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#Bern, #Switzerland: With physical distancing against social distancing

Bern. Switzerland. April 3, 2020. With physical distancing against social distancing. With banners and standing two metres appart from each other anti-racist activists protested in bern today. While the Federal Council informed the media about its latest decisions, the activists held a speech in front of the media building (see below). In it they criticised the current policy of the Federal Council.

Originally published by Rise Against Borders, here and here.

In corona times the Federal Council is exposing refugees to discriminatory risks. The Federal Council should implement these four demands immediately.

1. the Federal Council should (re)open the borders for refugees. It is not acceptable for swiss nationals to be flown back by special flights or for the border to be open to workers while refugees in emergency situations are denied access to Switzerland. The Federal Council could, for example, allow refugees currently blocked at the Greek-Turkish border area to enter Switzerland directly via protection status S.

2. The Federal Council should immediately refrain from accommodating refugees in asylum centres and provide them with apartments or hotel rooms due to the limited space in the centers.

3. The Federal Council should immediately release all migrants in administrative detention. Because of Corona, there is no longer any basis for keeping the people in detention.

4. The Federal Council should immediately stop making negative asylum decisions. Because of Corona, there is no longer any real legal protection, as the structures of legal representation no longer operate under proper circumstances.

The action sees itself as part of the campain #RiseAgainstBorders

Speech during the Action „With physical distancing against social distancing“

We (those of us present today, as well as many who stayed home because of Corona) are stunned, we are horrified, we are sad and angry, we are outraged and at the same time deeply worried. Because we are not all affected in the same way and the Corona measures have diffrent burdens for everyone.

The people and groups who are already worse off get hit the hardest: whether its people that are fleeing, have an «illegal» status or other social factors. While the call for solidarity embraces everyone equally, should people not receive specific solidarity according to their specific situation?

It can’t be!

People everywhere appeal to national cohesion: but Corona goes beyond national borders: our solidarity should therefore be borderless!

We see it as our social responsibility to stand up for all people, just as we do for those in our immediate surroundings.

In the cantons and boroughs, people live in asylum centres in very confined space. This makes protection from corona impossible. The cantonal migration authorities as well as the SEM should offer refugees apartments or vacant hotel rooms.

We demand decentralized living and evacuation of the asylum centers!

Even before this, it was difficult for asylum seekers to defend themselves against a negative asylum decision. Now it has become almost impossible.
For effective legal protection, refugees need legal assistance. Because of Corona access to advocates and legal representation is not availabel.
In many areas the judicial system has been brought to a complete halt. Only in the asylum system it is continuing as before. When asked whether this is still legal, Mario Gattiker said that under emergency law almost anything is possible. We cannot accept that as an answer.
The Federal Council is to extend the ordered judicial vacation to include the asylum appeal procedure, which means that negative asylum decisions cannot come into force.

In general we are critical of the fact that people are deported under coercion. In the current condition this is in fact nothing more than the imprisonment of refugees.

We therefore demand the release of administrative detainees!

We therefore call for the immediate reopening of the borders for asylum seekers. The right to asylum must be guaranteed at all times.

We can no longer stand by and watch as governments rely on people dying before they can exercise their right to seek asylum in an EU country or in switzerland.

We therefore call for the immediate admission of refugees from Greece: the situation at the Greek-Turkish border and in Greece was intolerable even before Corona. At the moment, the situation is further aggravated by the fact that more than 40,000 people are already living on the island of Lesvos alone, in a very confined area without adequate health care, without sufficient access to water and food. The Federal Council can and should grant these people direct entry by granting them „Status S“.

What we mention here are some measures that can be taken immediately. They should defuse the current situation. Refugees, illegalised persons and sans-papiers were already discriminated against before Corona. We therefore fight for freedom of movement for all people, no matter where they come from and what papers they have (or don’t have).

We are in a state of emergency?

Insecurity, isolation, health risks, financial losses…

For many people this is normal! But it must never be normal for anyone!

It is not the first life-threatening crisis, but its been a long time since also the most privileged of this world are affected, we ourselves are affected and behold and see  what is possible.

So it is not a question of ability but of will. There are enough ideas, means and space.
We therefore demand: to take measures to enable a better life for all.
Solidarity requires autonomy and a good life for all.

As long as the „we“ stops at borders, we stand up for: #RiseAgainstBorders.

Click here for more demands from the #RiseAgainstBorders Network!

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