Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, July 2011
British Peace Groups Deliver Letter to Greek Ambassador Demanding Release of Freedom Flotilla Boats to Gaza
London, 3 July 2011 -
On Monday the 4th of July at 12:30 activists from Free Gaza, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Britain to Gaza, Palestine Forum in Britain, and Action Palestine will go to the Greek Embassy, 1A Holland Park, London W11 3TP with a request to see HE Mr Aristidis C Sandis. We will deliver a letter from the above groups demanding the release of the Freedom Flotilla boats to Gaza.
Organisers of the Gaza-bound flotilla said Sunday in Greece they have not abandoned their plans to breach Israel's sea blockade of the territory despite a Greek government ban on their vessels leaving the country's port. The organisers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 have called on world citizens to request their governments advocate for the release of the boats and their safe passage to Gaza. A call has also been put out for citizens to protest at Greek embassies around the world and demand they release the boats.
The campaign experienced a major setback when Greece announced its restrictions on Friday stating that no boats in Greek ports would be allowed to leave. Several protesters from the American vessel that was intercepted by Greek authorities began what they described as an "open-ended fast" outside the U.S. Embassy and planned to stay there overnight. They want Washington to pressure Greece to release their American captain, John Klusmire, and allow them to depart for Gaza.
Activists believe that Israel, which has extensive economic trade and investments in Greece, is exerting pressure on the Greek government. According to an American passenger, Medea Benjamin, "It is unconscionable that Israel would take advantage of the economic hardship the Greek people are experiencing to try to stop our boat or the flotilla."
Copy of the letter below:
HE Mr Aristidis C Sandis Embassy of Greece 1A Holland Park London W11 3TP
4th July 2011
We, members and supporters of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla II, are outraged by your government?s decision to close the ports of Greece to our initiative. In doing so, it has allowed Israel to export the blockade of Gaza to Greece.
The Israeli Government siege of Gaza has been declared illegal collective punishment by the International Red Cross. We remind the Greek government that it has a responsibility to prevent the commission of war crimes such as this. Participating in Israel?s naval blockade and illegal siege on the Gaza Strip is against international law and humanity.This decision not only violates the consecrated principle within international law of the freedom of the seas and the ancient tradition of freedom of the Mediterranean, but also disregards the claim to self-determination of the people of Palestine.
The Freedom Flotilla seeks to peacefully challenge the unlawful siege of Gaza. Greece?s obstruction is unjustifiable and immoral. It places Greece in the position of being a collaborator with injustice.
Flotilla passengers have come from across the globe to the shores of Greece in order to put into practice our solidarity with the oppressed people of Gaza. The members of this international human rights mission demand, on behalf of the people of Gaza, the same right to move that has been granted for centuries to the Greek people in our countries.
Do not allow Israel to export the blockade to Greece. Do not collaborate in the siege of Gaza. Let us sail immediately!
Alex Harrison, for the Board of Free Gaza Sarah Colbourne, Palestine Solidarity Campaign Ismail Patel, Friends of Al Aqsa Zaher Birawi, Britain to Gaza, Palestine Forum in Britain Action Palestine
Free Gaza Movement Board of Directors Huwaida Arraf, (chair) Greta Berlin Audrey Bomse Eliza Ernshire Alex Harrison Ewa Jasiewicz Fathi Jaouadi Niamh Moloughney Adam Shapiro
Annex: ICRC News Release 10/103 Gaza Closure - Not Another Year!
For further information go to: freegaza.org
Alex Harrison, 07594 857448
Mary Thomas, 07542 358318
Munir Nuseibah, 07521 378029 (Arabic Contact)
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