Close down camps - here and everywhere!


In Germany alone, more than 600,000 refugees and sans papiers live in camps

For 17 days, we will tour northern and eastern Germany in busses and cars. We will stay in 12 different places, 3 times we will put up tent for action camps of several days. The anti-camp action tour protests against the fact that, in Germany alone, about 600,000 refugees and sans papiers are forced to live in camps.

When we talk about camps, we refer to all institutions of the German camp system: Zentrale Aufnahmestellen (ZASten); Gemeinschaftsunterk¸nfte (common housing) in which refugees usually have to stay during the entire process of seeking asylum; deportation camps (so-called "Ausreisezentren") and deportation prisons. To their inhabitants, all of these different types of camps mean an extreme and often traumatic experience:

Zentrale Aufnahmestellen und Gemeinschaftsunterkünfte are usually situated in shacks, run-down former army barracks, or container ships. They are laid out for several hundred people, offering 4-6 square meters per person; typically, they are situated on the outskirts of towns, in industrial areas or in the woods, often 5-10 kilometers away from any place where the people who live there can go shopping. Life in these camps is confined, monotonous and humiliating; social isolation almost complete. Among the activists of the anti-camp tour, there are regugees who have lived in the isolation of some out in the woods-camp for 8 years!

Deportation camps have only existed for a few years. Demoralization and attrition is the official aim of these institutions: By use of several techniques, psychic pressure is exerted on the inmates in order make them leave the country "voluntarily" or to force them into living illegaly. Deportation prisons, too, constitute a blatant violation of human rights. People are detained in these prisons for months, in some cases for up to 18 months, for the sole purpose of making their eventual deportation a smooth business. Every year, 10,000-20,000 people are send to prison prior to their deportation (total no. of deportations: 50,000). A growing number of refugees and sans papiers is detained in camps not only in Germany, but also in the EU and around the world (see the second article). Like the militarization of the EU's external borders or ID checks, camps play a central role in the regulation of flight and migration: The rich industrialized countries are interested in cheap, flexible and un-unionized laborers, with or without legal residence status. Refugees who seek asylum, on the other hand, are not wanted. Those who come sooner or later face deportation. The recent proposal of Innenminister Shily demonstrates how strong the wish for a refugee-free Europe is: If he had his way, all African refugees would have to press their claims as asylum seekers from camps in the northern African countries (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria...) Given the current percentage of successful asylum cases in Germany, less than 5%, it in not hard to see what this would mean.

Camps are outside places inside, places of social exclusion. The anti-camp action tour aims at confronting this policy of willfull isolation: We will go to these places that no map will show and seek the people who live there. To do so is not possible without challenging the Residenzpflicht, a uniquely German law according to which refugees cannot legally leave their Landkreis without written permit of the authorities. We demand the right of free global movement. Everybody has the right to stay whereever they want to and for as long as they want to! We demand a stop to all deportations and the immediate shut-down of all camps - here and everywhere!

For us, these demands only make sense when we also confront the reasons why many people leave their home countries. Sadly, those motivated by A majority migrates because their livelihood is destroyed or because they have to flee from war, dictatorship or sexist perseucution. Many of these reasons are directly or indirectly linked to the established world (economic) order. Therefore, the refugee groups involved in the anti-camp actin tour a long time ago formed the slogan: "We are here because you are destroying our countries." The background of those involved in the anti-camp action tour is diverse: Refugees who live in camps themselves, activists from refugee organisations like the Brandenburger Flüchtlingsinitiative, The Voice and Die Karawane, Autonome, feminists, anti-racists from the Flüchtlingsräte and the kein mensch ist illegal-network, Bauwagen acitivsts and many others.

Those who would like to meet us or are interested in specific actions or events are welcome to join us either at the times and places published in the program or in the camp itself.

[this article was first published in the newspaper of the german nolager action tour 2004]

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