The Pylos Massacre, one year on

Here you can find the Greek and Urdu version of the statement.

Source: Alarm Phone

Exactly one year ago, at 16:53h on 13 June 2023, we alerted the Hellenic Coast Guard to a boat in distress, near the coast of Pylos in Greece. There were over 700 people on board the heavily overcrowded boat called ‘Adriana’. They could have all been rescued. They could still be alive today. But most of them were not rescued. Most of them are no longer alive.

We ended our email to the authorities with the words «They are urgently asking for help». This call remained unanswered. The Adriana sank and most of its passengers drowned in front of the eyes of the Hellenic Coast Guard, roughly 10 hours after we had sent out the alert. Over 600 people are estimated to have died. This shipwreck was not an accident. It was a massacre, it was a state crime.

Today, one year later, we commemorate all those who lost their lives and we fight for the ones still alive. We mourn the dead and continue to struggle for freedom of movement for all! We condemn the criminalization of nine survivors who were imprisoned by the Greek authorities and released only a few weeks ago. And we support the demands of relatives for appropriate assistance in the search of the bodies of their loved ones. This is essential for them to find some peace after experiencing this horror.

With several hundreds of people who disappeared when the Adriana sank, there are thousands in many different countries who are searching for them, seeking answers and justice. But the European border regime that killed them is not giving any answers. We have stayed in contact with some of the relatives of people who were disappeared on 14 June 2023. We are trying to support them in their search and in dealing with their loss. We also try to draw attention to the ongoing mass murders committed by the European Union at the external borders. Some of the relatives told us that until today, their biggest need is support in the search for the bodies – a need which has been ignored by the Greek authorities. Behind every person who loses their life while migrating, there is a story. There are brothers, a neighbour, sisters, a comrade, a colleague, parents and friends, looking for them, mourning their deaths, trying to keep their loved ones alive in memory.

These countless deaths are preventable. But unfortunately, they are a logical consequence of the brutal border regime established by Greece and the EU in the past years. Pushbacks, brutal attacks at sea and increasing criminalization against border crossers force people to board unseaworthy boats in high numbers. They often try to remain hidden as for people on the move, encountering the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Hellenic Police or the Hellenic Border Guards often means violence and suffering. As Alarm Phone, we have documented innumerable cases of pushbacks in the Eastern Mediterranean, executed or coordinated by the Greek or other border guards. People on the move know that they need to travel as far as they can to increase their chances to avoid pushbacks or pushbacks by proxy.

While Greece continues to direct blame at survivors and intensifies the criminalisation of projects like the Aegean Boat Report, also the violence at Greek borders continues. Just last week, Alarm Phone was in contact with several different groups in the Evros region who reported brutal attacks. Also pushbacks in the Aegean Sea continue to happen systematically – they became less visible after the Pylos massacre, but they never stopped.

While survivors and relatives fight for justice and against criminalization, the real crimes continue to happen: The war against migration and people on the move. As Alarm Phone, we continue to fight against death at sea, against border violence and against a global regime of migration apartheid. We are fighting for a world without borders and freedom of movement for all!

We are not alone. Survivors, relatives, lawyers and activists joined forces to collectively fight for justice. In the reconstruction of the Adriana shipwreck, survivors testify what really happened: they explain in detail the production of a disaster by the Greek authorities, who were subsequently trying hard to disappear evidence. This reconstruction serves as a powerful counter-narrative to the account of the Hellenic Coast Guard, which is still too often believed in the media and public. Also, forty survivors have filed a criminal complaint against all responsible parties before the Naval Court in Piraeus. They are supported by a powerful alliance of human rights groups and lawyers, who seek accountability for the deadly actions and inactions of the Greek authorities. Moreover, there was a strong legal and solidarity campaign in support of and together with the nine survivors, who were cynically accused as smugglers and of having caused the disaster. The charges against the nine Egyptians were dropped in May.

We’ll never forgive, we’ll never forget: We build a collective memory from our pain in our struggle for a society based on solidarity and the freedom for all to make their own decisions about their lives.

United in Solidarity – Freedom of movement and equal rights for all!