News (EN)

Help those who help. Mediterranea supports all the social enterprises in difficulties due to the global pandemic

Mediterraea decided to launch the campaign “Help those who help” to support all the associations, self-managed spaces, social enterprises, collectives and self-organized groups, which due to the global pandemic have serious difficulties in staying open. 

We are supporting them by sharing their campaigns, asking everyone to support their effort to continue to work in this dramatic situation. 

Considering what’s expecting us after the lockdown ends, we cannot afford to lose this precious network of places and realities that have made solidarity their reason for existing. They are today’s “commons”, and together they represent a shared possible point of re-departure towards a new world, capable of containing many worlds, a fairer and safer world for all. For us, helping those who need to be rescued, both at sea and on land, has always been the ground where we fight for change, with concrete practices that generate new ideas. This is exactly what we need now.

Everyone does.

News (EN)

Free the # ElHiblu3: Alliance of human rights activists calls on Malta to drop charges against teenage refugees

Resisting illegal push-backs to Libya is not a crime!

One year ago, a rubber boat with over 100 people on board left the coast of Libya to reach safety in Europe. Although they were found and rescued by the merchant vessel El Hiblu 1, its crew was ordered by European authorities to return the rescued to Libya. Through a collective protest on board, the 108 rescued people averted a push-back and prompted the crew to steer toward Malta. During the protest, nobody was injured and nothing was damaged. In public, they were described as ‘pirates’ and ‘terrorists’ but when the Maltese military stormed the vessel, they only met humans who were looking for protection.

Upon disembarkation in Malta, three teenagers of 15, 16 and 19 years of age, were arrested and accused of several crimes, including terrorism. “We escaped tyrannical and inhumane treatments in Libya to find life in Malta,” says one of the three. Instead of finding what they were searching for, they were imprisoned for nearly eight months. Although they were released on bail in November 2019, the El Hiblu Three are not free. They still face severe charges that could result in years in prison.

Lucia Gennari of Mediterranea explains: “European authorities should never instruct shipmasters to bring rescued people back to Libya since this constitutes a clear breach of international law of the sea and a serious violation of fundamental rights.” Jelka Kretzschmar of Sea-Watch emphasizes: “The attempt to avoid being pushed back has to be considered an act of self defense and a way to protect life which can legitimately be punished.”

Our international solidarity campaign – Free the El Hiblu Three! – launches today. Passengers of the El Hiblu 1, sea-rescue organizations, international lawyers, researchers, activists, human rights organizations in Malta and beyond have come together to call for the immediate dismissal of the trial. Instead of being prosecuted, the El Hiblu Three should be celebrated for preventing an illegal push-back to Libya.

“The three teenagers should be seen as heroes – they prevented 108 survivors from being returned to inhumane conditions in Libya!”, Maurice Stierl of Alarm Phone adds.

Find more information and our short documentary on the campaign website: https://elhiblu3.info/

News (EN)

Coronavirus, the strength of Fabrizio: the volunteer who rescued migrants now drives the ambulance in Brescia

Fabrizio Gatti, 57 years old, from Brescia, volunteer of Mediterranea, is the answer to those who doubt that humanitarian organizations are engaged in the Covid-19 emergency. “To intervene on land or at sea it doesn’t make a difference for us, it’s always and only about helping people”.

By Fabio Tonacci, la Repubblica. Cover photo by Francesco Bellina

He took Simba, raised him to the sky on a late August night, and it seemed like he wanted to scream to the whole of Europe: this is who we are rejecting, explain now to this four-month-old baby why you don’t want him, why he scares you, why there is no place for him. It was August 28, 2019; the ship Mare Jonio was kept twelve miles away from the island of Lampedusa, following Minister Salvini’s “safety” decree. The man who passed Simba to the Italian coastguards, between waves two meters tall, who has been immortalized in a photo that has gone viral, now is in Brescia, facing a different storm, a new humanitarian emergency. Where other men and women are drowning. He drives an ambulance, has a crew of three people: history knows how to be truly lavish with coincidences, because when he was at sea with Mediterranea, he was also driving, but in that case was it was a life raft, not an ambulance, yet his crew was still made of three people.

His name is Fabrizio Gatti, he is from Brescia, he is 57 years old, he is part of the social enterprise that manages the scientific park AmbienteParco in his city; since 1986 he has been a volunteer of the White Cross. He is the living answer to those who, in these hours, are maliciously wondering: now, with Coronavirus, where are the NGOs? What do they do now that Italians, and not migrants, need help? Answer: they are at the forefront of this disaster, everyone as they can, as they must, as they know. As always.

Fabrizio is the involuntary protagonist of a video – recorded on board of Mare Jonio by Repubblica – that has been renamed “the transshipment of shame”. Sixty-four castaways that had to be moved [by order of the Italian authorities] from the humanitarian rescue ship to a Coast Guard patrol boat in the middle of a stormy night at sea, with waves so big that the two boats were swaying up and down like swings. Among the rescued there was an Ivorian child, who everyone started to call Simba after seeing that photo, because it resembled a famous scene of the movie The Lion King. “I still think about that night… pure insanity, and insane has been who gave that order; yet I remember well that even the Coast Guard crew were angry about what they were ordered to do,” says Gatti.

Fabio Tonacci: From the waves of Lampedusa to the drama of the dead in Brescia, with the hospitals that can’t take it anymore and the infected people on the rise. How’s that different?

Fabrizio Gatti: “To intervene on the road or at sea doesn’t make a difference: it’s always about driving a vehicle and a rescue team to save people. Here I take them to the hospital, over there I took them on board. In Brescia we operate three ambulances for the 118 emergency service, and two more for other types of assistance”.

FT: Not even a small difference?

FG: “Well, at sea we were better prepared, we knew who had to do what, how and when. Here we have been overwhelmed: it is a daily hallucination, we chase the emergency, but it doesn’t seem we can catch it”

FT: What’s the situation?

FG: “Surreal … in thirty years as a volunteer I have never seen such a thing. And I am 57 years old, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Today, ambulances do not enter the hospital anymore: they arrive in the tents outside the emergency room, tents that are already full of patients”.

FT: Where are you now?

FG: “At home, in quarantine. A couple of weeks ago we did one of the first home resuscitation interventions on a patient, a 69-year-old man who later turned out to be Covid-positive and later on died. He had the fever for ten days already, but nothing else, he seemed like a person without particular problems. Even though we wore protective equipment, my crew and I were quarantined for safety reasons. They visited me in one of those tents set up in front of the Brescia hospital: they were empty at that time, we were only six people inside. Today they are not enough for everyone. My quarantine time is about to end, but I am already helping out, like the other volunteers of Mediterranea Saving Humans”.

FT: How can you help if you can’t leave your house?

FG: “On the phone. I help with the coordination of the land crews of Mediterranea who are giving assistance to the Civil Protection agency with the delivery of food to the elderly and homeless. Then we have 112 medical doctors and other health workers who are part of our health support: they all work in the national health system and since the beginning of the epidemic they have been at their hospitals, many in Bergamo and Brescia”.

FT: What else?

FG: “During the August mission, Dr. Donatella Albini and the psychiatrist Carla Ferrari Agradi were also on board. They are from Brescia like me. Donatella is a medical consultant for the municipal government, she spends her days in the hospital to manage the emergency; Carla has set up a psychiatric phone assistance service, with 15 professionals answering calls. One of the problems, as she explained to me, is that psychiatric patients, left alone at home, are confused with the medicines to be taken”.

FT: Do you still look at that your picture with Simba your arms?

FG: “Yes, sometimes. And it makes me smile because I keep Simba too high, unnaturally; it was not a deliberate thing: I was passing adult people – much heavier – to the coastguard, and when it came the turn of that little boy, without realizing I used too much force. In a split second he was up in the air! ”

FT: What do you remember of that moment?

FG: “That I was extremely focused; we learn to be cold in those situations. But it hit me the next day: I secluded myself in a corner of Mare Jonio, I wasn’t able to speak or to explain to myself why someone from land had given the order to carry out a transhipment in such bad and dangerous conditions”.

FT: And did you manage to see Simba again?

FG: “Yes, on the cell phone. Francesco Bellina, the photographer who took that famous shot, tracked him down four months later in Turin and he sent me his photo. I didn’t even recognize that little boy, in four months he had changed so much, he became more chubby. He had, how to say… bloomed”.

News (EN)

Sailing through the crisis, planning hope. A letter to all the ground and sea crews

Dearest member of the ground and sea crews,

Our thoughts join those of everyone who, at this very moment, are trying to understand what is happening, while pushing away their fears and the uncertainty about the future. We share our ideas and state of mind, the images we gather from our peculiar observation points. Our social relations are an essential resource – that is where we can look for the strength to cope in this period; by breaking the silence and the solitude, while maintaining the necessary physical distance. We are drawing a new map of mutually supportive, free-thinking communities, in order to reset our compass and imagine new routes, to continue to sail even in a country in lockdown, in the midst of a global pandemic.

We start off with a difficult, but inevitable message.

Between January and February this year, Mediterranea had achieved the release of the ship mare Jonio and the sailboat Alex: a fundamental achievement that doesn’t erase the bitterness for all the time and resources wasted in legal appeals, hearings, inspections and more, while we could have been at sea doing our job, helping people who need it.

We were ready to set sail again, as tenacious and determined as ever: the ships were ready, and so were our crews.

The development of the coronavirus pandemic, and the indisputably necessary measures adopted to try to contain it, protecting the frailer among us, and those more exposed to the risk, require us to suspend our operations at sea. We are both legally and morally obliged to comply with the current health regulations and travel restrictions that make it impossible for our crew to reach Licata, the departure port, to embark within a reasonable timeframe. These same measures have questioned the very sustainability of our mission itself.  Hence the decision to suspend the departure of our mission at sea, while closely monitoring the situation, until the end of the  COVID-19 emergency allows us to become operational once again.

 

Mediterranea though is not translating #StayingHome into #StayingDocked

The effects of this forced choice are cause of great suffering for us, because people risk their lives at sea every day. After three weeks of bad weather, departures have inevitably started again. The only relief is the hopefully possible presence in the central Mediterranean Sea of other vessels of civil society, of what we refer to as the “Civil Fleet”, which we will support in any way possible. The fact that our ship cannot set sail does not mean that we are stuck. As we know very well, our beloved Mare Jonio is made of more than its steel, its engines, its rudder and its hull: it is made of what we bring to it ourselves, of what is within each one of us, and how we manage to bring it together. Our ship now will now need to sail through this crisis thanks to its crews that carry it in their hearts everywhere they go. 

Our crews are made of those 100+ doctors and paramedics who are part of the Mediterranea ground and sea crews, who have been on the front line in the Italian hospital since day one of this epidemic. Our crews are the dozens of activists who are lending their hand to the public services in the various areas affected by the contagion, working in the ambulance and assistance services. As we’ve said since the beginning, Mediterranea will only stop when its mission won’t be necessary any more. And if this is true for sea rescue, it applies to our commitment on land today. Mediterranea’s existence will make sense for as long as anyone is forced to risk their life in the Mediterranean Sea, or anywhere else in the world. 

Mediterranea will exist for as long as the absurd logic of closed borders — proven to be completely irrelevant by the virus — will continue to produce injustice and incivility, death and suffering.

There is safety in numbers

Nothing could be a better teacher than the current situation. If there is a silver lining in the current dramatic condition, it is the evidence of the vulnerability and interdependence of each of us as human beings, beyond all differences and borders. The challenge is to now turn this newfound awareness into an ability to create mutually supportive, open communities, which will be safe precisely because they are open, and mutually supportive. This pandemic is the clear demonstration of the fact that brutal violence on the borders does not protect anyone. The conditions of marginalization, inequality, misery and terror in which millions of people live on the threshold of Europe, are among the first causes of danger and unsafety for everyone.

We continue to fight the war on misinformation

We believe it is serious that even in the current situation there has been no shortage of a certain type of propaganda, directed at fostering division and racism instead of rebuilding the sense of community we so badly needed, denying the emotional impact we all felt when some people were rejected at borders “solely” for being Italians. We all read those articles that naively, or in bad faith, stated that the departures from Libya had decreased “thanks to the coronavirus”, while conveniently failing to mention adverse weather conditions and the recapturing at the hand of the Libyan that had stopped many refugees from reaching Europe. Most importantly, these articles also omit to mention that “zero arrivals” often means “more shipwrecks”. This translates into more torture and violence for those who continue to be held and often to die in Libyan camps, known for what the United Nations have called the “unimaginable horrors” consumed within them.

Our duty as Mediterranea is to break the silence: even while facing a global pandemic, we must not forget the horrors that continue to torment our world, especially since they weren’t caused by natural disasters, but by the deliberate choices of those in power. It is our duty to continue denouncing the role that European institutions, national governments, and all authorities play in this atrocity. It is our duty to continue condemning and opposing those policies that, together with the attacks on refugees on the Greek-Turkish border, are destroying the very idea of Europe. Even at this moment, we cannot avoid thinking about the bombing of Idlib in Syria and about its consequences on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people; we cannot ignore the Erdogan’s blackmailing of European rulers, paid for by the bodies of those who are trying to escape certain death; we cannot ignore the claims of the European Union, which declared repressive action (including attacks and the “refugee hunt” organized by neo-Nazi groups that no one tried to stop?) on the Greek border as compatible with human rights, with the 1951 Geneva Convention, and with those very values on which western democracies should be based.

The situation in Lesvos, a microcosm where the escalation of border violence has become a media spectacle, reminds us of the role played by Lampedusa over the past decades: both islands have been turned into borders, used as bottlenecks by their respective government policies.

What is happening highlights the disastrous nature of the EU-Turkey agreement of 18th March 2016, which was used as an example for writing the Memorandum between the Italian government and the Libyan militias: that same Memorandum that makes us accomplices of a repressive and bloodthirsty regime. That same Memorandum that sanctions the exclusion of a part of humanity from the right to live, to flee from death, not to see its children die. And now that the coronavirus, which can bypass all borders, is also reaching the Greek islands and conflict areas where millions of refugees are blocked, a health disaster of unprecedented proportions is looming.

In the face of all this, even with the suspension of our mission, we mustn’t stop our work. From the beginning, our action at sea has been supported and made possible by the exceptional support of our ground crews in Italy, Spain, Belgium, the United States, France, Germany and the UK who believed in us. Thousands of people that have gifted us with miles and  hope, and the determination to carry on, against and despite the Italian Security Decrees put into place by the previous government — and that are still in place today.

On land, just like at sea

It is time to reciprocate, to act on land just as we always have at sea. Although scattered, we need to act as one crew, sharing the same space and from this invent new practices for solidarity.

We stand with those who are asking for immediate investments in public health, income and protection for affected workers, for social and community spaces, for associations and social enterprises, heavily affected by the forced suspension of their activities.

We are trying to make ourselves useful to those who will suffer from this crisis more than others, for those whose rights are denied, for those who, after disembarking in Italy, decided to stay here, to try to build a life of dignity and who are facing an increasing number of obstacles today. We are trying to support all those who are forced to face material, physical, psychological difficulties, including the simple prescription to stay at home — because not everyone has a home, and not for everyone home is a guarantee of freedom and respect.

We are trying to activate every resource within Mediterranea in every way we can, to place our collective experience and our individual skills at the service of others.

Today more than ever, we feel the need to recognise ourselves as a community, made of those who continue to work daily in our operational teams, of our ground crews, and of all those we have met along the way and whom we’ll meet again soon, so that in the aftermath of this emergency, it will be the virus of solidarity that will spread, by surfing on fears. Only in this way will everything really be fine.

Mediterranea Saving Humans

News (EN)

A coalition to “shield” migrants and refugees against violence at the borders

We will hold Greece and the EU accountable for the violations of the rights of migrants and refugees fleeing Turkey

Over the last days, violations of the rights of migrants and refugees seeking to access EU territory via Greece have escalated to a new extreme. The conditions for such an escalation have long been in the making. In 2015, the EU introduced the “hotspot” approach, imposing on Italy and Greece the sorting of migrants and refugees arriving on their shores. In March 2016, the EU signed an agreement with Turkey, which for a time, allowed to contain crossings. Yet the twin developments transformed Aegean islands into open-air prisons and exacerbated a humanitarian catastrophe at Greece’s borders. And the untenable cooperation with Turkey – denounced by civil society – is now unsurprisingly breaking down, with Turkish authorities seeking to pressure the EU by sending migrants and refugees in its direction.

In the aim of stemming the increasing arrivals of exiles fleeing war and now the threats of Turkish authorities, Greek agencies have resorted to a new level of violence – and have been joined in them by segments of the population. At sea, the Greek coast guard have blocked the route of migrants and refugee boats, shooting in the air and even wounding passengers [1]. A child has drowned during the crossing [2]. On land, push-backs across the Evros river have continued, and video footage – labelled as “fake news” by the Greek authorities [3] but now verified by Forensic Architecture – shows a Syrian refugee being shot dead [4]. Finally activists acting in solidarity with migrants and refugees are being criminalised and attacked by far-right groups [5] . Grave violations are ongoing and the most fundamental principles of asylum law are being shunned.

Greek authorities are sending a simple message to potential migrants and refugees, one that the Greek foreign ministry conveyed on twitter: “no one can cross the Greek borders” [6]. Greece’s policy of closure [7] has also received the backing of the EU. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, has applauded Greek efforts “to protect the European borders” [8] while Ursula von der Leyen, European commission president, has referred to Greece as a “European shield” – thus suggesting that unarmed migrants and refugees constitute a physical threat to Europe [9]. Finally, Frontex, the European border agency, is preparing “a rapid border intervention” squad [10] . In short, Greece and the EU appear ready to resort to any means necessary to deter migrants and refugees and prevent the repetition of the 2015 large-scale arrivals in Europe – and of the European-wide political crisis it triggered.

We firmly condemn the instrumental use of migrants and refugees by the EU and Turkey, and the Greek and EU operations deployed to prevent them from reaching European soil. No policy aim can justify such gross violations. Exiles fleeing violence must not face the violence of borders while they seek protection. Our organisations are joining their efforts to hold states accountable for their crimes. We plan to document and take legal action against those responsible for the violations of migrants and refugees’ rights, as well as those of activists acting in solidarity with them. We will employ our investigative and legal instruments to block state violence and reverse the deeply worrying trend towards the multiplication of push-backs in Greece, – a trend observable to different degrees across the EU’s shifting borders. Migrants and refugees are not a threat the EU should shield itself against, but are themselves threatened by state violence all along their precarious trajectories. We aim to use the tools of human rights to shield migrants and refugees from the brutality targeting them.

signatory organisations:
• Are You Syrious
• Asylkoordination österreich
• Borderline Europe Human Rights without Borders
• European Association for the defence of Human Rights
• European Democratic Lawyers
• Forschungsgesellschaft Flucht und Migration
• Forensic Architecture and Forensic Oceanography
• Global Legal Action Network
• HIAS Greece
• HumanRights360
• Legal Center Lesbos
• Legal Team Italia
• Medico international
• Mediterranea Saving Humans
• Migreurop
• Milano Senza Frontiere
• PRO ASYL
• Progressive Lawyers Association
• Refugee Support Aegean
• Sea-Watch
• WatchTheMed Alarm Phone

Footnotes

News (EN)

Ruins and hatred – Europe’s deathbed

On March 18. 2016, it will be four years since that day. The EU signed a joint action plan with Turkey, which included, as a first objective, the generalised pushback of “all new undocumented migrants and asylum seekers” into Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s country, hereby conveniently defined as “safe third country”. This was what put an end to the right to asylum, as well as an end to its founding principles, such as the ban on collective pushback, especially when this pushback would take the displaced individuals back to countries where their basic human rights would not be protected. On the one hand, the EU did not consider this head of state fit to join the Union, due to the structural problems of Turkish democracy, but clearly, he was deemed fit to take care of the lives and deaths of millions of displaced people, who were fleeing some of the worst wars of the last decades, such as those in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

That joint plan worked as a model, further South, for Italy’s agreement with Lybia — this agreement was also signed by the so-called progressive politicians of EU states, in this case, Matteo Renzi, who was Italy’s prime minister at the time.

Women, children and men, used as cannon fodder, their position exploited by all parties while they are subject to gunshots from national police forces on the one hand, and the violence of Neonazi groups on the other.

Meanwhile, the EU rants contradicting itself, speaking of closing its own borders and of respecting human rights, as if denying asylum seekers weren’t one of the worst possible human rights violations per se.

Billions of Euros are spent every day to organise and maintain a system that outsources EU’s dirty work to bordering countries; billions of Euros are invested to militarise borders against innocent individuals, whose only crime is trying to find their place in this world. All this while it would be so much cheaper to open those borders and welcome these displaced people with dignity, redistributing them among member States, and taking away the power of Erdoğan’s to the East, and of the Lybian militias to the South, to use these people as pawns in their blackmailing schemes. The rightwing, ranting about the motherland and security, both in Italy and Europe, exploiting even the COVID-19 epidemic, as a good reason to legitimise border violence.

This version of Europe and its policies is leaving only ruins and hatred as its legacy. What can be built from on ruins and hatred, then?

Not even when faced with the evidence of the massacre by Greek police of unarmed individuals does this version of Europe manage to clearly condemn the violence. After all, Greece is merely implementing the policies that Europe imposed — using national sovereignty in the only way possible: against people, and to defend the continent’s border. The same sovereignty that amounted to nothing when it was time to defend the rights of Greek people against the austerity measures imposed by the European investment banks is today hailed as “Europe’s shield.” Greece, like all Mediterranean European states, are only allowed to play the role of border guards. Whenever they step out of this mould, they turn into a weight for those political and business group that took the idea of Europe as hostage. And the same happens to non European countries: Lybia, just on the other side of the Mediterranean, with its well known concentration camps, was chosen as the southern border of Europe. 

We have invented Lybian sovereignty and given it to a puppet regime run by militias and jihadis. We left a country already battered to a civil war fought by gangs, to a proxy war over the control of the country’s oil. And the so-called Lybian sovereignty has one and only function: exercising violence and control over harmless people that are only trying to reach a place to live in peace.

Let’s rise against this to reaffirm once again, in every way we can, that humans must come before any political or financial evaluation.

That the only real solution is to create European human corridors to open those borders to the women, men and children that were shamefully closed with barbed wire — that wire that instantly recalls Auschwitz and its horror.

Enough is enough, there is no end to the shame and the cruelty of the European heads of state and the European institutions. Those borders and those tortured bodies are there to show us the death of the very idea of any possible future for Europe. Europe is not an exercise of power by a group of states that work against human rights and the rights of people. We shall not be complicit, we will not remain indifferent. We will practise every day in our daily lives those human rights that today are being held captive, completely illegally and utterly illegitimately.

We want to take back life, beauty, solidarity and justice — on land, and at sea.

#OpenTheBorders

News (EN)

An Appeal from Hanau (Germany, Europe) – Kein Mensch ist Illegal

After Björn Höcke called for a coup last Monday, Tobias R. got into his car in Hanau and murdered ten people who were non-German in his eyes.

This violence is horrible, but nothing new, not even that migrant people, families, communities are being hit and not protected. We are familiar with this from the NSU murders, we have known it since the families of the murder victims organised a demonstration in Kassel in 2006 demanding from the state to put an end to the racist series of murders. The merciful verdict in the NSU trial, on the other hand, was an encouragement to all Nazis to continue murdering. Since then there have been countless other attacks and murders against migrants and Jews.

Already in Kassel, in Cologne, in Frankfurt, in Duisburg, in Halle… we knew that we could not rely on the state, but had to defend ourselves. Against the political system that is concerned after attacks, but still doesn’t do by far as much against the right-wing terror as against the migrants – the dead in the Mediterranean are the brothers and sisters of the dead in Hanau.

We know that we can’t rely on those who have been talking about “Döner” killings then and who are talking about “Shisha” killings today, those who talk about “fear of foreigners” instead of naming racism – or who once again fantasize about disoriented single offenders. That we won’t rely on a sensationalist press and the politicians who are now travelling to Hanau again to attend the spectacle, but who won’t take the warnings and experiences seriously, won’t listen and won’t act. And it is more than clear that the “horseshoe” theory of one of these Hans-Georg Maaßens only has the purpose to trivialize the right-wing terror and agitation – and to weaken the antifascist resistance against it.

We are taking the right to defend ourselves. We are calling on the society in solidarity to demonstrate and to stand up with us for the integrity of our lives and of our coexistence and to fight for putting down Nazis and racists.
With these attacks everybody is meant, but we are hit.
But we are also saying that racism will not chase us away, but that we have shaped and changed this society forever.  For a migrant, Jewish, black perspective. For the society of the many. The problem is not migration, the problem is racism.We call and urge everyone to turn their attention to the families and relatives of the victims, to hear their voices, to state the names of the victims. We stand with them.We call for a nationwide demonstration in Hanau on Saturday at 14:00. Starting point: Hauptpost am Kanaltorplatz (nähe Westbahnhof) .  Those who cannot come are called to hold decentralized protests at the same time.
More information on facebook account of We’ll Come United

Migrantifa now!

News (EN)

An invisible shipwreck – From AlarmPhone

ALARM PHONE DEMANDS ANSWERS FOR THE FAMILIES OF 91 MISSING PEOPLE

Alarm Phone Email sent to RCC Malta, MRCC Italy, authorities in Libya, Frontex, UNHCR, IOM, Moonbird and Aita Mari on 17 February 2020:

We are writing to you because we fear that a shipwreck occurred last week, on 9th February 2020, off the Libyan coast and we would like to kindly ask your cooperation in clarifying the situation with details around the rescue operations and search flights of the day. Families of people who left that day are reaching out to Alarm Phone reporting missing relatives, and we need to give them clear answers about the fate of their loved ones. Please find below a summary of the events known by Alarm Phone, and a list of data that we would need your cooperation with in order to clarify the events.

On Sunday, 9th February 2020, Alarm Phone received a distress call from a black rubber boat, with reportedly 91 people on board, that had departed from Garabulli, Libya that night (Thuraya number: +88216xxxxxxxx)

At 04.09 CET we reported the distress case to the Libyan Coast Guard and to the Aita Mari rescue vessel; at 4.24h CET we forwarded the information to the Maltese and Italian authorities as well.

We lost contact to the boat at 05.35h CET, and at the time the people were panicking, saying that their engine was not working, that water was entering the boat and that there were people in the water.

Their position at 05.35h CET was: N33°09.069, E013°49.514.

Throughout the day, we have been calling and emailing Libyan authorities who, despite initially communicating that they would not intervene, later on told us that they were searching for the distress case with two patrol vessels, but that they had not found the boat in distress reported by Alarm Phone.

Hours later, around midnight, RCC Malta rescued 84 people on a rubber boat further North, in position 34°26’N, 13°56’E. Both the Libyan Coast Guard and the NGO vessels Aita Mari were on the scene of the rescue.

We have reasons to believe that the boat rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta is not the same as the distress case we were informed of, because of the distance between the distress situation and the actual rescue, as well as because of the composition of the group that was rescued. In addition, families are reporting missing relatives who departed that day, and fishermen reported to us that they spotted floating life-vests, gas tanks and clothing in the distress area.

On the morning of Monday, 10th of February, we phoned RCC Malta to ask information about the case reported by Alarm Phone, and to match it with the boat that had been rescued the evening before.

The officers on duty told us that a search flight had been launched that morning, and that around 10.30h CET Osprey 1 spotted a deflated rubber boat at N33°09.069, E013°49.514, the last position of the case reported by Alarm Phone.

We believe that this deflated dinghy is indeed the boat we had alerted authorities of, and we need to confirm whether the deflated boat had been rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard, or whether, instead, there was a shipwreck.

  • For doing so, we would need some clarification about the rescue conducted by the Libyan Coast Guard that day, as well as on the details of the black rubber boat spotted via air:
    Could you share a summary, timestamp and GPS positions of the rescues conducted by Armed Forces Malta, as well as by the Libyan Coast Guard, on February 9th 2020, as well as on the night between February the 9th and the 10th?
  • If there was a rescue by the Libyan Coast Guard that day, where did it take place, and at what time?
  • Can you share the footage of the deflated rubber boat taken by Frontex airplane Osprey1?
  • What was the condition of the rubber boat spotted by Osprey1? Was it still inflated and intact?
  • Was the engine still on the deflated black rubber boat spotted by Osprey1?

Families of people who were on that boat have been reaching out to the Alarm Phone, telling us that their relatives are currently missing. We want to give them a clear answer as soon as possible. We would be very grateful if we could receive further information.

Thank you for your attention and for your cooperation,

WatchTheMed Alarm Phone

News (EN)

Mediterranea: the Court of Palermo orders the release of Mare Jonio. Our ship is finally free; the Safety Decrees have been invalidated.

Tuesday 4 February 2020.

The Civil Court of Palermo has granted the appeal lodged by Mediterranea Saving Humans against the impoundment of Mediterranea’s ship Mare Jonio. The authorities involved have been ordered to immediately release the vessel, which was seized on Sept. 3.

“The decision of the Civil Judge of Palermo restores the law. Mare Jonio is once again free after five months of illegal confiscation,” said Alessandra Sciurba, president of Mediterranea Saving Humans. “The charges against Commander Marrone and Mission Chief Casarini were already dismissed, and so this is another fundamental step towards the repeal of the Salvini Decrees.”

“This again reaffirms that our compass has always been the law and human rights,” Sciuba continued. “European governments, led by Italy, betrayed and dehumanized these refugees in the middle of the Mediterranean. This was political propaganda, played out with the bodies of thousands of men, women, and children. ”

“The current government,” she concluded, “has not had the courage to do politically what a court today has decreed to be the only right thing. Our ship is free, and now we want to go back to the sea as soon as possible, to save these war refugees from drowning or capture by the Libyan militias. This decision also saves us, as well as the other ships of the civil society, from toxic and criminal decisions such as renewing the agreement with Libya. But to carry on our mission, we need all the support from our ground crews. ”

Today, Mediterranea kicks off a special fundraising campaign to finance the next mission at sea after this forced five-month suspension.

News (EN)

February 2, 2017 – February 2, 2020. The horror of Libya and 3rd anniversary of the criminal Nation of Italy

Some things have certainly changed since the first time Mediterranea put an Italian ship at sea. Things have changed in the wake of every mission, at sea and on land.

First of all, an Italian government has fallen and a new one has taken charge, proclaiming – since the very first day – its willingness to act with discontinuity respect to the previous. The NGOs saving lives at sea no longer make the newspapers headlines, because the “war” against them has somewhat reduced its tones. While we are writing these lines, the “safe harbor” of Pozzallo has been assigned to the ship of Proactiva Open Arms, carrying 363 refugees and migrants. This time around the authorities will not stage the absurd show we used to see just few months ago: these saved migrants will not be prevented to enter the European waters, although, to get them to land we had to wait the outcome of slow redistribution negotiation between several European Countries, while instead the international rules prescribe the landing in the “shortest possible time” and unconditionally.

On many occasions, with the ship Mare Jonio, the sailboat Alex and other civil society ships, we have forced the application of the international laws and the law of the sea, during very long months in which we risked a lot and we had to pay a high price: seized ships, six digits fines, mission heads and commanders under investigation for serious offenses.

On January 27th, the Prosecutor of the Agrigento Court eventually filed the investigation against Pietro Marrone and Luca Casarini for the events of March 2019. That one was the first mission in which Mediterranea directly rescued people; our ship Mare Jonio entered the port of Lampedusa following the Italian Constitution – which prescribes that the international law is binding and always prevails – and not the orders of doubtful legitimacy issued by the national authorities. The 23 pages of this filing are a blunt acknowledgment of everything we have done this past year and a half: no unlawful conduct, uncontested and legitimate choices, fulfillment of the obligations foreseen by the laws. Since that March, many other ships have entered the ports after saving human lives, in the name of Principles and Laws so high that, in comparison, a hashtag or a tweet are worth nothing, even if typed by a Minister of the Interior. And for this reason, once politicians realized that they could not defeat our civilian fleets using the criminal law, they moved the battle on the level of political arbitrariness and the administrative law, transforming our ships in political hostages in the hands of the prefects. To date, our Mare Jonio and Alex, and the Eleonore of Lifeline, remain seized due to these measures, built as a revenge of those who used public institutions for their populistic battles.

If something has changed, then too many other things have not changed at all. Not only the seizure of our ships has not been revoked by the new ministers, who could have done that with a stroke of a pen. Above all, Italy continues to remain complicit, promoter and first financial supporter of crimes against humanity.

February 2nd marks the third anniversary of the Memorandum signed between the Italian government – at that time represented by Paolo Gentiloni – and Al Serraj, one of the leaders of the militias now at war in Libya. Already in 2017 this agreement was “invalid” – quoting the request for filing of the Agrigento prosecutor’s office – because “in contrast with an imperative rule of the international law”, the principle of “non-refoulement”, which requires not to bring anyone back to a place where his life is in danger and at risk of incurring in inhuman treatment.

Former Prime Minister Gentiloni agreed to sign that agreement, woven after months of strategic developed by his Minister of the Interior Marco Minniti, which has immediately condemned thousands of people to torture and hundreds of them to death, which has provided economic means and logistic help to disguised Libyan militiamen, who often coincided directly with traffickers and torturers – as in the case of Bija – to capture desperate people fleeing the horror of Libyan concentration camps at sea, and bringing them back.

As we have demonstrated during our defense against the accusations made against Pietro Marrone and Luca Casarini precisely for the rescue of March 2019, and as the Prosecutor has still affirmed in his request for filing, the Italian Navy ships in the Port of Tripoli “in reality seem the real operational command center” of the Libyans, effectively performing the functions of decision-making center of the so-called Libyan coast guard. We had denounced it from the council hall of the Municipality of Palermo on April 18, revealing the communications between the Italian and Libyan authorities. We have also denounced to the European Union, every time we have seen it with our own eyes, that airplanes of EU Countries guide Libyan patrol boats to catch  migrants and refugees in the middle of the Mediterranean.

The refoulement of migrants to Libya, under Italian and EU mandate and with Italian and European resources, is object of a case we have opened at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.  We describe there the details and the means of torture, sexual violence and executions that take place in Libya every day on women, children and men.

Yet the new Italian “government of discontinuity” has not had the courage to cease this Memorandum with Libya. It has been the choice of Minister Minniti and the Gentiloni government to sacrifice the dignity of human life, on February 2, 2017, in the name of a war against “illegal immigration”. It was their choice to inaugurate the political battle against NGOs in the Mediterranean, trying to eliminate uncomfortable witnesses of too many human rights violations.

To this date, it seems clear that the authorities of Italy and Malta alert only the Libyans when they detect a boat adrift. n case non-governmental ships arrive first on the spot, they are simply “tolerated”, and only as long as the people rescued are not “too many”.

In the meantime, Italy has not stopped even for a moment to be on the brink of a moral abyss, built on a poisonous wave of hatred and racism, which – although opposed by extraordinary rallies such as those of the Sardines, and by many large and small actions of a civil society that does not give up – today sees 15% of the citizens of this country to deny even the Holocaust.

Ceasing the agreements with Libya is not an optional political strategy, it is a necessary act to save all of us from that moral abyss. Immediately after we will need to convince the EU to establish humanitarian corridors for people under the bombs. Then to renegotiate European migration policies.

Until then, we will live in a country that is accomplice of the criminals, and that every day obliges thousands of people to suffer a violence comparable to that inflicted on entire populations in the darkest years of European history.

We saw with our own eyes the signs of violence on migrants bodies, the numbers stamped on the chest of the newborns, the eyes in terror of the people we were saving from the Libyan militias, furious to have arrived after us and for not being able to take their cut of beef for the day.

We risked everything we had, with our little forces, to save those people, to save us with them. But if a ship has done a lot, it is now up to the entire Country to rise and regain its dignity.

Alessandra Sciurba 

President, Mediterranea Saving Humans