Long-time peace activist Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK describes the terrible experience she had in Cairo while trying to get to Gaza to attend the International Women’s Day celebrations there as part of a 100-member international delegation that included “representatives from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Canada and the United States” and “who ranged in age from 18 to 84, included Nobel Peace Prize winners, doctors, writers and students.”
She was treated brutally by the security authorities at Cairo airport, denied medical treatment after they dislocated her shoulder, did not receive any consular help from the US Embassy in Egypt, and was summarily put on a plane leaving the country. Fortunately for her, an orthopedic surgeon was on the plane and with the assistance of the flight attendants, he treated her shoulder though, of course, without anesthetic.
She poses three questions:
- Why didn’t the US Embassy in Egypt ever help me during this 17-hour ordeal, especially when I made it clear I was in danger?
- If the Egyptian officials were so brutal to me– a petite, 61-year-old American woman who has dedicated her life to peace–what are they doing to their own citizens and others languishing in their prisons? And why is Secretary Kerry considering a resumption of US military aid to this brutal regime?
- Did Israel put the pressure on Egypt to do a last-minute about-face to keep us out of Gaza? In the end, only 17 of our members made it into Cairo (but not to Gaza) and the rest were deported from the airport.