Statement from the family of Rachel Corrie

‘On this anniversary, Rachel would want us all to hold Tristan Anderson and his family and these Palestinians and their families in our thoughts and prayers, and we ask everyone to do so,’ write Cindy and Craig Corrie. (thanks WRMEA).

We thank all who continue to remember Rachel and those who, on this sixth anniversary of her stand in Gaza, renew their own commitments to human rights, justice and peace in the Middle East. The tributes and actions in her memory are a source of inspiration to us and to others.

Friday, March 13th, we learned of the tragic injury to American activist Tristan Anderson. Tristan was shot in the head with a tear-gas canister in Ni’lin Village in the West Bank when Israeli forces attacked a demonstration opposing the construction of the annexation wall through the village’s land. On the same day, a Ni’lin resident was, also, shot in the leg with live ammunition. Four residents of Ni’lin have been killed in the past eight months as villagers and their supporters have courageously demonstrated against the Apartheid Wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice—a wall that will ultimately absorb one-quarter of the village’s remaining land. Those who have died are a ten-year-old child Ahmed Mousa, shot in the forehead with live ammunition on July 29, 2008; Yousef Amira (17) shot with rubber-coated steel bullets on July 30, 2008; Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22) and Mohammed Khawaje (20), both shot and killed with live ammunition on December 28, 2008. On this anniversary, Rachel would want us all to hold Tristan Anderson and his family and these Palestinians and their families in our thoughts and prayers, and we ask everyone to do so.

We are writing this message from Cairo where we returned after a visit to Gaza with the Code Pink Delegation from the United States. Fifty-eight women and men successfully passed through Rafah Crossing on Saturday, March 7th to challenge the border closures and siege and to celebrate International Women’s Day with the strong and courageous women of Gaza. Rachel would be very happy that our spirited delegation made this journey. North to south throughout the Strip, we witnessed the sweeping destruction of neighborhoods, municipal buildings, police stations, mosques, and schools –casualties of the Israeli military assaults in December and January. When we asked about the personal impact of the attacks on those we met, we heard repeatedly of the loss of mothers, fathers, children, cousins, and friends. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports 1434 Palestinian dead and over 5000 injured, among them 288 children and 121 women.

We walked through the farming village of Khoza in the South where fifty homes were destroyed during the land invasion. A young boy scrambled through a hole in the rubble to show us the basement he and his family crouched in as a bulldozer crushed their house upon them. We heard of Rafiya who lead the frightened women and children of this neighborhood away from threatening Israeli military bulldozers, only to be struck down and killed by an Israeli soldier’s sniper fire as she walked in the street carrying her white flag.

Repeatedly, we were told by Palestinians, and by the internationals on the ground supporting them, that there is no ceasefire. Indeed, bomb blasts from the border area punctuated our conversations as we arrived and departed Gaza. On our last night, we sat by a fire in the moonlight in the remains of a friend’s farmyard and listened to him tell of how the Israeli military destroyed his home in 2004, and of how this second home was shattered on February 6th. This time, it was Israeli rockets from Apache helicopters that struck the house, A stand of wheat remained and rustled soothingly in the breeze as we talked, but our attention shifted quickly when F-16s streaked high across the night sky. and our friend explained that if the planes tipped to the side, they would strike. Everywhere, the psychological costs of the recent and ongoing attacks for all Gazans, but especially for the children, were sadly apparent. It is not only those who suffer the greatest losses that carry the scars of all that has happened. It is those, too, who witnessed from their school bodies flying in the air when police cadets were bombed across the street and those who felt and heard the terrifying blasts of missiles falling near their own homes. It is the children who each day must walk past the unexplainable and inhumane destruction that has occurred.

In Rachel’s case, though a thorough, credible and transparent investigation was promised by the Israeli Government, after six years, the position of the U.S. Government remains that such an investigation has not taken place. In March 2008, Michele Bernier-Toff, Managing Director of the Office of Overseas Citizen Services at the Department of State wrote, “We have consistently requested that the Government of Israel conduct a full and transparent investigation into Rachel’s death. Our requests have gone unanswered or ignored.” Now, the attacks on all the people of Gaza and the recent one on Tristan Anderson in Ni’lin cry out for investigation and accountability. We call on President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and members of Congress to act with fortitude and courage to ensure that the atrocities that have occurred are addressed by the Israeli Government and through relevant international and U.S. law. We ask them to act immediately and persistently to stop the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military, not to encourage it.

Despite the pain, we have once again felt privileged to enter briefly into the lives of Rachel’s Palestinian friends in Gaza. We are moved by their resilience and heartened by their song, dance, and laughter amidst the tears. Rachel wrote in 2003, “I am nevertheless amazed at their strength in being able to defend such a large degree of their humanity–laughter, generosity, family time—against the incredible horror occurring in their lives…..I am also discovering a degree of strength and of the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances…I think the word is dignity.” On this sixth anniversary of Rachel’s killing, we echo her sentiments.

Sincerely,
Cindy and Craig Corrie
On behalf of our family
Updated on March 16, 2009
Posted on: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5426

Updates on Tristan Anderson’s condition:

http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5324

Orly Levi, a spokeswoman at the Tel Hashomer hospital, tells Ha’aretz:

He’s in critical condition, anesthetized and on a ventilator and undergoing imaging tests,” She described Anderson’s condition as life-threatening.

Israeli activist Jonathan Pollack told Ynet:

… the firing incident took place inside the village and not next to the fence. There were clashes in the earlier hours, but he wasn’t part of them. He didn’t throw stones and wasn’t standing next to the stone throwers.

There was really no reason to fire at them. The Dutch girl standing next to him was not hurt. It only injured him, like a bullet.

13 March: Anarchists Against the Wall reports on Tristan’s condition (volunteers with AWALLS were present when Tristan was injured and have been at the hospital to oversee his treatment):

The impact of the projectile caused numerous condensed fractures to Anderson’s forehead and right eye socket. During the operation part of his right frontal lobe had to be removed, as it was penetrated by bone fragments. A brain fluid leakage was sealed using a tendon from his thigh, and both his right eye and skin suffered extensive damage. The long term scope of all of Tristan’s injuries is yet unknown.

14 March: Gabrielle Silverman, Tristan’s girlfriend who was with him when he was shot, spoke to Bay City News and KTVU:

As of Saturday he was on full life support and heavily medicated at Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv, his girlfriend Gabrielle Silverman said today in a telephone interview.

“My understanding is that they are trying to let his brain rest as much as possible and do as little work as possible,” Silverman said. …

Palestinian medics immediately came to their rescue and attempted to place Anderson onto a stretcher. But even then, Silverman said, “The army began firing tear gas directly at us … again and again and again.”

“Tear gas was falling at our feet as were loading him onto the stretcher,” Silverman said.

When the medics had successfully situated Anderson, an Israeli soldier stood in front of the ambulance and would not allow it to move, Silverman said.

Silverman detailed with clear agitation in her voice the circumstances that followed, as Anderson was “getting worse, vanishing further.”

She said they underwent another 15-minute holdup at the checkpoint, the reason being, she said, that “Palestinian ambulances are not allowed to enter into the state of Israel from the West Bank.”

“Tristan’s life was in serious danger. He was bleeding terribly everywhere from the head,” Silverman recounted. “We had to just sit and wait until eventually an Israeli ambulance from God knows where showed up and we had to change to another ambulance.”

Once they had arrived at the hospital, Anderson immediately underwent surgery, Silverman said. Surgeons removed a portion of the right frontal lobe of his brain and used a tendon from his leg to seal up the area to help prevent leakage. They also “tried to put his face back together,” Silverman said.

14 March: This statement from the Anderson family was posted on indybay.org:

Thank you to all of you who have emailed, called and are holding Tristan and our family in the light. It matters tremendously as we all hold faith for Tristan to recover and return home.

Here is the update for today. Andrew from the US Embassy in Israel called. He had just seen Tristan in person along with Gaby (Tristan’s girlfriend)…

Tristan is stable. He is still unconscious and they are keeping him that way for several more days as it helps with the healing. They are closely monitoring the fluid levels in his brain. Tristan is under 24 hour monitoring and is receiving the best possible care. Trauma care in Israel is done following the same protocols as the U.S. Tristan has been transferred from Emergency Care to the Neurological ICU. This is great news as it means he was stable enough for them to move him. This IC specializes in neurology so Tristan will be getting focused, specific care.

I will continue to send updates as we hear more. Please continue to keep Tristan in your thoughts, prayers, and light.

(His parents) are en route to Israel. His mother has been and will continue to be checking her email. She’s finding the supportive emails very comforting. Comments posted here will be sent to his parents (or may be seen by them).

Again, we are deeply grateful for the outpouring of love and support for Tristan and our family.

Most appreciated,
Tristan’s parents and sister

15 March: The Anderson family posted the following statement on indybay.org:

We are deeply grateful for the love and support pouring in from Tristan’s friends and fellow activists around the world. It is moving to see how many people care for Tristan and are moved by his work championing social justice issues. We are proud of Tristan’s fierce courage, adventurous spirit, and his many travels to all corners of the globe.

Tristan’s girlfriend, Gaby, who has been tirelessly by his side, reports that he is doing much better. When the doctor asked him to put up two fingers he did so. Tristan recognizes Gaby and can squeeze her fingers in answer to different questions. He’s started his moving toes and his torso around a bit. This is welcome and wonderful news! We understand things can go up and down, however we are deeply hopeful that Tristan will recover. We are looking forward to when he is stable enough that he can return home to the care and comfort of his family and community.

In the meantime, we are deeply appreciative of the excellent care he’s receiving, the amazing support that Gaby and his friends are providing, and the thoughts and prayers of those around the world who are holding him in their hearts and minds. It matters tremendously as we all hold faith for Tristan to recover and return home.

Again, we are so very grateful for the outpouring of love and support for Tristan and our family.

16 March: Tristan has been taken to the neurological department and is in intensive care. He is currently listed in stable condition, though this may continue to change due to the seriousness of his injuries.

Author: Idrees Ahmad

I am a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling and a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). I write for The Observer, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Al Jazeera, Dissent, The National, VICE News, Huffington Post, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Adbusters, Guernica, London Review of Books (Blog), The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Asia Times, IPS News, Medium, Political Insight, The Drouth, Canadian Dimension, Tanqeed, Variant, etc. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on Al Jazeera, the BBC, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.

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