Posted by CODEPINK Staff
WASHINGTON -- After this morning's Israel's abduction of 21 human rights workers, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, from their aid ship to Gaza while in international waters, the women's peace group CODEPINK calls on the Israeli government to immediately release the passengers on the ship, the Spirit of Humanity, part of the "Free Gaza" movement, as well as for release of the boat and its humanitarian cargo. CODEPINK also calls on the Obama administration to condemn the Israeli action in the strongest terms.
"This is an outrageous violation of international law against us," said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. "Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip. 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."
CODEPINK has coordinated five delegations into Gaza in the past two months, bringing nearly 200 activists from around the world to witness the destruction caused by the two-year border blockade of Gaza and Israel's 22-day military attack in December and January that killed over 1,440 Palestinians and wounded over 5,000.
McKinney and the other "Free Gaza" activists were carrying aid to Gaza, viewing it as a symbol of hope and that they could open a sea route for Palestinians that would allow them to transport materials into Gaza so they could rebuild schools, hospitals and homes.
"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.
U.S. Army Reserve (retired) and former U.S. diplomat Ann Wright said that the Israeli Navy’s actions are in violation of international law as the boat was in international waters and was not jeopardizing the security of Israel.
"The abduction of the passengers and crew from the vessel is an outrage and I call on the Obama administration to make a formal protest to the Israeli government concerning the abduction of U.S. citizens, including a former U.S. Presidential candidate," Wright said. "The Obama administration should withhold the $3 billion the U.S. gives Israel each year.”
For more information, please call Ann Wright, U.S. Army Reserve (retired) and former U.S. diplomat, 808-741-1141 or Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 415-235-6517.
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