Some 3,000 people have taken to the streets of the Swiss city of Lausanne to express their solidarity with refugees, denouncing the government’s tough stance on the asylum seekers in the Central European country.
During Saturday’s demonstration, which was organized by the association Solidarity without Borders, the protesters were holding banners and signs that read, “Stop to deportation,” “Welcome refugees,” “Legalize us,” “Stop to racist laws,” “No one is illegal” and “Stop wars, not people.”
“The most beautiful sign I’ve seen today is: “Welcome people you forced to flee with your weapons.” That is why I’m here, because war causes refugees,” said a protester.
The demonstrators further held placards in condemnation of the Dublin Regulation, a European Union law, under which the country where asylum seekers first enter is responsible for registering them. The provisions of the law have also been extended to the non-member state, Switzerland.
Pierre Conscience, a member of the association that organized the march, said that the protesters “condemned the ‘non-asylum’ policy of Switzerland, in particular with the application of Dublin agreements which include deportation of thousands of refugees to their first transit country in Europe.”
The entire Europe is facing an influx of refugees, who are fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa.
This is while many blame major European powers themselves for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in the violence-wracked regions.
In the summer, Switzerland became the new route for asylum seekers aiming for Germany after many Balkan countries shut down their borders.
Under the Swiss law, refugees may only enter the country if they apply for asylum. Anyone with no intention of staying in Switzerland is denied entry, and those who want to reside there are sent to reception centers while their asylum applications are processed.
The government in Bern has launched a crackdown on refugees by closing the country’s borders and deporting asylum seekers to the state where they first registered, arguing it is merely enforcing the Dublin Regulation.
The Swiss Federal Council said last month that the country is expecting 35,000 asylum requests this year, down from about 39,500 recorded in 2015.