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The VOICE of the DEAD and those still going to DIE - by Yufanyi Movuh Mbolo of The VOICE Refugee Forum

German Text: *„Die Stimme“ der Toten und derjenigen, die noch sterben werden“ - Mbolo Movuh Yufanyi von The VOICE Refugee Forum
The VOICE of the DEAD and those still going to DIE.
by Yufanyi Movuh Mbolo

I. On selforganisation
II. The Persecution and criminalisation of refugees and migrants.

I will start by quoting from the book of Marianne Williamson, 1992. "Return to Love" (p. 165).

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

In looking into the inside of the struggles of the refugees and migrants in Germany against the racist system and its concepts, it should be mentioned that there is a border line between what people might term xenophobia and racism. While xenophobia is a fear of the unknown (which exists everywhere in the world) and at times based on ignorance, racism is a fear bred from knowledge and the feeling of deep-rooted superiority (phenomenon of the white European society); the latter fuelled by intellectuals, local and state institutions and politicians of the German society. The border line is invisible and volatile so that at times even the progressive (the left) part of the German society became and is continuingly an obstacle or retarding factor in the self-organisation of refugee and migrant struggle here in Germany.

Our Self-Organisation

In describing the characters of the self organisation of refuges and migrants in Germany or call it the self-empowerment of our struggle against persecution, racism, exploitation and capitalism as a whole, I will give a prelude to my self-empowerment in this society. This is basically, part of my experience as a member of a refugee self-organised group, The VOICE (Refugee) Forum (

The VOICE was created in 1994 and I got to know this Organisation in 1999. Then, all its members were of African descent and all refugees but, it fought for the rights of all refugees and migrants in Germany. Its principles were for equal opportunity for all, which it still has today. Its goal was for the empowerment of refugees and migrants, so they can take their destiny into their hands and decide for themselves what they want and what not. It mobilised refugees from their lagers, prisons, hospitals, and homes to fight against injustice here in Germany, their home countries and the world in general. It never shied away from the authorities, supporters, friends and enemies alike. It shredded no one but also respected everyone. It even at times went to the extent of accepting the will of supporters, friends and adversaries alike because it wanted unity in a movement which it tried to galvanise.

Today, these principles are still there; the goal, the zeal, the motivation and the steadfastness, all combined to carry the struggle forward. Today, looking back at the life I have lived until now, the experience I took with me and the strength I have gained, I can only say the spirit in me to fight against dictatorship, racism, fascism, dominance, patriarchy, dependence, colonialism and all the other forms of injustice could not have been better refined, not without passing through The VOICE.

Equipped with all these characters, through my ten years of survival and existence in this country, I went forward with other refugees and migrants to defend my rights and the rights of all others living in this country and on this planet. We were and are still ready to brave the odds. We fight our dictators, the Nazis, the Fascists, the German state and all its instruments with all our strength and are ready to give up our lives for the sake of humanity. Some of us have been killed in cold blood in this country and still more are going to follow because of the fight; the fight for existence, the fight for survival, the fight for equal opportunities and the fight for self determination. We have been deported, raped, beaten up by the police, poisoned, paralysed and even totally destroyed by the system, the majority of the society and now we face a fight against people who were years before our supporters.

Through the years, we fought against deportation and social exclusion, against precarisation, Residenzpflicht and Gutscheine, against lager, discrimination, racism, torture, rape and imprisonment in deportation prisons, for the rights of families to live together, for the children of the victimised, for women’s specific reasons to flee from victimisation, for bi-national and bi-continental partnership and marriages. Although it is surprising to imagine that all these forms of persecutions exist in a so-called “Democracy”, it is a reality in Germany. Most of the time, all these struggles against these persecutions were formulated, supported and often executed by our German supporters, friends and adversaries alike.

Through the years of working together and also with other groups, we developed our own strength because we wanted to free ourselves, our own strategies because we wanted to be self-dependent, our own trust because we wanted to be steadfast, our own incentives because we wanted to reach all who tasted injustice like us and we knew no boundaries when it came to our principles. We stood firm where others succumbed, went forward when others stopped, held together where others dispersed, patted each other on the shoulder where others were drawing weapons and defended ourselves when we felt attacked. These have been the bases in which we saw and still see our self-organisation.

Although it is obvious that we have not arrived at the point where we can talk of a refugee and migrant movements in Germany, the objective of organising ourselves against our inhumane treatments and conditions has not only been directed against the state but also against the total dominance of the German progressive movements on us. This has made it less possible to concentrate solely on issues that concern institutional and systematic attacks on our existence and rights but also trying to build bridges between the migrant and refugee communities that have been torn apart by the different sectors of the so-called “progressives” in this society. In fact, we have spent more time in the last years fighting for our voices to be heard because we did not want the dominant left to speak for us and this did not go unabated.

To express certain aspects of our struggle, some pertinent questions are analysed.

1. Questions are always asked us like: “It is obvious that there are human rights abuses against refugees and migrants, what are the possibilities of acting against the state as victims?”

First of all, there already exists a problem in such a question. The problem of human rights abuses through discriminative and racist laws is seen as a migrant problem and not the problem of the society which includes all the Germans. Such an approach in searching for a solution also means the response to such abuses should come from the migrant communities themselves or moreover, the white Germans fighting against such abuses see it as a privilege and not as a responsibility to fight such abuses, putting themselves in a helping and superior position.

Secondly, it is not only obvious; it is a fact that goes an immense length into segregation, isolation, discrimination and racism through the demography of this society. These are not just abuses against human rights but are laws that are made to fight any resistance or self-organisation and they (the laws) are put in place to remind those affected, of their inferiority. Just the fact that there are two judicial systems, one for Germans and one for foreigners tells the whole story (the residence restriction laws, controls because of colour and other phenotypical attributes, etc,). This means, the Germans (white Germans: because certain migrants who have been titled Germans but are “non-white” also fall in one way or the other under these racist laws) are above certain laws, making them superior.

Now, what are the possibilities of the victims to act against the State or even the society? In this case, we focus much more on refugees and migrants without the German nationality. The possibilities are very little and this is because from the very onset, they are criminalised. The very fact that one fights against certain laws or persecution is a crime. We spend more time nursing our situation so we don't commit more crimes. For example, protesting against racist police controls which most often affect the migrant communities is punishable by charges from the police. Although this could also happen to a white Germans citizen, it is less frequent or seldom that they are controlled on the streets or attacked because of their appearances. Going to demonstrations (out of your administrative district) for more rights or to voice your opinion, is punishable by imprisonment.

This brings us to the point: There is no way to change the system by following its rules, especially in Germany and it has become even more difficult to fight the German system out of Germany because they are successfully forcing other European countries with carbon copies of their Asylum and Immigration policies, harmonising the racist system and establishing more draconian measures against Migrants. Because there are little possibilities, the answer for us is, self-determination and solidarity within the migrant communities and away from the German left-wing and progressives (who are also part of the problem). This means, we ourselves have to decide our "what, "why", "where", "with whom" and "how”. To put the facts straight, our possibilities against the state can only come if we call for and actively execute a civil disobedience against all discriminative and racist laws, rendering them useless.

2. How do refugees and migrants organise themselves?

In the last two decades, specifically in the 90s, the role of refugees and migrants has been crucial in bringing out the problematic of migration, discrimination and racism propagated and executed by the German state and conspired by the German society. There has been the formation of trans-boundary (trans-national) and multi-ethnic migrant organisations to fight against state aggression, a phenomenon which was somehow different from the ethnic or nationality-oriented organisations (from migrants) with the interest of uniting the same nationalities. These characteristics and achievements were very much spearheaded by refugees, especially with the formation of The VOICE in 1994 and the later establishment of the Caravan for the rights of refugees and Migrants network ( in 1998.

In doing this, many refugees and migrants saw it as an opportunity to use a general strategy to deal with the same problems instead of going about them as individuals or with lone strategies. Although this saw successes in the beginning and is still seeing some successes now, the momentum has been countered through increased persecution of refugees and migrants by the German state and society and the conflict of strategies with the so-called “Left”. The first step of organising ourselves is countered with vicious cruelty and state instigated attacks against us, from the authorities, state-supported local security agents and the racist society at large.

Now, how do we use these experiences to organise ourselves or better to say, "Re-organise" ourselves. The very first step is to identify our different problems (attacks, discrimination, racism, injustice, prejudice and dominance …), while at the same time identifying our similarities in the fight or call it struggle. This enables us to access our motivation to defend ourselves. The other point and most important is self-dependence and self-inspiration and aspiration. While self-reliance opens the way to own decisions and executing them to reach our aims, without outside influence from supporters and neo-antiracist and antifascist groups, aspiration makes our inalienable rights non negotiable. On the other hand, we have to create space for open solidarity with groups and organisations of other denominations. But, a successful co-operation can only exist if we know what we want and how we want to achieve it. There can never be a successful co-operation if we are or are made to be unequal by the state or society and that is the situation in which we find ourselves today. There are refugee and migrant self-organisations going on but we need to do more to be independent in our ideas, motivation, strategies and actions. We also need to find a way to be politically and financially independent from the German left.

In the year 2000 in Jena during the Caravan Congress, the Caravan through The VOICE (Refugee) Forum started the campaign against the residence restriction law. This was hailed and supported by many left-wing and progressive organisations. Politically and financially, there was a general cry to fight the law but strategically, there were differences in approaching the fight. While some German supporter groups in the pretence of representing the opinions of refugees did not see the fight against this law as an important tool in fighting the overall repression of migrants, some made the refugee strategy of fighting the German apartheid system almost meaningless by calling for a global freedom of movement campaign. The restriction of the freedom of movement of refugees here in Germany has been existing since 1982, and is one of the sole political instruments to curtail their rights of freedom of association, speech, self-development and self-determination. It was surprising that when the refugees decided in the same year 2000 in Jena to call for a civil disobedience against the movement restrictive apartheid law, many groups and organisations distanced themselves from the campaign. It became a discussion in many German groups if it was the right thing breaking German laws and at certain points, we had to make them understand why we were in Germany. It even went to levels where we were told by friends and foes alike not to compare our present restrictions of movements with that of foreigners and those who were branded foreigners during the time of the 3rd Reich, the NAZI time so to say. This led to the diminishing enthusiasm and motivation of some refugees to fight the laws because they believed in the support and advice of their German supporters.

One of the many reasons of discontinuation or breakdown of the border camp was the differences in strategies between German supporters and the refugees and migrants. Also in 2002 going to 2003 as the refugees delved into the fight against asylum lagers in Germany, a heated discussion started about the use of the word lager. It was because of the threat of refugees to pull out of any actions with the German supporters that made it possible for the word lager to be accepted as a basic campaign word. Today, it is being used to describe horrible asylum camps in Germany. Though we have somewhat had the liberty to express our sufferings we have never really had the liberty to execute our strategies.

We believe in a refugee and migrant empowerment, linking the struggles in our home countries to that in the countries in which we seek protection or intend to exploit better possibilities or greener pastures. That’s why in the Caravan we use the slogan, “we are here because you destroy our countries”. With this slogan, the connection is clearly acknowledged and refugees and migrants identify themselves with it. We connect our reasons of flight with the reasons why we also have to fight persecution here. We take the inhumane treatments here and compare it with what we had to go through in our countries before coming here. Linking these, we also find a connection of what happened before, now and what will probably happen in future if we don’t act now. If this is not what everyone should do, then we think our fight is not worth it. If we do not have the power to draw parallels, then we are not set to envisage the power of our adversaries; likewise, if we are not able to see far beyond, be it backward or forward, our goals and achievement cannot be well calculated and analysed.

3. What do we intend to achieve as The Voice Refugee Forum and the refugee and migrant “Movement”, the Caravan for the rights of refugees and migrants?

We have already achieved a lot in our struggle. The first is that we succeeded to create a refugee and migrant resistance which is on-going. Our keywords are self-organisation, self-determination and empowerment of the oppressed. In this particular case, I mean of refugees and migrants. We intend to achieve a situation where we are not only going to defend ourselves and our rights, but also abolish all laws and possibilities that make us or push us to inferiority and make us powerless. We intend to create a situation where we can also relate to our social and political movements back home and at the same time influence the political landscape in the countries in which we find ourselves.

The case of Oury Jalloh (, a black asylum seeker from Sierra Leone who was burnt alive by German Police officers in Cell No.5 in Dessau 2005 has indicated where we can reach and where we intend to go. From the beginning of Oury Jalloh’s killing till today, we have not been mistaken in our demands in crying out for justice. We have never been so clear in our readiness not to let the truth be taken away from us. In this particular fight, we saw once again the true face of the state, the society and the left in particular. The case of Oury Jalloh has shown us that it is not the conflict of ideologies with other groups nor is it the difference in strategies that is our main constraint. We discovered that it is the deep-rooted racism in the white-dominated society, the fear of equality and the fear of the autonomy of our legitimacy that most confronted and will continue to confront our supporters in fighting with us. The challenge was too great for most white Germans who were in contact or came across the “Initiative for the remembrance of Oury Jalloh”. They reached their own self-created borders.

In this case, we the refugees and migrant have always stood by the opinion that Oury Jalloh was murdered and in the beginning, it was refuted by many. Even by many in the multivalent Communities of the left-wing. When we shouted on the streets or wrote position papers with “OURY JALLOH THAT WAS MURDER”, it was enough to scare some white German sympathisers away from the campaign. Then the case finally came to the regional court in Dessau. Again, through the charges against the police officers and the hypothesis put forward by the state prosecutor, the false statements and lies of the accused police officers, their complots as witnesses, and the blind eye of judge, proved once more to the German public how near we were in analysing Oury Jalloh’s murder.

Until today, there has been no investigation in the direction of murder and even lawyers of the family of Jalloh who are so-called left-wing lawyers have failed to stand to their principles. They took the opportunity to exploit us more. It is also our conviction that this murder was not only committed by the state and its many instruments but also with the conspiracy of the German society. It is also clear to us that at the end, the culprits will go unpunished. But this is where we want to reach also, showing the so-called progressives, that it is not only the state; they also have a quarrel to answer.

Another main example about influencing the political landscape is the question of “autonomy of migration”. This theme has now been taken up by many German activists as a call to re-evaluate the way immigration is being handled by the state. Political parties are also using the opportunity to talk about their different ideologies. But what about those directly affected? What do they have to say or are they supposed to be involved in this discussion process? Many seminars and conferences are organised and held by German left-wing activist concerning flight and the reasons behind it, the consequences of migration and its autonomy, with little (if any) or no participation of migrant activists. Furthermore, it is very difficult to cite a single example where these seminars or conferences have taken place in asylum lagers or students hostels. Much less is being done to make it possible for many more refugees and migrants to participate and much more for so-called experts on autonomy of migration.

Migration has been one of “Humankind’s” oldest activities and until approximately the last two decades of the 20th century was almost automatically seen as a birth right. The causes and effects were seen in an holistic and practical manner, accessing the overall status-quo and can be linked with the different successes of humankind. Global migration today is very much linked to capitalism and is more often than not benefiting the western world than us from the south. It has been made criminal for people of the less economically stable countries of the south. The question is, if we should see the autonomy of migration as a social movement with a political background or a political movement with social, economic and ecological causes and consequences? Autonomy of migration for us is important in bringing out the political perspectives over the questions of exodus and flight that are at stake in global migration today. This means, understanding the relation of flight and immobilization demands both the understanding of history and reality, and also a shift of western paradigms in migration politics and theory. History holds that Germans and Germany of today benefited from Immigration. The reality is that, the German society as a whole and the “left” in particular has failed to promote the self-organisation of migrants to act in issues that concern them. The most important aspects in analysing the autonomy of migration and its subsequent interpretation has to be seen solely from the point of view of the affected, that is, the migrants. This has not happened until now.

The Persecution and criminalisation of refugees and migrants.

Fourteen years after the foundation of The VOICE (Refugee) Forum and 10 years after the active networking of refugees and migrants through The Caravan, we have never stopped to be very clear and distinct in proclaiming our demands. Our demands have not been anything more than the right to equal opportunities, in simple terms. Although the UN 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights has finally gotten into the back of the shelves of Western countries and Germany in particular, contemporary human rights for these countries has been focused only on its citizens and moreover on citizens of Caucasian origin. While this declaration (the UN 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights) is history, the human right of today’s western world is that of its security of its white citizens by imposing terrorism acts on others. But, we have succeeded throughout our existence in bringing out one of our basic fights; the fight of “Article 13of the archaic convention of the UNO which states:
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
We have long seen it as our priority to speak for ourselves and express our persecution from our lands of origin and also here in Germany. We have made it our campaign to retain the right of definition of the different persecutions, discrimination and racism to which we are subjected. The right to draw parallels and describe the extent and intent of the abuses to which we have been doomed. We retain the right to fight and defend ourselves in whatever way we can and choose, just like every human being will do when he or she feels threatened or abused.
We have always stood and will always stand for the fight to stop all deportations. This has been a long time political strategy of colonialists, capitalists, dictators and racists to wipe out unwanted people from a society and we see this as what has happened to all that have been deported from Germany. They have been wiped out. This is our first and superior demand and it is also connected to following points.
 The Abolition of illegal “status” because every human has by birth his or her legitimate right to live in dignity and the right to use all of the sources needed for living.
 We fight for the right to unlimited residence possibilities and access to free education and work for everyone. This right was eliminated through the elimination of the right of political asylum from the basic law in 1993 in Germany.
 Nothing is more basic than the freedom to choose where to stay and to live, a right that all white Germans enjoy.
 We want to stop forced migration and business dealings with our lives. We are here because our countries are being destroyed by racists, colonialists, capitalist autocrats and dictators. We are forced to migrate and when here, we are criminalised by being put into lagers which are run by business people contracted by the local councils. At the end, we are deported through corrupt negotiations and open bribery with corrupt officials of our embassies. Political and economic pressures are brought to bear on the governments of the countries of origin of refugees to enable arbitrary deportations.
 We demand the elimination of all police controls, brutality and impunity against refugees and migrants. Refugees and migrants are criminalized when they demand their basic rights. They are criminalized when they name the criminals.
 We are being criminalised through Lagers, Refugee Camps, Detention Centres, Ausreisezentren, and Deportation Prisons. We want all these to be closed down. Therefore, we resolve to fight the Lagersystem and any forms of Apartheid.
 We resist and fight for the abolition of all special laws. Special laws on refugees and migrants have only one objective; to criminalise them and make the inferior. These laws make them commit crimes that white Germans can never commit. These laws include the Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz (asylum seeker payment law), the voucher system (Gutscheinsystem) and the limited health and social accommodation. Health care should be available for everybody, including the undocumented.
 We are forced to go underground because of the fear of deportation and are forced to live undocumented. In Germany, about two million undocumented people do not even exist in the face of this system. We demand the complete recognition of us and our rights.
 We are being sexually harassed, violated and exploited. Our families are being taken apart, destroyed and some of our family members are killed here in Germany. We demand the prosecution and punishment of culprits of sexual violence and exploiters of our people.
 Through the anti-terror laws, state terror has been declared on us. We have become a threat to the very society in which we exist. We call for the abolition of the anti-terror and security laws and a stop to state terror. We need security, we pay the highest price through our freedom and this price is not necessary.
 Finally, through forced integration, we are being persecuted and forced to give away our identities. A one sided integration only leads to a forceful peaceful co-existence and not a harmonised society. We call for a stop to forced integrations and racist immigration control through genetic tests.

The VOICE of the DEAD and those still going to Die

The bottom line is that immigration has been made criminal to economically unstable countries and citizens of countries with low income. It is also a fact that racism and state persecution in Germany is at its highest since after the Second World War. Resistance and self-organisation of refugees and migrants has also been stronger and more effective in the last decade, more than ever before. But this has not reduced the deaths through the state and the society as a whole. The Left and progressive movements which were partners in our struggle are now more silent than ever, distracting or exploiting us by dominating the fight to suit their purposes. Before we were under attack from the state but now we feel it also from the rest of the society, including the left who tend to want to recognise us from our numbers and not from our deeds and engagements. We are being used and exploited when we are many and not listened to when we are few.

Our deepest fear is not only that we are powerful beyond measure but also that the whole white society in Germany is going in the same direct; the direction of silent acceptance to our elimination be it through death in the hands of the state and its instruments or through deportation. The progressive left is remaining silent or becoming part of the conspiracy of our elimination. They have not only failed to listen and understand our cries, they want to dictate and tell us how we have to cry when we are attacked.

Many of our dead like Halim Dener, who was turtured in Turkey and shot in the back by Police officers in Hannover, while putting poster on the street walls on the 29th June 1994; Aamir Ageeb, who was killed on the 28th of May 1999 by many German border Police officers in the process of his deportation in a plane to Sudan; Arumugasamy Subramaniam, who allegedly hanged himself on the 8th of December 2000 in the deportation prison in Langenhagen (Hannover) due to fear of his imminent deportation to Sri Lanka; our beloved sister MAREAME SARR, a mother of two who was shot and killed (trying to collect her children) by two German Police officers on the 14th of July 2001, in the house of her white German ex-husband; Oury Jalloh, who was burnt alive in a Dessau police cell on the 7th of January 2005 by German Police officers; Laye-Alama Condé, who died in coma on the same day as Oury Jalloh on the 7th of January 2005 after being forcefully administered an emetic solution during detention by Police officers in Bremen; Dominique Koumadio, shot and killed by two Police officers in Dortmund on the 14th of April 2006; Mohammad Selah(see statement at the end of this page *), who died on the 14th of January 2007 in Remscheid after being refused a sickness certificate by the authorities to see the doctor; Adem Özdamar, a Turkish migrant who was brutalised and allegedly strangled on the 17th of February 2008 by German Police officers in a police post in Hagen, and all those whom we do not know or have not mention. Their blood have been spilled for our struggle and this has gone unpunished. How many more do we need to be murdered before we cry „ DANGER“!!

This is their VOICE and the VOICE of all those who are still going to die in the cruel hands of this system and society. This is the main reason of our fight and why we want to be self-organised and autonomous: to protect ourselves, also from those who cannot help to protect us anymore.


Yufanyi Movuh Mbolo

Ph.D. candidate,
Faculty of Forest Sciences and Ecology
Institute for Forest Policy and Nature Conservation
Georg-August University Goettingen
Mobil: +49(0)170/8788124

English: *«German asylum policy and its deadly consequences»" (1993 to 2008)

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* The city administration of Remscheid doubts that this statement is true and threatened us with legal steps. According to the information we have, no other person was present during the visit of Mohammad Sillah at the Sozialamt, where he applied for a "Krankenschein". Witnesses told us, that immediately after Mohammad Sillah applied for health insurance certificate he reported them, that the employee of the Sozialamt refused to give him the required papers. We do not see any necessity to doubt their statement, but let you know, that the city of Remscheid doubts this statement.