21 still detained and refusing to sign false statements
Of the 27 human rights defenders captured during Israel’s illegal takeover of the Freedom Waves to Gaza vessels on Friday, 4 November, 20 remain in Givon prison and the whereabouts of one is unknown.
Israeli officials have been claiming that all 27 people aboard the MV Saoirse and the MV Tahrir have been released or are awaiting deportation. This is not true. Irish Ship to Gaza can confirm that six people have been released or deported. These are Majd Kayyal (Palestinian from Haifa), Lina Attalah (Journalist from Egypt), Casey James (Journalist from the US), Aimane Zoubir (Journalist from Morocco), Captain George Klontzas (Greece) and Captain Zacharias Stylianakis. No Irish citizens have been released or deported.
The whereabouts of British journalist, Hassan Ghani of PressTV is unknown. On Saturday prison authorities told lawyers that Hassan was not at the prison, yet we know that he has not yet been released. Freedom Waves organisers demand that the Israeli authorities reveal where Hassan Ghani is being held, and that he be allowed access to a lawyer.
The Israeli authorities have tried to pressure the human rights defenders that remain in Israeli prison to sign a voluntary deportation agreement (waiver of right to see a judge) in order to be deported immediately. All of the Irish abductees refused to sign, not because they want to come before an Israeli judge, but rather because the waiver states that they came to Israel voluntarily and entered the country illegally, which is patently untrue in light of the fact that Israeli naval ships violently seized the Saoirse and Tahrir, and forcibly transported them and all on board to Ashdod. Israeli authorities have ignored requests by the group’s lawyer to deport the activists immediately without having to sign a form that contains falsities meant to absolve Israel of responsibility for illegal abduction of foreign nationals in international waters.
Because they have refused to sign the waiver, they will according to Israeli law be detained for 72 hours and then brought before an immigration judge, who will rubberstamp the deportation order. After this mock legal process, deportation will commence. For the first 24 hours of their abduction, none of the activists, crew, or journalists, were allowed to call a lawyer or family members. On Sunday, a few were able to make one one-minute phone call.
NOTE: Various accounts from prisoners have come out contradicting Israel’s claim of a peaceful takeover of the boats. Some activists were tasered and beaten, and at least one of the captains abused during interrogation. For some of the accounts that we have been able to obtain, please see: www.tahrir.ca andwww.irishshiptogaza.org.
For more information, contact:
Laurence Davis 086 360 5053
Claudia Saba 086 393 8821