IT is enshrined in International Maritime Law that any ship, whether civilian or military, is bound to answer distress calls and render assistance to anyone who is at risk on the high seas.
Humanitarian considerations, however, are completely alien to the imperialists of NATO whose armed forces and navies sat back and did absolutely nothing to save the lives of 63 refugees fleeing Libya last year because of the imperialist war to bring down Gadaffi.
On the 25th March, 2011, a small boat containing 72 men, women and two babies set sail from Tripoli, and the NATO bombs raining down on the city, heading for the ‘safety’ of Europe.
These refugees, mostly migrant workers from across Africa, soon ran into trouble in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, an area that NATO had declared a military zone under its control.
They were able to contact a refugee centre in Rome using a satellite phone and they, in turn, notified the Italian coastguard.
Because of the zone being under the control of NATO forces, the coastguard passed the distress call to the NATO forces in the area.
According to the handful of survivors, a military helicopter hovered above the stricken vessel and even threw down water bottles and packets of biscuits before flying off.
A naval vessel also came into contact with the boat (which had run out of fuel, food and water), and just ignored them despite the refugees making their dire conditions clear by holding up the dead babies and empty fuel tanks for the ship’s crew to see.
61 passengers, including both infants, died of thirst and starvation on the boat and a further two died when it was finally washed ashore back in Libya.
Since news of this atrocity first broke last year, the NATO countries of France, Britain, Spain and Italy have all steadfastly denied that they knew anything about this ‘incident’ as they termed it.
Despite the Italian coastguard insisting it passed on the distress call, the imperialists claim that nothing was logged, that they have no record of any ship in trouble and that none of their helicopters or boats were anywhere near the area at the time.
Reading their denials it is possible to draw the conclusion that NATO forces were nowhere in the Mediterranean at all!
This lying cover-up for this war crime against humanity has been exploded by a study carried out by experts in oceanography at Goldsmiths University of London.
Their study used advanced techniques to determine the exact movement of the vessel over the sixteen days it was adrift at sea in order to ascertain which NATO ships and aircraft came into contact and ignored them.
They conclude that the description given by survivors indicate that the helicopter was a British army Westland Lynx and that the ship was most probably French.
An aircraft carrier that passed close by the refugee boat was likely to be Spanish, under NATO command.
Naturally, the British MoD responded to this with a mixture of denial and buck-passing, insisting that there were no records of any contact being made and anyway: ‘All British military helicopters in the area were operating under NATO authority.’
The NATO powers went to war against the Libyan people under the grotesquely hypocritical banner of ‘humanitarianism’ – in reality, all they were concerned with was stealing Libya’s oil wealth, and the lives of men, women and babies are a price worth paying to secure this goal.
The only answer to these killings, and all the other millions of innocent people killed in the name of imperialist conquest, is to work for the victory of the world socialist revolution, to put an end to this barbarism once and for all.