This Spanish Firefighter Might Go to Prison for Saving Refugees

Miguel Roldan is a Spanish firefighter who has spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean Sea, rescuing refugees who face peril while crossing the waters.

In June 2017, he was on the 18th hour of a shift on a migrant rescue ship stationed to help any drowning or distressed refugees, according to El Pais. At around 10 p.m., Roldan got a phone call that a migrant ship was sinking not too far away.

Roldan and two of his fellow rescuers set sail for the drowning migrants, letting their desperate screams for help guide them. It took Roldan and his colleagues roughly 10 minutes to arrive at the site of the sinking boat.

But then, they had to sit and wait.

Rome’s Search and Rescue Control Center didn’t immediately give Roldan the go-ahead to save the drowning refugees, according to El Pais. They were in Libyan waters, so getting the proper authorization took about 15 minutes — a long time for those struggling to stay above water.

Roldan’s team finally got the green light and sprung into action. The rescue mission was a harrowing, heartbreaking venture. Roldan recalled some of the most painful memories to EuroNews:

“A mother was constantly pointing at the boat and repeating: my baby, my baby, my baby, my baby,” Roldan said. “When I boarded the ship already half-sunk, not only was her baby dead, but a lot of other people too. The bodies were floating. When I looked at the mother and made a sign that her baby was dead, she was looking down. That look of resignation and sadness, that look is the one I took with me and I will never forget it.”

Roldan and his colleagues did their best, but it was impossible to save everyone — especially with the delay due to red tape.

“We could only save half of them, many people drowned,” Roldan told El Pais.

Now, because of that rescue mission, Roldan might be facing up to 20 years in prison.

The Italian government is investigating all the rescuers involved in that June 2017 operation. It says the rescue mission could’ve actually been a crime — specifically, “facilitating illegal immigration” and human trafficking, according to El Pais.

“It’s unbelievable,” Roldan told El Pais. “We respect the rules so much that we’ve watched people die because of bureaucracy. The accusation is a huge slap in the face.”

And Roldan’s story isn’t uncommon. In 2018, three firefighters from Seville also faced prison time (but later were acquitted) for “attempting to smuggle people” while working for a Spanish association that rescues migrants, according to El Pais.

No matter what you think of undocumented immigration and the refugee controversies in Europe, saving people who are facing death should never be a crime. That goes against every bit of decency.

It isn’t yet clear whether charges will be filed against Roldan and his colleagues, as the investigation is still ongoing. That means we still have time to make a difference!

TAKE ACTION

Tell Italy it makes absolutely no sense to throw someone in prison for saving lives! Please sign our petition to demand that no charges are filled against Roldan and his colleagues.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You‘ll find Care2‘s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.
 

Photo credit: Naeblys/Getty Images

54 comments

Christine V
Christine V15 hours ago

:(

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tammy C
tammy Cyesterday

signed!

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Angeles M
Angeles Myesterday

Petition signed.

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Lesa D
Lesa Dyesterday

sadly no good deed goes unpunished...

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Lesa D
Lesa Dyesterday

#10577 petition signed...

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Lesa D
Lesa Dyesterday

thank you Jacob...

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Sabrina D

I've just signed the petition.

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Beverly D
Beverly D2 days ago

Had Miguel Roldan and his colleagues Not been forced to wait 15 minutes before what they are trained to do , saving and rescuing drowning people, he would Not be haunted by a mother repeating over and over again : my baby, my baby, a dead baby that could have been saved! An image Miguel will forever carry with him. Has he not suffered enough knowing All of the loss of life due to governmental red tape?! He and his fellow associates Should be seen as Heroes Not to be facing prison time. God forbid.... Signed & Shared! God bless~

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Janis K
Janis K2 days ago

Signed

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Janis K
Janis K2 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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