Solo Gaza relief ship Dignite Al Karama presses on for the dignity of Palestine
Not only have nation states refused to sanction humanitarian relief missions to illegally besieged Gaza, events this week prove they are unanimous in prohibiting even citizens doing it themselves. Yet, one brave vessel has eluded sabotage, lawsuit, bureaucracy, and Greece’s Coast Guard paramilitaries. French Freedom Flotilla II participant DIGNITE AL KARAMA presses on alone to break the siege of Gaza. Without media escort, television cameras or witnesses, the crew of eleven, joined by print reporter Quentin Girard, will have only their cellphones to apprise the world audience of their progress against the bellicose reception which Israel has promised awaits any transgressors of its 63 year occupation and subjugation of Palestine, including its open-air prison called Gaza.
UPDATES: Dignite incercepted by Greek Coast Guard while refueling in Ormos Kouremenos, Crete. Taken under escort to Xinthya, where it’s promised they will be able to leave in the morning. Translation of French article below.
Flotilla for Gaza: The “Dignity” intercepted by Greek coast guard.
For two hours, late Wednesday afternoon, the “Dignity” is moored at Ormos Kouremenos, a small port in the far east of Crete. It needs to replenish fuel one last time before sailing to Gaza.
Suddenly, as it has already replentished 1,000 liters and is awaiting a second delivery, a gunboat of the Greek coast guard emerges. The passengers immediately understand. In this small bay where there are only fishing boats made of wood, they know it is there for them. The gunboat approaches, also an unmarked car.
The Coast Guard ask politely for our papers. Thus began a two-hour discussion and document control board where everything is carefully checked. Activists trample board.
“It’s too bad”, everyone is thinking. This was the last step before the big crossing. A dozen men in uniform, very polite, surround the Dignity. The phone calls multiply, presumably to refer to a distant authority. The Coast Guard require passports, they carefully register the names.
They don’t find much wrong with the boat. The captain didn’t have a logbook and the marina’s entry fee, 30 euros, hadn’t yet been tendered. Except that in this small fishing harbor, there was no place to declare one’s arrival. We must wait. Passengers prepare to eat, the menu that night, chicken pasta, coppa and lentils.
“We’re Very Sorry”
Eventually the Coast Guard announced that we must follow them to another port to sign authorizations and that the “Dignity” will be able to leave the next morning. It’s 10PM.
In the meantime they keep the boat’s papers to make photocopies. They ensure that there is no problem. One of them apologized repeatedly: “Sorry.” Omeyya Seddik, one of the passengers replied, “You’re doing your jobs, that’s normal.”
The “Dignity” is off again into the night toward the port of Xinthya, escorted by the Coast Guard boat which heads off without delay. Too fast. Many times it seems to disappear into the night as if really she doesn’t want to be followed.
The passengers do not know how to react. What to do? Keep a slim hope? Or immediately broadcast our circumstances and risk making it certain we will not be able to leave as promised. They doubt, they got the impression there were only Greeks among the Coast Guard and the people who were roaming around taking pictures.
Three days they are at sea, three days playing cat and mouse without knowing really if there was a cat. The dignity might perhaps not get to Gaza. It was the only ship of the “Freedom Flotilla” that managed to sail and keep up the hope of getting to Gaza. It went a little further than others, probably not enough. “We remain committed” they declare. “Tomorrow if we can go, we will continue to Gaza.”
RADIO INTERVIEW: Quentin Gerard explains: “This boat has become a strong political symbol.”
AWAITING CONFIRMATION: Swedish aid ship JULIANO still hopes to make a convoy. (Broadcasting live at http://ustre.am/zQHM)
As it stands, authorities have blocked or sabotaged 9 of the 10 vessels known to be sailing in the aid convoy. They are: The Audacity of Hope, Tahrir, Saorise, Juliano, Guernica, Louise Michel, Dignite Al Karama, Stefano Chiarini, Freedom for All, and the Methimus II.
Aboard the DIGNITE: Activists: Olivier Besancenot, Annick Coupé, Nabil Ennasr, Jacqueline Le Corre, Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, Osama Mouftah, Julien Rivoire, Omeyya Seddik; crew: Hilaire, Vincent and Yannick; not pictured: photographer/reporter Quentin Girard.
See their pictures at Liberte.fr.
Updated Facebook page statement of DIGNITY delegation:
La déclaration des camarades à bord du bateau
Message of the French delegation on board the Dignité Al Karama: The Freedom Flotilla is not dead!
Our presence at sea, on the Dignity-Al Karama, permits us to carry on the message of the international campaign of the Freedom Flotilla II and of the French Un Bateau Pour Gaza campaign. The statements by the Israeli authorities proclaiming the end of the Freedom Flotilla II, praising the Greek government acts as freedom of expression and actions of a civil society are now dead words.
We are at sea, and the collected national coalitions are not giving up.
States should no longer be complicit in this criminal blockade, and cannot silence the urge of civil society that simply demands, through this nonviolent action, the enforcement of law by permanent lifting of the blockade of Gaza.
We call on all justice-loving citizens to strengthen the effort, to allow the Dignity-Al Karama and all boats of the flotilla to go to Gaza.
Girard latest Tweets:
July 6, 3:36
Besancenot at the helm, small salad, sea of oil. Nickel.
July 6, 3:37
On the boat we wonder about the latest of the mercato and of the Tour de France. Any news?
July 6, 5:29
@JAntiwilders Dignity Is still heading to Gaza.
July 6, 5:29
@yanouz FT1 will not be on the boat evidently.
July 6, 6:19
@GirardTh Not too much wind, calm sea, it’s a change from the Atlantic.
July 6, 6:33
@JpKphotographer Yes, will you follow me? We need press agency photos.
July 6, 11:09
Did the Greek-Swedish ship manage to leave the port of Athens? Really?
In the original French:
3:36 – 06.07
Besancenot à la barre, petite salade, mer d’huile. Nickel.
3:37 – 06.07
Sur le bateau on s’inquiète des dernières nouvelles du mercato et du tour de France. Des news?
5:29 – 06.07
@JAntiwilders dignity is still heading to Gaza.
5:29 – 06.07
@yanouz F1 ne viendra pas sur le bateau apparemment.
6:19 – 06.07
@GirardTh pas trop de vent, mer calme, ça change de l’Atlantique.
6:33 – 06.07
@JpKphotographer oui, tu me rejoins? Ils ont besoin de photographes dagence de presse.
11:09 – 06.07
Le bateau greco suédois aurait réussi à sortir du port d Athènes? Vrai?