Greek coastguard blames survivors of mass drowning

We have previously reported on the drowning of up to 600 refugees outside of the coast of Greece on the 14th of June this year. While survivors pointed at the Greek coastguard being responsible for sinking the boat full of refugees, the coastguard was quick at putting the blame on nine Egyptian men they claimed were people-smugglers. New testimonies from survivors cast doubt on this and the incident is further revealed as a massacre committed by the Greek State in accordance with the interests of the main imperialist powers of the EU.

The story of the Greek coastguard has changed several times, as new evidence have shown that they were lying. Videos and pictures, some taken by the coastguard themselves, showed that their story did not add up. Interviews with surviving refugees further showed that the coastguard did not only fail to help the sinking ship, they were directly responsible, killing the up to 600 refugees. According to the interviewed survivors the coastguard had several times attempted to tow the ship using a rope, leading to its sinking. This fits with the well known policy of “push-backs”, where boats of refugees are towed outside of the waters where the respective country is legally responsible to rescue them.

According to reports from the media the court documents show that the original witness statements of the survivors taken by the coastguard did not add up with later evidence. None of the original five statements the coastguard took form the survivors mentioned the attempted towing. In court, just days later, all of them explained how the coastguard repeatedly attempted to tow the ship. At first the Greek coastguard denied having used a rope, but they later had to admit it.

Two of the surviving refugees have explained that they were silenced and threatened by the Greek authorities when suggesting that they were responsible. The refugees explain how the boat ended up sinking: “They attached a rope from the left. Everyone moved to the right side of our boat to balance it,… The Greek vessel moved off quickly causing our boat to flip. They kept dragging it for quite a distance.” They then had to wait two hours in the water before the coastguard picked them up.

They further explain that all of the surviving refugees were instructed to blame the nine Egyptian men. One of them stated the following about the nine men: “They were imprisoned and were wrongly accused by the Greek authorities as an attempt to cover their crime.”

They explain how their requests for the Greek government to recover the shipwreck were denied, as it was “too difficult”. One of the refugees compare this to the extensive search for the five people who died in the submarine implosion the same month. Huge amounts of money and resources were used to attempt to rescue and then recover the bodies of the five people. “But we were hundreds,… It’s not just a ship. It’s our friends and family”.

According to a translator who has previously worked with the Greek coastguard, this is not the first time something of this kind has happened. Farzin Khavand acted as a translator during the investigation into an incident last year, where a boat with 32 migrants was rescued. He explains that two innocent refugees from Iran were framed for people-smuggling. He explains that the two men had payed to get on the boat, like everyone else. One of them were together with his six-year-old son.

Greece is not alone in applying a genocidal policy towards refugees. The 21st of June an inflatable boat with refugees sank around 160 km away from Gran Canaria. 36 people drowned, while 24 were rescued after 10 hours. It has been reported that a Spanish search and rescue ship was only one hour away, but they did not help the drowning refugees as a Moroccan patrol boat had been dispatched.

These massacres are not only happening on the ocean, but also along the borders and even inside the territory of European imperialists. On the 24th of June 2022, a little more than a year ago, the Spanish State committed a massacre of up to 100 refugees in complicity with the Kingdom of Morocco. The massacre took place mostly on “Spanish soil” in their colonial territory of Melilla.

An article from the news site Servir al Pueblo (Serve the People) describes the actions of the repressive forces: “beatings to death of immobilized people, attacks with deadly grenades on contact, arbitrary kicking of women sitting on the ground, lots of people crushing each other, bleeding, asphyxiation with gas in confined spaces, harassment by the police (“you are not human”, “you deserve more”,…), an absolute absence of medical assistance (which was in fact blocked and prevented by the Moroccan forces) and dozens of unidentified corpses, which we know tried to be hidden in graves in Morocco”

At the end of last year, on the 23rd of December, the Prosecutor’s Office archived the investigation of the massacre, claiming that no crime was committed.

As we have reported before, this genocidal policy against poor people who are forced to leave their homes out of desperation, is in accordance with the interests of the main imperialist powers of the EU. On Sunday the 16th of July, Ursula von der Leyen, representing German imperialism as the President of the European Commission, signed an agreement with Tunisia to try to stop refugees from leaving their shores for Europe. Tunisia is the country where most refugees start their crossing of the Mediterranean to reach Europe. The deal includes the EU giving Tunisia as much as 1 billion Euro, and aims mainly at “strengthening borders” and returning refugees, as well as boosting “economic ties”. The 16th of March the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that Germany had to reduce “irregular migration” and speed up deportations. Lately German top-ranked politicians came around with the proposal of erasing the “human right” of seeking for asylum from the German constitution. After a meeting with the Italian Premier, the French President Emmanuel Macron praised that they “work better with the countries of origin and transit in order to avoid incoming flows”. The UK in the last days discussed sharply on the issues in order to tighten the regulations against immigration.

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