Socialist Worker

Refugees seize helm and cross high seas to Malta

Issue No. 2648

Refugees picked up near Malta in 2013

Refugees picked up near Malta in 2013

The Maltese government is prosecuting three refugees under terror charges for hijacking a ship to make it to safety in Europe.

The teenagers appeared in court in the Maltese capital of Valletta on Saturday facing prison sentences of between seven and 30 years.

They were among 108 refugees picked up off the Libyan coast by the El Hiblu 1 merchant oil tanker.

The captain said the refugees “were desperate and absolutely did not want to return” to Libya.

“They attacked the cockpit, heavily beating on the doors and the windows and they threatened to smash the boat.”

Refugees face torture, rape and trafficking in camps in Libya.

The hijacking shows that refugees aren’t just passive victims, but have their own agency. Anti-racists should build solidarity with refugees to force the government to open the border and let them in.

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