FF2 Statement to the UN Human Rights Counci


On 14 June 2011, as part of its 17th Session, the Human Rights Council
held discussions on the status of implementation of the conclusions
contained in the report of
the independent international factfinding mission on the flotilla
attack. The Freedom Flotilla II Steering Committee submitted the
following statement:
In September 2010 the international Fact-Finding Mission to
investigate violations of international law resulting from the Israeli
attacks on the Freedom Flotilla I concluded that the conduct of the
Israeli military towards its passengers, when it was unlawfully
intercepted on the way to Gaza on 31 May 2001, “demonstrated levels of
totally unnecessary and incredible violence… It constituted grave
violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.”
Unfortunately and incredibly, Israel is threatening to use even
greater violence against Freedom Flotilla II, which will sail to Gaza
the end of this month.
Its threats have included the use of snipers
and canine units. Even more deplorable, world leaders, rather than
demanding that Israel halt its provocative behaviour towards us and
refrain from once again attacking unarmed civilians, have called the
Flotilla initiative a provocation and have asked countries on the
Mediterranean to prevent us from sailing.
In its September Report, the Fact-Finding Mission concluded that the
passengers on board our ships in May 2010, many of whom they
interviewed at length, were “persons genuinely committed to the spirit
of humanitarianism and imbued with a deep and genuine concern for the
welfare of the inhabitants of Gaza.” The same spirit of
humanitarianism compels us to again take action – even at the risk of
serious injury or death – to confront massive injustice with global
nonviolent action. For too long our national and international leaders
have passively watched the tragedy of Gaza – of all of Palestine.
grossly unjust and unlawful blockade of the Gaza Strip and the ongoing
belligerent occupation of the rest of Palestine – imposed by Israel
and tolerated by the world community – is a stark case of states
sacrificing principle and human rights for power and self-interest.
For those who have any lingering doubts that a man-made crisis
continues to Gaza, just yesterday the Palestinian Centre for Human
Rights issued an alert indicating its extreme concern over the
“running out of medications and contraction of health services in the
Gaza Strip.”
The Fact-Finding Mission gave much thought to and called upon the
international community to recognize some role for “humanitarian
organizations who wish to intervene in situations of long-standing
humanitarian crisis where the international community is unwilling…
to take positive action.” It included in its broad definition of
humanitarianism both types of organizations involved in the Flotilla:
those that engage in activities taken to alleviate crises and those
that take action to address the root causes of the crises.
The Mission
understood that “too often” humanitarian organizations, such as those
behind Flotillas I and II, are “accused of being meddlesome and at
worst as terrorists or enemy agents.” Today, these same humanitarian
organisations and human rights activists are being accused of
‘provocation’ and Israel is threatening, once again, to unlawfully and
brutally stop them. We therefore call upon the Human Rights Council to
stand up to these Israeli threats, to defend our right to intervene in
the long-standing tragedy which is Gaza and to expose and put an end
to Israel’s illegal behaviour, which has too long been tolerated by
the international community.
We are determined to sail to Gaza. Our cause is just and our means
are transparent. To underline the fact that we do not present an
imminent threat to Israel nor do we aim to contribute to a war effort
against Israel, thus eliminating any claim by Israel to self-defense,
we invite the HRC or any other UN or international agency to come on
board and inspect our vessels at their point of departure, on the high
seas, and/or on their arrival in the Gaza port. We will – and must –
continue to sail until the illegal blockade of Gaza is ended and
Palestinians have the same human and national rights those of us
sailing enjoy.

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