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In the News: Sara Mardini's case

December 5, 2018: Sara Mardini Released on Bail

Berlin – Sara Mardini, a first-year student at Bard College Berlin, humanitarian worker and Syrian refugee, was released from Korydallos prison in Athens earlier today.  Bail was set at EUR 5,000. Mardini’s request for release from pre-trial detention was granted yesterday, after 106 days in prison. Sara and Sean Binder, a German citizen who was also released, worked as sea rescue volunteers on Lesbos. They were arrested on August 21, 2018 on accusations of human smuggling, membership in a criminal organization, spying, and money laundering. Sara and Sean still face charges and a possible prison sentence.

Kondylia Gougou, Amnesty International’s Greece Researcher commented: “Whilst we welcome the news that these dedicated humanitarians will be back with their families after more than 100 days behind bars, the fact that they still face absurd charges and potentially long prison sentences is an outrage … People who selfless[ly] act in these ways should be lauded, not imprisoned. These baseless charges should be dropped.”

“We are very happy and look forward to welcoming Sara back home in the next few days,” said Florian Becker, Managing Director of Bard College Berlin. “However, our student’s release came only after the presentation of copious evidence which, in our view, disproves the allegations against her in their entirety. Much damage has already been done. We will continue to press for the charges to be dropped.”

Sara and her sister Yusra Mardini, who participated as one of 10 athletes on the “Refugee Olympic Team” in Rio in 2016, became internationally known because they saved the lives of the other 18 forced migrants in their life raft by swimming their water-logged boat to the Greek coast during their own flight across the Mediterranean in 2015.

Sara Mardini became a student at Bard College Berlin in August 2017 when she was awarded a full scholarship under the Program for International Education and Social Change (PIESC), aimed at students from regions of crisis or conflict. Currently there are 32 PIESC students enrolled at Bard College Berlin from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Greece, Eritrea and Brazil.

Sara Mardini Released on Bail (press release)>>
Sara Mardini gegen Kaution freigelassen (Pressemitteilung)>>

Amnesty International: Smuggling charges against humanitarian workers who saved refugees in Greece must be dropped>>
Human Rights Watch: Saving Lives at Sea Should Not Earn Time in Jail​​​​​​​>>

Sara Mardini's case in the international press and in statements from other organizations>>

November 27, 2018: Sara Mardini receives finalist prize of the 2018 MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award

BCB student Sara Mardini, imprisoned in Greece since August 2018 for refugee aid work, and her sister & Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini have recently been selected among the finalists of the 2018 MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award.

The Disobedience Award was created in 2017 and recognizes individuals and groups "who engage in ethical, nonviolent acts of disobedience in service of society."

The award committee praised Sara and Yusra's gesture to rescue their fellow refugees when their boat capsized during their journey to Europe in 2015 as well as their subsequent efforts in helping other refugees. The value of the finalist prize is $10,000.

Read more about the award>>
November 5, 2018: Human Rights Watch issues statement about Sara Mardini and fellow volunteers 

November 5, 2018: Human Rights Watch issues statement about Sara Mardini and fellow volunteers
 

In a recent coverage of BCB student Sara Mardini and her fellow volunteers' arrest in Greece for refugee aid work, Human Rights Watch considers the accusations brought against them "entirely unfounded."

Read the entire statement below:
Greece: Rescuers at Sea Face Baseless Accusations
October 20, Berlin: Demo in solidarity with BCB student Sara Mardini and her fellow volunteers currently detained in Greece

October 20, Berlin: Demo in solidarity with BCB student Sara Mardini and her fellow volunteers currently detained in Greece

Bard College Berlin in cooperation with Nadja López, the initiative #FreeHumanitarians, Seebrücke - Schafft sichere Häfen! and Seebrücke Berlin held on October 20, 2018 a demonstration in solidarity with Sara Mardini and her fellow volunteers Nassos Karakitsos and Seán Binder, currently held in detention in Greece for their refugee rescue work.

The crowd marched from Alexanderplatz to Brandenburger Tor, where participants held up signs against the criminalization of rescue workers and demanded Sara, Nassos, and Seán's release from prison. Stage performances were offered by musicians Gülina, Monolink, among others, as well as Theater X / JugendtheaterBüro Berlin. 

Videos from the demonstration>>
More information (PDF)>>
Link to the Facebook event>>

Read more about Sara Mardini's case below.
Syrian Refugee Student from Bard College Berlin Arrested in Greece for Rescuing Refugees from Aegean Waters

Syrian Refugee Student from Bard College Berlin Arrested in Greece for Rescuing Refugees from Aegean Waters

Berlin, August 29, 2018 – Sara Mardini, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee student and scholarship recipient of Bard College Berlin, was arrested in Greece last Tuesday, August 21, 2018. She was on her way back from Lesbos to Germany to resume her studies after a period of several months’ service as a volunteer rescuing refugees in Greek waters. Sara and Sean Binder, a German citizen and fellow volunteer, who was also arrested, are in detention and have been accused of human trafficking, membership in a criminal organization, spying, and money laundering.

Sara and her sister Yusra Mardini, who participated as one of 10 athletes on the “Refugee Olympic Team” in Rio in 2016, became internationally known because they saved the lives of the other 18 forced migrants in their life raft by swimming their water-logged boat to the Greek coast during their own flight across the Mediterranean in 2015.

“We are in close contact with Sara’s legal counsel and these charges seem more about halting the operations of the NGO in question than about any actions of Sara or her fellow volunteer,” said Dr. Florian Becker, Managing Director of Bard College Berlin. “A long period of imprisonment in Greece awaiting a potential trial would be devastating for Sara and her life plans. We will leave no stone unturned to get Sara released from prison, so that she can spend this time in Berlin and continue her studies, which she has earned with so much difficulty.”

After their arrival in Germany, Sara and Yusra continued to be engaged as volunteers, demonstrating great personal commitment to the interests of refugees. Sara was invited as a speaker by Harvard University and Dartmouth College; her sister spoke before the UN General Assembly and with personalities like Pope Francis and Barack Obama.

Sara Mardini became a student at Bard College Berlin in August 2017 when she was awarded a full scholarship under the Program for International Education and Social Change (PIE-SC). The PIE-SC scholarship program is aimed at promising students from regions of crisis or conflict. Currently there are 30 PIE-SC students enrolled in the two B.A. degrees at Bard College Berlin – 27 Syrians, one Iraqi, one Afghan and one Greek student.

Reactions from the international press and other organizations>>
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