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Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Notes from Flotilla II 
Excerpted by Carolyn Bennett

(1) U.S.-flagged Audacity of Hope Captain Released
Captain John Klusmire had a hearing Tuesday in a Greek court and was released from jail, where he had been since Saturday morning. The captain was told he had no restrictions or limitations on his movements or activities [but] the charges against him were not dropped but we are hopeful that eventually they will be. Thanks everyone for all of the calls and email messages to Greek and U.S. authorities in support of John!!

(2) Hunger Strike Over
Nine passengers who were on a hunger strike in support of our captain ended their fast. The Athens police on Sunday detained them for several hours, On Monday, six people (some others and some of the same folks) were again detained and released a few hours later. Everyone was fine; since then, no one has been held by the police.

(3) Our Boat
The Audacity of Hope remains in the hands of Greek authorities and we do not yet know when they will release it. Several of our people are staying in Athens for the foreseeable future to make sure the boat is safe. While we do not own the boat - we leased it from a Greek company - we feel a responsibility to make sure it is returned to its owner in good condition.

(4) Other Boats
Situations constantly changing so it is possible that some of this information could already be put of date....

(a) On July 5, the Greek Boat to Gaza group held a press conference at the Athens Press Club. Present were Dimitris Plionis, an organizer from the Greek group, Dr. Mattias Gardell of the partner group Swedish Boat to Gaza, Members of Parliament Tasos Kourakis and Theodoris Dritsas 2 MPs, and Green Party representative Iannis Tsironis. They denounced the government actions and policies forbidding ships of the Flotilla to leave Greek ports, effectively extending the Israeli siege of Gaza to Greek waters and outsourcing the siege of Gaza. Also attending in solidarity was MP Panagiotis Kouroublis, who had recently been expelled from the ruling PASOK Party for voting against the IMF austerity plan. He was given a standing ovation when he entered the hall.

(b) The owners and crew of the Greek/Swedish/Norwegian passenger boat Juliano went on board in the port of Perama near Piraeus, and attempted to take the boat to the port town of Fokia, approximately 10 km. away, where they were due to attend a welcome ceremony at the invitation of the Fokia mayor, honoring the passengers and crew.  However, the port authorities prevented the boat from leaving, without citing any justification. In the meantime, two rented boats filled with journalists and supporters gathered at the port to cover the action and to demand release of the boat, and have been confronted by port police. At latest report, the standoff continues, and a crowd of people is gathering at the Perama Port Authority to demand the release of the boat.

(c) Passengers of the Spanish boat Guernica entered the Spanish embassy in Athens  and staged a sit-in, demanding that the Spanish government intercede with Greece to release the boat. They hoisted the Palestinian flag and are refusing to leave until their boat is given permission to leave.

(d) Canadian citizen Sandra Ruch remains in custody in the port city of Aghios Nikolaos. She and one other Suha Kneen, Michael Coleman, Australian Canadian were charged with impeding coast guard authorities by placing themselves in kayaks in front of police boats attempting to stop the Canadian boat, Tahrir from leaving Greek waters.They have been charged with interfering with law enforcement.

(e) The other French passenger boat Karameh is again at sea in international waters, awaiting the other boats in the Flotilla. After leaving France, it proceeded to the eastern Mediterranean, where it sheltered in a safe port before returning to international waters.

Dignite al Karama
July 5 Al Jazeera reports —

“A French boat has set sail for Gaza in the latest attempt by activists to deliver aid to the Palestinian territory, according to a journalist aboard the vessel.

“The Dignite al Karama, which slipped past Greek authorities overnight is, thus far, the only boat in a flotilla organized by pro-Palestinian activists to successfully sail for Gaza, with most confined to ports in Greece.

“The vessel’s passengers include Olivier Besancenot, head of the New Left Party in France, French politician and member of the European Parliament Nicole Kiil-Nilsen, and other well-known French personalities.”


VISIT WWW.USTOGAZA.ORG [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?llr=wumi8ydab&et=1106428978874&s=8691&e=001fYpr9Uj4Ov7FO6DEGy6dCy-2DnOQhAIgvAh3ZbGFnkYYu4TXNPsZB99w-PJzNgaYtsYWNv7UxtUyeGRq-XbVOg6Kk_7OcIdQ8NSHkwMgbeE=]
Link to video footage of last night's activity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MB3195hOk4Y

“French flotilla boat sets sail for Gaza  — Activists sail from Greece as others pledge to continue efforts to reach Palestinian territory with humanitarian aid,” July 6, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2011/07/201175114643849116.html


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