Greta Berlin | Free Gaza Movement
After tremendous pressure from the Greek Cypriots, reneging on their agreement with us, we were forced to take our MPs and activists to Famagusta yesterday, on the Turkish/Cypriot side of Cyprus. We spent all day going from one port to the next, surrounded by helicopters and police. Clearly our deal with Cyprus officials had fallen through, and we ended up being pawns in a political soap opera. The Cypriot members of Parliament, the ones who had worked so hard to get us permission to leave, were outraged. The Greek Parliament members finally told us to go to the North. If they could, they would. The Cypriot government said they made their decision because, “The Republic of Cyprus is fighting for its survival” but it didn’t bow to pressure from Israel. As they said this, they bowed their heads.
We made a deal with the Cypriot government that we would board our high-profile passengers and members of Parliament from Cyprus. We would board with no media coverage. We would not bring our boats into Cyprus. We would take small boats out to our own ships and board past the 12-mile territorial limit.
Authorities mandated that we couldn’t even do that, essentially telling us that, even if we board small boats anywhere in Greek Cyprus from any port, we could not travel outside their territorial limits to go to Gaza. Twenty-seven people were supposed to board, including 9 Cypriots and two Greeks. None of them could come with us as we went North.
Then our two passenger boats mysteriously had mechanical problems at the same time: 3:30pm. Challenger 2 was able to get 14 passengers delivered to the IHH ship then limped into the harbor in Limassol after being harassed by Cypriot helicopters, essentially forbidding us to bring our wounded boat into port.
Our other boat, Challenger 1 headed toward Famagusta with 16 passengers. It, too, was wounded, something wrong with the steering.
By the time we were jerked around yesterday. We had started at 7:00 am. By 10:00 pm, we had nowhere to board, and our boats were out of commission.
But we all have Gaza fever, and no one was giving up.
It has taken us all day to find someone on the Turkish side to ferry some of our passengers out to the flotilla who have been patiently waiting five hours away from Cyprus. At 6:00 pm, 20 of our passengers left for the flotilla, and the Swedish MP and the three German MPs are on board. Hedy is not, and we are heartsick that, once again, she will not be able to go to Gaza.
The flotilla leaves for Gaza early in the morning and should arrive tomorrow afternoon. We have persevered… Al Samoud.