Europe Newsletter June 2023

From Monday  the 19th of June to Sunday 25th June Refugee Week takes place across the World. The theme of this years Refugee Week is compassion. While many ordinary people across the world show compassion and solidarity to refugees who have lost everything due to war, oppression and violence, governments across Europe particularly at the borders of Fortress Europe :Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia are using violence against refugees who are simply trying to find a place of safety.

Often this results in loss of lives. At least 37 died at the Mellila border last year (+77 missing) and at least 94 people died at sea close to the coast of Italy because Frontex and the Italian authorities did not attempt to rescue them. And those people who are rescuing refugees from drowning in the sea are criminalised and threatened with long prison sentences for their humanity. Sarah and Sean are back in court again on baseless charges. The trial against the crew of the Juventa , who saved several thousand lives before being impounded, is on-going. And Tommy Olson from Norway is threatened with 25 years in prison for documenting how refugees and migrants are treated in Greece. Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, while welcoming refugees from Ukraine are still violently pushing back or detaining and deporting refugees from other wars and violence.

And our government is trying to get rid of the Universal Human Right to asylum from persecution altogether. If the „illegal“ immigration bill becomes law refugees fleeing war, oppression and violence will not be able to claim asylum in the UK any more if they have arrived „illegally“. There are no safe and legal routes for people seeking asylum to enter the UK. The bill will apply to people arriving in the UK on or after 7 March 2023 (the day the bill was published), and anyone caught by it would be permanently barred from the UK. Their partners and children will face the same fate, regardless of whether they arrived without permission – even if they were born here.

This would mean that many British children would be robbed of their rights to British citizenship. We have to fight this bill. Please join the digital action

STOP THE CRUEL BILL: Email Rishi now (  And please write personal letters to Rishi Sunak as well as your MP.

Refugee Week   Take part in International Actions


On World Refugee Week 19th-25th of June we come together to commemorate the challenges faced by refugees all over the Europe and the incredible courage they show. Find out below when it is and how we mark this important day.  

#SafeAndLegalRoutesNow #AmnestyUKEurope

Amnesty International

We are planning a mixed action, where the groups themselves can decide whether they want to demonstrate loudly, join digitally, join in creative and artsy ways or by making informational events. What we all will have in common are our demands.

Use #SafeAndLegalRoutesNow #AmnestyUKEurope and tag @amnestyukeurope

Actions Collect signatures for the Melilla case  19th-25th of June

For groups who want to collect signatures: Print the petition for the Melilla case and organise joint signing 

Spain and Morocco: Demand justice for dead and missing at Melilla

On 24 June 2022, people attempting to cross into Melilla through a border crossing between Spain and Morocco were met with a shocking display of unlawful force by Moroccan and Spanish security forces. At least 37 Black people – mostly from sub-Saharan Africa – died unlawfully and 77 are missing. Their loved ones still don’t have answers about what happened to them.

Join us to demand truth, justice and reparations for the victims and their families.

Sign the petition here,

To date, Morocco and Spain have failed to even release information to loved ones about the dead and missing or to acknowledge any wrongdoing. The authorities have failed to adequately investigate these actions which constitute crimes under international law and human rights violations or to investigate racism and discrimination at the border.

Whilst this was the deadliest, it was not an isolated case. People face an ongoing risk of serious violations of their human rights at this border. The lack of safe routes and Europe’s harmful fortification policies at any cost have lethal results.

Demand that Morocco and Spain guarantee the right of victims and their families to truth, justice and reparations and take measures to ensure non-repetition. ACT NOW.

Use #SafeAndLegalRoutesNow #AmnestyUKEurope and tag @amnestyukeurope

Amnesty InternationalActions Join digitally: Take a selfie for Summer Love  19th-25th of June

Share photos and videos on social media! Tag @amnestyyoutheurope and @amnestyUKEurope when posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

Use #SafeAndLegalRoutesNow and #TakeResponsibilityNotLives


Paint slogans on the street with chalk : Take responsibility, not lives! Safe and legal routes now!

Italy: New investigation reveals damning details about preventable drownings

Immigration: Could more have been done to save lives in Italian boat disaster?

New investigation from Lighthouse Reports reveals new details about the February shipwreck of Steccato di Cutro in Italy, which resulted in the death of at least 94 people despite EU Border Agency Frontex and Italian authorities being aware they were in danger

Avoidable loss of life at sea calls for swift review of search and rescue procedures and visa policies

At about 04.30am local time on 26 February 2023, a wooden boat carrying about 200 people shipwrecked metres away from the beach of Steccato di Cutro, in the Italian region of Calabria.

Most of the people aboard the ‘Summer Love’ boat were from Afghanistan

The investigation by Lighthouse Reports provides new details about the information that was available to Frontex and the Italian authorities several hours before the shipwreck, including in relation to bad weather conditions and the likely presence of refugees and migrants below deck.  See more information in an A.I. press release at the end of this newsletter.

Solidarity Action Walk around the city with a rubber boat/take it out on one of the rivers 24th of June

Join Amnesty Norway and Netherlands in solidarity actions: Solidarity is not a crime! Migration is not a crime!

Take a photo of your rubber boat and send us to @amnestyyoutheurope and @amnestyUKEurope


We encourage you and your group to choose the approach that fits you best and motivates you most.

  • Put life jackets on statues around your city. Can be combined with the list of names/stories.
  • Paint slogans on the street with chalk
  • Distribute flyers
  • Informational events: Speeks, panel discussions, debates, a lecture event on the University etc. See tips for topics and who to invite here.
  • Trivia night/quiz
  • Join digitally: Take a selfie with slogans
  • Walk around the city with a rubber boat/take it out on one of the rivers
  • Movie screening. A list of movies can be found here.
  • Solidarity concert/open mic/…
  • Build a “border wall” of cardboard, then tear it down together (with the audience?)
  • Collect signatures for the Melilla case


Amnesty InternationalTake action and email Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – demanding he puts a STOP to the cruel immigration bill.

Rishi Sunak’s government has voted to remove vital protections for those fleeing persecution and exploitation.

The cruel new immigration bill will turn its back on our responsibilities to protect the most vulnerable seeking safety, as well as many other disadvantaged people. Despite widespread criticism, the government continues to push this cruel bill, using lies and sowing division in our communities.

The bill is a charter for modern slavery and takes a sledgehammer to the UK’s international obligations. We must demand that the government puts an end to this callous treatment of people in need.

Join us in demanding change. Email Rishi Sunak today and tell him that we will not tolerate this heartless and cruel attack on human rights.

Call on Rishi Sunak to stop the cruel bill now.

Let’s show the government that we will not be silenced. Together, we can make a difference and fight for a world where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

STOP THE CRUEL BILL: Email Rishi now (

Refugees enrich Britain!  Paper-boat action:

Amnesty International

Amnesty InternationalRefugees make a huge contribution to the UK. They don’t want to live on benefits, they want to work and contribute. Many work as doctors, nurses, care workers, teachers, bus drivers, scientists and many more professions helping this country to run. The first covid vaccine was developed by immigrants from Turkey. From Albert Einstein to Mo Farah, Rita Ora to MIA, refugees are enriching all aspects of life and culture. None of them would have been able to come to the UK if the immigration bill had been implemented !

Links :

The truth about asylum

Images of famous refugees




The second round of the presidential elections took place on 28 May. As you will be aware Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won a relatively narrow victory and will therefore be in power for the next 5 years.

In his first post election speech he said that he would never release pro-Kurdish HDP party leader Selahattin Demirtas who has been imprisoned since 2016 despite the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has been calling for his release for several years. Similarly he renewed his intense hostility to the LGBTI community.

Clearly Human Rights Defenders in Türkiye face a challenging time.

Due to the sensitive political situation following the elections, Amnesty will not be issuing any press releases or other media outputs concerning the outcome. It is feared that any such output could have negative consequences for, and impact on, the work of Amnesty Türkiye and the safety of our staff there. It is very important that we all take the same approach.


In the parliamentary elections for the 600 seat Grand National Assembly, held on the 14 May the Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost ground but remains the largest party with 268 seats. It’s coalition partner the ultra-right wing National Movement Party (MHP) won 50 seats and so together this “Peoples Alliance” has maintained control of the parliament.

The assembly has the power to enact, amend, and repeal laws. With the referendum of 2017 it lost the power to supervise the Council of Ministers and to authorize it to issue governmental decrees. Almost all power in Türkiye thus rests with the President.

The parliamentary election results were not good news for many parts of civil society in Türkiye and  those who defend it, with a large number of seats taken by right wing nationalist parties with virulently anti-LBGTI, anti-refugee, anti-women agendas.

Protect the Protest


As I reported in the last newsletter, the main focus of work on the Protect the Protest campaign in respect of Türkiye is to be on showing solidarity with members of the LGBTI community taking part in the annual Pride events. Irrespective of the outcome of the recent elections this work is to continue.

Amnesty UK has now produced a range of materials for activists to use at Prides ( see the local groups monthly e-mail which was sent out to all groups secretaries on 30 May )

The link below will take you to the Prides 2023 Action Pack  which sets out in detail the resources available and procedures for ordering of Pride materials

Key Prides and Dates:

MersinPride 12-18 June  or 26 Jun -2 July

Trans Pride Istanbul 18 June

Istanbul Pride 25 June

Bogazici Pride 12-18 June

The purposes of actions are as follows :

  1. For LGBTI communities in Türkiye to know that Amnesty around the world is acting in solidarity with them.
  2. To amplify their stories but also to show the authorities that the attack on assembly and prides is seen around the world and that Amnesty, its members  and the human rights community is speaking out on the issue.


  1. Find out the dates of, and make contact with the organisers of, your local Pride with view to having an Amnesty stall or presence there.
  2. Make banners or placards with messages in support of LGBTI+ activists taking parts in Prides in Türkiye:

“Name of local Amnesty group” supports “Name of  specific Pride in Türkiye”   eg Truro Amnesty supports Istanbul Pride.

Invite people to make up their own placards with messages of solidarity for Prides in Türkiye. They can be as simple or as decorative as people have the time and inclination for.

  1. Email the photos to:  (Amnesty UK will  get them to the targets in Türkiye via the International Secretariat)
  2. Post photographs of Amnesty members with the banners/placards or photographs with the local Pride as backdrop on social media.

Tag Amnesty Türkiye : @aforgutu and use hashtags  #UnitewithTürkiyePride  and #Protecttheprotest

Ideally posts should be before or as close as possible to the dates of Prides in Türkiye but we realise that this may not be possible so do not worry if you cannot achieve this.

Gezi 7 Prisoners of Conscience


Clearly the outcome of the elections is extremely worrying for all those campaigning for the release of the seven prisoners of conscience languishing in Turkish prisons as a result of the unfair Gezi Park trials.

Now is the time for us to redouble our efforts on behalf of these courageous individuals. Please can you find time to take part in the solidarity actions to them so that they know as soon as possible that despite the outcome of the elections we will remain resolute in supporting them. Even if you have already undertaken this before, now is the time to show them that we will continue to stand with them.

Please download here details of our solidarity action.

In messages that you send please do NOT make any reference to the outcome of the elections as that could be detrimental to their situation.

Greece: Prosecution appeal prolongs ordeal of rescue workers Seán Binder and Sarah Mardini

(Press Release 16th May 2023 on website):

Today, the Supreme Court of Greece will hear an appeal by a prosecutor that could result in the misdemeanours case against refugee rescue volunteers Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder back to court for a new trial. Ahead of the hearing, Adriana Tidona, Migration Researcher at Amnesty International, said:

Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder should never have been put on trial for their human rights work. They were simply volunteering on the Greek shoreline, helping refugees and migrants at risk of drowning at sea, when they were arrested in 2018. Several human rights defenders similarly face criminalization for their work with refugees and migrants while this case has already had a chilling effect that may deter others from doing the same.

This appeal is only further prolonging Sarah and Sean’s ordeal. The misdemeanour offences they face include charges of espionage and forgery which can carry sentences of up to eight years in prison. In addition, the two humanitarians have also been subjected to an ongoing investigation since 2018 for unfounded felony charges carrying up to 20 years in prison.

Amnesty International is once again urging the Greek authorities to drop all charges against Sarah and Seán. Not only are they based on an abusive interpretation of anti-smuggling legislation, but they are also not backed up by any evidence whatsoever.”

Seán Binder said

“In January the three judges of the appeals court and the prosecutor agreed that the indictment against us should be dismissed. They rightly concluded that we have a right to be communicated with in a language we understand. This is necessary for a fair trial and the rule of law. Now, another prosecutor has appealed this decision. We now find ourselves in front of the Supreme Court. We are confident that we will get a fair trial and the court will uphold the decision to dismiss the indictment against us. But if the Supreme Court sides with the prosecutor, then we fear our right to a fair trial is being denied.”


The appeal hearing will take place on 16 May 2023 although the Court is not expected to issue a decision on that date. Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder will not be present at the hearing.

In January 2023, the Court of Appeal of Mytilene found procedural flaws in the relevant summons, including a lack of translation. The Court of Appeal’s ruling resulted in the summons being annulled and in the relevant case against Sarah and Seán   being rejected. In February 2023, a Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor appealed the decision.

Should the Prosecutor’s appeal be successful, the misdemeanour trial will start anew and the statute of limitations for these charges will be extended by three years.

Cornish Protest against Bibby Stockholm

On 9 May there was an unwelcome arrival at the beautiful Falmouth harbour when the floating sardine can that the government hopes to use to house 500 male asylum seekers in when it is moved to Portland was towed in for “refitting”. The barge called Bibby Stockholm, constructed in 1976, was used as accommodation for the homeless and some asylum seekers in Germany in the 1990s and has more recently been used as an accommodation unit for oil/gas rig construction workers. The vessel is being altered inside so that it can house more people. This is being achieved by reducing the number of bathrooms and creating rooms with bunk beds.

(Do we now have a new definition for the expression “hostile environment!!?)

Amnesty International

When the initial announcement was made by the government Amnesty issued a statement condemning the proposals (see link below)

In Cornwall an organization has sprung up to oppose the presence of  the Bibby Stockholm. Cornwall Resists has organized a number of protests in the area of the docks and on Sunday 21st May the Truro and District AI local group joined them and over 200 people from a number of other local organizations on Pendennis Rise overlooking the docks.

This is a stunning location overlooking the magnificent waters of the Carrick Roads and beyond to the Roseland Peninsula, much loved by tens of thousands of visitors to Cornwall each year. It was a glorious bright, sunny spring day and the contrast between this environment and the grotesque sight of the Bibby Stockholm below, a rectangular metal box shrouded in construction tarpaulins, could not have been more stark.

About a dozen speakers from various organizations including the Penryn and Falmouth Refugee Support group, Acorn, the Bakers’ Union and Cornwall Resists reflected the mood of anger and frustration amongst the activists.

This proposal is just one of a number of elements of the government’s strategy for dealing with immigration set out in the Immigration Bill currently going through Parliament that Amnesty is strongly opposed to. To add you name to Amnesty’s petition to the Prime Minister go to the link below:

Amnesty International

Italy: New investigation reveals damning details about preventable drownings (A.I. Press Release 2 JUNE 2023 on Amnesty.Org website

Reacting to a new investigation from Lighthouse Reports that reveals new details about the February shipwreck of Steccato di Cutro in Italy, which resulted in the death of at least 94 people despite EU Border Agency Frontex and Italian authorities being aware they were in danger, Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said:

“Instead of shirking their responsibilities and passing the buck between themselves, Frontex and the Italian authorities should be transparent about what might have gone wrong. Where they fail to save lives, as they did so drastically at Cutro, they need to ensure that lessons are learnt and there is accountability for any wrongdoing. They owe that to the women, men and children who lost their lives that day, and to their loved ones.

“Most of the people aboard the ‘Summer Love’ boat were from Afghanistan. While European politicians have been vocal about the horrors inflicted by the Taliban since they took power, they have failed to provide enough safe and regular routes for Afghan people, which forces them to make perilous journeys in search of safety. The EU’s scandalous externalization of responsibility for refugees to third countries must give way to policies that focus on rescuing lives at sea and increasing opportunities for safe and regular mobility.”


At about 04.30am local time on 26 February 2023, a wooden boat carrying about 200 people shipwrecked metres away from the beach of Steccato di Cutro, in the Italian region of Calabria.

International law imposes obligations on states in relation to search and rescue, including to ensure arrangements for the prompt coordination of rescue operations in their area of responsibility and for the rescue of persons in distress at sea near their coasts.

The investigation by Lighthouse Reports provides new details about the information that was available to Frontex and the Italian authorities several hours before the shipwreck, including in relation to bad weather conditions and the likely presence of refugees and migrants below deck.

Amnesty International had already flagged shortcomings and open questions in relation to the authorities’ response to the incident, and made recommendations for the Italian authorities in its calls for urgent review of search and rescue procedures and visa policiesThe organization welcomes the attempts by Lighthouse Reports to shed light on the tragic events at Cutro amid the lack of transparency and refusal to acknowledge any responsibility by Italian authorities and Frontex.

The Crotone Cover Up – Lighthouse Reports

Lighthouse Reports on Twitter: “When 94 people, including 35 children, drowned off the Italian coast in February, Italy said it would have launched a rescue mission had it known enough in time. @LHreports & partners uncover evidence showing Italy lied & @Frontex helped in a cover up” / Twitter