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Refugee Revolt

Refugees and undocumented people organise and protest in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

Under the most extreme conditions – state repression and isolation, our own traumatic past, precarious financial conditions, the cold, lack of medical care, the lack of planning any safe and future-oriented everyday life, but also language barriers and many substantive differences amongst us – we build up ourselves again and again and confront us to the conditions in solidarity. We continue to gain strength and endurance – every day!” Refugee Revolution march, Berlin.

Last Saturday (23rd), over 5000 protesters marched through the streets of Berlin in the latest mobilisation for the Refugee Strike movement.

The movement – and the term isn't hyperbolic in this case – began around 11 months ago. Organising from below and refugee-led, the movement is unashamedly radical in ethos as well as tactics. In the first large-scale resistance against racist European asylum systems, refugees and asylum seekers in Germany are demanding an end to their treatment as 'non-citizens'. Central demands include an end to deportations, recognition of all asylum seekers as political refugees, abolition of the 'residency obligation' which forces people to remain in small areas assigned by the authorities, and an end to the obligation to stay in assigned mass accommodations and open camps.

A paragraph isn't enough to do justice to a year of ground-breaking protest, but to give a brief overview: The movement began in March last year with a small, autonomous act of resistance in the form of a tent protest by refugees in the small city of Würzburg in Rheinland, which later decamped to Dusseldorf to make more of an impact. The spark had been the suicide of a refugee who'd been forced to live in one of the 'open' camps.

Over the following few months, small camps – often just one or two tents and a handful of protesters – spread in a wave across nine German cities, gathering thousands of supporters on the way. Some protesters extended their protest of occupation into hunger strikes. See SchNEWS 831. Alongside has been a series of militant actions against notable targets – embassies of nations who collude in deportations, and other events such a conference between the German and Sudanese governments on business. Many refugee activists are breaking asylum law by disobeying residence obligations and leaving their areas to take part in the protests in the first place – a group from Würzburg marched last September to Berlin over the course of 28 days to make the point dramatically.

Co-ordination between groups has resulted in mass mobilisations such as last Saturday's march, rallies and massive media coverage in Germany and similar organising in Austria and the Netherlands, along with a powerful diffusion of the central message in refugee communities and deportation centres across the continent as well as in Germany itself. 

The protests have been brutally repressed by the authorities and fascists. A small camp in Buvaria has been attacked by both street fascists and the cops, with casual abuse from right-wingers a common occurrence. In Passau along with elsewhere, leading refugee activists known to be mobilising have been picked out of crowds and arrested. Protests of occupation have been attacked by their police escorts whenever activists try to rest, in the hope that sleep deprivation will force the protests to end. Participation in events has been difficult for those who the police profile and control on the way. Most notable in terms of repression was the police attack on the 'Refugee Revolution' bus earlier in March. The bus was doing a tour of the country and visiting refugee camps to spread information and flyer. In Cologne, the police assaulted activists taking part and giving out leaflets, arresting 19 and seriously injuring three – one activist was beaten unconscious.

More infos and coverage on the way.

See http://asylstrikeberlin.wordpress.com/ and http://www.refugeetentaction.net/index.php?lang=en

There is 1 comment on this story...
Added By: Anarchiste - 11th April 2013 @ 10:23 AM
Where is your bulletin about Thatcher you Tory mugs?
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