Viva Palestina convoy, which departed from London to support the Palestinian people and break Gaza embargo, reached Turkey after a 10-day journey through Europe. The European participants and Turkish would-be participants met at Feshane. The vehicles in the convoy were painted in Palestinian flags and its colors. Local people marched to Feshane to show support to the convoy participants. Some of the British families had brought their babies along the convoy. Several Turkish rabbis also came to Feshane to voice their reaction to the Israeli actions.
A press conference was held here and British MP George Galloway, organizer of the UK leg of convoy, and Bülent Yıldırım, president of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, organizer of the Turkish leg of the convoy, delivered speeches.
Yıldırım said they were going to Gaza to break the embargo and called on Turkish President Abdullah Gül to help crossing of the convoy through Rafah border crossing. “Egyptian President Husni Mubarak visited Turkey. We request President from Abdullah Gül to talk to Mubarak about entry of the convoy to Gaza. There are children, elderly and sick people in the convoy. This convoy is wholly acting with humane feelings and is serving humanitarian purposes,” he said.
George Galloway said: “I am not a Hamas supporter, but I am in favor of democracy, human rights. The Palestinian people have been punished by Israel for three years for their electoral preferences. I do not accept such a mindset. The Palestinian people can govern themselves and elect their own rulers. In this regards, I strongly condemn Israel and the governments supporting it.”
“I am calling on Arab governments. It is time to wake up from coma,” he said, and added, “Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez are supporting the people of Palestine. When will Arab governments own the Palestinian cause? Palestine is your cause, your land. Venezuela is far from Palestine, but you are very close to it.”
Press conference in Taksim
Convoy vehicles began touring Istanbul after the press conference. The participants will gather at Taksim square at 7:00 p.m. and hold a mass press conference.
The aim is to break the embargo
Viva Palestina convoy is made up of vehicles from Britain, France, Italy, Greece, the United States, Turkey and Arab countries.
The departure point of the convoy was London. It entered Turkey at 11.00 a.m. on 15 December from İpsala border gate. Seventy vehicles joined the 80-vehicle convoy in Turkey. Another 47 vehicles that will come to Turkey from the US via sea will join the convoy in the city of Mersin. After participations from Arab countries the convoy will grow to 200 vehicles.
The route of the convoy is Adapazarı, Ankara, Konya, Adana, Gaziantep, Kilis, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Gaza. The participants are of diverse background such as Muslim, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. Human rights advocates, activists, journalists, writers and representatives of nongovernmental organizations are also travelling with the convoy.
The convoy is planning to cross into Gaza on 27 December, the anniversary of the Gaza attacks, and hold a human rights rally and demonstration. It aims to support the Palestinian people and break the month-long embargo.
All the vehicles travelling along the convoy such as ambulances, passenger cars, buses, minibuses and trailers as well as medical materials and equipment will be donated to the people of Gaza.
Consult filistinkonvoyu.org, ihh.org.tr, vivapalestina.org for more detailed information about the convoy.