LATEST: Defend Europe press conference goes ahead but without any of the crew.
The ship chartered by Defend Europe has been denied entry to Malta.
In a series of tweets the far-right group bemoaned how authorities were allowing NGOs to disembark on the Mediterranean island but would not allow “European citizens” to dock.
Malta, that has become the gate for illegal immigration to Europe, is closing its borders for European citizens.#defendeurope— Defend Europe (@DefendEuropeID) August 19, 2017
The group is also alleging that authorities have denied the crew resupply access.
Malta is now denying the cstar fresh water and has forbidden supply vessels to provide us. Who low can you go? #defendeurope— Defend Europe (@DefendEuropeID) August 19, 2017
A petition has been set up, purportedly by Maltese citizens, asking the government to allow the C-Star to dock.
It has been signed by 210 people in two days.
A coalition of human rights groups commended the decision to block the group.
“We would like to commend the Government of Malta’s stand against the far right group Defend Europe in refusing to allow the C-Star to enter Malta,” reads the joint statement from Aditus Foundation, Graffiti, Integra Foundation and the Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), Kopin and The Critical Institute.
It adds: “Under the deceptive premise of ‘saving lives’, the mission of the vessel C-Star claims to ‘defend Europe’ by disrupting humanitarian vessels and by returning refugees to the coast of Libya.
“The scope and actions of Defend Europe must not be underestimated, their political ideology is dangerous and extreme.
“The stance adopted by the Government of Malta sends out a clear message against the politics of hate and extremism.”
Defend Europe was due to hold a press conference in Nantes, France at 5pm GMT on Saturday which went ahead but without any of the C-Star crew.
Defend Europe’s mission is to “achieve a complete documentation and observation of the doings of those NGOs” with the ultimate aim of stopping them operating in the Mediterranean.
But this incident is just the latest in a string of setbacks to hit the group.
The ship was also detained in the port of Famagusta after at least 20 Sri Lankan nationals were found on board and the ship’s crew and owner, Sven Tomas Egerstrom, appeared in court charged with preparing and circulating false documents.
They were later released.
Last week the group narrowly avoided a humiliating episode when they suffered “technical difficulties” off the coast of Tunisia.
In an incredibly ironic twist one of the very NGO boats the group aims to stop was ordered by authorities to come to its rescue but the C-Star was fixed before it arrived.
Defend Europe is part of the young, media-savvy Identitarian movement which says it wants to preserve Europe’s identity and calls for an end to immigration and multiculturalism.
Rather than saving the lives of desperate migrants setting sail from war-torn Libya, the group sees NGOs as enabling people-traffickers by “acting as a taxi service”.
Defend Europe has been contacted for comment.