A Call for human rights: Europe Look Me In The Eyes

This Saturday, July 17th 2021, activists in 16 cities will be pasting portraits of 155 refugees being held in Lesvos, Greece, creating the largest pan-European multi-city Inside Out Action. Europe Look Me In The Eyes will raise awareness to the conditions of refugees being held in Greece and the need for change in European migration policies.

The IOP Team
JULY, 16TH 2021

Europe Look Me In The Eyes is the largest pan-European multi-city Group Action initiated by activists on the Greek island of Lesvos who want to change European policies on migration and raise awareness among citizens through art. The Action started in Lesvos but as soon as it was echoed by groups across the continent, it rapidly expanded beyond the island.

Portrait installations will be created in 16 cities on Saturday (Edinburgh, Barcelona, Porto, Lisbon, Coimbra, Paris, Lyon, Berlin, Frankfurt, Oslo, Bergen, Moster, Palermo, Brussels, Namur, Mitilini), to be soon followed by three more (Malmo, Nantes, London). Click on the city to “Contact the Group Leader” from their Action page or see the installation images as soon as we receive them!

Thousands of people who were forced to flee war and persecution in their countries have arrived at the hotspots on the Greek islands and other refugee camps in Europe, only to find the same or even worse living conditions from those which they left behind.

The aim of the Action is to put pressure on European governments to finally take concrete action, make decisions and implement policies that are of real benefit to refugees. This can be achieved by closing the hotspots and replacing them with registration centers for temporary accommodation where displaced people can apply for asylum and be offered decent living conditions according to their rights. Timely decisions should be made about asylum applications based on legal obligations established by the 1951 Geneva Convention.  According to the organizers Greek and European leaders should respect the law and safeguard the democratic values enshrined in international conventions and national legislations. Laws and humanity should prevail.

The project highlights the need to protect basic human rights such as dignity, fairness, equality, respect for human life. Any violation of these is not only illegal but immoral. People in migration upheld in camps all over the world are particularly vulnerable to such violations.

“Seeking protection and asylum in Europe is made even more difficult because of countries delegating control of their borders to third countries like Turkey, Libya, and Morocco. Europe and the rest of the world cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this humanitarian crisis, nor attempt to relieve themselves of responsibility through providing those countries with charitable contributions”, Villy Tentoma says,  the coordinator of the actions in Europe and the group leader in Mitilini.

Europe Look Me In The Eyes is a collective call to awareness from Lesvos and cities across Europe. It shows women, men, and children on the move who agreed to share their faces, raise their voices and act as a human magnifying glass over the harsh reality they face trapped in European borders and beyond. Behind these faces are human stories; stories of ruthless and illegal pushbacks, long-term oppression, and danger;  true stories of disease, rape, abuse, and human trafficking in overcrowded refugee camps; inhumane sanitary conditions, death from freezing or heat, and risk of deportation to war-torn countries.

These are people like you and me. Europe, can you look them in the eyes?