A Guest Post by Arthur T
After the recent posts - The Brand Banksy Connivance, picked up by News-Watch under ‘TheBBC’s Love Affair with Banksy’ - and
further reading, I was astounded to find out just how selective the BBC had been with their
coverage of the ‘Banksy goes to sea’ story.
|Sea-watch 3 Captain Pia Klemp, Heroes of our Times (courtesy saatchiart.com) available as a snip at $8,600.|
The name of Pia Klemp should by now be known by all. Along with fellow captain Carola Rakete,
she has been responsible for saving a thousand or so lives - migrants who were adrift in the
Mediterranean mainly off the coast of Libya. Together, the two are principals of the Sea-watch
programme, who in recent months have been at odds with the Italian authorities over the landing
of migrants in Italian ports.
sea-watch.org website has this banner:
Europe has gotten used to pictures of drowning people and sinking boats. We won’t. That’s
why we keep on rescuing. With your support we will send another ship and aircraft to rescue.
The first story from the BBC was on the 28th August 2020 on the Banksy pages of the BBC News
‘Banksy funds boat to rescue refugees at sea’ …
‘The Louise Michel has been funded by
the street artist and is operating in the Mediterranean.’ …
However, a day earlier on 27th August this article appeared in the Guardian:
‘Banksy funds refugee rescue boat operating in Mediterranean.’
This article covers the story in a depth that the BBC chose to avoid:
Banksy’s involvement in the rescue mission goes back to September 2019 when he sent an
email to Pia Klemp, the former captain of several NGO boats that have rescued thousands of
people over recent years.
"Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass,” he wrote. “I am
an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep
the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done.
Klemp, who initially thought it was a joke, believes she was chosen by Banksy due to her
political stance. “I don’t see sea rescue as a humanitarian action, but as part of an anti-fascist
fight,” she told the Guardian.
She has made clear that Banksy’s involvement in the operations is limited to providing
financial support. “Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we
won’t pretend to be artists.”
Who does Pia Klemp seek to engage with in her ‘anti-fascist fight’? Surely, not the EU.
It’s clear that despite the BBC giving Banksy his own pages on their News website, they were
kept well out of the loop over this story, and were required to play catch-up - and then only
choosing to cherry the pick parts of the story which were in accord with their promotion of the
Banksy brand. Were they unable to report that ‘the operations is limited to providing financial
support’ and thus Banksy’s artwork was valueless in this instance? We have noted that the
continued support by the BBC of Banksy, in particular the ‘mystery’ of his identity, can have been
of significant commercial benefit to his wealth, now sufficient to fund the purchase of MV Louise
What I find troubling is that a images Google search ‘Pia Klemp BBC’ produces no matches,
though there are plenty of photos of Pia Klemp from other media sources. There is just one,
indirectly drawing attention to The Guardian article via the newspaper reviews. I have been
looking for the reasons that Klemp is ‘non-existent’ in this way according to the BBC. It appears
that Banksy’s boat MV Louise Michel is a German flagged vessel, and that the Sea-watch
programme, referred to by the BBC as an ‘NGO Charity’, is backed partly or largely by the
Evangelical Church EKD of Protestant Germany.
Another possible reason might be that Pia Klemp has associations with Forensic Architecture,
headed by British Israeli Eyal Weizman at Goldsmiths College. Readers of ITBBCB? will know this
group from their shortlisting for the Turner Prize in 2018.
All in all, it remains a mystery as to why the BBC, who follow every move of Banksy’s, were
unaware of the story broken by The Guardian ‘Exclusive’ (although we all thought the Beeb and
Guardian were joined at the hip), and also why there is so little on the BBC about ‘a hero of our
times’ Pia Klemp, who must tick nearly every box for the BBC’s routine diversity exercise. That the
EU come out of this very badly might irk the BBC group-thinkers for whom the EU can do no
Also missing from BBC News, the story of Sea-watch and their continuing stand-off with the
Italian authorities had a newsworthy addition last weekend, when according to Die Welt,
"Sea-Watch 4" set - Bedford-Strohm criticizes “arbitrariness" Status: 21.09.2020
Extracts read as follows:
Italian authorities hold the refugee ship "Sea-Watch 4" in Sicily. Now the council chairman of
the Evangelical Church in Germany has intervened. He spoke of a pretext that would prevent sea
The outrage over the detention of the church rescue ship “Sea-Watch 4” is growing. The
council chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, called
the process on Monday an “irresponsible act of arbitrariness”. “Anyone who hinders sea rescue
accepts that people will drown,” he said. Under the pretext of ship safety, the rescue of people
from distress at sea should obviously be prevented,
The Sea-Watch 4 was arrested by Italian authorities on Sunday night in the Sicilian port city of
Palermo after it had rescued more than 350 people from distress at sea. According to Sea-Watch,
this was justified with alleged security deficiencies.
We can deduce from all of this that both the BBC and Banksy are way out of their depth when it
comes to virtue-signalling over the rescue of refugees adrift in the Med - once it all turned ugly.
The MV Louise Michel is little more than a shuttle service passing rescued refugees on to
coastguard or Sea-Watch vessels, the latter of which are clearly at the sharp end of any dealings
with the Italian authorities. Sea-Watch have powerful backers in Germany, whereas BBC/Banksy
provide little more than a decorative froth.
The BBC took an interest Carola Rackete of Sea-watch last year:
Carola Rackete: How a ship captain took on Italy's Salvini
Italy migrants: Pressure builds over Lampedusa rescue ship’
The Sea-Watch 3 reached the Italian island of Lampedusa on Wednesday with 42 rescued
But, to the BBC, a similarly themed story from 21st September 2020 is no longer newsworthy! We
should conclude that both Banksy and the BBC are well out of their depth and floundering. The
virtue signalling from both have an uncanny, somewhat muted watery ring to them.
The BBC have tied themselves in knots over their reporting of the refugee crisis in the
Mediterranean, by wishing to promote only the sentimental human stories of migrants. From 11th
Migrants on Lesbos: 'Europe does not exist. This is hell'
In this emotive piece written from the viewpoint of the refugee, we were told by the BBC:
The collapse of Moria into a scorched mass of ash and mangled memories has prompted a
fresh humanitarian crisis at the edge of Europe. Not only are thousands of migrants and refugees
without shelter - but when the fire hit, 35 of them had tested positive for coronavirus and most of
those haven't been located.
The Greek government says the flames were lit by migrants protesting at isolation measures by
the camp authorities.
The migrants refute that, insisting it was the work of far-right Lesbos residents, for years
furious that their island has been on the frontline of Europe's migration crisis.’
By 16th September, the NYT and Daily Mail reported that not ’far-right Lesbos residents’, but
Afghan Migrants Charged With Arson in Fires that Destroyed Lesbos Camp - The New York Timeswww.nytimes.com
So, where is the BBC’s news of this, and their retraction of the far-right slur? I can’t find anything.