Dozens of activists and members of the Tamil community in Germany staged a protest outside a detention centre in Pforzheim, as German authorities deported an estimated 20-23 Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka despite the risk of persecution and torture that they face on the island.
Local Tamil activists alongside those from Amnesty International and other human rights organisations protesting outside the detention centre in an attempt to block the move for more than 70 hours. Despite this, the deportations took place yesterday.
Tamil demonstrators protest at Frankfurt airport
Earlier that morning, police vehicles were seen entering the detention centre, with activists fearing that the detained Tamils would be transferred for deportation. Police were later seen forcibly dragging protesters aside to enabling for deportation vans to enter the facilities. One protester described the situation stating:
“One van came in and took some people out, we tried to physically stop it by sitting on the road but the police physically pushed us out of the way…and the van when through the corner… This van will not fit all so there will be more… we will try to stop the other vans..”
The police physically split the activists into two parts and attempted to cut off the possibility for them to mobilise more people to prevent the deportations. They further threatened to arrest all of the protesters.
Read more here.
“Concerned that Germany plans further Tamil deportations despite Berlin recognising in UN Human Rights Council the threat of torture in Sri Lanka,” tweeted Hugh Williamson, Director, Europe & Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch. “Germany's human rights obligations mean deportations to countries that use torture are banned.”
Concerned that Germany plans further Tamil deportations despite Berlin recognising in UN Human Rights Council the threat of torture in Sri Lanka. Germany's human rights obligations mean deportations to countries that use torture are banned @HRW https://t.co/6AOY2EdaGg pic.twitter.com/y0ddLTbNbk
— Hugh Williamson (@HughAWilliamson) June 7, 2021
Photograph: JDS Lanka
“No one is illegal and Sri Lanka is not a safe country of origin,” said Aktion Bleiberecht earlier today.
"We really need your help, quickly,” another activist told JDS Lanka. “We have had 70 hours non-stop day & night demonstration to block second mass deportation of #TamilRefugees to #SriLanka. Police threaten to arrest everyone"
See more from JDS Lanka here.
The protests continued at Frankfurt airport with protesters chanting "stop the deportations".
— VETD (@VETD_official) June 9, 2021
People’s Council of Eelam Tamils in Germany, officially known as Volkrat der Eelam Tamilen (VETD), released a statement decrying Germany’s attempt to deport Tamil asylum-seekers noting the hypocrisy of the German government.
“On the one hand, the Federal Foreign Office communicates its concerns about the situation of the Tamils during the Human Rights Council meetings in Geneva, on the other hand, the Ministry of the Interior is deporting Tamils”, VETD notes.
The statement further goes on to highlight the “frightening” conditions in Sri Lanka with reports of ongoing torture, inhumane treatment and sexual coercion as well as the increased militarisation of the entire country. VETD highlight that despite outcry from the international community, Sri Lanka has retained its draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act which serves to “does not guarantee the rule of law, as detainees can be arrested for an indefinite period of time without a trial”.
They further highlight that in the past few days, Tamils have taken into deportation custody in Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia. These include two Tamils whose deportation was canceled by the Ministry of the Interior in Baden-Württemberg last March. They also note that a Tamil man who was set for deportation attempted suicide on Tuesday and is now receiving medical treatment.
In March earlier this year, over 30 Tamil asylum seekers were deported to Sri Lanka, causing shock and outrage amongst Germany’s Tamil community and human rights defenders. VETD highlight that community efforts supported by refugee councils and human rights defenders helped to end the deportation of 4 Tamil asylum seekers. They further demand that the refugee status of Tamils be recognised by Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees as well as the ongoing persecution of Tamils in Sri Lanka. This follows a landmark court ruling in Britain which recognised that peace Tamil activists face the threat of ill-treatment if deported to Sri Lanka.
Read VETD's full statement here.