When I went to see the film 7915KM – auf den Spuren der Rallye nach Dakar (7,915 Kilometres – Following in the Footsteps of the Dakar Rallye) by Nikolaus Geyrhalter on this year’s EthnoFilmFest, I was truly impressed. Watching this film, I first noticed the existence of the Europäische Agentur für die operative Zusammenarbeit an den Außengrenzen – European Agency for Operative Cooperation at the Outer Borders (abbreviated as FRONTEX from the French Frontières extérieures). Frontex is a shared agency of the European Union and has its main office in Warschau. If I understand correctly, it is an organisation that is not subject to parliamentary control. Reading the wikipedia article, I also came across other terms, such as Fluchtabwehr (defense against flight).
Lampedusa is an island south of Italy that enjoys sad celebrity as reception camp for African refugees.
Berlusconi gives the reasons for having to treat the refugees so harshly through Frontex as follows: you cannot let more people from Africa land in Italy, because on the island, conditions are already similar to those in concentration camps.
However, these conditions are caused by the Italian government, partly in violation of international law. And everything is camouflaged and paid for by the other EU countries.
Our Federal Chancellor, Mrs. Merkel, is quoted in the same program as she uses the term Refugee Prevention. What a word!
Our federal government takes care of refugees in its own way. It introduced a federal law that constitutes the „foundation displacement, flight and reconciliation“, sponsored by the “Deutschen Historischen Museums (DHM)” (German Historical Museum). Now if you thought this foundation was initiated at exactly the right time in order to point towards the scandalous conditions of the African refugees, you are wrong.
Instead, these people quarrel about whether or not Erika Stainbach is acceptable as a member of the board of the foundation “displacement, flight and reconciliation”. Other than that, they do nothing more than report, for example, what injustice the Sudeten Germans suffered 60 years ago. True as this all might be, it is all about the past.
The injustices we inflict on refugees in the present remain unmentioned! If the foundation wants to have a right to exist, it has to raise its voice really loud in the here and now. And then it should document and exhibit all the misery the African refugees suffer in Italy and on the Mediterranean Sea. And, above all, it should show how brutally and mercilessly the rich (?) EU behaves.
I am afraid that is not going to happen. This foundation is a political compromise that was made possible because of diverse lobby pressure. They are not interested in the misery of refugees today.
Refugee misery is refugee misery, no matter if the refugees flee from hunger, war, torture, or suppression, or are just driven out of the country by new rulers.
(Translated by EG)
P.S. The picture shows the steeply declining, rocky north coast of Lampedusa. It was taken in October, 2002 by Hans Bickel, who published it in wikipedia under the licence GNU-FDL. Many thanks!