15. April 2015 · Kommentare deaktiviert für „Writers demand greater protection for refugees in Europe“ – The Guardian · Kategorien: Nicht zugeordnet

The Guardian

More than 1,100 authors sign a petition to the European parliament, calling on EU countries to create common, humane laws of asylum

A letter signed by more than 1,100 writers, including the late Nobel laureate Günter Grass, is being delivered to the president of the European parliament calling for greater protection for refugees in Europe.

Grass, who died on Monday at the age of 87, had signed the letter along with his fellow Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek and acclaimed writers including Margaret Drabble, Marina Lewycka, Ruth Padel, Kamila Shamsie, Lisa Appignanesi, Michael Holroyd and Victoria Glendinning.

The letter lays out their belief that the “people who need protection on arrival at the borders of the EU are being treated as enemies”. The writers call on the nations of Europe to “create common, humane laws of asylum that are not driven by national interests, but instead by a spirit of solidarity and a sense of responsibility”, and to “meet their humanitarian obligations”.

“We believe it is our urgent joint task to protect refugees and to provide them with prospects for the future,” they write, in a letter being delivered by representatives of PEN International, English PEN and German PEN to European parliament president Martin Schulz.

In their letter, the campaigners propose the creation of a European refugee fund, which countries would contribute to according to their means, and which would “ensure that the fate of refugees is independent of regional prejudice or changing attitudes towards immigrants”.

“We go to the European parliament with a simple message: we and our civilisation will be judged by the solidarity we show with people in crisis,” said PEN International president John Ralston Saul. Tuesday’s meeting will see the delegates deliver their appeal, share their concerns about refugees in Europe, and “explore ways in which we can work on these issues”.

The Austrian author Jelinek, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 2004, said: “Refugees often accept unbelievable hardships in search of a life of human dignity. We must show ourselves worthy of these people.”

The letter points to the death in 2013 of more than 300 refugees in a shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa, saying that the tragedy “had no impact on refugee policies”. “War, political persecution, hunger and inhumane living conditions are forcing people to leave their homelands. Some make their way to Europe.”

Once they arrive in Europe, the letter continues, they “often have to face unacceptable harassment”; they are unable to freely choose where to live, and “if they do try to make their way to the country of their choice, they risk being locked up, subjected to mistreatment and deported by the police”.

The letter insists that “Europe should come to the aid of people in desperate straits and provide them with routes of escape”, enabling those “in immediate danger” to be able to establish direct contact with European embassies in their home country, to apply for humanitarian visas.

“Refugees should no longer have to risk their lives to come to Europe. If they do seek asylum, they should not be treated like criminals,” say the campaigners, adding that “the deaths of refugees should not be legitimised or tolerated in the name of protecting borders”, and that “the protection of human life must have the highest priority”.

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