Germany: Police in Lower Saxony District deport Russian family from Church Asylum

Germany Germany: Police in Lower Saxony District deport Russian family from Church Asylum

For the first time since 1998, the state of Lower Saxony has closed a church asylum. A Russian family applied for asylum due to a draft order, but has now been deported to Spain, despite the mother's illness.

The police and the Lower Saxony state reception authority have closed a church asylum for a Russian family. The family of four was deported to Spain on Sunday evening, as the Protestant St. Michaelis parish in the town Bienenbüttel near the city Uelzen, announced on Tuesday. “We are shocked by the actions of the state reception authority,” said Pastor Tobias Heyden to the Evangelical Press Service.

The police officers used a search warrant to gain access to the community center apartment where the family were staying. It was said they were flown to Barcelona that night. The Lower Saxony Refugee Council accused the "red-green state government" of breaking a decades-long taboo.

First case in decades
For the first time in decades, the state of Lower Saxony in Germany ended a church asylum through the use of the police and deported those seeking protection, it was said. According to the Refugee Council, a church asylum in Lower Saxony was last evacuated in 1998 and the people affected were deported. Afterwards, all of the country's interior ministers emphasized that no coercive measures would be taken against people in church asylum.

In April, a church asylum was nevertheless closed by the authorities. But the deportation failed. The managing director of the Refugee Council, Kai Weber, told the epd that after the current action he assumes that a new, restrictive direction is now being deliberately taken.

Escape from being drafted into the Russian army

The Russian couple with an adult son and a 16-year-old daughter were reportedly staying with relatives in Germany while traveling to Spain when father and son received a draft notice, as the community announced. The family did not want to take part in the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and therefore applied for asylum in Germany.

The mother was seriously ill due to the psychological stress and was treated as an inpatient. Nevertheless, the asylum application was rejected with reference to the Dublin Agreement, because the family already had a Spanish visa.

The family then turned to the Protestant church group, said the pastor. After careful examination, he considered church asylum to be useful. The mother's doctors strongly advised against deportation. The prognosis for family integration was also good. Father and son had job offers. The daughter attended a high school in Uelzen.

Further dissolution of church asylums
There have also been spectacular church asylum evictions in other federal states in recent months, said Refugee Council Managing Director Weber. Apparently, above all, toughness should be signaled. This reflects the shift to the right in the domestic political discussion. "Instead of standing up to the right-wing extremists, politicians are running after their slogans."

In February, the police ended the church asylum of a Syrian refugee in a Protestant parish in Rhineland-Palatinate and deported the man to Denmark. Shortly before Christmas, the police in Schwerin broke into a church asylum in a Protestant community in order to deport two adult sons of an Afghan family to Spain. The deportation failed. The Federal Working Group on Asylum in the Church is currently aware of 594 active church asylums with at least 780 people, including around 130 children.

Francis Tawiah (Duisburg-Germany)