Palestine: Freedom Flotilla martyrs honoured in Gaza

(Photo: Free Gaza Movement.)

International Solidarity Movement
PNGO: and

Convened by the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO, focal point of Social Watch), hundreds of people gathered in Mina, the port of Gaza City, to honour the nine Turkish activists killed by Israeli forces that attacked the Freedom Flotilla on 31 May 2010. At the same time, the organisation made its complaints to the authorities in Ramallah about the new legal restrictions to its activities imposed by the government of President Mahmoud Abbas.

The gathering in Gaza occurred on 30 and 31 May. That second day, Palestinian government in Gaza also unveiled the Freedom Flotilla Martyrs Memorial and Square, a project of the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing and the Ministry of Transportation.

Both events drew hundreds of Palestinians and representatives of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, as well as members of the International Solidarity Movement, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation and other foreign groups.

The monument is composed of nine 12-meter-hight sails, symbolizing the nine martyrs, in addition to a metal ball symbolizing planet Earth which crowns the top of the edifice, Yasser Al-Shanti, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, explained.

After the ceremony, dozens of participants took to the sea in boats, tossing flowers into the waves to commemorate the shooting deaths of

Cengiz Akyüz (42), Ali Haydar Bengi (39), Ibrahim Bilgen (61), Furkan Doğan (19), Cevdet Kılıçlar (38), Cengiz Songür (47), Çetin Topçuoğlu (53), Fahri Yaldız (43), and Necdet Yıldırım (32).

Their killings sparked global outrage and were condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Council as the result of a “series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law.” The international reaction forced the Israeli government to modify its occupation policies, although without removing the siege on Gaza.

They also came only three weeks before the launch of Freedom Flotilla – Stay Human, which will send 15 ships to challenge the blockade.

The risks of the new law of charities
On Tuesday 31 May, civil society institutions, political leaders and members of the Legislative Council held a meeting at the headquarters of the PNGO in Ramallah to discuss the law of charities and other organizations passed at the end of April by Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas.

This new regulation represents a violation of the basic law, the law of charities and civil law in force since the year 2000, and a flagrant encroachment on the freedom of civil society’s work, according to the PNGO.

The participants of the meeting agreed that it’s necessary to resort to the judiciary, to meet with representatives of political parties and members of the parliament and to inform the Palestinian public of the risks that these institutions runs and the way they can affect the population.

The new law envisages the possibility that the Palestinian authorities transfer institutions’ assets, both movable and immovable, to the public treasury.

The discussion came as a result of a meeting at the office of Jihad al-Wazir, Governor of the Monetary Authority in Ramallah on Sunday 29 May. 

Al-Wazir was briefed on the work of the institutions and the impact of the new law on their work and services. They also considered the role these institutions played during the occupation and the services they offer to the Palestinian public. 

The discussion also included the right of the institutions to open sub-accounts under their main bank account, a more lenient legal process that would allow them to open up sub-accounts under their main account, and to extend the validity of the authorized signatories to the bank.