Mavi Marmara Survivor to Join Women’s Boat to Gaza

Cigdem Topcuoglu, a survivor of the attack on the Mavi Marmara flotilla in May 2010. (Photo: via Social Media)

Cigdem Topcuoglu, a survivor of the attack on the Mavi Marmara flotilla in May 2010, during which her husband was shot in the head and killed by Israeli commandos is also the latest activist to join the Women’s Boat to Gaza attempt to break the Israeli-led siege of the coastal enclave.

The 51-year-old told Masiha Gadzo from Middle East Monitor: “I’m tired, so I’m looking forward to getting some rest on the boat.”

The past six years since the Mavi Marmara affair have been busy for the 23-times national Taekwondo champion. Aside from working as a national judge and trainer, she has been participating in seminars, volunteering her time with orphans and forming a youth association named after her late husband, “Cetin”, wherein the youth learn about Palestine and Gaza.

Topcuoglu added, “The situation isn’t going to change by itself. What we need are people who will take action in the name of humanity. It’s important for the whole world to unite when it comes to the oppression that Palestinians face every day.”

There are 30 activists on board the humanitarian Women’s Boat to Gaza, which set sail from Barcelona last week. They are expecting to arrive in Gaza in the first week of October. Topcuoglu will be joining them after participating in the eleventh hearing of the Mavi Marmara Trial in Istanbul.

Prosecutors are seeking a 32-year sentence for each of the four Israeli commandos charged with “deliberate, sustained and brutal murder”, “plunder and looting” and “wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm” among other charges.

Nine Turkish passengers were killed and dozens were injured during the raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by Israeli forces; a tenth person died of his wounds later.

A UN investigation found in 2010 that six passengers were killed in an “extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution” manner.

After the raid, Erdogan set out three conditions for Israel to fulfil before the restoration of full diplomatic links: an apology, compensation for the victims’ families and the lifting of the Gaza blockade. Israel maintained that it acted in “self-defence” but eventually apologized in 2013 for “operational mistakes” during the raid.

After six years of a diplomatic rift and months of negotiations, the Israelis agreed last June to pay $20 million in compensation in exchange for exemption from all legal and criminal proceedings.

While the first two conditions had been fulfilled, Erdogan dropped the demand for Israel to lift the blockade as part of the compromise deal.

Instead, Turkish aid groups will be allowed to deliver aid through the Israeli port of Ashdod. Israel will also allow Turkey to construct a hospital in Gaza, as well as a power station and a desalination plant to provide drinking water.


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