From May 1st to 5th, Eritrean refugees cycled from Frankfurt to Brussels, for 452 kilometers. The ‘Ride4Justice’ started from Frankfurt, Koblenz, Köln, Aachen from there to Maastricht and finally to Brussels, to raise awareness about the inhumane conditions that refugees and migrants in Libya are trapped in. Torture, lack of food, water, and other abuse takes place in human trafficking warehouses and official detention centres alike. The cyclists arrived Sunday evening at the Maximilian Park in Brussels after the five-day bike ride. On Monday, hundreds joined them to take part in a demonstration in front of the European Commission buildings at Rond-Point Schuman.
The cycling initiative was set up by a team of refugees state that they are not from any particular organisation or political movement. Zerai Kiros Abraham, co-organiser of the event, stated: “We said: Let’s use this project to raise awareness regarding refugees’ situation’. We chose it and even though we did not have any supportive organization, let’s do it! If we do not do it by ourselves, why are we waiting for the support of others? We are doing social justice, we do not represent any political interest, this is about humanity.”
According to Abraham Tesfai, co-organiser of the initiative, the choice to cycle has three reasons. Cycling is one of the most important national sport and benefits from a great visibility in Eritrea. Beside this, explains Abraham, cycling allows the group to meet people but also to promote a message of effort and mobility, constituent elements in migration, from Africa to Europe. Finally, the Eritrean activist concludes, the bicycle is a great symbol of moving forward to reach justice for those that have been abused or killed.
“We are riding for our brothers and sisters who are trapped in Libya. Currently, nearly 3,000 people are imprisoned in the migration detention centres in Libya’s war zone. An estimated 10,000 who are trapped in well-documented inhumane and degrading conditions in other camps are at risk of forced recruitment into the ensuing conflict. This is an immediate result of the EU’s politics of containment,” Abraham stated in interview for Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left.
Wedeb, one of the responsible at the demonstration, expressed: “The situation in Libya is worsening. It it the worst than ever before. Refugees are helpless and nobody is caring for them. Therefore, we are trying to be voice of those that are voiceless.”
The main demand to Europe and to its member states that the demonstration made was immediate and non-discriminatory evacuation of people in detention centres in Libya – through humanitarian corridors, efficient migratory policy implementation by the member states and by the international community. In addition, Ride4Justice pointed out the international responsibility of the EU and its member states, which includes the launching of a common European rescue mission, stopping the return of refugees and migrants to Libya, and investigation into crimes committed against refugees and migrants in Libya.
More information on this event can be found on the Ride4Justice Facebook Page.