Family of Jim Manly wants Canadian government to demand his release
The son of former Vancouver Island MP Jim Manly says he is disappointed that no Canadian parliamentarian has spoken out for his father after the Gaza-bound ship that Manly was on was intercepted by Israeli authorities this weekend.
Paul Manley says his 79-year-old father was on the ship Estelle, with several other European parliamentarians, to try and break through the Israeli blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza. The crew of about 30 people was bringing school supplies, medical supplies, as well as building supplies.
Manly, who served as a federal politician during the 1980s, is trying to highlight the plight of Palestinians living in Gaza. Prior to his departure, he recorded a short video. It was released on Youtube shortly after he lost contact with his family.
“If you are seeing this video clip, it means that communication with the Estelle has been lost,” he said in the video. “Either communication has been jammed, or the Israeli navy is preparing to board or has already boarded our vessel. We urge you to contact your local Member of Parliament and Prime Minister Harper and ask them urgently to insist with the Israeli government to respect our human rights, our legal rights. We have done nothing illegal, we are committed to non-violence and we are committed to raising the illegal siege of Gaza.”
In 2009, Israel imposed a naval blockade on Gaza, saying it wanted to prevent the smuggling of weapons to the militant group Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a statement saying there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The Canadian government advises against all travel to Gaza, saying the security situation remains dangerous and volatile. The Canadian Foreign Affairs website also advises against participating in any attempt to break the naval blockade.
Paul says he’s heard that his father, who needs daily medication, is in good health and has not been mistreated, but he is still being detained even though some of the European parliamentarians who were also on board have been released due to political pressure. He is not sure when his father will return.
“It would be nice to hear some politicians speak out in support of a retired Member of Parliament who has stuck his neck out to help people in a less fortunate part of the world,” Paul said. “It’s kind of shocking that nobody’s said anything.”
With files from CTV British Columbia’s Lisa Rossington