Road to Hope Convoy Members Kidnapped
A new press release is being written regarding our being released from Greek custody but I submit this now as we were unable to while we unable to release two days ago.
12 November 2010
Road to Hope (R2H) convoy members kidnapped from Libya to Greece
Greek Commandos board Strofades IV in Greek Waters
The Road to Hope humanitarian aid convoy left London on the 10th of October with £500,000 of medical aid for the besieged people of the Gaza Strip. After travelling 4,500 miles through the UK, France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya the convoy stalled at the Egyptian border on October 26th due to an Egyptian refusal to allow land access to Gaza. As a result the convoy leaders had little choice but to secure a ship at significant extra expense and delay.
On Wednesday November 10th $82,500 was transferred to the Egyptian Shipping Agent representing Maltese registered “Strofades IV” for charter from Derna (Libya) to Al Arish (Egypt). Convoy Leader Kieran Turner, speaking from the ship off the coast of Libya commented that “Ten members of the convoy along with seven Libyan police officers (including the port captain of Derna, Libya) have been kidnapped.” At the time of writing, convoy members have been held on the Greek-owned ship – at sea with its cargo ramp open (endangering all aboard) – for 40 hours. When mobile phone signals were available while the ship was passing Crete, Turner commented that “We believe we are now being taken towards Greece, away from Gaza, the destination we have been pursuing for four weeks – including over two weeks stranded at the Egyptian border. With Egypt insisting that aid convoys must travel by sea rather than land, we were compelled to embark on what has been shown to be a dangerous, difficult, and unnecessarily expensive path to Gaza.”
Ken O’Keefe, a convoy leader and survivor of the Mavi Marmara massacre, who on that occasion disarmed two Israeli commandos, said “We have spent the past two weeks in Libya trying to get our aid through Egypt by land to Gaza. Instead we were compelled to enter complex negotiations with shipping agents who appear to have had some kind of falling-out with the ship owner – with no apparent concern for the suffering being experienced in Gaza. This begs the question why land access is not possible into Egypt for Gaza?”
After 36 hours at sea approximately 20 Greek commandos boarded the ship in Greek waters by Zodiak. The owner of the Strofades IV (who directed the captain to depart Derna Port unlawfully) communicated to the Greek officials that the kidnapped convoy members were “terrorists”. Ken O’Keefe commented that “Despite this, the Greek commandos were professional, moral and humane. This runs in stark contrast to the brutal and murderous treatment we received from the Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara.”
“As of this writing (aboard the Strofades IV) we are safe and comfortable, with one sick convoy member being tended to, and water and toilets being provided on request. We hope to be processed promptly.” Convoy team leader Tauqir Sharif says “Our main priority now is to be reunited with the convoy in Libya and take our aid to Gaza as soon as possible, whether by sea or land.”
London – Eleanor Merton +44 777 037 6701
This is for media inquiries and important business only, please share with relevant people.
Ken O’Keefe Greece +30 698 2143361
Libya / Egypt – Kieran Turner & Ken O’Keefe +44 7944 401 757 or +44 7852 927 999
Now compare the truth with the first class propaganda reported by MSN;
Activists tried to hijack ship to Gaza: owners
A Greek ferry arrived back in port Friday as the owners alleged activists had tried to hijack it in Libya to take aid to Gaza, police said.
Ionian Bridge Shipping Management also denied that British aid workers had been held captive by the crew of the Strofades IV, which was transporting mainly vehicles.
Police in the Greek port of Piraeus said the Maltese-flagged vessel had docked at 11:15 am (0915 GMT) with a crew of 16 to 17 passengers, who were all “safe and sound.”
The police said they were investigating what had happened, while an Ionian Bridge official, Maria Georgoulia, said a dozen activists had tried to storm the ship in the Libyan port of Derna on Thursday.
“They wanted to go to Egypt and then to Gaza,” she said. “There is no contract between us and the activists, what they did was illegal.”
She said that some 100 militants had gathered on the port at Derna on Wednesday wanting to board the Strofades IV.
“We called on the Libyan authorities to help us but finally seven Libyan police stayed on board the ship throughout the voyage without doing anything,” Georgoulia added.
She said the crew had given food to the militants, “who put on a whole show on the deck, wearing lifebuoys and pretending to be in danger.”
Georgoulia denied that the militants had been detained by the crew of the Strofades IV.
Ellie Merton, London liaison for the British group Road to Hope, said Thursday she thought the activists were being held by the ship’s Greek captain after a dispute over money.
The British Foreign Office said, “We are aware of the incident at Derna Port in Libya and we have been in close contact with the organisers.”
One of the Britons on board the Strofades IV was Tauqir Sharif, who was on the Mavi Marmara which was raided by Israeli commandos while en route to Gaza in May, resulting in the deaths of nine activists.