For Immediate Release
Athens: Ewa Jasiewicz, 0030 694 241 5348
London: Alex Harrison, 07594 857448
London, 29 June 2011 - On Monday the 4th of July at 11:00 am activists from Free Gaza will go to the gates of 10 Downing St. with a request to see the Prime Minister. They will deliver a letter from British activists on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.
British citizens preparing to set sail on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla have written to David Cameron demanding that he intervene to guarantee their safe passage to Gaza. The British government has so far refused to call on the Israeli government to allow the flotilla to pass safely through international waters.
Freedom Flotilla 2, dubbed “Stay Human”, is sailing to the Gaza Strip in the coming days in defiance of the illegal Israeli blockade of the coastal shores. 48 Palestinian civil society organisations have announced their full support for the Freedom Flotilla. The flotilla is a rainbow coalition of worldwide human rights defenders.
Most of the flotilla boats are currently in Greece and experiencing difficulties getting permission from Greek officials to leave port. 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, Media 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 letter below.
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
4 July 2011
Dear Prime Minister,
We write to inform you that a number of British citizens will soon be sailing as part of an international flotilla that will challenge Israel’s illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. They will be on board various vessels, including two cargo ships and eight passenger boats, carrying nearly three thousand tons of humanitarian aid and hundreds of civilians from dozens of countries. Passengers include members of parliament, politicians, writers, artists, journalists and sports figures, as well as representatives of various faith groups. We have invited inspection of our vessels and passengers by the UN and other international agencies to ensure that we are as transparent and open as possible: we have nothing to hide. Our mission is from British civil society to the civil society of Gaza. We do not serve the agenda of any political movement, government, or group. We are engaged solely in non-violent action in support of the Palestinian people and their human rights.
There is no question that Israel’s near hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip is illegal; this has been affirmed again and again by numerous international human rights bodies including the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. And, when prompted by the flotilla effort, international consensus has been unequivocal in the demand for Israel to open Gaza.
There is no question that Israel’s policy of closure has had a devastating effect on the occupied people of Gaza. This, too, has also been well documented. We remind you that you have personally referred to Gaza as ‘an open air prison.’ The only question is, why does the international community of states, including the UK, allow Israel to keep violating the law and rights of the Palestinian people with impunity?
Our effort is not simply about increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza. It is about freedom. Calls by world leaders for flotilla organizers to use “established channels” to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza show a fundamental disregard for Palestinian human rights. The Palestinian people do not want handouts from the international community; rather they demand liberation–a call we are compelled to support. We sail in the hope that our voyage will show the people of Gaza that they are not alone and that it will call attention to the morally and legally indefensible collective punishment of a civilian population.
As British citizens we expect our country and its leaders to ensure the Flotilla’s safe passage to Gaza. Britain must support the humanitarian demand that the siege of Gaza be lifted. This should begin by notifying the Israeli government unequivocally that it should not interfere in any way whatsoever with the upcoming Flotilla. We also ask that you intervene with the Greek Government to allow our ships to sail to Gaza. We expect nothing less from our Prime Minister to uphold international law and protect your citizens.
The Flotilla will sail from the eastern Mediterranean in a few days. We expect you to act promptly and decisively to guarantee the rights of UK citizens and other civilians safe passage on the high seas.
Ewa Jasiewicz (UK National, Activist on the International Flotilla to Gaza)
Free Gaza Movement Board of Directors
Huwaida Arraf, (chair)