CARAVAN for the rights of refugees and migrants
Berlin, June 23 and 24, 2018
On 23th and 24th June 2018 an open and nationwide meeting of the KARAWANE of refugees and migrants took place in Berlin. In addition to the participants from Berlin and the surrounding area, people from Jena, Magdeburg and Wuppertal came, too. The largest group were single Afghan and Iranian women from Magdeburg.
After the welcome and the presentation, the participants of the meeting were able to share their concerns and their expectations of the meeting. Soon it became clear how much the current public political discussions and the tightening of the laws effected, agitated and worried the refugees. At the centre of all these concerns were the deportations to so-called "safe third countries" and to the countries of origin.
German asylum practice vs. human rights and the Geneva Refugee Convention
For the participants, the arbitrary differentiation and categorization of the refugees according to their origin, gender or marital status was incomprehensible and racist in their point of view. They wondered why a difference is made between refugees from Afghanistan or Syria, although the war has been raging in both countries for years. They were also surprised that nobody talks about the African continent, although it is also marked by armed conflicts and daily political persecution in many countries. Whether universal human rights and the Geneva Convention on Refugees do not apply equally to everyone was something that some people wanted to know when they discussed the differences with others, especially in the languages they understood.
Isolation in camps and restriction of health care
Women talked about the difficult living conditions in the isolation camps for refugees in Sachsen-Anhalt. Especially the single women with sick children told of the humiliations by the authorities and the withholding of medical services, which are prescribed by the Asylum Seeker Benefits Act. Others told about life in the isolation camps in Brandenburg and the deportations at night in the dark. The fear of worse deportation camps triggered by populist discussions within the ruling parties and parliamentarians is afflicting numerous refugees.
Daily racism and discrimination
Some reported on their experience in finding a job or a place to live. It seems that the German society has been built so much fear against refugees in recent years that many of them fail again and again in their attempts to find a job or an apartment. Either the headscarf or skin colour is the problem. In addition, there is the difficulty that school degrees or academic degrees from other countries are hardly recognised or degraded.
Increase in attacks on refugees and on their rights
In the face of the legal deprivation of the rights of refugees since the beginning of 2016 following the so-called welcome culture in October 2015, the subsequent smear campaigns to criminalise individual groups and the public general agitation, most participants expect an intensification of deportations and even more deaths at the bloody walls of Fortress Europe. Furthermore, they are already seeing an ever-widening gap between refugees and the people in this society, not only between the individual refugee groups but also because of the different criminalisation campaigns and the racist agitation.
Solidarity, self-determination and organisation
In the discussion it became clear to everybody that the key to defending their rights was self-organization. "Wherever we are, in the isolation camps, in the communities and cities, we must define for ourselves what happens to us and stand up for our rights. We must publicly denounce them and expose the lies spread on a daily basis. The organization means that we call the experienced injustice and join forces with those who are also excluded and affected. In doing so, we must overcome our divisions. Only when we know what our common demands and goals are can we enter into alliances with others in society". The roles of non-governmental organisations or charitable organisations were also discussed extensively in the discussion. They can all act within the framework of the law and work according to their mandate from the owners. But if the laws violate universal human rights or the Geneva Refugee Conventions, if the governments with which refugees seek protection are partly responsible for the misery from which they have fled, if all parties move to the right, there is no alternative but to organise themselves. One activist summed up: "These are the lessons of more than 20 years of struggle between THE VOICE Refugee Forum and KARAWANE for the rights of refugees and migrants. The fundamental human rights to life, freedom of movement and dignity are inviolable, but they must be fought for every day. They can be led in individual campaigns by individuals or groups for the defense of our lives, but at the same time it would help many others concerned and give strength for the further fight.
Upcoming activities and meetings
On July 14 and 15, 2018, another open meeting of the KARAWANE refugee women's movement will take place in Hamburg. Among other things, possible campaigns to defend refugee women present in Berlin will be discussed there.
On 8 September 2018, KARAWANE for the rights of refugees and migrants in Wuppertal is organising a festival of solidarity to mark the 20th anniversary of the KARAWANE network. On the one hand, the festival will present the teachings of the last 20 years in the fight against exploitation, deportation and internment in isolation camps of the newer generation of refugees and interested parties, and on the other hand, it will be a demonstration of solidarity and cohesion between the oppressed and excluded, regardless of skin colour, gender, religion or place of birth.
Finally, on the occasion of the 24th birthday of THE VOICE Refugee Forum in Jena, another act of the Refugee Black Box will be opened from October 4 to 7. With installations and other creative ideas, refugees will document their experiences and pains. The Refugee Black Box is like the black box of an airplane and documents the experiences of the refugee community.
If you are interested or have any questions, please contact the following e-mail addresses:
- 14 and 15 July - Meeting of the KARAWANE refugee women's movement in Hamburg
- September 8, 2018 - Solidarity Festival in Wuppertal - 20 years of struggle against exploitation, deportation and internment in isolation camps, Contact: Araz Ardehali, wuppkarawane ät yahoo.de, phone 01788530701 (from 19:00 h)
- October 4 to 7, 2018 Refugee Black Box in Jena (http://thevoiceforum.org/node/4541)