Note: The Viva Palestina convoy are still taking donations via the website so you now have a choice about who to donate to – or better still donate to both. We hope to be working closely with our long-standing friends at Interpal in the future.

* British journalist Yvonne Ridley and award-winning film-maker Hassan al Banna Ghani are on the Viva Palestina convoy making a documentary about the journey from London to Gaza. Her website is and you can follow her updates by Twitter or20Facebook

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