Take concrete measures to protect refugees

Open letter of the HGB to Leipzig's Mayor Burkhard Jung

In an open letter, the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig assures Burkhard Jung, Mayor of Leipzig, of its support for concrete measures to protect refugees:

Dear Burkhard Jung,

the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig (HGB) appeals to you as Mayor of the City of Leipzig to take concrete measures in view of the dramatic situation for people seeking protection in Greece. Leipzig has - that is gratifying! - in association with numerous German cities as a welcoming municipality. However, the promise to become politically active for the reception of refugees has not yet been fulfilled.

The agreement between the European Union and Turkey of March 2016 has made the situation hopeless for those fleeing the war in Syria, but also from Iraq and Afghanistan. Their chance of a fair asylum procedure in Europe is minimal. Their living conditions in the camps and in the border areas are not humane. The violence on the Greek-Turkish border makes the failure of European policy manifest.

In our view, the isolation of Europe reflects a more than questionable dominance of right-wing populist opinion making, which is threatening to become independent. Particularly in view of the newly won sensitivity in the matter of right-wing extremism - after the incidents in Kassel, Halle and Hanau - now is the time to consistently oppose the anti-democratic movements in our country which are demanding the closure of the EU's external borders.

In the face of 42,000 asylum-seekers stranded on the Greek islands, the EU's announcement that it will accept 1,600 unaccompanied minors and other persons in need of special protection is not even remotely adequate.
These people are not only threatened by European border guards and European racists and right-wing extremists who have come to Greece for this purpose. The lack of hygienic conditions there is a drastic worsening of the humanitarian disaster, which could cost tens of thousands of people their lives if rescue measures are not taken immediately.
Against the background of the COVID 19 pandemic, the need for action is increasing immensely.

In the context of the adoption of measures to contain the COVID-19 virus, we are currently experiencing that political influence to protect and save human lives is possible in the short term. This cannot and must not only apply to us on the safe side of the border. The fact that the humanitarian reception of refugees in this situation is currently suspended (18.3.2020) is an incomprehensible and, in our view, obviously wrong decision.

The Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig, which has been working on the specific concerns of refugees in the Academy for Transcultural Exchange since 2015, is at your side.

With kind regards

The rectorate of the HGB