Free Gaza Australia released the statement below on November 7.
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Contrary to Israeli claims that the takeover of the two Freedom boats Tahrir and MV Saoirse by the Israeli navy was peaceful, organisers of this latest Freedom Wave to Gaza say it was aggressive and dangerous. The two boats were violently intercepted in international waters, says Michael Coleman, an Australian aboard the Tahrir, who is currently imprisoned in Israel.
Organisers in Sydney are outraged, saying Israeli forces water-cannoned, tasered, beat and shackled activists on the Canadian ship Tahrir who were seeking to challenge Israel’s illegal naval blockade of Gaza.
Dr Fintan Lane of the Irish boat MV Saoirse reportedly said: “The boats were corralled to such an extent that the two boats collided with each other and were damaged, with most of the damage happening to the MV Saoirse.”
Coleman was finally able to speak for just over a minute to his father John Coleman on Sunday after nearly 40 hours in Israeli detention.
He told his father: “We were intercepted in international waters, illegally boarded by about 30 armed Israeli troops and forcibly taken to Israel against our expressed will. We were assaulted and thrown around. I had my arm twisted hard up my back. One activist was tasered.
“We have been hand-cuffed and shackled, sleep-deprived, with our watches impounded and the clock in the prison set to the wrong time. This is all designed to disorient and demoralise us. But our spirits are high.
“We are political prisoners, defending the rights of Palestinians. We have refused to sign any statement that we came illegally to Israel. We were headed for Gaza, not Israel. We were forcibly, violently and illegally taken to Israel against our will.
Many goodwill messages for Coleman have been received. Australian journalist, writer and filmmaker, John Pilger wrote: “Be assured the great majority of humanity is with you in spirit … All power to you.”
Australian writer and journalist Antony Loewenstein wrote: “The silence of the political and media elites over both Michael's imprisonment and the suffering of the Gazan people proves how Zionist ideology has corrupted our democratic process.”
Free Gaza Australia spokesperson Vivienne Porzsolt says: “We are calling for the immediate release of Michael and the other brave activists. The maltreatment of international peace activists is unacceptable but pales in comparison with the treatment of Palestinians by Israel. Just last week 9 Palestinians were killed and 2 more yesterday.
“Initiatives like the Freedom Waves would be unnecessary if Israel would finally end this illegal blockade. Western governments, including Australia, must hold Israel accountable for its defiance of international law. Israel’s impunity must stop.”