4 June 2010

: Mr. Thomas Sommer is back safely in Paris. Focus will issue a statement shortly.

Our colleague Thomas Sommer was aboard a Greek ship that sailed for Gaza on May 30th with the rest of the other ships that joined the Freedom Flotilla. The flotilla was on a mission to ship 10,000 metric tons of humanitarian aid, including cement, medicines, school supplies, among others to 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who have been deprived of basic necessities and social services since the Israeli government imposed the embargo on the Palestinian community in December 2008.

The latest information we have is that the Israeli government has started to release and deport peace activists detained at Beer-Sheva. We are in contact with the Flotilla organizers and allies in Israel for updates on Thomas’ condition.  We have also contacted Thomas’ colleagues and family in France who advised us that Thomas will be released and deported to France within 48 hours from Tuesday. We keep trying the French Embassy in Tel Aviv for information, so far with little success.

Focus on the Global South continues to be in full support of the Freedom Flotilla. Thomas Sommer joined the flotilla as a Focus staff. In December 2009, both Thomas and Focus Senior Analyst Walden Bello were in the Gaza March. Focus condemns the Israeli attack on the aid-carrying flotilla, and reiterates its call to end the blockade of Gaza and the withdrawal of Israel from the Occupied Territories.

We thank everyone who helped us in securing information and contacts, and sent their solidarity. We will issue another update as soon as we establish contact with Mr. Sommer.