The Latvian refugee crisis as observed by a concerned citizen

  • 2015-10-07

Sir,
The past few months have been tense and unpleasant for a great number of people. A lot of those people have decided to put up a fight for their nation. A few others have felt a mix of shame and responsibility for the ongoing protests and demands for referendums. The issue at hand is the refugee crisis. How do we solve this?
But the greater question is whether helping others goes against Latvians’ nature. A great number of people would have you believe that it does just that.

If we presume that the majority of people have information about the reasons why these refugees are refugees - that many have suffered inhumane horrors, had to watch the gruesome deaths of family members, and had their basic human rights violated - it naturally seems puzzling to any empathetic human being that a great number would be opposed to offering safety to those in need. That sort of approach might even come across as selfish and hypocritical if we were to recall that many Latvians were in a similar situation not too long ago.

Upon closer examination of activist statements and the somewhat ironic Hitler-Juncker posters, one can only come to the conclusion that some of these people are remarkably misinformed, while others have craftily chosen to highlight single instances of wrongdoing by refugees, thinking their contemporaries naive enough to blindly believe that we are indeed about to receive a shipment of hundreds of rapists and terrorists who will who will take our jobs, destroy our culture and invade our living rooms. Unfortunately, they are succeeding. A fear of the unknown seems to have taken hold of the nation.
The opinion that refugees threaten our culture is absurd, for our culture managed to stumble through the Soviet Union with little damage - some even believe it thrived under Russian oppression. With that in mind and, hopefully, knowing that these refugees do not compare to a political superpower, why are they looked upon as a presenting a similar, if not greater, threat to our nation? Unless we conclude that discussions of this nature divide the nation, no other significant changes to our culture should result from taking in less than a thousand newcomers.

The issue of integration was a concern long before the refugee crisis in Europe started. The fact that we have failed to properly integrate many of our Russian-speaking population has had many unpleasant consequences. The commonly proposed explanation for the lack of success in these matters is the deep-rooted conflict between our two nations, and our history of occupation. But if the refugees are not successfully integrated into our community, what can be put forward as a reason apart from abject racism and hypocrisy?

At a time when Latvia’s greatest pain is losing people, why are we refusing to take in people? We have countless empty housing complexes and a demand for qualified workers. And despite the widespread conception that we are going to receive savages straight out of the jungle, it is not factually so.

In fact many, if not all, of the statements coming from anti-refugee activists are based on neither fact, nor common sense, but are instead merely a way of saying “I just don’t wanna”. We can blame the media for not covering the basics of the crisis each time they mention the refugee camps for the vehemence of these activists. but we must also not forget that anti-refugees have access to the internet, so there is no escaping the fact the their shortfall of curiosity is also to blame.
It is important to realise that the people coming are brave and remarkable and they are running from terror, not causing it. It is statistically unlikely that all of them are great people, but it is pathetic and embarrassing to express outrage over the issue.

Sincerely,

Vita Jaunberzina
Student

 

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