May 22, 2010 11:25:45 AM PDT (CA)
I just arrived at the Free Gaza apartment in Larnaca Cyprus and will be flying on to Crete tomorrow to hopefully join one of the Free Gaza boats. I'm told there will be far more then the original 600 passengers going to Gaza with more then 500 going from Turkey alone on a huge passenger ship. Carlos could you or someone pass this email on to Chris Cook or phone him and ask him to send me an email at my home address as I forgot to bring his address with me. I'm told there will be easy email access for me in Gaza so hopefully I'll be sending regular reports. I'm told there is huge need for replacement ISM volunteers in Gaza as some volunteers have been waiting over a year to get out.
Got to some sleep so goodnight friends.
Mon, 24 May 2010 19:34:25 -0700
Thank you for all the support. It's been very good to get all your phone calls, unfortunately my neighbours in the hotel are not a pleased!! As such I'm not going to accept any calls late at night here at the hotel (between noon and 9PM your time).
If anyone is interested Chris Cook will be playing an interview he just did with me at 5 to 6PM Monday night (tonight) on UVic radio's CFUV (101.9??). Sorry for the short notice but there was no way of knowing it was going to happen until my phone rang a while ago. If you miss it, it will be available on line at Chris' "Gorilla Radio" program site on the CFUV website.
Regarding what the Free Gaza Flotilla has been up to I'd again suggest you check out http://Freegaza.org or a new website
In a past email I wrote that the Israeli's were setting up a detention camp for us in Ashkalon but I should have wrote Ashdod. It better be a big camp as there are well over 700 Turkish peace activists on their three ships let alone all the folks from 49 other nations on the other 6 ships. There will be a film crew from the Australian national TV channel and at least two other professional film makers that I know of and various print and radio media. We have also been getting training in our response to being detained and jailed in Israel and the expected deportations. We are all not going to cooperate with our illegal arrest and deportation so again it's going to be "interesting" how the Israeli's deal with us all. When the Israeli navy illegally boarded and seized the last Free Gaza ship, beating several of the passengers, they towed it into an Israeli port and then charged all the passengers with "illegally entering Israel" and deported them all. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad and serious. Thanks for all your support. You are all a long ways away but it feels good just to say hello.
Well as usual I've got to get some sleep.
Bye for now.
Mon, 24 May 2010 19:40:40 -0700
Did stability tests on the ships today and they passed. There about 22 volunteers here between two ships. The Israeli media is reporting that the military is setting up a giant holding pen for the hundreds of detainees they are planning to scoop up. It's apparently in Ashkolon at the waterfront. We've been going thru non violent resistance and jail solidarity traiining. There is a huge amount of media coverage in the Scandinavian countries, and Europe and I'm told even the |US media is picking up on this story. Is there anything in the Canadian media? Got to run to more training. \Talk to you later. My phone number for the next day or so before I leave is ~~~~ and ask for room 510. There's a 10 time difference, noon in Victoria is 10 PM here. Call me between 1PM and 8PM Victoria time when I'll definately be in the room (sleeping).
Wed, May 26, 2010 at 1:48 PM
My ship the Challenger II leaves tomorrow morning at 7am so this will be the last email until I get set up in Gaza. We should arrive at the Gaza water border mid day Friday (10 hours earlier for you folks). You can supposedly watch everything unfold in real time video at
Well as usual I need my beauty sleep so goodnight for now. If the camera is on me I'll try to wave. Feel free to pass this around to any friends I might have missed on my "Gaza friends" email list.
If on earth there breathes a slave, are ye truely free and brave?
Thu, 27 May 2010 22:50:42 -0700
So we're on our way tomorrow morning and will be in Gaza by Friday. The crews are busy loading food, water, banners, and supplies for Gaza. And of course lots of diesel fuel as it is a long trip from Crete to Gaza. We will have to refuel at sea somewhere along the way, which is causing some tension as that alone will cost $10,000 and funds are running low due to delays and the fact the MV Rachel Corrie had to spend an extra day in port for repairs. (She is now well on her way and past Gibraltar and then some).
Anyone who knows me, knows I don't often make pitches for donations, but the organisers have asked that all the volunteers try their best to help out. Just so you know that I'm doing my bit, I've donated half of my own cash, which was supposed to keep me housed and fed in Gaza for three months. I've been told that "they are 'quite' sure my credit card will work in the Gaza bank machines" which is "sort of" reassuring. So anyway if any of you were thinking of pitching in to support this flotilla now is the time. I believe that the Freegaza.org website has a Pay Pal site to make donations quick, safe and easy. If you make such a donation let me know by email asap and I will personally announce your solidarity and sing your praises at the next group meeting.
Nothing much else to report other then the captain is purchasing lots of seasickness bags and "cream crackers" and hard tack as he says it will help calm our tummies. From my past experience working on ships that is a sure sign that we are heading into some rough weather, as captains never waste money on nonessentials.
My cell phone is now up and running so feel free to drop me a line, just don't do it between noon and 9 PM your time as that is sleeping time for me and I desperately need my beauty sleep these days. Once I leave sight of Crete by tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon I'll be out of touch until I hit Gaza. Watch for me on the http://witnessgaza.com site's live videos (or is that .org?)
Take care and bye for now.
Published on Sunday, May 30, 2010 by
Life Aboard an International Activist Ship
by Ann Wright
There is nothing easy about planning or conducting an international action, especially with moving parts called ships! Yet, activists on board keep their spirits afloat!
After delays caused by damaged propellers and broken steering mechanisms, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla now reduced to seven ships is heading for Gaza.
Yesterday, May 29, 2010, in a major confrontation, the Greek Cypriot government, under substantial pressure from the Israeli government, refused to allow members of the Irish and Scottish Parliament, and other dignitaries, board Challenger 1 that would bring them to the flotilla waiting some 50 miles from Cyprus. The group travelled to the Turkish Cypriot side of the island and boarded Challenger 1, whose steering had been repaired.
Despite delays and damaged ships, spirit on board the ships is high, particularly on board the Challenger 1 that arrived in the flotilla this morning at 1:30am carrying German members of Parliament, Belgians, Irish and UK citizens, some of whom have been on the three-day odyssey from Crete to Cyprus and now to the flotilla.
In the 36 hours I’ve been on board the 600-passenger Turkish ship, life has developed into a routine of sleeping, eating, watching the horizon. Virtually everyone is sleep-deprived. All of the passengers are activists in their home countries. They have been fundraising, speaking and travelling for months and years for the plight of the Palestinians. They are seldom without email, computers, mobile calls. Yet, on board the ship, there is only expensive satellite phone service, if you brought your own sat phone, and satellite internet service on the ship is only for journalists to file their stories about the flotilla.
So, for the first time in many months, very active people have extra time on their hands. Time for lengthy conversations with activists from the other 50 countries, time for interviews with the considerable media and time for a well-needed nap on the floor of the deck or in one of the passenger lounges.
The Mava Marmara is a day passenger ferry with no cabins or private areas. About ninety percent of the passengers come from Muslim countries, mostly Arab-Muslim, but substantial delegations from Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country and from Malaysia. In deference to cultural norms, one lounge has been turned into a women’s only lounge, where women eat, sleep and hold conversations on humanitarian programs, religion and a variety of other topics, as women are wont to do. Women have free run of the ship and participate in all the activities of the ship, but do have a “refuge” from the activity of the ship.
Meals on board an activist ship rather than a cruise liner are basic, but very good. Hot tea and Nescafe are available 24 hours a day as is powdered soups. Breakfast is tomatoes, feta cheese, bread, honey. Lunch and dinner is from cans—the choices are beef and potatoes, beans and rice stuffed peppers. Apples and oranges are available during the day. Snacks of nuts, bread and muffins. Last night, we had our first hot meal. The IHH staff cooked a meal of grilled meat kabobs, with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
Conversations automatically turn to Gaza.
Those of us who have been in Gaza, particularly since the Israeli 22 day attack over one year and five months ago that killed 1440, wounded 5,000 and left 50,000 homeless, describe what we saw—the destroyed buildings, lives turned upside down and yet an incredible spirit of the Palestinians to survive the horrific effects of the Israeli attack and long term brutal effects of the three year siege that has made Gaza an “open-air prison.”
Last night, all the passengers on the ship gathered to hear from the leaders of the various groups that had sent materials and delegations. Turkey, Greece, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malaysia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Ireland all gave spirited talks about why they have worked so hard to be here.
I’ve just been told that we are going to transfer 4 of us whom have been on the Marmara onto the Challenger 1 so 4 on that boat will be able to come on the big ship.
So, off I go to back to the small boat and then off to Gaza we go, I hope!
Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. Wright made three trips to Gaza in 2009 and helped organize the Gaza Freedom March that in December, 2009 brought 1350 persons from 44 countries to Cairo, Egypt in an attempt to break the siege of Gaza. She is the co-author of the book "Dissent: Voices of Conscience."