THIS LETTER HAS GONE VIRAL IN GERMANY: OPEN LETTER BY LIFELINE TO MINISTER SEEHOFER
Dear Minister Seehofer,
From press releases, we understand that you are working to have the ship of our sea rescue NGO, Lifeline, seized and its crew prosecuted. We also understand that you are talking about a "shuttle" service. Independent from the fact that we wish to point out that we save people from the deadliest sea rescue area in the world and this is being held against us, we have some comments and questions:
It is embarrassing that the Federal Government is contributing to the deaths of more people in the Mediterranean by hindering maritime rescue. Do you have any studies, statistics, or even a gut feeling to justify those deaths?
Imagine what it's like when people are tortured, enslaved and raped - very specifically in Libya. Imagine how these people, in desperation, do everything to escape Libya. Imagine that the only way is in a dinghy and that you have to pay a lot of money to criminal and violent traffickers for this life-threatening path.
Imagine that men, women and children - who have never learned to swim - fall into the water from over-crowded boats - without a life jacket. Imagine the fight against the water, which slowly but surely fills their lungs until they drown. Imagine that you demand that these people not be helped.
And if you are ready to imagine that and say, "But without the NGOs, that would not be the case," then we have to tell you: you are wrong. Not because we differ in opinions, but because the majority of people have not been rescued by NGOs in recent years, and because we know that people are also taking on higher risks. We started as NGOs after thousands drowned - not before. We coordinate our operations with the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) and follow their instructions, and we are shocked by the allegations that are being made by you against us. You can not feel the pain when people die that could be helped. And you can not empathize with our anger, which we feel in the face of some public utterances of the last days. They talk about a shuttle service to Europe, where in reality people are being rescued from distress. How would you feel if your family members were in danger or dying? Would not it be a disgrace?
We invite you. We invite you to take part in one of the rescue missions and to look at the situation on the ground that you do not know. We invite you to see how desperate the people are that we save and how that emptiness feels when people die because no one can help them anymore. Come along - you are welcome. We tell you frankly: We expect you to come with us. We expect you to accept the reality. And we expect answers.
They say we should be held accountable, but we expect you to finally render an accounting yourself. We will answer your questions, even in court. But which offense should we be accused of? In your opinion, is it a crime to save people from mortal danger? Is it a crime to respect international law? Should we take the people to Libya and commit a crime this way?
Do you pay more attention to the people who are agitating against us than those who are helping people in need on the ground? We save people. Who are you saving? Are you praying? Do you know that 50,000 people fled across the water to Europe this year? Do you know that only 17,000 of those fled to Italy? Do you know that this is one person per 10,000 Europeans? Do you know what it sounds like when you talk about these people - when you talk about waves, floods and avalanches? Do you know that you are helping to obscure reality? We can not bring people to Libya, even if you want to indict us for it.
You are not allowed to bring people to Libya. That is why you support the Libyan Coast Guard, which is not bound by the laws you swore an oath to. Do you want others to break these laws? Do you support that? We, though, are bound by these laws and we are not afraid to stand up for these even against resistance. We have not caused a government crisis. We have no interests, except that human rights and human dignity do not end up in the meat grinder of right-wing populism.
We want to save lives. What is your interest? Who are you saving? Come to us and talk with us. Please answer our questions. Individually and precisely. Come here. You are welcome.
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German tweet: https://twitter.com/SEENOTRETTUNG/status/1012000107938680832