The captain of a migrant rescue ship, Pia Klemp has refused to accept a humanitarian award, the Grand Vermeil Medal, from Paris’ city hall.
In July, German captain was awarded the Grand Vermeil Medal for her bravery but she has rejected this highest civilian award, calling the city’s mayor of hypocrisy.
Explaining the reason why she refused to accept the award, she wrote on her social media handle:
“//version française en dessous//
THE CITY OF PARIS IS AWARDING PIA KLEMP THE MEDAILLE GRAND VERMEIL
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.
Referring to city mayor Anne Hidalgo, Pia Klemp wrote:
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!”
The Paris City Hall spokesperson justified that officials would be contacting Klemp over the affair.
Council’s press office stated Paris City is ready to help the refugees through providing them protection, ensuring their rights and dignified respect.