04 June, 2010

Malaysia urged Israel not to take any action that could harm people aboard the Malaysian-funded Irish aid ship

The MV Rachel Corrie,now heading to Gaza,is carrying 11 activists, including Mairead Corrigan, a Nobel Peace laureate, and eight crew members, just days after another aid vessel was boarded by Israeli soldiers who killed nine activists.

Anifah Aman, Malaysia's foreign affairs minister, said in a statement issued late on Thursday that the Israeli authorities should ensure a safe passage for the vessel to Gaza to deliver the humanitarian cargo.

The Rachel Corrie is funded by Perdana Global Peace Organisation, a Malaysian non-governmental organisation headed by former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The vessel hoped to arrive in Gaza on Saturday with a cargo of humanitarian aid.

Volunteers on the MV Rachel Corrie are not trained soldiers, and they are fearful of being attacked by the Israeli army – but they are determined to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“Of course there is worry, but this is an amanah (trust bestowed upon us) to deliver the aid to Gaza,” said Perdana Global Peace Organisation representative Shamsul Akmar in an interview.

He is on board the sole ship making its way to Gaza.

Rachel Corrie was supposed to be part of the flotilla but she got left behind due to delays and some “suspicious stringent checks” by port authorities at several places, said Shamsul.

If all goes well, the 1,200 tonne Rachel Corrie, carrying medical aid, construction material, toys, educational and writing material is expected to reach Gaza on Saturday.

There are 19 people on board and they have been travelling for 20 days.

Other than Shamsul, who is the head of the delegation, there are five other Malaysians – Matthias Chang, Parit MP Nizar Zakaria, activist Ahmad Faizal Azumu and TV3 crew members Halim Mohamed and Jufri Junid.

Also on board is a strong Irish delegation with Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire.

There are six crew members, a captain and a chief engineer.

Shamsul said there are a number of possible scenarios:

> Israel may let Rachel Corrie through

> Israel may become aggressive and board the ship; and

> those on board the ship may be shot by Israeli forces

Shamsul said that if Israel stopped the ship in international waters, but the ship was forced away, “we collectively feel we should stay there for a few days to try and deliver the aid.”

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