The VOICE Refugee Forum (Community Network)

Unite Against Deportation and Social Exclusion

Nationwide Activists Meeting in Refugee Cities in Germany
Break Deportation Prepar-Tainment Refugees Platform

The VOICE Refugee Forum – A Network of Refugee Community Initiatives in Germany

Break the Deportation DNA Chain: "Refugee Black Box – The irrepressible voice and power of the afflicted" - Beyond the Court rooms!

Human rights abuses and persecutions in Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jawaid: The violent role of religion, nepotism and state corruption

The violent role of religion, nepotism and state corruption: Human rights abuses and persecutions in Pakistan

Greetings and Solidarity from Refugee Political Community Germany to Refugee Protest March in Bavaria

English/French/Deutsch:
Sei realistisch, versuch das Unmögliche! Be realist, look for the impossible! Soyez réaliste, chercher l'impossible! Power to the people - Solidarity meeting from Hamburg by Refugee-Migrants Political community

French/English/Deutsch:
"Nous venons chez vous" - La communauté des réfugiés a besoin de vous!
„Wir kommen zu euch“ - Die Flüchtlings-Community braucht euch!
"We are are coming to you" - The refugee community needs you!
Review on Break Deportation Culture – Deportation is criminal and we fight to stop it!

Hamburg: "We are coming to you" – The refugee community needs you!

The Political MOVEMENT - Appeal to Refugee Communities for Solidarity Network in Germany and Europe
Please join us for a life decided by our quest for a free society, equality and human dignity.

No Refugee is Criminal - Deportation is Collective Crime and Corruption

In Solidarity with North African Deportees and Victims of Deportation from Germany.

Appeal for Refugee Community Network from: Konradsreuth – Bayern

Moneer and Nadja's Struggles and Solidirity with the refugee community in Thuringia: - Statements by Moneer Alkadri und Nadia Ghnim from Syria: Demand for official transfer to Jena and payment of social allowance by State of Thuringia and Flüchtlinge aus dem Camp-Streik untersuchen die Zustände in Suhl

Zu Moneers und Nadias Kämpfen und zur Solidarität mit der Flüchtlingscommunity in Thüringen:
- Statements von Moneer Al Kadri und Nadia Ghnim aus Syrien: Forderung nach offizieller Umverteilung nach Jena und nach Zahlung von Sozialleistungen durch den Staat Thüringen und zur Flüchtlinge aus dem Camp-Streik untersuchen die Zustände in Suhl

Miloud Lahmar Cherif von Beleidigungsvorwurf gegen rassistisch kontrollierende Bundespolizisten freigesprochen

Meine Stellungnahme zu den Anschuldigungen der Bundespolizei
- Miloud Lahmar Cherif, The VOICE Refugee Forum

My statement on the federal police's charges against me on racist control
- Miloud Lahmar Cherif

Petition gegen den Abschiebeterror an der Familie Arsič - Breitenworbis Flüchtlingslager in Thueringen

Erfurt Declaration of Radmila Anić concerning her menace in Serbia
Erfurt: Erklärung von Radmila Anić zu ihrer Bedrohung in Serbien

The VOICE Refugee Forum Germany:
The Refugee: Base on Our History 1994 to 2014
Call for a Coordinated Regional Community Assembly
Reward 2015: The refugee political resources in Germany

O-platz Berlin Bus Tour 2015

English German French
Refugee Manifestation For Freedom and Liberty in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, 16.04.2015
Stop Abuse! Legalize the so Called “tolerated refugees in Germany! Stop Destroying Refugees' Perspectives! With Guests Speakers from Schwäebish Gmünd

Civil Disobedience - Protest Tour Against Residenzplcht
Grassroots movement and resistance of refugee activists from Schwaebisch Gmuend against residenzpflicht imprisonment

Residenzpflicht bedeutet weiterhin Apartheid”
Weiter Protest gegen Erzwingungshaft für Flüchtlingsaktiviste
Ziviler Ungehorsam gegen Strafverfolgung bzgl Residenzpflicht
27.02.2015: Staement
02.03.2015: The VOICE Refugee Forum zur Flüchtlingsdemonstration gegen Residenzpflicht in Schwäbisch Gmünd
07.03.2015: Erklärung
English:
“Residenzpflicht still means Apartheid” - “Lager still means elimination”
25.02.2015: Staement
02.03.2015: The VOICE Refugee Forum on The Refugee Demonstration against Residenzpflicht in Schwaebisch Gmünd - Campaign for Freedom and liberty
07.03.2015: Declaration by Schwäbisch Gmünd Refugee Activists

Videos:
-Keeping Resistance Against Oppression!
-1/3
-2/3
-3/3

Refugee Tour
Solidarity Call for Civil Disobedience from Refugee Initiative Schwäbisch Gmünd
Wuppertal 23.03., Hamburg und Erfurt 24.03., Kiel 25.03., Bremen 26.03., Berlin 27.03.15,. Konstanz 01.04., Schwäbisch Gmd 06.04.15, Lutherstadt Wittenberg 16.04.2015

Breaking the isolation culture – We are isolated from the refugee communities!

Keep On - Close down Breitenworbis refugee isolation camp in Thüringen


Here is the .Radio report and Interview of Mbolo Yufanyi on the 20yrs. The VOICE Refugee Forum

Deportation is the Last Ring of Slavery Chain - Break the Culture of Deportaion, Isolation, Elimination.
Refugee Political Worshops and Media: 20years of Refugee Resistance in Anniversary of 20years.The VOICE Refugee Forum in Germany

20yrs.The VOICE Refugee Forum:
Faltblatt - Flyers in English / Deutsch / French / Arabic
The Call for Donation:
Everyone 20€ --- Dein Geburtstagsgeschenk für 20 Jahre The VOICE Refugee Forum


Review and invitation: Preparatory meetings on of The VOICE Refugee 20yrs. Anniversary in Jena

Deutsch:
Rückblick und Einladung: Die Vorbereitungstreffen zum 20. Jahrestag von The VOICE Refugee Forum in Jena
20. Jubiläum von The VOICE Refugee Forum - 20 Jahre Widerstand von Flüchtlingen in Deutschland

Brutal Police Murder in Germany
Oury Jalloh -Das War Mord / He Was Murdered in Police Cell 5 Dessau:
Innenansichten vor BGH Urteil - Statement Moctar Bah

Revisionsentscheidung des BGH im Fall Oury Jalloh vom 17.08.2014:
Conakry (Guinea): Visum für Bruder des toten Oury Jallohs trotz Einladung durch den BGH verweigert
:

Text in Deutsch:
Pressemitteilung GBA zum Todesfall Oury Jalloh - Gegenvorstellung von Thomas Ndindah gegen den OStA beim BGH Dr. Matthias Krauß
Im Todesfall Oury Jalloh: Thomas Ndindah vs GBA am BGH - Bezug: Ihr Antwortschreiben vom 11. Februar 2014 – AZ 2 APR 308/13-5

Spread the Solidarity - United we speak out for freedom of movement
The VOICE Refugee Forum on Archives of our 10years Anniversary in October, 2004 in Berlin:
As we approach the 20th Anniversary of Refugee Resistance this year in October, we will be spreading the documented texts and impressions from our Archives on Residenzpflicht campaign and the struggles to speak out for freedom of movement

Deportation is Torture and Murder - Stop Police Brutality against Refugees and Activists: - PM The VOICE Refugee Forum - First anniversary of our protest inside and outside of the Nigerian Embassy in 2012

STOP COLONIAL INJUSTICE – STOP DESTROYING OUR COUNTRIES
STOP KILLING REFUGEES – ABOLISH FRONTEX:

FOR THE RIGHTS OF REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS IN GERMANY AND EUROPE

We stand together to reclaim the power of human dignity and solidarity against the state repression of refugees in Germany

Refugee Protest Actions - United Against Colonial Injustice

Mass murder in Lampedusa: Shame on EU! Refugee Protest in Rome, 10.October, 2013

The VOICE Refugee Forum - Guideline to Refugee Protest Strike in Eisenberg Reception Camp

Roma Initiative Thüringen: Report of Action Days July 25th – 27th in Jena and Eisenberg

Panel Roma ( Refugee Tribunal )

Streik der Flüchtlinge in der Thüringer Landesaufnahmestelle in Eisenberg für u.a. Flüchtlinge vom 30.07.2013.
VideoDoc: Erste Streik der Flüchtlinge in der LAST Eisenberg

25 - 27. 07 in Jena: ROMENGO DROM – The WAY OF ROMA PEOPLE
Demonstration in Jena - Stop the Deportation of Roma

Bad Mergentheim and Külsheim Refugees Protest in Stuttgart


Liberation Bus Tour in Bad Mergentheim - Refugee Strike in Stuttgart The VOICE Refugee Forum Network Video Channel

The Lager Watch Group on Eisenhüttenstadt - Stop Deportation Factory!

BREAK ISOLATION!
pdf: ABOLISH ALL LAGERS! - STOP DEPORTATION! Refugees of Eisenhüttenstadt!

LIBERATION BUS TOUR – FINALER AKTIONSTAG IN STUTTGART

08.6. Demo for Lampedusa in HH. District Office Hamburg-Mitte prevents the construction of tents with the help of police force

Bundesweite Kampagne und Netzwerk Bericht über Aktivitäten und Unterstützungsaufruf

Refugees gestoppt auf dem Weg zu Blockupy / Refugees stopped on their way to Blockupy.

Everywhere in these isolation-camps people lack their basic human rights - Break Isolation Strike Tour in Niedersachsen

"Lampedusa in Hamburg":
Bezirksamt Hamburg Mitte verhindert mit Polizeikräften Zeltaufbau für obdachlose Flüchtlinge

Video Refugee Testimony: More than 20 years in Isolation Camp Brandenburg - Germany

Miloud L. Cherif - Video Collection on Campaign for Civil disobedience against "Residenzpflicht" Refugee Movement Restriction
English: Take Urgent Action! FAX- Campaign against Residenzpflicht and political persecution of Miloud L. Cherif
Deutsch: Fax-Kampagne gegen Residenzpflicht und die politische Verfolgung von Miloud L. Cherif

Aktion am Hauptbahnhof Erfurt; 22.5. um 15 Uhr Residenzpflicht abschaffen – Rassistische Polizeikontrollen stoppen! Freiheit für Miloud L Cherif und alle anderen!

Video Collection of Refugee Testimony and Appeals from Liberation Bus

Break Isolation - Refugee Strike in Germany
26.April till 08.June 2013
New Videos and Reports on Refugee Refugee Liberation Bus Tour in Baden Württemberg and Schwaben Bayern 26th of April till 8th of June in Stuttgart.

Niedersachsen Refugee Liberation Bus Tour (16 – 22 of May 2013) Break Isolation Refugee Strike

Aufruf zur öffentlichen Prozessbeobachtung im Asylverfahren von Salomon Wantchoucou

2nd Declaration and Call for serious conversations "Lampedusa in Hamburg"
„Lampedusa in Berlin, Hamburg and Bielefeld”

The Criminality of the European Authorities - Interview with Affo Tchassei
„Wir sind hier und gehen nicht zurück“
Protest im UNCHR Berlin
„We are here and we don’t go back!” - “Nous somme ici et nous ne retournerons pas!”

Break Isolation Strike in Refugee Lagers - camps

PRENZLAU: Protest against racist attacks of Refugees

Refugee Liberation Bus Tour in Baden Württemberg and Schwaben Bayern
Schließt euch uns an und unterstützt die Refugee Liberation Bus Tour in Baden-Württemberg und Bayern!

Join us to support the Refugee Liberation Bus Tour in Baden-Württemberg and Bayern

Update News:
Polizei schikaniert die Refugees Liberation Bus Tour: Offene Protestnote an die Grün-Rote Landesregierung von Baden-Württemberg

Demonstration - Samstag, 18. Mai 2013, 16 Uhr, Willy Brandt-Platz:
für ein Ende rassistischer Polizeigewalt und gegen institutionellen Rassismus
In Erinnerung an Christy Schwundeck – Getötet durch die Polizei in Frankfurt/Main

OUR RIGHTS TO EXIST AS FREE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CRIMINALIZED BEFORE OUR NAMES ARE KNOWN: WE WILL FIGHT BACK UNTIL WHEN WE TAKE BACK THE POWER OF SOLIDARITY TO BREAK OPEN THE PRISON GATES FOR THE VICTIMS OF RACIST PERSECUTION IN GERMANY.

Action in Thüringen

On the Move! “Break Isolation Strike”
Refugee liberation strike action in Heidenheim Baden Württemberg 29th April 2013
Refugee Demonstration and liberation Bus Tour 2013 Refugees Liberation Bus Tour Video reports by Crosspoint

"Enough is enough" - refugees in Wolfsburg raise their voice
Bericht vom Demonstration am 27.04.2013 in Wolfsburg Break Isolation Solidarity Act - “Genug ist genug”

Polizei kriminalisiert Treffen in Thüringer Flüchtlingsheimen und belagert das Grünowski

BREAK ISOLATION and Solidarity Act in Thueringen: Jena, Greiz, Gerstungen, Waltershausen und Erfurt

Unterstützt die Faxkampagne - Offener Brief der Frauen aus dem Isolationslager Breitenworbis

Thousands of balloons - World Wide Roma Day

Am 8. April war der internationale Tag der Roma, um für die Rechte der Roma zu kämpfen und auf die Situation der Roma aufmerksam zu machen! - Gegen die Ausgrenzung und Isolation von Flüchtlingen in Lagern - Solidarität mit der "Break Isolation" Bewegung!

Pressemitteilung von Miloud Lahmar Cherif zur Situation seiner Familie in Deutschland

Break Isolation Conference and Solidarity Act 2013
*April 2013 in 7 Regionen Deutschlands – Göttingen 08-09.04., Essen - NRW 09.04., Berlin and Prenzlau 08-13.04., Frankfurt 10-11.04. (Kundgebung im Containerlager Oberursel 11.04.), Hamburg 13.04., Bielefeld 16.04., Trier 20.40 Jena / Thueringen , 22-26.04.

English:
We are at a crucial turning point to make refugee isolation lager HISTORY in Germany.

Break Isolation Conference and Solidarity Act 2013 - Input by The VOICE Refugee Forum

Deutsch:
Break Isolation Conference und Solidarity Act 2013 - Input von The VOICE Refugee Forum

Thousands of balloons - 8. April 2013 for World Wide Roma Movement
Gegen die Ausgrenzung und Isolation von Flüchtlingen in Lagern - Solidarität mit der "Break Isolation" Bewegung!

Refugee Workshop in Berlin Protestcamp

Choucha Camp Refugee Protest in Tunisia - Sit-in migrants de Choucha Tunis - Break the isolation! Solidarity with Fighting Refugees Camp in Choucha / Tunisia

Interviews in English and French:

Break Isolation of Refugees - Karawane Festival Speech by Osaren in Jena: Chant down the babylon Germany

We are protesting to close down all Refugee Isolation Lagers in Thueringen:
Refugee lager Camp Protest
Join the ongoing Campaign to Close down:
Isolationslager Breitenworbis
Greiz
Gerstungen isolation
Successfully Closed down refugee lagers in recent years
2012 Isolationslager Zella Mehlis
2011 Ghetto Sömmerda/Gangloffsömmern
2010 Isolationslager Katzhütte!
2009 Isolationslager Gehlberg
2009 Ghetto: Flüchtlingsunterkunft in Apolda - Stobraer straße in Thüringen
2007 Flüchtlingsheims Freienbessingen

Sachsen-Anhalt
Campaign to Close down:
Isolationslager Bitterfeld
Flüchtlingsisolationsheim Marke
Vockerode
Successfully Closed down refugee lager in Sachsen-Anhalt
2012 Isolationslager Möhlau

2011 Ein Überblick: Isolation der Flüchtlingslager in der Nachbarschaft zu brechen - Die Agenda von The VOICE Refugee Forum
An Overview of „The VOICE“ Agenda – Break the Refugee Isolation Camps in the Neighbourhoods
2003 Stop all deportations! Close all detention and deportation centers for refugees and migrants!

Asylbewerber Asylbewerber
Abschiebung Abschiebung
Residenzpflicht Residenzpflicht
Frontex Frontex
Refugee Embassy Refugee Embassy
Colonial Injustice Colonial Injustice
Police Brutality Police Brutality
Isolationslager Isolationslager
BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge

* * * * * * * *

Dossier zu den Morden an Sakine, Fidan und Leyla Morde an den kurdischen Frauenrechtsaktivistinnen Sakine Cansız, Fidan Doğan und Leyla Şaylemez, die sich am 9. Januar 2013 im Zentrum von Paris ereigneten

Video: Dessau 7.01.2013 - Oury Jalloh Demonstration

Verbrannt in Polizeizelle Nummer fünf Busse nach Dessau (7.1.) zur Erinnerungsdemo für Oury Jalloh

: Abschiebung und Pressekonferenz - Refugee Camp Vienna
Refugee Protest Camps:
Vienna Austria
Berlin Germany

Break Isolation Berlin – Statement of the Refugee Protest Camp at Oranienplatz Berlin
Enough is enough. It's time for resistance!

New Videos Refugee Protest camps: Solidarity from Vienna and Berlin
Endorse the International Statement of Solidaritya from Refugee Protest in Vienn
Wien Press: Votiv-Lager war angemeldet - War Räumung des Protest-Camps illegal? Flüchtlingscamp vor der Votivkirche

Video: Police Vandalism in Wien - Refugee Protest Camp evicted! Polizeiliche Räumung des Refugee Protest Camp in Wien
Video:Refugees on Hunger Strike / Refugees im Hungerstreik

Reboot FM about the : Refugee Tribunal in Berlin (June 13-16.2013)

PM The VOICE Refugee Forum on Oury Jalloh: Magdeburger Strafgerichtskammer verhindert Aufklärung - (k)ein Ende einer Farce

Austine and the Residenzpflicht

"October 12. 2012. On the way from Schwäbisch Gmund (Baden Württenberg) to Berlin, to take part to the Refugee Protest March Demonstration of October 13, Austine, Charles, Chima, Egbo, Henry and Obinna are target of a police racial profiling control in Hof's Station.

Rex Osa’s Testimony by Affidavit for The INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS TRIBUNAL IN MANILA Quezon City, Philippines
The VOICE- Protocol 11.11.12 in Berlin: O&A with Alassane Dicko and Rex Osa on Beyond the borders Conference in Berlin

CARAVAN for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants
Strengthening the unity of refugee struggles against colonial injustice in Germany

Stärkt die Einheit der Flüchtlingskämpfe gegen koloniales Unrecht in Deutschland - Abschlusserklärung des Break Isolation Camp

3Sat mediathek Report: Für mehr Menschenwürde
Flüchtlingsproteste in Deutschland: Die Proteste von Asylbewerbern in Deutschland nehmen zu, insbesondere seit sich ein Asylbewerber in Würzburg Anfang 2012 das Leben genommen hat und zwei iranische Flüchtlinge sich die Münder zugenäht hatten und in Hungerstreik getreten waren. Inzwischen hat sich in acht deutschen Städten eine Protestbewegung von Flüchtlingen...?
Break Isolation Protestmarsch und Protest der Flüchtlinge für die unverzügliche Schließung des Isolationslagers in Breitenworbis, Mühlhauser Straße 35 am 29.08.2012 auf 3Sat mediathek

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Refugees Welcome!!! – The Necessary but Missing Dimensions by Sunny Omwenyeke

Refugees Welcome!!! – The Necessary but Missing Dimensions

The number of people who sought asylum in Germany between January 2015 and December 2016 showed an impressive intake of refugees in Germany compared to many other wealthy countries in the EU e. g. the UK. While the motives of the temporary government policy of open borders which facilitated the entrance of most of these refugees into Germany remains debatable, what is now clear is that, that policy does not represent a change in government immigration politics and policies. If anything, it graphically puts to bed in the most vivid way possible, the oft-stated but yet bogus and erroneous idea by anti-immigrant groups and individuals that the “Boat is Full”. Evidently, the Boat is far from full. Moreover, the personal contact that the successive governments have long sought to avoid between refugees and Germans by its deliberate policy of isolation of refugees has fully collapsed. The contact that is now established will not be easily wiped away.

However, as various aspects of the asylum processes have shown in the last couple of years, a cogent argument can be safely made that the government was ill prepared for the challenges posed by these new intakes, hence the evident chaos and confusion. This lack of preparedness is rooted first; in the age-long denial by successive governments that Germany is a migration country, which in turn, robs the polity of the opportunity to formulate genuine and progressive immigration and integration policies. Second, is the contradictory – to open borders, and the knee-jerk reaction to the intake that resulted in the series of harsh changes to the asylum laws and processes. The laws already deliberately weakened, are now simply a mockery of the concept of international protection guaranteed by the Geneva Convention and the protection offered by the German constitution. This is because; rather than examine each individual asylum case on its merits, a political decision is now applied to several groups of people in the form of “safe countries of origin”. This arbitrary declaration, often in contrast to compelling evidence and the reality on the ground, automatically undermines and overrides the veracity or merit of the individual asylum cases.

In the background of this chaos and confusion emerged the fanfare popularly known as the “Welcome Culture”. This emergent culture speaks to a Germany that is ‘changed’ from the past and ‘open’ to immigrants and in particular, refugees fleeing wars to seek safety. Iconic images of Germans ‘welcoming’ new arrivals at train stations in the South of Germany with snacks and bottles of water will ensure that this representation is forever etched in our collective memories. As the government felt the burden to deal with the new arrivals amidst the unrelenting criticism of coalition partners and right wing politicians, many felt inspired by Chancellor Merkel’s retort of “wir schaffen das”, in defense of her refugee policy that has become a lightening rod.

Government institutions, NGOs, civil society groups and countless initiatives were formed or expanded to give a ‘helping hand’ in what was being described as a refugee ‘crisis’. What was not clear however was, what exactly the crisis was about. Was the crisis about the fate of thousands or millions who have been forced to leave their homelands as a result of wars that are perpetuated by foreign interests and insatiable greed? Was it about the suffering of refugees en-route to seeking safety as many were stranded at the militarized Frontiers of the EU overseen by Frontex? Was the crisis about the countless refugees that were drowning daily in the Sea while European Naval ships watch idly by? Or was it about the crude and brutal human rights violation that these refugees suffered while already in mainland Europe like in Greece, Hungary etc.? Or in more practical terms, was the crisis about the self-constructed chaos whereby there were countless empty buildings (some of them for years like in Bremen) and yet refugees were forced into sport halls and tents even in the winter? In any case, the ‘crisis’ seemed to have had much less to do with the individuals who were actually suffering and more with German and European powers’ preoccupation with their failure to effectively provide for and deal with a problem that they are partly responsible for.

Nevertheless, Germans who have never had anything to do with refugees before joined various initiatives to offer different services to refugees; from donating and collecting second hand clothes and shoes (whether needed or not), cooking, giving German lessons, to accompanying them to different offices, knitting, Bike repairs amongst others, under the banner of ‘Refugees Welcome’. While many may have genuinely and heartily offered such help, one could not help but notice the patronizing, paternalistic and know-it-all attitude that underlined such help and services and the wholehearted gratitude that was expected of the refugees – not only for the help they are receiving, but also for living in safety in Germany. On the other hand, for many refugees with their experiences, irrecoverable loss and trauma, it is not surprising that such attitude bred resentment and discontent; a situation that has become increasingly contentious in some cases that it continues to require professional intervention and assistance in conflict management. Any wonder then that some ‘helpers’ have been politely asked by some refugees that they be left alone?
Much as the emergent Welcome culture seems to represent a generally friendlier atmosphere that is relatively more open to refugees, the foregoing alludes to two necessary and important dimensions that are missing in this ‘changed’ Germany. First, there is a serious lack of self-reflection in this so-called Welcome culture as these help and services to refugees and the expectant gratitude are based on the philosophy of charity and philanthropy instead of solidarity and justice. Their engagement with refugees is devoid of the understanding that it is a matter of justice and hence a right for these refugees to be treated as equal human beings with dignity and not by dint of individual or collective well wishes and kindness, particularly given their reasons of flight that are traceable to Western economic interests.

Many of these ‘helpers’ are not reflecting on their privileges and prejudices, biases and beliefs, and their long-held assumptions. As a result, in their contact with refugees they automatically subscribe to the application of the stigma and the clichés that the label refugee imposes and enforces. Therefore not only are many of these ‘helpers’ not able to recognize (and be critical of) the power relations in their contact with refugees, they are hardly able to see these refugees as normal human beings other than refugees – poor, hungry, from corrupt and underdeveloped countries, and who needs to be ‘taught and civilized’ in Germany. More often than not, they are either talking down to refugees or at best just talking to refugees but certainly not listening to refugees. This attitude is so pervasive that it not only pertains to volunteers and people who hold official positions in various organisations dealing with refugees, but also in the business sector. The recent and highly acclaimed Exhibition “Helfen und Verdienen?” by the Flüchtlingsrat Bremen clearly demonstrated this uncanny cynicism in the business sector with the various ridiculous and insane offers for refugee accommodation and sleeping bags amongst others. It was simply mind-boggling and really beggars belief to see what these companies felt were suitable for refugee accommodation and of course, branded as ‘help’. But let me briefly recount one of my experiences from my last position to drive home this point with respect to those in refugee management.

About a year ago, I worked in a sport hall in Bremen Vahr where many Syrians and a few Afghani refugees were housed. It was managed by one of the big three refugee accommodation agencies in Bremen. Just before Christmas, the Manager was able to secure some funding to get sport shoes for adults in the Camp from a particular shop and I was responsible for organising this. I accompanied ten refugees at a time to the shop where they were to get their shoes. After the second trip, the shop attendant called my Manager twice to complain that there were too many refugees coming to his shop at the same time. Instead of standing up to the shop attendant for what was obviously a discriminatory and racist position, the Manager sided with the shop attendant against the refugees. Now, if ten young German men and women went into a shop to buy shoes, would the shop attendant be calling somebody to complain about their number in his shop? I don’t think so. But simply because they were refugees, these individuals could not be treated as normal human beings and regular customers even though they were not getting the shoes free from the shop. This is why it is important to disengage with the refugee label and its connotations in dealing with refugees.

But that was not even the worse part of this saga. In my discussion with the Manager about this issue, I defended the refugees that they had a right to go into the shop in that number and that they were adults who I could not just order out of the shop as the Manager recommended. The Manager responded and asked me to understand that although these refugees may be of adult age, they were not really adults. In her words, “you have to understand that these are people from different universum(!) and they first have to be brought from there to here and be taught how to live here”. Many of the refugees in question were older and more educated than her yet; she could not see them as adults and normal human beings because they were refugees. I am not at liberty to reproduce the unprintable expletives she used in reference to these refugees at different times simply because they dare demand to live in private apartments. Nor her habit of continuously smoking in the container that served as her office where she attended to refugees; children and adults. Were these peculiar or isolated instances? I’m afraid not because, there are many other examples I could easily recollect from my short time there. This is a notably pervasive attitude and pattern of behaviour in the refugee field.

Or consider this: I once visited a Tent housing about 400 refugees in Bremen to invite the refugees to join a demonstration that was organized to demand private apartments for refugees. On learning why I was there, the Tent Manager said: “No, refugees are not allowed to demonstrate”. When I asked why not? He replied, “Refugees don’t need demonstrations, they are all happy here because everything they want, they get here”. It was an astonishing statement from someone who manages a Tent where none of the children attended school, with no privacy for adults and there was an endless buzz from the massive generator for heating the Tent, not to mention the poor sanitary conditions. Here is a Tent Manager who in all likelihood was living in a private apartment and was gleefully and gratuitously making the judgment for refugees that they are happy to live in a Tent where their basic rights were being denied and their human dignity being damaged. It is very condescending but I have only recounted these here to show the dangerous effect of the lack of self-reflection, and its prevalence in the Welcome culture.

The second necessary but missing dimension in the Welcome culture is the dearth of critical voices and political activism of protests and demonstrations. At a time when there has never been a greater and more devastating attack by the government on the concept of international protection, most critical voices have simply become silent. The majority is basically now engaged in one form or another of ‘helping’ refugees at the expense of the political, in spite of its importance. The political dimension of engaging with refugees on the basis of solidarity and justice, and analyses of the ever increasing multiple reasons of flight that are inextricably tied to Western economic interests have all but disappeared.

The danger of this absence of the political dimension in the Welcome culture is that for most of those ‘helping’ refugees, they are unlikely to understand, let alone acknowledge the co-responsibility of their government in the very reasons for which refugees flee their countries, particularly when their engagement with refugees is devoid of critical self-reflection. The problem is when the political is taken out of the equation of engagement with refugees; the likelihood is that, that relationship can easily become quite hollow in the face of government’s arbitrary intervention like the declaration of “safe countries”. The point here is, while many ‘helpers’ may feel the self-gratification and pat themselves on the back for helping refugees – with their time and resources (while frustrated with insufficient gratitude from refugees), without solidarity and justice as the basis of that relationship, the refugees they are helping could easily be snatched and deported because the government has determined their country to be safe. And because the relationship is based on philanthropy, it becomes too late to assert as a matter of justice, the right of the refugee to remain where she or he wants and not be deported. In that case, these helpers could only attempt to seek out the next refugee who needs to be helped, to continue the circle. However, I do concede there is a debate to be had about what is more productive or more meaningful? To attempt to make a change or a difference from ‘inside’ by the presence of critical voices within the structure or to continue to invest more energy to mobilise and protest, to put pressure on the authorities to change their politics and policies? While these may not be mutually exclusive, this is a debate beyond this piece and one for another time.

Bremen Open Monday Plenary (BOMP)

It is precisely for the above reasons that the original ‘Refugees Welcome’ group in Bremen decided to change its name to “Equal Rights for All” with the Bremen Open Monday Plenary (BOMP) which holds every week. In fairness, the group was never in the mode of the regular refugees welcome initiative as the name was only used for the lack of a better alternative at the time. However, after the vibrant early months following the 3rd October Demo in 2015, which saw a couple of demonstrations for housing, schooling and mobility amongst others, the energy seemed to have dissipated. Therefore the group experimented a few times with the Assemblea. This was an open plenary that served as a forum for refugees to air their voice about their experiences and difficulties of living in Bremen, and together, brainstorm and plan possible actions to improve the situation. Amongst others, the Assemblea aimed to provide the platform for refugee self-organisation. Each session attracted an average of 100 refugees and Germans.

Juxtaposed, the Assemblea and the regular Monday plenary unwittingly developed into a sort of double structure. Two main points were notable in this development. First, the Assemblea provided the forum for refugees to engage with each other and the Germans who were there to show their solidarity and not just ‘help’ and it availed them the opportunity to publicly discuss some of their experiences and problems in Germany. Second, while it was a very effective forum for hearing from refugees – for which many expressed deep appreciation, it could not provide solutions to most of the problems the forum identified and did not offer a structure for focused and continued planning and campaigning together on these problems. Therefore, it could not meet the expectations of some refugees and at the same time, there was the impression that some people were ‘doing’ something for refugees but not really organising and planning together as many refugees were yet to assume responsibility for organising the event.

Consequently, a series of consultation and intensive discussion was initiated between the different stakeholders on the way forward. Drawing on similar experiences in other cities and the support of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, the decision was made to amalgamate the Assemblea and the Monday plenary and rename the group, and make its political engagement more pronounced. In concert with the Flüchtlingsinitiative and the Kommunikationszentrum Paradox, the new format included cooking and dining together, holding the regular Monday plenary while the Flüchtlingsinitiative offers legal advice within the period of each plenary.
The new format commenced about two months ago and so far, all has gone as planned with regular intensive political discussions in the plenary, cooking and dining, and legal advice in full swing, with 30-40 people in each Plenary. The first public event of BOMP was a presentation on Afghanistan by an Afghani refugee on the question of whether Afghanistan is a safe country. This event drew about 50 participants. This was swiftly followed by a spontaneous rally for Alleppo as the bombardment increased in the last couple of weeks and on 10 December 2016, the group staged its first demonstration to denounce the EU Deportation Agreement with Afghanistan and the planned deportation across the EU to Afghanistan. According to the police, 750 people participated in the demonstration. Finally, there was a presentation on the situation in Syria by a Syrian refugee, which attracted 80 participants.

While there is still a lot of work to be done to broaden and stabilize the group, there is no doubt that this is a sharp departure from the understanding of the regular refugee welcome initiative and it is a group that is developing well in light of the observations and criticisms discussed above. As more refugees continue to take responsibilities for running the group with major contributions to its content, it is our hope that even more refugees would be inspired to engage politically and continue to highlight their reasons of flight in relation to the destruction wrecked on their countries by foreign powers. At the same time, we also hope that other refugee supporting groups would be motivated to broaden their contact and engagement with refugees to include these necessary but missing dimensions in the so-called welcome culture.

Short Bio
Dr. Sunny Omwenyeke is a long time activist of The VOICE Refugee Forum and the Caravan-for the rights of refugees and migrants. He was formerly the Coordinator of the Regional Asylum Activism, West midlands/UK and currently, a Networker for the Flüchtlingsrat Bremen.

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