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Mare Liberum to resume refugee rights monitoring missions in the Aegean Sea

Crew sets sail for Samos as Greek Coastguards continue illegal refugee pushbacks to Turkey

A HUMAN rights monitoring group whose work the German state had tried to thwart announced its return to the Aegean Sea today.

The refugee support organisation Mare Liberum had been monitoring migrant and refugee sea crossings between Turkey and Greece since late 2018 aboard a ship of the same name.

But in August 2020 the German Federal Ministry of Transport changed the wording of a law relating to what pleasure crafts — such as the Mare Liberum — were allowed to do and what safety regulations they have to fulfil.

The change meant that the Mare Liberum and the organisation’s then newly acquired ship, the Sebastian K, would not be able to obtain the safety certificate needed to carry out their work.

Mare Liberum activist Marie told The Civil Fleet Podcast in an interview in April that leaked internal documents later revealed that the transport ministry had deliberately changed the law to target them.

Today, however, Mare Liberum said six crew members have left the Greek island of Lesbos and are currently on their way to Samos aboard the Mare Liberum 2 — the renamed Sebastian K.

The team intend to stay on Samos for several days before heading for Chios.

Mare Liberum 2 crew member Jelka Kretzschmar said: “As a crew with EU-passports we have all liberties to travel freely in the area. But only some miles from here, people’s freedom of movement is repressed.

“It is unbearable to be aware of this rights deprivation and how states curtail people’s rights brutally in form of illegal pushbacks.

“On Samos, Lesbos and Chios, people are degraded and forced to live under similar undignified conditions.

“We will use our time to strengthen the voice of refugees and their demands: The inhumane EU-Hotspots need to be shut down, pushbacks need to be stopped immediately.

“We demand safe passage and humanitarian corridors.”

At least 3,289 people were forcibly returned to Turkey while attempting to reach Greece by sea between April to the end of June 2021, Mare Liberum found in a report released last week.

Close to 10,000 people were pushed back to Turkey by the Greek and EU authorities in 2020, Mare Liberum reported earlier this year.

Top image show Mare Liberum’s new ship the Sebastian K, which has now been renamed the Mare Liberum 2

Published by The Civil Fleet

A news blog and podcast focused on the activist-led refugee rescue and support missions across Fortress Europe

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