Thousands rally in Taksim to remember deadly raid

Thousands rally in Taksim to remember deadly raid

Thousands rally in Taksim to remember deadly raid

Humanitarian Relief Foundation claims 30,000 people attended the Istanbul rally. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Thousands of people rallied in Istanbul on May 31 to commemorate the nine victims of a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on the same date two years ago.

The crowd gathered in Taksim Square under the banner of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), one of the organizers of the flotilla, which tried to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

According to the foundation, some 30,000 people participated in the rally.

The demonstrators, many of them women, chanted slogans and waved anti-Israel banners, asking that the perpetrators of the raid be held accountable. “Mavi Marmara is our honor,” one banner read.

“Long live free Palestine,” read another. Activists from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Qatar, Bahrain and Pakistan participated in the rally.

‘Israel will turn into an open prison’

The rally came just days after an Istanbul court approved a 144-page indictment against four Israeli military commanders for their alleged role in the deadly flotilla raid. Prosecutors are demanding multiple life sentences for the four, who include Israel’s former Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. “Don’t suppose that only four commanders will be tried. Every person who participated in the attack on the ship will be found and tried. Israel is panicking and seeking support from Europe,” İHH chairman Bülent Yıldırım said.

“This trial will set an example for others and will open the path for other cases. Israel will turn into an open prison.” Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010, leaving nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

The raid triggered a crisis between Israel and Turkey and resulted in a dramatic downgrade in diplomatic relations and the expelling of the Israeli ambassador from Turkey.

Compiled from AFP and Doğan news agency stories by the Daily News staff.