Yesterday the Israeli Navy forcibly boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat Spirit of Humanity in international waters and kidnapped 21 human rights workers and journalists who were on their way to deliver much needed humanitarian and reconstruction supplies to Gaza. Those abducted by the Israeli Navy include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney.
Since their kidnapping, tens-of-thousands of people around the world have mobilized to demand their immediate and unconditional release. Although deeply grateful for international support, Free Gaza said the following:
“With respect, it is not enough. We are not the story. Since its founding in 1948 the State of Israel has regularly kidnapped and tortured Palestinians, throwing them into forgotten prisons where they can languish for years.”
According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, in May 2009 there were nearly 8,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody. As Free Gaza notes, many have been held without benefit of due process, some never even charged. These men, women, and children endure torture and isolation in Israeli jails, outdoor prison camps, and secret black sites. And they come from all walks of life, including doctors, journalists, workers, homemakers, students and others.
The 21 passengers aboard the Spirit of Humanity have been illegally incarcerated for their human rights efforts. Thousands of others are already imprisoned, and many of them are illegally incarcerated.
We would like to take this opportunity to ask you to reach out to your U.S. Senators and Representatives. Ask them to contact the State Department on behalf of Palestinian political prisoners and join us in demanding that they be allowed due process.