On Wednesday a Turkish oil tanker, El Hiblu 1, rescued more than a hundred migrants from the Mediterranean. Unlike most of the “rescue” vessels in the Med, El Hiblu 1 was a commercial ship, and not an NGO vessel tasked with ferrying culture-enrichers to Europe. To do his duty under international maritime law, the Libyan captain of the ship decided to drop his new passengers off on the coast of Libya, which was the same country they departed from, and had the closest port.
When the migrants caught wind of their destination, they mutinied against the crew and hijacked the ship, forcing it to set a course for Malta. There they were taken into custody and their leaders arrested.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini referred to the hijackers as “pirates”. Needless to say, the Vatican, human rights groups, and the EU did not agree with his characterization. While the ship was still at sea, Mr. Salvini made the following video to explain his position.
Below are excerpts from five articles about the hijacking and its aftermath. First, from the BBC:
Rescued Migrants Hijack Merchant Ship Near Libya — Reports
Migrants have hijacked a merchant vessel that rescued them off Libya’s coast, ordering the crew to head towards Malta, reports say.
More than 100 migrants aboard the cargo ship are said to have acted after being told they would be taken back to Libya.
Malta’s military said the ship would not be allowed into its waters. Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini described the hijackers as “pirates”.
The Vatican’s response, from ANSA:
Migrants ‘Hijackers Out of Need’ — Vatican Daily
After withdrawal of Sophia op ships says Osservatore Romano
(ANSA) — Rome, March 28 — The migrants who hijacked a merchant ship and forced it to go to Malta instead of taking them back to Libya did so out of necessity, Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano said Thursday.
‘Hijackers Out Of Need’ was the front-page headline over a report into the hijacking of the El Hiblu I on Wednesday.
“The night was one of strong tension after the withdrawal of the Sophia operation ships,” the daily said.
It said “it all happened while traffickers resumed putting to sea, thanks to good weather conditions, one dinghy after another”.
Leaders of the hijacking arrested, from The Telegraph:
Five Migrants Arrested After Maltese Special Forces Raid Brings End to High Seas Hijack Drama
Five migrants who allegedly led the hijacking of a tanker in the Mediterranean to avoid being returned to Libya were arrested in Malta on Thursday after special forces stormed the vessel to take back control.
The five men, some of whom were led off the merchant vessel in plastic handcuffs, were among 108 asylum seekers who were rescued by the El Hiblu 1 tanker north of Libya on Tuesday.
The tanker was ordered by Libyan authorities to take the migrants to Tripoli, but they allegedly subjected the 12-man crew to physical threats and forced the vessel to sail north instead, towards Europe.
A Breitbart account of the events:
‘They Are Pirates’ — Migrants Hijack Tanker in Bid to Reach Europe, Special Forces Storm Ship
A tanker hijacked by migrants it picked up in the Mediterranean has docked in the tiny island nation of Malta following a special forces operation.
The El Hiblu 1 picked up 108 migrants from smuggler ships after receiving a distress call on Wednesday, according to reports.
Unlike the migrant “rescue” ships operated by pro-open border “civil society” non-governmental organisations (NGOs), however, the commercial vessel did not go hundreds of miles out of its way to bring its new passengers to Europe, but moved to land them safely in Africa, much closer by — triggering a furious reaction.
The reaction of the NGO Sea-Watch, from ANSA:
Sea-Watch Says Ship Hijacking Was Act of Self-Defence
Says EU policy inhumane, normal to refuse return to Libya
(ANSAmed) — VALLETTA, MARCH 28 — Johannes Bayer, president of the NGO Sea-Watch, on Thursday called for a humane perspective regarding the case of the merchant ship El Hiblu.1, which was hijacked by rescued migrants on Wednesday after the migrants were told they would be taken back to Libya.
“We have to look at these 108 people with a gaze of humanity and understand that any action taken yesterday was in self-defence against the deadly consequences that would have been imposed with force by the inhumane European policy on borders,” Bayer said.
He said the closure of Italian ports is another cause of the current situation.
Bayer said migrants in Libya are “systematically subject to arbitrary arrest, torture, sexual violence, kidnapping, extortion, slavery, and even murder”.
“It’s absolutely legitimate that people rescued while in danger of losing their lives in the Mediterranean refuse to be taken back to Libya, the same place in which they know they could have only continued to be victims of the most serious possible violations of their rights and the most degrading treatment,” Bayer said.
|00:02||It is still [unintelligible] because soon…|
|00:05||Matteo, where do we have… [unintelligible]? Where am I? The pirated ship|
|00:09||more or less. Let me see, because we started with this:|
|00:13||Poor shipwrecked people who hijack a merchant ship that saved them|
|00:17||because they want to decide the route of the cruise, therefore:|
|00:22||gimme, gimme. So we are, so we had arrived here,|
|00:26||and we are here. So we have to decide,|
|00:30||from the point of view of the hijackers, the pirates, the criminals, the delinquents.|
|00:36||We are here, so we arrived close to the Libyan coast|
|00:39||We turned back because we have to decide where we want to go.|
|00:44||So we are halfway between Italy and Malta,|
|00:49||because if they go towards Valletta|
|00:52||if they turn west, they arrive in Italian territory,|
|00:56||and I say to the pirates if they are watching us,|
|01:00||these criminals, in Italy, forget it.|
|01:04||But this is the most evident demonstration, this is not about a rescue operation|
|01:08||of poor, shipwrecked people fleeing from war.|
|01:11||This is about a criminal traffic in human beings,|
|01:15||run in a criminal manner|
|01:19||which leads directly to the hijacking of a private ship,|
|01:23||who came to the aid of those whom they presumed to be shipwrecked,|
|01:27||and evidently, instead, they are not poor, shipwrecked people, however…|
|01:31||I’ll explain for those who don’t understand…|
|01:35||We’ll write it… In Italy,|
Hat tips for the articles: Insubria and Reader from Chicago.