Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

33. Latest from Canadian boat Tahrir

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Also see two new journal entries from Bob Lovelace, below, after this update from Toronto Star reporter Jim Rankin, aboard the Tahrir:

Monday July 4, from Agios Nikolaos on the island of Crete

Flotilla plans changed over night.

In a briefing aboard the Canadian boat this morning, delegates learned that not all of the flotilla ships will attempt to move today, as previously planned.

That is not the case with the Canadian boat Tahrir. All delegates, including contingents from Australia, Belgium Denmark and Turkey, and media have moved on board this morning.

“Read my lips,” said Stephan Corriveau, a member of the steering committee told delegates. “This boat will sail today.”

“With or without legal permission,” added fellow organizer David Heap, a professor of linguistics and French at the University of Western Ontario.

The 25-metre ship is under the constant watch of the Greek coast guard. A coast guard vessel is tied up 10 metres from the stern of the Tahrir. The boat is stuck here, forbidden from leaving port by a Greek edict that was issued Friday forbidding the departure of flotilla ships to Gaza.

There is also red tape with the port authority involving on board requirements, including bed sizes (there are none, only benches and hammocks). Organizers hope to clear those hurdles today.

Bob Lovelace’s Journal 9 – July 2, 2011

My plan had been to be home on July 2, but here I am with other Candians, Belgians, Danish, Turks, an American and a German. Together we make up a wonderful team.

You all know by now that Greece is finding itself in the first stages of colonialism.  Agio Nicolaos the harbour we are in has become an Israeli port. In fact, the State of Israel, the IMF and the US have began to determine Greek internal policy. These are my own observations but this is also what we hear from the Greek people. In the words of a Greek man coming out of the Port Authority offices last night (protectd by officers with flack jackets and machine guns) “Greece is now nothing more than a colony.” Today the people of Agio Nicolaos are being leafleted by local politicians with a letter that says that the Greek govenment had stolen their dignity.

Our team began to resist the take over of the Tahrir yeasterday afternoon. The Greek Minister of Public Saftey has issued a blanket statement that restricts boats under Greek or International flags destined for Gaza from leaving Greek harbours. In addition the Port Authority has been instructed to do inspection after inspection, making up new conditions and final demanded the ships papers. We had a short peaceful protest on the dock and boat and they were unable to take the papers. However the Coast Guard blocked the entrance to the harbour. Today we are sitting idle waiting for international lawyers to haggle through negotiations.

This afternoon one of the Ausies and I got a kayak* and paddled out of the harbour with a box of medicine toward Gaza. It was an opportunity to test the Harbour police and Coast guard and give the press something to do. There was almost no reaction from the Harbour police but lots of photos for the international press. It is really important for people in Canada and the world to protest the delay of the the Freedom Flotilla.

I hear there is a demonstration of support in Toronto this afternoon. Everyone here is thankful for the support we are getting from home.

Most of now are checked out of the hotels and staying on the Tahrir.  Now we are eating our own “home cooked food”.  What a relief!

[MR: * A photo of the inspired kayak voyage is here. (http://images.scribblelive.com/2011/7/2/423d7bb9-b9d3-40bb-9141-be35677a2bf6_500.jpg)

Journal 10, July 3, 2011

The news today is that we will make an effort to leave for Gaza tomorrow. At present the Greek Coast Gard is parked next to the Tahrir at the mouth of the Agio Nikolaos harbour. The latest Israeli spin is that everyone is giving up and going home but this is not the case or any where else on the Flotilla. While we miss home we remain committed to the mission.

Almost everyone slept on board last night. It was a beautiful clear night with a slight breeze. I slept on the top deck underneith the stars.

The visible support here continues to grow. Many Greeks have told me that they would like a free Mediteranian where all people can access there coasts and ports. Support for the Israeli blockade of Gaza does not exist here.

One of the reasons for our delay is that the Captain is Greek and well respected in this port. He has run the Blockade before and is fearless in this matter. His concern is that he must comply with Greek maritime laws. He lives here and his livelihood depends upon his good relations. He is personal friends are members of the Harbour.

The crew is also Greek. They are wonderfully helpful, supportive and brave. I will be sending pictures through the day to day.

Take care, take notice, take action,

Bob Lovelace

MR: 11:18 AM Eastern Standard Time, Monday July 4, Toronto Star reporter Jim Rankin reports that kayakers blocked the Coast Guard momentarily while the Tahrir set out from the harbour, heading for Gaza, with the Coast Guard in close pursuit.

Follow Rankin’s live reports here (http://livenews.thestar.com/Event/Aboard_the_Gaza_flotilla.)

Author: Michael Riordon

Canadian writer and documentary-maker Michael Riordon writes/ directs/produces books and articles, audio, video and film documentaries, plays for radio and stage. A primary goal of his work is to recover voices and stories of people who have been silenced or marginalized, written out of the official version: First Nations (aboriginal) youth, Mozambican farmers, inmates in Canadian prisons, traditional healers in Fiji, queer folk across Canada, Guatemalan labour activists. Michael also leads courses, workshops and seminars for community organizations, trade unions, schools, colleges and universities.

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