Freedom Flotilla Updates on the U.S. Day celebrates its Freedom

Ye gods, look at the pictures! Many of these U.S. activists are true elders, leading the way for all of us.

Freedom Flotilla Updates and Commentary

opednews.com

Editor’s Note: Updates will be posted in ascending order.


Updated: 7/4/11, 1:30 pm, CST

On Independence Day eve, the Freedom Flotilla’s Audacity of Hope passengers began fasting during their vigil at the US Embassy in Athens. From the photographs taken during this vigil, it is evident that these people have no intention of giving up regardless of the obstacles thrown in their path to Gaza. They are brave, they are determined, and they have the audacity — to hope.Check out the photographs here.
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Updated: 7/4/11, 12:35 pm, CST

US BOAT TO GAZA is reporting that more members of the Freedom Flotilla have been detained by Greek police. See the account below…Another Six Members of US Boat to Gaza Just Detained by Greek Police while Sitting on a Park Bench

by US BOAT TO GAZA on Monday, July 4, 2011 at 10:38am

July 4, 2011

Athens– Six members of the US Boat to Gaza held at an Athens police station after Greek police arrested them for sitting on a park bench across from the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Greece. This marks the second time in 24 hours that the fasters have been forcibly removed from their vigil and taken to the police station.

The six were on day two of a public, open-ended fast calling on the U.S. Embassy to help lift Israel’s blockade on Gaza and to free an international flotilla of boats, docked in Greek harbors, so that they can sail to Gazan shores.

After holding a public presence in front of the U.S. Embassy, today, the six activists had taken a brief walk to the Ambassador’s residence behind the Embassy. Passenger Linda Durham rang the doorbell of the residence and introduced herself, saying that her Senator, Senator Tom Udall, had called the Ambassador on her behalf earlier in the day. While Linda awaited a response, the others headed to the park bench. Twelve policemen arrived. Linda was roughly pulled away from the door. The others were ordered to leave the park. They asked why they were not allowed to sit in the park, and minutes later the police put Ray McGovern, Linda Durham, Debra Ellis, Ridgeley Fuller, Ken Mayers and Carol Murry into squad cars and took them to the police station. Mayers, Murry, Durham and Fuller were part of the group of eight fasters who had been arrested the previous day when they attempted to maintain their vigil overnight across from the U.S. Embassy to Greece.
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Updated: 7/4/11 8:00 am, EST


Opednews received word from flotilla activist and former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, at 8:30 am Athens time. Ray was in good spirits reporting that he and fellow fasters “serenaded the local, friendly Greek police, who ‘were only following orders,’ to the point where they let us go.” At the time of the message the fasters were heading back to the US Embassy to continue their water-only fast.
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Update 4:
Update – 8:00 pm NYC, From US to Gaza.

The 8 people listed below were detained. They were released a few minutes ago. They were not arrested.
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Update 3:
Eight U.S. members of Freedom Flotilla’s Audicity of Hope began fasting early today, and said they were “calling on the U.S. government to defend our right to sail out of Greece.” They have now been arrested, and the following Action Alert has been issued by the US BOAT TO GAZA:
ACTION ALERT UPDATE: 8 American members of Freedom Flotilla have been ARRESTED while Hunger Striking in front of US Embassy!
by US BOAT TO GAZA on Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 5:14pm

July 3, 2011

The 8 people who were fasting in front of the U.S. Embassy have been arrested. They are Ken Mayers, Carol Murry, Medea Benjamin, Paki Wieland, Ray McGovern, Brad Taylor, Kit Kitteridge and Kathy Kelly.

Let’s keep the pressure on Washington. They need to pressure the Greek government to release our captain, our boat and now these 8 people as well! Let them sail to Gaza!!

Here are some other numbers and email addresses to try:

  • State Department general number: 202-647-4000 – ask for the Overseas U.S. Citizen Services Duty Officer and you’ll get a live State Dept. official who has to hear you out.
  • The voicemail for Kim Richter – also at the State Dept. – says she’s out of the office for several days, and that callers with urgent issues should contact a colleague at 202-647-4578.
  • You can email the U.S. Embassy in Athens at: Email address removed
  • If you can place an international phone call, the number for the U.S. Embassy in Athens is 011-30-210-721-2951.

Please also try to call, fax or email your members of Congress as well.

More information is on our website: ustogaza.org

Help us keep the pressure up!!

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Update 2:

Philip Weiss posted the following release from the US Boat to Gaza on the Mondo Weiss website earlier today. (See article below) In a futile attempt to get the attention of officials at the U.S. Embassy in Athens, and to receive the promised assistance eight U.S. citizens — Medea Benjamin, Ken Mayers, Paki Wieland, Kathy Kelly, Ray McGovern, Helaine Meisler, Nic Abramson, and Carol Murry — began a fast in front of the Embassy today. However, the Embassy announced on June 30 that it — and all Government offices — will be closed on July 4 — in observance of Independence Day, a U.S. national holiday.”

US flotilla passengers begin fast at US Embassy in Athens

by Philip Weiss on July 3, 2011

Members of the U.S. Boat to Gaza have begun an open-ended fast calling on the U.S. government to defend our right to sail out of Greece. The fast has begun in front of the U.S. Embassy at 91 Vasilisis Sophias Avenue in Athens. Fasters delivered an urgent letter to the Embassy and plan to sleep overnight outside the Embassy gates. Passengers and U.S. boat organizers participating in the fast are: Medea Benjamin, Ken Mayers, Paki Wieland, Kathy Kelly, Ray McGovern, Helaine Meisler, Nic Abramson, and Carol Murry.

Passenger Kathy Kelly said, “We call on officials at the U.S. Embassy in Athens to publicly acknowledge our right to sail and to call on the Greek government to free our ship and its captain immediately.”

There will also be a march in support of the flotilla beginning at 7 pm organized by Greek activists who have been protesting the government’s austerity measures in Syntagma Square. The march will include a demand on the Greek government to let all of the boats in the Freedom Flotilla 2 sail to Gaza and to free the captain of the U.S. ship, who has been held in jail. The departure of the U.S. Boat to Gaza — The Audacity of Hope — was first delayed by a complaint filed by the Israel Law Center and shown to be frivolous. Greek authorities then inspected the boat but, until the boat set sail five days later, the results of that inspection has not been shared with the captain and his crew.

The Greek Coast Guard stopped The Audacity of Hope some 20 minutes after it had left the dock on Friday, July 1. The Coast Guard ordered the captain to stop the ship, which he did. Commandos with drawn rifles ordered the ship to return. It is now impounded at a military dock in Athens and the captain has ben arrested.

Over the past two weeks, two boats of the international flotilla to Gaza have been sabotaged while docked at Greek ports. The potential danger to the U.S. boat was obvious to the captain, the crew and the passengers: there was a clear possibility that the U.S. boat would be sabotaged next.

Greek consular officials in the United States, when besieged with calls by angry Americans, told callers that they should direct their protest to U.S. officials because they were ultimately responsible. “We know that the U.S. government has been supporting Israel’s underhanded efforts to thwart the flotilla, and has been pressuring the Greek government to stop us. This is a disgrace,” said passenger/faster Medea Benjamin. “On July 4, it’s time for our government to declare independence from Israel and start supporting its own citizens.”

We note that on June 24, passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza visited the Consul General in Athens, Deputy Consul General Kate Brandeis agreed that the U.S. Boat “had a right to sail to Gaza.”

Ms. Brandeis assured the passengers that the consulate was there to assist U.S. citizens that run into difficulty while in Greece. To date, we have received no assistance from the U.S. Embassy and the captain of our boat, a U.S. citizen, remains in jail and has yet to be visited by anyone from the U.S. Embassy.

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Update 1:
Bottom line: Greece announces that it will deliver the humanitarian aid “through the proper channels” to the people of Gaza.

Bottom paragraph: This is the message being sent to activists on all boats in the Flotilla…Let us do it — or you’re on your own.

Here’s the Announcement…


Foreign Ministry Announcement regarding Greece’s intention to undertake the task of transporting humanitarian aid
Athens, 3 July 2011

Despite the request of the Secretary General of the United Nations, the recommendations of the EU reflected in the conclusions of the European Council, yesterday’s relevant appeal of the Quartet and the Greek Foreign Ministry’s urging not to participate in the flotilla attempting to break the Gaza blockade, certain groups of Greek and foreign citizens, without having received the necessary permission required according to the rules of safety, insisted to go through with the enterprise.

In light of these developments and concerned primarily with the protection and safety of human life, the Greek Government decided to ban the departure from Greek ports of vessels with Greek or foreign flags bound for Gaza. Greece’s stance regarding the need to lift the Gaza blockade and to improve the humanitarian conditions in the area is known and remains unchanged.

Greece’s positions of principle for the need to respect international law and not to resort to the use of force are also well known. Greece, as it is widely known, actively supports the resumption of peace talks, which constitute the only road to a comprehensive and viable resolution of the Palestinian issue, with the creation of a Palestinian state that will coexist peacefully with the state of Israel. These positions have been made clear to all concerned parties.

In this context, Greece reiterates its willingness and proposes to undertake the task of transporting the humanitarian aid, with Greek vessels or other appropriate means, through the existing channels as requested by the Secretary General of the United Nations.

To this avail, Greece will come into immediate and direct contact with the UN and all the concerned parties, in order to render the mission feasible on behalf of our country.

In this critical conjuncture, we should all demonstrate a sense of responsibility or assume entirely and exclusively the responsibility for our actions. The Government will act as it must in an orderly fashion and according to the laws of the State.

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