Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc attended a TV program on 24.07.2015 and made unfortunate remarks by comparing the bomb attack in Suruc and the Mavi Marmara incident. In response to his remarks the Secretary-General of IHH Yavuz Dede wrote an open letter to Bulent Arinc:
You compared the bomb attack in Suruc and the Mavi Marmara incident on a TV program you participated on 24.07.2015 and said “Sometimes a heroic speech for people being sent to a place can be effective. Someone’s decision may be effective. You can be directed to a job you are not certain of. Let me explain it so they can be satisfied; The Mavi Marmara incident occurred when I was a Deputy Prime Minister. I was extraordinarily saddened... The Mavi Marmara was attacked by Israel in international waters, 9 of our citizens lost their lives due to piracy... How did the Mavi Marmara depart from Istanbul? Why didn't the ensign have the Turkish flag? Who shipped it? Did anyone say go or don't go to them? I gathered all the information to the point of the attack in my mind. “The skeptical attitude is towards both the Mavi Marmara and Suruc ' " Some people from Turkey refused the compensation, made the relatives of those killed attack and some tried to involve the public in the incident. Then I said, 'So and so associations do not determine Turkey's foreign policy. This is a political business. This is the governments business.' Instructions given to me by the Prime Minister was to 'Finalize the compensation issue. Let's get the compensation in an accordingly to justice. Finish it with an apology. Then let's repeat our demands on the Gaza blockade.' But unfortunately the people on the Mavi Marmara, worked with great effort to defeat the issue of compensation. Now, this is where I'm coming from. Victims may have been selected in this issue (Suruc). Or they may have come with their own will. But I have to find the questions for all questions, at least for the investigation phase." You had previously made different explanations at different times about the Mavi Marmara process.
The planning and preparation phases of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla has been managed in a completely transparent manner, and being the Deputy Prime Minister at the time, entitled you to have all authority of the details therefore, stating that there is a "vague side" has not only surprised but upset the public and us.
Every step taken for the Gaza Freedom Flotilla whilst in Turkey whether it be the ship, the cargo or the organization was carried out within the knowledge of the former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and all relevant state institutions, authorities and public. In fact, all the preparatory stages of the fleet was shared with the general public.
Being a legimiate NGO of Turkey, who operates under the state law, we have carried out all procedures in accordance with rules and regulations. All functions of our foundation also lies on a legimiate ground. It is known how much effort is needed to "stay within the law," in particular our foundation, when organising such an aid movement. All this was done despite the Israeli government who runs Gaza and sees its people as an enemy, despite all kinds of fraud pulled off in front of the world and despite the progessional manipualtion and traps set by the notorious Zionist regime. Moreover, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, ships and the load in it, is owned by our people. It set sail with the materilistic and moral support of our people. Therefore, we see it as an obligation towards out public to remain transparent in every step we take during our dealings. The confidence we have been able to give to those of IHH Turkey, the Islamic world and even many Christian and Jewish communities is owed to our transparacy and assurance. It is unjust to accuse the IHH foundation, who has gained a sense of certainty and trust amoungst the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist and many other people of this group, without evidence. It is not fair to make such an accusation without evidence, about the IHH foundation, who is an organisation of Turkey and carries the values of the ummah.
Within this scope, we would like to remind you of a few points in regards to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
The report which detailed the Mavi Marmara attacks on 31 May 2010, confirmed by the UN Human Rights Council and again confirmed in the Goldstone Report, which UN related organizations (UNRWA, OCHA, UNESCO, et al.) mentioned; " there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the blockade on Gaza is illegal, therefore it cannot continue."
Many civilians and organizations around the world have made an effort to stand up against this unlawful blockade and still continue to do so. So far, one of the biggest efforts made within this scope was the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which was carrying humanitarian aid, however, on May 31 2010 Israel launched an attack on the flotilla while it was offshore.
During and after the attack;
- Torture or inhumane treatment
- Deliberate torment or violating physical integrity or health of a person,
-Arrest and captivity of individuals' without a legitimate reason
-Restrictions on freedom of expression
- Usurpation of goods etc... heavy crimes processed and human rights and international humanitarian rights have been violated.
In order to investigate the attack further, the report which the UN commission prepared and was approved by the UN Human Rights Council stated that "not only were the Israeli forces responses disproportionate but at the same time irrelevant and contained extreme violence and contained cruelty which cannot be accepted." In the report it also wrote that " such an act should not be legitimized on the grounds of security or any other reason and is impossible to be defended." In addition, it stated that "this behavior, has seriously violated the human rights law and the international humanitarian law."
As you are aware, the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry report states that "the international community who does not want to take action for any reason in the case of a humanitarian crisis and on contrary humanitarian organizations which do, are labeled as a terrorist or enemy."
When Israel on 31 May 2010, attacked the humanitarian aid flotilla, it put itself into an unlawful position. In order to downplay this situation, it began a defamation campaign especially towards IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation and other organizations and institutions of different countries which carried out the fleet, and attempted to press "terror charges" against them. To justify its case, Israel has continusly imposed disinformation and hid behind its lies. Most of the disinformation was about the "Mavi Marmara ship and ambiguous points about the fleet." When Israel attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in an inhumane manner, the Turkish state gave the strongest response. In order to wipe away its countenance from the minds of its government and the public, it tried to awaken "suspicion" in the mind of people in all forms of illegitimate ways.
The Mavi Marmara has gained support from all over the world. Palestinian officals have labelled it as "by far the most valuable contribution to the Palestinian stuggle." International organisations and courts have also supported the Mavi Marmara and the injustice the victims of the fleet suffered. While majority of the states across the globe released statements and majority of the political parties in Turkey supported the Mavi Marmara and spoke against Israel and in recent times the President, the Prime Minister and ministers pointed out to the Mavi Marmara and voiced the responses of the Israeli friends in Turkey, is it not contradicting to assert that the way the Mavi Marmara set sail was "questionable" in contrast to the statements of the government and state?
A public opinion survey conducted in our country about the attack carried out on the Mavi Marmara showed that 94% of people from different societies and views supported the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the same rate condemned Israel's attack. So, Turkish people have trusted IHH and stood behind the Mavi Marmara. Exactly like the support and trust NGOs in developed countries get, many officials in our country without any political distinction made declarations to us. A strong government and society is composed of the trust and support it shows to its NGOs.
Following the inhumane attack on the Mavi Marmara, Turkey's Prime Minister Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed you as a "coordinator". Although the lawyers of Mavi Marmara victims informed you, I would like to try to answer your questions that you had on the TV show- which I couldn't make sense of over here.
During the TV show you asked "why the Mavi Marmara ship did not depart with the Turkish flag"
The process of purchase of the Mavi Marmara and other ships is available in official documents at competent authorities. Mavi Marmara was a ship that only used to sail in national waters before it was purchased.
Turkey's Marine operations bureaucrats told us that "according to Turkey's maritime legislation, a flag cannot be waved in international waters." Therefore, we received permission to sail in international waters with the flag of the state of the Union of Comoros flag which was appropriate according to the legislation and was ready to be hired. Moreover, as you know very well and you will remember, when we applied for a second fleet to got to Gaza in 2011, the Government of Turkey which you are also a member of did not give us authority or permit us to sail in international waters with the Turkish fact, although it was in accordance with the legislation and all kind of technical equipment was ready.
Again, coming back to the issue of your "suspicion" about the "Mavi Marmara ship heading towards Egypt's al-Arish port rather than the Gaza port,"
Being a lawyer yourself, you should be well aware that that once a ship sets sail from a port it must declare the exact port it will reach. However, when the Mavi Marmara ship set sail from the port in Antalya-Turkey, it could not declare the "port it will reach" because " Turkey does not specify the Gaza port as one that it recognizes" but, it did state that it was on its way to the port of Gaza. Other vessels on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla were designated a meeting point in international waters (Cyprus Island about 70 miles south, 80 miles west of the Israeli coast).
After the vessels met at the meeting point we have mentioned, "reaching 40-50 mile south" they set sail. Again, as you are aware, the location of the designated port may change in circumstances of a (storm, war, raid etc...). If the nature of the environment was clear, as declared before, the vessels in the flotilla were going to make their way to Gaza, if they were to face any coercion by Israel in international waters (offshore), an anchor was going to be thrown overboard and the media was going to be used as propaganda, to draw the world's attention on the inhumane blockade. This way we would try to enable Israel to open the sea routes. If it was not possible to reach the Gaza port using this method, we planned to enter the territorial waters of Egypt, we planned to reach the Gaza port from there. If this was not possible, as a last resort, we planned to get in contact with Egyptian authorities to go to Egypt's al-Arish port, using this road we were going to cross over to Gaza. If none of these ways were possible, we were going to go back to Antalya.
As we have announced since the beginning, it is evident that the fleet could only last offshore for a month as it was equipped with limited supplies to cover the needs of those on the ship. Volunteers on board had this time frame in mind when boarding the flotilla. Before the ship set sail, relevant authorities and institutions, under your authority at the time, were well aware of our plans and circumstances. Before, during and after the departure, even in time of the attack we voiced these circumstances through various media outlets. Further information is available in the UN report which states that the UN Human Right Council has accepted this and close to 40 states have agreed upon it. UN reporters have also reached this conclusion from the evidence.
Coming to what you say about the attack on the Mavi Marmara, the legal battle and the families of those martyred, during the mentioned TV show;
You are also a lawyer and through this identity, you were assigned as a "coordinator" by the government. The lawyers of the victims, Dr. Ramazan ARITURK and Cihat GOKDEMIR, have presented you detailed reports and verbal information, for the rights of the victims during the Mavi Marama process, even though you are familiar with all the details. You drew a lot of attention of the families of martyrs and victims during a statement you gave on CNNTurk television on 01 April 2013. However, national or international precedent facts and precedent court decisions were completely opposite to the direction of your statement. When the lawyers mentioned above, presented facts about the precedent and precedent decisions, your declarations against Mavi Marmara victims and in favor of Israeli offences has created confusion and anger amongst the public. During the time of your declaration, you met with families of the martyrs in the former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's home, you personally saw the families response towards you. Without any external pressure, you witnessed the clarity of their ideas. In addition, each thanks and prayer sent upon your government by victims and families of the martyrs for the hard work carried out after the Mavi Marama attack was forwarded to you. During this process, as IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, all support efforts and hard work carried out by your government was announced to the public.
The Mavi Marmara legal battle we opened the very next day after returning from Israel, in the period up to the day when the prosecutor's indictment was accepted, we faced several obstacles by the Istanbul Courthouse and the Ministry of Justice. During this time, we attempted to draw attention to the events taking place in the Ministry of Justice and those who were trying to prevent the case from proceeding. These events came into the open during December 17-25. We were forced to deal with these embodiments separately at the time. Over the last 5 years which has passed, we have managed to justify our stance, however, with your statement about the "suspicious movements of the Mavi Marmara and having the families of martyrs stand against you" cannot be accepted, however, we want to take it as something said in the moment.
Again on the TV program you stated that "the agreement with Israel ended due to IHH." We would like to note that we support you in this claim and are pleased by it. As IHH, we do not want a country such as Turkey who is powerful in its region, to reach any form of agreement with a country such as Israel who occupies the Middle East and does anything in its power to disrupts the peace of those living in those lands.
Moreover, because Israel knows it is guilty in the Mavi Marmara attack, it is doing everything within its power to re-establish ties with a strong country such as Turkey. However, the same Israel, is demanding diplomatic agility and using a portion of the Zionist supporting diplomats, bureaucrats, media channels, celebrities, sportsmen, NGO's, communities and so on to do this. Amongst its demands are to "drop the Mavi Marmara case and provide legal protection of its assassin soldiers." Unfortunately, despite being right in its case, Turkey is bowing down to their demands. Israel has been offering us and our lawyers the same proposals and demands for five years.
In regards to negotiations with Israel," without the removal of the blockade on Gaza, we are not in favor of negotiating on a compensation, and would also like you not to be in favor as well, once the blockade is removed, a humorous cash amount should not be agreed on during negotiations for compensation and even if a compensation is agreed that we will not drop the criminal case," said the families of the martyrs during the meeting held at the Foreign Ministers home.
However, directly entering negotiations for damages with Israel, as if the requests of families of the martyrs and the victims stated above were not known, cannot be accepted. Moreover, Israel is almost mocking our diplomats with the amount they are offering as a compensation. As discussed in public, the lawyers of the victims have declared that "provided that the case is gradually dropped in the long term, at least $1,000,000,000 (one million American dollars) is to be paid as compensation and from the port in Mersin, the blockade on Gaza imposed through the Green Path will be gradually removed." As leaked into the press, the progress of the ongoing "confidential" negotiations between Turkey and Israel has currently reached a compensation of $21 million ( twenty one million American dollars). The lifting of the blockade on Gaza and finally the conflicting cost of compensation cannot be accepted within the scope of the victims. During the TV program you also stated that "IHH and the like... NGO's, should not be in effort to manage the state."
"We are in no effort to manage the state" and we agree that no branch, group, community, NGO and so on should be either. However, being a NGO who stands up for the rights of firstly, Palestine then the oppressed, our martyrs and our own rights, it is our every right to discuss any matter to the government freely. If this effort of ours is being used against us and if were being accused of "attempting to manage the state" for this, then we would like you to know that such accusations can never be accepted.
If there is anything in which you are not clear on in regards to the Mavi Marmara case, and if there is anything which you believe is raising suspicion, you know that you may reach us within just a call, in order for us to enlighten you with documents and details. We are re-offering you the same proposal in regards to this issue.
Comparing the disastrous explosion in Sanliurfa, Suruc to the Mavi Marmara, is a great misfortune for you on your behalf. Being a politician who has served this country for many years, you have upset the citizens of Turkey and families of the martyrs. If only you knew the bitterness you left in the heart of the families of the martyrs who say "without any hesitance, once again today I would send my partner, my child and in fact go on the Mavi Marmara myself to help the oppressed and orphans in Gaza," you would have understood that no worldly rank is worth upsetting these people.
Surely, our biggest responsibility is to our Lord. The slightest struggle you have, we have put forth against oppression, will result in the love and mercy of our Lord. Downplaying these efforts will not only displease Allah (s.w.a) but will strengthen the tyrants and weaken the oppressed. Surely, your statements would have really pleased Israel and those who love Israel.
It is difficult to claim rights off the martyrs and oppressed on judgment day.
May Allah guide you...