The German Captain Stefan Schmidt and his first mate, Elias Bierdel,
were navigating their ship, the Cap Anamur, towards Basra, Iraq, in
2004 with a load of humanitarian supplies when they spotted a group of 37 refugees lost at sea in an inflatable raft.
The Cap Anamur is equipped with an on-board hospital and has spent
30 years running humanitarian missions around the world.
After bringing the refugees on board, the Captain and his crew directed the ship to land in a Sicilian port. This was denied by Italian authorities.
After ten days at sea, the Cap Anamur landed in Italy and both, Schmidt and Bierdel were arrested. The ship was impounded and the refugees were deported.
The Italian government is currently prosecuting both Schmidt and Bierdel and is asking for a four-year prison (4 years !) sentence and
400,000 EUR fine.
The trial, the threat of a possible conviction and the prospect of further legal proceedings have been a heavy burdens for the accused
for three years now.
Their livelihood and reputation are at risk.
The International League for Human Rights nominated Captain Schmidt
for the decoration by the Carl von Ossietzky Medal 2009 for his
courage and outstanding contribution to the defense, implementation
and further development of the universal human rights including the
universal right to asylum.
The celebration will take place on 13 December 2009 in the central
hall of the House of World Cultures in Berlin.
Please take action.
The wearing trial against the Cap Anamur enters its decisive stage
The Italian court in the region of Agrigento (Sicily) intends to
pronounce the judgment on 07 October 2009.
The International League for Human Rights raises a sharp protest
against the attempt of the Italian government to criminalize the
humanitarian aid of Captain Schmidt and Elias Bierdel.
* We call for an EU-wide solidarity with the accused.
* We demand to drop all charges against them and to fully restore
their reputation and will not accept any other judgement !
* Please distribute the attached PR (French, Italian, Spanish, German) widely.
* Please do develop your own solidarity activities in your country
and additionally EU-wide.
* The widespread deaths in the Mediteranian sea has to be stopped.
All EU member nations have to initiate a change of thinking concerning
asylum seekers and immigration.
It is hight time to take committed responsibility for the universal
human rights and elementary humanitarian obligations in the
territories of the EU !
Please let the media and authorities in your country know :
The real scandal is the loss of life at the gates of Europe. Aid and rescue at sea are no crime but a humanitarian imperative !
Berlin, October 2009