Refugees in Germany continue the struggle to break the isolation
Caravan for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants
REFUGEES IN GERMANY CARRY ON THE STRUGGLE FOR BREAKING THE ISOLATION BY WAY OF COMMUNAL LIFE ACTIVITIES IN “BREAK ISOLATION“ CAMP HELD IN ERFURT
The 2012 Break Isolation refugee summer camp which was planned to take place from 23rd of August to 2nd of September and began on the 23rd of August as scheduled. Refugees from the camps of the different states of Germany, together with other anti-capitalist German activists in solidarity, set off to reach the train station which was the first meeting place in Erfurt. Some groups of the teams travelled on train purchasing tickets and the others took the so-called mitfahr cars from. During this trip the first dialogues among the people from different countries and different ethnic backgrounds began.
When we reached the train station in Erfurt, an expected fascist policy revealed itself: White-skinned and German looking refugees never had a problem of being subjected to any control or body search, but for the dark-skinned ones it was not easy to pass at all. German police checked the identifications. Until recently, according to the German laws, refugees living in refugee camps were not allowed to go beyond the 30 kilometers of their camp area. According to the new laws, refugees are not allowed to go beyond the borders of the state they are living in. A refugee can only go out of the state with a permission. In order to get such a permission a refugee has to give the address and the phone number of a relative where he/she wants to go. In some states this policy is flexible while some others are stricter.
In the afternoon of August 23rd, people who came to take part in the "Break Isolation” camp, gathered at the Erfurt train station. Those who came to the camp immediately recognized each other because they all resemble each other. It becomes obvious immediately that they are strangers. Those from different regions gathered in heaps in front of the station. Everyone was asking each other whether they came for the Break Isolation Camp or not. While groups were getting acquainted with each other a car playing music at high volume arrived. A man with long braided hair came out of the car. With comfortable and rapid moves he put a sound system on the car and began to speak. The long haired black man told at the entrance of the station the policemen to stop checking people. The masses in the area shouted slogans emphasizing the policemen are fascists, and protested the discriminatory policies.
Another group in the area spread numerous banners they brought on the ground and placed stones on each side of the banners to prevent the wind to fly them away. For a long time they made speeches and shouted slogans at the train station. In the evening we took the road altogether in order to reach the camp. We entered the tram in groups. No one bought any ticket. We had done the same at the No Border Camp before. We get into public transport without buying tickets. So that we invalidate the paid trips effectively. People who got in the tram continued to talk to each other. Everyone wondered how far the campsite was away and how the campsite woul look like. After getting off the tram, we walked a long way and reached the campsite. The campsite was located in a timberland. There have been people already living here. The German Government does not want to provide any place for such kind of camps. People who live in this camp provided the use of this area for the event.
When the immigrants and local anti-capitalists reached the campsite the tents were already erected. The tents for seminars, events, internet or information were bigger than the ones for sleeping. The local anti-capitalists had brought their tents and beds with them. Tents were erected collectively and provided what was necessary in the camp area. Everything that can make it easier for the everyday lives of people, like toilets, shower stall and waste evacuation, were planned and prepared.
The first day of the camp passed mostly with preparatory work. In the second day activities prepared according to the plan have started to be realized. The question of imperialism was the main subject of seminars and panels in this camp. Imperialism, imperialism and war, imperialism and racism were the main topics. First a person who prepared on the given subject made a presentation, and then all the people in the meeting told their own views or questions on the subject. At the seminar on imperialism, the spokesperson made a presentation by giving examples mostly from real life experiences. It was emphasized that imperialism is an economic and political system based on exploitation and profit. To seize the market areas and profit, imperialism has been plundering both the nature of the colonial countries and the labour of peoples living in those countries. The victims of the wars which were conducted for the seizure of the profit sources in their countries, have revealed imperialism in all its nakedness by telling their own life experiences.
There was a very important feature that attracts attention in the Break Isolation Camp. People who participated the camp were expressing their views boldly. Especially the ones coming from Africa, Middle East and other colonial countries, were denouncing the colonialist, oppressive and murderous practises of imperialism by giving examples of their own experiences in the war environment.
Each speaker mentioned a different point of the subject. Some speakers gave practical examples while the others emphasised that to limit the struggle against imperialism with anti-imperialism is not correct, and stressed the need to combine this struggle against imperialism with the struggle against capitalism.
There were various aditional workshops to these seminars. There were a number of workshops such as film making, the question of women refugees, refugees’ rights, theater, and the use of internet. Those interested in attending these workshops created groups among themselves and carried out their own activities. For example the plays prepared in a short time by theatre workshop was exhibited. The film crew was taught on film making and the use of the camera by the experts. Each participant of these workshops had the opportunity to develop abilities related to the subject treated. Everyone felt comfortable to express their views on the subjects and the use of technical instruments. The film crew created a scenario and shot a film. “Embryo of the Freedom” made by the film crew will be displayed.
The women's workshop was very fruitful. Women of all nationalities came together. They did not receive men to their events. They have developed their own initiative with their own perspectives. They put forth their own problems and discussed about them. Women's workshop set a goal about realization of a women’s conference in their meetings.
.... Caravan has been carrying out activities for many years, and this year its aim to make an effective work on women in order to the women refugees fight for their rights. For two days, Caravan women activists, women refugees and Socialist Women Association (SKB) came together to address the specific problems of women refugees and seeing that an original work on women is needed, then they got to work. The wWomen's workshop decided to prepare a file to reflect the problems of women's in detail, and decided to organize a conference about women refugees in 2013. This women's conference, decided to participate to the International Tribunal Against the German Government that will be held on 13rd-16th of June 2013 and judge the unjust and oppressive policies of German state against women refugees. Women’s delegation participated in Breitenworbis refugee camp. There they made an interview with women refugees. They saw that in the refugee camp there was an urgent need of support the health issues of women. Living in the conditions of extreme isolation and having no connection with the outside world, they established a committee that will uncover their problems... Women decided to take place in the closure activities of Breitenworbis. Women’s local committee decided to focus on women studies in Breitenworbis with the support of Karawane’s nationwide women's committee. At the same time, the women activists in Break Isolation Camp, prepared a women's banner for the following activities. The slogan on the banner was “Unity Against Isolation and Active Participation in Women’s Conference 2013”.
The Break Isolation camp was not limited to seminars and workshops. Everyday life was quite colorful. Every night, a fire was made in two places. The people who gathered around the fire were making music and sang. There was an unplanned fire show in one of those nights. Some of the participants lit both ends of a long stick and made a show. The reflection of the fire in the darkness was quite interesting.
There were also kids and dogs in the camp. The appearance of children playing with each other and the dogs was funny and interesting. Participants of the camp were gathering and taking pictures. In these pictures people with different colours and appearances made a beautiful view.
The meals were made collectively. Everyone was doing the works voluntarily. It was possible to find coffee and tea during the whole day. The taste of food was not too bad, actually. The food consisted of mostly vegetarian and vegan menus, but sometimes meat was cooked as well. A cooking group had come from another city. An anti-racist group who called themselves “Food For Everyone”, acted in solidarity by cooking for ten days in the Caravan camp.
In addition to these, by observing the camp, it is also possible to say that, anti-capitalist movements from all walks have very significant theoretical and practical problems throughout the Germany. Among the Europeans it is very clearly observed that the struggle is limited to anti-fascist action. On the other hand, leftists from the East, the Middle East and the Africa limit their struggle to anti-imperialism. Sometimes with the concerns of anti-imperialist struggle, there can be a false perspective of supporting local nationalist dictatorships. Looking at this picture, we can say that anti-capitalist movement from all walks, and the revolutionary movements existing all around the world need a theoretical and political clarification.
During the Break Isolation Camp practical actions have been made as well. Breitenworbis refugee camp nearby Erfurt, was visited. Breitenworbis refugee camp was established out of the city. Seeing this old building standing alone in the fields makes you feel abandoned. We arranged a date with a group of Afghan refugees who have come from Breitenworbis refugee camp to Break Isolation camp, and decided to go to the Breitenworbis altogether. That was a long distance than we expected. The officials of the camp who heard that we were going there, had done extra cleaning and regulations before we arrived the campsite. Despite this, toilets, kitchen and the rooms were not clean. The air inside was stuffy and humid. We learned that a refugee of Armenian origin we encountered in the hallway, was suffering from asthma. He was hardly breathing. We learned that there were more patients in the refugee camp. For example, there was a refugee carrying the hepatitis C virus which is a contagious and a deadly disease.
We have witnessed many tragic stories more. For example there is a Kurdish refugee who has been living in Breitenworbis for 12 years, and it is still unclear what will happen to him. Refugees who have relatives in Germany, visit and spend time with them, so they can keep themselves away from the suffocating conditions. However, the ones who have no one in Germany, have to stay in the camp all the time. We have learnt from our conversations with the camp residents that in this camp there are a lot of problems. The camp residents told us that every month the officials cut a sum of money from them to buy cleaning materials, but actually camp residents are not given any cleaning material. The problems of the women refugees can be felt more densely in Breitenworbis. Women are oppressed both by the system of their countries and by the patriarchal point of view.They stuck in the suffocating and isolating conditions of these camps. They do not know what to do. They do not know what awaits them in the future.
Consecutively two days we raised our banners and marched in front of the Breitenworbis refugee camp. We recorded the bad conditions in the camp with a camera, and one of our friends undertook preparing a report about this camp. We talked to the Hausmeister (official of the camp) and declared the problems and demands of the refugees.
The police felt an extreme interest in the Break Isolation Camp. Except from the controls on the train station and roads, the police carried out continuous helicopter flights over the camp area. We stated our meeting agenda about the police control and then discussed what kind of activities and reactions we can realize against these controls. We went to the train station that is controlled by the police and handed out our pamphlets on which our protests against the police control is written. In addition, we decided to do continuous actions against the police control, in order to keep the police under the control. Police wants to prevent people from protesting the injustices and scare the people by increasing the control mechanisms. It is decided to object continuously to the police controls and struggle for the destruction of their wall of fear. The police was opening the helicopter’s door to take photos of the camp. The police and the people from the Municipality came to control the camp area but when we rejected their entrance the police decided not to enter and only an official from the Municipality entered the camp. The police was always in the exit door and threatening the camp guards. The police came to talk with the people who visited the camp with the threat to arrest them, trying to make them leave the place. When we decided to go to the Breitenworbis refugee camp, the camp administration threatened the refugees with deportation. That is why the Karawane activists went to the camp with the television channel and a delegation. The administrators there forced the refugees to clean around when they heard that the delegation was coming and threatened with deportation the ones who refused to clean. The day the delegation went, the police and the camp representatives were present. The Karawane activists decided to realize a meeting on Sunday with the following call: “It’s enough, we’re taking the control to our own hands. Make yourselves heard with the civil disobedience manifestations.” This will at the same time be an action against the forced residency requirement.
The protest of the the people resisting in their tents, which would take place on the 8th of September was also on the agenda. It was discussed with the participants how the march could be successful. The protest march would start from Wusburg and would keep on until Berlin. After the resistance tents a new kind of action was developed. By marching to Germany’s capital the refugees could make their voices heard to the broadest possible section of people and to the German state. The meetings were realized where they talked about what they are going to the in the march. The march can be an exit point for the refugee resistance in Germany. Thus, the border ban applied to refugees will be overridden de facto, and also an example will be shown on how the refugees’ rights can be grasped taking action. The documents needed were printed using the computers in the camp. Karawane and The Voise wrote a pamphlet about its views on the march which would be realised in Berlin.
Film workshop in the camp made shots in the camping period. Interviews were made. They prepared a film scenario and shot it. They decided to present the movie towards the end of the camping period. The screenplay was about the people who fight against the captivity and the captivity conditions and the daily life in Break Isolation Camp which is the embryo of an infinite and classless world aimed by the camp members. And the last day the movie “Embryo of Freedom" was shown.
In the workshops and seminars it was focused on organizational issues. How to create a new Karawane group was discussed. An exchange of ideas were realized on the introduction of more refugees around here, and on what needs to be done for their organization. It was argued that the activities carried out at the center were insufficient and that emphasis should be given to organizing the work of the local areas. Because in order to keep away the refugees from struggle, they are submitted to various mechanisms of repression, control and fear. In order to break this wall of fear, they have to have consciousness and they need to resort to action.
The fact that the people in the camp come from various cultural and ethnic structures provided an advantage for the formation of an international consciousness. It was obvious the the camp had incredible effect on breaking the people’s prejudices and it was a very constructive effect.
As we are approaching the end of the Break Isolation Camp, we made plans on what needs to be done in the coming days and years. The date of the Women Congress has been determined and it was decided that a people’s tribunal be realized (about the Urisalo tribunal) in Berlin that will take three days. Ideas were exchanged for the realization of a new Karawane camp.
The movie presented in the last day of the camp was very much liked. After the movie, the audience had questions to the committee that made the movie. Somebody from the audience asked how much material they had to realize the movie. Another one thanked the actors. He asked what was the F-typed prison that he saw in the movie. The actor answered that the F-type cell system has a characteristics of isolation and that the Turkish state worked hard to implement that system. The state of Turkey worked to implement isolation cells a few times before to disperse the collective life of the revolutionary prisoners, but it failed due to resistance of the prisoners. With forms of resistance such as perpetual hunger strike, the death fast and barricade the revolutionary prisoners countered these attacks. The attempt to implement isolation prisons were unsuccessful due to the hunger strikes in 1996 ending with the death of 12 revolutionaries. But in the year 2000 the Turkish state attacked all the prisons with gas bombs, chemical weapons killing many revolutionaries and put many of them in the F-typed prison cells. In those resistances, many revolutionaries have lost their lives, many of them crippled. The actor, giving examples of the struggle in Turkey, explained that the cell typed prisons were taken from the example of Europe. However, as a result of the resistance of the revolutionaries in Turkey, it was not easy to implement those isolation-type prisons as was in the case of Europe.
In the last days of the Break Isolation Camp, a demonstration was held at the train station in Erfurt. Speeches were made with the slogans “control the police against the police controls”. The police checks and the terror they apply on people were protested. The group “Food For All” gave food to the people in the train station. The state repression and its politics for narrowing the range of movement of refugees and thus isolating them were protested. In the end of the protest the halay of freedom were realized in a huge group. One speaker told that this was the halay that goes to freedom.
The people who have been together for 10 days were sad as they said farewell to each other. They had shared a lot of things with each other. They exchanged address and telephone numbers to keep their contact. There was a warm and lively atmosphere. This left a positive impression on everyone. They were sad because they were dissociating from each other but on the other hand they were happy because they had acquired new perspectives both theoretically and practically. Everybody hugged each other. They departed with their good wishes, smiling.
FREEDOM AND COOPERATION AGAINST ISOLATION AND SOLITUDE
Some biologists claim that the human gene is selfish and thus human beings are incapable of creating an equal, free, communal world. The truth is the contrary. It was because of the communal life that human beings used tools, its brain developed and reached a cultural being status. When human society started to move away from the communal characteristics of its life, it also began to move away from humanity. Commodity production, the appearance of classes, the division as nations, the domination of the capitalist-imperialist world has made the human beings lonely and alienated. This situation which is not suitable for the genetic structure of human beings made them have psychological problems alone has led to live. Especially people who live in the imperialist metropolitan countries are experiencing deep loneliness.
Deducting from this, we can say that the struggle of the humanity trying to go back to its communal life is in itself a struggle to reach back to the humanity that it lost.
Break İsolation Camp brought together the refugees who had to leave the countries they lived for reasons such as war, revolutionary struggle, unemployment. We did not come here as volunteers leaving aside their loved ones. Who force us to migrate are the capital owners. When one looks with closer attention it is easy to notice that the people who had to migrate are the local people of their countries. The class which is the owner of capital, with an unsatisfiable desire for money, try to get rid of the local people or force them to migrate in order to make that region a market for exploitation. A closer investigation will reveal that the native people has the common trait of living a communal life. We, the natives of the world who have been forced to migrate, find each other again in the imperialist European countries. Because our fates are the same. Here we are together in the same isolation environment.
We as revolutionaries who had come from all over the world and coming together in the Break Isolation Camp, have discussed how to get off the isolation, the state of captivity and the increasing danger of the destruction of the world. It was possible to observe that the friends from the East, North and South Eastern, Northern, Southern friends who had come to this camp, were not ignorant people as the general public thinks. Because we are first-degree affected people from the destruction created by capitalism. When we struggle against capitalism we can have a certain theoretical level. Struggle is the best school that trains people. A peasant woman who fought against the mining of the gold with cyanide substance in her territory was talking about Marxism. The theoretical knowledge of the peasant woman was very striking to me. I witnessed in the Break the Isolation Camp how the young, old people, men or women from the Arab region, from Africa or other colonial areas of the world, achieved a philosophical knowledge as long as they the rebelled against capitalism. This situation delights me. We, people as classified as the world's "backward" areas, are bringing dynamics to the fight of the people from areas classified as "advanced" European. During a seminar, a German revolutionary told us that the people in Europe are keeping themselves apart from the revolutionary struggle. Yes, this is what the real situation is. The imperialist countries can provide a comfortable life to its citizens with the surplus-value obtained from the neo-colonial countries. However, this situation will change gradually. Because all the rights that had to be given to the European region thanks to the revolutionary struggles has gradually rolled back. "Welfare state" phenomenon is now being liquidated. Upgrading the age of retirement and other social rights restrictions continue. When I said, “we, the so called barbarians, can give Europe a vaccine to heat up the frozen struggle”, an African revolutionary answered me in the following way: "vaccine is not enough we need to kick them".
In the Break Isolation Camp the cultures were intertwined. It was a beautiful thing to see a combination of people from different cultures and colors sharing a common life. Hitler was saying that he would submit to God a world with a race of blue-eyed blonde people. Fortunately, the world's revolutionaries defeated Hitler. We are proving that the exact opposite is possible. We proved that people of every color, every language and every kind of can live together and that such a life is beautiful. We are trying to defeat the diseases that entered the human mind so lately, diseases such as racism, selfishness that are foreign to the real nature of people.
We prepared different kinds of food from every region. We played table tennis on the food tables we brought side by side to bring food. We burned fires around which we sang songs in Persian, Turkish, Kurdish, Afrikaans, Portuguese, Italian, German, French languages. But we understood each other well because those who fight has a universal culture. For example, the song “Ciao Bella” is known to everyone and sang by everyone no matter in which language it is sang. Those who are struggling at the same time are contributing to the formation of a new culture.
We didn’t forget the friends arrested and jailed while fighting. We collected signatures for our friend Deniz in a prison in Germany. We expressed our solidarity against his isolation.
We observed that few of the immigrants in the Break İsolation Camp were involved in political struggle. However, we have seen that those types of joint actions can reach to more and more people. Coming together with people of experience and knowledge in this type of struggle has led to the creation of a situation which teaches us how to develop the struggle and make it more widespread.
We need to think in a broader context. An experience has accumulated as a result of activities carried out for decades. Now that there is a need for the generalization of theoretical and practical experiences. Because the world revolutionary movement is in a theoretical and practical blockage. Using our means effectively to prevent the division of the world revolutionary movement and open its way. It’s about time that we should think about ways of preventing the division of the revolutionary movement in different fractions and the ways to unite the movement in a channel.
The folk dance (“halay”) that we realized in the final level of the Break Isolation Camp was very meaningful. Because halay is a ritual that reflects communal life. The synchronous body movements of the whole group symbolised the resistance against solitude. Capitalism has isolated and ripped us away from each other. We, on the contrary, must form the halays that connects us to each other. There’s no power that is capable of overcoming the joint human efforts, joint human thought. It has been proven many times in different parts of the world.
Long live our struggle for being human and collectivization!
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