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The Gaza solidarity blog

CanadianBoatToGaza's picture
The blog was originally set up for Canadian Boat to Gaza, with the aim of keeping readers informed of fundraising and organizing efforts in support of the 'Tahrir', a Canadian boat that was part of the 'Freedom Waves to Gaza'. Check out the Boat to Gaza's website at http://tahrir.ca. This blog is now following the latest international sea-based mission to free Gaza: Gaza's Ark. Gaza's Ark is trying to break the blockade of Gaza from the inside: by sailing a boat out of Gaza, to international waters. Read about the Ark and how you can help here: http://gazaark.org/

Breaking: Canadian Boat to Gaza leaves port, seized by Greek Coast Guard

| July 4, 2011
Satellite view of Tahir as it attempted to sail to Gaza and was seized

It all happened very fast. Late afternoon in Greece, the Canadian Boat to Gaza -- Tahrir -- left port and attempted to sail to Gaza.  Tweets from Canadians on board tell of the boat making it to nearly four miles from the international boundary before the Greek Coast Guard was able to stop it. Activists in kayaks apparently attempted to stop the Coast Guard from boarding the Tahrir. The Coast Guard apparently used water cannons to seize the boat and carried M16s on to ship in order commandeer the steering. Tahir participansts resisted non-violently.

The ship has been turned back to port and as of 6:52 p.m. local time, is in Greek custody. Check back here and follow @CanadaBoatGaza on Twitter for more updates.

In a 4 July statement (reproduced in full below), Canadian Boat to Gaza declared, "With the support of Greek civil society and people from all around the world the Tahrir is casting off from Greece today." Here is the full statement:

The Canadian Boat to Gaza (CBG), the Tahrir, to set sail today as part of Freedom Flotilla II

Agios Nikolaos, Greece -- With the support of Greek civil society and people from all around the world the Tahrir is casting off from Greece today.

"The Tahrir is leaving port in Crete, and we are breaking through Israel's Gaza blockade which now extends to Greek ports," said David Heap from aboard the Tahrir. "Israel's expansion of the Gaza blockade to Greece is just the latest example of how the blockade of Gaza is about attacking freedom, not increasing security."

Article 13.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to leave any country". Preventing flotilla ships from leaving Greek ports is a clear violation of this human right.

"Greece has no right to detain foreign-flagged ships in its ports other than for purposes of assuring seaworthiness via timely inspection. And they cannot interfere with 'innocent passage' through their territorial waters, and this passage is definitely innocent," said Richard Falk, American professor of international law and an appointee to two United Nations positions on the Palestinian territories.

"Greece's position is disturbing but this should not divert our attention from Israel and its illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza. Israel is the source of the problem and it will be held accountable by the international community -- sooner or later," said Sandra Ruch, from the Tahrir steering committee.

Support actions have been and continue to be held at Greek consulates all over Canada (as well as in cities all over the world) calling on the Greek government to end its support of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and immediately lift the blockade it is imposing on the Flotilla boats from Greece's ports.

The Canadian Boat to Gaza has sent letter to all Greek MPs asking them to let the flotilla boats go:


Here is the story in tweets:


Canada Boat to Gaza

Contact Cdn MPs to tell them to support the Cdn citizens on the Tahrir - tell Greek govt to let them sail, let them gohttp://www.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainMPsCompleteList.aspx


Canada Boat to Gaza No one from the Tahrir has been arrested yet. But Greek police are here and no one is able to leave the boat.

Canada Boat to Gaza We left port without a captain. We released captain and crew from contract and sailed under control of international volunteers.


jesse rosenfeld Police are now lining the port while a large tugboat blocks the at the doc

2 minutes ago via web


jesse rosenfeld Coast guard again "I'm only folowing orders," Heap responds again "That's what German soldiers said in 1945" , Tahrir

5 minutes ago via web

Canada Boat to Gaza Contact Greek Embassy in Canada - Protest Greek govt enforcing Israeli policy (613) 238-6271 / embassy[at]greekembassy[dot]ca
Canada Boat to Gaza We got about 5km away from shore. Greek authorities have taken over the boat and appear to be heading back to port. 1 hour ago via web

Dylan Penner We still have control of the Tahrir, but Greek coast guard is trying to take control. We're resisting nonviolently. This is our boat! 1 hour ago via web


 @Jleerankin Toronto filmmaker John Greyson as Greek Coast Guard boards Tahrir

jesse rosenfeld Coast guard used water cannons then borded the with m16's and took the wheel room from the driver at gun point 28 minutes ago via web
Canada Boat to Gaza Kayakers were able to block Greek coast guard briefly when we left port.

Dylan Penner The Tahrir has left port and is sailing. Greek coast Guard nearby. Stay tuned.

1 hour ago via web




The tale of the Gaza "flotilla" seems set to become a regular summer feature, bobbing along happily on the inside pages with an occasional update. A nice sidebar for reporters covering the Greek debt crisis: a built-in mild tension of "will they, won't they?"; a cast of not very colorful characters but one we almost begin to feel we know personally. Such cheery and breezy slogans—"the audacity of hope" and "free Gaza"—and such an easy storyline that it practically writes itself. Since Israel adopts a posture that almost guarantees a reaction of some sort in the not-too-distant future, and since there was such a frisson of violence the last time the little fleet set sail, there's no reason for it not to become a regular seasonal favorite.

However, given the luxury of time, might it not be possible to ask the "activists" onboard just a few questions? (Activist is a good neutral word, isn't it, with largely positive connotations? Even flotilla, with its reassuring diminuendo, has a "small is beautiful" sound to it.) Most of the speculation so far has been to do with methods and intentions, allowing for many avowals about peaceful tactics and so forth, but this is soft-centered coverage. I would like to know a little more about the political ambitions and implications of the enterprise.

It seems safe and fair to say that the flotilla and its leadership work in reasonably close harmony with Hamas, which constitutes the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. The political leadership of this organization is headquartered mainly in Gaza itself. But its military coordination is run out of Damascus, where the regime of Bashar Assad is currently at war with increasingly large sections of the long-oppressed Syrian population. Refugee camps, some with urgent humanitarian requirements, are making their appearance on the border between Syria and Turkey (the government of the latter being somewhat sympathetic to the purposes of the flotilla). In these circumstances, isn't it legitimate to strike up a conversation with the "activists" and ask them where they come out on the uprising against hereditary Baathism in Syria?

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