The captain of a controversial ship that saved migrants in the Mediterranean Sea has refused to accept a medal for her work.
In a Facebook message published Tuesday night, Klemp announced that she was rejecting the Grand Vermeil Medal, which the city of Paris awards for bravery. She told Mayor Anne Hidalgo that the city was brimming with hypocrisy.
“Paris, I love you. I love you for all the free and solidarian people that live in you. Fighting for their freedom everyday, standing shoulder to shoulder, distributing blankets, friendship and solidarity. I love you for those who are sharing their homes, love and struggles everyday – regardless of their nationality, regardless if they have papers or not.
Madame Hidalgo, you want to award me a medal for my solidarian action in the Mediterranean Sea, because our crews ‘work to rescue migrants from difficult conditions on a daily basis’. At the same time your police is stealing blankets from people that you force to live on the streets, while you raid protests and criminalize people that are standing up for rights of migrants and asylum seekers. You want to give me a medal for actions that you fight in your own ramparts. I am sure you won’t be surprised that I decline the medaille Grand Vermeil.
Paris, I’m not a humanitarian. I am not there to ‘aid’. I stand with you in solidarity. We do not need medals. We do not need authorities deciding about who is a ‘hero’ and who is ‘illegal’. In fact they are in no position to make this call, because we are all equal.
What we need are freedom and rights. It is time we call out hypocrite honorings and fill the void with social justice. It is time we cast all medals into spearheads of revolution!
Documents and housing for all!
Freedom of movement and residence!”
Pia Klemp, who is German, gained attention for rescuing thousands of stranded migrants with her crew as part of the nongovernmental organization Sea Watch International. For her efforts, she reportedly faces up to 20 years in prison in Italy, where the hard-line anti-immigrant government accused her of assisting illegal immigration.