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Bulent Yildirim: “We will pursue this to the end”
Bulent Yildirim, President of IHH, held a press conference together with local and international activists who were onboard the aid flotilla to Gaza.
Palestine, MiddleEast, Turkey 09.06.2010

Journalists and columnists from various newspapers also attended the press meeting.

Regarding the footage of Israeli soldiers raiding the ship and being subjected to defense by the passengers, Yildirim said “They attacked us in international waters, without warning. They killed our friends.”

The soldiers in those pictures have wounded and killed our friends with bullets from their guns. Despite this, we decided to protect them and give them medical treatment after neutralizing those soldiers and then returned them back to their colleagues. Yildirim also noted that Israeli officials had those pictures and those official had declared during the interrogations that they were going to deliver those to the press for propaganda. Apparently, he replied to the interrogators with a smile on his face “If you do that, the invincible IDF image will be broken down into pieces”. Yildirim went on to say, “They are pointing at those Israeli soldiers and the fear in their eyes. Of course they would be frightened. How come they wouldn’t be? Because they descended firing on us and they knew that how many friends of us they killed. They thought that we would act just like they did. If we did the same thing to one Israeli soldier and they captured us afterwards, believe me, they would have cut us into pieces.”

“Well, in fact, that was our right to self-defense according to international laws. We did not do that. There is a series of those photographs. In those photos, the frightened soldiers were taken to the lower deck and received medical treatment at a place where our martyrs and wounded friends laid. Later on, our friends were shot, while they were returning the soldiers to their colleagues and a few other friends of ours escaped from them.”

They put black plastic bags on the heads of the bodies

Bulent Yildirim noted that cold water were sprayed onto the injured and they were stripped naked, adding that the investigations regarding the issue are still ongoing, he went on to say, “Four bodies were taken down to the lower deck. They had black plastic bags put on their heads. Why black bags? Probably the reasons behind this will come out during the autopsies. These people were either suffocated to death or they were already wounded when they were shot in the head. People’s hands were tied up when they were killed.”

Yildirim expressed his thanks to those newspapers, TVs and online press who acted genuinely in this matter. He reported about an Israeli official who said “We have no one else but those writers whom we look after.”  Yildirim refused to declare the names of those writers and stated that he will go and speak with them. He said “This situation is a detector of hypocrisy in Turkey. This will be recorded down into history. Who stands for the injustice? We do not fear anyone, because our actions have been completely legal. We have 9 martyrs. No one should cross the line. Our silence is not because we are afraid, it is for the sake of keeping this society sane.”

Yildirim also thanked Turkish government and stated that they would prefer remaining in Israel and continuing their legal struggle there but they returned to Turkey thanks to the determination of Turkish government.

Legal Battle

“Israel should not think that they will get away with this. In the international arena we will be battling against Israel,” Yildirim said.

“They are telling our friend this: ‘We killed a lot of people in Turkey. We will kill you too.’ They also practiced a DNA test on me. Why? To try out which poisonous substances will be effective on my body? They threatened us with all sorts of things. We are not afraid of anything. If we remain silent today, that is because we know that the international community is with us. Some people in the US are calling us ‘terrorists’. Can you see how ridiculous that is? They mentioned the name of a friend onboard and asked us about him ‘Have you sent him for military training?’ They are so confused…”

“The truth is, we protected the Israeli soldiers. We had to neutralize them. Why? Simply because they were killing us. We will apply to Israeli courts as well. They should not think that we are afraid of travelling to Israel. In the upcoming days, we will be applying for Israeli visas and will go there and sue this government in Israeli courts. We will go to European courts and to the U.S. courts. We will sue them everywhere. We will sue those who call us terrorists. As IHH, we are clean and honest, we have nothing to hide. We embarked on this journey in the name of all humanity, we are not afraid of anyone. Everyone will see this.”

Bulent Yildirim, together with a Jewish, a Muslim and a Christian lawyer, will hold a press conference tomorrow and those lawyers will be representing them in the lawsuits in Europe.

Aid activist could not hold her tears

Gaye Somuncu, an aid activist onboard Mavi Marmara stated that her only aim was to help humanity. She served as an interpreter and helped the journalists onboard.

She said that Israeli soldiers did not act humane towards the injured and they did not meet the basic needs of those arrested, such as drinking water and going to the toilet. Somuncu also reminded the press that people onboard were just aid volunteers and no provocation was present onboard. Gaye Somuncu said “What we experienced there for only two days, is a daily reality for the people of Gaza.”

Dimitris Plionis, a Greek activist onboard Mavi Marmara, said that they foresaw Israel’s attempt to intercept the flotilla but they never expected such a brutal intervention and bloodshed. Plionis also mentioned about the friendship bonds established between people from different nationalities during the journey, said that they accept the deceased as their own martyrs. Plionis also called Israeli raid as a massacre and pointed out that it was a deliberate action, adding that international public opinion will never accept what Israel has done.

Dror Feiler, a former citizen of Israel, noted that Israel has been telling a distorted version of the truth to the international press, “We are the ones beaten, kidnapped and robbed. Still, they are trying to blame us,” Feiler said.

Feiler went on to say that the biggest enemy of Israeli people is the government in Israel and Jews all around the world will face a lot of difficulties thanks to the policies of the Israeli state.

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