A group of Tunisian fishermen blocked the boat of far-right movement ‘Generation Identity’ from docking at the port of Zarzis in the southeast of Tunisia , dealing the latest blow to a controversial mission aimed at disrupting the flow of migrant boats from North Africa to Europe. The Identitarians had chartered the vessel C-Star to run their anti-migrant mission ‘Defend Europe’.
Fishermen in the south-eastern port city of Zarzis at the weekend mobilized against the anti-immigrant vessel C-Star of French-based Generation Identity group, which accuses NGOs of colluding with migrant smugglers. The local fishermen’s organization was part of a campaign launched by the ”Collective of North Africa against the racist boat C-Star” and prevented the vessel from docking. Generation Identity launched Defend Europe to prevent the arrival of migrants in Europe.
C-Star remains off Tunisia
The operation was successful and the C-Star remains off Tunisia in international waters. The vessel could try to dock at other Tunisian ports to refuel. The head of the local fishermen’s association, Chamseddine Bourassine, told the Italin news agency ANSA on Sunday that its members embraced the initiative as they have been saving human lives at sea for over 15 years and were therefore motivated in acting against ‘racism’.
Indeed an old container at the port’s entrance has been carved by Luis Gomez to commemorate those who have lost their lives in the Mediterranean. The fishermen were ready to block the C-Star with three vessels and push it back in case it got closer but the National Guard and port authorities said the vessel did not seek permission to dock. Activists sponsoring the blockade who were demonstrating at the port with banners welcomed the news and wondered where the boat could go.
Since Djerba has been ruled out as a potential destination given that it is unfit for a 40-meter-long boat to dock, Gabes or Sfax could be an alternative. Experts have not ruled out the possibility that the C-Star could get supplies at sea, although it is illegal. Fishermen in Zarzis have informed colleagues in Sfaz and Gabes of their action and urged them not to refuel the C-Star in case it docks there.
C-Star prompts response in southern Med
The C-Star’s mission is to rescue sea-borne migrants but instead of bringing them to the Italian coast, they will take the migrants back to the Libyan coast where they set forth. Their chief aim is to stem the flow of refugees to Europe. The controversial initiative of a coalition of far-right groups in Europe has prompted a critical response of civil society in southern Mediterranean countries. The NGOs collective, which includes activists from various North African as well as European countries, last week launched an appeal to civil society, coast guards, port authorities and all sides interested in Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Egypt ”to counter the arrival of the C-Star”.