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July 4th update - Six More Arrested at US Ambassador's House, Hearing for John Klusmire
We want to give you all a quick round up of several items related to the U.S. Boat to Gaza and the flotilla. But first....
Given the tremendous obstacles placed in the way of the flotilla we should not for a moment think this work has been in vain. Just the opposite. We have called greater attention to the urgent need to end the Israeli blockade and siege of Gaza, as well as the overall occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The lengths to which the Israeli government has gone to stop the boats only expose the real story: they are determined to hold on to their repressive, inhuman and illegal policies at any cost. Israel has outsourced its naval blockade of Gaza to Greece.
We cannot for one moment forget that the flotilla project is about our solidarity with the people of Gaza. Changing the Israeli policies and stopping the support they get from the U.S. government requires the strongest movement we can possibly build!
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.
Be sure to check our website regularly for update, as well as photos and video footage of much of the activity in Greece.