Human Rights in Oxford

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Actually, the Oxford Human Rights seminar didn’t start with the best signs ever. Slight problems with the money and with the venue, a sick prep team member and declining number of lectures caused some grey hairs for the office coordinator and remaining prep team members. Nevertheless, we finally found a very special location which – from my point of view- was the best we had at any seminar. No perfect facilities – but brilliant style and atmosphere. I’m sure in 30years time the FOEG (Federation of Old European
Greens) will still be telling stories about this British Manor in even more British Milton and the most British ever Lady Gwendolyn and Sir Anthony – not to forget dog Butch.

The topic of our weeklong gathering was “from East to West” and that’s what we did. We talked a lot about our own experience in the field of Human Rights work and how the situation in our countries concerning migrants is, we heard from a local NGO called Asylum Welcome about their work with asylum seekers who are not very warmly welcomed by the British state. We also had the opportunity to speak to an expert lawyer who told us a lot about the legal status of migrants in Britain. In rôle-plays and debates we went further, discussing different aspects of Human Rights and seeing them from different points of view. An example was playing border guards or asylum seekers in certain scenarios.

One day, we had a football match with young asylum seekers under the heading “Europe against the rest of the world”. Well, Europe (meaning us) definitely lost the game with 9:1 goals… Looks like FYEG still needs some training before our glorious team will stand on the winning side again 😉 . We’ve also been active in the town to promote the FYEG policy on migration. We set up a border in the middle of an Oxford shopping street and let nobody through who didn’t own a visa. This visa could be gained if the person was able to prove that they were a real Brit by finding the right answer to questions such as, “What are the names of the Beatles?” or “Who is the Green MEP coming from Oxford?”. Not everybody managed to get one.

Apart from all that political work, the participants from all over FYEG world also had a lot of fun by partying till the early morning in the party house, a farm where to it took us half an hour of walking to get to. But this was part of the charm of the venue; even the ugly British weather (snow, rain and sun on leaving day) wasn’t that bad when you were sitting next to the open fire.

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