The Italian minister of interior, Matteo Salvivi of the fascist Lega party tweeted that he did well “to block NGO ships”.
Published by Enough is Enough. Written by Riot Turtle. Image above: Aquarius in the Central Mediterranean, September 2018. Image by Maud Veith/SOS Méditerranee.
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.
Formally the state prosecution in Catania ordered the seizure of the rescue ship Aquarius. The state prosecution is investigating MSF that runs the ship on charges of illegal trafficking. But the fascist Italian fascist minister of interior, Matteo Salvini, is pushing the seizure of resue ships for a long time now. Salvini tweeted this morning: “Seized the #Aquarius ship. I have done well to block NGO ships, not only stopping trafficking in illegal immigrants, but also, as it turns out, trading in toxic waste.”
Italian authorities seem not be able to proof their charges of “illegal human trafficing.” The order to seize the Aquarius is officially motivated because of alleged anomalies in its disposal of on-board waste. Once more the fascist Italian government uses false pretenses to stop people from saving people lifes.
I a first reaction MSF strongly condemned the seizure of the Aquarius. MSF stated: “It is a disproportionate and unfounded measure, purely aimed at further criminalising lifesaving medical-humanitarian action at sea.”
“After two years of defamatory and unfounded allegations of collusion with human traffickers, judicial investigations, and bureaucratic obstacles against our humanitarian work, we are now accused of organised crime aimed at illicit waste trafficking. This latest attempt by the Italian authorities to stop humanitarian lifesaving search and rescue capacity at any cost is sinister,” says Karline Kleijer, MSF’s Head of Emergencies.
The MSF press release continues by saying: “The request to seize the Aquarius, and the order to freeze some of our bank accounts, follows a longstanding investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office of Catania regarding the disposal of on-board waste, with particular reference to food leftovers, clothes of rescued people, and waste from the ship’s medical activities. However, the in-port operations, including waste management, of MSF’s search and rescue vessels have always followed standard procedures. Relevant authorities did not question these procedures nor did they identify any hazard for public health since MSF began search and rescue operations in 2015.”
“We are more than ready to clarify the facts and stand accountable for the operational procedures we followed, but we strongly reaffirm the legitimacy and legality of our humanitarian work”, says Gabriele Eminente, General Director of MSF in Italy. “This climate of repeated attacks and baseless accusations has led to the real crimes we see today at sea. This year alone, more than 2,000 people have perished in the Mediterranean, while still others continue to take the dangerous sea journey with no dedicated search and rescue vessels left to save their lives. Those that do survive are returned to inhumane and arbitrary detention in Libya, in complete disregard for international maritime and refugee law.”
“Two years of smear campaigns against search and rescue activities, baseless public accusations of criminal activity, and the closure of places of safety have impeded humanitarian aid and discouraged ships of all kinds from rescuing boats in distress on the Mediterranean Sea. The ultimate result is a surge in human suffering, as the European-funded Libyan coast guard returns more and more survivors intercepted in international waters and sends them back to arbitrary detention in Libya, in contravention to international law” continues Kleijer.
The fight against EU border policies is growing in Europe, but a lot of protests appeal to governements that are increasingly authoritarian and right wing. Some of these governments are coalition governments with far right parties like Lega (Italy), FPOE (Austria) or Fidesz which is even governing Hungary alone. If we want to end the drownings, the suffering at the EU borders and the freedom of movement for all people, we have to abolish these borders. On December 10 there is a transnational day of action for a world without borders.
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