08. November 2014 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Erster Europäischer Mauerfall: Fahrt an die EU-Außengrenze · Kategorien: Deutschland · Tags:

The Guardian

Art group removes Berlin Wall memorial in border protest

Centre for Political Beauty says it took white crosses to highlight hypocrisy of fortifying borders while celebrating fall of another

Philip Oltermann in Berlin

Berlin Wall cross

Malian refugees with one of the white crosses taken by the Centre for Political Beauty. Photograph: Patryk Sebastian Witt/AFP/Getty Images

For the past 10 years, 14 white crosses in the heart of Berlin have marked the lives of those who died trying to cross from east to west. Over the weekend, they disappeared, replaced with empty black metal frames and a note: “There’s no thinking going on here.”

On Monday, the crosses resurfaced, not in Germany but on walls and fences that mark the very outer edges of Europe, in Greece, Bulgaria and Melilla, on the north African coast. A performance art group called the Centre for Political Beauty claimed to have organised the stunt.

In a video statement, the group criticised what it said was Europe’s hypocrisy in fortifying its borders in the south just as it celebrated the fall of an old border in the east.

On Friday, two days before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall, the group plans to send up to three coachloads of people from Berlin to the Mediterranean, to “tear down the European wall”. Its crowdfunding page carries Ikea-style instructions on how to dismantle a wire fence with a bolt-cutter and an angle grinder.

“We may not shoot people trying to leave our countries and yet we have more people dying trying to cross European borders than ever before,” said Philipp Ruch, one the project’s instigators. More than 3,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Asked whether he planned to return the crosses to Berlin, Ruch said: “You’ll have to ask the crosses themselves. All we know is that they weren’t prepared to take part in the festivities.”

He said the crosses had been handed over to a group of Malian refugees in the forests of Mount Gurugu, outside Melilla, some of whom had spent the past two years trying to cross an eight-metre fence into Spanish territory.

The stunt drew criticism from the director of the Berlin Wall Foundation, Axel Klausmeier, who said he sympathised with the motives but “could not approve” of the memorial being used for political ends.

“Each of the crosses is in memory of a wall victim with their own fate, their own motives for the attempted escape with their own lives. Those who demand more respect for the dignity of human individuals – which we supported wholeheartedly – should also respect the dignity of the individual victims of the wall,” Klausmeier said.

The Centre for Political Beauty has a history of controversial acts. In 2009, it auctioned the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, on eBay. This year, it organised an X Factor-style audition for Syrian refugees in the German capital.

The Washington Post

To some, the E.U.’s deadly border is the new Berlin Wall

Rick Noack

Next Sunday, Germany will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. One important memorial, however, is likely to be missing: a selection of seven crosses which were dedicated to people killed at the Wall while trying to flee East Germany. On Monday, political activists belonging to a group called „Center for Political Beauty“ claimed they had stolen the crosses and distributed photos showing them at border fences that are supposed to prevent Middle Eastern and North African refugees from entering European soil.

The activists want to raise attention for the fate of those dying while trying to flee to Europe these days. Tens of thousands of people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea within the last years, and the EU is currently considering stopping its rescue program for refugees whose boats capsize before they reach European soil.

The activists who claimed responsibility for the action said Monday that they wanted to protest the „murderous exterior walls.“ On their Web site, the activists call upon policymakers to prepare for the fall of the „European Wall.“

On Friday, the activists plan to travel to an unspecified part of the EU border, and to symbolically tear it down.

While the activists‘ plans might be more extensive, Berlin’s police department is already investigating the theft of the memorial crosses as an incident of „particularly severe case of theft.“ However, the activists‘ plan has also found supporters. German news site Spiegel Online published an article pointing to the fact that at least $1.5 million will be spent on decorating the former course of the Berlin Wall with illuminated balloons Nov. 9, while refugees continue to languish in the margins due to a lack of funding and political willingness.

Whether or not the theft of Berlin Wall memorials is justifiable can be questioned. Some of the white crosses which were stolen were marked with the names of some of those who were shot at the inner-German border. Supporters of refugee rights nevertheless argue that drastic measures are necessary to raise attention for the suffering outside of EU borders.

The Monday PR stunt coincided with the discovery of 24 bodies in the proximity of Istanbul’s Bosphorus strait. The victims are believed to have been on a boat carrying illegal migrants on their way to Europe.

Estimates of the number of refugees who were killed while trying to reach Europe vary widely. In one of the most frequently cited studies, a joint research project of European journalists recently found that at least 23,000 people had lost their lives over the last 14 years.

s.a. ffm-online.org/2014/11/03

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