Slain Gaza activist’s parents thank Turkey

Rachel Corrie, an activist from the United States was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. Hürriyet photo

Rachel Corrie, an activist from the United States was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. Hürriyet photo

A play based on the life of Rachel Corrie, an activist from the United States killed in 2003 while attempting to prevent an Israeli bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian house in Gaza, premiered Thursday in Istanbul.

“My name is Rachel Corrie,” is based on Rachel’s own writings, including diaries and emails she sent from Gaza to her family in the weeks before her death. Originally staged in London in 2005, the one-woman play was translated into Turkish and produced by AZ Kültur Sanat Ajansı and performed by Setenay Yener, a friend of Corrie’s parents.

Corrie’s parents were in the audience at the Istanbul premiere of the show. “It’s an opportunity for people to hear directly from Rachel,” said the activist’s mother, Cindy Corrie, shortly before the play began.

Asked by the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review about the importance of the play’s opening in Turkey, Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father, said the message of the play and of Corrie’s life was bigger than the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “Wherever it [the play] goes, it affects particularly young people, and I think she’s saying that if you’re coming from a position of privilege, you have an obligation to those people in the world that don’t,” he said.

“The world needs people that are willing to work to make this a better place and I think that’s a beautiful message.”

“[We are] very excited. I want to see the play – it’s a real gift to be here for the play and to see that. That’s always a gift for us too see it in the different ways that Rachel’s being comes alive, but it’s also a gift just to be in Turkey,” he said

After the play, Cindy Corrie praised Yener’s performance, saying that “she has contributed to keeping Rachel’s message very much live.” She also thanked the Turkish people for the support they had given her and her family since Rachel’s death in 2003.

“We are honored to be here in Istanbul. We’ve felt so welcomed by all of you,” she said. “Since Rachel was killed in 2003, though we haven’t been here in Turkey, the Turkish people have reached out to Craig and me and our family in different ways.”

“We have heard from people here who have been moved by Rachel’s story and I just want you to know that your reaching out to us has supported us and has helped us in our journey,” she said through a Turkish translator, choked with tears.

Mavi Marmara tour

Cindy and Craig Corrie are currently visiting Istanbul for the first time. Apart from watching the premiere of the play and meeting friends, on Thursday morning the couple visited the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship that was part of the May, 2010, flotilla attempting to transport humanitarian aid to the Israeli blockaded Gaza strip.

The flotilla also included the “Rachel Corrie,” a ship from Ireland named after the U.S. activist. According to Cindy and Craig Corrie, many of their friends were on board the Rachel Corrie when the flotilla was attacked by Israeli armed forces.

“The horror of what occurred there shocked all of us, people around the world,” Cindy said about the eight Turks and one Turkish American who were killed on the Mavi Marmara during the attack.

“I was horrified by what took place. I’ve met some people who were on the Mavi Marmara. I had friends who were in other parts of the flotilla, people that I knew personally.”

Cindy Corrie expressed her solidarity with the families who lost relatives in the Mavi Marmara, saying she knew how they felt.

“I feel that it was an outrageous act that occurred. It was in international waters, it was in the dark of night. I feel like it could have been prevented and I think I feel, that Craig and I both feel, a great deal of pain for the families. We have some sense of the families who have lost someone and what they experienced, so our hearts go out to them,” she said.

Craig Corrie praised those who were on board the Mavi Marmara. “I also feel inspired by the courage of all the people who took that journey.”

Craig said it was important for them to see the Mavi Marmara. “It [felt] like sacred ground to us,” he said.

The Corries traveled to Israel after their stay in Istanbul to observe the proceedings in a civil investigation into the circumstances of Rachel Corrie’s death. “We don’t think it’s possible for Israel to investigate itself so we’d like to see an international look at that,” she said.

Slain Gaza activist’s parents thank Turkey – Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review.

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