canadian boat to gaza send off today; female nobel laureates call on united nations to do the right thing

This morning in both Toronto and Montreal, many of the Canadian delegates of the Canadian ship Tahrir, will meet the media before boarding their flights to Turkey. The Tahrir will set sail for Gaza as part of Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human, an international flotilla of more than 1,000 civilians protesting the Israeli siege of Gaza.

The delegates on board the Tahrir include Jewish, Muslim and Christian Canadians - politicians, artists, peace and human rights activists, and small business owners, some of whom have taken part in previous flotillas.

Dylan Penner, leading member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (and also an organizer with the Canadian Boat to Gaza) and Vivienne Porzsolt from Jews Against Occupation in Australia, will be joined by Harmeet Singh Sooden, who was kidnapped in Iraq in 2005 and held for 4 months (along with Canadian James Loney while participating in an international Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation), as well as Muhammed Hamou from the London Muslim Mosque.

Also on board the Tahrir will be Former Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and professor of Indigenous Studies at Queen's University Robert Lovelace, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace Co-Chair Lyn Adamson, Quebec Solidaire representative Manon MassĂ©, small business owner Sue Breeze from BC, Toronto book publisher and children’s mental health activist Kate Wilson, Toronto filmmaker John Greyson, and Mary Hughes-Thompson, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement. Hughes-Thompson was on board the Free Gaza that broke the siege of Gaza in August 2008, and was part of the support team for the first Freedom Flotilla in May 2010.

* * * *

Four female Nobel Prize laureates have written an open letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling on him to support the safe passage of Freedom Flotilla II. Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, and Rigoberta MenchĂș Tum ask the UN for two key actions that so far have not been forthcoming: to appoint an international representative to inspect and seal the cargo of the boats of the Freedom Flotilla II, so the Israeli government can be sure the boats are carrying only humanitarian supplies, and to call on all member governments to support the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II.

If the UN cannot take these simple steps to support peaceful humanitarian intervention in human suffering, what good is it?
June 10, 2011

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations
New York, NY 10017 USA

RE: Inspection and sealing of Freedom Flotilla II cargo

Dear Mr. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,

We are writing to urge you to use your good offices in support of the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza.

In our view, you can support the people of Gaza with two key actions. First, by appointing a representative to inspect and seal the cargo of the boats of the Freedom Flotilla II—thus assuring the Israeli government that the boats are carrying humanitarian supplies such as toys, medical supplies, cement and educational materials. Equally important, we strongly urge you to use your authority to call on all governments to support the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II. We are disappointed to learn of your recent efforts to persuade member governments from stopping the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza on the Freedom Flotilla II. We urge you to reconsider and instead encourage member states to lend support and ask Israel not to use force against legitimate humanitarian initiatives undertaken by civil society to help ease the suffering of the people of Gaza who are facing a humanitarian crisis of devastating scale.

The Freedom Flotilla II, organized by 14 national groups and international coalitions and carrying approximately 1500 ‘freedom riders,’ is set to sail to Gaza this month. Sailing in the spirit of promoting human rights, prosperity, and social responsibility, the aim of the Flotilla is to alleviate the humanitarian crisis faced by the citizens of Gaza.

The blockade in Gaza is clearly having a harmful impact on the people of Gaza, and
indeed UNDP and other agencies report high levels of malnutrition and other disturbing health problems. According to a report by the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, the level of “abject poverty” among the Palestinians of Gaza has tripled since the imposition of the blockade, with 61 % of households not having enough food. The blockade has crippled the Gaza economy and destroyed Palestinians’ livelihoods and homes.

We believe our requests to you are in keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 1860 of January 2009 as well as the 2010 UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on the attack on Freedom Flotilla I, which are calling for a lift of the blockade to allow humanitarian assistance. We urge you to do all you can to support this nonviolent international humanitarian effort, to provide UN representatives to inspect and seal the cargo, and to appeal to all governments to allow safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your positive response.

Mairead Maguire (1976)
Rigoberta Menchu Tum (1992)
Jody Williams (1997)
Shirin Ebadi (2003)

No comments: