Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Viva Palestina Convoy Activists Honor the Martyrs of Mavi Marmara

On their way to Gaza, Viva Palestina Activists Honor the Martyrs of Mavi Marmara
Two video report on the Viva Palestina Convoy to break the Siege on Gaza and deliver aid to the besieged Palestinians in the impoverished strip.

Viva Palestina arrives in Istanbul on way to Gaza

Tuesday, September 28, 2010
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

Activists with the Viva Palestina movement are determined to break the siege on the Gaza Strip with a convoy carrying humanitarian aid, including food and medicine, members said during a stop Tuesday in Istanbul.

“We will go in peace and will not stop until we reach our final destination, Gaza,” George Galloway, a former United Kingdom member of Parliament and the founder of the Viva Palestina initiative, said in a speech in Istanbul after the convoy arrived in the city.

Galloway, who has been involved in the Palestinian issue for 34 years, called for the governments of the 25 countries represented by activists joining the convoy to protect them during their journey to Gaza.

He also asked the Egyptian government and authorities to allow the convoy and the activists to pass peacefully into Gaza.

“We will comply with all formalities [Egypt] requires,” he said, adding that they had also changed their initially planned route at Egyptian authorities’ request.

Convoys from different countries will all meet in Syria before traveling to the city of al-Arish in Egypt, passing by the spot where the Mavi Marmara, a previous aid flotilla to Gaza, suffered a deadly raid from Israeli military forces on May 31.

“There, we will halt our engines, throw flowers and pray for the martyrs [who lost their lives on the Mavi Marmara],” Galloway said.

Other countries’ Viva Palestina representatives also gave speeches, calling upon the Egyptian government and Egyptian authorities to allow them to break the siege.

Many in the convoy said they would not stop their campaign until “justice and freedom was gained by the Gaza people.”

Activists from 25 countries paid visits to the graves of Cevdet Kılıçlar and Necdetin Yıldırım, two of the nine activists who lost their lives in the attack on the Mavi Marmara.

“We are honoring them not only because of their heroism and sacrifice on board but because we believe that the attack on the Mavi Marmara changed everything forever,” Galloway said.

“I am proud of my husband and feel honored [that activists from all over the world prayed for him],” Derya Kılıçlar, Kılıçlar’s widow, told the Daily News on Tuesday.

She said she could not join the visit due to her bad health, but added that she believed her husband would have gone to Gaza again had he not lost his life in the Mavi Marmara attack.

Refika Yıldırım, the widow of Yıldırım, also told the Daily News on Tuesday that she wanted to thank all the activists for their support.

“Although we do not know each other, we believe in each other,” she said.

Activists from around the world support Gaza people

“After hearing about the brutal killings on May 31, we immediately replied to the call for another international convoy [to break the Gaza siege],” Roger Fowler, the team leader for Viva Palestina New Zealand, told the Daily News.

Fowler, who is a 62-year-old community worker and has been active in peace movements for Palestine since the 1970s, said they had run a nine-week campaign in New Zealand to collect $100,000 to purchase six vans with humanitarian aid and join the Viva Palestina convoy.

“The people of Gaza are in desperate need for food, housing, hospitals, schools, but they are unable to rebuild them because of the siege,” Fowler said.

Reacting to experts from The Israeli Project who said aid convoys disturbed peace in the region and that the Israeli military attacks on the Mavi Marmara were justified by the need to make sure there were no weapons aboard, Fowler said, “These are Israel’s lies.”

He also said Israel knew very well that the convoys were carrying humanitarian aid and that people on board were activists. “Everything was open.”

Fowler further said the convoy was not under any special protection of the New Zealand government during the trip, adding that the government authorities had advised the six Kiwi volunteers not to travel to the region. However, Fowler said their government had sent all their contact information to all the embassies in the region for emergency situations.

Asked whether he was concerned about his security during the trip, Fowler said, “The level of [my] anxiety does not compare with what the people of Gaza are experiencing.”

“We have to break the siege in Gaza. It is impossible for the people there to continue like this,” Alfredo Tradardi, leader of Viva Palestina Italy, told the Daily News on Tuesday.

He said there were 15 activists joining the convoys from Italy and six vehicles with humanitarian aid provided by Italian organizations. Tradardi also said they did not have any protection from the Italian government for their trip to Gaza.

PressTV - Viva Palestina arrives in Istanbul:

"fptrue | September 29, 2010

PressTV - 5th Viva Palestina convoy en route to Gaza:

"fptrue | September 29, 2010

Palestine Video - A Palestine Vlog

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