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Freedom Flotilla II Diary
Below are the latest developments about the Freedom Flotilla since 17 June:
Palestine 09.07.2011

11.07.2011 Six activists from the Spanish initiative Rumbo a Gaza called on the Spanish government to impose pressure on Greece so that it give an end to its illegitimate efforts to block the flotilla ships. The activists started a hunger strike in their boat Guernica. The group announced that they will continue the hunger strike until they are allowed to sail to the Mediterranean.

10.07.2011 A group of Freedom Flotilla activists from the MV Juliano boat wrote a letter to President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso to ask his support for the sailing of their boat to the Mediterranean and reach to Gaza. In the letter, the activists also told Barroso that passengers of the MV Juliano are all EU citizens.

09.07.2011 Majority of the activists of the Freedom Flotilla 2-Stay Human began to return back to their countries after they were blocked by Greek authorities for many times from sailing to Gaza. First, the passengers of the Irish boat which was sabotaged near Göcek in western Turkey returned back to their country and they were followed by the passengers of the Canadian boat Tahrir and American boat The Audacity of Hope. All these activists voiced their determination to give another try to reach to Gaza and break the Israeli blockade. Greek, Swedish and Norwegian activists, who joined the flotilla with a joint boat and are still in Greece, are trying to proceed in the territorial waters of Greece by going from one port to another with their boat MV Juliano. MV Juliano departed from Chania today and sailed to the east in order to refill fuel. MV Juliano was followed by two security boats during its voyage. The boat approached the Kandiye Port in Crete after receiving permission from the coastal authorities. When the boat wanted to leave the port after refilling fuel, Greek security forces, which stopped the ship, asked the boat to return to the port. After it went back to the port, MV Juliano was surrounded by oil tankers and coastal authorities claimed this time that the documents provided by the ship were invalid.

08.7.2011 Although they do not have a legal authority to make such a request, Greek security forces asked the captain of joint Swedish-Norwegian boat MV Juliano to sign a document saying that the boat will only sail to Chania Port of Greece. After waiting for a long time and its passengers were searched by the coastal security guards, a permission was given to MV Juliano to sail to Kythira- Chania Port. MV Juliano which was closely followed by the Greek coastal security guards during its voyage was stopped by the Greek police as it was approaching the Chania Port to drop anchor and the police told those on board the boat that there is no room for the boat in the port. In the meantime, a local group held a demonstration at the port in support of MV Juliano and Freedom Flotilla. Greek authorities who banned other ships to come closer to MV Juliano gave no permission to the ship to dock any of the ports in Chania, Agios Nikolaos or Crete. 

07.07.2011 MV Dignite/Al Karama boat of the French initiative was detained by Greek security officials on a refueling stop at Crete. The boat with 12 activists onboard is still kept at Crete. 

06.07.2011 Groups of people gathered in front of the embassy of Greece in Sydney and in Chicago, USA to protest the actions of the Greek government.

05.07.2011 Spanish activists to sail on the boat Guernika “occupied” the Spanish consulate in Athens and demanded that their government act to allow the ships to set sail. The Spanish activists held a press conference the same day and firmly indicated they would carry on their peaceful, but determined stay in Greece until Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez write a letter that would ensure the safety of the Guernica boat and its passengers and would allow it to sail for Gaza.  

The organizers of the flotilla’s Greece leg expressed their determination and reaction to the government in a press conference held in Athens.

The French activist boat MV Dignite/AL Karama left the Greek port for Gaza. The boat escaped the Greek Coast Guard forces and is sailing to its destination.  

04.07.2011 The activists of the American boat The Audacity of Hope went on a hunger strike in front of the US embassy in Athens and called on the embassy officials to secure release of their captain who is still in custody. Six American activists who demonstrated in front of the residence of US consul in Athens were detained. 

The boat Tahrir, owned by the Canadian initiative boat to Gaza, left the Crete port for Gaza. Greek commandos boarded the boat after following it for a while and towed it back to Crete. Greek security forces caused substantial damage to the boat by banging it against concrete side of the port. In protests staged in front of Greek consulates across Canada three activists were detained, two of them are accused of attempting to stop security forces with canoes. The detained activists were reported to be Canadian Sandra Ruch, Soha Kneen and Australian Micheal Coleman.  

Speaking at a press conference the activists detained by Greek forces onboard the boat Tahrir expressed anger at the Greek government, saying “Australia experienced Gaza blockade in Greece.” 

03.07.2011 Members of the Italy-Netherlands initiative wrote a letter to Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, demanding from him to allow the boats to set sail for Gaza. Thomas Sommer Houdwville from the French boat said Greek Coast Guard forces were closely watching the boat anchored at the port.  

02.07.2011 The boat of the American initiative The Audacity of Hope was towed to another port near Athens. The activists onboard the boat refused to leave the vessel and demanded the release of their captain John Klusmeir, who is in custody.

01.07.2011 Greece has decided not to allow any ships heading for Gaza.

US flagged The Audacity of Hope boat of the US Boat to Gaza, one of the organizers of the flotilla, set sail for Gaza from the Athens port with 35 passengers, five crew members and 11 press representatives onboard. After two-hour sailing the boat was stopped by Greek forces before it reached international waters and was forced to go back to the Piraeus port. Ship captain John Klusmire was arrested on grounds of blocking maritime traffic and putting passengers’ lives at risk.   

Greek Coast Guard refused to allow the boat “Tahrir” of the Canadian initiative Canada Boat to Gaza to set sail. The activists stated they had obtained all necessary permissions for the boat and accused the Greek government of collaborating with Israel. Greek security official tried to detain Canada Boat to Gaza’s Jewish-Canadian activist Sandra Rush, claiming she had failed to hand in her permit papers. There are 50 activists, 30 of them Canadian, from Denmark, Australia, Belgium and Turkey onboard the boat waiting at the Crete port.   

30.06.2011 The boat of Irish Ship to Gaza initiative was sabotaged. Unexpected damage was found out in the Irish boat MV Saoirse, currently anchored at Göçek, Antalya, during a test sail on 27 June. Detailed inspection carried out on land revealed serious damage to the boat’s propeller shaft. The damage was found out to be similar to that inflicted on the Juliano boat of the Greek/Swedish/Norwegian joint initiative. Irish Ship to Gaza representatives stated Israel had to answer a range of questions. Fintan Lane, representative of the Irish initiative in Göçek, described the damage as a lethal sabotage that could cause fatalities by leading to the removal of the propeller and causing sinking. The representative stated the ship would not join the flotilla since it was going to take long to fix the problem, but added the Irish activists would take part in the flotilla with the boat of the Italian initiative.     

29.06.2011 Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Palestinians in Israel and known as the guardian of Masjid al-Aqsa, was detained in London where he was invited to speak at a conference. Salah had taken part in the Freedom Flotilla I. 

27.06.2011 “We will set sail despite Israel’s counter propaganda, its international pressure on governments, its threats against insurance and telecommunication companies not to work with the flotilla, its policy of intimidating human rights advocates, the suits it filed on groundless allegations and its all covert activities,” the flotilla organizers said and noted the flotilla would include 10 boats, two of them cargo ships, and would carry 3000 tons of relief supplies. The flotilla will have hundreds of civilian participants including sportsmen, artists, lawmakers, human rights advocates, religious scholars, and press members, the organizers said.      

It was announced that the remaining vessels would not take part in the flotilla because of lawsuits opened on groundless complaints, sabotage attempts and bureaucratic obstacles posed by the Greek government.

27.06.2011 The Juliano boat at the flotilla was sabotaged. Owned by joint initiative of Greek, Swedish and Norwegian activists and named after Juliano Meir Khamis, the slain actor and director of Freedom Theatre in Jenin, the Juliano boat suffered damage to its propeller.    

26.06.2011 Israeli law firm Shurat Hadin admitted they had sent an unnamed complaint to Greek authorities to prevent the US-flagged Audacity of Hope from sailing. The firm complained to the authorities on grounds that the boat was not seaworthy and the organizers were carrying arms to aid terror organizations and threatened the 36 activists with individual letters, claiming they would violate the US Penal Code if they took part in the voyage.     

25.06.2011 The French boat Dignity Karama left L’Ile Rousse Port of Corsica to join the other nine boats that will sail to Gaza.

24.06.2011 Upon Israel’s announcement that it will not allow entry of construction materials needed for building 18 schools and 1200 houses, the organizers of the Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human issued a press release. The organizers described Israel’s actions as symbolic steps to question legality of the flotilla and distort the situation in Gaza, which came up on the international agenda with the flotilla movement. They highlighted Gaza needs freedom more than help and their campaign would continue until Israel lifts air, land and naval blockade on Gaza.   

23.06.2011 As the host of this year’s Freedom Flotilla – Stay Human organization, the Greek initiative Greek Ship to Gaza made a statement:

“Ten vessels of the International Gaza Freedom Flotilla – Stay Human organization are ready to set sail. The participants list will have lawmakers, politicians, artists, writers, religious scholars, human rights advocates, and scores of press members. The flotilla will sail for Gaza despite the Israeli government’s pressure and threats.”

22.06.2011 The activists from the Gaza Freedom Flotilla – Stay Human movement started coming to Greek ports.

The group was suspecting from the beginning the possibility of Israel’s pressure and propaganda actions resulting in a sabotage that would cause damage to the vessels, and therefore asked press representatives to publish photographs of the vessels.

17.06.2011 A press conference was held at the head office of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation in Fatih, Istanbul. IHH chairman Bülent Yıldırım, representatives of the international flotilla Huwaida Arraf (USA), Kevin Neish (Canada), Dimitiris Pleionis (Greece), and Dror Feiler (Sweden) attended the pres conference. Yıldırım noted the Mavi Marmara boat would not join the flotilla owing to technical problems, but the IHH and people of Turkey would continue their material and nonmaterial support to the movement. The representatives of the organizer institutions stressed the IHH support to this year’s and last year’s flotilla movement and confirmed their solidarity with the foundation. 

Flotilla representatives reiterated the flotilla would set sail despite all.

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