Letter: Refugees at risk

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your reference (leading article, 1 October) to the German government's 'feeble initial reaction to racist violence in the former GDR' was an understatement indeed. It has not merely reacted feebly to the violence: in forcibly repatriating some of the refugees, it has capitulated to it. In selecting for the purpose the least popular and most defenceless group, the gypsies, it has capitulated cravenly.

The gypsies have suffered persecution throughout their history in every country of Europe, and underwent their own Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis, as thorough as that of the Jews; but we can hardly imagine the German government repatriating Jewish refugees.

Britain can claim, by its forcible repatriation of Vietnamese boat people and of Tamil, Kurdish and other asylum-seekers, to have given the lead in this matter. Now we read that our Government is giving the lead to other EC countries in reneging on the commitments it made at Rio, and, at a moment when millions face death by starvation in many countries of Africa, cutting overseas aid and urging other EC countries to do the same. Can we not truly boast of being at the very heart of Europe, even if it is a heart of stone?

Yours sincerely,

MICHAEL DUMMETT

New College

Oxford

5 October

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