The grassroots NGO Mare Liberum monitors human rights in the Aegean. With our ship we are present off the coast of the Greek island of Lesvos. While public attention withdraws from the Aegean, arrivals are not ceasing, people keep boarding flimsy dinghies risking their lives by crossing the dangerous and highly militarized stretch between Turkey and Greece. In their attempt to reach safety, people are confronted with Turkish and European border forces whose operations need to be witnessed and documented. To prevent human rights violations and secure safe passage for everyone, Mare Liberum monitors movements at sea and collects evidence of criminal actions towards those seeking refuge at Europe’s shores.
As an independent observer and truth finder, Mare Liberum conducts research to document the current situation at the European border and to draw public attention back to this forgotten site of tragedies. Conditions of boat crossings from Turkey to the Greek islands stay far from safe. In 2018, already more than 100 children, women and men died in the Eastern Mediterranean on their way to Europe.
Mare Liberum's involvement happens against the background of the further sealing-off of the maritime border region between Turkey and Greece, attaining an even larger militarization level than prior to the highly questionable EU-Turkey deal of March 2016. While the European Union continuously tries to close its external borders for people arriving from the Global South, we seek to create a corrective to counter the European policies of deterrence and externalization.
Our findings and observations will be reported to the European public and refugee lobby groups. Journalists, photographers and researchers are invited to participate in our mission to raise further awareness and highlight the continuing precarious situation along the Turkey-Greece route.
As a strong supporter of our goals, Sea-Watch e.V. decided to donate the ship SEA-WATCH to Mare Liberum at the beginning of 2018. Three years ago, the SEA-WATCH began its mission as one of the first civil search and rescue vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, followed by a first monitoring mission in the Aegean in 2017. We want to place emphasis on the importance of this mission and its continuation. People are forced onto unseaworthy boats trying to escape the 'safe third country' Turkey on a daily basis. Their reception in Greece is not only wholly inadequate but also contrary to basic human rights. The unnecessary suffering of people searching for a better, safer life on the outskirts of wealthy Europe continues. Mare Liberum wants to raise awareness and get people involved - people who want to stand up for change and those who are interested in designing and demanding a more equal, just and open society.