Montag, 9. November 2009

demand of a proper investigation to the cause of death of 77 asylum seekers, why they were not rescued and who is accountable for their death?

Council of Europe Commissioner
for Human Rights council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, FRANCE

Dear Sir/ Madam

We are the family members and friends of the refugees who perished in the Mediterranean sea in August 2009. We request an investigative into the failure of the EU member countries Italy and Malta to rescue the 77 Africans who perished in the coastal waters of Europe.

As you are well aware of that the 77 asylum seekers were part of 82 African asylum seekers
who sailed from Libya on July 28, 2009 on board of a crowded rubber dinghy. Among the 77 refugees who died in the sea, includes 25 women of whom the two where pregnant. Most of the victims were Eritreans, but there were also Ethiopians and Nigerians amog them. The poor immigrants instead of rescue and protection they were accorded with cruel death sentence in the European sea.

The refugees after one day departing from Libya, their boat ran of out fuel, leaving the helpless asylum seekers in distress at sea for three weeks. The families alerted many NGOs. On August 14, 2009 one of the NGOs, Flüchtlingsrat Cologne, Germany, alerted the Honorable Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici Minister for Justice and Home Affairs of Malta by email regarding the situation of the refugees. However, no one came to their rescue, not from passing ships or from Malta authorities which has an obligation under the law of sea nor from the FRONTEX which heavily monitors European borders and seas.

According to accounts given by survivors, while the asylum seekers were in distress and fighting to stay alive, from a distance, they saw many ships passing by them without rendering help. Three refugees in desperate attempt to call for help jumped to sea and swam towards the ship to call for help. However, the ship kept running way from the refugees playing cat and mice game to the life of the refugees. The three brave refugees disappeared swallowed by the wave of the sea. In addition one refugee swam and climbs to a ship to alert the crew, but later he was mercilessly thrown back to sea. As a result of extreme temperatures, thirst, hunger and intentional negligence the 77 asylum seekers including 25 women two of them pregnant died agonizing death in the sea of Europe.

On August 20, 2009 after three weeks in distress at the sea, in desperate and extreme determination to stay alive, emaciated five asylum where rescued by the Italians. The five survivors give the shocking news to the world. Although, survived the horrifying ordeal, they will carry psychological trauma for the rest of their lives.

Why was the immigrant boat stranded for more than 20 days in the European waters not detected and rescued? In this age where countries are in high alert because of fear of terrorist attack and sea pirates, it is more likely that the boat where monitored by radar systems and satellites. The surveillance system was particularly designed to detect small boats used by migrants attempting to cross from Africa. And we find it impossible to believe that the military bases and coast guards were unaware of the immigarant boat in distress. Therefore, we request access to the surveillance data.

In light of the increasingly restrictive asylum policies of the EU in general Malta and Italy in particular, we strongly believe that the 77 asylum seekers lost their lives due to intentional negligence. Their lives could have been saved if the refugees where seen as human beings not as ‘illegal African immigrants”. The sad thing is that to sit and watch while your fellow human beings are in distress at sea fighting to save their lives is not only a violation of right to life and violation of the law of sea, but also an uncivilized act belonging to the dark ages.

We therefore, demand a proper investigation to the cause of death of these 77 asylum seekers, why they were not rescued and who is accountable for their death?

Sincerely yours
Family and friends of the Refugees in question
from Africa, Australia, Europe, Canada and USA