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

Bendetta Roux
Berlin – 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.

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This event was last updated on 08-30-2018

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