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British survivor of Gaza flotilla raid speaks out

Issue 69 June 2010

Earlier today, Sarah Colborne, the National Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) arrived back in the UK after being “kidnapped and held hostage” by the Israeli authorities.


Ayman Khwaja reports 


Ms. Colborne described the entire ordeal as “surreal” and is convinced that the nine dead reported is “not an accurate estimate” and that the missing had not been accounted for. Arriving to the press conference in her "prisoner’s uniform" after having landed at Heathrow airport, Ms. Colborne laughed when asked whether the flotilla was organised by those sympathetic to Hamas as has been suggested by the Israeli authorities. “That’s completely false,” she asserted. “The aid flotilla had 32 different countries participating in it. The Israeli authorities have lied to us systematically throughout this entire ordeal and as far as I'm aware, they've lied to the press too.”


Ms. Colborne recounts that the victims on the flotilla ranged from a one year old child, to elderly passengers. She describes being jolted out of her sleep in the early hours of the morning to the sound of gunfire. “I was on the top deck and all I could see were bullets flying all over the place,” she remarked, still obviously shaken by the entire ordeal. 
When asked whether she was sure the Israeli military used ‘live ammunition’, Ms. Colborne retorted plainly, “I saw a bullet wound in someone’s head. It was very clear that that was live ammunition. I can’t imagine how it could be anything but. How can you kill nine people without live ammunition?”


Recent reports from the Israeli government suggest that the commandos acted in self-defence and were attacked by arms found on the aid boats. Ms. Colborne dismisses this claim entirely. “All the passengers and the supplies on the boats would have had to go through the Turkish port authorities. I myself was scanned, as were my bags,” she asserts. “There is no way that arms could have been taken on board. Yes, we had kitchen knives but those are not weapons. I did not see any kitchen knives used by any passengers whilst all this was happening. The only time I saw kitchen knives being used was to eat food.”

 Ms. Colborne’s partner, Judith Aguilera, reported earlier today that she appeared ‘shocked and upset’ when she phoned to say she was returning home. Ms. Colborne maintains that this shocking breach of international law should act as a wakeup call internationally, as well as to our own government. “It is illegal, inhumane and immoral. Israel has been used to acting with impunity and violating UN conventions, human rights and international law. That situation has to change now.”

 Despite the return of British nationals and peace activists, many of the British citizens still held by the Israeli authorities have been denied consular access. Ms. Colborne herself recounts that she was not allowed to meet with a representative of the British consulate until late on Tuesday afternoon, despite being held unlawfully since Sunday. 

“We were kidnapped,” Ms. Colborne states bluntly. “We were deprived of our liberty.”




You can watch the full question and answer session with the media here





Photography by Robi Chowdhury 

Videography by Fatema Zehra





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