The MARE LIBERUM gets a new assignment. We hand over our ship to the activists of Zusammenland, who will operate it under the name MARE*GO.
We are happy that the ship is getting a new purpose. For four years we deployed it in the Aegean, interrupted again and again by blockades and attempts of intimidation and criminalization by the authorities. We also had to endure threats. We never let this stop us from continuing our work. In the end, the repressive laws in Greece made the deployment of the ship in the Aegean impossible. Elsewhere, it can now achieve more for people on the move.Hanno Bruchmann, board member of Mare Liberum.
New assignment: Back to the civil fleet
Zusammenland gUG is a non-profit organization that supports numerous social projects and initiatives. This ranges from workshops and seminars to creative conceptualization and organizational management for social organizations, to technical solution orientation and yogic health promotion. Zusammenland has successfully supported rotations of the rescue ships Rise Above and Aurora SAR.
We thank Mare Liberum for handing over the ship to us. It has become an important symbol of resistance against the racist border regime of the European Union over the years. We want to keep this symbol and bring it back into the active civil fleet.Raphael Reschke, ferryman from Zusammenland
Everything about the new project will be announced in the upcoming months. Updates on the deployment of the ship will be published here.
Solidarity and resistance
The ship was bought by Sea-Watch in 2014 and successfully deployed in 2015 as the first ship of the civil fleet for sea rescue in the Central Mediterranean. In 2017, the former SEA-WATCH 1 launched a human rights monitoring operation in the Aegean Sea. A project that was continued with the same ship under a new name by Mare Liberum in 2018. The ship was to be present at the highly militarized EU external border between Turkey and Greece and to document the human rights crimes and border violence of the Hellenic Coast Guard, Frontex and NATO against people on the move and prevent these crimes through our general presence.
In four years of operation in the Aegean Sea, there have been numerous attempts to obstruct our work. Whether through intimidation attempts and harassment by the Hellenic Coast Guard, detention orders by the German Ministry of Transport or criminal investigations on flimsy grounds by the Greek authorities against our crew and members of our association.
Finally, a repressive law from 2021 has made it practically impossible for any vessel doing monitoring and search and rescue to operate in Greece. The new regulations would force us to register and certify with the Greek authorities and to follow the instructions of the Hellenic Coast Guard at any time, making our work with the ship as an observer of the human rights crimes of the very same impossible. Non-compliance results in heavy fines and imprisonment. This risk for our crews is not accountable to us.
Human right crimes as modus operandi
This systematic repression and criminalization are part of a broader strategy by the Greek authorities to stop migration to Greece and to cover up human rights crimes. Thus, brutal and illegal pushbacks resorting to humiliation, violence and torture have become the new modus operandi of the Greek authorities towards people on the move since 2020 - without any consequences. The few people who manage to reach the Greek islands face systematic criminalization. Away from the public eye, without access to adequate legal assistance and support, hundreds of people are convicted of alleged "smuggling" in Greece every year.
We have found new ways to scandalize and report on the illegal pushbacks and border violence against people on the move, even without a ship. Since the beginning of 2022, we have been documenting the situation in the Aegean from the shores. Yet it is a scandal that no civil monitoring organizations or rescue ships can operate between Turkey and Greece anymore - because human rights monitoring in the Aegean is more important than ever, now that brutal pushbacks have become a supposed normality in the Aegean.
Even though we can no longer monitor the Aegean Sea with our ship MARE LIBERUM, it is truly satisfying to know that she will continue to play an important role in solidarity with people on the move.