The U.S. Boat to Gaza calls for pressure on the U.S. State Department
July 3, 2011
The U.S. Government Must Pressure Greece to Let U.S. Boat to Gaza Sail Release Captain John Klusmire and Our Boat Immediately!
The U.S. Boat to Gaza calls for pressure on the U.S. State Department
People around the world are rallying for the release of the boats that Greece is preventing from sailing to Gaza. We call on you to show your solidarity and support for the flotilla as a whole, and in particular for the captain of the U.S. boat, John Klusmire. Over the past two weeks, two boats of the international flotilla to Gaza have been sabotaged while docked at Greek ports. No one has claimed responsibility for the damage done to these boats. The potential danger to the U.S. boat was obvious to the captain, the crew and the passengers: there was a clear possibility that the U.S. boat would be sabotaged next.
The departure of the U.S. Boat to Gaza - The Audacity of Hope - was first delayed by a complaint filed by the Israel Law Center and shown to be frivolous. Greek authorities then inspected the boat but, until the boat set sail five days later the, the results of that inspection has not been shared with the captain and his crew. Those results were not shared until the Hellenic Coast Guard stopped The Audacity of Hope some 20 minutes after it had left the dock on Friday, July 1. The Hellenic Coast Guard intercepted the ship and ordered that the ship stop. This order was obeyed. Commandos with drawn rifles ordered the ship to return. It is now impounded at a military dock in Athens and the captain has ben arrested.
Captain Klusmire faces two charges: disturbing sea traffic and endangering passengers; and moving away from the dock in violation of an order not to do so. He is being held in a cell without a bed and does not have access to toilet facilities. The only food and water he has had has been brought in by visitors. He has not been visited by anyone from the U.S. Embassy even though he is entitled to such a visit by international law.
The U.S. Boat to Gaza campaign urges you to immediately take the following actions. Even though it is a holiday weekend we urge you to make these calls now, and if necessary to place calls again on Monday and Tuesday.
Contact your members of Congress and urge him or her to pressure the Greek authorities to drop the charges against Captain Klusmire.
Contact the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Greece. Insist that they fulfill their duty to advocate on behalf of Captain Klusmire and that they demand the release of the U.S. boat by Greece so it can freely sail to Gaza.
Activate your emergency response network to publicly demonstrate support for Captain Klusmire and our call for Greece to let the flotilla sail! Pass along this action alert as widely as possible.
Below is a copy of the latest press release from the U.S. Boat to Gaza. ----------------------- July 3, 2011 Athens, Greece On eve of U.S. Independence Day, U.S. passengers on flotilla start open-ended fast at U.S. Embassy in Athens Demand that U.S. government pressure Greece to free their boat and captain, and allow boat to sail to Gaza Members of the U.S. Boat to Gaza have begun an open-ended fast calling on the U.S. government to defend our right to sail out of Greece. The fast has begun in front of the U.S. Embassy at 91 Vasilisis Sophias Avenue in Athens. Fasters delivered an urgent letter to the Embassy and plan to sleep overnight outside the Embassy gates.
Passengers and U.S. boat organizers participating in the fast are: Medea Benjamin, Ken Mayers, Paki Wieland, Kathy Kelly, Ray McGovern, Helaine Meisler, Nic Abramson, and Carol Murry.
Passenger Kathy Kelly said, "We call on officials at the U.S. Embassy in Athens to publicly acknowledge our right to sail and to call on the Greek government to free our ship and its captain immediately." There will also be a march in support of the flotilla beginning at 7 pm organized by Greek activists who have been protesting the government's austerity measures in Syntagma Square. The march will include a demand on the Greek government to let all of the boats in the Freedom Flotilla 2 sail to Gaza and to free the captain of the U.S. ship, who has been held in jail.
The departure of the U.S. Boat to Gaza - The Audacity of Hope - was first delayed by a complaint filed by the Israel Law Center and shown to be frivolous. Greek authorities then inspected the boat but, until the boat set sail five days later, the results of that inspection has not been shared with the captain and his crew.
The Greek Coast Guard stopped The Audacity of Hope some 20 minutes after it had left the dock on Friday, July 1. The Coast Guard ordered the captain to stop the ship, which he did. Commandos with drawn rifles ordered the ship to return. It is now impounded at a military dock in Athens and the captain has ben arrested.
Over the past two weeks, two boats of the international flotilla to Gaza have been sabotaged while docked at Greek ports. The potential danger to the U.S. boat was obvious to the captain, the crew and the passengers: there was a clear possibility that the U.S. boat would be sabotaged next.
Greek consular officials in the United States, when besieged with calls by angry Americans, told callers that they should direct their protest to U.S. officials because they were ultimately responsible. "We know that the U.S. government has been supporting Israel's underhanded efforts to thwart the flotilla, and has been pressuring the Greek government to stop us. This is a disgrace," said passenger/faster Medea Benjamin. "On July 4, it's time for our government to declare independence from Israel and start supporting its own citizens."
We note that on June 24, passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza visited the Consul General in Athens, Deputy Consul General Kate Brandeisagreed that the U.S. Boat "had a right to sail to Gaza."
Ms. Brandeis assured the passengers that the consulate was there to assist U.S. citizens that run into difficulty while in Greece. To date, we have received no assistance from the U.S. Embassy and the captain of our boat, a U.S. citizen, remains in jail and has yet to be visited by anyone from the U.S. Embassy.
SJP believes that while the Palestinian people must ultimately be able to decide their future in Palestine, certain key principles, grounded in international law, human rights, and basic standards of justice, are fundamental to a just resolution of the plight of the Palestinians. These include the full decolonization of all illegally held Palestinian lands, the end of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Furthermore, we believe in a just and fair resolution to the Palestinian right of return and repatriation of Palestinian refugees, as well as an end to the Israeli system of discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian population.
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