ALL 35 PASSENGERS on a Canadian boat stormed by Greek coastguards for defying its ban on sailing to Gaza have tried to avoid arrest – by each claiming to be the boat’s captain.
The boat – named the ‘Tahrir’, after the square in Cairo which hosted anti-government demonstrations this year – was stopped shortly after leaving Crete for Gaza yesterday afternoon and was boarded by about 15 special armed forces.
Port authorities later said they had stopped and boarded the vessel before escorting it back to port, detaining three of those on board.
But it had been difficult for the authorities to ascertain exactly which of the people on board should have been arrested for defying its ban on travelling to Gaza – because every single person on board had claimed to be the captain, AFP reported.
Flotilla organiser Huwaida Arraf explained that the idea behind the plan was that it “will be difficult to arrest 30 people” – and insisted that the tactic was not entirely inappropriate, given how everyone on board had “had a go at sailing it”.
The plan is similar to a legendary scene from Stanley Kubrick’s film Spartacus, where recaptured slaves all claim to be the title character in order to share the punishment of the one who had tried to liberate them.
Ultimately the two people who were arrested were Canadian and Australian nationals who had jumped off the boat and boarded kayaks, trying to blockade their vessel from being boarded by the Greeks.
The Canadian boat is the second to have been stormed by Greek authorities; on Friday the captain of a US boat was arrested after setting sail without permission.
A Montreal-based spokesman for the ship told the Canadian Press that the Greek government’s action was considered “entirely unjustified” but that the efforts to deliver aid to Gaza would continue regardlesss.
An Irish boat that had intended to take part in the flotilla is unable to sail after sustaining propeller damage in Turkey.