Gathering in a large rally organized by the Seebrucke (Sea Bridge) movement, protesters criticized the EU’s migration policy with slogans calling for open borders and action to help asylum seekers.
A speaker at the demonstration said: “We know that there is space in Germany for asylum seekers who have been drowned, humiliated, tortured and killed at the Greek border.”
The Seebrucke movement announced that 4,000 people attended the demonstration, with another 5,000 attending a similar demonstration in Hamburg. The protesters shouted slogans like “Open borders!,” “Save lives!” and “We have a place!”
Turkey and the EU signed an agreement on March 18, 2016, to stem the influx of refugees to Europe. Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. With the agreement, irregular arrivals decreased by 99%, saving the lives of many of those who would have attempted the treacherous journey by sea.
Ankara has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises under a 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.
Turkish officials announced last week that they would no longer try to stop migrants from reaching Europe. Since then, thousands of migrants and asylum seekers have flocked to the Turkish province of Edirne along the border with Greece and Bulgaria to make their way into Europe.
The refugee crisis has been the main topic of discussion between Turkey and the EU recently after the former’s decision not to hold back migrants anymore as it already hosts nearly 4 million of them.
The Greek reaction to refugees has been harsh, with several killed and many battered, attacked and teargassed by Greek forces while Athens also announced that it would suspend asylum applications for a month.
Turkey’s decision on asylum seekers was made after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed by forces of Syria’s Bashar Assad regime in Idlib, northwestern Syria last week.