Monday, May 9, 2011

Demand invistigation of NATO's failure which cost the lives of 61 African immigrants

Please sign petition to demand an investigation of NATO on its failure to adhere to basic human rights; failure to respond to the cries of migrants stranded on sea.  See full petition here.
 May 9, 2011

Just when we think we have heard the most horrific news about the difficulties African migrants face comes news of unimaginable inhumanity by NATO forces deliberately ignoring the cries for help from 72 African migrants fighting for their lives.  The result, almost all died, with the exception of a handful who told of their harrowing experience.

The full story was disclosed yesterday in the UK’s Guardian.  The facts as they appear are clear: A French ship, member of a NATO force acknowledged being in the area close to where the boat was. A helicopter labeled “ARMY” approached the boat and roped down emergency supplies of water and biscuits telling the migrants to hold off, help was on the way.  After that? Nothing.  No attempt was made to rescue them, nor get additional supplies of food and water.  They were left to starve and die of thirst, a harrowing death of anguish and suffering of the men, women and children.

NATO has denied that distress signals were even received.   This is not a surprise, as they could be held accountable.  “International maritime law compels all vessels, including military units, to answer distress calls from nearby boats and to offer help where possible.”  Denial is the only way to avoid blame but it is a fact that their signals had been heard and the decision not to respond was made.

It is well known that NATO military forces are in Libya supposedly to guarantee the rights of Libyan people’s democracy.   The U.S. and European powers have invested enormous political will and military power for a regime change in the country though it has not been framed as such.     No one really believes the agenda is democracy, it is clear that they would not be there but for the oil – not the people.

NATO’s decision not to respond to the migrant’s call for rescue confirms the lack of value for human lives.  The migrants are caught between a collapsing nation of Gaddafi that is fighting for its last breath; and the new forces equally desperate to hold it together with the support of NATO allies.  Caught in between are the migrants who have no shelter, no food, no security and in their desperation take a chance on small boats, attempting to leave for Europe under the most difficult circumstances.

Ask yourself, had this boat been a cruise ship, full of European tourists, would the response have been the same?  Can you imagine a cruise ship of 72 tourists dying of hunger and trust because their distress signals were unheard or ignored?  In fact, had this boat been carrying anyone other than desperate African migrants, would there have been a different outcome?

There has to be a demand for accountability and a full investigation of NATO’s actions (or in-actions in this case) in the death of 61 African migrants.  This type of callus response to human life is unconscionable and cannot, should not be tolerated.  The inhumanity of such an action bears on all of us to take action to ensure nothing like this happens again, not to anyone and not to those least prepared and most vulnerable.   Support a call for investigation into this matter.  We cannot let their deaths innocent men, women and children go unquestioned.

Please sign the petition to indicate your support. We will send your signatures and statements to the appropriate authorities in the U.S., Europe and the United Nations.

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