September 2, 2011, New York – In anticipation of the expected release today of the Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident, which was leaked yesterday, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement:
The Center for Constitutional Rights strongly denounces the conclusion by the Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry that the naval blockade of Gaza is legal, a finding that is inconsistent with international law as set forth by CCR in a legal analysis
, and contradicted by conclusions of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission to investigate violations of international law resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla, as well as numerous human rights organizations.
Under international law, Israel cannot impose a naval blockade on Gaza, a territory it continues to occupy by exerting effective control over it. The blockade also constitutes collective punishment prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, and has caused excessive and disproportionate harm to the civilian population. The blockade of Gaza has led to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions, widespread failure of public infrastructure, and chronic unemployment due to the blockade’s systemic undermining of Gaza’s economy.
The Center for Constitutional Rights does, however, agree with the panel that the human rights and humanitarian situation in Gaza is “unsustainable, unacceptable and not in the interests of any of those concerned.”
Notwithstanding the flawed legal analysis and suspect composition of the Panel of Inquiry, it does make some factual findings that are worth noting. The panel found that the way in which Israel boarded the flotilla was excessive and unreasonable, and that Israel had no satisfactory explanation for how nine passengers were killed, all of whom the evidence showed were unarmed. The panel found that United States citizenFurkan Doğan was shot multiple times, shot at extremely close range, and shot in the back of his head, and that the evidence suggests he may already have been lying wounded when the fatal shot was delivered.
The families of the nine passengers who were killed, the many passengers who were injured, and all those who have yet to receive their stolen property from Israel, including evidence, have a right to redress, justice and accountability. The United States government must assist the family of American human rights defender Furkan Doğan in particular in their quest for justice, and disclose any information it has on Israel’s attack on the flotilla.
In June 2010, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed eight Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding the U.S. government’s knowledge of, and actions in relation to, Israel’s attack on the flotilla. After fruitlessly working for nearly a year to obtain responses from the agencies, on May 24, 2011, CCR filed a civil complaint
against eight departments of the United States government in order to get adequate responses. CCR has also been working with Professor Ahmet Doğan, the father of Furkan Doğan, the U.S. citizen killed on the Mavi Marmara, to advocate for accountability in the United States.