Thursday, 24. January 2019

Following an administrative, political and judicial harassment campaign targeting the Aquarius, SOS MEDITERRANEE announced its decision to stop chartering the ship it was operating with since the beginning of 2016. The Aquarius could no longer be a durable solution to save lives at sea after losing its flag under political pressure twice (Gibraltar and then Panama) and then being threatened with seizure by Italian judicial authorities. Despite our best efforts, negotiations with several countries to find a flag had not been successful.

Premeditated illegal disposal of on-board waste with the aim of financially benefiting from it as part of a “criminal operation”: these are the pressed charges by the Prosecutor of Catania (Italy) following the conclusion of its investigation against Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the medical partner of SOS MEDITERRANEE, on 20 November. The methods used during this investigation, such as tapping phones and intercepting emails, are otherwise commonly used in anti-mafia or anti-terrorism operations. The accusation spread across the media, supported by allegedly incriminating images published by the judiciary. The claim was that the clothing and food of the rescued people were contaminated with pathogens and must have been disposed as hazardous waste.

A new year means new beginnings, especially considering the past months, which have been very rocky. Our rescue operations were deliberately disrupted and targeted. This month we were forced to terminate the chartering contract for our rescue ship Aquarius by January, instead of renewing for another year. The risk that the Aquarius may be seized, would not be issued a new flag and thus not be able to return to sea, was simply too high. But SOS MEDITERRANEE’s work continues!

As search and rescue organisations, we are grateful that thanks to the initiative of the Socialists and Democrats Group, we were nominated for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. This nomination is acknowledging the vital role which NGOs have played in saving human lives during the past years. Last year alone, NGOs have conducted about 40% of the rescues in the Central Mediterranean.

This year constitutes an extraordinary year for the protection of human rights – and simultaneously their devaluation – as it marks the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. However, in light of current EU migration policies, there is no cause for celebration. Over 2.100 people died this year, trying to reach safety in Europe. EU member states should use this anniversary to evaluate European migration policies with regards to the values agreed by the international community after the atrocities of the Second World War.

Despite the hostile environment targeting NGOs working at sea, SOS MEDITERRANEE remains fully committed to provide lifesaving assistance and is preparing to resume search and rescue operations in early 2019.

The European Initiative of Communist and Workers' Parties has released a statement in face of the 101st anniversary of the Great Socialist Revolution of October.

The European Communist Initiative (ECI), considering the October Revolution as the greatest event of the 20th century, reflects the achievements of the socialist system, including equality, social and economic rights to a great extent, reminding that "the working class in the capitalist countries was stronger thanks to the existence of socialist countries".

firIn a resolution passed with 355 votes to 90 and 39 abstentions, MEPs denounce that the lack of serious action against these groups has enabled the current xenophobic surge in Europe. The text mentions the attack that killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, the murder of UK MP Jo Cox in 2016 and the recent attack by fascist squads in Italy against MEP Eleonora Forenza. It also refers to several incidents involving fascists in Poland, Greece, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Latvia and the Nordic countries.

firThe next elections to the European Parliament will take place in May 2019. For the International Federation of Resistance Fighters (FIR) - Association of Anti-Fascists, its member-federations in almost all European countries and Israel, veterans of antifascist struggle and antifascists of today's generation, these elections are very important for a variety of reasons:

In recent years, we have often had to experience painfully that the present policy and development of the European Union does not correspond to the interests of large parts of the people in the European countries. In particular, the response to refugee situation and the fiscal clout of several states have deepened the social divide in Europe. Numerous decisions lead to massive social exclusion and dismantling of workers' rights, at the expense of the weakest in the respective countries. At the same time, the tendencies to foreclosure of the "fortress Europe" are massive reinforced and the development of a European military power for international missions is promoted.

An Italian member of our rescue team wrote a moving text on the tragedy that has opened the eyes of the world to the humanitarian tragedy that is still unfolding in the Mediterranean. By Alessandro Porro.

Five years. It took five years for Europe to forget the Lampedusa tragedy. On October 3 2013, a boat that departed from Libya sank near the island, causing the death of 369 people.This resulted in mass outrage and shame at the time, leading to Italy proclaiming a day of national mourning and reviewing the laws on reception and integration of refugees.

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