Activists set to sail to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla 2 movement, but prevented by the Greek navy and coastguard, have begun a hunger strike outside the US embassy in Athens. The activists are calling on the US government to pressure Greece to release the detained US ship’s captain, John Klusmer, and to allow the flotilla leave for its destination.12 activists who were due to sail on the US ship to Gaza, ‘The Audacity of Hope’, as part of the Freedom Flotilla 2 have camped outside the US embassy in Athens and undertaken an ‘extended fast’ in protest of the detention of the ship’s captain John Klusmer and Greece’s denial of passage to Gaza. The US ship was blocked on Friday as it attempted to set sail to Gaza without permission from the Greek government and the captain, John Klusmer, arrested.
A statement by activist Kathy Kelly posted on the ships web site on Sunday stated; “We call on officials at the U.S. Embassy in Athens to publicly acknowledge our right to sail and to call on the Greek government to free our ship and its captain immediately.”
A Ney York lawyer due to sail with the Flotilla has protested the ‘deplorable conditions’ Klusmer has been kept during his arrest and detention in Greek prison. The activist and lawyer Richard Levy stated that Klusmer was detained with ‘no bed or toilet in his cell, and is receiving no food or water’.
The activists say they will continue with the fast until they are given permission to sail.
Israel has agreed to allow Greek government ships to transfer the cargo to Gaza under UN observation. A move Flotilla organisers have rejected. A spokesperson for the Flotilla stated that “we want to break the siege and the flotilla is not about expanding the drip of humanitarian aid to Gaza”.
According to media reports some boats were planning to sail from Greek ports on Monday despite a Greek government ban on ships departing for Gaza from Greek ports.
The ships have faced bureaucratic delays as well as technical delays caused by damage to participating ships. Flotilla activists say that the damage caused and the bureaucratic delays were part of a coordinated effort by Israel to prevent the ships sailing.
Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has praised efforts preventing the departure of ships from Greek ports. ‘I welcome all the efforts that have been made to stop the flotilla,’ Lieberman said Sunday.