The sinking of the Libyan migrant boat in international waters

Hundreds missing and possibly drowned. A devastating tragedy and a loss of life caused by people trafficking.

A concerning and dangerous trend has been making its presence in Greece and political systems from some known groups and organisations active in the community that can be defined as anti-Greek. They are attempting to involve Greece and the Coastal Guard by criticising them as murderers and monsters associated with the migrant situation.

A tweet has been circulating on Twitter that calls the Greek population, “Monsters that have been accustomed to murder”. The individual who posted the tweet with respect to the migrant boat sinking has directed his comments to the entire population of Greece. This individual and the group or community which posted this tweet do not represent the population of Greece and don’t have the right to insult an entire population in this manner.

The opposition party of Syriza has gone wild with criticism of the Greek Coast Guard. Panagiotis Kouroumblis a Syriza delegate says “the Shameless leadership of the Department of Shipping and the Coast Guard has sent to “the tomb of the sea” hundreds of innocent souls”. The criticism of the Coast Guard continued on mainstream Greek television stations with statements such as “ the Coast Guard can’t do its job” and “the Coast Guard was watching the boat for 24 hours and did nothing. The leader of Syriza is seen on video repeating testaments by a rescued passenger, who states that the “Greek Coast Guards attempted to tow the boat, causing the sinking of the boat. On another show, Tsipras is seen saying that “the role of the Greek Coast Guard needs to be investigated”. Nikos Filis of the Syriza Party on yet another station is heard saying “I don’t care about naval laws”, what naval laws are we talking about”, and “There is a crime here it must be investigated”. Again, Alexis Tsipras on another film clip is seen saying “if I pose another question…should we presume that any ship that is overloaded is doomed to sink? I won’t accept that”. Panos Skourletis is also seen in an orchestrated synchronicity with his colleagues saying that “any Coastal Guard is obligated to intervene in these circumstances you don’t question in these moments”.

Let’s consider these scenes on Greek television and the sinking of the illegal immigrant boat. There are murderous actions and responsible individuals in this tragedy. Is it the Geek Coast Guard that has acted unprofessionally and caused the murder of the 100s of illegal immigrants?

Firstly Syriza Leader, Alexis Tsipras has on many occasions stated publicly
that the Aegean has no national borders and that the Aegean belongs to the fish. Yet on this occasion, miraculously not only has the Aegean acquired territorial borders but its borders extend beyond those recognised by international conventions into international waters. Mr Tsipras in this tragic event has completely reversed his notions of a borderless Aegean and considers international water in the Mediterranean under the control of Greece’s Coast Guard. What we have witnessed here is a group of people, whose only concern is to criticise the Greek Coast Guard and the people of Greece for cheap political points. A security organisation of any nation such as the Coast Guard has a duty to its nation and people to guard its territorial waters and borders. These aforementioned Syriza representatives or those of New Democracy have on no occasion directed their criticism to NGOs who are responsible for aiding and abetting these illegal immigrant incursions. There is also no mention of the people trafficking organisations active in the region and quite starkly as has been witnessed originating from Turkey. Is there also no responsibility to be directed to the adults who boarded this questionable seaworthy boat? They were neither forced nor coerced onto this boat, they were there of their own choosing. Why are there no women and children among the rescued, as was stated by the crew and captain? Was this also the fault of the Greek Coast Guard?

What we have here is a boat whose seaworthiness is highly questionable and will most likely sink in certain sea conditions, occurring at the time in the area. Was the boat equipped with emergency contingency equipment, such as lifejackets and boats? Was the number of passengers in accordance with the permitted safety regulations for this boat? The international laws related to the seaworthiness of a vessel and its condition to safely traverse the seas and or oceans take into account the smallest of parameters in order to account for every possibility, including weight, safety equipment and more. Photographic evidence clearly shows the vessel was not a seaworthy ship and not capable of carrying the vast numbers of people it was seen to have on board. How was this ship allowed to leave a port in Libya with several hundreds of people on board? Why isn’t Mr Tsipras seeking accountability from the Libyan Government, the NGOs, and the people smugglers who are being allowed to operate often in synchronization with NGOs? In recent revelation and court cases, the supposedly dead Maria and the 38 illegal immigrants in the Evros River incident resulted in Greece receiving unstoppable attacks from the media, NGOs, parliamentarians and MEPs of the Left, which resulted in the defamation of Greece. Sometime later, after a thorough independent journalistic investigation, it was proven that not only was there no dead 5-year-old Maria and the 38 were not on Greek territory, but as was also seen from Baida who was not a refugee, but an operative of the Military Intelligence of Turkey in Germany at the time. This clearly highlights that this was a fabricated incident by the Military intelligence of Turkey to defame Greece. It’s clear that Greece is under attack by internal political and foreign interests.

It is obvious that some political parties and some journalists in Greece support the notion that there are no Borders and that Greece should have an open-door policy, for obvious monetary and political advantages. This tragic incident needs to be addressed at its root cause for a solution to be imposed.

It is perhaps naïve to pose these very simple questions but essential in an effort to highlight the irresponsible and reckless behaviour of the political system in Greece. Why doesn’t Mr Tsipras or Mr Mitsotakis seek accountability from the Libyan Government, the NGO, and the people smugglers who are being allowed to operate often in synchronization with NGOs and foreign governments such as Turkey as was seen in the supposed dead Maria of Evros incident? The answers, by a process of illumination, are also simple. The political landscape in Greece and the brutal war between the parties to cling or win power has stooped to a level of unseen reckless and irresponsible behaviour to the point that Greece’s integrity has become a pawn in this unholy, immoral assault on the people of Greece. The Government and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) often funded by foreign organisations have an economic and financial benefit, not to point to even more sinister. The Greek Government receives as of 2020 up to 700 million Euros this figure would now be greater. The national allocation for Greece’s (AMIF) Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund for 2014-2020 was 328,265,644 according to the European Commission, governance and migration integration in Greece. NGOs are a beneficiary of these funds, providing various services to the illegal immigrant. According to Goachronicle the people traffickers in this case were of Egyptian Nationality, who via a page on the internet advertised to desperate migrants and refugees in search of a way to make it to the EU. Migrant smugglers were pricing the passage to Europe between $4,000 and $6,000 per person. Survivors reported that the boat did not set out from Libya but from Egypt. It sailed empty from Egypt, made a stop in Libya to pick up between 500 and 700 migrants, including dozens of women and children, and then it planned to sail to Italy. So far no women or children have been saved. There are only two reasons, one, that the women and children have drowned or the communication stating that women and children were on board was false. These tactics are identical to those being used by Turkish intelligence organisations and Turkish people traffickers.

Greece’s involvement so far is only associated with the attempt of the Greek Coastal Guard to render and assist the ill-fated boat in international waters. Despite the Coastal Guards’ attempt and requests to render assistance to the boat was met with the captain and crew refused, declaring that their destination was Italy. The Greek Coastal Guard having taken criticism is defending its action, its testament cannot be refuted as all communications between the Boat and the Greek Coast Guard have been recorded.

An interview was taken with an anonymous Coastal Guard Captain. When asked if he could confirm reports that the Greek Coastal Guard was at fault for the sinking of the boat he replied, “The Greek Coastal Guard was first on the scene to render assistance, as it has done to many illegal migrants, who have been in imminent danger on the seas. The Greek Coastal Guard works 24 hours a day rendering emergency help to Islands and boats across the Aegean saving 100 and thousands of people. The accusations made by parties of the left and NGOs and foreign media sources against the professionalism of the Greek Coast Guard are being done days before a national election, with political objective repercussions. Asked if there is proof of the Coastal Guards’ reports on the incident. The Captain replied, “All operational assignments are recorded, at the centre of operations where all relevant services are presented in cooperation with the European Union as well as the European Border and Coast Guard Agencies, commonly known as FRONTEX. Questioned if there could be misinformation in this case on behalf of the Greek Coastal Guard so that critical operation information is not divulged. The Captain replied that all the movements of the rescue service are tracked and recorded, and every piece of information is documented. When questioned, from an operational and legal perspective, is the Coast Guard obligated to render its services? The captain replied, in international waters the boat in question was sailing towards its destination Italy. According to law, the Greek Coast Guard could not impose upon the captain and its crew to accept an attempt to intervene. To do so would be called piracy especially since the boat was sailing under a foreign flag of another nation. It would be an intervention on a foreign ship, and the centre of operations would be aware of the legality of such action under international law. The specific boat had plans to reach the European Union by bypassing Greece and reaching Italy. The ship had sailed passed Greece and was west of Greece heading to their destination. The Boat in question refused help from the Greek Coastal Guard, they did not accept a ship-to-ship coupling. A forced ship-to-ship coupling is even more dangerous and requires active participation from the captain and crew of the boat to be achieved safety. It is illegal to force a coupling and it is not practical or legally achievable.

The responsibility for the continued loss of life by allowing the systemic operation of People trafficking that has been enabled by irresponsible regional Governments such as Turkey for its own geopolitical and financial gains at the expense of innocent lives is in essence the root cause of this and previous disasters of the type. The Greek Coast Guard is a professional well trained security organisation that must remain beyond political point scoring as has happened here days before a national election in Greece. The Police system in Greece as has been seen previously with the Prespes agreements has stooped to the level of destroying Greece and its territory’s integrity for cheap political gains. The European Union must also take the blame for this continued situation as it has acted recklessly in its approach to finding a viable solution to illegal Immigration.