Reports: Israeli Military Kidnaps Cynthia McKinney, Others
According to press releases from the Green Party USA, the Free Gaza Movement, and other emails I’ve received through the day, McKinney and her fellow passengers have now been taken hostage by the Israeli military.
GREEN PARTY USA PRESS RELEASE
Green Party: President Obama and the US State Dept. must demand
release of Cynthia McKinney and 20 other human rights activists on
Free Gaza relief boat seized by Israeli gunboats
• The Free Gaza’s ‘Spirit of Humanity’ was delivering medical and
other supplies following Obama’s call for relief to wartorn Gaza; the
boat was in international waters
WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party leaders are calling on the White House
and US State Department to intervene and demand the immediate release
of 21 human rights activists, including former US Rep. Cynthia
McKinney and Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire, who were taken prisoner
by the Israeli navy after gunboats surrounded and seized the Free Gaza
Movement relief boat ‘Spirit of Humanity’ on Monday.
“This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our
boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission
to the Gaza Strip,” said Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party’s 2008
candidate for President of the United States. ”President Obama just
told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and
that’s exactly what we tried to do. We’re asking the international
community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”
Read Cynthia McKinney’s latest statement here.
Ms. McKinney had earlier sent appeals to President Obama and the State
Department for assurances of protection for the relief mission. The
Spirit of Humanity was sailing in international waters when it was
seized. Greens stressed that the relief boat represents no threat to
Israel and must be allowed to continue its voyage to Gaza.
FREE GAZA MOVEMENT PRESS RELEASE
[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30pm] – Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.
“This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip,” said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. “President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. We’re asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”
According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel’s December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.
“The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of “Cast Lead”. Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone” said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland.
Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: “No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry medical and reconstruction supplies, and children’s toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters.”
Arraf continued, “Israel’s deliberate and premeditated attack on our unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand our immediate and unconditional release.”