“[The seizure of the Estelle by Israeli forces] not only happened against these passengers who were on the Estelle, it was against everybody who was supporting this mission to ending the siege in Gaza.” - Huseyin Oruç, Vice-President of IHH
This week on The Electronic Intifada podcast:
- A twelve-year-old Palestinian boy is arrested by Israel ten times in three years;
- Convicted and jailed leaders with the Holy Land Foundation, the charity that was closed by the Bush administration a decade ago, prepare for their last legal recourse;
- Overdoses on the rise as the Gaza siege turns some to the escape of painkillers;
- Protests and strikes as Israel raids Bedouin villages and threatens to destroy more homes in the Negev/Naqab desert;
- An exclusive interview with the vice-president of the Turkish human rights organization IHH, the humanitarian relief organization which sponsored the Mavi Marmara boat to Gaza in 2010, as the group’s lawyers file a complaint against Israel for the army’s seizure of the Gaza-bound Swedish boat Estelle last week;
- News from the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
Rush transcript: Huseyin Oruç, Vice-President of IHH, 26 October 2012
The Electronic Intifada:: If you can talk a little about how lawyers are preparing to file a lawsuit against these Israeli leaders about what happened to the Estelle last week.
Huseyin Oruç: The first incident, the Mavi Marmara incident, happened around 2 1/2 years ago, on 31 May 2010, and nine people were killed by the [Israeli] soldiers. And many of us had been injured and other people have been affected, at least they have been kidnapped from the high sea, and they have been jailed in Israeli prisons. After we returned to Turkey and all other countries… in this mission there were many people from different countries — 38 countries, and 600 people had been directly affected from these incidents.
…Our lawyers had applied to the court and opened a case against the responsible people from Israel. And they have prepared all the proof we have collected from many sources, especially the United Nations’ fact-finding mission commission’s report was one of the most important proofs of this circumstance, and our lawyers have used these reports to open the case against the responsible peoples. This preparation takes a long time, around 2 months, and the Turkish courts have accepted the case last May, in 2011. The first trial will be on the 6th of November this year, and there are many people from Israel will be on this case and we will look to justice for the peoples who have been directly affected from the attacks. And we hope that the responsible Israeli people will be punished [by] the Turkish courts.
EI: Huseyin, can you talk about how the lawyers are preparing for the lawsuit that just came up this week as Israel seized another boat, the Estelle, coming from Sweden?
HO: Yes. The Estelle belongs to Sweden, but it’s also a part of the coalition. After the Mavi Marmara incident, after the Freedom Flotilla problems, we didn’t separate the coalitions, and new members have joined us. All others are working together toward ending the siege in Gaza. The Estelle is part of the coalition, and we are [all] supporting all the Estelle missions, and we have followed [it] very closely, we have joined all the meetings. When these kinds of attacks again happened on the Estelle [by] the [Israeli] soldiers, on [that] day we couldn’t collect any information. We didn’t know about what [was happening] on the sea, and what was the position of the people, we didn’t know [if] still the same thing was happening — was there anyone who was killed, or any injured peoples. There was no information. Our lawyers have prepared a similar case against the [Israeli] soldiers, and they have applied to the court, and probably this case also will be accepted.
In Turkey, it is possible — you can open the case against the other nationalities, and if there is any crime against humanity, you have the right to open a case. And probably for the Estelle, the same thing happened — only there was no Turkish citizens, but it is not important. All of them were a part of the mission, and Turkey was one of the supporters of the Estelle mission. This not only happened against the passengers who were on the Estelle, it was against everybody who are supporting these missions … to ending the siege in Gaza.
EI: Let’s go back to the Mavi Marmara discussion and talk a little bit more about what happened 2 1/2 years ago, when Israeli naval forces raided the boat and ended up killing nine civilians, including a 19-year-old boy, Furkan Dogan, who was a dual citizen of Turkey and the US. Can you talk about how the Turkish government has been looking at this case, and how you expect this trial to begin and move forward on 6 November.
HO: Just one clarification, Furkan Dogan was killed by [Israeli] soldiers on the Mavi Marmara — he had only one citizenship, American citizenship. He didn’t have a Turkish citizenship …
EI: Okay, thank you.
HO: … He was a true American citizen. After this incident happened, Turkey has defended all the peoples — not only Turkish, all the passengers — on every level. And at least from the beginning, the Turkish government has made a huge pressure on Israel, and they have taken back all the passengers, all the injured people, and everybody and the boats have been returned to Turkey. Turkey has put these conditions … there were many conditions. Some of them are already fulfilled by the Israelis — returning of the passengers, returning of the boats, and some other conditions have been fulfilled by Israel.
There were three main conditions from the Turkish side — one is apologize to Turkey, and all the passengers who were on the flotilla, and compensations to families [of the nine] who were killed in the attacks, and ending the siege in Gaza. Still, Turkey is repeating on every level, especially the prime minister, who is repeating regularly these three conditions.
We are looking [to] the Israeli side to fulfill these conditions. After these attacks, Turkey has defended the rights of the people on every level, as I said, especially in the United Nations’ human rights commissions — immediately, one fact-finding commission has been performed, and they have worked very professionally and they have prepared very good reports about the Freedom Flotilla case. There were three judges from different countries, and they have talked with the passengers. They made investigations on the boats, and they have taken very good support from professionals. They have prepared very important reports, and these reports have been accepted by the human rights commissions.
In these reports, it was very serious. They found very serious crimes against the people. The most important one — these reports said that Israel has killed 9 people willfully. And they have prepared themselves for killing, not for stopping the boats. They came to the boats and they killed all these people intentionally. They found systematic torture against passengers. Also they have defined that taking the boats from international waters to Israeli ports was a kidnapping. And piracy. There were many things, there were many crimes that have been defined. And we hope that all these crimes will be carried to international criminal courts.
But unfortunately after these reports, at the General Secretary level, they tried to make these reports in a different line, and they have created a new platform and have invited Turkey to partner commissions — in partner commissions there are no results. But Turkey is following [up] on the first reports, and we hope the results of these reports will be very important on every level.