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Flotilla to Cuba Gets US Protection, Flotilla to Gaza Gets US Prosecution Demand

U.S. Protects Free Speech for U.S. Citizens on Flotilla to challenge human rights violations in Cuba, but wants to prosecute those on Gaza Flotilla to challenge Israeli human rights violations

By Ann Wright

I guess considering the U.S. policy toward Cuba over the past 50 years, it should come as no surprise that the US Coast Guard would protect the right of “free speech” of US citizens participating in a flotilla of boats challenging Cuban human rights violations.

Organized by a group called Democracy Movement, On December 10, 2011, 50 protesters in six boats, including an 85-foot vessel and a small security craft with about a dozen members of the media, sailed from Key West to explode fireworks off Cuba to mark International Human Rights day.

Flotilla organizer Ramon Sanchez said, "The purpose (of the flotilla) is to express, symbolically, our solidarity with the people who are peacefully struggling for democratic change on the island, and to protest the policies of the Cuban government."

While warning the flotilla participants not to violate the 12 mile territorial zone of Cuba, Rear Adm. Bill Baumgartner, commander of the Miami-based Coast Guard Seventh District, said,

"We will be watching carefully as they exercise their right to free speech, to make sure the situation remains safe."

No protection of U.S. citizens challenging Israel’s human rights policies
The US Coast Guard and other parts of the US Government certainly don't have the same attitude toward US citizens who are protesting human rights violations by Israeli.  Instead, US citizens are warned by our government that they may be investigated for links to terrorist organizations for protesting Israeli human rights violations of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

When the six ship May, 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the ten ship Gaza flotilla of 2011 set sail to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, the U.S. Coast Guard did not warn the Israeli government that American citizens have a right of free speech concerning Israeli human rights violations of the Palestinians of Gaza, including the establishing an internationally condemned blockade. 

Instead, upon their return to the US in June, 2010, US Congress persons called for the arrest and prosecution of American citizens on the flotilla.

In 2011, fourteen members of the US Congress introduced House Resolution 3131 that “directs the Secretary of State to submit a report on whether any support organization that participated in the planning or execution of the recent Gaza flotilla attempt should be designated as a foreign terrorist organization.”  The legislation also requires that the State Department report on “Any actions taken by the Department of State to express support and gratitude for the principled stance taken by the Government of Greece to prevent the recent Gaza flotilla attempt to violate Israel’s lawful blockade of Gaza.”

Cuban government did not attack the flotilla and execute passengers

Tragically, the illegal and brutal Israeli blockade of Gaza mirrors the history of the illegal and brutal 50 year U.S. blockade and quarantine of Cuba.

To the credit of the Cuban government, when facing the six ship flotilla from Key West, it did NOT send its warships 70 miles out to sea to stop the flotilla.  It did NOT attack the boats.  It did NOT execute 9 passengers and wound 50 passengers as the Israeli government did in 2010 to the passengers of the Gaza flotilla.

Human rights violations of all countries, to include the United States, must be challenged

Human rights violations of all countries must be challenged-Israeli, Cuban, the United States.

In 1996, the Cuban air force did shoot down two civilian aircraft flown by Brothers to the Rescue that were attempting to spot boats carrying Cubans who wanted to leave Cuba.  Four persons on board the aircraft were killed.

The Cuban government’s shooting down unarmed civilian aircraft was wrong, just as the Israeli government’s attacking the unarmed ships in the Gaza flotilla was wrong.

Hypocrisy of U.S. human rights policies

The 50 year U.S. condemnation of Cuba’s human rights violations and the U.S. support for 64 years of the brutal Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians demonstrates solidly the hypocrisy of the United States government.

About the Author:  Ann Wright is a retired US Army Reserve Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Bush war on Iraq.  She visited Gaza three times in 2009 after the Israeli attacked and helped organize the Gaza Freedom March and the US Boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope in the 2011 Gaza Flotilla.  She was a passenger on the Challenger 1, a boat in the 2010 Gaza Flotilla which the Israelis attacked and murdered 9 flotilla passengers and wounded 50.


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