30 January 2010
For immediate release:
Yesterday the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH) announced a joint venture, sending 10 boats in the spring of 2010 to the besieged Gaza strip. Organizations from Greece, Ireland and Sweden have also promised to send boats to join the flotilla with the Free Gaza movement and Turkey.
Mr. Bulent Yildirim, chairman of the IHH said, “We sail in the spring to Gaza, and our last port is freedom: freedom for the 1.5 million Palestinians denied the right to rebuild their society. We will never stop sailing until Israel’s siege is lifted.”
Two cargo ships will be part of the flotilla, one donated by the Malaysia-based Perdana Foundation and one from IHH. Both will be laden with building supplies, generators and educational materials that Israel prohibits from entering Gaza since their brutal attack on the civilian population a year ago.
The many passenger boats accompanying the cargo ships will carry members of Parliament from countries around the world as well as high-profile journalists and human rights workers.
According to the chair of the Free Gaza Movement, Huwaida Arraf, “The illegal blockade on Gaza and Israel’s continued intransigence make a mockery of international law. If our governments will not take a stance to stop Israel’s abuse of the Palestinian people, global civil society is showing that we will.”
The Free Gaza movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since then, seven more voyages boarded Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel’s draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza. The last three voyages were illegally stopped by the Israeli navy when, in December, 2008, they rammed the Dignity in international water, turned back the Spirit Of Humanity by threatening to shoot all on board, then hijacking the Spirit on July 1, 2009, kidnapping the passengers and throwing them into prison for a week.
Since 1992, the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH) has provided humanitarian assistance to civilians who have been victims of war or natural disasters all over the world. One of IHH’s main objectives is to take necessary steps to prevent any violations against civilian basic rights and liberties. IHH aims at providing relief help so communities can resume their daily life and stand on their own feet, as well as strengthening leadership and institutions of communities that have been made dependent on aid.