UPDATE: The Captain of the US Boat has just been released from jail. The charges have not been dropped, but he is free to go anywhere, no bail, no restriction. More details when available.
by Medea Benjamin
by Medea Benjamin
Nine passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza began an open-ended fast in front of the U.S. Embassy on the evening of July 3, calling on the U.S. government to pressure Greece to release our Captain and ship. We staked out a little area across the street from the Embassy entrance, decorating it with Free Gaza/Free Our Boat signs and two American flags placed upside down as a distress signal.
At 10pm, several hundred flotilla supporters, most of them from Greece, marched to the Embassy to show solidarity with us. The Greek police blocked off the street to keep the two groups apart, but the fasters linked arms and marched down the road to meet them in a joyous reunion. After singing and chanting together (separated by a police line), the marchers moved on.
|Linda Durham was also detained.|
The fasters were then harassed by police, who insisted that we could not spend the night in front of the Embassy. The police were very apologetic, not anxious to arrest a group of fasting Americans on the 4th of July. But they were getting pressure from their officers to move us, as all embassies have secure areas around them. They said that if our embassy gave us permission to stay, then we could. We tried for hours to get in touch with a representative from the embassy. One wonders what happens in a real emergency! Finally the Duty Officer said that the Embassy did not authorize our stay.
At midnight, the police reluctantly lifted us up and put us into police cars. The nine people detained are Linda Durham, Ken Mayers, Carol Murry, Paki Wieland, Ray McGovern, Brad Taylor, Kit Kitteridge, Kathy Kelly and myself (Medea Benjamin). They took us to the police station, where we had to give them our passports and other details. After detaining us for three hours, we were released at 3am.
Undeterred, the fasters are back at the Embassy today, continuing the vigil.
Once again, our embassy has proven to be deaf to our cries, working hand-in-glove with the Israelis to thwart are mission. How shameful, especially on the 4th of July! It’s time for theU.S. to declare its independence from Israel!
Make sure to watch the video of our reunion with the Greek supporters!
Let’s keep the pressure on Washington. They need to tell the Greek government to release our captain and our boat.
Here are some other numbers and email addresses:
• State Department general number: 202-647-4000 - ask for the Overseas U.S. Citizen Services Duty Officer and you’ll get a live State Dept. official who has to hear you out.
• You can email the U.S. Embassy in Athens at: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can send an email to them at: email@example.com
• If you can place an international phone call, the number for the U.S. Embassy in Athens is 011-30-210-721-2951.
Please also try to call, fax or email your members of Congress as well.
More information is on our website: ustogaza.org
Help us keep the pressure up. Thanks for all the support!