A sea of chairs

A sea of chairs

Activists set up chairs on the Platz der Republik in front of the Reichstag building © Kay Nietfeld

White chairs everywhere: with a total of 13.000 pieces will be draped this Monday the Republic Square in front of the Bundestag. Several refugee aid organizations want to send a visible signal with this measure. What is behind it?

The 13.000 chairs are to be a "symbol of welcoming people seeking protection from Moria and all overcrowded camps at the EU's external borders," Sea Bridge, Sea-Watch, #LeaveNoOneBehind and Campact announced.

The organizations called on politicians to "finally end the humanitarian disaster at Europe's external borders and evacuate the camps". There are to be similar actions in quite a few other German cities as well as in Vienna.

Slogan "Evacuate camps, the space is there!"

Under the slogan "Evacuate the camps, the space is there!" one wants above all on the situation of the approximately 13.Tareq Alaows from Aktion Seebrucke (sea bridge action) emphasized that the human rights of the thousands of people in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos must be brought to the attention of the public.

"The emergency calls for rapid assistance and immediate action. The German government has so far taken in just 465 people in Germany, although the willingness to help is huge at all levels. This is absolutely absurd, if one looks at the suffering on the ground and the readiness to accept people here in Germany."

Doreen Johann from the organization Sea-Watch added: "After the pictures with right-wing extremists in front of the Reichstag building went around the world in the last days, we want to show what belongs in front of this building instead: A protest for the respect of human dignity and human rights."

European sea rescue program called for

In addition to the immediate evacuation of all camps, the organizations demand that the German states "use their leeway and decide on state admission programs" and that the federal government allow this to happen. They also demand a European sea rescue program. Until then, "civilian actors should no longer be criminalized and states must fulfill their duty to rescue at sea".

Access to asylum procedures as the basis of the right to asylum must be guaranteed, they further urge, and: "Human rights violations such as illegal repatriations and mistreatment of protection seekers by EU states must be stopped."In the context of the German presidency of the EU Council, the German government must ensure that all crimes, such as sexual violence.

The deputy chairwoman of the parliamentary group Die Linke in the Bundestag, Heike Hansel, demanded "to end the humanitarian disaster at the EU external borders" and to dissolve the camps. "The blockade by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is disgraceful in light of the worsening situation in Moria," Hansel said at the protest on the lawn in front of the Reichstag building.

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