Thursday, July 14, 2011
After spending four nights in a foreign prison and appearing for a baffling legal proceeding, local mariner John Klusmire is back home in Marina with a better understanding of the term “It’s all Greek to me.”
Organizers of the Free Gaza movement contacted Klusmire in early May, asking him to captain a Greek ferry called The Audacity of Hope, with 37 activists aboard, as part of a humanitarian voyage to Gaza. Freedom Flotilla II, was organized as a response to the ongoing Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Greek officials refused to let the flotilla depart, citing the May 2010 deaths of nine protesters after Israeli forces stormed their Turkish vessel.
“The refusal was a complete surprise,” Klusmire says. “I got to know the people at the port authority over the weeks, and when the detainment came down, they weren’t happy.”
Waiting in the port of Parama for the Greek government to make a decision, boats moored near The Audacity of Hope allegedly fell victim to sabotage. Klusmire decided to disobey the detainment order: “There’s always hope that [the government] will get tired of dealing with the boat and they might just let it go.”
But the Greek military apprehended the vessel and took Klusmire into custody.
“I spent four nights in jail,” he says. “I was treated fairly and respectfully, and overall the charges were seen as unjust because they released me without bail.”
A number of protesters remain on the vessel, many still holding out hope for the humanitarian effort. But Klusmire says, “As far as this year’s flotilla, its safe to say it’s pretty much over.”