germany: call for an anti-lager-action-tour
For Freedom of Movement - Anti-Lager action tour against deportation and exclusion 20 August – 5 September 2004
08.Jul.04 - Bramsche-Berlin-Eisenhüttenstadt-Halberstadt-Hannover-Neuss-Parchim/Tramm... these are some of the names on the map of non-places, places of exclusion for those who are supposed to stay OUT even inside this country.
Abschiebeknäste-Abschiebelager-Aufnahmelager-Ausreisezentren-Containerlager- Gemeinschaftsunterkünfte-Flüchtlingswohnheime-ZASTen... this is the alphabet of refugee camps in Germany.
to exclude-to scare off- to discriminate-to humiliate–to lock up-to isolate-to ignore-to illegalise-to manage to oppress-to persecute-to rape-to chase down-to coop up... This is the declination of the deprivation of rights of all those who have to live in refugee camps, here and next door.
Ever since there have been refugee camps in Germany, people have been struggling everyday against living in the camps: against the inhumane conditions under which they are forced to live, isolated deep in the forests, in former military bases, in industrial areas, and in container ships. Their struggle at those non-places is a struggle to get back their dignity and the right of self-determination, a struggle against a racist legislation, against the persecution through special laws that deny them the right to freedom of movement, minimise their means of existence, stigmatise them in everyday life, and deny them medical treatment. A struggle against such living conditions that makes you go mad and feel small. In German deportation prisons, refugee camps and refugee lodgings, more people commit suicide than in any other European country.
Our campaign against all forms of refugee camps is a struggle against borders. To divide and classify us, to isolate us, to make us accessible, easy to control, and usable. We will not participate in this classification and exclusion of human beings, nor in this separation of societies and the world into zones of poverty and wealth, into those with access to rights and those without rights, into zones of war and of a false peace. We will fight to undermine the foundations of the current relationships of domination, of the fences around the refugee camps, and of the visible and invisible borders of those areas, and we want to share our knowledge and our experiences of resistance.
We are united in solidarity in our struggles for liberation. Our autonomy is our self-organisation, our solidarity and our right to move freely that we claim for ourselves. Our resistance is against all forms of refugee camps, against deportation, against social exclusion and against migration control. No isolation camps for refugees - not here, nor anywhere!
Isolation camps for refugees – everywhere in this country, there are places that cannot be found on any map. We want to draw new maps. Maps of resistance to attack the visible fences and walls, to tear them down loudly or sail around them quietly, to hollow them out, undermine them, and take what we need.
The loud and soft "NOs" of our everyday resistance, the loud and determined NO – NEIN! Lager – Anti-Lager
We demand the closing down of all camps: deportation prisons, deportation camps and mass collection camps. And we demand the abolition of the Law of Residenzpflicht! Every person has the right to live wherever she or he wants to!
20.-24. August Camp in BRAMSCHE (Niedersachsen)
22. August Demo in NEUSS (NRW) (esp. FrauenLesbenTrans-mobilisation)
25.-26. August HANNOVER
26. August actionday in HALBERSTADT (Sachsen-Anhalt)
27.-31. August Camp in PARCHIM-TRAMM/ZAPEL (Meck.-Pomm.) incl actionday in SCHWERIN
01. September BERLIN
02.-05. September Camp in EISENHÜTTENSTADT (Brandenburg)
All over europe refugee camps but also resistance against it are expanding. With this Anti-Lager-Tour from the netherlands to the polish border for 17 days we want to make the resistance against this system of Lager and areas of exclusion audible and visible and we want to actively support the struggles in the refugee camps. The politicians and bureaucrats who are responsible, the businesses and organisations that make profit from this will also be targets of our resistance!
The tour and the three action camps are to be seen as a "space of experiment", a laboratory of united and self-organised living and protest that builds upon the experiences of the antiracist bordercamps of the past years, the caravan for the rights of refugees and migrants as well as the action days against the "Ausreisezentrum" in Fürth last September. There will be rooms and sleeping areas for women-lesbians-transgender and there will be groups that can be contacted in case of sexist or racist attacks. In case of trouble with the racist "Residenzpflicht"-laws collective support will be provided.
The information about the places and time can be found on the website (without internet access use the phone numbers). This is supposed to give everyone the possibility to participate in planning the tour and actions, to organise events and workshops – for this is what makes the tour alive. There will be public kitchens, medical aid and an information tent. Please bring extra tents and sleeping bags for those who don't have their own. For places in busses and lodging during the tour there will be information on the website: www.nolager.de
ANTI-LAGER-ACTION-TOUR :: background
In the so-called "Third World," millions of people have died as a result of the direct colonial violence perpetrated by Western states and its consequences. Today people in these regions are still exploited and exposed to the effects of neo-colonial and capitalist policy. Millions of people flee from war, persecution, or because their livelihood has been destroyed. Others are looking for a better life. The rich capitalist countries segregate and close themselves off more and more. They further militarise their borders. There is almost no possibility left to migrate without being exposed to dangers to Western countries. Many people die during their journey of escape. Nevertheless, many people manage to escape and reach these countries. After arriving here, though, they have to face racist attacks, controls and they are put into all types of refugee camps, are detained and deported.
Exclusion, control, deportation – the decentralised refugee camp system in Germany
New types of refugee camps have been developed in the past years all over the world – this is also true for Germany with its so-called "centres of departure," of which the aim is to illegalise or deport. The many forms of refugee camps range from small hotels in city centres to huge collective lodgings somewhere in the forest, to deportation camps and finally to deportation prisons. Racist laws such as the Law of Residenzpflicht create an entire system. Under this law, refugees are prohibited from leaving the county in which they reside without permission. Currently there are approx. 600,000 people affected by the German refugee camp system. The last stop for the refugee in the refugee camp system is the deportation prison or the deportation camp - from which the only possibilities existing are either to "go underground" into the complete lack of any form of human rights as being so-called "illegal," or be deported.
Unwanted migration– the political aims of the refugee camp system
With the new law "Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz" (AsylbLG) and with the changes in the law for foreigners in 1993, the basic human right to asylum was practically abolished. The AsylbLG regulates the prohibition of work for asylum seekers and financial assistance through in-kind payment– drastically reduced - to support refugees' livelihood. This is supposed to make Germany an unattractive place for immigration, as stated by the former president of Baden-Württemberg, Lothar Späth, at the festivities of the first anniversary of the first German collective refugee camp: " We want the bush telegraph to say – don't go to Baden-Württemberg, you will be put into "Lager" (refugee camp) there." The effectiveness of blunt racist animosity contributes to this atmosphere. Only by putting many refugees together into former military bases can the image of "the poor of the world flooding into Germany" be produced.
To exploit and profit – the economic organisation of the refugee camp system
From an economic point of view, the refugee camp system functions as a kind of link between the regular and the irregular labour market. In the federal districts with a low unemployment rate, the camp system offers refugees as cheap labourers for unskilled jobs – in Baden Württemberg 40% of all the asylum seekers work officially. The inhabitants of eastern German refugee camps travel between their monthly appointments at the welfare office and their job in western Germany – they are part of the 1.5 Million workers without papers who do the "dirty" and physically heavy work.
Property cuts itself off – the refugee-camp-system of the EU
The EU-wide system of refugee camps ("Lager") is currently being built. A series of refugee camps already exist at the border regions of the EU. Here, the refugees who are on their way to the capitalist centres are detained until their deportation. The EU-administration is also planning the so-called "Transit Processing Centers (tpc)" at the borders of the EU and in "safe" Tricont-countries. People who apply for asylum in the EU are supposed to be put into those "tpcs" to wait for the decision. The outer circle of the Lager system are supposed to be the so-called "Regional Protection Areas (rpa)," in which refugees from regions of war and of crisis are to be detained in co-operation with the military, the IOM and the UNHCR. This concept of regional detention has already been applied during the wars in Yugoslavia and Iraq as well as in parts of the African continent. This system of "Lager" is part of an attempt to control migration world-wide means and to direct it according to economic and political expediency.
The right to have rights – the tip of the iceberg
The system of the "Lager" is the most extreme form of exclusion from society and of treatment of people without a German passport. People are granted different rights and their profitability is regulated. We support the struggle for rights, against oppression and exploitation on all levels and within all structures of power. Every woman and every man has the right to live where she or he wants to. We broaden the concept of the political refugee through the slogan: "We are here because you are destroying our countries." This means rejecting the hierarchalisation of the different reasons for migrating. It doesn't matter if the reason is torture or oppression, genital mutilation or forced marriage, starvation, poverty, or the hope of a better life. Together we have the chance to fight for a better life everywhere.
Many are here, we are here, and we will fight together against this policy of refugee camps ("Lager") and for our rights! The right to stay, the right to live, the right to work, the right to a life in dignity! We declare our solidarity with the struggles of all those who do not obey the Residenzpflicht and who fight against their deportation and for their right to stay!
ANTI-LAGER-ACTION-TOUR :: stations
In Bramsche-Hesepe, a town close to Osnabrück and the Dutch border, a new and repulsive type of deportation camp has been created. In former times, the camp (Lager) had been a military base, and later a reception camp for ethnic Germans and Jewish emigrants from the Soviet Union. Since November 2001, it is used as a deportation camp but it is not officially called so, it is called "federal state reception center"(LASt). At first there were 200 spaces, in March 2004 it was expanded to 550 places. Theoretically, the buildings could offer space for 1200 people. As a result of the recent massive protests against the conditions in the deportation camp, today refugees who are minors and travelling without parents are no longer ordered into this camp. Despite this, in March of this year, a school was opened within the refugee camp to offer so called special courses in an effort to isolate the children living in the refugee camp from the outside world. In this manner, their total exclusion had been achieved. Part of the deportation camp has offices of the IOM and the Foreigners' Office, but there is no legal advisor and no medical nor psychological assistance. While the staff of the deportation camp had been reduced by one third, the police in Bramsche received two new positions in conjunction with the expansion of the deportation camp. Against the isolation and illegalization of refugees and migrants! No one is illegal!
Deportation Camps, "Departure Centers"
In early 1998, the first special deportation camps (Projekt X, "Ausreisezentren") were opened in Germany. They are a new version of camps in the German system of refugee camps created by the ministers of interior. Even though deportation or the so-called "voluntary" emigration are the official goals of the deportation camps, they are in fact camps designed to illegalise migrants – refugees who are directed into these camps are confronted with so many constraints and so much pressure that half of them prefer to go underground and live without any rights. From the official viewpoint, this is a success, since further Sans Papiers and irregular workers are being created.
Refugees, whose application for asylum was denied, but who cannot be deported because they, for instance don't have a passport, are ordered into deportation camps. In the words of the bureaucrats, this is called a "Verfügung einer Wohnsitznahmeverpflichtung als Auflage zur Duldung", which doesn't mean much else than detention.
The refugees, many of whom have lived in Germany for a number of years, have to leave their homes, leave their town and their social environment, maybe their work, their kids have to leave their school and have to go into the deportation camps. Refugees in these camps don't receive (pocket) money, they are constantly controlled. At times their rooms are inspected, and their personal belongings, that they supposedly are not allowed to have, are taken away from them. They have to show up to inspections on a regular basis, from time to time they are interrogated, worn down by questioning sessions, and pressured into leaving Germany. For the refugees, this means that they are permanently under a high level of stress; the psychological pressures and the massive restrictions in their lives are hard to take. The introduction of so-called departure centres in various federal states of Germany has provoked resistance both within and outside the camps' fences. In the State of Bavaria, the government could not open up another "departure centers" after lasting protests - especially after the action days in Fürth of the recent year. In the meantime, particularly in Bavaria and Lower Saxony, new versions of deportation camps have been introduced, however, they are not officially called such. In Bramsche (Lower Saxony), people who have just recently arrived in Germany and who still undergoing the asylum procedure, but who supposedly have no chance of receiving asylum, are ordered into these camps.
Since 1993 the only deportation prison for women is located in Neuss (in the state of Northrhine-Westfalia). This jail is situated in a quite street right in the city center of Neuss and is hidden behind an ordinary façade. Currently about 60-80 women are imprisoned there, among them are frequently pregnant women and underage women. Arbitrarily the women are locked up in cells containing for two or six prisoners. Food is served only in these 9m2 cells. Also, a sink and a toilet are crammed into these cells, which are only separated by a curtain. Medical treatment is fully inadequate. There are no psychological services; there is also no social worker, nor a legal advisor. The only reason why these women are imprisoned here is because they migrated to Germany.
Deportation Prisons are the extreme form of refugee(detention)camps in Germany. Deportation prison means: To be locked up behind high walls and barbed wire for up to 18 months, and to be guarded by armed security personnel. Cells, lock up times, time in the open air, restricted times for visitors, restricted possibilities for using a phone, exposed to the arbitrary actions of the prison staff and the arbitrariness of the democratic state. Deportation prison means: Waiting for deportation or resigning oneself to leaving the country "voluntarily" leaves no space for self-determination. A slight hope for a change for the better can only exist for those who have a legal advisor. Over and over again there are collective and individual hunger strikes in deportation prisons, but even attempted and realised suicides. Therefore: Build up solidarity! Down with deportation prisons! For the freedom of everyone to stay!
Hanover, a deportation airport – from here, refugees are also deported forcefully. Every year, 50 000 people are deported from Germany by the German border patrol. Repeatedly there are cases of death, for example, on 28 May 1999, the Sudanese refugee Aamir Ageeb was strangled during his deportation from Frankfurt airport by officers of the German border patrol. In Hannover-Langenhagen, right next to the airport, is the central deportation prison of the State of Lower Saxony since the year 2000. Up to 250 refugees are detained here. In the first year after opening, on 8th of december 2000, the 17 year old tamil refugee Arumugasamy Subramaniam committed suicide in the prison before being deported to Sri Lanka. Soon, refugees from Bremen will be sent to this deportation prison, since doctors in Bremen decided not to voluntarily assist in deportations like the deportation authorities expect. Under the current Chancellor Schröder, the government in Hanover was responsible for "Project X," the first German prototype for a "departure center". Currently, the ruling CDU also propagates a closed system of refugee camps and would prefer to impede all contact between solidarity people and the refugees. Smash racist structures!
As of May of this year, up to 1 000 refugees have been ordered into the central reception center (ZASt) in Sachsen-Anhalt, a structure made up of three five-story concrete buildings with about 1200 spaces. From here, refugees are sent to various parts of the state.
The central reception center located in the buildings of a former military base of the red army is located 7 km outside the city in the countryside (which means about one hour of walking) and is guarded by video cameras, security personnel, and a fence. The formation of a ghetto is intended. In part of the structure are offices of the health and welfare agency, the agency for the recognition of refugees (BAFl), the foreigners' office and the federal police. About 100 people reside on the fifth floor in the first block of this so-called departure center. They are called "refugees with a blue ID." After having lived for a number of years in homes in various parts of the country, they were forcefully ordered into the refugee camp, where their odyssey through Sachsen-Anhalt began. But this time, it is not clear how long they will have to stay.
After two years, the federal state government deemed the "departure center" to be a complete success and decided to make it a permanent institution this year.
Along with the already existing measures of repression – the denial of any sort of cash money, packaged foods, restricted medical treatment, residency permits ("Duldungen") that are only valid for a couple of days and constant interrogations, – the Ministry of Interior is now implementing new measures. The deportation camp has increased to 250 spaces. Along with single men and couples without children, soon single women will be ordered into a separate women's block. Refugees in the reception camp will be separated from those "with the blue ID". Additionally, the Ministry is "luring" others by reducing some repressive measures (e.g. ending the residency restrictions, paying pocket money or offering a work permit) in order to coerce them into some sort of "co-operation" in gaining a passport, thus making them participate in their own deportation. Tear down all fences! Free housing for everyone! Close all deportation camps!
200 asylum seekers, among them families, live in the mass collection camp ("Gemeinschaftsunterkunft") Tramm/Zapel, close to Parchim in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Children who are born here only know this country from within the refugee camp. Every step of the refugees is controlled in this camp which consists of three ramshackle buildings at a former military base. It is situated in the middle of a forest and surrounded by barbed wire, video monitoring devices, controlled at the entrance by guard dogs and security personnel: it is a well-structured system of control. In every block there are only two kitchens, and the next town with a store is 9 km walking distance from the camp. Usually the refugees do not have enough money for the bus. Frequently, there are protests in the camp: against the isolation, the control, the denial of medical services, the reduced social benefits in the form of coupons that stigmatize them. For example, one night someone painted a picture on the wall of the Foreigners' Office showing an open door with bars behind it. Along with demands for the rights of refugees, these pictures show the desperation and the feeling of being imprisoned in this camp. The police are still searching for the painter. The residents keep on protesting against living in this refugee camp in the forest and mockingly call the camp a "home in the jungle." Their demand: At first, they want to move to the city of Parchim. A similar resettlement was achieved by the residents of the former refugee home in nearby Peeschen. Even though a directive of the Ministry of Interior from 2001 mandates that all asylum seekers have to live within the proximity of a cultural center, the refugee camp in Peeschen would never have been closed without the protests from the inside. The former residents made their demands clear, e.g., by hindering the employees of the Foreigners Office with a street blockade. We would like to support the protest of the refugees in the mass collection camp in the forest and let the state government know our anger!
Berlin Deporation Prison Berlin-Grünau
Grünau is part of the town of Köpenick. About 210 people are detained here in order to deport them. For more than one year, the inmates have been fighting against the miserable living conditions in this prison. At the beginning of last year, there had been one of the largest collective hunger strikes in the history of German deportation prisons. CAPITOL CITY: We will bring something nice along to Berlin, in order to show the Capitol our anger.
In Eisenhüttenstadt, 120 km east of Berlin, there are both the Central reception camp (ZABH) and the deportation prison of the State of Brandenburg at a former military base. Both are within the 30 km-zone along the border with Poland, which until May of this year had been the border of the Fortress Europe. The town is notorious. Until now, there is one room in the deportation prison which is called the "pacification room," in which people are imprisoned for many hours and bound with straps. The use of this inhumane measure could be publicized, but until today not much has changed despite the annual report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) in 2000. Only the metal rings attached to the floor which had been used to tie down the refugees were taken out and replaced by a system of straps tied to a bed. For example, last year, a man had been tied up for a total of 42 hours within three days and had been videotaped the whole time. For people in deportation prison, medical treatment is not suitably provided: The only medical personnel is a nurse, and a doctor only comes out twice a week to administer only pain killers and sedatives. Refugees are told that even with serious illnesses, they cannot go to hospital, because they would have to pay for their treatment. The section "foreigners' and asylum rights" of the German Advocates Association appealed to the Ministry of Interior in Brandenburg to receive a permit to offer legal services in the prison on a regular basis. This the Ministry rejected, because they didn't see any need for it.
Today, the maximum time deportation prisoners have to stay in jail is 1 years. Even though these are only some (action) days – people inside the prison should notice that we are here. We will shake the system of deportation prisons and camps from the west to the east border!