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“Sea-rescue is not a crime: Refugees and solidarity groups protest in Athens

With central slogans “Sea-rescue is not a crime” and “Build bridges not walls” refugees and solidarity groups gathered at Syntagma Square in downtown Athens on Saturday afternoon.

Protesters were wearing orange t-shirts, the official color of the campaign against the criminalization of  sea rescues and  the anti-migration policy in some EU countries.

Orange is the color of the life jackets migrants on the Mediterranean are wearing and became the color of the movement Seebrücke”, Sea Bridge.

The event in Athens was part of a pan-European protest organized by the international movement “Seebrücke” which is supported by several several civil society alliances.

Protesters lied down in front of a banner “Would you save us?”. to symbolically remind of the thousands of people that lose their lives each year as they try to reach Europe.

The symbolical action aimed to remind of the thousands of people that lose their lives each year as they try to reach Europe.

Some were holding banners demanding the release of prominent Syrian refugee Sara Mardini and Irish volunteer Sean Binder currently in Greek custody for allegedly facilitating refugees and migrants into Greece and specifically on the islands of Lesvos and Samos.

The movement demands the establishment of safe routes for refugees, sage harbors and to stop the criminalisation of sea rescue and humane conditions for refugees upon arrival.

In their call to Europe wide protests and actions from  25.August to 2. September 2018, organizers sharply criticized Italy’s policy on the issue an not only.

Salvini tests the European governments: Italy ignores emergency calls of boats in distress at sea, denies access to Italian harbours and threatens to send rescued people back to Libya. If we don’t act now, the Italian state will establish this as common practice for the upcoming years.

At the moment boats continue to leave the Libyan shore, with people putting their lives in danger in order to cross the Mediterranean. At sea, all those on board are in distress and there is hardly anyone left to help: meanwhile almost all ships chartered by private rescue organizations have been moored in ports for flimsy reasons. European politicians such as Seehofer, Salvini, and Kurz are systematically blocking private rescues at sea and are consciously involved in the deaths of many more people. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in June and July of this year alone, 851 people died fleeing across the Mediterranean and more than 1,500 people have drowned there since the beginning of 2018. We will no longer tolerate this!


To stop this, governments need to see that we know they’re responsible for every single death. Massive EUROPEAN PROTESTS are needed right now.

We demand the decriminalisation of maritime rescue, safe, legal and dignified routes, as well as a greater focus on the sustainable improvement of living conditions in these countries of origin, from the EU and its member states. The foreclosure policy (militarization, push-backs, EU-Turkey deal, etc.) on the EU’s external borders, forcing refugees to choose increasingly dangerous escape routes, must end. The cynical shift of the EU external border into Turkey, and far into the African continent, must be replaced by cooperation of the societies with the ultimate aim of receiving and integrating those seeking protection.


SEEBRÜCKE is an international movement, supported by several civil society alliances and people. We declare our solidarity with people who are forced to flee their homes. From German and European policy makers, we demand the establishment of safe routes for refugees, to stop the criminalisation of sea rescue and to receive them in a humane way whilst respecting their rights.


Protest actions organized by Seebrücke were held in several German and Swiss cities on Saturday.

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One comment

  1. They are correct. Legal sea rescue is not a crime BUT the facilitation of human trafficking is !!
    The “NGO’s” are only protesting because they are losing “breadcrumbs” from their plates and the loss of money from their “backers” Soros et al.
    Here is an article in Greek that names the third person in the ERCI episode.