Gaza Freedom Flotilla Massacre London Demos - Photo report
inminds 11 June 2010
"oppose the oppressor and support the oppressed - Imam Ali(as)"
this Islamic axiom sums up what the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was about - to break the oppressor Israel's siege and bring relief to the oppressed of Gaza.
Following Hamas's victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections, Israel along with the US and the EU, not happy with the result of the fair election - with the Palestinian peoples choice, they boycotted the Hamas government and punished the Palestinian people by economic sanctions. Israel went further with a full scale blockade of Gaza and when Hamas retained control of the Gaza Strip after the failed Fatah coup of 2007, Israel intensified the siege, totally sealing off Gaza, and co-opting Egypt to close its border, thereby ensuring the strangulation of Gaza, the starvation of its people. The siege has thus been accurately described as 'slow genocide'.
In response to Israel's genocidal policy, activists around the world through organisations like Viva Palestina and the Free Gaza Movement have organised several land convoys and flotillas, breaking the siege of Gaza to provide solidarity much needed humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.
The latest flotilla, the largest so far, left for Gaza in late May 2010. In the early hours of the morning of Monday 31st May Israeli commandos attacked the unarmed flotilla, which was at the time in international waters some 40 miles from Gaza. After firing on the flotilla from Apache attack helicopters and naval gun boats, Israeli commandos boarded the flotilla. 9 aid workers were murdered and a further 6 are still missing 10 days after the attack.
Emergency Demo Monday 31 May 2010
In response to the brutal massacre, an emergency demonstration was called outside Downing Street at 2pm. People didn't wait till 2pm and crowds started forming from morning. The police had no hope of penning the protesters to the other side of the street and Parliament Street was effectively closed of to traffic due to the sheer number of protesters. The turnout was so good that it was decided after the rally at Downing street we would march on the Israeli Embassy in Kensington, a distance of 3.5 miles. the rally speakers included former UK Ambassador Craig Murry who referred to Zionism as bullsh*t, and Dr Ang Swee Chai who was an eyewitness to the Sabra-Shatilla massacres. Videos of the speeches are included below.
National Demonstration 5 June 2010
A national demo was arranged for the first Saturday following the flotilla massacre. A rally outside Downing Street at 1:30pm featuring speakers, followed by a march to the Israeli Embassy for a second rally with more speakers. Over 20,000 people attended the demonstration. Many of the survivors of the massacre had made it back to the UK in time to address the rally. These included Ismail Patel, Ewa Jasiewicz, Alex Harrison, Baboo Zanghar, Sarah Colborne and Kevin Ovenden. See videos below.
Raised fist in solidarity with the Palestinian people
marching past Parliament (Big Ben) on the way to the Israeli Embassy
The Hizbullah flag, a symbol of the victory of oppressed over oppressor, is now an established presence at all pro-justice events.
Daud Abdullah (MCB) addressing the crowd outside Downing Street.
(unfortunately we had not secured a position in time to video his speech - sorry)
Tony Benn, always a favourite with the crowds
Recently elected Green MP Caroline Lucas addresses the crowds
Mohammed Kozbar of the British Muslim Initiative addresses the crowds
Survivors of the flotilla massacre - Ewa Jasiewicz (with Alex Harrison)
Ewa: "Its an honour to sacrifice ourselves for this struggle"
Survivors of the flotilla massacre - Alex Harrison (with Ewa Jasiewicz)
Alex: "What we went through on those boats and in prison was not one percent of the Palestinian experience, not one percent."
Respect party leader Councillor Salma Yaqoob
Film maker Ken Loach
Poet activist Lowkey
'we are all Palestinians'
British complicity in Israeli terror
Right of return for Palestinians
Same imperialism, just a different skin
Items from the Israeli government list of what is prohibited from entering Gaza
Boycott Israeli goods
Artist Leon Kuhn - Zionism kills Peace in the Middle-East
All the martyrs of the massacre were of Turkish origin..
Freedom for Palestine (T-shirt reads 'I Love Migrants' - from an anti-racism campaign launched just before the recent elections where lies on immigration were stoked to gain votes)
Illegal Occupation - even in international waters!
US - Israel partnership in death and destruction
Israel - pirate
For Freedom We Sail - Justice Will Prevail
Keith Sonnet, representing UKs largest public sector union UNISON with 1.5 million workers
Sally Hunt, TUC General Council - its the first time they have officially supported a march for Palestine
Founding member of Viva Palestina Yvonne Ridley: "I am declaring war on Israel, I will do whatever it takes within my power to bring down the Zionist state.."
The emblem of the Turkish organisation IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi, english: The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief) fly above the crowd. The IHH owned and operated three of the six ships in the flotilla, and the nine passengers murdered by Israeli commandos were its members.
Survivor of the flotilla massacre - Baboo Zanghar : "They [Israelis] didn't have respect for anybody, they put a gun on that one year olds son and forced the captain to take the flotilla to where they wanted to. They said if he doesn't do what they ask him to they will shoot that son.."
Tony Benn outside Israeli Embassy
Journalist and Human Rights activist Lauren Booth: "There were executions on that ship of Turkish people, shot in the back of the head as they lay down.. that is murder!"
Journalist and Human Rights activist Lauren Booth
Jeremy Corbyn MP: "This week I was in Parliamant, and it was a very interesting experience. MPs were queueing up to condemn Israel - that hasn't always been the case. No body spoke in defence of Israel this time - they were too ashamed!"
Jody McIntyre, a young handicapped British activist who lived for nine months in Gaza and in the West Bank village of Bi'iln which is actively opposing the apartheid wall, their protests being brutally put down by the IDF resulting in deaths.
Daughter of Gaza, Maryam Abu Daya
Survivor of the flotilla massacre - Kevin Ovenden, organiser of three successful land convoys to Gaza.
Ovenden: "Nine brothers taken from us on the Mavi Marmara, their blood now lapping at the shores of Gaza. But their blood was not shed in vain, because the tide has turned and we must seize this time and seize it now to make a lasting change for Palestine.."
Survivor of the flotilla massacre - Sarah Colborne, from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
George Galloway announces the launch of two more convoys to break the siege of Gaza, a land convoy and a sea flotilla will depart on Eid ul-Fitr to head for Gaza.
Nine shaheeds who sacrificed their lives to break the siege of Gaza, six more still missing.
"Everywhere we went (in Gaza) the same question was on every body's lips - 'You are here but where are the Arabs?' One little girl said to me 'where is this Arab world that they teach us about in school? Where is this Ummah that they talk to us about on Fridays? Why did they leave us alone?'. That's what she said to me, with tears in her eyes 'why did they leave us alone?' I had to turn my face away from her when she said it, and I'm not an Arab, I had to turn away.. I couldn't face her in the face of such a question.."