Turkey and Palestinians stood together today to honour the ten Turks murdered by Israel aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship headed for Gaza four years ago.
On the same day the Palestinian unity government is to be announced, Gaza-based Palestinian NGO House of Wisdom brought all factions together with Turkish Ambassador Mustafa Sarnic and Turkish aid agency IHH, owners of the Mavi Marmara, in a show of not only Palestinian, but Ummah unity.
The commemorative events began at Gaza seaport beneath the memorial erected in honour of Cengiz Akyüz (42), Ali Haydar Bengi (39), İbrahim Bilgen (61), Furkan Doğan (18), Cevdet Kılıçlar (38), Cengiz Songür (47), Çetin Topçuoğlu (54), Fahri Yaldız (43), Necdet Yıldırım (32) and Ugur Süleyman Söylemez, who died from his injuries this week aged 51. (more…)
Gaza, ALRAY – Mohammed Hasna, the representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference said that the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, IHH, intends to send Mavi Marmara 2 to the Gaza Strip in a new attempt to break Gaza blockade.
Hasna said that the foundations’ decision came in a special session on Gaza during a conference held by the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Istanbul.
Several Islamic organizations provided donations to help the affected Palestinians in the Gaza Strip due to the recent winter storm.
The World Assembly of Muslim Youth(WAMY) announced its donation with one million dollars to the Gaza Strip, and Qatar Charity donated with also one million dollars.
Hasna mentioned on his facebook that many countries and organizations have donated with different sum of money to the Gaza Strip.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan might now be pondering on his own advice to Syrian President Bashar Assad, to listen to his people, before he finds himself and his government similarly beset.
There are three main issues here – the short-sighted sacrifice of one of the few green public spaces in Istanbul to private enterprise, the use of the state apparatus to repress legitimate protest by the use of excessively disproportionate force, and the certain loss of government legitimacy through the loss of popular support, and confidence.
In a world facing ecological disaster caused by the irresponsible abuse and degradation of the environment by corporate interests, in communities facing social disaster caused by the irresponsible destruction of the social fabric by ill-conceived town-planning that places profits before the needs of current and future generations, there is little the ordinary citizen can do to defend what few leaves remain to cover them BUT protest, and occupy the public spaces which, by definition, belong to THEM, the public.
This park in the middle of Istanbul may not completely suffice as the lungs of the city, but it is one of the few that serve as such, and its loss will be significant, both ecologically and socially.
Prime Minister Erdogan has the opportunity to demonstrate his environmentally- and socially-friendly credentials as a president with a commitment not only to today’s citizens, but also to those of the future. He could begin by ensuring policies such as the mall construction have had a rigorous environmental impact report – which includes social AND ecological impact – and by listening to the people affected, through consultative processes.
Use of Force
The use of state force to respond to popular protests against a government policy, especially given events in the region over the last two years, is little short of suicidal. If there is one lesson to be learnt from the so-called Arab Spring, it is that such a response usually has only two outcomes for a government – rule by force not favour, or falling.
While it is commendable that Erdogan has pledged to investigate the use of excessive force, the question must be asked – why use force at all? Surely consultation, rather than repression, has more potential for an outcome acceptable to all? Witness the governance style of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who put all contentious policies to public referendum – cumbersome, perhaps, but a recipe that produced constructive social participation rather than protest.
Again, given events in the region in the last two years, it is incomprehensible that any government that wishes to remain in power with the support and confidence of the people would respond to an incident such as the park protests in such an oppressive fashion.
As the escalation shows, it takes little to ignite an uprising from a relatively minor incident, particularly when there are undoubtedly many outside of Turkey who would like nothing more than to see Erdogan and his government fall, and who will be doing their best to capitalise on these protests for their own agendas, as is unfolding in Syria.
There is a vast difference between maintaining public order and repression, between a peaceful protest and a violent unruly mob. A statesman can tell the difference, and knows when force is needed and how much – a politician doesn’t much care.
Erdogan must decide which he will be – a statesman with the best interests of his country at heart, or a politician with an eye only for electoral success.
As the United States and the United Kingdom sing from Israel’s songbook, the Arab world is again rising up in protest – this time at the Israeli crimes against humanity again being perpetrated against Palestinians – and anyone else who has remained – in Gaza.
Mainstream media tries to bury the truth of the sequence of events and who is to blame, most shamelessly the BBC, who did not even report the civilian deaths of the son and sister-in-law of one of their own staffers, leaving it to the Washington Post to cover – far enough away, they probably hoped, that few UK readers would see it. But that didn’t stop the Washington Post squealing in the chorus.
Despite their best attempts to entomb the truth, the people of the world have also risen up in support of Gaza, and Palestine.
Israel – and its silly songsters – may find that this time they are way off key.
As Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said in his first address to the nation since the assassination of Ahmad al-Jaabari, Palestinians “will remain faithful to our martyrs’ noble blood.”
“It is only the beginning of our journey,” he warned.
“Armed with our faith, we are confident in our resistance fighters standing in defiance. Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, the Territories of 1948 – it is your battle, your own people, blood, and dignity,” he said in a clear call for unity.
“Yes, we rise in revolt. I hail the unity and united action taken by all factions, we are one people, one front.”
Haniyeh said the Government embraces the Palestinian people, and thanked them for their steadfastness. He also praised the resistance, “our victorious defiant brigades” who remain defending the nation on all fronts.
“We appreciate their fortitude in the face of death and of this ferocious assault. I kiss your hands, our noble fighters.”
The Prime Minister extended appreciation to “all free men and women in the Arab world revolting in our support until this belligerent aggression comes to an end.”
Netanyahu may well have tripped over his own red line, wrapped it around his neck and that of his tone-deaf twins – and strangled his own finale.
04 November 2012
Mehmet Kaya, IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation Gaza Representative, today addressed a Press Conference at the Mavi Marmara Martyrs’ Monument at Gaza sea port about the Mavi Marmara trial against Israel which will begin at Çağlayan Courthouse in İstanbul on 06 November, and is expected to last three days.
IHH was one of the organisers of the Freedom Flotilla, and has played a significant role in getting the case to trial.
In an exclusive interview, Mehmet Kaya said that the significance of the trial is that Israel will be held accountable for killing “our brothers and friends in international waters”
He said the case is against Israel, the Israeli army, and the President, and that they hope to prevent them travelling freely around the world because they are guilty of crimes against humanity and crimes against Turkey.
He is not concerned that Israel may ignore the court case and its decision, as he believes Turkey will get justice in the end, although it will take some time.
Mehmet Kaya called on the international community to do the same as Turkey, and hold Israel accountable for its actions.
Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, and Law Professor, endorses Turkey’s action in this matter, saying that Turkey’s initiative shows how national courts can play a role in setting international law in motion.
Speaking to Zümrüt Sönmez from IHH Media Department recently in Istanbul,Falk said that international law, particularly the United Nations, failed in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara attack, and that the staging of such a trial in Turkey is a significant effort in terms of guarding the values of international law, and making it effective.
IHH reports that the defendants in the trial are former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff General Gabi Ashkenazi, Naval Forces commander Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom, Israel’s military intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin and Air Forces Intelligence head Brigadier General Avishai Levi. They will be tried as “fugitive suspects.”
There are 490 complainants and victims in the case including flotilla passengers from 37 countries, and relatives of the martyrs.
Flotilla passengers from Turkey and other parts of the world, relatives of the Mavi Marmara martyrs and their lawyers will be present at the trial. The trial will be closely followed by human rights observers from Turkey and abroad, media members, jurists and representatives of non-governmental organizations.
After this morning’s event I took up the Rafah issue with another attendee, Dr Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas co-founder and politburo member.
“Firstly, we need to make it clear that we appreciate and understand that President Mursi has many internal troubles, and he is concentrating on his own country’s national and global interests. Perhaps we were a bit too optimistic. The old regime is still running many things, like security, and no change is possible yet. We need to wait, and not pressure them,” he told me.
“The Free Trade Zone was not an official proposal, it was a Muslim Brotherhood project, but they started talking about it in the media.”
What about the closure of the tunnels we have been reading about, I asked. Is this going to create shortages in Gaza?
“The only tunnels being closed are those being used for illegal purposes, so we are happy about that, the ones being used to bring in drugs, weapons and for other illegal purposes. Egypt will not allow the closure of tunnels to such an extent that it causes food shortages,” he replied.
“1500 people daily are passing through Rafah now, it is open seven days a week. There are still some restrictions, though – the list of names of people banned from crossing is still reliant on Fatah information given to the old Mubarak regime, and the list has to be gone through one by one because many people have similar or the same names – sometimes even babies are banned. The names have to be confirmed, or cancelled, and many have been, but Egyptian security has other priorities than updating the lists.”
The events in Tahrir Square last Friday indicate that despite the lip-service paid to democracy, many are reluctant to accept the results, and subsequent decisions taken by majority governments. Does this suggest that the notion of democracy itself needs attention?
“We need to distinguish between the instruments or models of democracy, and its conceptualisation. In the Arab world we are moving from dictatorships to elected presidents, and building our own models will take time. We are not just adopting a US model, we are developing our own. It is not just how we choose our representatives, but also how we punish wrongdoers, how we reward people who succeed in doing well, the sort of administrations we create to enable public participation and to end corruption. President Mursi has achieved a lot of successes already. Sudan and Syria are much bigger problems for him right now than Palestine,” Dr Zahar said.
How do you see Egypt’s role in relation to Syria?
“ Egypt has a big role to play as the peacemaker in Syria, with the help of Iran and Turkey. I think the current situation between Turkey and Syria will finish. Turkey and Iran and Egypt are all seeking a political solution, and that will enable the Syrian regime to be replaced with a democratic administration. Recovery will take time.”
So the Rafah situation will not change quickly?
“We need to speak to the people around the President, he is surrounded by groups from the old regime who don’t understand, or don’t want to change. We need to wait.”