Attorney Bülent Yıldırım, president of IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation and organizer for the Gaza Freedom Flotila that included the Mavi Marmara vessel, commented, at a press conference he called at the foundation’s headquarters, on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologizing for the flotilla attack over the phone with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Yıldırım described the decision to apologize as a political and diplomatic achievement but stressed the necessity of lifting the blockade.
Calling Israel’s apology as a first, he said: “We are satisfied about it. We thank everyone who made all this possible. Whether Israel will lift the embargo following the apology and compensation is the real issue. Because the embargo had already ended in reality.”
Apology a political and diplomatic achievement
“May our martyrs rest in peace,” IHH’s president began his speech and continued:
“Israel deliberately attacked us in the high sea, killed, wounded and tortured us. The entire world rose in protest and people around the globe reacted to the attack. And now Israel has apologized. The embargo had already ended in reality. The Mavi Marmara initiative ended with a great victory. The statement of apology is an important proof of this achievement. The martyrs and the wounded achieved a great victory. We found the families of the martyrs to be sad as we discussed with them the apology. This is caused by the fact that the blockade is still in place. The implementation of the blockade by Israel is unlawful. Allah (God) willing, the blockade will be lifted as well. This statement is a significant milestone in the process. Our struggle will continue unabatedly. Masjid al-Aqsa is still occupied and the Palestinian people are still detained unlawfully. Israel has admitted wrongdoing with this apology. There are significant trials in progress around the world. Surely they cannot be disregarded. Israel murdered, wounded and imprisoned individuals. And now it has admitted to its crime. They admitted to killing our nine brothers. Brother Uğur Süleyman Söylemez, who was wounded in the attack, is still in coma. This is a political and diplomatic achievement. Apology, compensation and the removal of the embargo are important developments. We want the blockade imposed on Gaza to be lifted too. Global efforts will go on until the blockade is lifted.
They finally admitted attacking the Mavi Marmara vessel. We were carrying humanitarian assistance, practicing a natural right enshrined in many international conventions. They committed a crime by attacking us in high sea. We will pursue the consequences of the attack in courts around the world.
We are quite satisfied with what has been accomplished. And we are happy about the honorable stance of Turkey. Some called our claims unjustified but now they have been proved wrong. The apology is a political and diplomatic achievement. Apology, compensation and the removal of the embargo are important developments. We want the blockade imposed on Gaza to be lifted too. Global efforts will go on until the blockade is lifted. There were activists from all over the world in the flotilla. We are all happy about Turkey’s achievement.
We hope that Israel will put more sense into its actions from now on. We all know how brutally it acted during the attack on Gaza. Then the Davos confrontation took place. It proves there is nothing you cannot achieve if you act bravely and decisively. The process has been highly significant in that it showed how law and the right can triumph.”
Mavi Marmara trial and legal action will continue
Regarding the Mavi Marmara trial that began on Nov. 6, 2012 and is in progress at Istanbul 7th Higher Criminal Court, Yıldırım said.
“Since the Mavi Marmara vessel is a Turkish ship and the crimes committed during the attack are “international crimes” that fall within the jurisdiction of international law, the case was brought to Turkish courts and public prosecutors in Turkey filed for a “public prosecution.” In the ongoing trial at the Istanbul 7th Higher Criminal Court, the court is asked to sentence perpetrators of Mavi Marmara trial to thousands of years in prison for willful killing, incitement to willful killing, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, plundering, illegal seizure of railway or air vehicles, incitement to property damage, deprivation of personal freedom and incitement to torture. Additionally, Istanbul Public Prosecutor ordered security forces and intelligence agencies to identify the Israeli soldiers that took part in the attack as well as soldiers and civilian officials who ordered the attack so that new lawsuits could be filed against them.
As per the existing legislation the current lawsuit is a public prosecution and not launched upon individual complaint due to the nature of the crimes committed and therefore the trial procedure will go on. The trial is also not bound by timeout periods because of the nature of the crimes. The case cannot be stopped or dismissed by any political decision. In any case, the complainant-victims in the Mavi Marmara case definitely will not withdraw their complaints regarding the crimes even if they are paid compensation. Therefore, we will carry on with our legal fight on behalf of our clients until perpetrators of each crime committed in the attack are brought to justice before national and international courts and are punished.”