Freedom Flotilla calls for solidarity as obstacles emerge to Gaza aid drop

April 30, 2024
Freedom Flotilla participants speak to the media in Turkey, on April 27. Photo: Freedom Flotilla Coalition

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) said on April 27 its mission to deliver aid to Gaza was facing obstacles, but that it is determined to push ahead.

The flotilla comprises human rights activists, including lawyers, doctors, nurses, journalists, parliamentarians and politicians.

It aims to deliver life-saving aid directly to the besieged people of Gaza, legitimately challenging Israel’s control over the entry of humanitarian assistance.

Organisers told a media conference the Guinea Bissau International Ships Registry (GBISR) requested an inspection of its lead ship — Akdenez on April 25. Given the ship had passed all required inspections, it was an “unusual request”.

Before the inspection was even completed, the GBISR told the FFC it had withdrawn the Guinea Bissau flag from two of the FFC’s ships — one of which was the flotilla’s cargo ship with more than 5500 tonnes of life-saving aid for Palestinians in Gaza.

FF organizers said the GBISR made “several extraordinary requests for information” including the ships’ destination (which it knew), potential additional port calls, the discharge port for humanitarian aid and estimated arrival dates and times.

It also demanded an official letter approving the transportation of humanitarian aid and a complete manifest of its cargo.

The FFC said these requests were “highly unusual” as flagging authorities are normally concerned with safety standards on vessels bearing their flag.

“Sadly, Guinea-Bissau has allowed itself to become complicit in Israel’s deliberate starvation, illegal siege and genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,” FFC organisers said.

United Nations Special Rapporteurs lent their support to the flotilla, saying on April 26 that civil society initiatives, like this one, “are important because governments are not complying with their obligations under international law”.

It also called on Israel to “adhere to international law”, including recent orders from the International Court of Justice and to “ensure unimpeded access for humanitarian aid”. Besieging a civilian population is unlawful.

Without a flag, however, the flotilla cannot sail.

Organisers are confident they will find a solution saying on April 27: “WE WILL SAIL”.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has added its support to the initiative, saying the flotilla is both “a form of protest and as a humanitarian relief campaign”.

It called on Labor to ensure it does everything to ensure the flotilla is safe including “to the fullest extent possible, that it is not intercepted by any foreign States and that their safe passage as a humanitarian convey is respected”.

Lydia Shelly, President, NSW Council for Civil Liberties said Australians “desperately want” a “meaningful and lasting ceasefire in Palestine” and that the government has a “moral obligation” to ensure it protects the volunteers including Australian citizens.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is demanding an immediate, unconditional and permanent ceasefire, unrestricted access to humanitarian aid and an end to the illegal blockade of the Gaza strip.

[For more information visit Freedom Flotilla on Facebook or its website here.]

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