Defend Europe’s mission an undisputed failure after Libyans refuse cooperation

Defend Europe’s mission suspended after Libyan coast guard refuses cooperation • Maltese far-right sails out to deliver fresh water supplies to C-Star

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
22 August 2017, 1:53pm
Defend Europe's vigilantes deploy a megaphone against the humanitarian mission of the Golfo Azzurro....
Defend Europe's vigilantes deploy a megaphone against the humanitarian mission of the Golfo Azzurro....
A far-right organisation that took upon itself the role of a vigilante to ward off migrant boats and migrant rescue missions in the Mediterranean, was itself prevented from entering Libyan waters by the Libyan coast-guard – rendering its mission an abject failure.

In a press conference last week, the group Defend Europe held a press conference in Lyon, France, to announce they were suspending their “successful” mission.

The press conference did not include the crew of the ship C-Star, which Defend Europen chartered, because they are still stranded off Malta where they have been refused permission to dock.

But while Defend Europe sent out tweets claiming they had made “new friends” with the Libyan coast guard, it turns out that a recording of their interaction with the Libyans – published in Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana – was not at all successful.

While the group insisted they were just “following the Golfo Azzuro” when they veered off Libyan waters and just outside Maltese territorial waters, the audio of the call tells another story:

Recording of audio released by Famiglia Cristiana to HuffPost UK

LIBYAN COAST GUARD - C-Star this is the Libyan Coast Guard, I hear you loud and clear, over.

DEFEND EUROPE - Coast Guard, thank you for your cooperation. We are on the way to follow your order and if you’d like to offer a working channel you can report anything from the European NGOs acting against your orders.

You have our full assistance and our full support, thanks.

LIBYAN COAST GUARD - Thank you for your cooperation and I understand your job, we are facing the same problem and the same challenge.

You cannot be here in our waters - I am following Libyan authorities’ orders. Just keep it like that, thank you very much.

Despite the clear repudiation, Defend Europe has been trying to claim it was its efforts that led to the Golfo Azzurro, a rescue mission chartered by the NGO SOS Mediterranee, to suspend its own humanitarian mission.

The reason was actually threats of violence from the Libyan coast guard against the NGOs operating near Libyan waters.

Human rights NGOs have praised the Maltese government’s decision to refuse entry to the ship. “We would like to commend the Government of Malta’s stand against the far right group Defend Europe in refusing to allow the C-Star to enter Malta,” a joint statement issued by NGOs Aditus Foundation, Graffiti, Integra Foundation and the Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), Kopin and The Critical Institute, said.
“The stance adopted by the Government of Malta sends out a clear message against the politics of hate and extremism.”

But supporters of the anti-migrant boat C-Star have started a petition insisting that the government of Malta allow the boat to dock.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the Maltese government had taken a conscious decision not to allow the country to be used by right-wing extremists. “We took the conscious decision not to let our country be used by far-right groups who are in a racist, almost Nazi, way dealing with the issue of illegal migration.

“We have been strong on a European level on migration where we have a clear politics which also factors in the humanitarian and security side of the issue.”

Defend Europe replied with a statement claiming the island’s refusal to provide it with fresh water was a “shame that will taint the Maltese authorities”. 

Instead, the far-right Maltese patriots sent out a mission of their own to deliver fresh water supplies and bread to the C-Star.

 

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.