Written by Ava Callanan
On the 18th of November 2021 Seán Binder, Sarah Mardini, Nassos Karakitsos among approximately 21 others are going to be standing trial in Greece for saving the lives of migrants who were drowning off the coast of Lesvos. The three individuals, among others, are facing trumped up charges from the Greek Government of espionage, human trafficking, and fraud. After being arrested in 2018 they were placed in prison for 108 days and due to the charges currently against them, they face up to 25 years in prison.
Seán, Sarah and Nassos were search and rescue lifeguards on the Greek Island of Lesvos. They were volunteering with a Greek Rescue Organisation whose mission is to help as many refugees as they can when they arrive on shore. There were no official arrests, Sarah & Seán’s lawyer Kessos states that the charges brought against them are false accusations which do not follow the law. The consistent lack of evidence, violation of EU laws supporting refugees, and numerous procedural mistakes makes this an already politically fueled and unjust trial.
Many of these refugees are coming from the Turkish borders which mainly comprises Syrian refugees who have fled the war. Sarah Mardini and her sister, Olympic swimmer, Yusra Mardini were once Syrian refugees making that same perilous journey from Turkey to Greece. When their boat engine failed Sarah and Yusra pulled and pushed the boat for hours saving the lives of the 20 migrants on board.
In response to these refugees crossing the Greek border in search of asylum and safety, Greece has reportedly responded with an array of inhumane measures enforced by heavily armed guards, rubber bullets, razor wire and repelling boats which is in violation of the UN 1951 Refugee Convention and international law.
It is imperative to highlight the treatment of those trying to help the refugees, who are not only raising awareness but also doing what our governments should be doing which is helping and protecting these people. However, it is even more important to highlight the refugees themselves who are men, women, and children in search of safety which is a basic human right.
Although the case of Seán, Sarah and Nassos is the most pressing, it must be brought to the attention of the public that this story is not a unique one and applies to countries all over Europe in which approximately 1800 individuals in 13 EU countries are being prosecuted for doing what any decent human would do, helping others.
As Seán stated in his interview with the Irish Independent, he does not believe he should be called a hero, as it should be the most normal thing to help others, “how can it be a crime to pull people who are drowning out of the water, how can it be a crime to help children be children and to provide medical facilities in a refugee camp?”
Greece has been particularly inhumane in its treatment of refugees but there is no doubt that the EU as a whole is not doing enough for refugees. Rather, they are placing the pressure on countries such as Turkey and Greece without checking and ensuring the safety and basic human rights of those refugees who are living in reportedly horrific conditions.
This case needs to be quashed and the charges dropped, you can sign the petition, donate and raise awareness using the links here. The conviction of ethically and lawfully right people who saved others in their darkest hour would set a terrible precedent – not only in Greece but also in the EU and the world.
Link to the petition:
Where to donate: