***Please circulate widely***

The Heroes of the Mavi Marmara: a Turning Point for International Solidarity

From all credible reports of what happened during the early morning raid on the Free Gaza Flotilla, it seems clear that Israeli commandos attacked the lead ship-the Mavi Marmara-shooting before boarding it in international waters, and expected to rapidly subdue the noncompliant captain and passengers by a show of brutal, armed force. This follows a well-worn pattern of armed zionist attacks on unarmed activists, from the crushing of Rachel Corrie to the point blank shooting of Basem Abu Rahme.

But it’s also clear that things didn’t quite follow the script this time. The passengers of the Mavi Marmara resisted. They decided that they were not willing to allow their ship to be illegally boarded and commandeered in international waters. They chose not to be shot, beaten, electroshocked, kidnapped and tortured without a fight. The Israeli military has justified the killing of activists on the flotilla on the grounds that they did not respond “non-violently” to the armed invasion of their ship. Within the terms dictated by colonialism, the self-defense of the oppressed makes the murderous violence of the oppressor legitimate.

The commandos invaded the ship shooting. No one knows how many they would have executed had they met no resistance on the deck; it’s possible that they would have pursued their murderous rampage throughout the ship. As it was, images broadcast later on Turkish TV show the soldiers clustered together, cowering on one side of the deck with their guns drawn. Trained mostly in beating and killing nine year olds for throwing rocks, they look terrified facing adults with nothing but sticks and pipes.

The resistance of the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara opens a new chapter in the solidarity movement. Their decision to fight was heroic. They used whatever means were at their disposal-mostly their unarmed bodies and their courage-to fight a unit of heavily armed commandos. As a result, the zionists were unable to claim the smooth victory they had anticipated. They stopped the flotilla, but this time the consequences were more than they could afford to pay. The operation failed in every sense, and before every audience. The press in “Israel” has made it clear that for the zionists this was a failure because there were injuries on their own side. This can’t be emphasized enough. No amount of destruction and brutality against others is too much for the domestic population of the racist settler colony, but they expect the destruction to be high-tech and well managed, and to insulate them from any consequences to themselves. This is why the attack on Lebanon in 2006 and the attack on Gaza in 2008 were significant defeats.

The organizers of the convoy knew in advance that the zionists would use brutal force to stop them, but chose courageously to move forward against the siege. Many of the activists–especially the Turkish members–had declared their unwavering determination to complete their mission, accepting martyrdom on behalf of Palestine as an honor. Their blood defeated the sword of the Israelis. They exposed the hypocrisy of the institutions of so-called “international law,” the UN Security Council, Obama’s “diplomacy,” and European commitments to “human rights.” Their sacrifice paved the way for lifting the the siege on Gaza and showed a path to others.

Those who gave their lives on the Mavi Marmara deserve to be honored among the martyrs of the resistance.

Cengiz Akyüz 41 Iskandarun, Turkey, married with three children
Ali Haydar Bengi 39 Diyarbakir, Turkey, married with four children
Ibrahim Bilgen 61 Siirt, Turkey married with six children
Furkan Dogan 19 Turkish American. Shot execution style five times in the head at close range.
Cevdet Kiliçlar 38 Journalist from Kayseri, Turkey married with two children
Cengiz Songur 47, married with seven children
Çetin Topçuoglu 54, Adana, Turkey, Taekwando champion, married with one child
Fahri Yaldiz 43, Adiyaman, Turkey, fireman, married with four children
Necdet Yildirim 32, Malatya, Turkey, IHH aid worker, married with one child