June 5, 2010
Hope is in the air
[Cyprus, June 4, 2010]
The Rachel Corrie is 150 miles away from Gaza in international waters and on her way. They will arrive on Saturday morning. The 1200 ton cargo ship is the last ship from the Freedom Flotilla and is loaded with construction materials, 20 tons of paper and many other supplies that Israel refuses to allow into the imprisoned people of Gaza.
Some of the High-Profile people on board:
Mairead Maguire from Belfast, Ireland, a Nobel Peace Laureate (l976) and Co-founder of Peace People, Northern Ireland. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace and a nonviolent solution to the Ethnic/political conflict in Northern Ireland. Mairead went on the maiden Voyage of Dignity in October 2008, the second successful voyage for the Free Gaza Movement. She was also on Board ‘Spirit’ when Israel hijacked the Boat in International Waters, taking all 2l humanitarian passengers to Israel, where they were arrested, detained for a week in an Israeli prison and then deported.
Denis Halliday, from Ireland, a UN Assistant Secretary-General from 1994-98. Appointed by SG Boutros Ghali, he served as ASG UN Human Resources Management in New York and in mid 1997 to end 1998 as Head, Humanitarian Programme in Iraq to support the Iraqi people struggling under the genocidal impact of UN Sanctions. Since resigning from the UN in 1998, Halliday has delivered numerous parliamentary briefings, provided extensive media inputs and has given public/university lectures on Iraq, human rights, and the UN, in particular its reform.
Matthias Chang Wen Chieh is a Malaysian of Chinese descent. He is a Barrister of 32 years standing and once served as the Political Secretary to the Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He is the author of three bestsellers, “Future Fast Forward”, “Brainwashed for War, Programmed to Kill”, and “The Shadow Money-Lenders and the Global Financial Tsunami”, published in the US and in Malaysia.
Mohd Nizar bin Zakaria,Perak, Malaysia, MP Mohd Nizar bin Zakaria is a Member of the Malaysian Parliament.
In addition, there is a three-member camera crew on board from Malaysia TV3 and journalis Shamsul Akmar bin Musa Kamal.
The passengers on board the ship have stated, “Communication is difficult and sometimes impossible and there are many rumors out there started by Israeli authorities, but there is no way we are going to Ashdod. We are, for sure, on our way to Gaza.”
Free Gaza has been sending aid ships to Gaza since August 2008, some more successfully than others, but until that sorrowful Monday morning, where IDF killed 9 unarmed civilians on board M/S Mavi Marmara, this happened more or less undetected by most people .... Now FreeGaza has the attention of the world! And hopefully this monumental Israeli PR blunder will see the end of this criminal blockade; taking the whole of Gaza hostage. Finally will the the irrational ban on such different goods like Coriander, canned fruit and building materials come to light, as Israel has a hard time explaining how such items like i.e. Lego can be a security risk to the Israeli people .....
[Cyprus, June 5. 2010]
"Just before 9am this morning, the Israeli military forcibly siezed the Irish-owned humanitarian relief ship, the MV Rachel Corrie, from delivering over 1000 tons of medical and construction supplies to besieged Gaza. For the second time in less then a week, Israeli naval commandos stormed an unarmed aid ship, brutally taking its passengers hostage and towing the ship toward Ashdod port in Southern Israel. It is not yet known whether any of the Rachel Corrie's passengers were killed or injured during the attack, but they are believed to be unharmed.
The Corrie carried 11 passengers and 9 crew from 5 different countires, mostly Ireland and Malaysia. The passengers included Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, Parit Member of the Malaysian Parliament Mohd Nizar Zakaria, and former UN Assistant Secretary General, Denis Halliday. Nine international human rights workers were killed on Monday when Israeli commandos violently stormed the Turkish aid ship, Mavi Marmara and five other unarmed boats taking supplies to Gaza. Prior to being taken hostage by Israeli forces, Derek Graham, an Irish coordinator with the Free Gaza Movement, stated that: "Despite what happened on the Mavi Marmara earlier this week, we are not afraid.
The 1200-ton cargo ship was purchased through a special fund set up by former Malaysian Prime Minister and Perdana Global Peace Organisation (PGPO) chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. The ship was named after an American human rights worker, killed in 2003 when she was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip. Its cargo included hundreds of tons of medical equipment and cement, as well as paper from the people of Norway, donated to UN-run schools in Gaza.
According to Denis Halliday: "We are the only Gaza-bound aid ship left out here. We’re determined to deliver our cargo.” The Rachel Corrie had been part of the Freedom Flotilla, a 40-nation effort to break through Israel's illegal blockade, before being forced to drop off late last week due to suspicious mechanical problems.
The attack on the Rachel Corrie may spell trouble for Israel's relationship with Ireland. The Irish government had formally requested Israel allow the ship to reach Gaza. On 1 June, the Irish parliament also passed an all-party motion condemning Israel's use of military force against civilian aid ships, and demanding "an end to the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza."
Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire summed up the hopes of this joint Irish-Malaysian effort to overcome Israel’s cruel blockade by saying: "We are inspired by the people of Gaza whose courage, love and joy in welcoming us, even in the midst of such suffering gives us all hope. They represent the very best of humanity, and we are all privileged to be given the opportunity to support them in their nonviolent struggle for human dignity, and freedom. This trip will again highlight Israel’s criminal blockade and illegal occupation. In a demonstration of the power of global citizen action, we hope to awaken the conscience of all."
Passengers aboard the Rachel Corrie include:
Ahmed Faizal bin Azumu, human rights worker, Malaysia
Matthias Chang, attorney, author & human rights worker, Malaysia
Derek Graham, Free Gaza Ireland
Jenny Graham, Free Gaza Ireland
Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, Ireland
Mohd Jufri Bin Mohd Judin, journalist, Malaysia
Shamsul Akmar Musa Kamal, PGPO representative, Malaysia
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Ireland
Abdul Halim Bin Mohamed, journalist, Malaysia
Fiona Thompson, film-maker, Ireland
The Hon. Mohd Nizar Zakaria, Parit Member of Parliament, Malaysia"