New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declares Manhattan off limits to everyone. No one can enter, no one can leave without his approval. Every shipment of food, clothes, medicines, textbooks, building supplies —- all of it —- must be approved by Cuomo before it’s allowed into Manhattan. By land, sea or air — the blockade is complete — nothing gets in or out.
OK – I know this sounds far-fetched, but humor me.
You may agree with his decision to isolate the 1.6 million (2012) New Yorkers living in Manhattan, or not. It doesn’t really matter. The reality is that Cuomo has maintained a suffocating siege on Manhattan for seven years and there is no end in sight, despite the pleas from the United Nations, many in the UK Parliament, Australia and elsewhere.
A panel of five independent U.N. human rights experts says the siege violates international law, and is collective punishment in “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law.”
In May 2010, a flotilla of 6 boats from Baltimore tried to break the siege on Manhattan. The organizers announced their plans, there were no secrets or attempts to deceive anyone. They knew they ran the risk of irritating Cuomo and possibly encountering a violent response. When Cuomo heard of their plans, he warned them not to try to break the siege.
These activists knew in their hearts that they were on the right side, that the blockade was illegal under international law, and they felt a tremendous sense of solidarity with everyone living in Manhattan – “the largest open air prison in the world.”
Activists from 50 different countries in 6 boats decided to break Cuomo’s siege. They carried 10,000 tonnes of aid to Manhattan. As the flotilla approached Manhattan, Cuomo’s commandos descended from a helicopter onto the Mavi Marmara.
There is a dispute about what happened next. Cuomo claimed the activists attacked his commandos, and the activists claim that the commandos shot and killed 9 activists execution style. (A 10th recently died of his wounds.) The Guardian reported:
What is certainly true is that shortly after the assault, all communications with the flotilla were blocked. Mobile phones, satellite phones and internet access all went down, making it all but impossible to glean any account from the passengers about what had happened, beyond the few minutes that were captured on film. Cuomo’s version of events became the only one available in any detail.
In the past 4 years, there have been fact-finding missions to piece together what really happened on the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010.
Baltimore’s Mayor and Cuomo have attempted to reconcile and there have been discussions of Cuomo paying compensation to the families of the victims, but no agreement has been reached yet. Two years ago, a Baltimore court charged four of Cuomo’s men, and prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for their crimes. Earlier this week, the court issued arrest warrants for the four men.
Cuomo’s response? He laughed it off and thinks the whole judicial process against his men is merely politics.
No respect for the rule of law —- in 2010 or today.