“All the dead people in the photos in the Jandarma police computer have blue eyes. The children's stiffened blue gazes stare past me from where they're lying, so strangely calm.
‘Blue eyes?’ I say.
It is the eighth person, the eighth time I say those words. I look at the military policeman standing on the other side of the computer, not wanting to see the images anymore. But he understands my question.
‘When you drown the colour of your eyes changes. Everyone’s eyes turn blue.’
I cross out the description on the paper. The sound is bizarrely strong, it’s like the tip of the pencil and the surface of the paper have been miked up and connected to an amplifier. Scratch. All the drowned on the Aegean Sea have light-blue doll-eyes, I noted down instead, somewhere deep in my soul.”
As a case, Boat 370 is completely unique.
This is the true story about one special boat out of the thousands crossing the dangerous seas between Turkey and Greece, away from war and persecution, fuelled by the dream of a future within the EU. Just like 3-year-old Alan Kurdi became a symbol of all the children dying on the Aegean Sea, this story – about Boat 370 – represents a micro cosmos of the failure of the surrounding world.
The night of January 4, 2016 was stormy and cold. Out of fuel, a small refugee boat is left to the mercy of the violent waters, and despite hours of calls, neither the Greek nor the Turkish coast guard come to their aid. A large ship appears close by, a freighter, a hope of rescue. But the captain on board refuses their pleas for help, breaking the most essential tenet of all maritime law. In the backwash of the large freighter, the small boat breaks and succumbs. As it sinks, 53 people – men, women and small children – become victims of murder and attempted murder.
Not long thereafter, Annah Björk and Mattias Beijmo arrive in Turkey. They have been working as volunteers on the beaches of Lesbos, and now they want to find out more about the ones the refugees are departing from. Soon they encounter the story about a boat that sunk, where 12 of the passengers miraculously survived, after having swum back to Turkey through brutal waves through the night, only to be locked up by the Jandarma Police without any means to contact their relatives. No one knows that they are alive, and no one has come to claim the bodies of the deceased. As the two Swedes approach the local lae enforcement authority, they are at first welcomed, seen as someone who can take over the burden. But the further their inquiries take them, the more hostile the situation becomes. After getting too close to the murky waters where smugglers are intertwined with corrupt officials, they quickly leave the country. But what they have learned, and seen, will not leave them, and they know that they must continue despite fearing for their own safety.
In search of the truth, through interviews and intensive research, the authors manage to compile testimonies and real technical evidence for what took place out there on the dark ocean. A case now engaging lawyers and courts in UK, Turkey, Russia and Libya.
But the book is also a very personal portrayal of two ordinary people, without any experience from intelligence services, law enforcement or diplomacy, who rush headlong into a hornet's nest of smugglers, corrupt military police, international top-level gerrymandering, and real death. Their journey and work turn into a feverish thriller where piece by piece a murder mystery with political overtones is revealed. The book explains a crucial part of the greatest global refugee crisis of our time. It lifts the voices of people who have been left to drown, and sheds light upon the multi-million industry where smugglers and politicians in Turkey and EU play a geopolitical game with human lives at stake.
And it ends with hope for redress and judicial justice, not just for the victims, the survivors and the relatives of those who were on board Boat 370, but for all the refugees crossing the sea towards the European Union.
Boat 370 is a vivid and emotional depiction of the boat's journey towards its gruesome end, and a story about trying to make a difference in the world we live in.
On the authors Facebook page they have collected all recent media about the book.