Bearing Witness

Australians determined to join Freedom Flotilla 2 despite Eygpt partially opening Raffah Crossing

On the eve of first anniversary of the deadly Israeli attack on the 2010 international Flotilla to break the siege of Gaza, Australian participants reiterated their determination to join the second Flotilla, which will set sail for Gaza at the end of June.

“We welcome Egyptian moves to partially lift the siege by opening the Raffah crossing,” said former Greens MLC Sylvia Hale, “but in itself this will not substantially alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza.

“Despite the easing of the siege, men under 40 are not permitted to cross, making it impossible for them to find jobs outside Gaza. The refusal to permit raw materials to enter Gaza or exports to leave it, means widespread unemployment will continue.

“Gaza will not be free  so long as the Israeli siege destroys the territory’s economy,” said Ms Hale.

“The Australian delegation is determined to join the second international Flotilla to break the siege,” said Vivienne Porzsolt of Jews Against the Occupation.

“The world witnessed the brutality of the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara 12 months ago, when nine activists were killed and many others injured and illegally detained,” Ms Porzsolt said.

“Such aggression must not go unchallenged. By participating in the Flotilla, we are opposing Israel’s acts of piracy in international waters and its illegal blockade of Gaza..

“We are committed to peace and non-violence and will offer no provocation or resistance to any action by the Israeli forces. Should any of us be injured, it will be the responsibility of the Israeli Government,” said Ms Porzsolt.

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Freedom Flotilla Two, Media | , , , , | Leave a comment

WHY ?

Well I’m in and will be sailing to Gaza with the Freedom Flotilla Two, in an attempt to break Israel ‘s brutal siege of the strip. I must admit I am as anxious as I am exited about undertaking this trip, but I believe it is people who will break the siege of Gaza , not governments or international institutions which have failed to hold Israel accountable to international law. In fact the humble and hardworking program of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla [GFF] has put governments and international institutions to shame.

However I did not make my decision to join the flotilla lightly, knowing the stress and heartache my decision will have on my family and friends who I love dearly – but sometimes you have to put your money where you mouth is and after my time in Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, at the end of 2008 – start of 2009 I came away with a love of the Palestinian people and there vibrant culture, Palestinian hospitality is second to none and there lust for life in the face of such violent oppression is truly remarkable.

This appreciation soon turned to sadness though after the initial excitement of experiencing a new culture wore off, and the realisation hit that what I was witnessing in the West Bank was the systematic and methodical ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Palestine. This sadness combined with a keen sense of injustice has steeled it’s self into non-violent action in an effort to expose the truth about the human rights violations happing on a daily basis in the occupied territories of Palestine.

By intercepting and attacking the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters – killing 9 humanitarian activists and injuring 54 – the Israeli Government intended to deter people from attempting to break the siege of Gaza. I took this blatant show of force as personal challenge to the Palestinian solidarity movement, a challenge we have answered and will continue to answer until the siege of Gaza and the collective punishment it enforces ends !

This time around there will 22 countries represented, 14 boats participating and over 1000 activists sailing to Gaza . We in Australia have partnered with organisations in Canadian, Denmark and Belgium to buy a boat we have named ‘Tahrir’ meaning “Liberation’ in Arabic – which is what we hope to help achieve for the population of Gaza.

Remember, as Martin Luther King Jr once said “injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere“.

TAHRIR ! TAHRIR ! TAHRIR !

May 22, 2011 Posted by | Freedom Flotilla Two, My Thoughts | , , , , | 2 Comments

ISRAELI PM THREATENS NEXT GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA

 

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu threatened to “act firmly” using “force” against the Freedom Flotilla from 22 countries due to set sail for Gaza next month. It will be joined by an Australian contingent in partnership with Canadians and others.

Organisers are extremely concerned considering Israel’s use of lethal force against civilians on last year’s Freedom Flotilla.

Netanyahu has also asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to help stop the Freedom Flotilla. The Secretary General has responded saying that Israel should end the blockade of Gaza.

“Netanyahu’s statement is tantamount to a death threat against participants in the Flotilla. In spite of this, all intending participants from Australia have declared that they will not be deterred. The siege of Gaza must be broken and the Freedom Flotilla will sail ahead as planned.” said Rihab Charida of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Working Group in Sydney.

In June 2007, Israel and the so-called Quartet, the US, the UN, Russia and the EU, imposed a siege on the people of Gaza after all Palestinians had democratically elected Hamas to form Government. Since then the 1.5 million people of Gaza have been shut off from the outside world, trapped within the world’s largest open-air prison in an act of collective punishment.

Essential food, medical, building and other supplies have been prevented from entering the tiny coastal strip, impoverishing its people and destroying its economy. The easing of the siege in response to the last Freedom Flotilla has been cosmetic only with no materials for manufacture permitted, nor exports, nor free passage of people.
“In the face of the shameful failure of governments to defend international law, the people of the world will break the unlawful siege of Gaza,” said Ms Charida.

The Freedom Flotilla sets sail for Gaza in the second half of May 2011. †It consists of more than 11 boats from over 22 countries including Canada, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, USA, Britain, Greece, Turkey, Australia and France.

Article by James Godfrey.

For more information on the activities of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Working Group Sydney check out: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=127042173984253

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Freedom Flotilla Two, Media | , , , | 2 Comments