Migrant captain Rackete charts new course in politics
Thursday, May 30, 2024       13:20 WIB

Berlin, May 30, 2024 (AFP)
She was hailed a hero by refugee campaigners after she defied the authorities to steer a migrant rescue vessel into an Italian port in 2019.
Now, Carola Rackete is trying to keep a different kind of ship afloat as she heads into June's EU elections as a top candidate for struggling German far-left party Die Linke.
"I didn't plan it," Rackete told AFP in Berlin, still sporting her trademark dreadlocks five years after pictures of her steering the Sea-Watch 3 appeared on front pages around the world.
Instead, the 36-year-old made the move into politics out of what she saw as "necessity" because of "the threat from the right".
The 2024 European Parliament elections are projected to see a major shift to the right in many countries, with populist radical right parties gaining votes and seats across the EU.
In Germany, the far-right AfD looks set to win around 15 percent of the vote despite being buffeted by a series of scandals.
"I see a responsibility for people to get involved politically, because I really do see the threat from the right -- and not just in Germany, but also in other European countries -- as a major threat to our democracy," Rackete said.
Born near Kiel in northern Germany, Rackete has a degree in nautical science and maritime transport and began her career as a navigation officer on scientific expeditions.
- Climate activism -
She later earned a master's degree in conservation management and shifted her focus towards environmental work as well as volunteering in migrant rescue.
As captain of the Sea-Watch 3, Rackete was arrested for forcibly docking on the island of Lampedusa with dozens of migrants on board despite being refused permission.
Since 2019, she has spent her time doing "a combination of scientific project work and activism".
In 2020, she was one of a group of climate activists who occupied part of the Dannenrod forest in central Germany in a bid to prevent the felling of trees to build a stretch of motorway.
Despite her environmental credentials, Rackete said she had opted for Die Linke rather than the Greens because she felt it was "important to recognise that environmental problems arise because of unjust social and political conditions".
"Die Linke is the only party that does not accept corporate donations (and) the only party that criticises capitalism and perpetual growth," she said.
Die Linke, which has its roots in both East German communism and the West German labour movement, has long been riven by strife.
The party was already teetering on the five-percent voter support hurdle to obtain representation in the German parliament when one of its key figures, Sahra Wagenknecht, defected to form her own party last year.
- 'Anti-fascist resistance' -
And the turmoil has continued in the run-up to the EU election, with Die Linke projected to win only three percent of the vote.
However, as the number two candidate on the party list, Rackete is all but guaranteed a seat in the EU parliament.
Rackete admits Die Linke "is in crisis right now" but sees that as "a window of opportunity to change something".
"We need a party that criticises (the political mainstream) from the left," she said.
For Rackete, the election campaign is not about securing a majority in the EU parliament but about achieving "mobilisation" against the far right.
"I think we can do something about it, because we have seen successful left-wing projects in some places" such as the recent huge wave of protests against the far right in Germany, she said.
At a rally to launch Die Linke's election campaign in Berlin, Rackete exuded a quiet determination as she took to the stage dressed in an all-khaki ensemble.
"My friends in Chile and South Africa know that if you want a revolution, you have to set something on fire," she told a small crowd at the German capital's Rosa-Luxemburg Platz.
"The climate crisis is here and fascism is just around the corner... We need to light the flame of anti-fascist resistance."

Sumber : AFP

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