Bülent Yıldırım, chairman of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, and organizers of the Freedom Flotilla II informed the public on preparations for the upcoming flotilla and latest condition of the Mavi Marmara vessel in a press conference.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition that organizes the flotilla initiative, Swedish activist Dror Feiler noted the flotilla would set sail even if the Mavi Marmara ship is left out. Even if the Mavi Marmara is not included in the flotilla the IHH is always part of the flotilla movement, Feiler said and firmly stated that the goal of the flotilla is the complete and perpetual removal of the unlawful embargo on Gaza.
IHH President Yıldırım said the Mavi Marmara boat could not join the vessels to set sail from Europe since repair and maintenance works on the ship have not completed yet. Each day a new problem is spotted in the Mavi Marmara which was badly damaged in the Israeli attack, Yıldırım noted. “On Monday the boat will sail for testing. However, the ship is not seaworthy enough to sail to Gaza yet and we do not think it will be appropriate to postpone ‘the Freedom Flotilla II.’ Flotillas will continue to sail to Gaza from Turkey and other countries. The Mavi Marmara will definitely set sail for Gaza when it completes repair and maintenance works.”
Nine martyrs remembered
Yıldırım stressed that the technical problems with the Mavi Marmara vessel have given the international decision makers a chance and warned they should make good use of this chance. Unless the embargo is lifted, the Mavi Marmara is definitely going to sail to Gaza after completion of repair works, the IHH chairman said. “We have not forgotten that we were attacked in open sea nor have we forgotten our nine martyrs or volunteer Uğur Süleyman Söylemez who is still in coma. World leaders should act to find the culprits. And if they fail to do so, there is still a Mediterranean to sail in. And the Mavi Marmara will not be unseaworthy forever. And we will not always be sad for not participating in this sacred flotilla. The day Mavi Marmara is fixed we will set sail. It will not take a long time. This time we will be sailing with our Europe-centered flotilla. We are in this flotilla initiative, a part of this coalition. We will be following the flotilla throughout its journey from here and if it is attacked again, flotilla supporters will flood streets and embassy gates. World leaders should act now to take advantage of this opportunity and to contribute to global peace.”
Turkish activists to travel in European boats
Yıldırım recalled that 500,000 volunteers have applied to take part in the flotilla and since the Mavi Marmara will not be joining the Freedom Flotilla II, only a small number of the applicants will be able to travel in other ships in the flotilla. We will definitely walk in the streets of Palestine together one day, he said, “The Mavi Marmara has achieved its objective. We are currently in the process of purchasing a small boat in Europe. If formalities are completed on time, the new boat will sail to Gaza from Turkey.”
The foreign activists attending the press conference also made short speeches. Huwaida Arraf, an activist from the United States, firmly indicated that military actions could never deprive them of their rights and added “When the IHH took part in this movement it tried to make the world believe that this is not only a humanitarian issue.” Didimitris Plious, spokesperson for the Gaza Freedom Flotilla – Greece said “We have come here today to show our support to the IHH. Our support to embargoed Gaza will continue. Even if the Mavi Marmara cannot make it, we will still sail with participants from Turkey.” Delivering the concluding remarks of the press conference Muhammad Sawalha, head of the International Committee to End the Siege on Gaza, said “I have a clear message. Our fight will continue until the embargo has ended. This is my message to Israel and the entire world.”
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