Islander may be held in Israel
BY Greg Wiles
Advertiser Staff Writer
Retired Army Col. Ann Wright, a human rights advocate who makes Honolulu her home, was believed to be in Israeli military custody last night after surviving a deadly attack on a six-ship flotilla taking aid to Gaza.
A YouTube video is said to show the silver-haired Wright among people being escorted from boats and into a tent at the Ashdod port in Israel. Larry Geller, a Hawai'i resident and author of the Disappeared News blog who has met Wright on several occasions, identified a woman in the video striding on the dock in a black baseball cap, T-shirt and pants as being Wright.
"That's good to hear," said Jim Albertini, a friend of Wright's who lives on the Big Island. Albertini tried to call and e-mail her after hearing of the attacks.
"She's a remarkable woman — a person of tremendous integrity," said Albertini, a longtime community activist.
Wright did not respond to a call to her cell phone and an e-mail yesterday.
The pre-dawn Israeli commando operation on the six-boat aid flotilla killed nine pro-Palestinian activists and wounded dozens of others, the Los Angeles Times reported. The boats were diverted to Israel.
Albertini said Wright recently gave a talk on the Big Island about her visits to the Gaza Strip, including a recent attempt to take supplies into the seaside region through its border with Egypt.
While Wright has worked in recent years to get aid and supplies through a blockade of Gaza, she is perhaps best known for her opposition to the Iraq war and having resigned from her State Department post the day before the start of the 2003 U.S. military action.
She also has worked with Cindy Sheehan, another activist against the Iraq war.
Recently she has been active with movements trying to get around a blockade of aid and supplies to Gaza and apparently boarded one of six ships that attempted to skirt Israeli navy ships.
It was unknown yesterday if she was aboard one of the ships in which people were killed and wounded as Israeli commandos boarded the vessels.
Canadian blogger John Bonnar wrote that Wright had anticipated that the Israeli military would fire warning shots over the bows of the ships and possibly try to ram or board the vessels.
"She predicted that the Israeli navy would try to prevent their ships from docking in Gaza and that the military was preparing a warehouse in the Ashelod area to be used as a detention camp for the 700 activists," Bonnar wrote on Rabble.ca.
Wright also has detailed her views about Gaza on the Town Square radio program on Hawaii Public Radio. Show host Beth-Ann Kozlovich said she wasn't surprised that Wright took part in the flotilla.
"She walks her talk," Kozlovich said, noting that although Wright calls O'ahu home, she's rarely here.
"She's gotten herself arrested a couple of times."
Kozlovich said Wright also had spoken up for Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who refused to deploy to Iraq because of his opposition to the war.
"She's outspoken about human rights," said Kozlovich.