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Two years ago today, we were patrolling in the Central Mediterranean, the deadliest border of the world. We didn't know it yet, but we were spied on by an undercover cop. Now we risk 20 years in prison. This is what really happened on 18 June 2017:


Handover on the bridge of the #IUVENTA, the new night watch takes over. Captain Dariush is still fast asleep, getting some rest before this first day of the mission. Today, some things will happen that will affect him for years to come.
[04:19] The night watch reports the current position of the rescue ship #IUVENTA to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) in Rome. Nothing extraordinary, just daily morning routine to ensure good cooperation. After all, the crew is here for a reason.
The #IUVENTA is one of ten private rescue ships operating in this area called Search & Rescue (SAR) zone, 12 to 50 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. And for good reason: This is the deadliest strip of sea of the world, no-where are more people drowning.
[04:20] The phone rings on #IUVENTA bridge. It’s an officer from MRCC Rome, calling to inform the crew about a wooden boat in distress. It could carry 100s of people, without any life-saving equipment. They're still inside Libyan territorial waters but heading towards intl waters
MRCC Rome, run by @guardiacostiera, is the competent authority to coordinate sea rescues in the Central Med. Seafarers are bound by the duty to assist boats in distress. The MRCC can deploy ships of every kind, from @EUNAVFORMED_OHQ warships to commercial vessels & civil rescuers
The language aboard #IUVENTA is English, as the crew members come from 5 different countries. They are firefighters, engineers, medics – volunteers on a mission to stop the dying in the Mediterranean. The European Union continues to ignore the tragedy happening at its door step.
Meet Captain Dariush Beigui from Hamburg:
[05:00] While the crew prepares for their first operation, #IUVENTA is heading full speed towards the target vessel. Captain Dariush communicates via radio with @SavetheChildren's VOS Hestia, who is heading the same way. Talk is about the 150 persons aboard the boat in distress.
[05:44] The IUVENTA approaches the estimated interception point with the wooden boat, about 17 nautical miles off Sabratah, Libya. Instead of one wooden boat, it finds three – each overcrowded and carrying about 150 passengers. Next to them: the so-called Libyan Coast Guard.
[05:53] The rescue team prepares to launch "Iuventa Rescue", the IUVENTA's fast rescue boat. Hendrik, Miguel and Laura will assist the closest of the 3 wooden boats. The VOS Hestia is also on scene. On both ships, plans are being made how to handle the tense situation.
Ready to rescue!
[06:10] The sun has just risen above the horizon, when the rescue team arrives at the closest wooden Boat (A) and starts handing out life vests, following standard procecure. Life vests provide basic safety: many of the passengers can’t swim and would drown within minutes.
[06:25] What a relief, all passengers aboard Boat (A) are wearing a life vest! Miguel from Lissabon assures the crowd that they will soon be evacuated to one of the NGO ships before heading back to #IUVENTA.
[06:30] While the rescue crew is picking up more life-jackets, the speedboat of the so-called Libyan Coast Guard removes the engine of Boat (B). Subsequently, the armed men move on to Boat (A) and remove its outboard as well. Most likely, both engines were brought back to #Libya.
The so-called Libyan Coast Guard (LYCG) is an agglomeration of civil war militias which have been funded, equipped and partly trained by the European Union to intercept and return people to #Libya – the place they just fled from. LYCG is also known to collaborate with smugglers.
Watch this report by journalist @georgrestle to find out more about how the so-called LYCG treats people who escaped wartorn #Libya
[06:40] The IUVENTA teams have brought life vests to Boat (B) onboard Lilly and Iuventa Rescue. Five volunteers start handing them out.

In the distance, the crew of VOS Hestia secures and disembarks Boat (C). Everything happens in a calm way, safely and according to plan.
[07:02] Backed up by Lilly, Iuventa Rescue tows Boat (B) toward the mother ship to evacuate the people from their precarious, overcrowded wooden vehicle. Close by, the VOS Hestia rescue team finishes the disembarkation of Boat (C) and moves on to Boat (A).
Luckily, waves are not too high this morning. The crew can safely disembark passengers from Boat (B) onto the deck of the #IUVENTA.

Among them are a few children and one small baby. The medic crew checks the condition of the new guests on board and hands out water bottles.
[07:19] Captain Dariush orders two team members onboard Lilly to cast off and catch the empty Boat (C), so the crew can destroy it later on.
No NGO has the capacity to recover empty refugee boats, so the crews often set them on fire to sink them. State actors and NGOs have agreed on this as best practice in order to avoid floating ghost targets and prevent smugglers from using the boats again for their dirty business.
[07:26] Just as the #IUVENTA crew has taken everybody from Boat (B) onboard, Dariush spots something on the horizon he can't quite make out – possibly another case. More people in distress at sea?
[07:35] A journalist from @Reuters Agency aboard VOS Hestia films, as Lilly pulls the empty Boat (C) towards #IUVENTA. The Italian undercover police officer is also on deck observing the scene.
Italian police will later use this footage asserting that #IUVENTA crew had towed empty boats back to #Libya for smugglers to reuse.
That is the Italian prosecutor's "evidence" for our collusion with smugglers: One photo, taken out of context.

Researchers from @ForensicArchi have shown that the #IUVENTA volunteers have towed the boats away from Libya towards the North... miles and miles off the coast.
[07:44] Captain Dariush wants certainty about the last boat spotted on the horizon and calls his rescue team via radio.
#IUVENTA and VOS Hestia coordinate with the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC Rome) about how to further proceed with the guests on board, while the rescue team speeds towards the next possible boat in distress.
[07:49] MRCC Rome gives order to transfer the people aboard #IUVENTA to the bigger VOS Hestia. Captain Dariush changes Lilly's orders to take both empty boats out of the way, so they will not be an obstacle to shuttling.
[07:53] Another photograph is taken, as Lilly tows boats (B) & (C) approx. 190 meters out of the way, to make space for #IUVENTA and the two fast rescue boats of VOS Hestia shuttling the rescued people.
❗The photo caption released by the Italian police falsely identifies the two fast rescue boats of VOS Hestia as #IUVENTA's. Iuventa Rescue (JR) has already left the scene to reach the boat on the horizon as fast as possible. No time to lose in a rescue!
[08:00] Lilly moves the two empty Boats (B) and (C) out of the way. Seafaring is not like driving a car, you have to keep a certain distance, since it is not always easy to calculate wind and waves.
[08:02] Bridge receives a radio call: “Iuventa Iuventa this is Iuventa Rescue. Target confirmed! We found a rubberboat with about 120 people, also women & children, situation is tense. We have medical cases, the boat is unstable and taking in water. We need your assistance asap.”
#SOS When there is a boat in distress, every seafarer knows what to do:
Listen to what a Captain has to say on decision making in a situation where everything is a matter of life and death:
[08:07] Dariush calls the Lilly crew back to take it onboard, it could never keep up with the speed of IUVENTA on the way to help people on Boat (D).

"Destroying empty boats or saving people? That's an easy decision."
[08:15] #Alert: A white motor vessel approaches the empty wooden boats. The two closest NGO ships also notice the arrival of the #EngineFishers. Via radio, they also decide to do the obvious: leave. Saving people comes first.
Who are these #EngineFishers? Fishermen who come in small boats and try to collect engines or empty boats for re-sale on #Libya's depleted market.

We don't mess with them for two reasons:
1. They might be armed.
2. The safety of our crew is highest priority.
[08:38] “On-Scene-Coordinator”, VOS Hestia Head of Mission officially ends the rescue operations for boats (A) to (C) and releases the other ships from duty.

#IUVENTA immediately sets course towards it's crew members aiding rubber boat (D).
When #IUVENTA reaches the scene, it is already getting hot in the sun. A few children play in front of the bridge. They make space, as more exhausted people from rubber boat (D) join on deck.
[9.30] All passengers of rubber boat (D) are safely on board #IUVENTA. The rescue teams haven’t had a break since the early morning. No time to think about the absurdity of the situation: Families have to risk their lives because there is no #SafePassage for them.
Here, the crew finds time to destroy the boat. A crew member slices the tubes so it can't be used again.

He did so according to best practice and standard procedure, although it is NOT legally required as part of the rescue mission.
[10:01] 🔴 #BREAKING #iuventaLog

Another rubber boat in distress! #Seefuchs spotted a Boat (E) on the horizon and has just informed our bridge about the case via the emergency channel 16.
[10:45] Iuventa Rescue casts off to provide life vests to the people… probably more than hundred on that flimsy boat. A few #EngineFishers are lingering close by.
[10:50] Iuventa Rescue closes in on the rubber boat (E) and starts to communicate to the passengers ignoring the #EngineFishers. Miguel, the contact person in the bow of the rescue boat knows: the first contact is crucial for the course of the rescue.
"Everybody sit down!" is Miguel's first request. He then finds an English-speaker as his intermediary. He helps him find out how everybody is doing, how many injured, women, children are on board. Miguel continues to explain the further proceedings and how to put on a life vest.
[10:53] After lingering around for a bit next to the rubber boat (E) and now and then communicating with some of the passengers, the #EngineFishers leave the scene and head for the remains of rubber boat (D).
[11:02] Many hands are needed to hand out life vests to the people on rubber boat (E), @seaeyeorg and @jugendrettet join forces.

#IUVENTA is waiting close by, VOS Hestia and #Seefuchs are closing in.
[11:12] Everyone aboard Boat (E) is provided with life vests. The crews start evacuating the first group of people on to the #IUVENTA. Lilly stays close to the boat (E), just to be sure...

...and the #EngineFishers take their opportunity. Dariush takes a series of photos:
[11:13] As all the volunteers are heading towards #IUVENTA, the #EngineFishers start removing the outboard engine from the rubber boat (E). Lilly stays on the other side of the rubber boat; the crew sticks to their assignment, which is to secure people, not engines.
It's important that the Lilly-team is staying on scene: The intervention of the enginefishers is a dangerous manouver. Every shock of the instable boat could lead to a bursting tube. That's why the crew is waiting nearby with a centifloat – the long orange floating device.
All this is observed by the undercover agent aboard the approaching VOS Hestia. The police officer takes one last photo of the day. It will soon be used as evidence in a warrant to confiscate #IUVENTA and discredit the work of the civil rescue fleet.
@seawatchcrew @SEENOTRETTUNG
Moments later, as IuventaRescue returns to take more people off boat (E), the #EngineFishers leave the scene. As they drive past the refugee boat, they shortly wave at its passengers. Some of them return the gesture. This too, will soon be used against the #IUVENTA crew.
This study by researchers at @ForensicArchi unmasks the "evidence" used against the #iuventa10: We risk 20 years in prison, because of two strangers waving good-bye. Really?

Watch full report here:
#Update Finally, everybody is safe on deck the IUVENTA. Many souls would have been lost this June 18 without volunteers out at sea. But it should not be the responsability of civil society to defend basic rights. Legal ways to leave Libya are the only answer. #SafePassage now!
This June 18, we took 242 people onboard. They are safe, but not comfortable. The weather forecast for tomorrow is bad. The #IUVENTA is a first responder vessel, we cannot guarantee the safety of that many for a long time. Where are #EU ships?

Read Dariush's mission report:
By the time the last guest will have left the #IUVENTA tomorrow morning, some of them will have spent almost 24 hours on deck. Is this the treatment Nobel Peace Laureate #EuropeanUnion grants traumatised people who escaped detention, torture and violence in Libya?
2 August 2017

Almost six weeks later, the IUVENTA got seized by Italian authorities. This is when we understood that the police had already spied on us for months. Little were we to know that the seizure was only the beginning of a strategic repression...…
One year later, the prosecution officially included 10 individual crew members in the investigations. Captain Dariush is now facing 20 years in jail. The absurdity: Law obliged him to help.
Hundreds of volunteers have joined the #IUVENTA in 16 Missions since 2016. Italian authorities are only accusing Captains and rescue teams of certain missions of “aiding and abetting illegal immigration”.

Many of the crew members of this June 18 mission are among the #iuventa10
Zoe knows what it feels like to be in distress at sea: Once she almost drowned herself during a sailing trip. Never would she have thought it possible to be prosecuted for volunteering aboard the #IUVENTA.
The #iuventa10 are not the only ones criminalized for their solidarity. It has become a crime in Europe to hand out a cup of tea, give shelter, or save a drowning child. @openDemocracy has counted 250+ cases across Europe. Here's their frightening report:…
The #iuventa10 case is only one of many: Researchers across Europe are concerned about the increasing criminalisation of solidarity with refugees and migrants.

@TNInstitute @openDemocracy @amnesty @hrw @IRR_News @ForensicArchi @AmnestyHRD
Research about the #IUVENTA case has shown: There is no evidence that the crew collaborated with smugglers. Not on June 18 and not on any other day. However, as long as the investigations are ongoing, we can't go out at sea. #FreeIUVENTA

More information:
Solidarity at sea is not a crime, we are ready to go to court. But we are concerned what this trial means for those deprived of the most basic rights! #iuventa10
Criminalisation kills! Since Italian police started criminalising sea rescue, the death rate has dramatically increased. This is not about us. We only risk 20 years in jail. People on the move risk an awful death by drowning.

Share our call to #fightforsolidarity!
If the #EU does not follow the recommendations by @CommissionerHR to step up efforts in the Mediterranean Sea, thousands will die in the months to come. Our friends from #Moonbird have witnessed many tragedies lately.

We will continue our fight for solidarity. Are you with us?
Idea: Captain Dariush Beigui
Concept: Theresa Leisgang, Jonathan Weinspach
Research: Sascha Girke, Julian Köberer, Jonathan Weinspach
Editing: Chris Grodotzki, Alina Krobok, Theresa Leisgang
Photos: Archive, Paul Wagner, Ruben Neugebauer
Graphic Design: Olaf Boqwist
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