Since Sunday night, 5th of August, the tanker “Salamis”, whose crew rescued 102 boatpeople is blocked on open sea by Maltese maritime forces. The refugees came in distress while fleeing via Libya in direction of Europe. Since more than 34 hours the ship is blocked and the situation on board is getting more and more precarious – especially because all the 102 passengers are in agony of being pushed back to Libya.
It is a shame, it is injustice. A few weeks before the pope during his visit in Lampedusa demanded for a break of the global indifference towards boatpeople in the Mediterranean Sea. At the same time, the inhuman policy of illegal push-backs continues: Maltese as well as Italian authorities blackmail a civil ship and its honest crew to transport back the asylum-seekers into a country, they just fled from: to the port of Tripoli.
In the Search and Rescue Convention it is not clearly defined what a “place of safety” is, but it states that it cannot be defined solely by geographical location. It is also necessary “to avoid disembarkation in territories where the lives and freedoms of those alleging a well-founded fear of persecution would be threatened is a consideration in the case of asylum-seekers and refugees recovered at sea.”
„I was 3 months in Libya. Half time I was in prison, half time I was hidden, before I could leave with the boat. Libya was a hell for us.“ this quotation from an Eritrean refugee, whom we met in Lampedusa in the mid of July 2013, is not an exceptional experience. Rather it reflects the daily conditions of most transit-refugees in Libya today. Arbitrary detention and racist attacks instead of protection is the reality of refugees in Libya still.
Italian and Maltese authorities execute the logic of externalisation of EU-politics against refugees and migrants. The war against migrants in the Mediterranean is a daily and bitter reality. The closest safe port would be Malta. It would be very easy to welcome the refugees there. It would be simple to give them a laissez-passer to find their way to another safe place in Europe – a simple way to share the responsibility. Europe should welcome them with all their skills and stories they carry, a simple and the only answer to the tragedies by wars and economical disasters often enough caused also by the economic interests of the European governments.
We express our solidarity with the crew of Salamis! We know very well from our own experience how hard it is to see people suffering senselessly. We know very well the fear of refugees to be pushed back to Libya We can imagine how it feels if you are stopped and threatened by the authorities in the attempt to rescue. We feel with you stuck in the waters close to Malta. We hope you will not forget that there is another part of the European society that wishes to welcome you and your passengers and help you to overcome the tragic experiences of these days.
We support the statement of Maltese NGOs to criticise their government to block the ship. We feel the weakness of just sending a declaration and so we want to combine it with a promise: we will join hands in the struggle against the senseless killing in the Mediterranean. We will continue until it is stopped!
We condemn the inhuman policy of denying access to the asylum system for the refugees. We will continue protesting against our own governments – also those in the heart of Europe. We want them to take responsibility and to offer those who reached Malta a possibility to settle in other European countries if they wish.
We demand immediate protection. We wish the crew and the passengers of Salamis strongly to reach a safe port – because Freedom of Movement should be everybody’s right!
contact: contact (at) w2eu.info
For background information:
About the joint statement of Aditus foundation, JRS Malta, Migrants’ Network for Equality, SOS Malta, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, KOPIN, Integra Foundation, Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity – different social NGOs from Malta:http://tvm.com.mt/news/2013/08/preservation-of-life-should-be-the-topmost-priority-ngos/