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:
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