Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

July 4, 2011

Greek Military Coast Guard Halts Canadian Boat in Gaza Flotilla

Twitter photos by Jesse Rosenfeld: Passengers on the Tahrir lock arms in nonviolent protection of the Tahrir as the Greek Military Coast Guard boards to takeover the boat.

UPDATE from Canadian Boat to Gaza:
Soha Kneen of Canada and Michael Coleman of Australia were arrested, facing one charge each. Sandra Ruch, owner of the boat, was arrested and facing three charges. Flotilla activists are protesting at Spanish Embassy in Greece. Just now: Suspended sentences for Michael and Soha. Sandra charged with not stopping the boat from leaving the port. She is free but on bail.
US Boat captain free, but charges not dropped, via tweets from the boats.

Canadians Make a Run for Gaza
By Brenda Norrell/Censored News/
This article is being continuously updated
The owner of the Canadian Freedom Flotilla Boat, Tahrir, Sandra Ruch, was in handcuffs and high spirits on Tuesday after being arrested. Two other activists, Soha Kneen of Canada, and Michael Coleman of Australia, were arrested and face one charge. They were released from custody, with a court date set, on Tuesday.
The US Boat reported Tuesday that the captain has been released by Greek authorities, but the charges were not dropped.
The Canadian boat was rammed into a concrete pier by the Greek Military Coast Guard, after it made a break for international waters and Gaza on Monday. The boat was underway for 15 minutes, when overtaken. The boat began leaking fuel after it was rammed.
Two activists were handcuffed who were aboard kayaks.
After the Coast Guard towed the Tahrir to port in Crete, the passengers remained onboard.
"We are all the captain," the delegation said on Twitter.
"All delegates except those detained are spending the night on the Tahrir. Some are sleeping, others keeping watch," the delegation said on Monday.
"A number of local Greek people are spending the night on the dock next to our boat in a show of solidarity."
The activists were without electricity, but supporters brought them pizza, the universal show of support. The Tahrir is carrying activists from Canada, Australia, Germany, Belgium and Denmark.
Meanwhile, more US passengers on the Audacity were Hope boat were arrested in Greece, Monday, July 4. On Sunday, those fasting outside the US Embassy were cited and released. Those arrested on Monday  remained in custody, according to the report from the boat.
Update from the US Boat Audacity of Hope:
Here's the latest news we have:
1) U.S. passengers harassed and arrested by Athens police
Nine of the passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza began a fast last night (7/3). They are Ken Mayers, Carol Murry, Medea Benjamin, Paki Wieland, Ray McGovern, Brad Taylor, Kit Kitteridge, Kathy Kelly and Linda Durham. After a rousing gathering in front of the U.S. Embassy (see photos and video on our website), they were all "cited" by the Athens police with occupying the sidewalk across the embassy and they were let go right away.
Today, 6 members of the U.S. Boat to Gaza were 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. Ray McGovern, Linda Durham, Debra Ellis, Ridgeley Fuller, Ken Mayers and Carol Murry were put into squad cars and taken to the police station. We are not sure of the status of these 6 people at the moment.
2) The captain of The Audacity of Hope - John Klusmire - is set to be at a hearing at 12 noon (Athens time) on Tuesday. There are 2 Greek lawyers serving as his defense council. It is important to keep the pressure on the U.S. State Department to make sure they in turn pressure the Greek government to release our captain. Below are numbers and email addresses you can use to contact them. Please keep the pressure on!
3) Status of some of the other boats in the flotilla
Shortly before 6 pm (Greek time) today the Canadian boat, named Tahrir, left its dock in Crete to set sail for Gaza. They got to within 4 miles of international waters when Greek Special Forces stopped them from going any further. The Greek military boarded the Canadian boat and there are reports that when they asked for the captain of the boat all 30 people on board answered, "I am the captain." The Greeks took command of the boat and at least report where headed back to be docked. We have heard reports that all of the people on the boat will be arrested, but we do not have confirmation of that.
Two boats from France - a cargo ship and a smaller passenger boat - are in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. (They did not set sail from Greece.) We are not sure what they are planning on doing.
The Irish boat was sabotaged beyond repair last week and the Greek boat was also sabotaged but we do not have an update on their status.
Read more:
JULY 5, 2011

The passengers of the ten boats of the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla continued pushing back against the restrictions of the Greek government today, joined by citizens of countries around the world whose governments’ policies stand in stark contrast to the will of their peoples. Here are today’s developments:

The hearing of John Klusmire, captain of the U.S. passenger boat Audacity of Hope, was held at 12:00 noon at a courthouse in the port of Piraeus. The captain had been charged with attempting to pilot the ship out of the harbor without the proper clearances. In a rebuke to the government, the judge dismissed all charges and immediately released Klusmire. The move was interpreted as a victory for Palestine solidarity and for the Greek institution of protecting an independent judiciary.

At 1:00 p.m. local time, 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.

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.

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 currently refusing to leave until their boat is given permission to leave.

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.

A small group of four Zionist demonstrators gathered at a Greek port where one of the French boats is berthed. They shouted “Free Gilad Shalit” and carried signs. When the port police was called, the demonstrators left.

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.


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