Tuesday, June 01, 2010
An eyewitness account of a British-Pakistani woman travelling with the #Gaza-flotilla
By our correspondent
KARACHI: “We are now surrounded by Israel warships” These words capture the drama and perhaps the fear felt by a young British-Pakistani woman aid worker travelling with the flotilla of ships that was attacked by the Israels on the high seas as they sailed towards #Gaza. Little did she know as she was updating her #Facebook page that within minutes perhaps a large number of those she was travelling with would be dead or dying and many wounded, gunned down by commandos who dropped from helicopters on to the ship.
#Paveen-Yaqub is a trustee in the UK of the Abaseen Foundation, a British-Pakistani NGO that works with the Pakistan government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa delivering health and education services.
Earlier in the day she had written an email to friends, family and colleagues. Its cheerful optimism shines through, as does her courage. She and those with her would have known that they may be putting their lives on the line when they sailed from Cyprus. We reproduce her words as they were written; they have not been edited for spelling, grammar or style ñ only length.
“Subject: CURRENT SITUATION!!!
salams, hit all. Been on the #Gaza aid boat 3 days – and am well, having a lovely time so far – getting to know people from all walks of life and from so many other countries. I was sat chilling with the Archbishop of the Vatican (Italy) then chatting to journalists writers, politicians and activists amongst others. Amazing to be here and it actually feels real and just….right I guess.
The constant threats from #Israel have bot dampened our spirits and now we are embarking upon the last leg of our journey the next 12 – 24 hours will be the key stage of this whole journey. We are informed that the Israel military have prepared special detention centres from us…hmmm images from the midnight express come to mind unless overseas prisons have evolved to satellite tvs and jacuzzis..heck I needed a break from the drudgery of life back in the UK…so it may prove an interesting escape…or not! lol
There has been great comradeship aboard and we have had some laughs, some tears, and some inspirational and humbling discussions. The IHH organisation has been brilliant in pulling this operation together and despite the basic sanitation conditions on the ship we are doing well.
Sea sickness is not too bad with tablets..and I have not showered in a few days but you kind a get used to your own BO after a while…just not everyone elses! The main ship has been joined by smaller cargo ships now and each time it has been an uplifting experience to spot a neighbour on the horizon.
There is some kind of strategy to respond to Israel marines forcing their way onto our ship and basically the women have to stay in their communal cabin and out of the way..and yes me being me wants to be a bit closer to the action! Anyway I have to do as I am told but I am sure the journalists will capture every eventuality..unless their footage gets confiscated!
Loads of journalists from Spain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pakistan, Belgium, Jordan, UK etc etc. I hear that Channel 4 and the BBC have covered our story in some wayiii There are about 100 women -if that -amongst the almost 800 passengers in total. One child under the age of one – who belongs to one of the crew.
Well I better go as I am not supposed to be in the Press Room using the internet – a friend pulled some strings. Not sure if I can email again for a bit unless I get to #Gaza and then will try to text some of you and email if poss. Please do not worry, just pray and send us all your positive energy. As Allah swt wills….bye”.
Later on Sunday she updated her #Facebook page, and these are the last words we have from her. The sunny mood is replaced by a sense of dread and urgency. She would have heard the clattering of the helicopter rotor blades overhead, heard the gunfire, the screams and cries. Smelled the blood. The following is an edited version of Paveen Yacubsí final #Facebook posts made as the attack got under way.
#Paveen-Yaqub IF WE ARE SUCCESSFUL WITH THIS MISSION – #Israel WILL BE EXPOSED FOR THEIR BRUTALITY OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE – IF THEY STOP US – THEY WILL BE EVEN MORE EXPOSED…EITHER WAY – THEY LOSE…WE WILL KEEP TRYING TO BREAK THE SIEGE…SO SCREW THE Israel TYRANISTS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS HUMANITARIAN CRISIS!…I PRAY THE NEXT TIME YOU HEAR FROM ME IS FROM #Gaza..INSHALLAH!!!:)
#Paveen-Yaqub #Israel INTENT ON CRIMINALISING O‹R H‹MANITARIAN MISSION..PLEASE HIGHLIGHT THIS N GET ONTO THE PRESS N RELEVANT EMBASSIES!
LET OTHERS NOT ON MY #Facebook KNOW..DO NOT LET #Israel GET AWAY WITH THIS!!THANKS!!!!
#Paveen-Yaqub SOMETHING HAS KICKED OFF; I GOTTA RUN UP DECK #Paveen-Yaqub WE ARE NOW SURROUNDED BY Israel WARSHIPS WITH HELICOPTERS CIRCULATING AND FOLLOWING THE CONVOY OF SHIPS HEADING FOR #Gaza STILL. WE WILL NOT BE STOPPING UNLESS WE ARE FORCIB;Y MADE TO DO SO!
#Paveen-Yaqub GOT TO GO N PREPARE FOR WOT MAY COME..ALLAH KAREEM:)
We do not yet know the fate of this young British-Pakistani woman who took her life in her hands to reach out and care for the people of #Gaza. It was of course impossible to get her personal permission for her words to be published, but these edited documents are published with the permission of the Board of Trustees of the Abaseen Foundation, UK.