Polish-British journalist and human rights activists, a memeber of the Free Gaza Movement, Ewa Jasiewicz was detained after Israeli commandos attacked the Freedom Flotilla on its way to Gaza.
Almost two weeks ago, Israeli Navy attacked a convoy of six ships carrying humanitarian assistance to Gaza, killing nine and wounding around twenty pro-Palestinian activists.
Among the human rights activists in the convoy was a Polish-British journalist, a memeber of the Free Gaza Movement, Ewa Jasiewicz. She was briefly detained after the Israeli raid.
She is now in Poland and interviewing her for News from Poland, Michal Kubicki asked her first about the goal of their action.
- By Graham Huband
- Published in the Courier : 07.06.10
- Published online : 07.06.10 @ 12.32pm
Ali El-Awaisi (front, centre) back with his very relieved family in Dundee, while (below) brother Khalid protests in Dundee against the attack.
Ali El-Awaisi arrived back in his home city on Sunday night, a week after being caught up in the attack on the Mavi Marmara ship.
At least nine people died and others were injured when government forces boarded the vessel as a flotilla of ships attempted to break the blockade of Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid.
Safely back home in Rankine Street, 21-year-old Ali — who was arrested and put in jail by Israeli authorities before being deported — said the confrontation had been the most horrendous experience of his life.
He said troops used gas and flash bombs to overwhelm them before embarking on their shooting spree.
Ali told The Courier,
“It was the early hours of the morning and we were just finishing morning prayer when, with no advance warning at all, we started getting shot at.
“When the first person was killed we started to wave a white flag but they kept on shooting.”
“We didn’t think they would be shooting live ammunition at us but within five minutes there were four people dead and 20 people injured.
“I was just trying to help the injured people. It was terrible — there was blood dripping down the walls. People were getting shot in front of me in their chests and legs.
“One guy had nothing but a camera in his hand but they pointed the laser (sighting from a gun) at him and bang, he was shot.”
Ali said he thought his own life was about to end when another soldier lifted his rifle and trained his laser sights on his face.
Fortunately, he did not pull the trigger and Ali continued his frantic efforts to help the wounded — some of whom bled to death in front of him. Ali said,
“It was a complete nightmare — it was something absolutely traumatic. It was cold-blooded bloodshed. It was a complete and utter massacre.
“We didn’t have any weapons. We didn’t have anything to defend ourselves with.”
He added, “I am a victim of many crimes — I witnessed murder, I was a victim of kidnapping and I was the victim of attempted murder when the laser was pointed at me.
“I am also the victim of theft as they stole all of my money, my clothes, everything.”
Ali — who said he was mentally and physically abused while in custody following the ship’s seizure — said his experience had strengthened his resolve and he vowed to return to the region to do whatever he could to help its people.
He said, “Even though they put me through what they put me through, I have not completed my mission.
“I set off from Dundee to deliver the aid collected from Dundee and Tayside from people who are against inhumane action and against orphans dying of starvation.
“My mission was to go and deliver that aid to Gaza and I will not stop with this until the siege is broken.”
Ali was eventually placed on a flight from Tel Aviv to Turkey, the home of several of the activists who died in the onslaught. He finally flew home to Scotland on Sunday and was greeted by family and friends at Glasgow Airport.
Brother Khalid spent much of the last week desperately trying to find out if Ali was safe and then arranging for his younger sibling’s homecoming.
He said, “We are just delighted Ali is back home. He has done a wonderful job and in going through this he has seen what Palestinians go through every day.
“I am glad he is back but both me and my other brother have said we are going with him on the next ship.”
The MV Rachel Corrie — which is carrying almost £30,000 of aid for Gaza donated by the people of Dundee among its hundreds of tonnes of cargo — was stopped from entering Gaza at the weekend and has now docked at Ashdod in Israel.
The operation was carried out peacefully after the ship’s crew refused an offer from the Israeli authorities to unload its cargo on land and accompany it over the border into Gaza.
Postal worker Theresa McDermott (43), from Edinburgh, was on the Challenger, one of the boats in the convoy.
She returned to Scotland on Friday and said in Glasgow on Sunday, “We only had a small taste of what the Palestinians have to go through on a daily basis.”
She added, “I think us normal people have to keep reaching out to the normal people of Palestine.
“If we don’t, these people just feel abandoned, forgotten and hopeless.”
Another Scot, 25-year-old journalist Hassan Ghani, from Glasgow, is due to return home next week.
8:45am Wednesday 9th June 2010
- Tauqir Sharif
A SURVIVOR of the Israeli raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza has spoken of the “horrific” events he witnessed, as he tries to adjust to life back home in Chingford.
Tauqir Sharif, of Warwick Road, was on board the lead Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara in the Mediterranean sea when it was boarded by troops in an assault which led to the deaths of nine men.
The convoy of boats, carrying medical supplies, food and toys, was trying to break an Israeli-imposed blockade of the Gaza strip, which has been in force ever since Hamas won elections there in 2007.
The 23-year-old returned home to England at the weekend after being held in an Israeli prison for two days.
He said: “I’m disappointed that the aid never got to Gaza, because that was the sole point of the trip, despite the media attention. It wasn’t about shaming the Israeli Government – they do that for themselves.
“I’m still taking everything in. I’ve learnt so much about myself I can’t even begin to describe it.
“I’ve seen things – I’ve seen dead bodies and very badly injured people. I’m not sure what effect it’s had on me, it’s all still sinking in and I get flashbacks.
“But I do know that it has made me more determined and I want to go back to Gaza as soon as possible. I don’t want to stop there, I want to train as a paramedic and go to places like the Sudan and Haiti.”
Mr Sharif survived the raid with only minor injuries.
“When it began a group of us were on the middle deck praying. Someone shouted ‘they’re coming’ and then they started shooting at us and coming on board.
“During it most people were just trying to hide, but there was resistance. I had a camera and I was trying to film as much as I could. But the Israelis took it along with my laptop and everything else so I’ve lost the footage.
“I was very, very lucky because another guy on the boat who was filming got shot in the head.
“I don’t know how anyone could say that we attacked first. They were the ones carrying guns and they were the ones that were boarding the ship.
“It was horrific. I saw the body of man who had been shot and half his head was hanging off.
“We managed to get some of the injured into a room and then the troops surrounded us and made us come out one by one.”
One of those killed, 60-year-old Ibrahim Bilgen, had become a close friend of Mr Sharif in Turkey as they prepared to set off for Gaza. He was shot four times in the head.
Mr Sharif said: “He was like a grandfather I never had. Before we set off I visited his home and family in Turkey, we went fishing together.
“It was very upsetting.”
He added: “Whatever scratches, cuts and bruises I have it is nothing to what the Palestinian people have to go through on a regular basis.
“While there were nine people killed and it got a lot of attention around the world, Palestinians get shot and killed by the Israeli troops on an almost daily basis and it doesn’t get coverage. Only the other day four were shot dead by a beach.”
Israel has rejected UN calls for an independent investigation into what happened, saying it will carry out a probe itself.
Mohammed Abid Mahi, 31, from Walthamstow, was also on board and has now returned home. He has been reluctant to speak publicly about what he witnessed.
The Guardian understands his pregnant wife went into labour just days after the raid happened.
IHH are a charity which focuses on helping primarily Muslim people around the world who are victims of tyranny, misfortune, occupation, oppression. They feed the hungry, bring fresh water to the thirsty , aid the sick, help educate people without that opportunity. They fight global inequality, improve and save lives. They are a force for good in the world, to accuse them of terrorism is turning morality on its head. The aid effort to Gaza is just part of their global aid efforts. Unfortunately they had to come into conflict with Jewish supremacism, as Isreal is ultimately justified in committing any atrocity against the goyim IHH have to become the bad guys for Israeli slaughter to be palatable to the sheep. It is the IHH rather than the pale skinned passengers focused on because Westerners IMO are unconsciously islamaphobic by and large and as people generally don’t look into the news any further than the page it is printed on it is quite simple for the compliant, I’d say controlled press at this stage to make the notion believable to the gullible masses, despite their being no valid evidence.
This is just an example of their global efforts.
After Bosnia Herzegovina declared its independence, war broke out between Bosnians and Serbians in May 1992 and quickly spread across the country. Serbs attempted “ethnic cleansing” in the country. Young or adult many people were killed and lots of historical and cultural artifacts were destroyed as well.
The Bosnian tragedy is the largest genocide committed after the World War II. The world still remains silent against this war. However, Turkey is closely concerned with and affected by the occurrences.
A group of concerned people, who did not remain insensitive to the war, gathered and began working individually.
They protracted their efforts until the end of the war to alleviate sufferings from the war and to be a source of hope for helpless people.
This time war broke out in Chechnya while the world was still watching the savageness in Bosnia. Russian forces bombed Chechen lands and killed innocent civilians. Voluntary efforts were failing. There was a need for more organized relief works.
These volunteers who swiftly took steps with the outbreak of the Bosnian war and continued their efforts during the Chechen war gathered in 1995 and founded the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH). The basic objective was:
Wherever he or she is, distressed, victimized by war, disaster, etc, wounded, disabled, homeless and subjected to famine, oppressed, it is the IHH’s main objective to deliver humanitarian aid to all people and take necessary steps to prevent any violations against their basic rights and liberties.
Turkey’s IHH said during Ramadan, Turkish charitables did not forget the grandchildren of the King of Abyssinian Negash who protected Muslims coming from Meccah during the birth of Islam by accepting them.
IHH, Humanitarian relief Foundation, said in a statement, “teams in the first day of Ramadan distributed food packets consisted of flour, pulse,oil and sugar to the 180 orphan and widow families living in the Kofale village of the Oromiye region.”
“180 orphan children as the education aid were given notebooks, stationary materials and school bags”, IHH statement said.
As the cloth needs of 160 orphan children in the region of Habura were met, in the capital city Addis Ababa 350 orphan boys and girls were given iftar ( breaking the fast) meals.
In the Kofale region of Ethiopia that struggles with the drought country wide, two water wells built by the charitables from Kayseri were also inaugurated.
In Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, because of the malnutrition and infectious diseases thousands of children are losing their lives.
|Turkey’s IHH brought world orphans to Istanbul for the 4th International Orphans Meeeting on Saturday in Halic Congress Center.
The orphan children who came from Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Macedonia, East Turkistan, Chechenstan and Agri joined the press meeting before the mass gathering.
The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) said in a statement, Chairman Bulent Yıldırım told about the situations of the orphans in the world with numbers.
Yıldırım said, “After the searches we saw awful results.”
“Orphans can fall into the hands of organ mafia, human trafficker or missionary organizations. Some health organizations can use the children as subjects,” he said.
“The numbers that appear about the orphans are gory. In the world there are 143 millions of orphans and 400 millions of unprotected children. 60 millions of children sleep hungry.”
Yıldırım emphasized that they arrange orphans meetings to draw attention on the orphans and make the people sensitive in the world.
“143 millions of people suffer from insufficient nutrition. Because of hunger and insufficient nutrition 5 millions of children die under the age of 5. In the world in every 5.2 seconds a child dies of insufficient nutrition,diseases or neglection. In Africa each minute 8 children under 5 years old die because of lack of vaccine. Because of the war every year hundreds thousands of children remain orphans,” he said.
The chairman said, “due to the occupation, only in Iraq 5 millions of children are orphaned. In the world 2,5 millions of children half of them girls are sold by being kidnapped. 90 millions of children are living in the streets. There are 85 millions of orphans in Asia. There are 43 millions of orphans in Africa. There are 12.4 millions of orphans in Latin America. If all the orphans should be brought together in one country, that would be the 8th most crowded country in the world.”
Yıldırım said that till today 15 thousands of children were found sponsor families, adding they are aiming to increase this number to 100 thousand.
|Turkey’s IHH conducted a series of activities in Sudan’s Darfur for Ramadan campaing activities.
Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said, in a statement, it opened mosques, digged waterwells, distributed Qur’ans, organized iftars, aiding orphans and refugees in Darfur.
IHH volunteers also have been making cataract surgeries for 3 years in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum.
IHH said it opened a mosque and water wells, funded by volunteers of the foundation’s Izmit branch ( Izmit is a city in northwestern Turkey) in South Darfur’s Nyala as part of of the activities in “Ramadan 2009 http://www.worldbulletin.net/news_detail.php?id=46512
|Turkey’s IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation said it extended its help to Zimbabwe, where cholera has so far claimed 1,400 lives.
Hundreds of cholera patients were spared from death thanks to medication distributed by IHH teams in the country.
The officials of the IHH said they purchased required medication from producers in South Africa and delivered them to the Zimbabwean hospitals running out of cholera medication.
The medicines were handed to Epworth Clinic and Nazareth Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital, the biggest hospital of its kind in the Zimbabwean capital Harare.
The medicines purchased from South Africa will help protect hundreds of affected people against cholera.
After being told by physicians that cholera patients could not recover easily due to undernourishment, IHH teams supplied the hospital with foodstuff. Cholera patients are expected to recover rapidly after taking enough food.
Zimbabwe is experiencing the worst cholera outbreak of its history. Cholera cases are rapidly spreading countrywide.
|“The IHH delivered 450,000 new Turkish liras (YTL) worth of humanitarian materials such as medication, medical equipment, blankets and foodstuff to Gaza within several days after the Israeli operation began. Families of the killed and wounded Gazans were donated YTL 200,000. Lately, 13 tons of humanitarian materials such as medication, surgery tools, painkillers, bandages, injections, etc. were handed to the Palestinian Health Ministry through Rafah border gate. The Palestinian Parliament and the Health Ministry sent letters to the IHH, expressing their thanks over aid.”|
|IHH officials distributed food packages of cooking oil, sugar and pulses to 800 needy families in and around the Crimean capital Simferopol. Food packages were handed to the families at their houses.
Crimean Muslims, who have a history of suffering, exile and massacre, were moved during the delivery of aid. The families who received food packages expressed their gratitude and recited prayers.
An aged Crimean woman first recited two surahs from the Quran and said, “God bless Muslims of Turkey and help Crimean Muslims in Uzbekistan to return to their homeland.”
The IHH delivered stationery materials to 1,500 students from İsmail Gaspıralı School. Another 150 orphans were given allowances and clothes.
The foundation is planning to carry on relief activities in Crimea.
|İHH aid reaches disaster-stricken Myanmar
Despite the reluctance of the military junta to authorize foreign aid, a Turkish humanitarian aid foundation has been among the first allowed access to Myanmar’s cyclone victims.
The Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH) distributed emergency food aid through its partner organization to 500 families in villages 20 kilometers from the capital of Yangon, an İHH press release released on Tuesday reported.
İHH teams were allowed to deliver the aid to the victims on Tuesday although the reclusive military government is keeping most foreign aid workers out of the devastated Irrawaddy Delta, where around 100,000 people were killed and millions of people made homeless by Cyclone Nargis.
People who received food aid said they had been living without food or water since the tragedy, and expressed their gratitude to the people of Turkey for the aid.
Ahmet Faruk Ünsal, head of İHH diplomatic relations, and Şenol Öztürk, İHH representative for Asian countries, are waiting in Thailand to cross into Myanmar, and if granted permission, they will provide more aid to the region.
Huseyin Abdulkadir, representative of the İHH’s partner organization in Myanmar, said there are piles of bodies everywhere. “The people of Myanmar are in a dire situation. You come across bodies of dead women, elderly people and children everywhere. The military junta is busy with its own affairs, leaving the debris from the cyclone untouched. Impoverished people are trying to bury their victims and repair their houses. The situation in Myanmar is grave,” he stated.
Abdulkadir indicated that the injured people could not be treated because of a shortage of medication and other medical supplies and warned that the death toll would rise if the necessary measures were not taken. He said some deaths have already been caused by starvation and lack of water in certain regions.
İHH aid reaches disaster-stricken Myanmar
|İHH facilitates more than 3,000 cataract operations in Sudan
The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH) has started a campaign to finance cataract operations for 3,286 people in Sudan.
Bülent Yıldırım told the Anatolia news agency that an İHH visit to Sudan had highlighted how widespread an illness cataracts were in the country, leading them to initiate the “Africa Will See” campaign. The campaign’s slogans include “Let it be you who lightens the eyes of one of 100,000 Africans” and “If you see, they will also see.”
Yıldırım noted that the İHH established a Turkish eye hospital as a part of the campaign with the support of the Turkish Health Ministry and the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA).
“Many people in Africa develop cataracts at a very young age due to extreme temperatures, [insufficient] nutrition and climate conditions. Add to that the lack of doctors — many of the patients, particularly those living in rural locations, live in darkness. There are 5 million patients that have developed cataracts in Africa. Our campaign, in which we cooperate with the [Turkish] Health Ministry, has drawn significant public support. Approximately 40 operations are performed per day at the Turkish hospital,” Yıldırım emphasized. Yıldırım also said that approximately 20,000 people had been given eyeglasses and medicine by the İHH. Saying that there are four volunteer doctors and four nurses working at the hospital, Yıldırım noted, “Each month a volunteer health team goes to Sudan for the project, which will continue until 2009.”
Yıldırım noted that they would also perform operations in Somali, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Mali. “Infrastructural works to perform operations in these countries are continuing. The only thing we lack is volunteer doctors. We need this kind of support to perform operations in more countries at the same time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yıldırım recalled that Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül visited their hospital in Sudan on Jan. 10, a visit during which he covered the cost of 12 operations as well as presented a plaque of thanks to the Turkish doctors there.
Each operation costs YTL 100 and 44,988 people have donated to the campaign so far. Those who want to contribute may visit www.afrikagorecek.com.
The İHH also runs charity and aid projects in countries such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Mongolia
|Turkish IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation distributed 10 tons of millet and beans to needy families in Tsiau region of Niger.
The foundation is carrying on emergency aid and social development projects in different regions of Africa with donations from charitable people. The projects IHH had finalized in Niger were controlled by officials from the foundation and Istanbul Governorate.
Computer lab set up in University of Niamey
The IHH team in Niger attended with president, deans and departments heads of Niamey University, the only university in the country, the inauguration of a computer and a chemistry laboratory. The university president said the laboratories were the first modern facilities the university had since is was established three decades ago, expressing his thanks to benevolent Turkish people.
The team also visited an IHH-built maternity ward in Niamey. The next stop was Tisau, a city in Maradi province with a population of 130,000 people. The IHH officials and Tisau mayor inaugurated a thousand-meter long underground drainage canal. The mayor thanked the people of Turkey in his speech.
About 10 tons of millet and beans were distributed to 2,000 families that were living below the poverty line.
|Turkish IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation said it has decided to undertake caring for all the children made orphan in the latest Israeli strikes, adding that it has been taking care of thousands of Palestinian orphans.
IHH said will meet all expenses of the children made orphan by the recent Israeli operation into the Gaza Strip and existing orphan Palestinian children.
The foundation has been caring for 2,500 orphans in Palestine so far. Latest Israeli attacks on Gaza made another 1,500 children orphan. All the Palestinian orphans will be provided with shelter, education, health services and other basic services by the IHH.
The foundation has also included Palestinian orphans in the sponsor family system.
Charitable families can sponsor an orphan by donating 70 new Turkish liras monthly.
Since the outbreak of the latest Israeli offensive into Gaza, 400 families applied to the IHH to sponsor Gazan orphans.
|Turkey’s leading charity finished digging hundreds of water wells across Africa with donations of Turkish beneficents before Islamic holy month Ramadan starts, the foundation said.
Hudreds of water wells were digged and fountains were built in a aid move under the leadership of Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) across African countries, the charity said on website.
The last projects in Chad, Sudan and Burkina Faso were also finished before Ramadan.
One of the first foundations which started water well projects, IHH has built 392 water wells in Somali, Chad, Djibouti, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Sudan and Niger with the donations of beneficents so far.
Chairman of IHH Bulent Yildirim said that “1.4 million people have to live without water around the world.”
“In Africa 250 million people are suffering from drought” Yildirim said in his statement about the issue.
“Some of them have to carry water from the wells that are kilometers far away from their villages. Because not all of the villages have water wells.”
“We are solving two problems when we are building water wells. First of all, we are supplying water for them and secondly, we are preventing the illnesses that are caused by the unhealthy resources,” Yildirim added.
|Turkey’s IHH said distributed food packets to 600 families and held mass iftars in Kazakhstan during Ramadan.
IHH, Humanitarian Relief Foundation, said in a statement, “in Kazakhstan’s Almaty, Aaras, Shymkent, Turkistan and Qyzlorda cities and the towns of them 600 families were given food packets and mass breaking the fast meals.”
Dr Hasan Uysal assisted by IHH member Murat Akinan treating an Israeli commando (left) protestor displays photo of one of the aid worker killed by Israeli forces (right) injured Turkish aid workers return home. (R-bottom) Israeli commandos aim their weapons on aid workers
Despite claims by Israel Officials that the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) members had initiated the violence, Murat Akinan, the man seen standing next to Dr Uysal in the photos of him treating a commando said that the captured soldier had been entrusted to him by IHH Director, Bulent Yildirim, who instructed him to
“make sure that he’ll be safe. Be careful, don’t allow anyone to touch him.
Thursday, June 3, 2010 ISTANBUL –
Funeral prayers are held in Istanbul for eight of the nine people killed on a Gaza aid flotilla as families around the country mourn their dead. At least three activists are still missing, the group that organized the flotilla says, vowing to send larger convoys to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
At least three members of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that was attacked by Israeli commandos are still missing, the group that organized the convoy said Thursday as funeral prayers were given for eight slain activists.
“We have a longer list. There are still people who are missing,” Bülent Yıldırım, the head of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, one of the main organizers of the flotilla, told reporters at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport.
“Our doctors handed over to Israel 38 people who were injured, but they told us there were only 21 injured when we were returning.”
The İHH leader also said the group would send larger convoys to end the embargo on the besieged Gaza Strip.
Yıldırım and hundreds of other activists returned early Thursday to a hero’s welcome in Istanbul. About 1,000 people, some chanting anti-Israeli slogans, packed the city’s airport in the middle of the night to greet the planes carrying them back from Israel.
Seven planes were used to deport 527 activists to Turkey and Greece, said Israeli interior ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad, adding that seven other activists remained in Israeli hospitals for treatment of wounds suffered during the Israeli raid. Another plane brought 31 Greeks, three French nationals and one American to Athens.
The first plane contained the bodies of eight Turks and a U.S. national of Turkish origin. All were shot dead in the Israeli raid, according to forensic experts. The nationalities of the victims were determined after post-mortem examinations at a forensic institute in Istanbul, the Anatolia news agency reported. Forensic experts found bullet marks on all the bodies and determined that one was shot at close range.
The exact circumstances of the activists’ deaths are expected to become clear in a ballistics examination that will take about a month to complete.
The 19 wounded activists deported from Israel also suffered from gunshot wounds, according to the chief doctor of the Ankara hospital treating them. “The patients generally have serious injuries to their chests, abdomens and limbs. What we have is mostly gun wounds,” Metin Doğan said in televised remarks.
Israel charges that the passengers on the boat attacked its soldiers, but organizers of the flotilla say Israeli forces started firing as soon as they landed on the ship.
Funeral prayers for eight of the nine people killed onboard the Mavi Marmara were held at the Fatih Mosque in Istanbul on Thursday. The coffins of Cengiz Akyüz, Ali Haydar Bengi, İbrahim Bilgen, Furkan Doğan, Cengiz Songür, Çetin Topçuoğlu, Fahri Yaldız and Necdet Yıldırım were wrapped in Turkish flags. The crowd at the funeral chanted anti-Israel slogans before and after the prayers. The funeral prayer for journalist Cevdet Kılıçlar, an İHH member, will be held at the same mosque Friday.
Families of the victims also mourned in various provinces of the country. Photographs of Bilgen, who was a mayoral candidate from the Saadet, or Felicity, Party in the March 2009 local elections, were hung over busy streets in the eastern province of Siirt.
In Adana, Cumali Topçuoğlu, the brother of 54-year-old victim Çetin Topçuoğlu, said family members were happy because their brother had become a “martyr.”
In Diyarbakır, a condolence tent was erected in front of the Ulu Mosque for Bengi, the father of four children.
An official from the İHH identified 19-year-old Doğan, originally from the central Turkish town of Kayseri, as the U.S. national among the victims. Doğan, who held an American passport, had four bullet wounds to the head and one to the chest, according to the İHH’s Ömer Yağmur. The bodies were handed over to the victim’s relatives after the autopsies.
The United Nations and the European Union have harshly criticized Israel after its commandos stormed the six-ship flotilla in international waters, setting off the clashes. About 700 activists – including 400 Turks – were trying to break the Israeli and Egyptian naval blockade by bringing in 10,000 tons of aid.
Two Swedes aboard the aid flotilla intercepted by Israeli forces this week said they had witnessed “premeditated murder.”
“We were witnesses to premeditated murders,”
historian Mattias Gardell told Swedish public radio Thursday upon arrival in Istanbul.
“This was a military attack on a humanitarian aid operation far out in international waters,” said Gardell, a Swedish activist who was on the Mavi Marmara along with his wife, fellow historian Edda Manga, during the attack. “It was a very surprising and aggressive overreaction by Israel.”
Kuwait citizen Ali Buhamd said he saw a wounded Turkish citizen getting shot in the head. “The soldiers also left another Turk to bleed to death despite [his] calls for help,” he added.
Shane Dillon from Ireland, from the crew of the ship Challenger 1, said he witnessed some volunteers being beaten up and a Belgian woman’s nose being broken.
Of five Australians on the Gaza flotilla, two – journalists Paul McGeough and Kate Geraghty, who was injured by a stun gun during the Israeli raid – have returned to Turkey, daily The Australian reported on its website Thursday. Three others – Ahmed Luqman, who was shot in the leg, his wife, Jerry Campbell, and his sister Maryam Luqman – are reportedly still in Israel
06 June 2010, Sunday
With most survivors back in their home countries, details are continuing to emerge about exactly what happened during the course of a bloody Israeli military attack on a humanitarian aid convoy heading to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The haunting testimonies of the deported activists recount the sheer horror of the attack and its aftermath. Humiliation, maltreatment and brutality meted out by Israeli soldiers dominate the survivors’ accounts.
They all note that they were unarmed but resisted the soldiers in self-defense while the soldiers used live bullets, a claim that has been confirmed by autopsies performed on the nine peace activists killed in the attack and medical examinations of the over 30 who were wounded. Photographs capturing images of even injured passengers with handcuffs on have also emerged, sparking an international outcry. Activists who returned to Turkey after being deported by Israel have confirmed to the press that they were poorly treated by Israeli authorities between the time of their detention and deportation.
The returnees’ accounts also reveal that in order to secure their release, they were forced to sign a deportation document pledging that they would never travel to Israel again. Some said they could not even understand what was written as documents provided to them were in Hebrew.
‘Wounded people were shot’
Peace activist Ali Buhamd said:
“I saw a soldier shooting a wounded Turk in the head. There was another Turk asking for help, but he bled to death.”
Kevin Ovenden of Britain, who arrived in İstanbul on Thursday and was on the Mavi Marmara, said a man who had pointed a camera at the soldiers was shot directly through the forehead, with the exit wound blowing away the back of his skull.
Lawyer Mubarak Al Mutava, who was on the same ship, also shared recollected moments of horror that the passengers of the humanitarian aid ship faced at the hands of their Israeli attackers.
“Israeli commandos opened fire at us. They killed many activists even before they got on board. I should assure you that not a single volunteer possessed any kind of firearm.”
Israeli naval commandos used batons, teargas, stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition during the storming of aid ships bound for Gaza, activists deported by Israel to Jordan said on Wednesday.
“The Israelis just attacked us without warning after the dawn prayer,”
said Norazma Abdullah, a Malaysian who was among the 124 activists who crossed into Jordan at about 7:30 a.m.
‘Israeli deputy prevented shot at me’
Osman Çalık, another flotilla survivor, said his knee was injured when he was shot by one of the soldiers and that an Israeli parliamentary deputy prevented the soldier from taking a second shot at him.
“While I was lying on the ground after my knee was injured, he was about to shoot a second time. Israeli deputy Hanin Zuabi, one of the volunteers aboard, shouted at the soldier in Hebrew to stop. And he did not shoot at me again,”
‘Soldiers humiliated us’
Algerian Izzeddine Zahrour said Israeli authorities
“deprived us of food, water and sleep, and we weren’t allowed to use the toilet.”
“It was an ugly kidnapping and subsequently [we were subjected to] bad treatment in the Israeli jail,” he said. “They handcuffed us, pushed us around and humiliated us.”
“The Israelis roughed up and humiliated all of us — women, men and children,” said Kuwaiti lawmaker Walid al-Tabtabaie who was on one of the ships with other activists from Muslim countries.
“They were brutal and arrogant, but our message reached every corner of the world: that the blockade on Gaza is unfair and should be lifted immediately,” he added.
The lawmaker claimed there
“was not a single weapon with the passengers aboard all the ships.”
Recai Kaya, a representative of the Enderun Association, said that Israel forces brutally attacked and handcuffed the peace activists while saying “one minute” to try and humiliate them, a reference to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s walkout in Davos last year. During a panel discussion on Gaza at the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) on Jan. 29, 2009, Erdoğan walked off the stage in protest of a moderator who did not allow him to speak in response to Israeli President Shimon Peres, who made remarks supporting the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
‘We were deprived of water, food’
Mihalis Grigoropoulos told reporters at Athens International Airport that Israelis rappelled down from helicopters and threw ropes from inflatable boats to climb aboard, adding that teargas and live ammunition were used in the raid.
“We did not resist at all; we couldn’t, even if we had wanted to. What could we have done against the commandos who climbed aboard? The only thing some people tried was to delay them from getting to the bridge by forming a human shield. They were fired upon with plastic bullets and were stunned with electric devices,”
He also said they were faced with mistreatment after they were arrested.
“There was great mistreatment after our arrest. We were essentially hostages, like animals on the ground. … They wouldn’t let us use the bathroom, wouldn’t give us food or water and they took videos of us despite international conventions banning this,”
Another Greek peace activist, Dimitris Gielalis, who was with the flotilla, said:
“They came up and used plastic bullets. We had beatings, we had electric shocks, any method you can think of, they used.”
He said the boat’s captain was beaten for refusing to leave the wheel and had sustained non-life-threatening injuries, while a cameraman filming the raid was hit in the eye with the butt of a rifle.
‘Captivity in Israel just like Guantanamo’
Anne De Jong, a Dutch activist on the Mavi Marmara, said that she felt like she was waking up from a horrible nightmare. Saying that they suffered mistreatment while they were detained, De Jong said, “What we went through while we were jailed brought Guantanamo to our minds,” in remarks to Dutch television channel NOS. She also said Israeli officials attempted to force the prisoners to sign certain documents to be used as evidence against them, noting that she and other activists resisted this.
“People fell to the floor when they started shooting. It is a huge lie that people attacked the soldiers or provoked them.”
She also said the soldiers used force and violence when detaining the activists and that they were not allowed access to lawyers.
June 04, 2010
Three Pakistanis, including TV anchor and columnist for Express Tribune Talat Hussain, who were detained by Israel following the brutal Israeli army raid on Freedom Flotilla, arrived in Islamabad on Friday.
After a warm welcome, Talat thanked the journalist community, organizations and people from cross sections of the society for this respect and the prayers for their safe arrival.
Talat Hussain, said that he and his team “had seen death from very close,” as Israeli commandoes boarded the boat and fired indiscriminately.
“They started firing and two people died close to where I was,”
said Hussain, who arrived in Lahore on Thursday.
Hussain said that he and his team had gone to Turkey to board the peace flotilla “because we thought it would be our only chance to visit Gaza and also set foot on the land with which so much Muslim history is attached.” He said that the plan was not to get into any confrontation with anyone.
The AAJ TV staffer also rejected Israeli allegations that there were guns on board the boats.
“There were no weapons on board,”
said Hussain as he was flanked by several newsmen. He said that the Israeli troops had stopped them in international waters and then took them into Israel where they were charged with illegal entry.
Hussain said that he was not happy to be the news as against report it. He said that his only fear as he was kept in confinement by the Israeli authorities was that the true of story of what happened on the peace flotilla would not be told to the world.
The website democracynow.org gives a vivid, and by far the most authentic, video account of Israel’s attack on the main ship of the freedom flotilla carrying over 600 passengers including an eight-month-old baby.
The video is one of the many that are likely to come out in the weeks ahead captured by those who witnessed recent history’s most audacious insult to efforts to highlight the plight of 1.5 million Palestinians stranded in the Gaza Strip. It shows bullets being fired from the boats carrying Israeli commandos as they make a vain attempt to climb up the Mavi Marmara. It depicts passengers, including foreigners and an Arab member of Knesset, (the Israeli parliament), wade through staircases and corridors filled with the injured. As doctors make desperate efforts to revive those shot in the head or in the chest from close range, blood-splattered walls furnish cold testimony to the methods the Israelis used to take control of the ship: anyone who stood in the way to taking over the control room — which they eventually did in a little over an hour — had to be eliminated.
The video is filmed by a journalist who left banking for the electronic media and presently works in New York. For a brief period when we were prison mates he told me about the effort he had to make to preserve the video: at least a one hour video of the attack was transferred on to a chip measuring half an inch, safely tucked in a special slot in his underwear. He took a grave risk: the Israelis would have strung him upside down if they had found what he was up to. They had strip-searched all of us to ensure that we did not carry any pictures on us. He told me how he wanted to come on this journey because that was good for his budding career but as he saw the devastation caused by Israeli actions, his motive changed from a mere professional concern to angry defiance against Israeli impunity.
Others were not so lucky with their efforts to slip out of the ship, vital evidence of Israeli’s criminal conduct on international waters. Among the injured there were two Indonesians, both camera men, one shot near the collar bone and another in the arm he was holding the camera with. I had spent nearly 10 days with them starting from our journey in Istanbul. The Malaysians and the Indonesian combined had a large contingent, over a dozen, which included a female reporter as well. Deeply religious and belonging to the Tablighee side of Islam, some of them, including the one who got shot in the arm, would spend long hours praying and reciting the Quran.
Not exactly active in his pursuit of news on the ship, he was standing in the corner filming the attack as it unfolded when he was knocked out by a sniper. On the upper deck, as mayhem spread I saw two men fall to bullets — the sound of which is amply recorded in the Democracy Now video.
I had been in these situations before. I had enough experience to know that these were all sniper shots. No random bullet pierces the forehead’s center or rips through the heart. If there was any doubt about how these passengers had been killed it was removed when a cameraman who was leaning against me as we both attempted to record the events fell back on me with a bullet wound in his arm.
Israelis knew who they had to kill to keep the lid on their beastly actions: the journalists topped the list.
Fortunately, the Israeli system is not foolproof and there is enough evidence floating around to pinpoint responsibility. At any rate each individual who was on the ship is an eyewitness who can blow away the pack of lies Israel, its global backers and a patently one-sided western media are churning out. For a change truth is holding the field of public opinion long misled by propaganda.
The Pakistani journalist Syed Talat Hussain witnessed Israeli commandoes murdering international peace activists on the Mavi Marmara on May 31. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Mahtab Bashir
ISLAMABAD: Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan Hazem Hussain Abu Shanab on Monday said that an international resolution is needed to condemn the brutal action of Israeli commandos on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla in which nine peace activists were killed and several others wounded. He said the cooperation of OIC, UNO, EU and Arab League was required in this regard.
“I want to convey the voice of millions of Palestinians who become hostage by ruthless Israeli forces,” he said, addressing a joint news conference with Pakistani journalist Syed Talat Hussain who was given welcome reception by National Press Club (NPC).
Extending solidarity on behalf of Palestinian nation, the envoy thanked Pakistani government, journalists and people who anyhow were supporting freedom movement of Palestine.
“Today we are celebrating the freedom of 700 hostages of aid flotilla from the occupation Israeli army. The entire Palestinian nation was waiting of to celebrate their freedom from the occupation of same brutal force,” Shanab said.
The people of Palestine wanted ’freedom’ like people of other sovereign nations were enjoying. We are human beings. We want peace, we love peace and we want only freedom from Israel occupation not aid from international community, he added.
Palestinian Ambassador also announced that following the special directives issued by President Mehmood Abbas, honorary nationality has been awarded to Pakistan journalist Syed Talat Hussain.
Talat Hussain while narrating the ruthless action of Israeli commandos on freedom flotilla said the event was horrific and hostages had to face humiliation they never come across. He rejected the Israeli allegations that all on board were terrorist and said all the 700 passengers on heading towards Palestine were peacekeepers from across the glob. “one can easily judge the miseries of Palestinians that we witnessed for one and half hour” he deplored.
Talat announced that the victims of flotilla aid ships have decided to sue Israel for meting inhuman and barbaric action in the limits of international territory.
“we are ready to produce eye witness accounts to the international courts against the Israeli forces” he said.
The members of National Press Club, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalist (RIUJ) congratulated their fellow journalist Syed Talat Hussain for his firm stance against the Israel’s barbarism and his safe return.