From Hurriyet Daily News:
Cries, shouts and slogans against Israel echoed down Istanbul’s famous İstiklal Avenue on Monday night as thousands gathered to commemorate the nine people killed last year on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
The marchers also came out to express their support for a new flotilla set to depart at the end of June, a group of ships that includes the same vessel fatally raided by Israeli commandos May 31, 2010.
On the eve of the first anniversary of last year’s raid, thousands of people marched toward Istanbul’s Taksim Square, shouting “Allahuekber” (Allahu Akbar – God is the greatest) and carrying posters reading, “Cooperation with Israel is a crime against humanity” or “Palestine’s resistance will win.” While many protesters were supporters of the İHH, some foreign tourists also joined the march.
Here we go again: A Second Flotilla
Some 15 ships will sail toward Gaza in the last week of June, carrying approximately 1,500 activists from about 100 countries. The first flotilla, which set sail in May 2010, contained about 700 activists from 38 countries on six ships. The Mavi Marmara will be among the 15 vessels carrying humanitarian aid, as well as medical, school and construction materials, along with other ships departing from the United States, Canada, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Ireland.
“We do not believe that Israel will make the same mistake [as last year, to attack the flotilla]... We will sail peacefully, everything will be open,” said Hüseyin Oruç, a representative of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, which is one of 22 national networks in the coalition organizing the international flotilla.
Oruç also responded to the Israeli government’s efforts to get other countries’ governments to stop their citizens from participating in the flotilla. “We are living in democratic countries, where all rules are defined. No government has the right to tell us not to join the flotilla,” he said, adding that the activists are acting within the norms of both national and international laws.
“Even though people died last year, the flotilla managed to draw the world’s attention to what is happening [in Gaza]. Therefore it is important to go there again,” protester Muhammed Gün said to the Turkish newspaper.
İHH head Bülent Yıldırım made a similar announcement earlier in the day. “As you know, Egypt just opened its Rafah border against Gaza, but it is just for people to pass, there is no development on humanitarian aid,” he said. “Therefore our mission is still critical.”
The Mavi Marmara is set to sail to Gaza again in late June as part of an international group of 15 ships. According to convoy organizers with the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, 500,000 people applied to join the second flotilla, which will sail toward Gaza in the last week of June, carrying approximately 1,500 activists from about 100 countries, as well as carrying humanitarian aid and medical, school and construction materials.
“We contacted the U.S. government last Monday, and the first thing they gave us was a travel warning to Gaza,” Ann Wright told the Turkish Newspaper Daily News on Monday, adding that more than 60 U.S. activists would join the flotilla nevertheless. She said they would ship 10,000 to 15,000 letters from Americans to the Palestinian people.
“We are going to carry the thoughts of the American people [to Gaza],” Wright said.
Turkish FM warns Israel not to repeat last year's flotilla 'mistake'
“We think Israel has enough experience not to repeat such a mistake again,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said late Thursday in a televised interview.
The foreign minister said the government was working on all scenarios, including worst-case scenarios, in regard to the new flotilla bound for Gaza next month.
The Israeli government has so far only contacted the Turkish Foreign Ministry in an attempt to avert a repetition of last year’s crisis on the Mavi Marmara aid ship, well-placed sources said, adding that no other diplomatic initiative had been taken since that time.