By Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path – Jun 20, 2023
Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path, condemns the murder of more than 500 migrants in Greek waters and blames the European Union and its repressive and genocidal migration and border policies.
On Wednesday, June 14, 2023, some 80 kilometers from the Greek coast, the Greek Coast Guard, together with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) murdered 78 people of various origins who were on board a boat that carried some 750 migrants (mainly Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Afghans, and Sudanese). Thus far, 104 people have survived, while it is estimated that more than 500 dead bodies are currently 5,000 meters deep in the Calypso Trench, the deepest in the Ionian Sea. Before the ship sank, there were six dead migrants on board who passed away due to the difficult journey—they had been traveling without food or water from Tobruk, a city in eastern Libya.
The information shared by the migrants and their families indicates that the boat was supposed to reach Italy, but became lost and entered Greek territorial waters after more than five days adrift without food. The migrants on board had asked for help in various ways and on numerous occasions on Tuesday. However, the Greek Coast Guard evaded any responsibility from the start. They threw a rope onto the boat just three hours before it sank to determine the condition of the boat and the occupants, but then, the patrol boat moved away and watched closely. It is being investigated whether the Greek attempt to tow the ship was due to an attempt to steer it into Italian waters as an illegal return to sea. What is clear is that the Coast Guard did not act in time to avoid the disaster in a premeditated manner. On the other hand, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), as well as the rescue services of Italy, Malta, and Greece, were alerted on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. of such an emergency situation. They even took pictures of the ship that revealed the situation of imminent danger. At dawn, a vessel from the same coast guard photographed the fishing vessel illuminated by its light shortly before the shipwreck, but they only launched the rescue operation once it sank.
The European coasts are an immense, deep, and abandoned mass grave. This massacre has parallels with what occurred in February 2023 off the Italian coast, where 94 people were murdered aboard the Summer Love boat, in which there were 200 people and for whom no rescue operation was launched either, despite that both Italy and FRONTEX had sufficient information about the poor conditions on the vessel. Obviously, these are not isolated cases since, of the 3,800 people who have been killed on the migratory routes from the Middle East and North Africa during the year 2022, more than 70% have lost their lives at sea. In total, since 2014, more than 20,000 people have been killed in the Mediterranean Sea. The murder through the systematic policy of “letting them die” is not the only instrument used by the Member States of the European Union, since they also implement torture, imprisonment, arrest, and returns to countries such as Türkiye, in the case of Greece and Morocco, or South African countries, in the case of Spain. In this case, Greece has not hesitated to make public the political project of reducing the entry of migrants into Greece by 90% in order to make Greece the first containment barrier against the arrival of migrants in the EU. For this reason, not only have they put into practice the illegal ejections wherein they have forced people to leave the country without medical attention and without the possibility of requesting asylum, but they have hired mercenaries to do their dirty work for them. Furthermore, Greece has closed reception centers and have implemented laws that make it difficult to grant Greek citizenship to those asylum seekers who do not exceed a minimum income threshold.
In this regard, these more than 500 people murdered two days ago (to which are added the more than 20,000 since 2014) were not mere victims of “ruthless traffickers,” as Ioannis Sarmas, acting prime minister of Greece, claimed—much like the leaders of the European Union. Rather, they are mainly victims of the immigration policies of the Greek executive and of the policy of militarization of European borders as accepted and executed by its Member States, these policies being the main political tools that the European Union uses to dissuade migrants from moving to their states. Likewise, we cannot ignore the reasons that cause migration, because if the governments of the countries of the Global North had not applied economic policies of dispossession and precariousness against the peoples of the Global South for centuries, we would not find ourselves in this situation. Therefore, we cannot separate the migratory movements from the neoliberal, neocolonial, and imperialist policies that cause them. In turn, the European states that implement these policies need to implement tools that contain their consequences if they are do not want to feel the backlash in the heart of Europe.
The Nakba spreads globally: the Israeli colonial apparatus as essential support for the European massacre in the Mediterranean
As many imagined, the militarization of the borders of the European Union could not be carried out if it were not for the use of military and security technologies that the Zionist power constantly develops to maintain its system of colonialism, apartheid, and occupation in Palestine. Israeli arms companies are essential to the EU, which is spending billions to further militarize its FRONTEX border agency, primarily responsible for the murder of migrants on the migration routes. Thus, the Israeli arms industry is part of a global process of militarization, while it is supported by Zionist technological development.
Let us review these claims briefly, starting by addressing the nature of FRONTEX. It is the EU’s border control and management system. FRONTEX is the epitome of the EU’s repressive border and migration policies. The agency plays a leading role in EU border security and control work, deportations, cooperation with third countries, and contacts with the military and security industry. In recent years, FRONTEX has rapidly increased its competencies, budget, and number of employees. Now, it can provide binding advice to EU Member States to strengthen their border security efforts and can even intervene in their border security matters. Although part of FRONTEX’s new mandate is the creation of its own permanent border guard corps and its own fleet of equipment, it is nevertheless dependent on EU member states providing personnel and equipment to carry out its operations. Member States also often request FRONTEX assistance in the form of operations or otherwise. Therefore, FRONTEX not only constitutes the key actor in the militarization of the external borders of the EU, but also a vital part of European politics, especially since what the so-called “refugee crisis” of 2015. FRONTEX expansion occurred through the formation of a permanent body, its own budget to buy equipment, the possibility of carrying out operations in non-EU countries, and far-reaching powers to force EU member states to strengthen border security. Currently, FRONTEX has a budget of about €6.5 billion for the purchase and rental of equipment until 2027, with plans to hire 10,000 armed border guards.
However, FRONTEX’s military policy cannot be understood without seeing that it is the companies hired for its service that advise it and shape the migration and border policy that the EU must carry out to achieve its objectives, since these companies position themselves as experts in the matter. That is why we do not find any difference between the narrative of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the EU states, the EU itself, and the arms industries, which frame everything as an “internal security problem.” This is where the industries of the Israeli entity find their role, since, in recent years, FRONTEX has paid tens of millions of euros to the arms companies Airbus, Elbit, Israel Aerospace Industries, and Leonardo for providing drone surveillance services in the Mediterranean. Yes, the same drones that are in charge of detecting boats with 750 migrants adrift for days to leave them to die at sea are in the hands of torturers from third countries.
FRONTEX maritime deployments to stop migration in the Mediterranean and to the Canary Islands operate in addition to separate EU military missions (Operation Sophia and its successor, Operation Irini) and “externalization of borders”, a method by which member countries of the European Union exert pressure on third-party countries to act as advanced EU border guards, stopping refugees before they can reach the EU borders, as is the case of Spain with Morocco. Therefore, for FRONTEX, it is vital to identify migrants and organize operations to return them to their countries of origin, for which it works with third countries, such as Libya, Sudan, Türkiye, and Belarus, and uses autonomous aerial surveillance systems to locate shipwrecked migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, subsequently alerting the coast guard of these countries to intervene and, thus, be able to facilitate returns. The case of the border between Greece and Türkiye is one of the most significant examples in which FRONTEX, together with Greek coast guard personnel, intervenes to return them to Türkiye.
All this is not possible without Israeli systems and weapons, which play a fundamental role in these processes. Currently, there is an industry of €100 million, of which, in 2020, the EU invested €59 million in contracts with Israeli arms manufacturers such as Elbit, Verint Systems, and Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI). These arms included, in particular, military war drones for FRONTEX and EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency) that would serve for the surveillance of migrants and asylum seekers at sea and to be able to detain them “autonomously” before they can reach land. This was the case of the purchase that FRONTEX made of the Israeli drone Heron for maritime patrols that operate today in the Mediterranean Sea. The Heron drones were used in the Operation Cast Lead in Gaza at the end of 2008 and in the Battle of the Sword in 2021, killing hundreds of Palestinians.
These types of Israeli drones and devices that FRONTEX and EMSA use to “survey” the Mediterranean cause the death of those who seek to cross it in search of asylum. Obviously, these drones are not designed to save lives, since they do not integrate any rescue mechanism and are exempt from complying with the convention of the law of the sea that obliges ships to assist any vessel in danger. In fact, changing boats for drones is a subterfuge to evade legal commitments and leave the rescue in the hands of the coast guards who, as in the case of Libya, Türkiye, Greece, or Spain, are subjected to serious violations of human rights in detention centers in these countries. To verify all this, one can access the FRONTEX Files, in which the list of meetings between FRONTEX and various pressure groups appears, including Israeli arms companies such as the aforementioned Elbit, as well as Shilat Optronics and Seraphim Optronics, which specialize in facial recognition, tracking, and monitoring technologies.
The role of colonized, dispossessed, displaced, and precarious peoples
From Masar Badil Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path, as members of the Palestinian and anticolonial national liberation movement, we are part of the global anti-imperialist struggle. Therefore, we understand that the fundamental axes of this fight are the dismantling of the system of dispossession that is the European Union, together with the demilitarization of its borders and the eradication of agencies such as FRONTEX and the entire global military-industrial complex that sustains it, of which the Israeli colonial apparatus is an indispensable contributor to its functioning and reproduction.
The murder of more than 500 migrants in Greece is not an isolated event, nor is it separate from the suffering of our Palestinian people. As we have seen throughout this article, the agents involved in the Palestinian erasure and genocide are the same ones that make possible the murder of migrants at the gates of the European Union. The neocolonial relations of the European Union with the countries of the Global South, as well as the dynamics of extermination and domination against the peoples that the EU itself expels from their countries, and then prevents from entering its fortress, feed from the long Israeli colonial experience in Palestine, with their developments and achievements. Knowing its links, we are convinced that we will not be able to eradicate this cancer that is spreading internationally if it is not through the union and coordination of all the popular anti-imperialist forces together with the displaced and dispossessed masses who suffer in various ways from capitalist, racist, and imperialist domination, whether it is exercised directly by the institutions of the Israeli Zionist power, the European States, their paramilitary agencies, or the third parties that it subcontracts.
The link between the European Union, its member states, its border extermination agencies such as FRONTEX, or its terrorist organizations such as NATO, and the political, economic, and military fabric of the Israeli colonial apparatus reveals who the real terrorists are that cause thousands of deaths a year on the continent. This reality should make us capable of examining the global structures and processes that are currently operating in order to be able to reverse the narrative that seeks to criminalize political movements that seek to dismantle and interrupt this catastrophe. For this, it is essential to design a political and struggle strategy that transcends mere solidarity and is capable of bringing together the diverse popular forces that inhabit the peoples of the European continent and of promoting a different social, economic, and political order at a global level that guarantees the decolonization, social justice, and freedom of movement, residence, and livelihood for all. To do this, we must understand that what happened last Wednesday the 14th in Hellenic waters concerns us wherever we are.
From the Masar Badil Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path we join, support, and invite you and all anti-imperialist organizations, parties, movements, and comrades to join the mobilizations, protests, actions, and demonstrations that will take place in the coming days at the international level, to unite against this European and colonial Zionist system.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
kwjorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/kwjogobonito/September 12, 2023
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