The civil eye
The central Mediterranean: a place where anger, sadness and relief are so close together. A place where we have to watch human rights being systematically broken. This is exactly where Sea-Watch, together with the Swiss NGO “Humanitarian Pilots Initiative” (HPI), has been flying since 2017 to document human rights violations by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard. The film “Seabird – The Civilian Eye” makes it clear that the EU must end the cooperation with the so-called Libyan coast guard and should instead stand up for safe escape routes for all people seeking protection.
On February 12, 2021, the Seabird aircrew witnesses a failed attempt to abduct people back to Libya against their will: The Seabird crew is circling above a boat with nearly 30 people on board. None of them is wearing a life west. Desperately, they hold up their hands in the hope that a rescue ship will arrive. Over and over again, the crew of Seabird contacts surrounding merchant ships and the official rescue coordination centers. No help. No rescue. No hope.
When two speedboats of the Spanish sea rescue organization “Pro Activa Open Arms” try to reach the boat, a ship of the so-called Libyan coast guard steers towards them. Stunned, all participants have to observe from the air how the coast guard tries to prevent the speedboats from rescuing the people by all means. Only when it becomes clear that the people can be safely rescued onto the “Open Arms“, the crew of the Seabird can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
These people are lucky. But every day, organizations like HPI and Sea-Watch have to watch as Europe unabashedly turns a blind eye to people crying out for help in the Mediterranean.