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Irish Socialist MEP Paul Murphy speaks out: solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza will continue
On 4 November Socialist Party Ireland MEP Paul Murphy along with other peace activists from the Gaza Freedom Waves Flotilla were arrested in international waters and held in Israeli prisons for one week. Paul describes his time in jail.
From the moment that our boat was violently boarded and nearly sunk by Israeli forces, we were told lie after lie by the Israeli regime.
A representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs came onto our boat after we were kidnapped in international waters and brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod against our will. She promised that our return home would be expedited, that we would be allowed to make phone calls that evening and that we would not be strip searched - all lies.
Within prison, the conditions we faced were very poor. There was a deliberate attempt to keep the truth about the assault on our flotilla from emerging by keeping us isolated with only one three minute phone call to our family in the course of seven days detention, which was monitored and we were explicitly told that it could not be political.
All of our cameras, laptops and mobile phones were stolen from us by the Israeli military and have still not been returned.
The worst of the conditions in the prison - conscious sleep deprivation, being locked up 21 hours a day, no access to reading or writing material, and prisoners being forced to stand to attention up to five times a night - were improved through a combination of our protest action inside the prison, protest action outside, in Ireland and internationally, including outside Givon prison, and the work of the Irish embassy in Israel.
Through those actions, we won political prisoner status, including the right to free association and the right to have access to reading material.
Of course, the conditions we faced gave a glimpse of the conditions faced by many Palestinians, in particular those imprisoned in the 'open air prison camp' of Gaza by the Israeli regime.
We were fortunate to have running water at all times, unlike 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza. The fact that the Israeli army felt the need to violently attack the boats of peaceful activists trying to break the siege of Gaza and then hold us in detention for a week underlines the criminal nature of their blockade.
It is clear that the length of the detention and the conditions on the final evening in particular, where we were held in what could only be described as a hell-hole, were actions designed to forcibly dissuade activists from repeating the attempt to break the blockade.
Once again, the Israeli regime has miscalculated. Their treatment of us will bolster our commitment in fighting for an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people.
Video of Paulís press conference. The press conference begins with another 'Irish Ship to Gaza' activist explaining the situation facing Palestinians in Gaza.
Paul begins speaking at 5:25, describing his experience. The conference ends with three questions from Journalists.
In The Socialist 16 November 2011:
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