July 2, 2011
In Athens – 30-694-266-3852
In New York – Leslie Cagan, 347-581-1782
After a two hour stand off at sea, the U.S. Boat to Gaza – The Audacity of Hope – was seized by the Greek Coast Guard and forced to return to the port of Piraeus under military escort. The boat’s captain has been put in jail, charged with disturbing sea traffic–which includes endangering the lives of those on the ships– and disobeying a police order to remain at dock. The crew is being detained on the boat, which is being held at a military dock just outside Athens. Most of the 36 passengers remain on the ship in solidarity with the captain and crew.
By orders of the Hellenic Coast Guard Head Quarters to all local Hellenic Coast Guard Authorities, all appropriate measures are taken for the implementation of the said decision.
On Monday the ships 3 crew members along with Clr Gerry MacLochlainn, Charlie McMenamin (both from Derry) with John Mallon and Phil McCullough (both from Belfast) set sail on the MV Saoirse for re-fueling.
On the way back Pat Fitzgerald ship’s engineer noticed that something was very wrong with the boat. Upon returning to the dock the first inspections began, it was then we realised that sabotage had been done to Ireland’s boat.
Pat and the crew then hired experts to dive down and inspect the damage closer, upon their return to land it was noted that the boat has very serious damage done and that a piece was missing from one of the propeller shafts. The boat was then removed from the water and inspected on dry land (videos below) where the deep cuts inflicted onto the propeller shaft could be clearly seen and photos taken for evidence, the shaft was also very bent. These things together create a very dangerous life threatening situation for those who had just been sailing on the ship. The sabotage was intended to endanger and/or inflict injury or death on Irish citizens as the went abou their lawful right to sail on the high seas.
Clearly the terrorist divers had come up under the boat and intentionally cut out pieces of the propeller shaft, thus weakening it so that it would shear off and sink the boat or kill people onboard. As the boat’s engine placed stress on the shaft it would have given way and the propeller would have come up through the bottom of the boat, causing flooding in the engine room and the boat to sink. Moreover, any Irish passengers standing nearby when the propeller came through the deck could have been killed immediately, or seriously injured.
The passengers from Derry and Belfast who were onboard the ship travelling to the re-fueling point were a bit un-nerved when told the possibilities of what could have happened on that short journey they had just returned from.
The terrorists have now struck twice, in two different countries! This same type of sabotage was done to another vessel in Greece only days ago. We have the videos below of both the ship in Greece and the Irish Ship which was located in Turkey. Followed by a short video of Pat Fitzgerald the ship’s engineer after inspecting some of the damage.
This was a vicious attack on Irish property by terrorists against a boat flying the Irish flag. The ship is so damaged it will now be unable to take part in the Flotilla. However arrangements are being made to find seats on other ships for as many Irish passengers as possible including members of Derry Friends of Palestine. We will continue to keep you updated on this website regarding the Irish passengers who will be travelling now on other ships.
Vangelis Pissias: Ship to Gaza – Greece, Professor Technical University Athens – Ph.D. in International Economics and Technology Transfer.
Ann Wright: US Boat to Gaza, Ret. US Army Colonel and former US diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War.
Dror Feiler: Ship to Gaza Sweden, Musician, composer, artist and political activist. Born in Israel. Chairperson of EJJP (Jews for a Just Peace).
Huwaida Arraf: Free Gaza Movement, Palestinian with American and Israeli citizenship. Juris Doctor from the American University Washington College of Law. Studies on international human rights and humanitarian law.
Thomas Sommer – Houdeville: Un Bateu Francais pour Gaza, Ph.D. in Political Science. NGO Focus on Global South. Author of “La Flotille”.
Alice Walker: American Author and Civil Rights Activist whose latest book “Overcoming the Speechless” her thoughts about her 2009 trip to Gaza, after Operation “Cast Lead”.
Henning Mankell: Swedish Writer. His books have been sold in more than 30 million copies and been translated to over 40 languages.
Santiago Alba Rico: Spanish Writer and Philosopher. Author of "Washington against the world". Professor in the University of Túnis.
Robert Lovelace: Former Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and professor of Indigenous Studies at Queen's University Canada. Activist for Indigenous rights involved in speaking up for Palestine for many years.
EUROPEAN MEP’S and MP’S
The following European MEP’s and MP’s are present at the Press Conference and will board the “Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human” Boats.
Nicole Kil-Nilsen - MEP Green Party
Jean-Paul Lecoq – MP Parti Communiste Français
Stine Renate Haheim – MP Labour Party
Aksel Hagen – MP Socialist Left party
Marie Norden - MP Social Democratic Party
Torbjorn Bjornlund – MP Left Party
Jabar Amin – MP Green Party
Willy Meyer- MEP United Left
Marina Albiol – MP United Left, Valencia
Nekane Perez – MP Nafarroa Bai, Navarra
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