Veteran human rights campaigner and union leader, Mike Treen, is about to join the 2018 international Freedom Flotilla determined to challenge Israel’s 11-year inhumane naval blockade of Gaza later this month.
Treen says it is "a great honour to be asked to participate and a chance to deepen solidarity between workers in New Zealand and Palestine.
"We need an international campaign to isolate apartheid Israel in the same way we did against Apartheid South Africa," said Mr Treen. "I see my participation in this trip as the logical continuation and extension to my participation in the Biko Squad against the Springbok Tour of New Zealand."
Supported by New Zealand/Palestine solidarity group, Kia Ora Gaza, and hundreds of Kiwi donors, Treen will be New Zealand’s representative on this humanitarian solidarity mission, following in the wake of Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson who joined the Women’s Boat to Gaza two years ago. Treen flies to Sicily this weekend to board the leading flotilla boat, a former Norwegian fishing trawler.
Kia Ora Gaza has written to the Minister of foreign affairs, Hon Winston Peters asking him to demand that Israel allows the flotilla "safe and unhindered passage" to Gaza.
The fleet of four boats carrying prominent human rights defenders from over 20 countries, and a quantity of much-needed medical supplies, expects to be intercepted and detained by the Israeli navy before reaching their destination, as most previous efforts have. If they break through the blockade and reach Gaza, the boats will be donated to the Gazan fishermen. The flotilla’s progress can be followed on Facebook and the website: www.kiaoragaza.net
The progress of boat Mike will travel on (M/V Al-Awda - “The Return" - registered under the name “Kaarstein“) can be followed in real time here: https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/follow-the-mission
There was worldwide outrage when eight years ago Israeli commandos raided a similar Gaza-bound peace flotilla in international waters, killing 10 civilians and wounding dozens more.
Often referred to as ‘the world’s largest open-air prison’, Gaza is home to 2 million Palestinians, most of whom are impoverished refugees confined to the tiny coastal enclave by Israel’s harsh siege.
Israel – a colonial occupation with one of the strongest military forces in the world, continually bombards Gaza with sophisticated weapons as an on-going illegal act of ‘collective punishment’. Gaza has no army, no navy and no air force. Medical and other civil services are in a state of near collapse.
This week Israel has imposed even tighter restrictions on Gaza at the only border crossing for goods, prohibiting all imports & exports, and enforced a reduced fishing zone from nine nautical miles to six.
Treen says, "these attempts to strangle the lives and hopes of millions of human beings is a war crime that should be met with worldwide condemnation and action to break the blockade now.
"The time for worldwide action by governments and civil society is now. I hope my participation in this new attempt to break the naval blockade can contribute towards that goal."
A farewell function is planned for Thursday, 6.30pm at the Auckland Trades Hall, 147 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Supporters also plan to see him off at the Auckland International Airport on Friday night at 9pm.