A Petition for the Yang Family

The Yang family live in Stierstadt, one of the suburbs of Oberursel.  For the past two weeks their story has hardly been out of the local newspapers, and at the last meeting of the Ausländerbeirat on Monday, 25th November, 2013, two representatives from Amnesty International came along to explain what it is all about.

The story begins 10 years ago when Mr. Yang came to Germany from China without a visa, but as an asylum seeker.  Mrs. Yang – at the time no relation – came later by foot!  She also applied for asylum, claiming that her family was discriminated against at home because her parents had had more than one child.

Their asylum applications were turned down, but as they did not have sufficient identification on them to travel back, their presence in Germany was tolerated – geduldet”.

Being “tolerated” means not being able to work, so not having an income.  Normally, those wishing to stay in the country would be encouraged to learn German, but this privilege was denied to Mr. and Mrs. Yang, and without an income they could obviously not take private lessons.

They tried again to apply for asylum, but again they were turned down, and even an urgent plea to the administrative court in Frankfurt to at least protect them from deportation was turned down.

According to Helmut and Ursula Ernst from Amnesty International, there is no right of appeal after that.

But Mr. Yang met Mrs. Yang, and together they had three children, all of whom were born in Bad Homburg.  They speak German, as well.  The eldest child goes to the primary school in Stierstadt, the second child goes to Kindergarten.

But just because the children were born in Germany, it does not automatically give them the right to stay here, and their parents applied for asylum at least for them – again without success.

After 10 years of living in the country, about two weeks ago there came the know on the door that they had been dreading – six police officers and a representative of the regional council (Regierumspräsidium) came to their flat to deport them back to China.

The details of what then happened differ depending on which newspaper you believe and the police have already claimed that at least one version is not an accurate report on the events.

There are claims that Mrs. Yang was not allowed to call her lawyer and that force was used to prevent her doing so, other versions of events say that she was allowed to call him but unable to reach him.

Most version appear to agree on the fact that the family were given only 15 minutes to pack and that spaces on a flight to Beijing (Peking) had been booked for them.

However one of the children suffers from a heart problem which they were born with and was due to see a specialist about it a week later.  On hearing this, the officials present were apparently not willing to take the risk of putting her on a place without knowing if she was fit to fly.  They decided to wait for that specialist appointment a week later.

As it turned out, the medical opinion turned out that she could have flown, but now the family’s stay has been extended until 13th January, 2014.

The committee were told that not only do they face discrimination in China if they are sent back, but the parents may be forcefully sterilised.  Only the first-born would be allowed to go to school or receive medical treatment – quite possibly a fatal decision for one of the others unless the heart problem is treated in Germany first.

When the news originally broke, a petition was hurriedly put together and received just over 1,800 signatures and the town council unanimously voted for a motion to approach the relevant authorities and request that they stop the deportation attempts and allow the family to stay in Germany permanently.

But with the decision now delayed until mid-January, there is still time left to get some more signatures to add to that petition.  And with the Christmas Market taking place in Oberursel this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to collect some – as I suggested to chairman Fr. Franz Zenker after the meeting.

That was Monday evening and by Thursday afternoon arrangements had been made for a table to be placed in the foyer of the town hall where signatures could be collected.

Mayor Hans-Georg Brum signing the petition to allow the Yang family to stay in Germany.  In the background are Dr.Franz Zenker from the Ausländerbeirat (left) and the town's treasurer Thorsten Schorr.

Mayor Hans-Georg Brum signing the petition to allow the Yang family to stay in Germany. In the background are Dr.Franz Zenker from the Ausländerbeirat (left) and the town’s treasurer Thorsten Schorr.

With the story receiving so much coverage in the past weeks, most people who stop there are already aware of the situation and readily sign.  Even the Mayor, Hans-Georg Brum, took time between his schedule of Christmas Market appointments to sign the list.

Visitors to the market will have a chance to sign the petition on Saturday between 4pm and 9pm, and on Sunday between noon and 8pm.


About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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