[GazaFriends] House of Commons debate on the actions of the Israeli Navy tonight 13 July, 2009

13 July, 2009 — Press release: for immediate release

‘The abduction of human rights workers bound for Gaza: House of Commons debate the actions of the Israeli Navy’

Alex Harrison (British passenger): 07824621613. Alex will be available outside the House of Commons from 9.15 p.m. or after the conclusion of the debate for interviews.
Hilary Smith (UK Free Gaza): 07818040982
Greta Berlin or Ramzi Kysia (Free Gaza; Cyprus): +357 99081767

(LONDON) – The House of Commons will tonight be debating the interception of a boat in international waters by the Israeli Navy and the abduction of six British civilians on board. The debate[1] will be led by Emily Thornberry, MP, and constituent MP for Alex Harrison, a human rights worker who was one of those abducted.

On June 30th 2009 a small ferry, carrying 21 unarmed civilians and a small amount of humanitarian aid, was forcibly boarded by armed Israeli commandos as it sailed towards the partially destroyed seaport of Gaza city, in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The boat, the Spirit of Humanity, was in international waters at the time it was taken. Through the night prior to the boarding, the boat had been sailing only by compass after its navigational systems had been jammed by Israeli war ships which had surrounded and trailed the boat. The Navy has also threatened to fire on those on board. Following the boarding, in which the Al Jazeera journalists on board had their cameras taken, and in which at least one passenger was assaulted, the boat, its cargo and the 21 were forcibly taken to Israel, were they were then charged with illegally entering the country. The British film maker on board, Ishmahil Blagrove, managed to retain footage of the night’s events.[2]

The voyage was the latest attempt by the international Free Gaza movement[3] to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, which results in the imprisonment of the 1.5 million population and conditions of desperate poverty and siege conditions for the civilian population.

“People in Gaza are being made to live in subhuman conditions. Children are dying, and governments are silent. It is important to continue sending boats to Gaza to challenge the criminal blockade enforced by the Israeli military,” said Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza organiser and who was on board the Spirit.

Amongst the human rights workers on board was Nobel peace prize winner, Mairead Maguire, Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia and award winning British film maker Ishmahil Blagrove. Six of those on board, including the Captain, were British, and after almost a week in Israeli custody the six were deported to Britain.

British supporters of Free Gaza contrast the silence of the British Foreign Office over the abduction and false imprisonment of six of its citizens with their very public reaction to the arrest of British Embassy staff in Iran. The Free Gaza movement is most concerned, however, with what the abduction in international waters reveals about Israeli determination to enforce its illegal blockade, to prevent any attempt by human rights workers to travel to Gaza, and by the silence of international governments, including the British Government, to Israeli actions.

Free Gaza movement www.freegaza.org

[1] Debate, ‘The interception of the boat The Spirit of Humanity’, is due to take place at approximately 10 p.m. Monday 13th July 2009.
[2] www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSFy-pkKtZU
[3] The Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since August, four more voyages were successful, taking Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel’s draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza. On December 30, their boat, the DIGNITY was rammed in international waters, on its way to deliver emergency medical supplies to the people of Gaza, while they were under the infamous attack by Israel. Contact them at http://www.freegaza.org. For photos, please check www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

I’ve Seen 1,200 Torture Photos By David Swanson

13 July, 2009 — Media Channel

This moment, in which the Attorney General of the United States claims to be considering the possibility of allowing our laws against torture to be enforced seems a good one in which to reveal that I have seen over 1,200 torture photos and a dozen videos that are in the possession of the United States military. These are photographs depicting torture, the victims of torture, and other inhuman and degrading treatment. Several videos show a prisoner intentionally slamming his head face-first very hard into a metal door. Guards filmed this from several angles rather than stopping it.

The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) of Australia revealed several of these photographs, video of the head slamming, and video of prisoners forced to masturbate, as part of a news report broadcast in 2006. But the full collection has not been made available to the public or to a special prosecutor, although it was shown to members of Congress in 2004. When these photos are eventually made public, I encourage you to take a good look at them. After you get over feeling ill, it might be appropriate to consider Congress’ past 5 years of inaction. You’ll be able to feel sick all over again.

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Video: Nick Griffin: Not in my name

Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons of the British National Party will be taking their seats in the European Parliament tomorrow – but they are not there in our name. I’ll be going there as well, to hand in our petition – and I want your name on it. http://notinmyname.tv

Washington is Playing a Deeper Game with China By F. William Engdahl

11 July, 2009 – Global Research

After the tragic events of July 5 in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, it would be useful to look more closely into the actual role of the US Government’s “independent” NGO, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). All indications are that the US Government, once more acting through its “private” Non-Governmental Organization, the NED, is massively intervening into the internal politics of China.

The reasons for Washington’s intervention into Xinjiang affairs seems to have little to do with concerns over alleged human rights abuses by Beijing authorities against Uyghur people. It seems rather to have very much to do with the strategic geopolitical location of Xinjiang on the Eurasian landmass and its strategic importance for China’s future economic and energy cooperation with Russia, Kazakhastan and other Central Asia states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

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New NATO: Germany Returns To World Military Stage, Part 1 by Rick Rozoff

12 July, 2009 — stop NATO

When the post-World War II German states the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, West and East Germany, respectively, were united in 1990, it was for many in Europe and the world as a whole a heady time, fraught with hopes of a continent at peace and perhaps disarmed.

Despite US pledges to the last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would not move ‘one inch’ eastward, what German reunification achieved was that the former German Democratic Republic joined not only the Federal Republic but NATO and the military bloc moved hundreds of kilometers nearer the Russian border, over the intervening years to be joined by twelve Eastern European nations. Five of those twelve new NATO members were republics of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union itself, neither of which any longer exists.

Far from issuing in an era of disarmament and a Europe free of military blocs – or even of war – the merging of the two German states and the simultaneous fragmentation of the Eastern Bloc and, a year later, the USSR was instead followed by a Europe almost entirely dominated by a US-controlled global military alliance.

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Season of Travesties: Freedom and Democracy in mid-2009 By Noam Chomsky

9 July, 2009 — chomsky.info/

June 2009 was marked by a number of significant events, including two elections in the Middle East: in Lebanon, then Iran. The events are significant, and the reactions to them, highly instructive.

The election in Lebanon was greeted with euphoria. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman gushed that he is “a sucker for free and fair elections,” so “it warms my heart to watch” what happened in Lebanon in an election that “was indeed free and fair — not like the pretend election you are about to see in Iran, where only candidates approved by the Supreme Leader can run. No, in Lebanon it was the real deal, and the results were fascinating: President Barack Obama defeated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.” Crucially, “a solid majority of all Lebanese — Muslims, Christians and Druse — voted for the March 14 coalition led by Saad Hariri,” the US-backed candidate and son of the murdered ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, so that “to the extent that anyone came out of this election with the moral authority to lead the next government, it was the coalition that wants Lebanon to be run by and for the Lebanese — not for Iran, not for Syria and not for fighting Israel.” We must give credit where it is due for this triumph of free elections (and of Washington): “Without George Bush standing up to the Syrians in 2005 — and forcing them to get out of Lebanon after the Hariri killing — this free election would not have happened. Mr. Bush helped create the space. Power matters. Mr. Obama helped stir the hope. Words also matter.”

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