Countdown To Freedom
by Felice Cohen-Joppa
An international meeting in May, 2003, brought together representatives from the British, Israeli, Norwegian and American campaigns to free Mordechai Vanunu at the Quaker International Centre in London. Nick and Mary Eoloff came directly from Israel, and the latest visit with their adopted son Mordechai. They were able to share his thoughts on different matters with those gathered. Our discussion took note of the many uncertainties in the months to come - in Israel, in the Middle East, in the world - that could have an impact on Vanunu's expected freedom. Des-pite the uncertainties, a great deal was accomplished during the meeting. We identified essential planning and work to be done before Mordechai's release, and discussed coordination of our efforts. We all left with the recognition that there is much to do and that we will need to raise a great deal of money in order to accomplish it all.
While we anticipate Mordechai will be released as scheduled on April 22, 2004, and the international campaign is preparing for that event, we also discussed other possibilities and are preparing for all eventualities.
We decided to launch a Countdown to Freedom on September 30, the 17th anniversary of Mordechai's kidnapping and imprisonment. On that day, we will begin counting down 205 more days until freedom! The U.S. and U.K campaign will each put a box on their websites, keeping count of the days until his release date.
Signs and banners numbering the days to freedom will be featured at this year's annual - and final - Vigils to Free Vanunu happening around the world on or around September 30. This year, vigils and other activities are planned for more cities than ever before - see the list on page 1.
We are organizing an international delegation to be present at Ashkelon Prison on April 22 to welcome Mordechai out and celebrate his release. We hope that this delegation will include supporters representing as many countries as possible, including celebrities and nuclear disarmament activists. If Dr. Vanunu is not released, then we will gather in order to apply as much pressure as possible on the Israeli authorities. Supporters should let the U.S. Campaign know as soon as possible it they are planning to go to Israel.
While discussing Mordechai's plans for the future, we decided to talk with a U.S. immigration attorney who could advise us regarding Mordechai's wish to come to the U.S. to live after release.
We also began discussion about a possible conference on nuclear disarmament around the time of Mordechai's release. The "War Against Terror" and the lies about "weapons of mass destruction" have guaranteed that Vanunu's plea for nuclear disarmament is no less urgent today than in 1986.
While talking about finances, we decided that remaining campaign funds will be given to Mordechai after his release, to help him rebuild his life. There is also a Trust Fund in Canada for Mordechai. An international appeal, the Home for Mordechai Fund, will be launched at a future date prior to Mordechai's release. The role of the international campaign in these remaining months is crucial. As together we prepare for Mordechai's release, we will advance his clarion call for the elimination of nuclear secrecy and the abolition of nuclear weapons.