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NEWS: Harper criticized for lack of efforts to free Jim Manly

Jim Manly

There is news this morning that the father of Council of Canadians activist Paul Manly has not yet been released from an Israeli jail due to a lack of political pressure from the Harper government. Manly was on the Estelle attempting to break the illegal blockade of Gaza. The Harper government has described similar missions in the past as ‘unhelpful’.

The Globe and Mail reports, “A former Canadian parliamentarian who was arrested by Israel for trying to breach a blockade of the Gaza Strip was not released when fellow protesters from other countries were set free, and his supporters blame a lack of political pressure from Ottawa. Jim Manly, a former New Democrat MP who is a week shy of his 80th birthday, was taken into custody on Saturday when the Israeli military boarded the Estelle, the ship carrying opponents of the maritime blockade who say the measure has created intense hardship for the 1.7 million people living in Gaza.”

“The Greek and Spanish members of the contingent were released on Sunday, said Ehab Lotayef, a spokesman for Canadian Boat to Gaza… ‘The Greek ambassador and the Spanish embassy staff were there from the very beginning on a political level rather than on a consular level and they put on enormous pressure.’… But there has been no similar arm-twisting from the Canadian government, he said. …A spokesman for Canada’s Foreign Affairs department said that Canadian consular officials in Tel Aviv and in Ottawa are monitoring the situation closely and have been in contact with Mr. Manly. But questions to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird about whether the government was willing to exert political pressure to help free him went unanswered.”

“Mr. Manly’s son, Paul, said Sunday he was relieved to hear that his father had been seen by an Israeli doctor, but now he wants him released. ‘My father is a man of conviction,’ the younger Mr. Manly said. ‘And if he was talking to you right now, he would be citing the UN report that came out in August of this year that says the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is going to create an unlivable area by 2020.’ That report said urgent action must be taken to improve access to water, electricity, education and health.”