The duty for sailors to rescue those in distress at sea is both international maritime law and a long-standing and strongly felt moral obligation among seafarers. The fact that British and European governments are now criminalising such a basic and instinctive act of humanity says a lot about how absolutely Fortress Europe is spiraling into barbarism.
A new British law brought in by the Tories now threatens lifeguards in the @RNLI, (and anyone else at sea), with life in prison for rescuing refugees drowning in the English channel. Quite heroically the RNLI have made a statement that this will not change how they respond to those in distress.
In Italy, dozens of rescuers, from charities including Save the Children and Médecins Sans Frontières have been accused by prosecutors of collaborating with people smugglers after saving thousands of people from drowning in the Mediterranean. They face sentences of up to 20 years in prison.
As the writer Phil McDuff said on twitter today, "It's difficult to convey just how much effort goes in to making people's natural empathy and compassion into a thoughtcrime. This kind of thing is absolutely against maritime law and for good reason - anyone who sails knows "there but for the grace of God go I."
Which also reminds me of a post I think about all the time from Doctors Without Borders, above a photograph of some refugees being rescued at sea it said, "You can call them names & tweet horrible xenophobic things about them but the truth remains; the only difference between you & them is luck."
That's all there is to it.