Free Gaza Movement Sending Flotilla to Break Gaza Siege UPDATE
by MainStreet, Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 01:04:54 PM EST
The Free Gaza Movement which has in prior years sponsored boats, carrying dignitaries from numerous countries including the US, to Gaza has announced a much larger effort this spring involving numerous small boats as well as two cargo ships in an effort relieve the inhumane siege. Unique to this trip is the involvement of activist organizations from Turkey, Sweden, Greece, Ireland, and Malaysia.
Istanbul, Turkey, 28 January 2010.
"Today the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH), announce a joint venture, sending 10 boats in the spring of 2010 to the besieged Gaza strip.Organizations from Greece, Ireland and Sweden have also promised to send boats to join the flotilla with the Free Gaza movement and
Mr. Bulent Yildirim, chairman of the Turkish Relief Foundation said, “We sail in the spring to Gaza, and our last port is freedom; freedom for the 1.5 million Palestinians denied the right to rebuild their society. We will never stop sailing until Israel's siege is lifted.”
Two cargo ships will be part of the flotilla, one donated by the Malaysia-based Perdana Foundation and one from Turkish Relief Foundation. Both will be laden with building supplies, generators and educational materials that Israel prohibits from entering Gaza since their brutal attack on the civilian population a year ago.
The many passenger boats accompanying the cargo ships will carry members of Parliament from countries around the world as well as high-profile journalists and human rights workers.
According to the chair of the Free Gaza Movement, Huwaida Arraf, “The illegal blockade on Gaza and Israel's continued intransigence make a mockery of international law. If our governments will not take a stance to stop Israel's abuse of the Palestinian people, global civil society is showing that we will.”
The Free Gaza movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since then, seven more voyages boarded Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel's draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza. The last three voyages were illegally stopped by the Israeli navy when, in December, 2008, they rammed the DIGNITY in international water, turned back the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY by threatening to shoot all on board, then hijacking the SPIRT on July 1, 2009, kidnapping the passengers and throwing them into prison for a week. (see www.freegaza.org.)
Since 1992, the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH) has provided humanitarian assistance to civilians who have been victims of war or natural disasters all over the world. One of IHH's main objectives is to take necessary steps to prevent any violations against civilian basic rights and liberties. IHH aims at providing relief help so communities can resume their daily life and stand on their own feet, as well as strengthening leadership and institutions of communities that have been made dependent on aid. (see http://www.ihh.org.tr )"
Here we go again. Previous boats sent to break the siege have carried Israeli and nonIsraeli human rights advocates from many countries, including a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and a holocaust survivor. We will apparently have to wait and see who will take the journey this time.
Saturday 6th February News Update
Events have been moving fast since the convoy's return from Gaza. In addition to the good news that the two convoy members who stayed behind in Gaza are now safely back following intensive efforts to secure their return, here are a couple of further updates. Viva Palestina US held two very successful meetings in New York and in Boston last weekend, raising around $60,000. In addition, the American Friends of Palestine held a fundraising in New Jersey which raised over $100,000. It is particularly signficant that despite attempts in the US to whip up hostility against solidarity with the Palestinians and against Viva Palestina, on account of its high profile, that these events were packed out. There was great enthusiasm for two upcoming initiatives Viva Palestina on the High Seas 1) Viva Palestina will be taking part in a mission to send a flotilla of boats to Gaza to seek to break the blockade by sea. The timing of this is in the process of being locked down and we are working very closely with the Turkish organisation IHH, which is taking the lead on organising logistics. All the signs are that there is enormous support in Britain and internationlly for this venture. Further details will follow very shortly and VP is committed to a major fundraising effort to bring a significant component to the IHH-led effort. Summer University of Palestine 2) Negotiations are at a closing stage in Lebanon on the details of a Summer University of Palestine to take place in late July/early August. Again, we will be in a position to announce the final details very shortly. Convoy Reports A large number of report back meetings have either happened or are planned, and there is already a huge awareness of what the convoy achieved. A tour of colleges is also organised so that students can hear about the conovy and about conditions facing students in Gaza. Other meetings and events are also taking place. There will be a large meeting in Batley, West Yorkshire, at the end of this month, for example, thanks to the Indian Muslim Welfare Association, which was extremely supportive of the convoy and all our efforts. In addition, a lot of people have taken the time to write their throughts about the whole experience down and to email us. Again, there is an overwhelmingly positive feeling. Please do send in your thoughts and suggestions so that we can incorporate them into planning for the future We are in the process of securing acknowledgements and thank yous from those who received the aid we delivered and we'll make these available as we have them. We hope to be able to put out a comprehensive update on future events soon. In the meantime, one measure of the success of the convoy and the mushrooming support for Viva Palestina - which is expanding internationally (watch this space!) - is various attempts by those who support the siege to spread disinformation and downright lies about the convoy and their unsuccessful attempts to pressure public authorities in the US and Britain to take these spurious allegations seriously. We won't be intimidated by such underhand tricks and attempts to divide the movement we are building. Our answer is to press on, undeterred, and to build on the success of the last three convoys, all of which have broken the siege. Best wishes, Kevin Ovenden Viva Palestina
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