florian schneider on Sun, 6 Feb 2000 13:03:15 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> international refugee congress in jena/germany


Unite against deportations and social exclusions

The 'Caravan' movement started in 1998 just before the German elections.
With the slogan 'we have no vote but we have a voice' we travelled to 44
German cities in 35 days and enabled tens of thousands of refugees to
express themselves politically. It laid the basis for refugees and
migrants originating from Africa, Asia, Middle East, South America and
German anti-racist groups to come together in a principled unity. It was
not only the common threat of deportation and commonly felt racism that
brought us together. The Caravan Hunger Strike in Köln with the slogan
'we are here because you destroy our countries' expressed another
important aspect of our politics. With this hunger-strike refugees from
all over the world accused the representatives of the richest countries
in the world who met in Germany during the European Union and the G7
summits in 1999, that in order to maximise their profits they are
supporting dictators and fascist regimes in the lands of our origin thus
laying the basis for our suffering and our flight. When we came forward
to fight for our rights we faced extra repression. But in the past year
and a half the Caravan movement has been successful in defending those
who endangered themselves by joining the struggle. Further, the caravan
movement has started to operate successfully as a network connecting
different cities and nationalities together and laying the initial
foundation stones for a serious movement. Yet the struggle is being
continuously moved on to higher planes by the industrialised nations,
with increasingly advanced technology being added to the arsenal of
repression for the exclusion and removal of 'foreign criminals'. While
more and more sophisticated propaganda is mobilised to justify and cover
up the pillage of the countries of origin and the brutal repression of
any resistance which permits them to do so. It is now time we feel for
reflection as well of action. We must on the one hand consolidate and
build on our achievements but also consider new strategies of survival
and resistance. As the Kafkaesque fortress Europe becomes an all too
real nightmare for foreigners and when 'ordinary' European Citizens are
encouraged to become spies and special militias to combat the supposed
enemy from without; more than ever before the fate of the struggle of
our brothers and sisters in our countries of origin will be determined
by our effective solidarity and the strategies we develop. But
deportation and isolation destroy the possibility of such solidarity
being built. It is in this context that the caravan for the rights of
refugees and migrants will organise a ten day congress aimed at
gathering forces to build an effective unity against deportations and
social exclusion. Deportation is a gross violation of human rights not
only because it means that refugees fleeing persecution torture and
death are cynically handed over to their executioners but also because
it is the violation of the freedom of movement from poor to rich
countries which has come to symbolise the creation of a world-wide
system of apartheid between the few entitled to enjoy the fruits of
neo-liberalism and the many, who in the words of a Tamil poet, 'bear our
destiny seared on our foreheads like a mark of Cain'. The small number
of us who manage the come into the fortress Europe are now facing
increasing pressure and such humiliation, to make our lives so difficult
that we leave 'voluntarily'. Social exclusion has two dimension, on the
one hand it prevents any human contact between the refugees and migrants
and the local population, to say nothing of integration. But it is also
an attempt to lock foreigners in a political vacuum and make it
impossible for us to counter the vicious propaganda spread by the
industrialised powers of the reality in our countries of origin or of
effectively expressing their solidarity with the resistance of their
brothers and sisters. We feel that the theme of fighting against
deportation and social exclusion brings together all the strands of our
struggle. When we fight deportations we fight not only for our human
rights to be treated as equals but we also tear asunder painted veil of
lies and corruption with which industrialised nations attempt to obscure
their pillage of our lands and the resistance of our brothers and
sisters and legitimise the brutal regimes whose only legitimacy is that
of being partners in this crime. When we fight against social exclusion
we fight not only for our right to be part of human society and not be
herded into the ghettos of our times but also to be able to be truly in
solidarity with those who resist and fight in the lands we left behind.
This unforgiving onslaught on our rights has not broken our spirit. From
the isolated prisons called refugee camps we will come out fighting.
This massive conference, co-ordinated by the Voice Africa Forum - which
is the core of the Caravan group in Jena, will show the seriousness in
which we will 'Unite Against Deportation and Social Exclusion' Although
this is called a refugee congress and is organised fundamentally by the
refugees, all serious anti-racists are encouraged to prepare themselves
now so that you have the 21 April to the 1st May in the year 2000 free
to participate in this important event. Your contribution will be a
necessary part to the building of a successful fight-back. Further we
call on all refugees, migrants and anti-racists at this early stage to
contribute your ideas to the content of the congress as the program is
still fairly open.

We are here because you destroy our countries

European politicians, like former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl says
'yes there are problems in the world' but then asks 'why do the refugees
have to come to Germany?'. His answer is that 'Germany is not
responsible for taking care of the problems of the world'. According to
him Germany has no responsibility for causing the problems of the world.
But in fact there is a direct relationship between Germany's economic
and political intervention in our countries and the creation of
refugees. Cheap oil coming from Nigeria to Germany and the dictatorship
enabling multinationals like Shell to exploit the country is clearly
related. It was western interests that drove the 1966 military coup in
Nigeria. The coup marked the destruction of post independence democratic
measures which had given rights to for example the Ogoni people in the
Niger delta. This enabled the super-exploitation of the delta by foreign
companies. For over three decades oil has gushed out of countries like
Nigeria to drive 'economic miracles' like Germany. But the Niger Delta
is in flames, and when the poverty ridden people protest Obasanjo the
former military dictator, who the west now wishes to disguise as a
liberal democrat says that they should be 'shot like animals'. A few
weeks later Obasanjo is given the red carpet treatment when he visits
Germany while political refugees fleeing Nigeria are deported on the
basis that the reasons for their flight is 'obviously ungrounded'.
Driven by strategic and economic interests the US and Europe have
strengthened the fascistic Turkish regime for decades and actively aided
and abetted its dirty war against the Kurdish people. The PKK initiated
a peace process in 1993, which remains open to this day. But the
response of the western powers has been one of open terrorism and
conspiracy culminating in the kidnapping of Abdullah Öcalan. The
violence unleashed against the Kurdish refugees in Germany in the form
of deportation is the continuation of the violence brought to bear
against the Kurds in Turkey by the regime and the extreme right wing,
which concretises itself in the death sentence against Abdullah Öcalan.
Deportation legitimises the Turkish regime and portrays it as the real
force for peace rather than the Kurdish movement. So does the continued
ban on the PKK in Germany, symbolising its unacceptability as a
legitimate partner in negotiation. Any democratic solution in Turkey
requires that the real character of the regime be shown up rather than
being veiled by the cynical and self-interested politics of the European
states. Which is why now more than ever before it is necessary to fight
against their policy of the deportation of Kurds which underpins their
garb as peacemakers. When in fact they pursue the final neutralisation
of the Kurdish people, in the quest for more lucrative markets as the
Ilisu dam project and the plans for the projected oil and natural gas
pipeline linking Azerbaijan and Kurdistan to the Turkish ports on the
black sea, so amply demonstrate. Sri Lanka regarded by the
industrialised nations as a bridgehead for the neo-liberal re-conquest
of the Indian sub-continent, as such the struggle of the Tamil people
for political independence and social emancipation is seen as a great
obstacle because of the great hope and inspiration it holds the
downtrodden millions in the region. In its attempt to destroy the Tamil
struggle the Sri Lankan armed forces have massacred more than 80,000
people financed by the Western donor countries.

Fortress Europe

They were 16 to start off on a cold winters night. They were leaving
behind a nightmare called Sri Lanka. They were Tamils seeking refuge,
freedom from persecution. In the morning only one of them was surviving.
'We were left in the middle of a forest' the survivor was to say. 'It
was cold and we held hands so as not to get lost, a few kilometres
further we were blinded by searchlights, we heard footsteps and voices
and the barking of dogs, we were being pursued, we tried to keep
together as we ran, the voices and the barking came closer, suddenly we
were on the banks of a river. We had been told that it was shallow, but
it looked deep, and the water flowed swiftly. We knew that we had to get
to the other side, if not we knew that we would be sent back to Sri
Lanka. But the currents were very strong and I heard the cries of my
companions as they were swept away. I saw the water covering a woman
clutching two children, I tried to save them but it was too late...
impossible, hopeless'. To us refugees this is the reality of the border,
the reality of fortress Europe. The frontier between the cities of
Emerald built on all the riches of the world and the wastelands of
misery that the rest of the world has become. Germany, the most powerful
economy in Europe, pushes for the further strengthening and extension of
'fortress Europe', monomaniacally pursuing its goal of zero migration.
During the post war economic boom, the western European nations had to
bring in cheap labour to work their factories. In these days of
globalisation, multinationals switch production to where labour is cheap
and can be unscrupulously exploited. Now, not only is there no legal
basis for migration to Germany but even refugee rights are being removed
to stop virtually any foreigners from getting in. Germany is fighting
very hard to control the borders of the whole of Europe to reduce the
chances of any refugee coming in after getting in through another
European country. In 1998, when Italy described the Kurds arriving on
their shores as 'political refugees' Germany insisted that they were
'criminal migrants' and attacked the Italian government for not securing
its borders. All the borderlands of Europe are to apply controls that
are determined by Germany or they will be pushed out of the Schengen
agreement and also the European Union. Further, to stop people entering
through the poorer European countries Germany has pushed the 'third
country regulation' and the computerised finger print system (Eurodac).
Eurodac can identify where an asylum seeker entered Europe and the
'third country regulation' gives the legal basis to deport us from the
richer and more powerful countries to where we entered the EU. Germany,
no stranger to ethnic cleansing, is in this way, not only stopping us
coming into Europe but also creating a border around itself, specially
for us refugees.

Social exclusion, fascism and state racism

As Europe marches towards economic unification, European citizens are
seeing borders disappearing. But for us, borders are appearing
everywhere. In every city, in every train station and on the streets we
are checked and humiliated. Germany, again, is leading the drive to
isolate and exclude us from European society. With incredible laws like
the 'Residenzpflicht' which limits the ability for us to move out of
certain area in Germany and forcing us to live in refugee camps which
are effectively prisons, German authorities have laid a solid basis to
isolate us. In the eastern part of Germany you find in microcosm the
result of these policies. Here the social pressure against us has
reached a fever pitch as the terrible dynamic between neo-fascist
attacks and propaganda and the sharp end of the state's racist policies
- deportations - puts unbearable physical and psychological pressure on
us. This process of exclusion is far from limited to those among us who
have recently arrived. Influential financial decision makers blatantly
declare that even children and grandchildren of immigrants who are very
much part of the youth of this country should be gotten rid of as they
'are in excess to requirement to the economic system, under-qualified,
have no respect for the German law and are engaged in unlawful activity
and have no place in German society'. This we feel is truly indicative
of the contempt with which the ruling class of this country holds not
only us foreigners but also the vast majority of its own citizenry. As
unemployment in Germany increases the rich get richer and cynical
politicians defend the system and status quo by turning the legitimate
anger of the poor over their fate towards 'foreigners'.

Women flight and migration

'I came here in order to be in a free country, but the behaviour of the
German policemen was the same like in Iran. I couldn't imagine that they
treat me equally badly here and that they would force me with violence
to wear the head-scarf. They have violated my rights and my dignity as a
woman (.... ).' (Roya Mosayebi) Roya Mosayebi who fled the Islamic
Republic of Iran because she was oppressed as a woman was after Two and
a half years again brutally confronted with the oppressive Islamic laws.
The authorities of the land in which she came to find protection in
continued the anti-women policies of the Iranian regime by forcing Roya
Mosayebi and other affected women to wear a head scarf. The German
authorities did this to enable her deportation to Iran. The same
authorities refused a teacher, a German citizen of the Islamic faith to
exercise her profession because she wore the head scarf. Their excuse
was that wearing the head scarf violated the fundamental principles of a
secular republic. The problem is therefore not one of the head scarf as
such, but the brutal chauvinism underpinned by racism which denies women
of foreign origin the liberty of their convictions. In every one of our
home countries women are oppressed many times. As women we have huge
obstacles to work for wages apart from having to do the housework. We
almost completely excluded from every activity of society, political
self-determination and input. Genital mutilation, forced marriage,
forced to wear the veil and stoning are the reality in some of our home
countries. When women fight back like the Tamils or the Kurds the
regimes use rape as a weapon of war and as political pressure. Mass
rapes of women are a method of war practice. Anti-women policies of the
regimes like the Iranian regime are officially condemned by the western
industrialised countries. Nevertheless they support and stabilise the
regimes in order to have their economical benefits and their
condemnation remains an empty phrase. Economic liberalism and
reactionary politics go hand in hand. The collaboration is explicit as
in the case of Roya Mosayebi. In order to get rid of refugees, they are
using the backward, feudal methods of the regimes that they 'criticise'.
Besides the general reasons of flight like poverty violence and
persecution, war and civil-war the extreme forms of oppression of women
and girls, the women specific reasons for flight are not accepted as
reasons for asylum. In countries like Germany for a woman it is nearly
impossible to get asylum independent of a marriage. Women in illegality,
prostitutes who live between exploitation and deportation are only the
tip of the iceberg of a reality we are daily confronted with. In every
issue raised in the congress, within the common problem, special
conditions for women will be exposed. We have to fight for the
acceptance of women specific reasons for flight as grounds for asylum,
against sexual violence and every form and women's oppression
world-wide. We will work out policies to ensure that women do not
encounter any form of sexist aggression and discrimination inside the
caravan movement.

Unite against deportation

It is often assumed that fascist attacks on foreigners is the most
violent manifestation of racism in western democracies. This would be to
forget the systematic planned violence unleashed by the state against
foreigners everyday. This violence has a name - deportations. Each day
thousands of foreigners are arrested, even killed as was recently the
case in Braunschweig for no other reason than that the state deems that
they have no right to be here. This racist onslaught, which has no other
logical foundation except that, that the state has the absolute
authority to determine who should be here and who not based on purely
economic criteria; in other words that human beings may be treated like
commodities brought in when required and discarded when not, is not
merely a catastrophe for refugees fleeing persecution and death but also
undermines the rights of all those of foreign origin, who may have lived
in this country for a number of generations. This is why deportation is
in itself gross violation of human rights. It denies the dignity of the
human being to reduce him/her to a commodity. A state of affairs which
was considered normal a century ago with the slave trade, which we have
not forgotten. This is why deportation, the sharp end of racism, has to
be fought as a precondition for any progress. Deportation is the
backbone and the most powerful symbol of a system of international
apartheid with the poor nations being cantoned into desolate 'homelands'
which serve to fill the coffers of rapacious multinationals and denied
the freedom of movement and only the rich nations are deemed to have any
legitimate rights. It is in fact the consecration of this regime that
Schilly talks about when he argues that political liberalism follows
economic liberalism, thus making the right of asylum meaningless.

Ist May - Intenational day of the workers

It may be worthwhile for the German working class to ask it's self how
international the demonstrations for international workers day in
Germany are. Will you continue to appeal to the multi-nationals for the
preservation of Standort Deutschland whose global ambitions are
responsible for unemployment and poverty in this country and unheard of
calamities in the third world? or will you come out in solidarity with
the refugees and migrants who are the living testimony to the world wide
depredations of global capital? Will you yet again turn a blind eye to
the destiny of the refugees and migrants and become the alibi of your
own spoliation? Or will you join hands in this our common struggle?

April 21 till May 1 2000

Arrival - Introductions - Congress Opening "We are here, because you
destroy our countries" Fortress Europe, border regimes and the
international organisation of refugees Social exclusion, state racism
und fascism Women and flight/ migration Unite against deportation
Conclusion, manifesto and future projects International demonstration
against deportation

 For more informations please contact the adresses below: 
For registration please return the postcard. Important - for the
planning of meals and accommodations and if necessary transport, please
indicate clearly the number of participants. In the case of refugee we
can help with the organisation of transport etc. congress - coordination

The Voice Africa Forum, 
Schillergäßchen 5 
D- 07745 Jena 
Tel +49/3641/ 66 52 14, 
Fax +49/03641/ 42 37 95, 

caravan - coordination office: 
Internationaler Menschenrechtsverein Bremen, 
Tel +49/421/ 55 77 093, 
Fax +49/421/ 55 77 094, 

Karawane- Kommittee, 
"kein mensch ist illegal" in Hanau,
Tel +49/172/ 66 88 454, 
Fax +49/6181/ 18 48 92 
kto. nr. 231 633-905, 
blz. 860 10 90, Postbank Leipzig

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime@bbs.thing.net