[Doha, Qatar, 25 October] International legal experts and lawyers representing victims of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla today announced the establishment of the “Flotilla Justice Group.” The announcement came at the conclusion of a two-day meeting held on 23 and 24 October, aimed at coordinating legal actions to hold Israel accountable for its 31 May 2010 attack on the Freedom Flotilla. The meeting, hosted by the Doha-based Al Fakhoora campaign, brought together 70 representatives from 20 countries, to follow up on work that began at the first lawyers’ meeting held in Istanbul on 15 July.
The international advocacy groups, legal and media experts, and lawyers in attendance met in a number of workshops to devise a comprehensive strategy for national, regional and international legal action, inter-organizational coordination, and media mobilization. “The Flotilla Justice Group” will serve as a coordination mechanism for facilitating communication and the exchange of information between lawyers working on behalf of flotilla victims around the world.
Bettahar Boudjellal, a Qatar-based international human rights expert, said, “Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla breached international, human rights and humanitarian law. Our efforts to unify the legal actions through a designated coordination apparatus will allow us to collectively bring the State of Israel to justice. More importantly, it will serve as a foundation for responding to Israel’s future violations.”
The conference workshops were led by prominent personalities within the growing movement to end Israel’s strangulation of Gaza as well as its persistent human rights violations throughout the occupied Palestinian territory. Participants in the meeting included representatives from the following countries: Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Palestine, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Yemen.
“The creation of the Flotilla Justice Group is a vital step forward on the road to holding Israel accountable for its attack on our flotilla, and their ongoing abuse of the Palestinian people” said the Freedom Flotilla organizers.
Organizations and firms participating in the conference included: the Turkish İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH), the Free Gaza Movement, European Campaign to End Siege on Gaza (ECESG), Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), the Elmadag Law Firm from Turkey, Mazlumdar -- the Turkish Human Rights Association, the UK-based Hickman and Rose law firm, Ship to Gaza - Greece, Ship to Gaza – Sweden, Indonesian Muslims’ Lawyer Team, the Muslim Lawyers Association of South Africa, and others.
Fakhoora is an international campaign which aims to secure the freedom to learn for Palestinian students in Gaza and the West Bank. The campaign is named after a United Nations girls’ prep school in Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp that was the scene of an attack by Israeli tank shells on January 6, 2009.