Contact: Greta Berlin, Cyprus: +357 99 08 17 67
Angela Godfrey Goldstein, Jerusalem: +972 547 366 393
(Larnaca, 24 June 2009) As the Free Gaza Movement gets ready to set sail on our eighth mission, many of our passengers are reflecting about why we are sailing to besieged Gaza.
Ahmed is returning to his home in Gaza. Israeli occupying forces will not allow him to see his mum. “I have tried to go home for six years, six years I have not been allowed to see my mother, and she is terribly ill. This is my chance to go home. I must go home.”
Sixteen nations are represented on this voyage. Many of us have traveled thousands of miles to show the world that we will not stand by while the Palestinians of Gaza continue to be violated.
“I’ve flown in from Bahrain to tell my sisters in Gaza that we will never rest until the world knows what has happened to them,” stated Juhaina, a young woman from Bahrain.
“When we left last August, I told the people of Gaza we would come back, and I’ve flown 5000 miles to keep that promise,” said Mary Hughes Thompson, one of the co-founders of the movement.
“I am returning to the friends that I made when I went in October,” said Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace laureate. “They must know that we have not and will not forget them.”
The 15 tons of cement that our small boats carry are just a token of what is needed to rebuild the Gaza strip, but the hope in the hearts of the passengers cannot be measured by weight. Miles and miles they have traveled to get to Cyprus, miles more they will travel tomorrow to get to Gaza. Both the FREE GAZA and the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY will proudly fly the flags of 16 nations, the flags of people who are determined not to forget the horror of an occupation that has lasted 41 years.
The Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since August, four more voyages were successful, taking Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel’s draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza. On December 30, their boat, the DIGNITY was rammed three times while 90 nautical miles out, in international waters, on its way to deliver emergency medical supplies to the people of Gaza, while they were under the infamous attack by Israel.