Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
The C-Star, a ship used by anti-immigrant group Defend Europe to disrupt humanitarian search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea, has been “stranded in the Central Mediterranean,” the Independent reported. Italian officials told Sea-Eye, a German nongovernmental organization (NGO) that operates rescue ships in the Mediterranean, that Defend Europe’s vessel “had suffered a mechanical failure and could not maneuver,” according to the report. Sea-Eye Chairman Michael Buschheuer confirmed that one of the group’s rescue ships had been dispatched to help the stranded vessel, saying, “To help a ship in distress in the duty of anyone at sea, without regard for their origin, race, religion or beliefs.”
Defend Europe previously accused Sea-Eye, and other groups, of “colluding” with Libyan human traffickers. Yet Defend Europe’s C-Star was itself recently detained in the self-declared Turkish state of Northern Cyprus for document forgery and potential human trafficking of 20 Sri Lankan nationals found on board. Turkish Cypriot authorities deported nine crew members, including the captain, and a German “second captain” alleged to be a neo-Nazi.
On August 11, the U.K. anti-extremism research and education group Hope Not Hate issued a formal complaint and request for an inspection of the ship in the wake of its technical failure, pointing out that this incident is further confirmation of what the organization has already reported — that the ship is ill-equipped to care for the migrants it claims it can rescue. Defend Europe itself has acknowledged that its true mission is to prevent migration to Europe, and one of the campaign’s spokespeople, Martin Sellner, has unabashedly reported that the campaign’s plan is to force migrants back to North Africa. The banner the group proudly unfurled on the boat earlier this month plainly states, “You will not make Europe home.”
From the Independent’s August 11 report:
Volunteers on a German refugee rescue ship say they have been deployed to help a far-right vessel that has become stranded in the Central Mediterranean.
Sea-Eye said Italian officials had told their crew that the C-Star, operated by an anti-immigration group calling itself Defend Europe, had suffered a mechanical failure and could not manoeuvre.
A spokesperson for the group, which is among those Defend Europe has accused of “colluding” with Libyan people smugglers, said it was on its way to offer aid.
Michael Buschheuer, the chairman of Sea-Eye, said: “To help a ship in distress in the duty of anyone at sea, without regard for their origin, race, religion or beliefs.”
Defend Europe confirmed its ship was suffering a “minor technical problem” that was being resolved.
“C-Star developed a minor technical problem during the night,” a spokesperson said, saying that its engine was stopped so it could be fixed.
“This means that under [maritime laws to prevent collisions] the vessel is considered ‘not under command’ and information was sent out to vessels nearby in accordance with regulations.
“This problem is about to be resolved.”
The group, an offshoot of the white nationalist Identitarian movement, crowdfunded its ship with claims it would target “criminal NGOs…that are nothing less than part of the international human trafficking ring”.
Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters