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NEWS: London chapter activist faces two months in Givon prison

David Heap

David Heap

The Toronto Sun has reported, “David Heap, Peace and Social Justice chair for the London chapter of the Council of Canadians, was apparently beaten and injured when arrested by Israeli authorities when (the Gaza-bound vessel he was on) was intercepted (on November 4), a colleague says.”

Now, Canadian Boat to Gaza reports, “On Tuesday, Freedom Waves to Gaza activists detained in Israel — including Canadians David Heap and Ehab Lotayef — came before a judge and were told they could be held in prison for two months without charges or trial. To avoid this, the judge told them, they must sign a statement that they entered Israel ‘voluntarily’ and ‘illegally’ despite being violently kidnapped from international waters and taken to Israel against their will while trying to reach Gaza. While a handful of Freedom Waves to Gaza participants have been deported — including Canadian Karen DeVito — 18 activists and journalists have now been in Israeli prison for five days with no end in sight.”

“Organizers of the Canadian Boat to Gaza are demanding Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird step down for failing to do his job to stand up for the interests of Canadians.”

Yesterday, NDP MP Libby Davies wrote Minister Baird stating, “I wish to register my concern about status and treatment of Canadians who were aboard the Canadian boat to Gaza – the Tahrir who are now in detention in an Israeli prison. As you know these Canadians were part of an international, non-violent, initiative to support the people of Gaza who have been living under an illegal blockade since June of 2007. …Minister, I urge you to demand that the Canadians in detention be immediately released, and that Israel be called to account for its actions. There are a number of reports that the detainees have suffered abuse, physical harm and suffering and family members have not been able to contact them. This is unacceptable and I believe you have a responsibility to uphold the safety and well being of the Canadians involved.”

You can e-mail your message to Minister Baird at john.baird@parl.gc.ca.

At its annual general meeting in Montreal on October 23, the Council of Canadians passed a resolution resolving that the Council of Canadians support the Canadian Boat to Gaza to end the illegal blockade of Gaza; call on the Government of Canada, the United Nations and the international community to do everything in their power to ensure the safe passage of the Canadian Boat to Gaza and the safety of all those aboard; call for an end to the blockade of Gaza, in accordance with international law.

Update: Despite the threat from the judge that they could face two months in prison, Freedom Waves to Gaza activists David Heap and Ehab Lotayef are being released and deported back to Canada today. They will arrive back in this country on Thursday November 10.