DEMONSTRATION: Paveen Yaqub stands outside court in Istanbul which has now ruled that the case be adjourned
DEMONSTRATION: Paveen Yaqub stands outside court in Istanbul which has now ruled that the case be adjourned

High court adjourned as Gaza freedom flotilla fight continues

Families and friends of those killed six years ago in an armed naval attack – led by Israeli Commanders on a ship delivering aid to Gaza – will have to wait at least two more months for answers after the latest court hearing was adjourned.

The 7th Criminal Court of Istanbul held its thirteenth hearing of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla case on 19th October for the fatal raid, of the Mavi Marmara, that took place on 31st May 2010.

However, despite the longevity of the case, a further postponement was deemed necessary by authorities after the last judge was not considered to be impartial.

Paveen Yaqub, who was part of the aid flotilla and saw a fellow passenger – Ugur Suleyman – on board the ship die from a bullet wound to the head, said she is ‘disappointed but not deterred’.

On the latest adjournment, she said: “I felt mistrustful and wondered if it was a tactical move because we had many people represented from different countries, who were flotilla victims.”

She continued: “Perhaps the court and the government think that if they delay, fewer of us will come back in December, and it would be easier for the court to carry through the sentiments of the Turkish and Israeli governments, who have reached their own political agreement that should have no bearing on our legal process.”

During the 2010 attack, nine humanitarian activists were killed and another was left in a coma after he was shot in the head. He later passed away.

Other passengers suffered bullet wounds, dozens were left injured, and hundreds were ‘traumatised’ after being subjected to a bloody and brutal attack at sea.

Surviving victims were subsequently taken from international waters to Israel and detained, until international outrage and intervention ensured their freedom and safe return to home countries, including passengers from the UK.

The flotilla consisted of a fleet of humanitarian ships carrying vital aid and hundreds of charity workers bound for the besieged Gaza strip.

SURVIVOR: Paveen Yaqub was on board an aid ship when it was attacked by Israeli Commanders
SURVIVOR: Paveen Yaqub was on board an aid ship when it was attacked by Israeli Commanders

Asian Express talked exclusively to Paveen Yaqub about her experiences:

Do the horrors of the Mavi Marmara still feel like yesterday?

Being in Istanbul for the purpose of the court hearing always brings me closer to the memories of the horror that unfolded six years ago when Israeli naval forces opened fire on a on the Mavi Marmara humanitarian ship. Tonight, in Istanbul, victims who have travelled from various countries will gather for a pre-court briefing.

Tomorrow will be worse because the families of those killed will be in court – as they always are.

Seeing them always makes me deeply sad because, not only are they still grieving the loss of their loved ones, but they again will hear the details of the brutality that ended the lives of their husbands, fathers and sons. Yet still justice has not been delivered to them, or any of us who survived the terror that Israel brought to bear on innocent civilians.

What are you hoping to come out of this court case? Do you think you will ever get justice for Ugur Suleyman?

I hope that this court case marks history in shaping a trajectory that holds Israel accountable for its crimes against humanity, for its flagrant disregard for international and humanitarian law, for its illegal military occupation; its criminal blockade of Gaza, and its privileged position of impunity granted by the USA, the UK and the UN.

This isn’t simply seeking justice for Ugur Suleyman, Furkan Dogan, or the eight other humanitarians whose lives were worthless in the eyes of Israel commandos – neither is this a justice that I seek for me.

This is a stance against Israeli state terrorism and a service to humanity, a symbolic effort for Palestinians and any other oppressed people that the international community has abandoned because it does not serve their own political and diplomatic interests to care.

Whether we achieve justice or not, it doesn’t change the truth nor does it deter me from knowing ‘human rights from human wrongs’, even if our politicians struggle with this simple concept.

Do you believe news in today’s climate is easily forgotten/ disposable/ and that atrocities get brushed over all too easily?

News always moves at a fast pace and with so many atrocities in the world, it’s difficult for people to respond meaningfully as it can become too overwhelming.

Death and violent conflict is so prevalent that people can also fall into an apathetic state or simply don’t want to hear about it anymore, so they disconnect.

However, what is very clear to me is that for mainstream media there is a distinction between those whom deserve our attention and those who do not: the lives which matter and those which are dispensable.

It’s a desperately sad situation to consider that, by denying truth and a fair representation of conflict, the mainstream media industry is shaping views about who the victims and perpetrators are, even if these representations are false, biased and misleading.

This dismissive approach to reporting the truth is what is helping to stoke the fires of conflict, unrest and division in our communities.

I have first-hand experience of the BBC for example, reporting the flotilla raid in such a distorted and unfair way. I was there. I know what leading media anchors did to the truth, leaving me questioning so much of what our media and our governments tell us. 

How are you rebuilding your life? Do you feel strong?

I am doing better these days and focusing on rebuilding not just my life but my sense of who I am again.

Israel stole something from me that I doubt will ever return but fortunately they didn’t take the most important thing I own, my faith. I realise that it’s not what is taken from you in this life that matters but what you give, and what you find as you walk the road ahead with belief, hope and humanity. I have something the Israeli commandos were devoid of: I have value for the life of others and I have no place in my heart for hate, not even for them.

I would hope that others who feel they want to serve humanity do so with constructive action and use the processes available to them.

People touched or angered by injustice should hold on to how they feel and channel that into practical actions like lobbying politicians or campaigning peacefully but robustly.

Whether we like it or not, politics is where the power is held and that’s where we have to take our grievances over and over again until our governments heed our concerns.