Skip to content
View Featured Image

Under Israeli Pressure, Guinea Bissau Moves To Withdraw Flotilla Flags

Istanbul, Turkiye: On Thursday afternoon, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition was contacted by the Guinea Bissau International Ships Registry (GBISR), requesting an inspection of our lead ship – Akdenez. This was a highly unusual request as our ship had already passed all required inspections; nevertheless, we agreed. The inspector arrived on Thursday evening. On Friday afternoon, before the inspection was completed, the GBISR, in a blatantly political move, informed the Freedom Flotilla Coalition that it had withdrawn the Guinea Bissau flag from two of the Freedom Flotilla’s ships, one of which is our cargo ship, already loaded with over 5000 tons of life-saving aid for the Palestinians of Gaza.

In its communication informing us of this cancelation, the GBISR made specific reference to our planned mission to Gaza. It also made several extraordinary requests for information, including confirmation of the ships’ destination, any potential additional port calls, and the discharge port for humanitarian aid and estimated arrival dates and times. It further demanded a formal letter explicitly approving the transportation of humanitarian aid and a complete manifest of the cargo.

Again, this is a highly unusual move from a flagging authority. Normally, national flagging authorities concern themselves only with safety and related standards on vessels bearing their flag, and are not concerned with the destination, route, cargo manifests or the nature of a specific voyage. Just like when you register your car, the authorities don’t require you to detail to them every place you are going to go with the car.

Sadly, Guinea-Bissau has allowed itself to become complicit in Israel’s deliberate starvation, illegal siege and genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. Israel is showing the world the extent to which it will go to deny Palestinians the aid they need to stay alive, in direct contravention of International Humanitarian Law, UN Security Council resolutions, and two orders of the International Court of Justice. Israel is only allowed to get away with this because we have an international order where law does not apply equally, where people are not valued the same, and where might equals right. The US has hijacked international law and is violating its own laws to protect Israel at every turn. A recently-leaked USAID memo states that “famine in Gaza is inevitable,” and that “changes could reduce but not stop widespread civilian deaths.” It also states that the government of Israel does not currently demonstrate necessary compliance with U.S. law required to receive U.S. military aid. Nevertheless, last week, the U.S. Congress passed and Biden signed a $26 billion aid package for Israel. It is this kind of naked impunity, over decades, that has brought us to this point where Israel can carry out a genocide, that includes a public declaration by Israel’s leaders that it is going to deliberately starve children, and not only face no consequences, but also involve a majority of world governments in its crimes. While our governments claim to care about Palestinian lives, they are complying, and indeed enforcing a situation where a state that has been found to be plausibly committing a genocide, is allowed to control what, if any life-saving aid gets to the people trying to stay alive. Yesterday, the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food, on the Right to Housing, and on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, issued a statement stating that civil society initiatives like the Freedom Flotilla are important precisely because governments are not complying with their obligations under international law and many of these governments are even complicit in Israel’s siege and genocide. The statement affirmed that ours was a legitimate challenge to Israel’s control over the delivery of aid to Gaza and it demanded safe passage for our flotilla. However, without a flag, we cannot sail. But, this is not the end. Israel cannot and will not crush our resolve to break its illegal siege and reach the people of Gaza. The people of Gaza and all of Palestine remain steadfast under the most horrific, unimaginable conditions. We take strength from their incredible, inexplicable ability to maintain their humanity, dignity and hope when the world has given them no reason to do so.

It is our responsibility to keep that hope alive. WE WILL SAIL.

Sign Up To Our Daily Digest

Independent media outlets are being suppressed and dropped by corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our daily email digest before it’s too late so you don’t miss the latest movement news.