No 195 Posted by fw, June 16, 2011
June 10, 2011
RE: Inspection and sealing of Freedom Flotilla II cargo
Dear Mr UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
We are writing to urge you to use your good offices in support of the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza. In our view, you can support the people of Gaza with two key actions. First, by appointing a representative to inspect and seal the cargo of the boats of the Freedom Flotilla II—thus assuring the Israeli government that the boats are carrying humanitarian supplies such as toys, medical supplies, cement and educational materials.
Equally important, we strongly urge you to use your authority to call on all governments to support the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II. We are disappointed to learn of your recent efforts to persuade member governments from stopping the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza on the Freedom Flotilla II. We urge you to reconsider and instead encourage member states to lend support and ask Israel not to use force against legitimate humanitarian initiatives undertaken by civil society to help ease the suffering of the people of Gaza who are facing a humanitarian crisis of devastating scale.
The Freedom Flotilla II, organized by 14 national groups and international coalitions and carrying approximately 1500 ‘freedom riders,’ is set to sail to Gaza this month. Sailing in the spirit of promoting human rights, prosperity, and social responsibility, the aim of the Flotilla is to alleviate the humanitarian crisis faced by the citizens of Gaza.
The blockade in Gaza is clearly having a harmful impact on the people of Gaza, and indeed UNDP and other agencies report high levels of malnutrition and other disturbing health problems. According to a report by the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, the level of “abject poverty” among the Palestinians of Gaza has tripled since the imposition of the blockade, with 61 % of households not having enough food. The blockade has crippled the Gaza economy and destroyed Palestinians’ livelihoods and homes.
We believe our requests to you are in keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 1860 of January 2009 as well as the 2010 UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on the attack on Freedom Flotilla I, which are calling for a lift of the blockade to allow humanitarian assistance. We urge you to do all you can to support this nonviolent international humanitarian effort, to provide UN representatives to inspect and seal the cargo, and to appeal to all governments to allow safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your positive response.
Mairead Corrigan Maguire [Irish peace activist, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize]
Rigoberta Menchu Tum [indigenous Guatemalan, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize]
Jody Williams [American teacher and aid worker, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize]
Shirin Ebadi [Iranian lawyer and human rights activist, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize]
Canada warns against involvement in Gaza flotilla, Global News, May 29, 2011: “I strongly urge those wishing to deliver humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip to do so through established channels,” said Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. “Unauthorized efforts to deliver aid are provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza,” he said. [How can Baird claim to know what is/is not helpful to the people of Gaza?]
Statement Of Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human Steering Committee. 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 fact finding mission on the flotilla attack. To read the Freedom Flotilla II Steering Committee statement to the UN Human Rights Council, click on the linked title.