Australian Freedom Waves to Gaza delegate Michael Coleman returned home to Sydney on Friday 11 November after 5 days in an Israeli gaol. We have received the following messages of support for him. If you’d like to send him and the campaign a message of support please leave a comment on the bottom of this page, or click here for more ways you can help support the campaign.
John Pilger, author and journalist:
For Michael Coleman … Michael, try not to be deterred by the rogue regime that illegally detains you. They kidnapped you and your comrades because they fear the growing moral outrage of the world; all criminal regimes harbour this dread of a known truth. Be assured the great majority of humanity is with you in spirit; I personally am grateful to you for what you have done and for your courage. All power to you.
Jarrod McKenna, Christian preacher and peace activist
As a young Christian leader from Australia I want to thank you personally for your costly witness that is drawing attention to the oppressive human rights abuses people are experiencing at the hands of current policies of the Israeli government. How deaf we are to the message of the Jewish prophets and the cries of the people of Palestine. Last week I returned from meeting with Christian leaders in Palestine who are nonviolently working for what they called a “healthy future of dignity for all people without occupation.” I am haunted by the generosity of one of the Christian leaders statements; “Occupation is not only demoralising for Palestinians but for Israelis also… I am not asking the world to be pro-Palestine, only pro human rights, pro decency, pro humanity.” So we thank you for being pro decency, pro humanity and pro human rights. Please know we hold you in prayer with all people working for an end to this injustice through nonviolence. As Martin Luther King’s words read on the Wall near the Bethlehem checkpoint, “no lie can live forever.” Your actions have again highlighted Desmond Tutu’s words that I was reminded of by an Israeli peacemaker, “Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can only be built on justice.”
Antony Loewenstein, author and independent journalist:
While the illegal and immoral siege on Gaza continues, enforced by Israel and Egypt, and condoned by the Australian government, I stand in solidarity with Michael Coleman for daring to challenge this outrage. History is written by actions of the committed majority, and the Australian government should demand Israel release him immediately. The silence of the political and media elites over both Michael’s imprisonment and the suffering of the Gazan people proves how Zionist ideology has corrupted our democratic process.
Stuart Rees, Director of Sydney Peace Foundation:
Thank you for your courage and your sense of justice. Without brave and principled citizens taking a stand – as you have done in being part of the freedom flotilla for Gaza – politicians and other ‘leaders’ will continue to think that brute force must be the hub of domestic and foreign policies. But you and other courageous people have shown there is a human rights based, non violent alternative to the continued violence by those governments and armies which remain indifferent to human rights.
With gratitude and admiration for your values and your actions,
Director, Sydney Peace Foundation.
Lee Rhiannon, Greens Senator:
It is the Israeli Defence Forces that have acted illegally as the boat Mr Coleman and other Freedom Waves participants were on was in international waters when intercepted.
University of Western Ontario Professor David Heap has reported that he and Mr Coleman were transported to prison in handcuffs and leg shackles. I understand Professor Heap was tasered.
I know Mr Coleman and congratulate him for his work in highlighting the destructive Israeli blockade of Gaza.
I have spoken to Mr Coleman’s father who told me he is pleased with the contact he has had with DFAT but does request that every effort is made to have his son released immediately as he has done nothing wrong.
Mr Coleman and his colleagues are to be commended for their efforts to deliver $30,000 worth of medical aid to Gaza.
Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies:
Michael Coleman took action in default of any semblance of respect by our government for international law or concern for the human rights of the Gazan people. For Israel to indulge in acts of piracy and illegal imprisonment is typical of its responses to any attempt to exert internationally recognised norms in this conflict. The least the Australian government can now do is to take action to secure Michael’s release.
John Kaye, Greens NSW MP:
Some people just cannot sit still when they witness injustice. Michael Coleman is one such hero who finds intolerable the discrimination and disenfranchisement visited on the Palestinian people on a daily basis. He left his day job in Australia as a youth worker who educates and empowers young people at risk of homelessness and joined a ship to be part of the nonviolent challenge Israel’s ongoing blockade of Gaza.
Last Friday the Israeli military boarded the boat Michael was on while it was in international waters. He was taken to an Israeli prison where he remains detained. I understand that Michael has faced mistreatment by Israeli authorities including being denied contact with his family until Sunday evening.
Michael’s sole crime is to care deeply about human rights. He embodies the best of the grand traditions of nonviolent action against repression and racial and religious discrimination. He is to be congratulated for his peaceful activism for a people who live under the constraints of colonialism.
Rather than detaining people like Michael, a real democracy would welcome their commitment to the values of social justice.
I join with Michael’s supporters in calling on the Australian Government to act for Michael’s immediate release. The Gillard government should further condemn Israel’s detainment of Michael and its ongoing occupation of Gaza.
Greens NSW MP
Father Dave, Holy Trinity Church:
The thoughts and prayers of your community at the Holy Trinity in Dulwich Hill are with you, brother!
David Shoebridge, Greens NSW MP
Your persistence and courage in promoting the rights and struggle of the Palestinian people are an inspiration.
Standing up to the incessant pressure, heavy-handed lobbying and personal vilification constantly brought to bear on those who are peacefully working for justice for the Palestinian people is a genuine personal challenge. I know that doing the right thing is not always the easiest thing to do.
I thank you for your ongoing bravery and commitment. Peaceful and non-violent activism such as yours will continue to draw the world’s attention to the ongoing injustices suffered by the Palestinian people.
My thoughts are with you. I add my voice to the call for the Australian government to act immediately to deliver your release.
Greens NSW MP