We were originally undecided whether or not to respond to the latest allegations made against us, three other NGOs and six individuals two days ago (Monday 19 July 2021).
But having been named as an organisation in yesterday’s Kathimerini – a decision that newspaper would only have made having been given our name by the Greek police, who we must assume were themselves operating with the permission of the Greek government (though none of the three: Kathimerini, the Greek police, or the Greek government, have even once contacted us about this or any other matter), we feel we have no choice but to respond.
So, to repeat what we said the last time these allegations were made (which was coincidentally the last time major international media were talking in-depth about the Greek government’s illegal and immoral practice of pushing men, women and children back from Greece):
Aegean Boat Report is not, has never been and will never be a part of any smuggling ring, anywhere on Earth. We strongly doubt that any such ring exists in the Aegean region in any case, but if it did, we would not be involved, if it does, we are not involved and should such a ring ever be formed, we would not join it or take part in any of its activities.
We are not people smugglers. We do not and never have smuggled any person or item in the entire period not only that Aegean Boat Report has existed, but also that its members have been alive.
More than this, Aegean Boat Report and its members have never broken and will never break any law.
We operate in strict adherence to international law, EU law and Greek law.
In fact, we do so with complete reliability, absolutely all of the time, which is considerably more than can be said for the current Greek government run by Kiriakos Mitsotakis and his Nea Dimokratia party.
What we do in fact do, if men, women and children contact us when they are in Greece waters, is to ensure they are met by people who can give them food, water and dry clothing, and help them enter the system and apply for asylum, as is their legal right.
The Greek government should be doing this, as it is required under international law, European law and indeed Greek law. It should be doing this because it means that they – the Greek government – would have accurate data on the number of men, women and children arriving in Greece and where they are in the process of registering, applying for asylum, and having their applications processed and decided upon by Greece and the wider European Union.
It should be doing this because it is what is safest for the men, women and children seeking asylum. And it should be doing this because it is what is best for the men, women and children who are Greek citizens – for whom the Greek government is supposed to take responsibility.
It is in fact shocking and shameful that Aegean Boat Report is being forced to do the job of the Greek government on this vital issue, because the Greek government prefers to shirk its responsibilities and, worse, to break laws to which Greece is a direct signatory.
It is neither responsible, nor even really feasible, to pretend that what Aegean Boat Report does is any way the same as ‘people smuggling’, and as this is the second time the Greek Police, acting under the guidance of the Greek government, has made these baseless allegations against us, we must ask: why?
We do not say that it is because we dedicate a portion of our time to reporting and publicising the Greek government’s consistent and unjustifiable practice of breaking the law by removing people from Greece without even allowing them to apply for asylum, even though these allegations come – as they did last time – just as international media and even the EU Commission is reporting on and criticising the government for this exact behaviour. Perhaps this latest allegation is just (another) mistake.
But we will say, once more, that the allegations against us are baseless and incorrect.
Neither Aegean Boat Report nor any person associated with it has ever smuggled any person or item or been engaged with any person or group that does so.
Neither Aegean Boat Report nor any person associated with it is engaged with any person or group which does so, or any activities involving smuggling.
And neither Aegean Boat Report nor any person associated with it will ever be engaged with any smuggling activity or person or group involved in such activity.
We have not broken, and do not and will not break, any law.
We hope these latest allegations, whether made by mistake or for any other reason, will be dropped as soon as it becomes clear to those making them how wildly incorrect they are, and will never again be made.
We would like an apology, but instead will settle for the Greek government ceasing to break international, EU and Greek law, and ceasing to smear us in this mendacious – and what is, in England referred to as vexatious – way.