19.09.2016

PRO ASYL awards human rights award 2016 to Father Mus­sie Zerai

The PRO ASYL Foun­da­ti­on bes­to­wed its human rights award 2016, the PRO ASYL-hand, in front of around 200 par­ti­ci­pants upon Mus­sie Zerai. The Eri­tre­an priest and refu­gee aid worker has been invol­ved in the res­cue of refu­gees in dis­tress at sea for many years.

»I would like to rai­se my voice for tho­se that have none«, said Mus­sie Zerai in his accep­tan­ce speech. He war­ned against the dest­ruc­tion of the Euro­pean dream of being an oasis for human rights and soci­al jus­ti­ce. Zerai decried in his accep­tan­ce speech the mer­ci­less walls-up poli­cy of the Euro­pean Uni­on. »Euro­pe pays money to Afri­can des­pots to do the dir­ty work for the EU.« The EU-Tur­key deal ser­ves as a model for fur­t­her deals of this sort, among others with des­potic regimes like Sudan and Eri­trea. The many refu­gees which regu­lar­ly die on the life-threa­ten­ing crossing of the Medi­ter­ra­ne­an are the »fruit of a sick rela­ti­ons­hip bet­ween the north and south of the world«.

Zerais com­mit­ment for refu­gees goes bey­ond imme­dia­te huma­ni­ta­ri­an help. »Every for­war­ded cry for help he recei­ves, every fai­led res­cue attempt is cau­se for him to rai­se his voice publicly and to remind poli­ti­ci­ans in Euro­pe of their respon­si­bi­li­ty for the pro­tec­tion of refu­gees«, empha­si­zed PRO-ASYL chair­man Andre­as Lipsch.

Lau­da­to­ry speaker and jour­na­list Maxi­mi­li­an Popp hono­red Zerai’s com­mit­ment. Zerai was »a life­s­aver, a pioneer for huma­ni­ty and jus­ti­ce«, who­se examp­le all citi­zens should fol­low, »who are inte­rested in an open, soli­da­ry socie­ty«, said Popp and at the same time com­men­ted shar­ply on Euro­pean refu­gee poli­cy: »The mass dying of refu­gees on Europe’s exter­nal bor­ders is no acci­dent, but the direct result of Euro­pean poli­cy. The Ger­man Basic Law and the Euro­pean Char­ter of Fun­da­men­tal Rights pro­mi­se pro­tec­tion for all that flee from war or per­se­cu­ti­on. But the EU mem­ber sta­tes have been tor­pe­doing this right for years.« While the­re are end­less dis­cus­sions in the north of the world – in Euro­pe – of how to stop the lan­ding of refu­gee boats from the south most effec­tively, Father Zerai accepts calls for help from exact­ly tho­se boats and initia­tes the res­cue of their despe­ra­te pas­sen­gers.

The human rights award of the PRO ASYL Foun­da­ti­on endo­wed with 5.000 Euros is being awar­ded sin­ce 2006. It honors per­so­na­li­ties which pro­mo­te respect for human rights and pro­tec­tion of refu­gees in out­stan­ding ways. It is awar­ded year­ly.

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