Thursday, June 1, 2023

Vogon Today

Selected News from the Galaxy

Ong: all about the Louise Michel ship, Banksy’s “yacht” that rescues migrants. Facts and controversies

Why is it called that, who owned and who made up the crew of the Louise Michel, the boat financed by the British artist Banksy now in custody in the port of Lampedusa for violating the new code of conduct for NGO ships. All the details

Instead of a red heart-shaped balloon, this time the little girl on the Louise Michel, the migrant rescue ship financed by British artist Banksy, lets go of a pink heart-shaped lifebuoy.

Or rather, he would like to let him go but the Louise Michel has been stationary in the port of Lampedusa since Saturday morning for the violation of the new code of conduct for NGO ships approved by the Meloni government.


A former French navy boat 30 meters long and capable of reaching 28 knots, flying the German flag. Banksy, known for his creations based on satire and political and cultural criticism, bought it with the proceeds of the sale of a work, decorated and adapted it for search and rescue operations.

“Like many successful people in the art world, I bought a yacht,” Banksy said ironically three years ago in his video manifesto posted on Instagram after rescuing over 200 migrants in the Mediterranean with his boat. “It is a ship of the French Navy. We have converted her into a rescue ship – he explained – because the European authorities deliberately ignore the requests for help from 'non-Europeans''.


White in the center but with a fuchsia bow and stern, as well as the large "RESCUE" inscription in the center. A little girl, the one represented in various works by Banksy, who however on this occasion is wearing a life jacket and is ready to throw another one to help those in need.

Finally, the name: Louise Michel, French anarchist and revolutionary of the nineteenth century during the Paris Commune. In the same way, the ship aims to combine lifeguard activity with the principles of feminism, anti-racism and anti-fascism.


“It might seem incredible that there is a need for a private emergency vessel on one of Europe's busiest waterways, but there it is,” reads its description. “In response to people trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of safety, European states have stopped reacting adequately to the distress calls of people on the move, leaving them adrift at sea and collaborating with the armed forces to illegally prevent their crossing. Europe's Mediterranean border is the deadliest in the world”.

Louise Michel and her team of activists and volunteers, continues the manifesto, "actively resist the discriminatory power structures of nationalism, racism, patriarchy and capitalism" with the aim of "defending maritime law by rescuing anyone in danger without prejudice […] against any policy that voluntarily lets people drown in the sea”.

Because, as the revolutionary from whom the ship takes its name said: "It takes something other than charity to provide bread for everyone".


The vessel is manned and crewed by a team of professional rescue activists from across Europe, who identify themselves as “anti-racist and anti-fascist activists advocating for radical political change”. Her captain, Pia Klemp, is German, like Carola Rackete. She is 39 years old and is a marine biologist.

But if the charges against Rackete of aiding and abetting irregular immigration and refusing to obey a warship have been dismissed, Klemp's judicial fate is still up in the air.

Now she will have to answer for the violation of the new code of conduct of NGO ships, but already in 2019, at the time of the yellow-green government led by Giuseppe Conte, she had ended up in the crosshairs of Italian justice for having saved with another boat, the Iuventa, thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean. Activities for which she is accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration and which makes her risk 20 years in prison.

Like Rackete she was awarded by the commune of Paris with an honor for her commitment, but she refused it because she disagreed with France's migration policy.

Klemp, in fact, with regard to what is happening in the Mediterranean does not blame only the Italian government, but considers it "a failure of the European Union".


In 2020, when Kemp had accumulated various experiences at the head of NGO boats, he received an email from Banksy: “Hi Pia, I read your story in the newspapers. You look like a badass. I'm an artist from the UK and have done some work on the migrant crisis, obviously I can't keep the money. Could you use them to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know".


After saving 178 people in various rescue operations since the early hours of last Saturday, the Louise Michel is now stationary in the port of Lampedusa.

According to the press release released only on Sunday afternoon by the Italian Coast Guard, the ship would not have complied with the indication, given by the Ministry of the Interior, to reach the port of Trapani after an initial intervention, to go and rescue other boats, as foreseen by the new directives of the Meloni government.

According to what was declared by the Coast Guard, these boats were already about to be rescued by its means and "non-compliance with the provisions slowed down the arrival of a port of disembarkation for the migrants rescued in the first intervention". Finally, the authorities decided to direct the Louise Michel to the port of Lampedusa "for reasons of safety and urgency".

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Mon, 27 Mar 2023 09:24:31 +0000.