“Conscience can not simply be deported”

Pro Asyl celebrated its 25th anniversary under the motto "Conscience does not allow itself to be simply deported". Erika Steinbach, a politician for displaced persons, was not invited; the ceremony was postponed at short notice because of her.

At a ceremony on Saturday evening in Frankfurt am Main with 400 guests, representatives from politics and international diplomacy praised the aid organization's commitment. In a video message, Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) described the work of Pro Asyl as "indispensable".

"…That refugees get their rights"
"Pro Asyl is an advocate for the vulnerable and fights vigorously and uncomfortably for refugees to get their rights," the minister said. Without the persistent research of the Federal Working Group for Refugees, the untenable conditions in Greek reception camps would not have been so comprehensively documented before the European Court of Human Rights, praised Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.

"Pro asylum is the staple of our democracy," said Green Party leader Claudia Roth. He said the organization has given human rights a home in Germany. When refugees are called "illegals" and thus criminalized, Article One of the Basic Law, "the dignity of the human being is inviolable," is violated every day. European countries are also partly responsible for the flight from African countries because they have supported dictatorships there for decades. "Europe must be a shelter for, not from, refugees," Roth demanded.

Demand for European access for refugees
The representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Germany and Austria, Michael Lindenbauer, called the aid organization a "powerful voice for the lawless". Pro Asyl has gained significance for refugee protection in Europe far beyond Germany, he said. Since last January alone, about 2.000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean. "The right of asylum becomes a waste of time if there is no access to Europe," warned UN representative.

Pro-Asyl chairman Jurgen Micksch recalled that the aid organization was founded in 1986 against a "racist mood" in Germany. Just as the many refugees from Eastern Europe heralded the collapse of communism, the refugees from North Africa today are harbingers of political change.

Then, as now, they met with resistance in Germany. Micksch called on the German government to support the United Nations resettlement program to settle refugees.

Steinbach unwanted because of dismissive attitude toward asylum seekers
Pro Asyl had moved the ceremony at short notice from Frankfurt's Romer City Hall to the Catholic House at the Cathedral. The municipal protocol had invited the CDU member of the Bundestag and expellee politician Erika Steinbach, who was unwelcome at the celebration because of her negative attitude toward refugees and asylum seekers, Micksch said. Moreover, the strict protocol of the town hall would not have allowed a screening of the video message of the Federal Minister of Justice.

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