The Volunteers Facing Jail for Saving Lives

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In Greece, you can go to jail for trying to save a life. It happened to Seán Binder, 25, and Sarah Mardini, 24, when they helped to spot refugee boats in distress. They risk facing up to 25 years in prison.

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Sarah and Seán met when they volunteered together as trained rescue workers in Lesvos, Greece. Sarah is a refugee from Syria. Her journey to Europe made international news – she and her sister saved 18 people by dragging their drowning boat to safety. Seán Binder is a son of a Vietnamese refugee. They couldn’t watch refugees drown and do nothing.

Their humanitarian work saved lives, but like many others across Europe, they are being criminalised for helping refugees. The pair risk facing up to 25 years in prison on ‘people smuggling’ charges. They already spent more than 100 days in prison before being released on bail in December 2018.

“Humanitarian work isn’t criminal, nor is it heroic. Helping others should be normal. The real people who are suffering and dying are those already fleeing persecution.” Seán Binder

Criminalising humanitarian workers and abandoning refugees at sea won’t stop refugees crossing the sea, but it will cause many more deaths.

Solidarity is not a crime. Call on the Greek authorities to:

Drop the charges against Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder
Publicly acknowledge the legitimacy of humanitarian work which supports refugee and migrant rights.

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