«From the borderland Jesus’ voice reaches us»

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Joint Appeal of the Protestant Church in Germany and the Working Group «Christian Vision» of the Coordinating Council of Belarus

Since summer 2021 the regime of Aliaksandar Lukashenka in Belarus adopted a strategy to put pressure on the European Union through instrumentalization of people from conflict zones to direct them on the borders of the European Union. This is how he wants to exert pressure to achieve his political goals.  

The EU and the neighboring states of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland are reacting to this by turning people back in violation of international law (“push-backs”) and by sealing off their borders militarily. This policy leads to enormous suffering: Thousands of women and men, families and children are trapped in the border area, wandering in the forests, starving and freezing. Aid organizations, independent media and human rights organizations are denied access to them. Several people have already died.

In the face of this humanitarian crises, we as Christians cannot remain silent.

We believe in the one who went to those outside the gate, where there is no more justice, and no more dignity (Hebrews 13:12–14). We believe in the one who went to the place where people are abandoned and surrounded: in the cold, in the mud, between barbed wire. From there, from the borderland, Jesus’ voice reaches us. He cries out to heaven.

How can our response be other than to answer him and raise our voices for those whom no one wants to see or hear. We know that every life has its God-given, unbreakable dignity and that every life counts equally: that of the Yazidi woman, that of the Syrian child, that of the Afghan man. They all need protection, admission and a future – and we are at their side in solidarity as part of the great human family.

We condemn the Belarusian regime’s cruel treatment of human beings – both the Belarusian people and the those hoping for refuge and a future in Europe. People must never be made the plaything of politics.

And we appeal to the political leaders:

1. The people in the border area must receive humanitarian aid immediately. Doctors and aid organizations must be able to carry out their important work without delay and without hindrance. International observers, lawyers and independent journalists must also be given access.

2. We expect the Polish government, like every government in Europe, to comply with applicable law. This includes human rights, especially the right to life and integrity, as well as taboos of international law, such as the prohibition to push back people in danger («push-backs»).

3. The right to asylum is a human right. People seeking protection within the EU have the right to an individual, fair asylum procedure.

4. The European Union needs to apply humanity and the rule of law in refugee policy, not harshness and isolation. This includes the solidary distribution and reception of protection seekers in Europe. 

We call to support all church and non-church initiatives and aid organizations in Poland and Belarus that show solidarity, help the persecuted in their need and defend human rights. We do not want to leave them alone either.

God, bless what is good and right!