At 7 p.m. on 28 June, Italian custom officers informed Carola Rackete, the 31 year old captain of the volunteer rescue ship Sea-Watch 3, that she faced charges of aiding and abetting illegal trafficking of refugees and illegal entry intoFree Italian waters.
They demanded that she immediately leave her vessel — blocked by the Italian coastguards outside the port of Lampedusa — and report there to be interrogated and charged.
She replied: “I will not leave my ship. I am exhausted , not having slept for days. But my priority is the fate of the 42 refugees on board, many of whom now ill and some threatening suicide, having lost faith in us after 17 days blocked from entering the Italian port...”
Despite the efforts of the Italian coastguards to physically block her ship, it managed to dock.
Interior Minister Mario Salvini contemptuously described Rackete her as “the knight-errant of the PD opposition party”, several of whose left-ish senators had boarded the Sea Watch a few days earlier in an act of solidarity with the crew and the refugees.
The 42 migrants saved by Sea Watch had fled from the torture in Libyan gaols, financed by a Libyan-Italian deal secured by the then PD Interior Minister Marco Minniti. The present government of Libya, protected by Italy, administers a part of the detention centres, the private militias another part. The coastguards are linked to the latter.
The huge cry of solidarity and “Freedom for Carola” ringing out from demonstrations must be the start of the battle.The statements from Maurizio Landini, leader of Italy’s biggest union confederation, that Salvini’s “law” is a bad one, were the usual fudge but the fight is on to make him and his members honour their own principles in action.
Fortress Europe is the creation not just of Salvini, but also of the so called “liberal” Europe, all signatories to the Treaty of Dublin. The Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg has just defended Salvini’s “law” against Sea-Watch 3.