BOATS to GAZA-The “Freedom Riders” of this Era

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By Ayesha K. Mustafaa

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Imagine for a moment the rows and rows of flotillas lined up ready to go into GAZA for a humanitarian, human rights cause. And then they are stopped. Some held at gun point – they are not welcomed here.

Imagine for a moment the rows of buses on the interstate highways on their way into Alabama and Mississippi, trying to break a blockade on human rights and to enforce Civil Rights for the African American people of those southern states and elsewhere.

What has one to do with the other? It should be obvious. Where there is no justice, there can be no peace. When human rights are trampled and Civil Rights denied, eventually a ripple goes out across humanity and more than those immediately affected are moved into action.

Their human souls want them to do something to alleviate such unjust massive suffering. The people of GAZA are suffering from the stranglehold put on them by the Israeli military might. Israel’s collective punishment of a whole people has and is causing hard to bring to terms human suffering.

Despite all of its attempts, the world has been put on alert, just like the world’s eye of condemnation turned on South Africa for its inhumane Apartheid system. And so did the world’s eye turn on our own country, the United States of America, in its age of chattel slavery of the African people and then again during the Jim Crow days of post slavery.

Going back further, it is also amazing that among the participants in the Freedom Flotilla are Alice Walker, Pulitzer-prize winner author, and former Anishanaabek Chief Robert Lovelace. Lovelace is a professor of Indigenous Studies at Queen’s University in Canada.

Lovelace also was jailed for protesting uranium mining claims on his people’s territory. He feels obligated to also stand up against Israel’s illegal sea blockade of Gaza, that has left the Palestinian people without nutrition for adults and children, without proper medicines for the sick, and eventual to strip a people of all hope.

These boats are participating in the second international Freedom Flotilla and are a coalition of nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations from more than half a dozen countries that will sailed through international waters to Gaza.

The first Flotilla that sailed last year ended in tragedy when Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish boat and killed nine activists, including an American Citizen.

The Israelis imposed the sea blockade on Gaza in 2006, five years ago, after Hamas candidates won a sweeping victory in a certified clean and democratic election overseen by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Lovelace left Canada going to Greece and from there planned to go to Gaza on the Flotilla on July 4, but they were detained in Greece, as the Greek officials said “for their own protection.” The U.S. Boat to Gaza, called the “Audacity of Hope,” attempted to leave Greece on July 1 but also was stopped by Greek authorities.

Upon the detentions by Greek authorities, the international press conference was called and attending along with Lovelace and Walker were Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and former diplomat who resigned in 2003 in protest to the Iraq War; and Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian American with Israeli citizenship and who founded the “Free Gaza” Movement. Arraf also is a international human rights attorney, specializing in humanitarian law.

Ten elected members from the parliaments of France, Norway, Sweden and Spain attended the press conference and also intended to board the Freedom Flotilla boats. The banner behind the panel of speakers at the press conference, read in Greek: “We are breaking the blockade.”

For a day-to-day report on the status of the Flotillas to Gaza, visit the website http://ustogaza.org. Also visit the Indian Country Today Media Network – http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com

Just as 50 years ago, when the Freedom Ride bus came into Alabama and was firebombed, it did not deter the movement. Another bus load of students came out of Tennessee headed to Alabama.

At its helm, a young 20-something-year-old Diane Nash was the leader of this busload. When she received the call of urgency telling her not to bring those students down to Alabama, admonishing her with, “… young lady, you are going to get those people killed…,” her reply was: “Sir, we have all signed our last will and testament.”

Some oppression may be subtle, hard to put your finger on. And some oppression is so overt, it screams for relief. It appears the Palestinian people are being heard, regardless of all the attempts to silence them.

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