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BREAK THE ISOLATION! Report of the protests in Erfurt

ON MAY 30. 2009


Bericht in deutsch

Refugees from Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt organized a public speech and protest manifestation in Erfurt on May 30, 2009 in the city center of Erfurt. The release of Felix Otto was the central demand of the action. He was sentenced to 8 months prison because he made use of his right of freedom of movement. The manifestation was a strong expression of the struggle against the Residenzpflicht and a demonstrative act of civil disobedience.

From more than a dozen lagers from south eastern part of Germany refugees came overcoming high walls of oppression and barb wires of isolation. They came to demonstrate their solidarity with one from their midst, with the man from Cameroon, Felix Otto, who is now in prison in Suhl and has done the same, what all the present refugees did in Erfurt on that very day. Felix Otto took his right of freedom of movement, a basic right, a natural need and therefore a human right. This right is violated by Germany through Residenzpflicht. The Residenzpflicht imprisons the refugees in administrative districts (Landkreis). The refugees are not allowed to leave these borders without a permission of the foreigner’s offices (Ausländerbehörde) for a second and for a centimeter. The penalty for such an act can be as high as one year of imprisonment or 2500 Euros. For an act that is declared as universal human right in paragraph 13 of the universal declaration of human rights. Felix Otto is not a criminal. Refugees are not criminals. They exercise their rights. Those who sanction and cut these basic human rights are wrong and unjust. If they do so consciously and deliberately, they are criminals.

Freedom for Felix Otto

The public speech in Erfurt was the protest against the above described. The just rage, the rage of dignity sounded from the speakers when Komi from Togo spoke and stated, that racism and rejection is mistook in Germany for democracy and integration, and that this has not severe consequences for the victims but as well for the entire society. Komi showed at his left eye, that has lost some of its eyesight. Is was damaged by an attack of Neo-Nazis, that are a consequence of the German “Integration Policy” that stigmatizes refugees as criminals and concentrates them in Lagers in rural areas with a high population of racist and right wings fractions.

The speech was directed as well to the blinded ones, who fear the loss of their jobs and make the refugees responsible for that and repeat the sentences of hate preachers of the society in white collars. There were many answers: Once you brought many migrants hereto, because you needed our labour force for your wealth. You are still there in our countries and live a life better than that of the majority of our societies there. You have plundered our countries and colonized us and still continue to do so. Refugees are not allowed to work. Migrant bear the main burden of the 3S-jobs (schwer, schmutzig, schlechtbezahlt = hard, dirty and badly paid). The economic leaders use the fictive lack of jobs to better exploit and squeeze the unemployed people competing for jobs. Racism distracts the view to the real problem.

One activist told about his experiences in Hamburg. There the workers in the companies are angry about the workers from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, because the companies there pay lower salaries and hence they offer cheaper prices. The workers from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany complain about the workers from Poland and Eastern Europe and all complain about the workers from the other continents. How stupid is this? We are all workers and do not hold together! Who benefits from that?

Stop thinking in artificial and national identities that we haven been educated with since generations! We are only one humanity!

Break the Isolation
Isolation brechen

But the focus of the protest was the horrible conditions imposed on refugees and the resistance against these conditions: Children write with chalk words of freedom and justice on the streets. Like always, Hashime’s daughter is with us. The home country of her mother is hardly present in her awareness. Now, after eight years, the officials want them to go back to Iraq, they say, there are safe zones, where she and her mother could live. Hamas from Palestine shows his documents from the officials. “Rest of Asia” is given in it as country of origin. He is in Germany for seven years now. He flew from the Israeli occupation. He is a Palestinian, and because Palestine is not recognized as an independent country, he is regarded as stateless. This would guarantee him at least some rights like the right to stay. But Germany denies this right, although it has signed international agreements. A young man from Syria is in a difficult situation. He says that he has his deportation in his pockets. He is asked to give documents to the officials for his deportation. What does someone do, who is deprived of any possibilities and chances? What would you do, when it happens to you?

Everyone came to solidarize with Felix Otto and to set a sign for the collective fight against injustice. Much pain is connected to this. Those who do not feel the pain, are blocked and mentally destroyed. Such people were around as well in Erfurt and many of them were like Zombies, repeating what their bosses say.

But there were other people too, who were attracted, that felt the pain, the anger and rage, the power and the dignity.

Police in front of the Liberty
Polizei vor liberty

There was a lot of anger as well against the police present. Prior to the protests in Erfurt, police wanted to prevent the manifestation because of the elections and because of the political parties in town campaigning. In the discussions THE VOICE Refugee Forum made clear to the administration (Versammlungsbehörde) that the concerns of the refugees can not be rejected using hypocritical reasons and formalities. At the manifestation the police spoke about cooperation and told that recently there were many attacks from the right-wing and Nazi scene. Later, a Nazi who provoked was chased away. Using this as an excuse the police started to control the people. One of those police actions could be stopped by us. Thereafter the police brought a Video-Documentation-Transporter and directed a camera on top of a mast to the manifestation. Continuous shouts of “Away with the Camera” from the loudspeakers and posters that blocked the camera and an angry discussion with the operation leader led to the fact that the transporter was driven 100 meters away. Later there was an arrest. The young man, who was threatened with deportation to Syria, was taken away. His friends from the Lager in Apolda told the police, that they all would go together with him or the manifestation would not end. After a while he was released.

Demonstrative against the provocation
Demonstrativ gegen provokation

After 6 hours the manifestation ended. It was the beginning of further actions of self organizing, the defence of our rights, the civil disobedience against the apartheid laws in Germany, and international solidarity. On June 25, 2009 the next demonstration in Erfurt will take place. An action conference is planned for September 9 to 13 in Thuringia organized by the refugees from different Lagers, THE VOICE Refugee Forum and the open Youth bureau Redd Foxx from Erfurt.

Doctor Maksud, Dariush, Salo, Abou, Komi, and many more refugees from Isolation Lagers call all the refugees to stand up against the injustice, that is not only done to them, but as well to their families, that they had to leave back in their countries. The struggle is a struggle for all refugees in this world and for all the people that see themselves in the each and another.

While I sit in the train back to Hamburg, I think about the others, who are now on the way back to the Lagers, in regional trains, busses and long walks and permanently under the constant threat of police controls or Nazi attacks, back to the Isolation, that they have to break each and every day.

It was a day, a day in which the anger and rage of dignity spoke.

report of a CARAVAN activist
May 30, 2009

[1] referring to an article by John Holloway: The Other Politics, that of Dignified Rage. German transaltion at

words are like the wind - loudly speak the acts

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