At the press conference, IHH presented Mavi Marmara, the ship purchased from IDO (Istanbul Seabuses and Fast Ferries Inc.) for 1.850.000 Turkish Liras (an equivalent of 1.250.000 USD) to carry humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza who live under Israeli embargo. In May, the ship which has a capacity of 1080 passengers and weighs 200 tons, will carry its 500 passengers to Gaza including peace activists, human rights defenders, representatives of NGOs, artists, intellectuals, journalists and writers.
Other cargo ships of the flotilla campaign will be transporting medicines and medical supplies and construction materials to Gaza.
Bulent Yildirim, General President of IHH and Muhammad Salava, General Secretary of Islam Expo who coordinates the campaign in Europe, got together on the ship Mavi Marmara to hold the press conference.
Numerous writers and NGO representatives joined the press conference to give their support. 3 Palestinians injured by the Israeli attacks and receiving medical treatment in Turkey, came to tour the ship that is going to sail to Gaza. Voluntary human shields also visited Mavi Marmara, the ship that will carry them to Gaza.
Bulent Yildirim, IHH’s General President, spoke on the press conference, denying Israeli newspaper Arutz Sheva’s claims on the AK Party being the actor behind the curtain in this campaign by saying “We don’t have any specific political party backing us. People from all segments of the society supports us in our campaign.”
Pointing out that the embargo is getting more restrict every passing day, Yildirim said “Israel, is not only acting completely illegal in times of war, but also acting illegal in times of peace. It is Israel killing women and children in war and it is again Israel oppressing women and children under the embargo. The aid for their most basic human needs are not let into Gaza. We, God willing, are going to carry the common conscience of the mankind to Gaza. We are going to deliver thousands of tons of humanitarian aid to 1.500.000 people of Gaza. 120 different sorts of items varying from medicines and medical equipment to iron and cement for construction will be taken to Gaza.”
He continued “We are embarking on our journey together with over 1000 people to break the embargo. We will deliver our aid to the people of Gaza. We are sailing to Gaza as human shields. We made all our plans to go there, to Gaza.”
Yildirim also said that the flotilla will consist of 8 ships in total, 2 of which are from Turkey and 3 from Europe. General Secretary of Islam Expo, Muhammad Salava spoke following Yildirim’s speech, mentioning that this campaign is an international organization. Emphasizing that the campaign is completely humanitarian, Salava said “I am hoping that Israel and Egypt will not do anything to cause hardship to the campaign.”
Following the press conference, a consultation meeting was held in the cafeteria on the ship with writers from various institutions, activists and representatives of NGOs.
Mavi Marmara anchored in Sarayburnu in Istanbul at the moment, is going to be taken to Tuzla shipyard for maintenance and repairs.
The other cargo ship bought for 850.000 USD by the Foundation is now waiting in Haydarpasa, Istanbul to sail on to Gaza.