6th Antiracist no-border camp - köln 31/7 - 10/8
Out of control. For global freedom of movement. Let's attack capitalist logic and racist exclusion!
09.Apr.03 - Every day, countless numbers of people are on the move around the world. People migrate to the cities, to neighboring countries, or to the rich industrialized countries, often with the support of their communal networks or professional traffickers. People flee from war, persecution or discrimination. Others migrate in order to escape poverty and need because they have been deprived of their livelihood by the brute force of the capitalist world market. They hope to make some money for themselves and to support people at home. Often, the central motive for migration is the search for new horizons: additional training, escape from patriarchal relations or simply the pursuit of happiness. Many people hold the courage and the determination of the refugees and migrants against them. Especially the rich industrialized countries make every effort to curtail the autonomy of flight and migration and to control movements which they perceive as unrestrained and unpredictable. Their migration policies aim to distinguish between groups of migrants and refugees according to the logic of capitalism: On the one hand, there are those who are wanted as cheap, flexible and non-unionized labor. Some of them work as qualified experts - for example in the computer industry. A majority, however, work in low-paying jobs, and often do so illegally: as field hands or construction workers, as textile, house or sex workers, as kitchen staff or servants. These people are part of the global labor market, where the rich industrialized countries hire additional labor according to demand. On the other hand, there are those who are not wanted, for whom there is no use, and who cannot be used profitably. These people are not even supposed to enter the rich industrialized countries. If they do, they are harassed, put in camps or deported. It is part of the logic of capitalism that refugees and migrants can move from one of these groups to the other at any time, and without being able to do anything about it. The situation of illegalized labor migrants is most precarious: If they are caught, they are put into a deportation prison and lose their due wages.
It is the declared aim of the 6th antiracist no-border camp to clearly and offensively oppose this policy as well as its ideological roots. To overcome racist control and exclusion, we call for the unrestricted right of global freedom of movement. All people have the right to stay wherever they want to and how long they want to! We say no to all tactics and strategies of the global migration regime. The no-border camp opposes the increasingly transnationalizing racist system of control and surveillance, it opposes all deportation policies and camps, the militarization of the EU borders, the purposeful illegalization of migrants and all racist deterrence. It also speaks up against nations and the ideology of the nation state, against racist and nationalist attitudes within the dominant society, against exploitative labor conditions and other incursions on their rights which refugees and migrants are experiencing. At the bottom, the camp aims at the dismanteling of power relations altogether. This is because capitalist, patriarchal and other relations of power cause hardship not only for migrants and refugees. Rather, they affect all people, albeit to a different extent and in different ways: In the periphery as well as in the rich industrialized countries, more and more people worldwide are forced to sell their labor power under debilitating conditions. There is a rampant terror of forced mobility and flexibility. Most affected by this are the unemployed. In this sense, the no-border camp sees itself as one project among many within the global resistance. Our perspective is antiracist, our aim is a revolutionary globalization - rooted in the daily practice of social and progressive grassroot movements!
For the first time, at the start of this year's no-border camp we will come together for a plenary session titled "Antirassismus ausbuchstabiert" (antiracism spelled out). Workshops, lectures, plenary sessions, etc. offer the possibility to immerse onself in the main topics of this year's no-border-Camp. Also, there will be a discussion about the political and strategic meaning of antiracism. Only after this, we will take to the streets in order to make our demands known, to intervene and make a difference. For us, antiracist camping also means to take experimental steps towards a better world: It is always exciting to tackle all the questions which pop up when up to a thousand people with their different perspectives and lives come together and organize their political struggle and every-day lives collectively. The more diverse and international the camp, the greater the challenge will become. One of the reasons why the camp is important politically is because it is a platform for self-organization.
Main topics and targets of our interventions
We have broken up the motto of this year's no-border camp into three main topics in order to make it more comprehensible. And we also examined some of the possible places of intervention more closely:
1. Control & surveillance: The International Organisation of Migration (IOM), which operates mainly on behalf of the rich industrialized countries, is the epitome of modern migration politics of migration. Around the world, it runs offices monitoring flight and migration movements, it runs detention centers for refugees, it helps governments in arming their border regimes and is also involved in the allegedly voluntary repatriation of migrants and refugees - in the year 2000 alone there were 76.000 IOM-arranged 'repatriations' from Germany. On the other hand the IOM is also involved in recruiting labor, for example in recruiting workers in Ecuador for the Spanish labor market. Last year, the international no-border network started the worldwide anti-IOM-campaign. One more reason to pay a visit to the national IOM office, located in Bonn/Bad Godesberg near Cologne for our convenience!
Another player in the globally organized politics of migration is the Ausländerzentralregister (AZR) (central register of aliens/foreigners) located in Cologne. The AZR collects and stores data on all residents of Germany who do not possess a German passport. This data is not limited to the identifying markers of non-German residents (including picture, finger prints and, since recently, biometric information), but also includes information about their families and other aspects of their lives. The police, prosecutors' offices and other state agencies like employment and welfare offices all have access to the AZR's data. On the one hand, the special attention given to them by the AZR serves to make the surveillance of migrants and refugees as complete as possible - for this reason the AZR is linked with the Schengen Information System (SIS), an EU network of information exchange. On the other hand, all of these techniques have to be seen in the context of a general trend towards more surveillance, with the aim to increasingly control and discipline the whole population for the sake of international competitiveness. Since 1986, when it was the target of an attack by the 'Revolutionäre Zellen', the AZR's security system has been amplified by dozens of new cameras. However, we will see if they are ready for us.
Racist controls throughout the country are also part of the EU border regime: Only because they supposedly look 'non-German', many people permanently have to put up with police and BGS (Federal Border Patrol) controls in trains, train stations or other public places. Officially, the reason for these controls is the search for undocumented migrants or for refugees violating the Residenzpflicht (which prohibits refugees seeking asylum to leave the administrative district they were assigned to while their case is pending). The selectivity of these controls is racist and humiliating. Moreover, they are often accompanied by purposeful insults and violent escalation. The central train station is one of the most notorious places for racist controls in Cologne. The no-border camp will therefore try its best to bring down the machinery of control there at least for a short time.
2. Labor & utilization: Whether labor migration is autonomous and subversive is matter of ongoing debates. It is clear, however, that it can only be understood in the context of the capitalist world market, because without the destruction of people's means of support in the periphery (the so-called third world countries) and without the increasing demand for migrant labor in the rich industrialized countries - both in the wake of global competition and change - labor migration the way we know it would not exist. The situation in the countries of in-migration is also ambiguous: On the one hand, many labor migrants organize themselves within a framework of supportive community networks; only by doing so it is possible for about 1.7 million illegalized people to survive in Germany. On the other hand, a majority of labor migrants have to cope with absolutely lousy living and working conditions. The no-border camp is designed as a discussion platform for of all of these issues, and aims to link them back to current struggles and strikes.
In all these discussions, it is important to keep gender aspects in mind: Patriarchal relations organize the living and working conditions of women and men differently, and often structure them hierarchically, all over the world. This is not to say that women are always worse off than men when it comes to flight and migration. For many women, flight and migration work to increase their autonomy, self-confidence and self-assertion. However, these anti-patriarchal gains are partly muffled by new relations of exploitation and violence - for example in the fields of domestic labor and sex work. In the age of economic globalization, worsening relations of labor and exploitation affect most people - key issues are, for example, the expansion of precarious job settings and the increasingly repressive policies towards the unemployed and people on welfare (a key term in Germany: `Hartz proposal`). The no-border camp must offer an anti-capitalist critique of these conditions. It is also important to remember the historical dimension of labor and exploitation: To this day, a majority of the forced laborers of the nazi regime have not been compensated. Therefore, it is all the more scandalous that the new, conservative-green city council of Cologne has cut the funds for a visiting programme for former forced laborers. We will take issue with them about this!
3. Deportation & Deterrence: Every year, up to 500,0000 people are deported from the EU. And even this is not enough for the deportation strategists: Great Britain, for example, proposes to put refugees around the globe into camps ruled by the UN and force those who seek asylum to start the process while in these camps, which would be set up near the respective regions of war and crises. Similarly, in Germany there has been an effort for quite a while to keep asyslum-seekers in camps during the entire process in order to facilitate their deportation. Hamburg is even planning a combination of "Ein- und Ausreisezentren" (immigration and deportation centers) - a cynical idea if there ever was one! Policies of deportation and deterrence belong together: The accomodation in Sammellagern, the restriction of refugees to certain areas ("Residenzpflicht") and the chipcard system are all means of deterrence against possible asylum-seekers. The no-border camp will make it hot for those who support this policy: We will use our encouraging experience from the no-border camp in Frankfurt in trying to bring the deportation airports of Düsseldorf and Köln/Bonn to a standstill. We also plan to pay a visit to the women's deportation prison in Neuss in order to express our solidarity with the worldwide anti-camp struggles of refugees. Lastly, we will put pressure on the city of Cologne to get out of what is officially called "Abschreckungspolitik" (policy of deterrence). We demand an end to all harassment and repression of refugees, and we especially demand that all refugees are granted that right to live in a place of their own chosing! However, we do not only offer resistance to the state but oppose all who approve of or support deportations and racist deterrance.
Last but not least: The no-border camp aims to continuously point out the connections between single actions and specific campaigns on the one hand and a general critique of racist and other relations of power on the other. This is easier said than done. In this context, projects like the "Legalisierungsoffensive" (legalization campaign) promoted by kanak attak and other groups gain their specific importance. This campaign does not only refer to people without papers. Rather, it addresses all aspects of racist illegalization, all incursions upon their rights which refugees and migrants are subjected to as well as the various daily practices of resistance to this. Therefore, once more: The concept of the no-border camp is an open one. Whether at the "Auftaktforum" (opening session) or during the camp, discussion about how to bring together our different strategies, focuses and self-understandings best is explicitly encouraged!!
The history of the antiracist no-border camps in Germany
The first three no-border camps (1998-2000) took place near the German-Polish and the German-Czech border respectively and drew crowds of up to 700 participants. The main topics of these years were the European border regime, the willingness of a part of the German population to participate in a system of racist denounciations and the increasingly repressive German/EU policies on refugees. Up to 1500 people participated in the fourth no-border camp in Frankfurt/Main. There, the main focus was on Frankfurt Airport as the biggest deportation airport in Germany. In 2002, there were several camps, among them the so-called "Land-in-Sicht-Tage" against `authoritarian formation` in Hamburg and the fifth no-border camp in Jena, the first to examine more closely the problems that pop up when refugees, migrants and people without a background of flight and migration cooperate politically. The no-border camp is supported by groups and individuals of the undogmatic radical left, feminist networks, refugee and migrant organizations (like The Voice and others), from people of the 'Kein Mensch ist illegal'-network, etc.
Cologne from A to Z
The city of Cologne is located on the Rhine, appr. 100 km from the borders with Belgium and the Netherlands. The city likes to present itself as cosmopolitan and multicultural. After all, about 20 percent of its almost one million residents have a background of migration, often in the 2nd or 3rd generation. At closer examination, however, Cologne turns out to be just as racist as any other city in Germany. Refugees are accomodated in container ships, and much of the local press and the right-wing citizens' group ProKöln openly stigmatize migrant children as criminal gang members, to name but two examples. Cologne is an industrial city as well as an important media and science location. Social antagonism and tensions are clearly visible. After a series of corruption scandals that ended several decades of Social Democratic rule of the city´s council, Cologne today is the only city in Germany run by a conservative-green coalition government. Activists should also keep in mind that, especially during the summer, Cologne is packed with tourists, which might play a role in the actions we plan.
What to bring, what to expect:
If possible, everyone should bring a tent, a sleeping bag and the camp fee of 10-15 euro. The camp will feature a women's/lesbians' tent area. The food is provided by Volksküchen (open kitchens that rely on everbody´s help). There will be daily facilitated plenary sessions. Also, an information tent, a press group, a welcome committee, an internet tent and a many more facilities are waiting for you. The exact location of the camp has not been decided yet. We will publicize a separate invitation to the Auftaktforum - including information on planned workshops and a reader. The Forum will probably take place in the Fachhochschule Köln-Deutz. Everybody feel welcome to offer workshops, etc!