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We will continue our path despite the obstacles.
The International Freedom Flotilla Coalition issued a press conference following Guinea-Bissau's decision, under pressure from Israel, to withdraw the flags of the two ships in the flotilla. The statement emphasized that despite the pressure and attempts to hinder their progress, the flotilla will continue with determination and make every effort to set sail.
Palestine-Gaza 27.04.2024

The press conference took place in Sultanahmet Square and was attended by national and international journalists as well as activists from various countries. Huwaida Arraf, an activist and lawyer speaking on behalf of the coalition, reported that the International Ship Registry of Guinea-Bissau (GBISR) had requested an inspection by inspectors even though the Mediterranean Ship had already passed all the required inspections. Arraf stated, "This was a highly unusual request as our ship had already passed all required inspections; nevertheless, we agreed. The inspector arrived on Thursday. On Friday afternoon, before the inspection was completed, the Guinea-Bissau International Ships Registry (GBISR), in a blatantly political move, informed the Freedom Flotilla Coalition that it had withdrawn the Guinea Bissau flag from two of the Freedom Flotilla’s ships, one of which is our cargo ship, already loaded with over 5000 tons of life-saving aid for the Palestinians of Gaza.

2.jpg"It also made several extraordinary requests for information"

The statement continued, "In its communication informing us of this cancelation, the GBISR made specific reference to our planned mission to Gaza. It also made several extraordinary requests for information, including confirmation of the ships' destination, any potential additional port calls, and the discharge port for humanitarian aid and estimated arrival dates and times. It further demanded a formal letter explicitly approving the transportation of humanitarian aid and a complete manifest of the cargo. Again, this is a highly unusual move from a flagging authority. Normally, national flagging authorities concern themselves only with safety and related standards on vessels bearing their flag, and are not concerned with the destination, route, cargo manifests or the nature of a specific voyage. Just like when you register your car, the authorities don’t require you to detail to them where you are going."

huwaida-arraf.jpg"Israel's pressures led Guinea-Bissau to make such a decision" 

The statement further highlighted that Israel's pressures led Guinea-Bissau to make such a decision and stated, "Israel is demonstrating to the world how far it can go to obstruct the aid Palestinians need to survive, in clear violation of international law, UN Security Council resolutions, and two decisions of the International Court of Justice. The US Congress and Biden signed a $26 billion aid package for Israel last week. The clear support for Israel has brought us to this point after many years."

3.jpg"We will set sail"

The statement concluded with the following words, "The people of Gaza and Palestine are incredibly strong in maintaining their hope, humanity, dignity, even under the most terrible and unimaginable conditions. Our responsibility is to keep this hope alive. We will set sail."

ann-wright.jpg

Ann Right, a former US diplomat and fleet activist, stated, "States are not fulfilling their duties despite the United Nations' call for genocide prevention. That is why it is the duty of human rights activists here. Our Freedom Fleet work fully complies with international law."

behesti-ismail-songur.jpg"We can clearly see Israel's efforts to stop these ships"

Beheşti İsmail Songür, President of the Mavi Marmara Association, stated, "We can clearly see Israel's efforts to stop these ships even before they set sail. In yesterday's statement by the UN, it was emphasized that the flotilla should be protected and delivered to Gaza. While genocide is being committed in Gaza, I say to the states that do not raise their voice against this massacre while medicine and humanitarian aid are being cut off, you cannot handle this burden. If you cannot take risks, we have taken everything into account. We will set sail to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. We have completed all the necessary technical preparations."

"There are thousands of trucks waiting at the Gaza border."

Songür also mentioned that they will apply for flags from all countries for the Freedom Flotilla and said, "We will take new steps against any rejection decision made for economic and political reasons. We will continue to work for the Freedom Fleet until Israel completely disappears from Palestinian territories and until the Rafah Border Crossing and Gaza ports are fully opened. I specifically address the Egyptian authorities here as well. You are preventing the smooth passage of aid using the excuse 'de facto.' There are thousands of trucks waiting at the Gaza border. We demand that you open the Rafah Crossing to allow the passage of 1,500 trucks per day."

Songür concluded by emphasizing that they will not step back and will continue until the fleet achieves its goal.

4.jpg

The sit-in protest initiated by the İHH (Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief) in Sultanahmet Square on April 24 is also ongoing. The protest, attended by numerous citizens, is attracting significant interest from tourists in the area.

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