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#Lampedusa: Repression Against Life-Savers

Italian coastguards seized a refugee rescue boat operated by German aid group”Jugend Rettet e.V.” in the Mediterranean earlier today. After several European interior ministers started to criminalize life-savers in the past week with ridiculous claims that life-savers on the Mediterranean are working together with human trafficers, an Italian prosecuter ordered to search and seize the rescue boat Iuventa. 


Image: The Iuventa. Image by Jugend Rettet e.V. Facebook page.

Published by Enough is Enough.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

At least 2300 people drowned in the Mediterranean this year because of EU policies. Its no coincidence that people drown. As No Border Kitchen Lesvos wrote in a statement: “The EU is murdering refugees. It is condemning them to drown in the Aegean, to starve to death in prison camps, to open their wrists with razor blades, to be raped and beaten in Turkish prisons, to be tortured and executed in the countries they fled. Their blood is on all our hands.”

But todays action by Italian coastguards shows that more than 2300 deaths this year alone doesn’t seem to be enough for the EU member states. The Iuventa, a boat operated by German NGO “Jugend Rettet e.V.”, was seized on the Italian island of Lampedusa on the orders of a prosecutor based in Trapani, Sicily, Italian police authorities said.

“Inquiries begun in October 2016, and conducted with the use of sophisticated techniques and investigative technology, have produced circumstantial evidence of the motorboat Iuventa being used for activities facilitating illegal immigration,” a statement said.


Image: Italian police searched and seized the Iuventa today. Image by Twitter account @global_project

Its no surprise that EU member states are increasing repression against “Jugend Rettet e.V.”. The German aid group, which describes itself as an organisation of young Europeans, was one of five groups that refused to sign the socalled “code of conduct”.

In a statement on their Facebook page “Jugend Rettet e.V.” wrote on July 25:

Many of the theses of the Code of Conduct currently submitted by the Italian Ministry of the Interior are unfortunately based on false claims about our work. A good example are the alleged “light signals” from NGOs to “communicate” with smugglers. We are obliged to switch on our position lights at night. These lights do no have a long range but help ships in the vicinity to navigate.

“Also to switch of the navigation lights, which some say attract refugees, is simply forbidden. However, the NGOs are far from the Libyan coast. It is impossible to see their lights from the mainland. Even those who claim that the refugees are usually rescued from Libyan waters, state beliefs that are contrary to the reality that the New York Times, for example, has worked through in troublesome micro-work for the last three years”

Major NGO “Doctors Without Borders” (MSF) also refused to sign the code of conduct (Twitter video):

Today “Jugend Rettet e.V.” published following statement on their Facebook page:

The day before yesterday, our ship IUVENTA was called upon by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Rome to bring two rescued people to Lampedusa.
Yesterday, in front of the island Lampedusa, again under the direction of the MRCC Rome, search patterns were applied to find a missing boat with probably 50 people on board.

Today, in the early morning hours, our ship, according to instructions from the MRCC, then went to the port of Lampedusa.
As it happened during other stops at this port, the crew was questioned by the local police, which also entered the ship. Around noon the search of the ship began after the submission of a search warrant.

Late in the afternoon the ship was seized by the Italian authorities and will be taken to Sicily. Accusations against the crew were not charged. Further information will follow.

A few hours later “Jugend Rettet e.V.” published a second statement on their Facebook page today:

Dear supporters, Thank you for your interest and your questions. Due to the current situation, all of our capacities are focussing on todays events. We also make every effort to revise on the issue and keep you up to date. However, we do not want to tell you any speculation. For this cause we are gathering information on all levels at the moment. We hope to be in touch with the Italian authorities in the near future. For us, the rescue of human life is and will be top priority, so we are very sorry for the fact that we are not able to operate in the Search and Rescue Zone at the moment. We can only assess all the accusations that are currently being made after we collected all the information and can estimate the situation. Thank you for your understanding. We give our best.

Some people of the Enough is Enough team were supporting refugees on the Balkan route several times and experienced repression against people who are supporting refugees themselves. Some were threatened with arrest in Serbia, others in Greece. The last time people of our team where in Serbia they had to distribute food to refugees in the middle of the night, not because cops threatened to arrest them but because refugees that were caught outside of the state run camps were risking arrest and deportation.

The criminalisation of refugees and people who support them is not new but is getting more and more intense. Since the start of the EU-Turkey deal in March 2016 more and more refugees are imprisoned in camps that bring back memories of very dark days in the last century in Europe. Not only in Hungary but also in countries like Greece. Almost all EU member states deport people back to warzones like Afghanistan. That the lives of people who are deported back into warzones are in danger doesn’t seem to bother the governments of EU countries.

The capitalist states with their geo-strategic and economic policies are one of the main causes why people have to leave their homes, then there lifes are in danger because EU border policies are forcing them to take dangerous routes to Europe and when they arrive many people get deported. The whole system is murdering people, the number of deaths are in the tens of thousands. Its time to get rid of this system which is killing people. Show solidarity, step up the fight!

crowdfunding2aCrowdfunding campaign: Support refugees in Greece (IMPORTANT: This campaign is to support refugees in Greece in general and not for “Jugend Rettet e.V. Click at the banner (at the left) to donate.


1 thought on “#Lampedusa: Repression Against Life-Savers

  1. […] this week there was also an action in solidarity with life-savers on Lesvos. Italian authorities confiscated the rescue boat Iuventa on August 2. The action on Lesvos was part in a series of solidarity actions and statements against […]

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