Action: Canadian Boat to Gaza Blockaded in Greece

Urgent action needed in support of the Canadian Boat to Gaza! See below for things you can do. Get updates at tahrir.ca.

The blockade of Gaza reaches the shores of Greece!
As it attempts to sail, the Canadian Boat to Gaza, the Tahrir, blockaded in Greece

Greek coast guard are now on board the Tahrir attempting to arrest Sandra Rush, Jewish Canadian member of the Canada boat to Gaza Steering Committee, who is refusing to surrender boat’s registration papers.

Efforts to stop Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human from sailing have included diplomatic pressure and manipulation, economic blackmail, bureaucratic obstacles, baseless and slanderous allegations against the flotilla and the delegates, and sabotage of at least two vessels.

“The world watched as an intensive campaign to prevent the Tahrir and the entire Freedom flotilla II from sailing was underway. We have been unjustly and duplicitously treated.” said Irene MacInnes of the Tahrir organizing committee. “The government of Israel, shamefully with the tacit support of the Harper government, is doing everything in its power to maintain the blockade. Today, as a result of the concerted efforts of the 4th largest military power in the world and its backers, we have been prevented from sailing to Gaza. Yet we will persevere in our attempts till the blockade is lifted.”

“Israel has in effect extended the illegal blockade of Gaza to Greek ports, using the Greece’s economic difficulties to influence the government’s position”, said David Heap of the organizing committee.

“We remain absolutely clear that the Canadian Boat to Gaza has not been, is not, and has no intention of, breaking any laws. It is the blockade of Gaza that is illegal under international law. We have a legal and moral obligation to challenge the blockade, given the failure of the international community to act”, said Dylan Penner of the organizing committee. “This is why we must continue our attempts to sail to Gaza: to challenge the illegal and immoral blockade and to equally challenge the Canadian federal government’s support for it.”

Meanwhile the US boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, is at a standoff with the Greek Navy boats, refusing orders to return to shore.

What you can do to support the Tahrir

We will not Let Israel control Gaza or international water.

The Canadian Boat to Gaza, ‘The Tahrir’, is being prevented by Greek authorities from leaving its port in Greece. The US Boat to Gaza, ‘The Audacity of Hope’, set sail for Gaza today from a port in Greece but was quickly stopped and boarded by the Greek Navy authorities.

It is imperative that we mobilize in order to ensure that The Tahrir, and then the rest of the Flotilla, is allowed to sail. The Flotilla and the people of Gaza need us to get the boats free. The boats have past their inspections. There is no legal reason for Greece to stop the boats.

We are calling on supporters to hold public demonstrations and to contact Greek, Israeli and Canadian government representatives. We urge that Greece not become complicit in the illegal actions of Israel.

1. THE MAIN MESSAGES

The Greek government needs to know that world public opinion does not want them to succumb to Israel’s coercion. We don’t want to make Greece ‘dig in its heels’. Tell the Greek government that they can play a profound role in protecting human rights and international law. Tell them they must let the Tahrir go on our mission to break the illegal blockade of Gaza. Below is contact information for Greek Officials in Canada and a template letter to send to Greek Officials in Canada and Greece.

The Israeli government needs to know that we know what they are doing and we won’t be silent. They have used economic threats – through their lackey governments, like Canada — against Greece. They have motivated sabotage that could well have caused the deaths of nonviolent human rights defenders in international waters. And they have threatened violent military interception of the flotilla in international waters.

The Canadian Government needs to know that they are complicit in the coercion. And that they have a responsibility by international convention, to protect the Canadians on the Flotilla. Included in the letter is a note of disgust that Canadian government is falling to pressure by the Israeli government. Below, there is a template letter to Canadian MPs and a link for their contact information.

2. ACTIONS

Public rallies, vigils: We hope for Saturday actions. But please, do whatever and wherever you are able. We need this to be big. We need to be visible.

Letter to our Canadian MPs: We have a letter template for you to use to send to MPs reminding them that the Canadian government has obligations under the Geneva Convention (see below).

Contacting Greek officials: Greek government officials are to be asked to clarify whether a political decision has been made by the Greek government in response to Israeli and other governments’ pressure. We will ask that they not be complicit in the massive human rights violations by Israel against the people of Gaza. We will ask them to defend human rights and not fall to the pressure of Israel and other governments – who are playing with the lives and livelihoods of Greeks and Palestinians.

We have a template letter to use and contact information for Greek officials in Canada and in Greece and contact details below for Greek Consulates and Embassy in Canada (see below)

3. TEMPLATE LETTERS AND CONTACT INFORMATION

LETTER TO CANADIANS MPs
(click here to find your MP’s contact information)

[ADDRESS]
[DATE]

Dear [NAME of MP in your riding]:
I am writing to you as a concerned Canadian about the alarming news that vessels bound for the Gaza Strip are being prevented from leaving Greek ports, despite their compliance with all legal expectations. One of those vessels is the Canadian ship, the Tahrir, with Canadian passengers on board. The Tahrir is part of the Fredom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human.

The Freedom Flotilla is an international initiative with the goal of challenging the illegal blockade of Gaza, and bringing humanitarian aid to the civilian population of Gaza in the spirit of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1860 (2009). The Canadian boat is carrying much needed medical supplies. All delegates on the Freedom Flotilla, including the Canadian Boat, the Tahrir, are committed to peaceful and non-violent action. The Flotilla and the Tahrir are not breaking the law but are actively upholding international law.

I am concerned at the lack of port security in Greece that allowed the sabotage of two vessels – one Irish and the other Swedish-Greek-Norwegian – with potentially serious consequences for the passengers of those vessels. But I am outraged that the Tahrir is being prevented from leaving the Greek port while all legal documents are in order for it to sail.

I am concerned that the Canadian government is giving in to pressures from the Israeli government in preventing the Flotilla from sailing to Gaza by referring to this action as “provocative”. By doing so, the Canadian government is implying that the Israeli government is acting within its right when imposing an inhumane siege on 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza and seeking to control international waters.

As the MP of my riding I urge you to speak out in Parliament for the legitimate right of those Canadians on the Flotilla to express their solidarity with fellow Palestinians in Gaza, as well as
– to demand the Government to uphold its responsibility for the safety of all Canadians including those on the flotilla;
– to demand the Greek – government immediately release the Tahrir and implement all necessary measures for the safety of the Canadian ship and its passengers while in Greek waters;
– to demand the Israeli government to abide to international law by removing the illegal blockade of Gaza and allow safe docking of a Canadian ship to a port in Gaza

I look forward to hearing from you what actions you have taken on the above.
Sincerely,
[name]
[contact information]

LETTER TO GREEK OFFICIALS IN CANADA AND IN GREECE

Full contact information for consulates and the Greek embassy are below. To send an email to all consulates, cut and paste the following into the bcc field of your email program: embassy@.greekembassy.ca; montreal.consulate@greekembassy.ca; toronto.consulate@greekembassy.ca; vancouver.consulate@greekembassy.ca

Sample letter addressed to Greek authorities (consular and government)

[ADDRESS]
[DATE]

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing to you as a concerned Canadian citizen who has just learned that the Canadian Boat to Gaza, The Tahrir, is being prevented from leaving its port in Greece. This boat carries passengers from Canada, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Russia and Israel, and is part of the Fredom Flotilla 2–Stay Human.

The Freedom Flotilla is an international initiative with the goal of ending the illegal blockade of Gaza and to bring humanitarian aid to the civilian population of Gaza in the spirit of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1860 (2009). The Tahrir is carrying much needed medical supplies to the people of Gaza.

All participants in the Freedom Flotilla are committed to peaceful and non-violent action. Its intention is to break the illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel. Its intention is not to break the law but to uphold international law.

While your country has been very welcoming by allowing the Flotilla to use various Greek ports, I am appalled that the ships have not been permitted to set sail in spite of the fact that they meet all the legal requirements to sail. I am also appalled at the lack of port security that allowed the sabotage of two vessels – one Irish and the other Swedish-Greek-Norwegian – with potentially serious consequences for the passengers of those vessels.

The various administrative steps taken by your government, including unnecessarily meticulous inspections, and the most recent detention of the Tahrir are preventing the departure of the Flotilla.

It is my understanding that the Tahrir has no legal or other impediment to leave port.

I would regard any actions by your government trying to block any vessels in the flotilla from leaving a Greek port and/or reaching the Gaza Strip as an overt collaboration with the illegal blockade imposed by Israel.

The Greek government can play a profound role in protecting human rights and international law. I expect the Greek government to NOT give in to pressures from the Israeli government or any other government, to allow the flotilla to sail and to take all necessary measures to assure the safety of all ships and passengers until they are in international waters.

I urge the Greek government to immediately allow the Tahrir and all other ships in the Freedom Flotilla to set sail.

Sincerely,
[your contact information]

Contact information for Greek Embassy and Consulates
Greek Embassy, OTTAWA http://www.greekembassy.ca
76- 80 Maclaren Street Ottawa Ontario Canada K2P OK6
Phone: +1-613-2386271 +1-613-2386273
Fax: +1-613-2385676
Email: embassy@.greekembassy.ca

Greece Consulate, MONTREAL
1170 Place Du Frere Andre, Suite 300 Montreal Quebec H3B 3C6
Phone: +1-514-8759902 +1-514-8752119
Fax: +1-514-8758781
Email: montreal.consulate@greekembassy.ca

Greek Consulate, TORONTO
365 Bloor Street East, Suite 1800
Toronto Canada M4W 3L4
Phone: +1-416-5150133 +1-416-5150134
Fax: +1-416-5150209
Email: toronto.consulate@greekembassy.ca

Greece Consulate, VANCOUVER
500-688 West Hastings Street Vancouver Canada V6B 1P1
Phone:+1-604-6811381 +1-604-6841366
Fax: +1-604-6816656
Email: vancouver.consulate@greekembassy.ca

CONTACT INFO FOR GREEK OFFICIALS IN GREECE

Address for the media to contact the president: internationalmediaoffice@primeminister.gr
On facebook: George A. Papandreou
On Twitter: @PrimeministerGR

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