'The Dead Are Coming': Berlin activists bury drowned refugees

19th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

Saying "the dead are coming", German activists Friday staged a Berlin funeral for a Syrian refugee who drowned in the Mediterranean, highlighting the drama of the thousands who die trying to reach Europe.

An imam conducted the burial of the unidentified 60-year-old Syrian man in a central Berlin cemetery, before dozens of guests and journalists.

The ceremony was organised by the protest art group "Center for Political Beauty" which called the corpse's transport from Italy and burial, part of a programme of "performance art of an unprecedented magnitude".

In recent days, the group has plastered Berlin with posters that say "The Dead Are Coming" while announcing a series of such burials and reburials, which it says are organised with the relatives' consent.

Critics charge the group's deliberately provocative action is macabre, tasteless and crosses ethical lines, but the group argues that it is casting the spotlight on an inhumane system.

"Many speak about the accidents in the Mediterranean," said the group's spokesman Philipp Ruch. "They're not accidents at all, or tragedies, they are a crime.

"These crimes happen in our names," he told a press conference. "But I don't know a single person or friend who says that in his name, human beings should die on the EU's outside borders."

The group said it had obtained the consent of the Syrian man's family and gone through all legal and administrative procedures to retrieve the body, which it said had been in cold storage on the Italian island of Sicily for the past six weeks.

More than 100,000 migrants have arrived in Europe this year, 60,000 through Italy alone, according to the EU's border agency Frontex.

Some 1,800 people have died during the journey across the Mediterranean in rickety, overcrowded boats run by people smugglers who charge the migrants exorbitant sums.

© 2015 AFP

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