The New York Timid (paywall) reported last Friday that Greece has intentionally towed over a thousand refugees out into the Mediterranean Sea on inflatable rafts and abandoned them. Insider covered the story with its own write-up.
At least 1,072 migrants were sailed to the edge of Greece’s water territory on inflatable life rafts and abandoned by Greek authorities, The New York Times reported.
The Times analyzed evidence from multiple sources, including academic researchers, the Turkish Coast Guard, and independent watchdogs groups. They found that there were at least 31 different incidents of these expulsions in the past few months.
Najma al-Khatib, a 50-year-old Syrian teacher told The Times that on July 26, she and 22 others including babies were taken by masked Greek officials from a detention center on the island of Rhodes while it was dark outside. She told The Times they were left on a “rudderless, motorless life raft” and were later rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.
“I left Syria for fear of bombing — but when this happened, I wished I’d died under a bomb,” she told The Times.
Human rights groups have made similar accusations against Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, and other countries. When rightwing, corporate, xenophobic and racist media cover it, you know it’s because the story can no longer be hidden or ignored.
“Turnbacks” (towing boats back to the country of origin) are the “official policy” of countries, but on the open ocean there are no eyes to witness governments that commit crimes against humanity. How many unseaworthy boats full of people have been abandoned and murdered? (Not *if*, but how many.) Oceans are huge; the Pacific is larger than all land masses combined. It is easy for a freighter to be lost without a trace, never mind a ten metre vessel.
In 2019, Carola Rackete was threatened with jail or prison for rescuing people whose ship was sinking. If she hadn’t intervened, it’s likely all on board would have died. Governments are sending a clear message: leave people to die, or you will be punished. This is a gross violation of international law of the sea which says ALL boats, regardless of flag, have a legal obligation to aid any vessel in distress.
Who needs death camps, the cost of bullets and the risk of witnesses when the ocean will kill people for free and sea animals will consume the bodies:?