For months now, NGOs saving lives in the Mediterranean have had to suffer libels and slander coming from the Italian Justice Department, FRONTEX and the European Far Right. The NGOs are accused of colluding with smugglers, putting people’s lives at risk and acting as pull factors.
At the end of 2016, FRONTEX Agency and European military complex EUNAVFOR Med made the first move with two internal reports in which they accused the NGOs of collusion with the smugglers. In April 2017, the Italian State Prosecutor in Catania took up these accusations and tried to prosecute some of the NGOs to eventually admit there were no valid elements to sustain his "working hypothesis". In May 2017, the Libyan coastguards then attacked German association Sea Watch’s boat to abduct those who had been rescued and finally escort them to detention camps in Libya. A few weeks ago, Far Right European movements launched a fund raising campaign with the alleged purpose to “defend Europe” and stop NGO boats from actually assisting people in distress at sea as provided by international laws.
To counteract the deliberate passivity of an “in-draught” obsessed EU, several private and associative actions were initiated in 2015. Today, it seems that “Blaming the rescuers” and spreading poisonous ideas so as to sap NGOs credibility stand for new priorities of those who think that border closing matters far more than the lives of thousands of “boat people” sailing for their rights. People who take sides with uncared-for victims are thus pointed out to public disgrace and become the targets of libelous campaigns led by Far Right extremists. These identitarian movements take up the ideological rhetoric of institutions and politicians who have fought an anti-migrant war for years. Their war is based mainly on evading all humanitarian duties. Each life saved means an inacceptable breach in the barriers set up on the path of people asking for the protection of Nations. Far Right parties harass the NGOs engaged in sea rescuing with outrageous racist attacks and behave as active supports of the long lasting EU "Let Die Policy".
June the 14th 2017
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Photo: Sicily Channel, Syrians being saved during a Mare Nostrum operation.
(c) Sara Prestianni, 2014