Turkish Navy May Escort #FreedomWaves Flotilla, But Not All the Way

Press Release: #FREEDOMWAVES | Topic FreedomWaves | Category Flotilla

PNN – Palestine News Network 03.11.11 – 20:07

PNN -With the Freedom Waves flotilla a day away from the Gaza Strip and a potential confrontation with the Israeli navy, reports from the aid ships say their Turkish escort ships are beginning to trail off.

Gaza fishing boats arrayed in the seaport of Gaza City, under Israeli blockade since 2006 (Lo Yuk Fai, PNN).
“Currently the Turkish Coast Guard is monitoring the ships,” claimed an Wednesday night report from the US Campaign to End the Occupation. But on Thursday morning, Michael Coleman, an Australian activist and teacher aboard the Canadian ship “Tahrir,” said the situation had changed.
“Our Turkish escort is now out of sight and radar range,” said Coleman on his Twitter account.
In September 2011, months after the Freedom Flotilla II was prevented from sailing from Greece and a over a year after the Israeli navy killed eight Turkish and one Turkish-American aid workers on the Mavi Marmara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised Turkish war ships would accompany any further Turkish aid ships to the coastal territory.
“Turkish warships will be tasked with protecting the Turkish boats bringing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip,” Erdogan told Al Jazeera on September 9. “From now on, we will no longer allow these ships to be the targets of attacks by Israel like the one on the Freedom Flotilla, because then Israel will have to deal with an appropriate response.”
Though the Freedom Waves ships—an Irish and a Canadian boat carrying 27 people from nine countries, carrying $30,000 in medical supplies—left from Fethiye on the Aegean coast of Turkey, the boats are not Turkish-flagged and there are no Turks aboard.
According to a report from the Lebanese al-Akhbar news site, the Turkish government even made the Freedom Waves departure more difficult. There were intended to be 36 people aboard Canadian boat “Tahrir,” but Turkish authorities limited the number to 11, citing a law on “small boats.” Activists trimmed the list as asked, leaving behind Bethlehem-based resistance activist and former Yale professor Mazen Qumsiyeh.
“When you get [this message], two boats will have left Turkish waters and I am not on one of them,” Qumsiyeh wrote in an email to supporters. “I finalize this letter from a boat returning to port in Turkey.  Tears are dry—of joy at success of our comrades and sadness for not being with them.  The will is still there andI promise myself to get to Gaza next time.”
Activists say they hope to reach Gaza on Friday. The Israeli navy has promised to intercept the ships, with a spokesperson saying it “will take whatever measures will be necessary” to stop them.

Source and more at the PNN – Palestine News Network



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