In an depressingly familiar parallel with the 2007 U-19 Palestinian football team fiasco, the UK Border Agency has again refused visas to visiting Palestinians. Due to take part in Fairtrade Fortnight, farmers Lina Mahmoud, Belal Eid and Nahed Besharieh were due to complete a packed schedule of visits to UK Fairtrade and Palestine support groups during Fairtrade Fortnight which runs from 22nd February to 7th March.
The visit was sponsored by Zaytoun Community Interest Company, a not-for-profit organisation that has been the forefront of distributing and selling high quality Palestinian agricultural produce here in the UK. Zaytoun is meeting all costs of the visit, including accommodation and travel. Yet one of the grounds for refusal was that the farmers had insufficient funds.
It was absurd for the footballers to be refused visas in 2007. That blunder did the UK government considerable damage in how they are perceived by the Palestinians. Once such occurence is unfortunate, twice is – literally – careless.
Write to your MP, asking the FCO & UK Borders Agency to justify this exclusion. Demand that the decision be quickly reversed. Fairtrade Fortnight is just under a month away, so immediate action is vital. Sign the petition to register your protest. How can this kind of action do anything to advance either knowledge of the situation or even a take tiny step towards peace? Mindbogglingly crass, there’s no other way to describe it.
Downloadable resources: Press release & Media pack