Tag Archives: tahrir

Flotilla News

Give back the Tahrir

Since Michael’s return to Australia, Free Gaza Australia [FGA] has been running a political campaign to get our beloved ‘Tahrir’ back from Ashdod, where the Israeli navy took her after illegally taking control of her in international waters in November.

We have sent the following letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard in an effort to enlist her support for the campaign for the Tahrir’s return and for our Government to reposition Australia on the right side of history and international law, and alongside the overwhelming majority of countries in the world who will not support the ongoing systematic abuse of Palestinian people and denial of their human rights.

You can add your support for this campaign by clicking on the link below and adding your name to the call for the ‘Tahrir’ to be returned to its rightful owners.

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/give-back-the-tahrir.html

In the coming weeks we plan to contact all Federal Members of Parliament and seek their support as well.

In recent months, we have also been talking to our international partners about our next plans – stay tuned for the news of the next ‘waves’ to Gaza.

Dear Prime Minister,

In early November 2011, we wrote to your Government demanding immediate action, to:

1. Pressure the Israeli government to unconditionally release and facilitate the safe return of Michael Coleman and all political prisoners.

2. Demand the release of the Tahrir and Saoirse along with all personal property, as well as compensation for damages incurred by the act of piracy that the Israeli government committed on the high seas.

3. Ensure that Israel ends its illegal blockade of Gaza to enable freedom of movement for people and goods.” Five days after the Tahrir was attacked in international waters and Michael, all other passengers and crew were abducted; he was released and ‘deported’ to Australia via Bangkok and Melbourne.

On 28 November 2011 we received a woefully inadequate response from Samuel Allen (Acting Director, Levant and Iran Section) of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in which no answers were provided to our principal demands for action.

The Australian Government’s response to the act of piracy committed by the Israeli Government against the unarmed flotilla that Michael Coleman was aboard has been pitiful.

Your regurgitated comments about practical support and partnership agreements are mealy-mouthed apologies, which are grossly inadequate and disproportionate for the Palestinian people whose land has been stolen from them by the actions of the ever-expanding Apartheid Israeli ‘state’.

Providing drip feed of ‘aid’ is not the solution to the plight of the Palestinians and the injustices they experience in Palestine and in forced exile. Your ‘travel advice’ that Australians should not attempt to travel to Gaza by sea is cowardly. The Australian Government should be working with other countries to aid the people of Gaza who demand an end to the blockade and with it their ability move and trade freely.

All governments, including yours, must hold Israel accountable for its defiance of international law with regards to the ongoing collective punishment of more than 1,600,000 Palestinians in Gaza, half of whom are under the age of 16 in what is effectively the world’s largest open air prison.

Instead you persist in platitudes to the Israeli Government and business interests who continue to make their money from the theft of Palestinian lands. Indeed we found your recent attendance at and speech to the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce extremely offensive when Palestinian people are denied freedom of movement and trade.

We contrast your Government’s actions with the visit to Gaza last month by Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore from the Irish Republic and his statement demanding an end to the blockade.

It is because of the continuing inaction of governments, including the Australian Government that ordinary people feel compelled to act. When our delegate sailed to Gaza, he did so in the firm belief that the blockade of Gaza by the Israeli Government is illegal and inhumane and should end without delay. In this appraisal we believe that we have the support of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the UN Human Rights Council, the International Committee of the Red Cross. and numerous other human rights organisations.

We consider that our assets – the Tahrir, of which we hold a one-tenth share, medical aid we were transporting to give to the people of Gaza and our personal belongings including a satellite telephone have been confiscated illegally by the Israeli Government.

We urge you to actively support our demand that the Israeli Government reloads our medical supplies and our personal belongings and other assets onto our boat and allow us to sail it to Gaza without delay.

We look forward to hearing back from you soon with a considered, positive reply that repositions Australia on the right side of history and international law, and alongside the overwhelming majority of countries in the world who will not support the systematic abuse of Palestinian people and their human rights.

Yours sincerely,

James Godfrey

for Free Gaza Australia

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Flotilla News

Audio update from Australian delegate Michael Coleman

Australian delegate on board the Tahrir for Freedom Waves to Gaza, Michael Coleman, filed this audio update with the Institute for Middle East Understanding earlier today (or Thursday night Tahrir middle-of-the-Medditerraean time).

Listen to what he had to say:

9:48pm EDT: Australian passenger Michael Coleman updates us from #FreedomWaves flotilla (mp3)

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Flotilla News

Locals and internationals wait to greet Freedom Waves boats at Gaza seaport

International Solidarity Movement: New Flotilla Scheduled to Arrive in Gaza Friday, Nov.

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Press Conference Scheduled to Welcome Boats at Gaza Seaport 9:30 a.m.

[Gaza]  Local fishermen, Palestinian youth, civil society, and international supporters will be awaiting the arrival of Freedom Waves to Gaza which is currently approaching the blockaded strip.  The press conference is being hosted by the Palestinian Fishing and Marine Sport Association (PFMSA), and will be held in Gaza’s fishing port on Friday, 4 November at 9:30 a.m.

“Tomorrow we are gathering in the port to welcome the passengers on the flotilla who are coming here in solidarity with the people of Gaza, said Mahfouz El Kabariti, President of PFMSA.  “We hope that they reach Palestine safely and we call on everyone in Gaza to join us at the port to reciprocate the solidarity that they are showing to us.”

Following the press conference, attendees and media are invited to board fishing boats and sail out of the harbor to welcome the flotilla to Gaza.

For the latest updates follow WitnessGaza.com and #FreedomWaves on Twitter.

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Flotilla News

Request for Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to support Australian delegate and condemn Israel’s threats

We emailed this letter to Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on Thursday 3 November:

Dear Mr Rudd

We are writing to ask that you to make direct and immediate representation to Israeli authorities on behalf of the Australian government supporting Australian citizen and Sydney-based youth worker, Michael Coleman who is currently on board the the vessel Tahrir in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Tahrir is headed toward Gaza as part of the Freedom Waves to Gaza flotilla initiative which seeks to challenge the blockade of Gaza and highlight the plight of the Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in the region. There are 12 people in total travelling on the Tahrir. Also part of the Freedom Waves to Gaza initiative is a second boat, the MV Saoirse.

We also call on you as Foreign Minister to denounce Israel for its intention to “take any necessary action” to prevent the Tahrir and Saoirse from reaching their intended destination. The participants of this flotilla are unarmed peaceful activists and journalists.

We ask that you urge the Israeli government and military to desist from intervening, boarding or towing the boats to Israel, or redirecting the boats to any other location away from Gaza. We ask that you insist Israel does not board the vessels and does not use force or violence against any of the unarmed peaceful activists or journalists on board these vessels, and that they not be detained or interrogated by Israeli authorities.

We note that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has indicated it will provide consular support to our Australian delegate if necessary.

DFAT has however noted that it “strongly advises against travelling by sea to the coast of the Gaza Strip”.

Noting Australia’s recent decision at the United Nations to vote against admission of Palestine to UNESCO, we ask that the Australian Government use this opportunity to take a stand on the key issue of justice for Palestinians. We call on the Australian Government to condemn Israel’s ongoing illegal blockade of Gaza and the consequent collective punishment of the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in the region.

We appreciate your consideration and anticipate your prompt response to our concerns.

You can get in contact with Kevin Rudd too:
Email: kevin.rudd@dfat.gov.au
Phone: (02) 6277 7500
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/KRuddMP

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Flotilla News

Track the Tahrir as it heads across the sea to Gaza

The Tahrir is currently on it’s way to Gaza.

It is making its way through international waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

Click here to watch the progress of the Tahrir as it sails to Gaza.

On board is Australian delegate Michael Coleman. Michael joins delegates from a number of countries, including Canada, comprised of six journalists, five activists and the captain.

As at 11am (AEST) Thursday 3 November, the Tahrir was in the following location:

This via Electronic Intifada, tracking the Freedom Waves flotilla in real time:

A second boat from Ireland, the MV Saoirse, is also currently in international waters making its way to Gaza as part of the Freedom Wave.

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Flotilla News

Exclusive Video: ‘Freedom Waves’ delegates speak out

Democracy Now! reports:

At the end of our live broadcast today, Democracy Now! received breaking news from a source aboard “The Tahrir,” a ship involved in the “Freedom Waves to Gaza” flotilla. Without any public notice, the ship left from an undisclosed port in the eastern Mediterranean Sea earlier today which the participants say is bound for the Gaza Strip.

The “Freedom Waves to Gaza” flotilla marks the latest attempt by international activists to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. Earlier this year, Greece blocked the departure of several ships from another flotilla heading to the region. In 2010, Israeli forces killed nine activists, including a U.S. citizen, on an aid boat called the “Mavi Marmara,” which was part of the first such international flotilla. Additional information on the “Freedom Waves” flotilla will be posted on our website, www.democracynow.org, once received.

Watch their interviews with three of the delegates on board the Tahrir, currently headed toward Gaza:

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Flotilla News Media Releases

Australian on board Freedom Boat to Gaza

Canadian and Irish ships set to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade with Freedom Waves to Gaza

(0200/3 November 2011 Sydney time)

The next “Freedom Wave” to Gaza is on its way. Sydney based youth worker Michael Coleman (http://freegazaoz.org/delegates/) joins delegates from several countries on the Canadian boat Tahrir as it sets sail for Gaza.

Two civilian boats, the Canadian Tahrir (Liberation), and the Irish Saoirse (Freedom), carrying 27 people from nine countries have successfully reached international waters. The boats are currently in the Mediterranean Sea, preparing to sail for Gaza within a matter of hours.

 

On board, Michael says: “We make this move towards freedom for all of those who have been oppressed and all those in the struggle.”

In July this year, Michael took part in the Freedom Flotilla 2, which attempted to sail from various Greek ports in order to challenge the siege on Gaza. Michael was arrested and charged in Greece for his role in assisting the Tahrir leave port to sail toward Gaza.

Free Gaza Australia spokesperson James Godfrey said: “The Tahrir and Saoirseare now in international waters and hope to reach the shores of Gaza in a matter of days. Our main obstacles now are the Israeli Occupation Force and the complicity of western governments including Australia. The wind of public opinion is in our sails as the people of the world reject this illegal blockade.”

“We demand that the Australian Government takes all necessary steps to ensure Michael’s safety and that of the Tahrir. In particular we call on Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to make representations to Israel to not interfere in any way with either of the boats as they peacefully sail to Gaza to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade.”

“Palestinian people in Gaza demand their human rights. They call for solidarity not charity. While humanitarian aid is helpful, Gazans are still prisoners with no freedom of movement, in violation of fundamental human rights. The blockade also prevents imports and exports of most goods which stifles economic activity and independence for the people of Gaza.”

The Freedom Waves to Gaza initiative is a non-violent, civil society movement to challenge the illegal blockade of Gaza. Like the Occupy movement, the people of the world are saying ‘no’ to military and economic power taking precedent over human dignity and freedom.

For more information or to interview Michael Coleman on board the Tahrir, contact:

Raul Bassi, 0403 037 376

James Godfrey, 0424 340 630

 

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Flotilla News

Canadian and Irish ships set to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade with Freedom Waves to Gaza

For Immediate Release, 2 November 2011

Canadian and Irish ships set to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade with Freedom Waves to Gaza

The Canadian ship Tahrir and the Irish ship Saoirse have successfully reached international waters, marking the start of the Freedom Waves to Gaza campaign.

The boats are currently in the Mediterranean Sea, preparing to sail for Gaza within a matter of hours.

“Flowing out of the Freedom Flotillas, the Freedom Waves to Gaza are now underway,” says Canadian Boat to Gaza organizer Ehab Lotayef from on board the Tahrir. Also on board in this citizen-to-citizen initiative are delegates from Australia, the US, and Palestine. “We are now in international waters and hope to reach the shores of Gaza in a matter of days. Among the significant obstacles in our way are Israel’s military and the complicity of the Harper government, but we have the wind of public opinion at our back and in our sails, which strengthens our resolve and determination to challenge the illegal blockade of Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants.”

“The fact that we have reached international waters is another victory for the movement,” says Canadian Boat to Gaza organizer David Heap from on board the Tahrir. “Despite economic blackmail, despite the outsourcing of the blockade to Greece, despite being forcibly boarded by the Greek Coast Guard, and despite Israel mobilizing a significant portion of its navy to stop us, we are now even closer to reaching Gaza, breaking the blockade, and occupying the occupation.”

“The Palestinians living in Gaza want solidarity not charity, and have made it clear to the world that their primary demand is for freedom. While humanitarian aid is helpful, Gazans are still prisoners with no freedom of movement,” adds Lotayef. “Israel’s illegal blockade prevents not only imports into Gaza, but exports as well. And the blockade prevents Palestinians from moving freely between Gaza and the West Bank, in violation of fundamental human rights.”

The Freedom Waves to Gaza initiative is a non-violent, civil society movement to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Bios of delegates are available here. There will also be various media outlets reporting on developments aboard the Tahrir, including Al Jazeera and Democracy Now.

Restrictions at the eleventh hour by the port authorities have meant that only one third of the assembled delegates and media have been allowed to embark. Despite this latest challenge, the Tahrir and Saoirse will soon be at full speed ahead toward Gaza.

“While the Tahrir will be delivering much-needed medicines, our primary aim remains to help free Palestinians from the open-air prison known as Gaza,” says Heap. “There’s a song from the civil rights movement with the chorus of “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” And we will keep challenging the illegal blockade until Gaza and the rest of Palestine is free.”

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For more information or to arrange an interview with a delegate on board the Tahrir:

English inquiries: Dylan Penner, Canadian Boat to Gaza, 613-859-6996

French inquiries: Denis Kosseim, Canadian Boat to Gaza, 514-923-5594

NOTE: Interviews with Tahrir delegates are possible in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

www.tahrir.ca , Twitter: @CanadaBoatGaza,  #FreedomWaves,   #Canada4Gaza

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