PRESS RELEASE: CONCERN GROWS AMONGST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS OVER FLOTILLA MISSING AND PRISONERS.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(UK, 2pm, Tuesday 1st June.)
The group said, with an information blackout from Israel preventing news of their plight reaching the media, speculation is mounting about the Internationals’ safety.
Theresa MacDermott (Scotland) Ewa Jasiewicz (Britain/Poland) and Caoimhe Butterly (Ireland) along with hundreds of other civilian passengers have not been heard from since before the Israeli attack on Monday morning. (1)
Israel has today refused Free Gaza lawyers permission to make contact with the human rights defenders.
Sharyn Lock (England), founding member of The FreeGaza Movement and author of Gaza: Beneath the Bombs, said today:
“Through my experience volunteering with ambulances in Palestine, I know Israel regularly lets civilians die without allowing medical aid reach them.” (2)
She went on to say:
“It is deplorable that family and friends are being refused contact or information and we can only speculate as to their whereabouts and injuries.”
“We call on the EU member States to fulfil their obligation to protect the safety of human rights defenders. (3)We demand that Israel allows access to the injured and imprisoned immediately.” added Vittorio Arrigoni (Italy) who was himself injured by Israeli gunboats in 2008.
ISMers and former flotilla passengers Eva Bartlett (Canada) and Alberto Arce (Spain)are also waiting to hear from their missing colleagues.
“All of us are nonviolent activists who have personally come under fire from Israeli forces, and several of us have been wounded or detained. It is common for Israeli forces to open fire with live rounds on unarmed civilians, both Palestinian and Internationals.” said Eva, from Gaza. (4)
Human rights defenders in Gaza are attacked on a daily basis. Amongst them are Bianca Zammit (Malta), who was shot while accompanying farming families in Gaza on April 25th, 2010 (5) and Adie Mormech (England),who was kidnapped and imprisoned after the FreeGaza boat The Spirit of Humanity was forcibly boarded by Israel on June 30, 2009.
All the ISMers mentioned in this release are available now for comment.
1. Ewa Jasiewicz is a freelance journalist. She and Caoimhe Butterly have trained as First Responder Medics. Theresa MacDermott is a postal worker.
Footage of Caoimhe may be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlQfsV0lS_c&feature=player_embedded
and footage of Ewa here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTPst80dPLY&feature=player_embedded
2. Alongside flotilla passengers Caoimhe and Ewa, Eva Bartlett, Sharyn Lock, Alberto Arce, and Vittorio Arrigoni worked daily with Palestinian medics during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, with Eva and Alberto filming the shooting by an Israeli sniper of medic Hassan as he tried to retrieve a body. The footage taken by Alberto and Mohammed Rujailah became their award-winning film “To Shoot an Elephant” Alongside flotilla passenger Theresa MacDermott in 2008, Vittorio Arrigoni, Eva Bartlett, and Sharyn Lock came under regular fire as they accompanied unarmed Gaza fishermen, who are often shot at not only within three miles of the Gaza shore, but actually on the beach.
3. EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders:
With related resources here:
4. Bianca Zammit received a gunshot to the thigh when Israeli soldiers fired on farming families, Gaza, 2010. Vittorio Arrigoni required ten stitches after Israeli gunboats attacked the fishing boats he was accompanying, Gaza sea 2008. Caoimhe Butterly recieved a gunshot to the thigh while rescuing Palestinian children, West Bank 2002. Sharyn Lock was shot in the stomach from an Israeli armoured personel carrier while walking backwards with her hands in the air, one of ten internationals injured, West Bank 2002.
5. Bianca says: “Israeli soldiers fire live ammunition at unarmed civilians, farmers and activists without any inhibition. On the day they shot me soldiers were shooting aggressively at the demonstrators. It was clear they had a policy of at least “shooting to injure”. I was filming and documenting when the bullet struck my leg. For me this was a clear message that Israeli soldiers do not hesitate to shoot at internationals but also that they feel threatened by our work”.
CONTACTS: (leave a message if you need them)
Sharyn Lock (England)
Vittorio Arrigoni (Italy, based in Gaza)
Eva Bartlett (Canada, based in Gaza)
Adie Mormech (England, based in Gaza)
Bianca Zammit (Malta, based in Gaza)
Alberto Arce (Spain)