Bearing Witness

Open Letter To Julia Gillard

14 June 2011

The Hon Julia Gillard MP Prime Minister

Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Ms Gillard,
We, the undersigned, are Australian citizens who will shortly be departing Australia to participate in the 2011 Freedom Flotilla 2 to break the blockade of Gaza. We will be joining a peaceful, non-violent sea convoy transporting humanitarian goods and messages of solidarity and goodwill to the besieged people of Gaza. We are participating in the Freedom Flotilla 2 because we believe the blockade of Gaza is contrary to international law and violates the human rights of Gaza’s civilian population, the majority of whom are children.

Our reasons, in brief, are:

1. Israel is an occupying power that, since 2007, has exercised effective control over Gaza’s territorial waters, its airspace, and the flow of people and goods through its land borders.

2. As an occupying power, the Fourth Geneva Convention obliges the Government of Israel to protect all civilians in Gaza and allow them adequate access to food and medical supplies

3. The Government of Israel’s imposition and maintenance of the blockade is a disproportionate and non-targeted response to threats to Israel’s security that has resulted in the collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.5 million civilians, so much so that 80 per cent of the population are forced to rely on United Nations food assistance to survive, with malnutrition and poverty being widespread.

4. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, the UN Human Rights Council, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and numerous human rights organisations have all condemned the blockade as illegal and called upon Israel to lift the siege.

5. Governments are bound not only to uphold but also to act upon violations of international law and human rights treaties. The Australian Government has consistently failed to discharge its responsibility. We are conscious that the silence of the Government of Australia and its failure to speak out against the blockade is tantamount to Australia condoning Israel’s callous disregard for the human rights of the citizens of Gaza and its refusal to comply with its international obligations. It is this silence that compels us as citizens of good conscience to act where our Government has so consistently failed to do so.

We therefore call upon the Government of Australia to remind the Government of Israel of its obligations under international law and to demand the immediate cessation of the blockade. We are equally mindful, on the eve of our departure, of last year’s lethal assault in international waters on Freedom Flotilla 1 and the overwhelming condemnation of the Israeli Government’s actions. We note that nine civilians were killed, one Australian citizen was shot, and others were wounded, illegally detained and their personal possessions confiscated. We therefore call upon the Australian Government to exert its utmost influence to prevent a repetition of last year’s attack and to ensure the safety of all on board Freedom Flotilla 2.

We reiterate that the Flotilla is a peaceful, unarmed convoy. We are committed to non-violence and will offer no active resistance should our vessel or the convoy be subject to attack. Our actions will at all times be lawful. We expect, therefore, to receive the full protections of the Australian Government should we be harmed or illegally detained when overseas.

Michael Coleman, Sylvia Hale, Vivienne Porzsolt and Nick Wallwork.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Freedom Flotilla Two | , , | 2 Comments