3 thoughts on “Trade unions oppose flotilla killings

  1. The following statement has been issued by the Executive of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society.

    AJDS Statement on Israeli action against the Gaza Convoy

    1 June 2010

    The terrible and deplorable deaths and injuries that occurred on board the Turkish flagged ship, the Mavi Marmara, one of a convoy of ships attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, are not only heartbreaking for the immediate families of the nine people killed and the many injured, but a tragedy for all people who yearn for a resolution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

    The Israeli government claims that the non-violent intent of the activists in the convoy was a lie, that the convoy organisers have links to terrorist organisations including Al-Qaeda and that weapons were prepared in advance for use against the Israeli navy when they boarded the ship.

    We know that many of the activists on board the convoy are stridently anti-Israel and we disagree with many of the political views of the Free Gaza movement that organised the convoy, but we have no problem with the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, even with awareness of the additional political agenda behind the convoy.

    Support for Israel does not mean support for the policies of its government and we have been vocal in opposing the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

    From the news reports of the event, it appears that Israel felt entitled to drop armed soldiers onto the ships in international waters to prevent them from reaching Gaza, and the civilians on board, far from feeling either fear or anger, were supposed to understand the peaceful intent of the armed forces that confronted them. Perhaps the soldiers expected no resistance, but when armed soldiers are engaged in a military exercise against enraged civilians the outcome is predictable. It takes very few people to resist with nothing more than their bodies, metal bars or sling shots for the outcome to be lethal.

    Even if some of the protesters were spoiling for a fight, for an act of disobedience to be met with such violence, injury and death completely cuts across our fundamental attitudes to political opposition.

    If the price Israel had to pay for avoiding the tragic outcome of this confrontation was the loss of a propaganda skirmish, then it was a price we could all live with and emphasis needs to be on the word “live”.

    How can we feel outrage against barbarous acts of terrorism that rob innocent people of their lives, travelling on Israeli buses or eating in restaurants, and not feel similar outrage at this event?

    How can Israel detain foreign journalists (including Australians) and others who had no role in the confrontation and claim to be a democracy?

    Unless the Israeli government can convincingly back up its claims that the Gaza aid convoy was not a project for delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza, but in reality a front for violent action, it invites the condemnation of everyone who supports negotiated conflict resolution and reinforces the view that Israel’s professed support for human rights is a sham.

    If the anger we feel for what has occurred is clear from our words and the words of many other people, then that anger needs to be understood by Israel. What needs to occur now is for Israel to conduct a full, open and comprehensive enquiry into this fatal exercise.

    AJDS Executive

  2. http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/6052/labor_groups_condemn_israeli_attack_on_freedom_flotilla/

    June 3, 2010

    Labor Groups Condemn Israeli Attack on Freedom Flotilla

    By Lindsay Beyerstein

    Early Monday morning, Israeli commandos staged a pre-dawn raid on a flotilla of vessels bearing aid to the Gaza strip. The commandos rappelled onto the deck of the largest ship in the convoy, the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-flagged passenger vessel carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.

    What happened next is subject to considerable debate. This much is clear: At least 9 activists were shot dead and several activists and Israeli soldiers were injured in the ensuing melee. Everyone agrees that the attack took place in international waters.

    The Freedom Flotilla project had strong trade union ties from the outset. Trade union members set sail with the Freedom Flotilla, according to press releases. Ewa Jasiewicz a union organizer and journalist based in London was reportedly a passenger on one of the ships. And a Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) official was instrumental in helping Free Gaza campaign organizers buy one of the flotilla ships, although that vessel was not present during the raid due to mechanical difficulties.

    Trade union reaction to the raids was swift.

    “[M]eeting a humanitarian convoy with military force is unacceptable,” said International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary Guy Ryder,” said in a statement issued Monday. The ITUC repeated its call on Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza.

    The International Transport Workers’s Federation (ITF) issued a statement holding Israel fully responsible for the “provocative storming” of the Mavi Marmara and any harm that came to civilians as a result. The ITF has been working with unions in Israel and Palestine to advocate for an end to the seige of Gaza. David Cockroft, ITF General Secretary called the raid a “serious setback.”

    The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed shock at the “brutal attacks” on civilians including journalists. About 100 media workers were on the flotilla at the time at the attack, according to IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. The IFJ is calling for a full investigation into the incident. White said he will raise the issue at a special meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

    Not all trade unions support the Freedom Flotilla’s attempt to circumvent the blockade of Gaza, however. Even before the raid, some Israeli unions threatened to re-instate their boycott of Turkish tourism over Ankara’s role in organizing the Freedom Flotilla. About 380 of the 700 activists on the flotilla were Turkish nationals. It appears that all but one of the protesters who were killed were Turkish nationals. The remaining fatality was a 19-year-old American citizen of Turkish descent who lived in Turkey.

    In March, Ken Fleming, an International Transport Federation inspector and the SIPTU official referenced above, applied to purchase one of the boats in the Freedom Flotilla on behalf of the Free Gaza campaign after the vessel was abandoned by its owner, leaving its crew with no wages and only a day’s supply of food.

    At the time, Fleming said it was fitting that the vessel woud be used for humanitarian assistance instead of the exploitation of seafarers. The crew got their back pay. The vessel was rechristined the MV Rachel Corrie, after an American activist who was fatally run over by Israeli bulldozers in the Gaza Strip in 2003. But the ship wasn’t with the Freedom Flotilla during the raid because of machnical troubles.

  3. Pingback: Netanyahu apologizes for lethal flotilla raid | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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