Defend Europe in turmoil as crew removed and ship’s captain arrested in northern Cyprus

Simon Murdoch - 26 07 17

Reports out of Northern Cyprus suggest that the C-Star, the former floating armoury being used by right-wing extremists to hinder humanitarian rescue vessels in the Mediterranean, has been stopped, its crew forced to leave and its captain arrested.

According to a report by the largest Turkish Cypriot newspaper, Kibris Postasi (Cyprus Post), the C-Star’s captain and his deputy were taken into custody – allegedly over false documents – and the ship was evacuated.

C-Star held at Famagusta ©Kibris Postasi

This follows briefings and representations made by HOPE not hate and other NGOs to the local authorities.

Misleading statements

The C-Star is currently anchored in the port of Famagusta, under jurisdiction of the northern Turkish half of Cyprus. Defend Europe’s vessel had been changing its crew in Cyprus and was preparing to set sail again today.

According to the Ankara Degil Lefkosa blog, Defend Europe told the port’s customs and immigration authority that the C-Star was “an EU ship aiming to rescue refugees from the sea”.

However, the ship is neither an “EU ship” – given it was previously flagged under the Djibouti, and probably now the Mongolian, flag – nor do its intentions involve “rescuing” refugees.

C-Star’s crew ©Kibris Postasi

On the contrary, as HOPE not hate has highlighted in our extensive briefings, Defend Europe’s stated intention of returning refugees to north Africa is likely to violate legal obligations to refugees, potentially placing them in further danger.

The blog also notes that “it is questionable why an ‘EU’ ship is not using a European Union port in the RoC [Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus] but prefers using the Famagusta port in the north”.

This aligns with a comment from the Cyprus Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (CJRCC), which told HOPE not hate that it cannot stop the ship in Famagusta as it is part of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus and thus outside its jurisdiction.

(While the Republic of Cyprus is part of the EU, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – which is recognised only by Turkey – is not.)

However, the CJRCC stated that if the C-Star went within the waters of the Republic of Cyprus, it would do what it could to stop it.

Disturbing comments

As Buzzfeed News recently revealed, one of Defend Europe’s most ardent champions, alt-light journalist Lauren Southern (who accompanied the group’s first attempt to harass a rescue ship in May) has spoken of using “nets to potentially stop the motors of smaller boats” travelling towards Libya.

Southern’s disturbing comments

HOPE not hate will continue to report on the C-Star’s movements and the actions being taken to oppose and expose this foolhardy and life-threatening mission.

Keep updated with our reporting on Defend Europe.


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