Captain who rescued migrants at sea rejects award from Paris
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Pia Klemp, a ship captain from Germany whose efforts have helped rescue of hundreds of migrants who were stranded in the Mediterranean, is rejecting the Grand Vermeil Medal from Paris over France's immigration policies, Reuters reports.

“Paris, I love you. I love you for all the free and solidarian people that live in you,” Klemp said in a statement addressed to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo that she shared on Facebook Monday.


“Madame Hidalgo, you want to award me a medal for my solidarian action in the Mediterranean Sea, because our crews 'work to rescue migrants from difficult conditions on a daily basis'. At the same time your police is stealing blankets from people that you force to live on the streets, while you raid protests and criminalize people that are standing up for rights of migrants and asylum seekers,” she continued.

“You want to give me a medal for actions that you fight in your own ramparts. I am sure you won't be surprised that I decline the medaille Grand Vermeil.” 

“What we need are freedom and rights,” Klemp later added. “It is time we call out hypocrite honorings and fill the void with social justice. It is time we cast all medals into spearheads of revolution! Documents and housing for all! Freedom of movement and residence!” 

Hidalgo’s office told Reuters that it will be reaching out to Klemp and added that the “City of Paris is fully mobilized to support the refugees, to shelter them and ensure a dignified respect for their humanity.”

According to Reuters, Klemp was awarded the Grand Vermeil Medal in July. The medal is reportedly the city’s highest honor for a civilian.

The award came as Klemp is reportedly being investigated by Italian authorities who have accused her of assisting illegal immigration in her work with migrants.

According the news agency, the investigation was opened in 2017 after Italian authorities seized her ship. Klemp reportedly faces up to 20 years in prison in Italy. However, as Reuters noted, Klemp has told German media that she plans to “fight the allegations all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.”