Austria rights group urges new Egyptian government to end Gaza siege 17Feb11 February 18, 2011

The Palestinian Information Centre -  17 February 2011

The Austria-based Friends of Humanity organization has called on the empowered Egyptian army to remove the economic blockade imposed on Gaza and to release Palestinians held in its prisons.

In a letter addressed to the army, it urged the new government in Egypt to allow natural movement of people and commodities through its border with the tiny coastal enclave of the Gaza Strip.

”Residents of the Gaza Strip have since sixty months been subjected to an unjustified siege and cannot engage naturally in their lives, and thousands of houses and educational and health organizations have been destroyed wholly or partially and require the import of construction materials and steel for restoration and reconstruction. Egyptian authorities should take those natural and humanitarian needs of the strip’s residents into consideration.”

With protests that ousted former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak shifting power to the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces, the world waits to see how changes in the region will play out.

Separately, Friends of Humanity pushed for the freedom of many Palestinians held in Egyptian prisons.

”They should be allowed to return to their country,” the letter says.

”Reports of the torture of six Palestinians in the Al-Aqrab Prison in Halwan has raised serious concerns over their lives,” the group said, referring to detainees whose health had deteriorated and been left untreated by the prison.

The letter expressed confidence that it was the will of the Egyptians to free the Palestinians detained in the country and end the siege on the Gaza Strip imposed by the previous regime that closed the Rafah border crossing inhibiting travel and flow of goods to and from Gaza.

The rights group assured that restrictions on the flow of people and goods in Gaza are a violation of humanitarian law.

Friends of Humanity is an international human rights organization that especially tracks rights abuses in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

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