The human rights activists of Mare Liberum are starting a new project, this time on land. The focus of the new project continues to be the observation of human rights violations and border violence in the Aegean.
Berlin, 27.07.2022 – Mare Liberum sets off on a new project, this time ashore. Increasing repression and criminalisation by Greek authorities have made the deployment of the ship Mare Liberum 1 impossible. Therefore, the human rights group is shifting the focus of its documentation from the sea to the coast. "Our goal has not changed, we remain present in the Aegean and continue to document the human rights situation on the dangerous flight route between Turkey and Greece, as well as on the Greek islands", says Saskia Berger of Mare Liberum.
Members of the Hellenic Coast Guard, but also Frontex and ships under NATO command continue to carry out violent and illegal pushbacks. The EU still does not intervene. Mare Liberum's new project focuses on collecting testimonies from survivors, thus making the voices of affected people visible. Furthermore, the activists collect publicly available information on migration, human rights violations, and border patrol "operations" in the Aegean, conduct research on them, and relate them to the previously collected testimonies. The aim of publishing this data is to increase pressure on the responsible authorities to respect human rights and hold them accountable for their human rights crimes.
Mare Liberum has been monitoring the situation of people on the move in the Aegean Sea since the beginning of 2018 with its own ship. Illegal pushbacks of people crossing the Aegean Sea by boat and often even against people who have already reached the Greek islands have become the new modus operandi in Greece. Mare Liberum has documented tens of thousands of illegal pushbacks since 2020. In the same period, civil society organisations like Mare Liberum have been increasingly prevented from doing their work - this is no coincidence. "The Greek government is trying everything to stop us from doing our work. They don't want us to witness their crimes - and criminalize us. For months we were prevented from moving our ship, the Mare Liberum 1. But we will not be intimidated and now continue calling out human rights violations from land.", says Saskia Berger of Mare Liberum.
Critical voices from civil society continue to be suppressed by the Greek authorities. In April and September 2020, as well as in September 2021 Greece introduced extremely severe restrictions on the registration and certification of NGOs working in the fields of asylum, migration and social inclusion. This requires the disclosure of data that is not compatible with European data protection standards and demands disproportionate financial expenditures that make it almost impossible for NGOs to continue working in Greece. Additionally, the Greek authorities use criminal investigations on flimsy grounds to threaten and intimidate organisations and groups that document border violence against people on the move in Greece. Mare Liberum has also been investigated and an indictment with absurd charges is looming.
Learn more about our new project: https://mare-liberum.org/en/our-work/