Statement by the initiative "Let us put our heads together"
On the borders of Fortress Europe the pressure of those who are fleeing from violence and war in search of a better life is increasing. They turn to Europe because it prides itself on nurturing values of solidarity, humanism and the right to freedom of movement. Yet the institutions of Europe, including those of the Republic of Slovenia, are not living up to those ideals. Quite the contrary, they are closing borders, increasing repressive measures and are fomenting feelings of endangerment and hostility. We are witnessing one of the most shameful moments in the history of the European Union. We cannot remain silent in the face of the cynicism, arrogance and indecisiveness of our governments. Therefore let us come together as individuals and as a community and spare no effort to prepare a decent welcome for refugees in Slovenia, regardless of whether they are merely passing through or whether they decide to stay.
We are certain that our plans are just and absolutely necessary therefore we call on the Government of the Republic of Slovenia not to criminalise our actions. We have prepared a list of five principles we believe are necessary for the Government to adhere to if it is serious in its commitment to solidarity with refugees:
1. Principle of not deporting refugees – Slovenia must not deport refugees, regardless of whether they ask for international protection or not.
2. Principle of free transit – Slovenia must take into account the wishes and needs of refugees. Those who wish to continue their journey must not be hindered to do so. Slovenia must help them according to its capabilities to continue their journey to their countries of destination.
3. Principle of openness – For those refugees that decide to remain in Slovenia – either permanently or for a short while – we recommend that accommodation be sought in the following order: a) those who can should be given the opportunity to take care of accommodation themselves; b) housing refugees with residents who are prepared to take them into their homes; c) housing refugees in community centres of the open type that are not removed from urban centres or the local community and allow free access for institutions and volunteers. People must be able to terminate their stay at these centres at any moment. Centres for foreigners and other institutions under police supervision and/or where freedom of movement is restricted are not acceptable under any condition. Refugees must be housed in open accommodation or with residents who offer to house them in their own homes.
4. Principle of equal treatment – there must be no categorisation of people on the grounds of their geographical origin or any other personal circumstances. Different treatment can be based solely on the expressed wishes of the refugees themselves and never on any other personal circumstances.
5. Principle of information – the Government of the Republic of Slovenia must disclose information about the number of official procedures involving persons without a Schengen visa on the territory of the Republic of Slovenia on a regular basis. The public has a right to be informed about all of these official procedures. All procedures involving refugees must be transparent and must enable monitoring.
The aid extended to refugees must not be limited to providing them with the bare necessities of life. In addition to providing them with safe shelter and food all people must have access to education, healthcare, sports, art and spiritual care. Individuals, initiatives and the non-governmental sector can contribute much especially in the latter three areas. Do not stand in the way of true humanism!
Initiatives are blossoming all throughout Europe that prove that humanity has not withered away. Let us also rise to the challenge!
Initiative Let us put our heads together (pobuda Staknimo glave)
Ljubljana, September 3rd 2015