Sunday, 30 May 2010

LATEST FLOTILLA UPDATE!! and some branch news...

Latest news (Sunday 30th May, 0900 BST) is that the Flotilla has probably got going to leave Cypriot international waters, but I have the impression the MV Rachel Corrie hasn't quite caught up yet, although all the other ships/loads of VIPS have. Not sure.... but it seems that way. The Flotilla's path to Gaza will take something like 22 hours, or longer since they are rather crawling along, and many of us are guessing that the Israeli Navy will try to attack the convoy during Sunday night (if that's still on the cards for them tactically - there again it may not be now....) or there will be some kind of standoff on Monday morning, near Gazan waters, possibly something like 25 miles out which is the limit of Israel's (illegal) patrolling zone. PSC central are considering a London demo on Tuesday, but this may be moved depending on what kind of standoff might occur.... It's all, as they say, fluid!

Best wishes
Chair, WFPSC

REMEMBER - see FACEBOOK: Wfpsc London

sent: Sat 29 May 2010, lunchtime

Ahoy Sailors!

FREE GAZA FLOTILLA - off the coast of Cyprus

At present, as far as Ellie can work out (lunchtime, Saturday 29th May) the extraordinary humanitarian aid relief Free Gaza Freedom Flotilla is still gathering in international waters off Cyprus. Onboard is Tox, from Walthamstow along with lots of WFPSC friends who went on the Viva Palestina Convoy Dec 09/Jan this year. Greek cypriot authorities banned the boats from going through Cypriot waters. As a result of all this, MV Rachel Corrie has taken a long time to catch up with the IHH ships and the rest of the Free Gaza Movement boats. One of the Free Gaza little boats has broken down so all those passengers have been transfered onto the big IHH passenger boat now. There may be other problems going on as well, but it's hard to tell at this juncture. It is possible Israeli Government is already jamming the communications links to some extent, but that is uncorroborated.

Meanwhile, more concretely, the Israeli Government is threatening the usual military action, preparing the Navy to assault the boats and take ships and passengers to Ashdod, in order to ransack/steal the aid, and deport/imprison the 750 activists (and crew?). But the threats are hollow at the moment, because the flotilla hasn't really set off yet!

In terms of WHEN we demonstrate in London (because of course we will...) there has already been a demo outside the Israeli embassy. PSC and Stop the War Coalition are coordinating to back a second demo ONCE the flotilla is properly underway (which it isn't yet) and Israeli government is genuinely about to enact their threats. I'll let you know soonest once we have that news. My sources on the boats, and at Free Gaza and PSC doubt anything will happen today (Saturday), but it might later in the Bank Holiday weekend.

HOWEVER, there is much action to be taken now - using computers and telephones - to lobby politicians and media to get them to support the flotilla.

1) PHONE - the BBC and SKY and ask them WHY there has been virtually no coverage of the Freedom Flotilla which has 40 British passengers and crew on board (in total across all the ships) and is being threatened by the Israeli Navy with armed attack? Contact them on BBC 020 8624 9111 and SKY 020 7705 3000.


TELEPHONE Nick Clegg at the following numbers:
Sheffield Hallam constituency office - 0114 230 9002
House of Commons - 020 7219 2371



Dear Mr Clegg,

I am writing to you to ask for you to show support for the International Flotilla of ships that is currently sailing towards Gaza. 750 people in 8 ships, loaded with 15,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid are due to dock in Gaza on Sunday afternoon.

However, the Israeli Government has issued serious threats, and the safety of all the passengers and crew is in substantial danger. Both passengers and crew pose NO THREAT, and should be allowed to sail safely into Gaza without incident, backed by international law, humanitarian law and maritime law. 35 passengers and crew are British nationals with further passengers being British residents, so you have a moral obligation with regards all their safety.

May I take this chance to remind you of your statements concerning Gaza and the illegal Israeli "Siege" quoted from your own article in the Guardian newspaper last year?

"The legacy of Operation Cast Lead is a living nightmare for one and a half million Palestinians squeezed into one of the most overcrowded and wretched stretches of land on the planet. And as Israel and Egypt maintain a near total blockade against Gaza, the misery deepens by the day."

You then went on to say:

"And what has the British government and the international community done to lift the blockade? Next to nothing. Tough-sounding declarations are issued at regular intervals but little real pressure is applied. It is a scandal that the international community has sat on its hands in the face of this unfolding crisis."

Mr Clegg, you yourself are now part of the British Government. What are you going to do? Are you going to call for an immediate end to the siege, or are you going to do what the previous Government did, which was nothing? This time, the buck stops with your administration, Mr Clegg.

So as you can see, it is now your turn to step up to the plate and be counted. In the last two days, the EU has called for an immediate end to the siege, and for the flotilla to be allowed a safe passage into Gaza. John Ging from UNWRA has even called for aid agencies to use Gaza port because the roads are blocked by Israel and Egypt. UN HQ has asked for the flotilla's safe delivery. Will you join these voices? Will you say "Enough Is Enough"?

I look forward to your response since time is of the essence.

Yours sincerely

Remember, keep your eyes open for new emails/text messages calling for your attendance at a Demo in Central London!


WEDNESDAY 9th JUNE - evening!

All about how we function, get things done: your time to come up with ideas


You will all be asked to volunteer yourselves to help arrange activities of your own choosing, get involved in the nitty gritty, and suggest your own activities that you would like to see come to fruition over the coming months. There are some great opportunities coming up; we want to hear your suggestions for how we tackle them best, and get them achieved. There is so much to be done and with your contribution, however small, we can do so much more. Please come along and take part - tell us your thoughts and offer us your time, your expertise, your enthusiasm and your willingness to make life better for Palestinians through our work in the UK and Palestine.

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