Free Gaza

IssueJuly - August 2010

When Cengiz Songür set off to join the Freedom Flotilla, one of his six daughters put a letter into his jacket pocket, where it stayed unnoticed until he was on board the Mavi Marmara.

The letter started: “I have thousands of words to tell you, but they are now all stuck in my throat. I am scared, Dad. I get scared as I see the sadness in my sisters’ eyes and the worried look on my mum’s face. Dad, please do not get scared. Please, go there, Dad. Go there to put a smile on an orphan’s face, go there to receive good wishes from a mother. Go there even if you won’t be able to return. It is wonderful to be your daughter, I am so proud of you Dad.”

On 31 May, Cengiz Songür was shot dead by the Israeli Defence Forces with this letter in his pocket. His daughters then wrote another letter of farewell:

“Israel, you should be afraid. You should be frightened as hell. This time ababil* birds are on their way swimming through the sea. This time, ababil birds are not carrying stones in their beaks, but marble beads in their hands. Be afraid, Israel. My Lord, who sent those ababil birds to destroy huge elephants with small stones in their beaks, now sending ababils with marble beads to stop your ruthless actions. Israel, be afraid. Those believers are coming after you.

“Dad, where are you now? What are you up to? Please do not mind my tears. I know, I am crying childishly. I am standing strong, Dad. Watching you. I sometimes show your pictures to my daughter, she still thinks you are gone for fishing. When she sees the pictures, she asks about the Israeli soldiers, she thinks they are there for fishing as well, mistaking their big guns for fishing rods. I can’t tell her that: ‘They are murderers’. You always taught me to be compassionate. You taught me to have mercy, to feel for others and to love others. I could only tell her that: ‘They are some guys who do not want your Grandpa to fish’. You will catch no fish but freedom out of the sea, Dad. Freedom will hold the hands of those children in Palestine. Freedom will be the best condiment you ever served to them. I am now sure that you are free, Dad. We are free. Gaza is free!”

*Ababil are a race of enormous birds described in the Qur’an as being sent by Allah to drop clay bricks on the army of elephants sent by the king of Yemen to attack Mecca before Muhammad was born.

Mavi Marmara martyrs
Cengiz Akyüz, 41, was married to Nimet Akyüz; they had three children: Furkan (14), Beyza (12) and Erva Kardelen (9). No details have been released as to how Cengiz Akyüz was killed by the Israeli Defence Forces on board the Mavi Marmara on 31 May.
Ali Heyder Bengi, 39, who ran a telephone repair shop in Diyarbakir, was married to Saniye Bengi; they had four children: Mehunur (15), Semanur (10), and twins Mohammed and Senanur (5). No details have been released as to how Ali Heyder Bengi was killed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
Ibrahim Bilgen, 60, an electrical engineer from Siirt, a member of the Saadet (Felicity) Party, was married with six children. He was shot four times by the IDF: in the temple, chest, hip and back.
Furkan Dogan, 19, had recently left school with grades good enough to study medicine at university. A US citizen who had left the US when two years old, his family believed his citizenship would protect him. Furkan Dogan was shot five times by the IDF, from less than 18 inches away: from close range in the right side of his nose, in the back of the head, twice in the leg, and once in the back.
Cevdet Kiliçlar, 38, a photo-journalist for the daily newspaper Anadolu’da Vakit, was the webmaster for the IHH. He was married to Derya Kiliçlar; they had two children, Gülhan (15) and Ali Erdem (13). According to British activist Kevin Ovenden, Cevdet Kiliçlar was shot in the forehead at very close range by the IDF as he photographed the Israeli assault.
Cengiz Songür, 47, was married to Nurcan Songür and had six daughters and one son. No details have been released as to how he was killed by the Israeli Defence Forces.
Çetin Topçuoglu, 54, a former European taekwondo champion, was a coach for Turkey’s national taekwondo team. He was married to Cigdem Topçuoglu; they had a son Aytek.
Çetin Topçuoglu was shot by the IDF three times: once in the back of his head, once in his hip and once in his stomach. His wife Cigdem Topçuoglu was also aboard the ship, but she survived. Fahri Yaldiz, 43, a firefighter, was married with four children.
No details have been released as to how Fahri Yaldiz was killed by the Israeli Defence Forces.
Necdet Yildirim, 32, an IHH aid worker from Malatya, was married with a three-year-old daughter. No details have been released as to how he was killed by the Israeli Defence Forces.

All nine were volunteers on the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) boat, the Mavi Marmara.
The nine were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to autopsy results reported in the Guardian. Five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back.
The evidence suggests execution-style killings of several of the activists.