A coalition bringing together a number of organizations is preparing to send in May 2010 a relief flotilla of more than ten ships and cargo-boats to Gaza.
Dr. Arafat Shoukri, president of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) will participate in this spectacular convoy with his Campaign, which is an NGO. He has spared no effort for three years to lead delegations of European parliamentarians to allow them to see on the ground the untenable situation in Gaza and to encourage them to call on the Member States of the European Union to exert pressure on Israel with a view to ending its suffocation of the people of Gaza.
Dr. Arafat Shoukri responds here to the questions of Silvia Cattori.
Silvia Cattori: When was the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza created and what is its mission ?
Arafat Shoukri: The European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza was launched in late 2007 to mobilize the greater European community in opposition to the siege on Gaza. Even then, more than three years ago, the siege was strangling the productivity and culture of the people, and it has only gotten worse since then with the 2008/2009 Israeli attack. It is our mission to work through the 30 NGOs that make up our coalition, as well as individual supporters, to break the siege by lobbying European lawmakers, educating the media and delivering humanitarian aid.
Silvia Cattori: On April 4, 2010, people around the world who are concerned about the siege which asphyxiates Gaza learned with relief that after months of preparation your NGO, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, will sail soon as part of a new campaign to try to force the passage . Why did you make your statement from Istanbul?
Arafat Shoukri: We chose Istanbul as the venue for the announcement of our latest – and largest – break-the-siege flotilla, both because it is the home of one of our major partners, IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi) – which brought one of the last convoys into Gaza (December 2009), and because Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayeb Erdogan, has so courageously spoken out against the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Despite Turkey’s close relationship with Israel – even conducting joint military exercises in the past – it has bravely and without apology called the attack on Gaza the war crime that it was. The West could learn from Turkey’s example.