HomeWorldAid flotilla for Gaza blocked in Turkiye

Aid flotilla for Gaza blocked in Turkiye

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ISTANBUL: A “Free­dom Flotilla” aimed at delivering aid to Gaza was blocked in Turkiye on Saturday after being denied use of two of its ships, which organisers blamed on Israeli pressure.

A coalition of NGOs and other associations said it was unable to set sail after the West African country of Guinea-Bissau withdrew its flagged vessels.

“Sadly, Guinea-Bissau has allowed itself to become complicit in Israel’s deliberate starvation, illegal siege and genocide of Palesti­nians in Gaza,” the Free­dom Flotilla Coalition said.

“The Guinea-Bissau Inter­­national Ships Registry (GBISR), in a blatantly political move, informed the Freedom Flotilla Coalition that it had withdrawn the Guinea Bissau flag from two of the Freedom Flotilla’s ships, one of which is our cargo ship, already loaded with over 5,000 tons of life-saving aid,” their statement said The group said the Guinea-Bissau authorities made several “extraordinary” requests for information, including destinations, potential additional port calls, cargo manifest, and estimated arrival dates and times.

Fleet bound for Palestinian territory held up after Guinea-Bissau withdrew its ships

“Normally, national flagging authorities concern themselves only with safety and related standards on vessels bearing their flag,” it said, equating it to being asked about destinations when registering a car.

At an Istanbul press conference, about 280 volunteers — activists, lawyers and doctors — who had hoped to join the ships shouted slogans including “Flag the flotilla”, “We will sail” and “Free Palestine”.

Three of the flotilla’s ships have been docked for a week at the port of Tuzla, south of Istanbul. They had planned to set sail on Friday. In 2010, a previous “Freedom Flotilla” set off from the southern Turkish city of Antalya, leading to a deadly episode after Israeli forces attacked one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara, leaving 10 dead and 28 wounded aboard.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2024

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