Relatives of Mavi Marmara victims wish to sail to Gaza

Four years after the Mavi Marmara attack, Turkish relatives of victims express their willingness to join the new aid flotilla that is expected to sail to the Gaza Strip this year

Four years after the Mavi Marmara attack, Turkish relatives of victims express their willingness to join the new aid flotilla that is expected to sail to the Gaza Strip this year

ISTANBUL - Relatives of the Mavi Marmara victims, who were killed in the Israeli raid in 2010 welcomed the International Freedom Flotilla Coalition's (FFC) intention to sail boats loaded with humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip this year, saying that they wanted to take part in the convoy in an exclusive interview with the Anadolu Agency. 

The Mavi Marmara was the lead ship in the Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla, which was intercepted by Israeli forces on May 31, 2010 killing nine activists and wounding dozens. Their aim was to carry aid to Gazan people by breaking the naval blockade on the Palestinian territory. 

"The flotilla will sail again for humanity. I hope it will be successful," said Cigdem Topcuoglu, 58, who traveled on the Mavi Marmara ship in 2010 -- together with his husband Cetin Topcuoglu shot dead during the raid. He was 54.

"I’ve made an application to join the flotilla. I hope I will be there," she added. 

"It is very good news," 26 year-old Mustafa Dogan told the Anadolu Agency over the phone. "I want to join it as well. Our desire is the blockade to be lifted."

His brother, 19 year-old Furkan Dogan -- who had a dual Turkish-US nationality -- was the youngest victim of the attack. According to an autopsy report, he died of five gunshot wounds at a distance of 45 centimeters.

Hasan Yaldiz, whose brother Fahri was also among the nine Turkish citizens killed during the raid, will also take part in this flotilla.

Ismail Bilgen, son of 61 year-old Ibrahim Bilgen, an electric engineer killed in the attack said in a telephone interview with the Anadolu Agency, "World states are incapable of taking action to lift the embargo on Gaza. We, as relatives of martyrs, really think that a civil initiative should be taken."

Since 2007, the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip has been imposed by Israel, from which most of relatives expect an intervention. 

"I think they will try to block the flotilla (…) again but will be more cautious this time," Bilgen stated. 

"If they do the same thing [as in 2010], their end will come," Yaldiz warned however.  

In a press conference held in Istanbul on Tuesday, the International Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) announced the flotilla would leave within the year.

The FFC is a solidarity movement formed in 2010 which aims to end the siege of Gaza.

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