On the afternoon of 14 June 2023, a horrific news story began to circulate in the Greek and international media. A fishing boat with approximately 750 people on board sank near the area of Pylos in southern Greece. The tragic outcome: 81 confirmed dead, 104 survivors, and over 550 ‘missing’ persons (who can now be presumed dead).
This horrific shipwreck highlighted once again—and in the most brutal way—the deadly consequences of Europe’s violent border regime. The illegal pushbacks that are taking place in the Aegean and the constant restrictions on the right to asylum are just some of the most prominent border practices that are forcing people to take much longer and much more dangerous routes in their attempt to reach other European countries.
A few days after the shipwreck, activists wrote the slogan “Tourists, enjoy your cruise in Europe’s biggest migrant cemetery” on a banner hung in the port of Thessaloniki in northern Greece, while large cruise ships were arriving for a stopover in the city. This slogan sarcastically underlined the tragic irony of privilege: that some people can travel in comfort and luxury in the same waters where a few days before hundreds of others—anonymous and probably considered less human—were left to drown. Of course, we do not forget that apart from being a graveyard, the Mediterranean has become an immense crime scene.
Now, two months after this massive deadly shipwreck, nothing seems to have changed. On the contrary, the highly advertised idyllic Greek summer goes on strong, with tourists from all over the world arriving and enjoying their vacation.
To all of us, who refuse to forget, we all must unite to demand justice for the victims, and stand in solidarity with the survivors, as well as the families and friends of those who died.
We all must unite to demand an independent investigation that will ensure transparency and accountability regarding the causes of this crime.
The call for an immediate end to systemic border violence practices and for safe passage for all grows now stronger than ever.
Our voices must be stronger than ever.
We pray for all those lives, that were so brutally, violently, and unjustly lost.
We promise we will not forget!