STATEMENT OF FREEDOM FLOTILLA II – STAY HUMAN STEERING COMMITTEE TO THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

16 June 2011 — Gaza Friends

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 factfinding mission on the flotilla attack. The Freedom Flotilla II Steering Committee submitted the following statement:

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Lawyers establish Flotilla Justice Group to coordinate legal action on behalf of flotilla victims

25 October, 2010 — Gaza Friends Doha, Qatar

International legal experts and lawyers representing victims of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla today announced the establishment of the “Flotilla Justice Group.” The announcement came at the conclusion of a two-day meeting held on 23 and 24 October, aimed at coordinating legal actions to hold Israel accountable for its 31 May 2010 attack on the Freedom Flotilla. The meeting, hosted by the Doha-based Al Fakhoora campaign, brought together 70 representatives from 20 countries, to follow up on work that began at the first lawyers’ meeting held in Istanbul on 15 July.

The international advocacy groups, legal and media experts, and lawyers in attendance met in a number of workshops to devise a comprehensive strategy for national, regional and international legal action, inter-organizational coordination, and media mobilization. “The Flotilla Justice Group” will serve as a coordination mechanism for facilitating communication and the exchange of information between lawyers working on behalf of flotilla victims around the world.

Bettahar Boudjellal, a Qatar-based international human rights expert, said, “Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla breached international, human rights and humanitarian law. Our efforts to unify the legal actions through a designated coordination apparatus will allow us to collectively bring the State of Israel to justice. More importantly, it will serve as a foundation for responding to Israel’s future violations.”

The conference workshops were led by prominent personalities within the growing movement to end Israel’s strangulation of Gaza as well as its persistent human rights violations throughout the occupied Palestinian territory. Participants in the meeting included representatives from the following countries: Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Palestine, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Yemen.

“The creation of the Flotilla Justice Group is a vital step forward on the road to holding Israel accountable for its attack on our flotilla, and their ongoing abuse of the Palestinian people” said the Freedom Flotilla organizers.

Organizations and firms participating in the conference included: the Turkish ?nsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ?nsani Yard?m Vakf? (IHH), the Free Gaza Movement, European Campaign to End Siege on Gaza (ECESG), Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), the Elmadag Law Firm from Turkey, Mazlumdar — the Turkish Human Rights Association, the UK-based Hickman and Rose law firm, Ship to Gaza – Greece, Ship to Gaza – Sweden, Indonesian Muslims’ Lawyer Team, the Muslim Lawyers Association of South Africa, and others.

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Fakhoora is an international campaign which aims to secure the freedom to learn for Palestinian students in Gaza and the West Bank. The campaign is named after a United Nations girls’ prep school in Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp that was the scene of an attack by Israeli tank shells on January 6, 2009.

AID CONVOY SET TO SAIL FOR GAZA

14 October 2010 — Viva Palestina

viva-palestina-logo.jpg

Tfter a tense ten day stand off in Syria, the Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza has now been cleared to sail.

The convoy started out from London on Saturday 18th September and drove down through France, Italy, Greece and Turkey before arriving in the port of Latakia, Syria, on Saturday 2nd October. In Latakia, the convoy has been joined by two other convoys. One came from Morocco and Algeria, the other originated in Doha and came through the Gulf states and Jordan.

There are now 147 vehicles about to board two ships together with 380 people from some 30 countries stretching from New Zealand and Australia to Canada and the United States carrying aid worth some 5 million dollars. This includes 40 people who were on the Mavi Marmara flotilla which was attacked by Israeli commandos murdering ten human rights activists from Turkey.

Over the last ten days in Syria, the convoy has taken on medical supplies urgently needed in the besieged Gaza Strip. Simultaneously negotiations have been conducted with the Egyptian authorities to allow passage into the port of Al Arish and then on to the Rafah Crossing. The support of the Syrian authorities and others has been vital in the successful negotiations.

Last night word finally came through that the Egyptian authorities would allow the ships to dock, unload and passage through to the Rafah Crossing and Gaza would be guaranteed.

The ships will now sail past the place where the Mavi Marmara was attacked and flowers will be laid in memory of the victims. When the convoy reaches Gaza the soil from the graves of some of those who were murdered will be used to plant trees as a memorial to the Mavi Marmara victims.

The convoy hopes to reach Gaza this Saturday or Sunday.

PressTV – Israel warships intercept Gaza aid boat

28 September, 2010 — PressTV

Israeli warships have intercepted a Jewish aid boat bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip, forcefully diverting the aid vessel to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

‘Ten Israeli warships forced the boat to head for (the Israeli port) of Ashdod by force, but without raiding the ship,’ Amjad al-Shawa, a Gaza-based organizer told AFP.

‘They surrendered because they were surrounded. They had no choice,’ he further explained.

The British-flagged aid vessel Irene was carrying seven Jewish activists from Israel, Britain, Germany and the United States, and two journalists, one of whom is an Israeli.

Earlier, Yonatan Shapira, one of the Israeli activists on board, said the navy had contacted the boat and ordered the crew to change course.

‘They said we were approaching an area under naval blockade and told us to change course,’ Shapira told AFP by satellite telephone, saying the boat was about 20 miles from the Gaza coast.

The Israeli forces also warned that the passengers and crew would be held legally liable if they insisted on heading to Gaza, especially those with Israeli nationality.

The Israeli army did not immediately comment on the report and declined to confirm that contact had been made with the boat.

On May 31, Israeli navy commandos killed nine Turkish activists onboard a civilian aid convoy while it was in international waters.

A report by the UN Human Rights Council said the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla ‘constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.’

The UN probe also termed as ‘unlawful’ the continuation of the blockade that has caused great physical and mental harm to the Gaza residents.

NO ONE WAS SAFE: UN INQUIRY INTO ISRAEL’S FLOTILLA RAID

23 September 2010 — PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – PALESTINE LEGAL AID FUND

No one was safe,’ once Israeli soldiers began using live ammunition on board the Mavi Marmara, says an authoritative UN investigation team into the Israeli attacks on the Gaza aid flotilla.

Their report is now going to be considered by the 57-member UN Human Rights Council next week that has the chance to finally ensure that Israel is held accountable for committing what the UNFFM found to be serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law including war crimes of willful killing and torture.

The UNFFM found that Israeli military personnel used ‘incredible violence’ against civilians who the investigators describe as ‘persons genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism’.

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Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: THE ATTACK ON THE GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA AND HOW IT CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE ISRAEL/PALESTINE CONFLICT

21 September, 2010 — PCHR

We are delighted to inform you that “Midnight on the Mavi Marmara”, the story of the Israel’s bloody assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, is available online by clicking on the link below.

Midnight on the Mavi Marmara
THE ATTACK ON THE GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA AND HOW IT CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE ISRAEL/PALESTINE CONFLICT
mavi-marmara-book.jpg

Moustafa Bayoumi, Editor

“We have been attacked while in international waters. That means the Israelis have behaved like pirates … The moment they start to steer this ship towards Israel, we have also been kidnapped. The whole action is illegal.” – Henning Mankell, aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Another War Zone: Social Media in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict By Adi Kuntsman and Rebecca L. Stein

September 2010 — Middle East Report Online

(Adi Kuntsman is Leverhulme Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures of the University of Manchester. Rebecca L. Stein is associate professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University.)

Israeli ship warns Freedom Flotilla not to proceed to Gaza. Still from Israeli navy video distributed on YouTube.

In late May 2010, the convoy known as the Freedom Flotilla met off of Cyprus and headed south, carrying humanitarian aid and hundreds of international activists who aimed to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. The organizers used social media extensively: tweeting updates from the boats; webcasting live with cameras uplinked to the Internet and a satellite, enabling simultaneous rebroadcasting; employing Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and other social networking websites to allow interested parties to see and hear them in real time; and using Google Maps to chart their location at sea. Until shortly after its forcible seizure by Israeli commandos in the wee hours of May 31, the flotilla stayed in touch with the outside world despite the Israeli navy’s efforts to jam its communications. A quarter of a million people watched its video feed on Livestream alone, while many more consumed these images in abbreviated form on television news.

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Happy Birthday, Free Gaza

23 August, 2010 — Free Gaza

Two years ago today, 44 people from 17 countries were on the Mediterranean heading toward Gaza. We were in two dilapidated fishing boats, the seas were rough, most of us were seasick, and all of us were worried that Israeli military warships would prevent us from getting into the illegally blockaded port of Gaza.

Israel had blocked our communications equipment; our two captains, long-time seafarers were working off compass and pieces of paper. At 3:00 pm, we saw the shores of Gaza, and no Israeli war ship was there to prevent us from sailing in to the raucus shouts, applause and joy of 20,000 imprisoned Palestinians waiting on shore, covering every inch of standable ground.
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Revised: ‘Death on the Med’ – taking your complaint to the BBC further

19 August, 2010 — PSC

Following feedback from members to our email ‘Death on the Med – The Next Steps’; we encourage you to write back to the BBC and go through the three stages mentioned below.  (Ofcom has written to members saying it is unable to hold the BBC accountable on issues of ‘accuracy and impartiality’).
You may want to stress in your complaint that despite the programme being entitled ‘Death on the Med’, it barely mentioned the deaths of the nine activists who were shot thirty one times by Israeli commandos. There was no examination of how they died, the level of violence used against them, or whether their deaths were avoidable. No use, or even mention, was made of the autopsy reports (indicating that five out of the nine killed had been shot in the head), and the programme also failed to mention that over 50 passengers suffered serious injuries.

Click here for our amended model letter to use during the complaints procedure >>

What to do next:

A) Write back to the BBC 

Stage 1: 
a) Tell them you’re not satisfied with their response, and that you now want your complaint to be dealt with formally by the BBC Executive. 
b) Include the case number given to you by BBC Audience Services (you’ll find this in the subject line of their reply email). Ask for a case number if you haven’t been given one. This will enable you to follow the progress of the complaint.
c) Include your original complaint in the email.

Stage 2:
a) If after two more exchanges, you have not received a satisfactory response, write to The Editorial Complaints Unit, Room 5168, BBC White City, 201 Wood Lane, London, W12 7TS.
b) Your letter should not exceed 1,000 words (about four pages). Provide a one-page summary of your complaint.
c) Include the reference number, date and details of your final correspondence to and from the BBC Executive. This written complaint is important as it will be the main basis for deciding whether an appeal is taken on by the Editorial Complaints Unit.

Stage 3:
a) If an investigation by the Editorial Complaints Unit proves to be unsatisfactory, you can request an appeal to the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee.
b) For more information on this procedure, and a detailed guide on complaining to the BBC click here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/regulatory_framework/protocols/2010/complaints_fr_work_ed_complaints.pdf     

Panorama: Death on the Med can be viewed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00thr24  

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!

Join PSC – www.palestinecampaign.org/join

Donate to PSC – www.palestinecampaign.org/donate

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
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Fax: 020 7609 7779
Email: info@palestinecampaign.org
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GazaFriends: Keep your eye on witnessgaza.com for the US Boat to Gaza launch videos

6 August, 2010 — Witness Gaza

They said it couldn’t be done, that Americans couldn’t raise money fast enough to buy a boat to join Freedom Flotilla 2 in the fall. But never underestimate American determination in the face of Israeli intransigence and brutality. The launch of the US Boat to Gaza began last night in New York, and Free Gaza was there to participate.

Listen to Col. Ann Wright’s eloquent speech, then watch our TWITTER page for the next video uploads.

And this is just a beginning, as witnessgaza.com gets ready to go live for events across the US and across Europe.

“The Audacity of Hope” is more than just a book title. It is a call to everyone who believes in justice for Palestine… that there is hope, that civil society will do what governments refuse to do, that we will sail again and again until Palestinians gain the human and civil rights that have been denied to them for 62 years.

WE SAIL UNTIL PALESTINE IS FREE.

Greta Berlin,
witnessgaza.com

Breaking the siege – six ways you can get involved in the next convoy to Gaza

6 August, 2010 — Viva Palestina

Since the beginning of Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza, individuals across the world have come together — participating in journeys to Gaza themselves, donating and raising awareness at home, and working to persuade the government to end the siege — as an act of solidarity with the besieged Palestinians in Gaza.

With our government’s failure to end the blockade, people have been inspired to take action themselves to end the crisis, seen by the Gaza flotilla and previous land convoys. The overwhelming response to Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla has forced governments to highlight this issue and call for an end to the siege. But we are committed to pushing further to ensure that words become action, and the siege is actually ended, allowing 1.5 million Palestinians to take advantage of what we in Britain take for granted — the right to work, to decent food and clean water, to education, to health, to visit to see family and friends, and to travel.

Now is your opportunity to get involved — the chance to make decisive progress to end the siege is now better than ever before.

PSC is pleased to partner once again with Viva Palestina, who are organising their biggest ever convoy yet in an attempt to break the siege by land and sea. The London leg of the convoy will leave on September 18th, and will be joined by two others legs from Casablanca and Doha — to converge at Al-Arish.

Take part in this international effort to end the siege. You can:

  1. Join the convoy: Fundraise £3500 to take part as a volunteer driver (VP will buy, own and support the vehicle and aid) or source, purchase and drive your own vehicle (pre-approval of vehicle by VP needed)
  2. Fundraise for aid: Help raise money to help buy things still being denied entry into Gaza — such as construction materials.
  3. Donate: you can do it online or via text — send the word ‘Cement’ to 70060 and help to buy a bag of cement.
  4. Sponsor: Get your local trade union branch, faith group, school, community centre involved in raising funds or sponsoring a vehicle with logos and websites.
  5. Volunteer: Help with organising logistics from the comfort of your home. Join a virtual e-space and help with aid, vehicles and fundraising logistical work prior to departure. If you have specialist skills, please get in touch.
  6. Raise awareness: Remind the world that, four years later, Gaza in still under siege. Organise speaker events, send press releases to your local media, and circulate information via facebook, twitter, blogs and email.

To read more about the convoy go to: www.vivapalestina.org/vp5/intro.html
For details on how to register visit: www.vivapalestina.org/vp5/register.html

GazaFriends: Freedom Flotilla Coalition Meets in Stockholm Next Flotilla on its Way Back to Gaza

4 August, 2010 — Gaza Friends

Stockholm, August 4, 2010 – It has been over two months since Israel’s 31 May 2010 deadly assault on the Freedom Flotilla and little to nothing has been done to hold Israel accountable for its savage attack that led to the killing of nine of our colleagues, or to end Israel’s continued violations against the Palestinian people, especially the 1.5 million residents of Gaza.  Therefore, we are continuing our global, grassroots effort to stand up to Israel’s ongoing intransigence, including planning our next direct action, plans to enlarge our coalition to include groups from around the world who want to join us, as well as intensify our efforts to mobilize for the new Freedom Flotilla 2.

The world must continue to demand that Israel cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council’s investigation committee to ensure independence, thoroughness, credibility, and justice for the victims.

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UN Promises Delivery of Freedom Flotilla Cargo to Gaza

26 July, 2010 — Witness Gaza

London, July 26, 2010, Six weeks after the Freedom Flotilla ships were forcibly boarded in international waters, their passengers illegally jailed and the cargo impounded by the Israeli authorities, the office of the United Nations Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East (UNSCO) has promised to deliver the full humanitarian aid cargo to UN. agencies in Gaza.

“The cargo finally being processed for delivery this week consists of supplies prevented by Israel from entering Gaza for the last three years. On the MV Rachel Corrie, the cargo ship of the Free Gaza Movement, we were carrying 20 tons of paper, plus pens & books for schools & universities, over 50 tons of medical supplies & 550 tons of cement for Al Shifa Hospital. Instead of docking in Gaza & distributing the supplies to the intended recipients, Israel impounded cargo, searched, then handed over to an overburdened UN , who can give no guarantees that it will get to the intended schools or NGO’s.” said Niamh Moloughney, coordinator of the Free Gaza Movement – Ireland.

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Register now for Viva Palestina 5 – a global lifeline to Gaza

25 July, 2010 — Viva Palestine

Registration now open for the next convoy to Gaza

Registration for the new convoy, Viva Palestina 5 – a Global Lifeline to Gaza, is now live. The VP team has put a lot of work into reviewing everyone’s feedback from the previous three successful convoys, and from the Freedom Flotilla, in order to make this next convoy even more effective. So even if you have taken part before, please read through the application process (links at bottom of page) carefully. There are, for example, new procedures governing registration and controls on finance and aid.

The challenges are immense – the government of Israel, and others, remain committed to this siege on the Palestinian people. But the chance to make decisive progress is better now than at any time in the last three years. The blockade is weakening, though that has come at the enormous price of the loss of nine aid volunteers aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was so brutally attacked. Many governments and major NGOs are now calling for an end to the blockade.

Ending this illegal and immoral siege is going to require a huge effort from all those who care about Palestine. It is also going to need strategic cooperation between the international aid efforts.

That’s why Viva Palestina has agreed to launch this convoy after extensive discussions with partners in Gaza and internationally, aimed at maximising rather than duplicating our efforts.

It is hoped that a new, bigger, more international flotilla will head off for Gaza at around the same time as the land convoy is there. In any case, Viva Palestina 5 will be the biggest convoy yet, with three legs – from London, from Casablanca and from Doha, converging at Al Arish.

We are asking you to get behind the convoy in whatever way you can – going on it, providing a vehicle, fundraising, promoting it and helping to ensure widespread public awareness as it travels.

The aid we are taking will be of the highest quality. The people of Gaza deserve nothing less and we have clear lists of what is needed from those who are working on the ground and who know first hand.

We aim to take some of all the different categories of humanitarian relief required in Gaza. And, of course, by doing so we aim to highlight the unjust and unsustainable siege.

Enthusiasm for this convoy is very high and we anticipate it filling up quickly. Already, support is coming in from new areas, such as major trade unions in the UK, and new coalitions to build the VP5 convoy are forming in many countries – from New Zealand to Morocco and Italy.

We are very grateful for your ongoing support for the people of Palestine and for Viva Palestina’s efforts.

There are many ways you can help, including volunteering to be part of the teams working on aid, fundraising, vehicles and so on.

Please feel free to contact us with your ideas. But don’t delay, we have eight weeks to make a major contribution to ending the suffering in the Gaza Strip and moving a step closer to justice for the Palestinian people.

To read more about the convoy, please click here – http://www.vivapalestina.org/vp5/intro.html

For details on how to register, please click here – http://www.vivapalestina.org/vp5/register.html

Register now for Viva Palestina 5 – a global lifeline to Gaza

25 July, 2010 — Viva Palestine

Registration now open for the next convoy to Gaza

Registration for the new convoy, Viva Palestina 5 – a Global Lifeline to Gaza, is now live. The VP team has put a lot of work into reviewing everyone’s feedback from the previous three successful convoys, and from the Freedom Flotilla, in order to make this next convoy even more effective. So even if you have taken part before, please read through the application process (links at bottom of page) carefully. There are, for example, new procedures governing registration and controls on finance and aid.

The challenges are immense – the government of Israel, and others, remain committed to this siege on the Palestinian people. But the chance to make decisive progress is better now than at any time in the last three years. The blockade is weakening, though that has come at the enormous price of the loss of nine aid volunteers aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was so brutally attacked. Many governments and major NGOs are now calling for an end to the blockade.

Ending this illegal and immoral siege is going to require a huge effort from all those who care about Palestine. It is also going to need strategic cooperation between the international aid efforts.

That’s why Viva Palestina has agreed to launch this convoy after extensive discussions with partners in Gaza and internationally, aimed at maximising rather than duplicating our efforts.

It is hoped that a new, bigger, more international flotilla will head off for Gaza at around the same time as the land convoy is there. In any case, Viva Palestina 5 will be the biggest convoy yet, with three legs – from London, from Casablanca and from Doha, converging at Al Arish.

We are asking you to get behind the convoy in whatever way you can – going on it, providing a vehicle, fundraising, promoting it and helping to ensure widespread public awareness as it travels.

The aid we are taking will be of the highest quality. The people of Gaza deserve nothing less and we have clear lists of what is needed from those who are working on the ground and who know first hand.

We aim to take some of all the different categories of humanitarian relief required in Gaza. And, of course, by doing so we aim to highlight the unjust and unsustainable siege.

Enthusiasm for this convoy is very high and we anticipate it filling up quickly. Already, support is coming in from new areas, such as major trade unions in the UK, and new coalitions to build the VP5 convoy are forming in many countries – from New Zealand to Morocco and Italy.

We are very grateful for your ongoing support for the people of Palestine and for Viva Palestina’s efforts.

There are many ways you can help, including volunteering to be part of the teams working on aid, fundraising, vehicles and so on.

Please feel free to contact us with your ideas. But don’t delay, we have eight weeks to make a major contribution to ending the suffering in the Gaza Strip and moving a step closer to justice for the Palestinian people.

To read more about the convoy, please click here – http://www.vivapalestina.org/vp5/intro.html

For details on how to register, please click here – http://www.vivapalestina.org/vp5/register.html

Intifada – Exclusive Interview with Iara Lee – Outrageous Brutality by Israeli Commandos By Elias Harb in Mexico

5 July, 2010 — Atlantic Free Press – Hard Truths for Hard Times

Iara-Lee.jpgIn the pre-dawn hours of Monday, May 31, showing a terrifying disregard for human life, Israeli naval forces surrounded and boarded ships sailing to bring humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. On the largest ship, the Mavi Marmara, Israeli commandos opened fire on civilian passengers, killing at least 9 passengers and wounding dozens more. Others are still missing. The final death toll is yet to be determined. Culturesofresistanc.org director Iara Lee was aboard the besieged ship and has since returned home safely. Despite the Israeli government’s thorough efforts to confiscate all footage taken during the attack, Iara Lee and Director of Photography Srdjan Stojiljkovic were able to retain some of the video they captured. Iara Lee recently gave this exclusive phone interview to Intifada Palestine’s Elias F. Harb.

EH: Were people aboard the Mavi Marmara who had been shot by the gunboats already being medically treated as the helicopter assault began?

IL: It’s hard to say exactly when these things happened, everything just happened so fast, that is why an international inquiry needs to investigate the events of the Flotilla Raid. Shots were fired, maybe it was mixed rubber bullets and live ammunition. I saw people who had been shot, and were bleeding to death. We never expected they were going to attack and kill. We weren’t prepared and didn’t have the necessary medical equipment to treat so many passengers who were shot, and some died by bleeding to death.

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