‘A political attack from both sides of the Atlantic'
In an extraordinary move, the Charity Commission in Britain has issued a hostile briefing about the Gaza solidarity campaign inspired by Respect MP George Galloway, just before he arrived in North America for a speaking tour.
The Viva Palestina campaign, which organised a convoy of over 100 vehicles bringing aid to the besieged population of Gaza, has been in contact with the Charity Commission over the last week and sent it a substantial letter today in response to letters only received this morning.
Before receiving that letter, however, some officials at the Commission have issued a statement to the media to say they are launching a “statutory investigation”, even though the Viva Palestina campaign has sought to co-operate with all relevant authorities throughout. As Galloway touched down in the US to begin his speaking tour he made the following statement:
“If anyone needs investigating, it is the Charity Commission itself. There is no good reason why the Commission should jump the gun and issue a statement that it is launching an investigation when, in fact, it was about to receive the information and correspondence it had asked for. But there are plenty of bad reasons for this outrageous behaviour.
“Let the facts speak for themselves. On Friday, Rupert Murdoch's Sun reports that a right wing, pro-war, Bushite in Canada is stamping all over free speech and seeking to ban me from the country. On Saturday, Hazel Blears wrote to the largest Muslim organisation in the country calling for the head of its Deputy Director General Dr Daud Abdullah, because of his support for the Palestinian cause.
“On Monday morning, I set off to the US and Canada for a sell out speaking tour on the issue of Palestine. While I'm in the air the Charity Commission decides not to wait for a letter it had asked for and which will reach it tomorrow, Royal Mail permitting, but instead launches a public attack on the aid convoy I led.
“This isn't the first time the Charity Commission has intervened in a blatantly political way. It did it over the miners strike a quarter of a century ago and against other solidarity movements. It did it over my campaign against sanctions on Iraq, when it repeatedly went though the books of a political campaign despite the fact it never found anything untoward.
“In truth, I expected this kind of attack. So, I'm sure, did the millions of people whose support for the people of Palestine is an affront to the establishment and its organs. Doubtless supporters of the Iraq war and Israel's aggression against the Palestinians will hope that this will damage solidarity efforts. They are deluded.“We won't be intimidated. Viva Palestina will continue to campaign. And if the reaction in Canada to these kind of attacks is anything to go by, I anticipate an even greater outpouring of support for our campaign – moral, political, financial and in every other way.”
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