Sunday, July 3, 2011

US Flotilla passengers arrested fasting in Greece

Action Alert Update
July 4, 2011, 1:30 pm eastern time

Canadian boat Tahrir boarded by armed Coast Guard who took over the wheel, after boat made a break for it. Boat returned to port. Canadian Boat reports the Coast Guard slammed their boat into a concrete pier, damaging it and now it is leaking fuel. Passengers say two people attempted to halt the Coast Guard in Canoes. They were handcuffed, but the handcuffs were removed. No arrests yet.

July 4th Update
US Boat to Gaza
We want to give you all a quick round up of several items related to the U.S. Boat to Gaza and the flotilla. But first....

Given the tremendous obstacles placed in the way of the flotilla we should not for a moment think this work has been in vain. Just the opposite. We have called greater attention to the urgent need to end the Israeli blockade and siege of Gaza, as well as the overall occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The lengths to which the Israeli government has gone to stop the boats only expose the real story: they are determined to hold on to their repressive, inhuman and illegal policies at any cost. Israel has outsourced its naval blockade of Gaza to Greece.

We cannot for one moment forget that the flotilla project is about our solidarity with the people of Gaza. Changing the Israeli policies and stopping the support they get from the U.S. government requires the strongest movement we can possibly build!

Here's the latest news we have:

1) U.S. passengers harassed and arrested by Athens police
Nine of the passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza began a fast last night (7/3). They are Ken Mayers, Carol Murry, Medea Benjamin, Paki Wieland, Ray McGovern, Brad Taylor, Kit Kitteridge, Kathy Kelly and Linda Durham. After a rousing gathering in front of the U.S. Embassy (see photos and video on our website), they were all "cited" by the Athens police with occupying the sidewalk across the embassy and they were let go right away.

Today, 6 members of the U.S. Boat to Gaza were held at an Athens police station after Greek police arrested them for sitting on a park bench across from the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Greece. Ray McGovern, Linda Durham, Debra Ellis, Ridgeley Fuller, Ken Mayers and Carol Murry were put into squad cars and taken to the police station. We are not sure of the status of these 6 people at the moment.

2) The captain of The Audacity of Hope - John Klusmire - is set to be at a hearing at 12 noon (Athens time) on Tuesday. There are 2 Greek lawyers serving as his defense council. It is important to keep the pressure on the U.S. State Department to make sure they in turn pressure the Greek government to release our captain. Below are numbers and email addresses you can use to contact them. Please keep the pressure on!

3) Status of some of the other boats in the flotilla
Shortly before 6 pm (Greek time) today the Canadian boat, named Tahrir, left its dock in Crete to set sail for Gaza. They got to within 4 miles of international waters when Greek Special Forces stopped them from going any further. The Greek military boarded the Canadian boat and there are reports that when they asked for the captain of the boat all 30 people on board answered, "I am the captain." The Greeks took command of the boat and at least report where headed back to be docked. We have heard reports that all of the people on the boat will be arrested, but we do not have confirmation of that.

Two boats from France - a cargo ship and a smaller passenger boat - are in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. (They did not set sail from Greece.) We are not sure what they are planning on doing.

The Irish boat was sabotaged beyond repair last week and the Greek boat was also sabotaged but we do not have an update on their status.

Be sure to check our website regularly for update, as well as photos and video footage of much of the activity in Greece.

Leslie Cagan
Coordinator, U.S. Boat to Gaza
-------------------------------
Keeping the pressure on the U.S. State Department

Let them know you want them to help secure the release of John Klusmire, as well as the release of the U.S. Boat to Gaza. Tell them you expect the U.S. government to support the right if its citizens to sail freely to Gaza.

State Department general number: 202-647-4000 - ask for the Overseas U.S. Citizen Services Duty Officer and you'll get a live State Dept. official who has to hear you out.
The voicemail for Kim Richter - also at the State Dept. - says she's out of the office for several days, and that callers with urgent issues should contact a colleague at 202-647-4578. Hopefully, you will be able to reach Kim Richter's office directly tomorrow by calling 202-647-8303. (She is in the office of Consular Affairs, Overseas American Citizen Services at the State Dept.
You can email the U.S. Embassy in Athens at: athensamemb@state.gov or you can send an email to them at: athensamericancitizenservices@state.go
If you can place an international phone call, the number for the U.S. Embassy in Athens is 011-30-210-721-2951. There are several other "after hour" numbers that you can call for emergency situations: 011-30-210-729-4301, 011-30- 210-729-4444. And you might also be able to get through on these "after hour" numbers: 011-30-210-720-2490, 011-30-210-720-2491.

Please also try to call, fax or email your members of Congress as well.

More information is on our website: ustogaza.org

Help us keep the pressure up!!

GET ON BOARD THE U.S. TO GAZA CAMPAIGN

VISIT WWW.USTOGAZA.ORG

July 3, 2011 - 6 pm NY time
By US Boat to Gaza


Photo 1: Greek Coast Guard halting Audacity of Hope/Twitter photo IMEU
Just got word from Athens: the 8 people who were fasting in front of the U.S. Embassy have been arrested. They are Ken Mayers, Carol Murry, Medea Benjamin, Paki Wieland, Ray McGovern, Brad Taylor, Kit Kitteridge and Kathy Kelly. We will not have any more news until the morning.
In the meantime, let's keep the pressure on Washington. They need to pressure the Greek government to release our captain, our boat and now these 8 people as well! Let them sail to Gaza!!!
Throughout this country people have responded to our call to contact the U.S. State Department to demand that they take the steps necessary to ensure that the Greek authorities immediately release the captain and let our boat sail to Gaza. In fact, there has been such a strong response that we are hearing their voice mailboxes are full! That's great, but of course frustrating for those of you trying to make those calls.
Here are some other phone numbers and email addresses to try:
State Department general number: 202-647-4000 - ask for the Overseas U.S. Citizen Services Duty Officer and you'll get a live State Dept. official who has to hear you out.
The voicemail for Kim Richter - also at the State Dept. - says she's out of the office for several days, and that callers with urgent issues should contact a colleague at 202-647-4578.
If you can place an international phone call, the number for the U.S. Embassy in Athens is 011-30-210-721-2951.
You can email the U.S. Embassy in Athens at: athensamemb@state.gov or you can send an email to them at: athensamericancitizenservices@state.gov
Please also try to call, fax or email your members of Congress as well.
Help us keep the pressure up!!
GET ON BOARD THE U.S. TO GAZA CAMPAIGN
VISIT http://www.ustogaza.org/

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