Sunday, April 09, 2006

International Refugee Human Rights Tour - 29th of July till 5th of August 2006

Munich – Neuburg – Landshut - Nuremberg

Refugee camps are a means of oppression, economic exploitation and isolation. The AntiLagerTour calls to end this inhuman internment and to end a policy which discriminates, isolates and criminalizes refugees.

Further information:,

Abolish refugee camps!
Give up exclusion!
Stop isolation!

Refugees living in refugee camps are denied fundamental human rights. They have no privacy, they are excluded from the society they are living in, they are threatened by infectious diseases, psychologically worn down and subjected to repression, they are excluded from education, they are economically exploited and can’t even decide for themselves what they want to eat. So Elvisa B. asks angrily: “"What can I give my children to eat?" On Thursday, Elvisa arrived late to the food parcel distribution because she had been at the doctor with her youngest child. The next food parcels are due the next Thursday only, and only if she is lucky, they haven't been cancelled at all. When she was thirteen years old, she fled the war in Bosnia together with her parents. Today, the 26-year-old woman lives as a single mother in the largest refugee camp in Southern Bavaria, at Neuburg an der Donau. Since she is not allowed to work, she and her three little children have to live on the contents of the food parcels.

Why refugees are here

Elvisa B. and her children share the fate of thousands of refugees in Bavaria, who have left their countries because of war, political or religious persecution, poverty, hunger, racist or sexual discrimination, among them refugees that fled war in former Yugoslavia, men and women from Iran and Afghanistan, from Iraq or Congo, oppositional people who have fled from the European-Union-supported dictatorships in Ethiopia and Togo. Like the Afghani family A., who live in the refugee camp in Landshut. For their three daughters, who have grown up in Germany, it is unimaginable to return to Afghanistan, where they would have to comply with the harsh rules of feudal leaders. Or Ahmed D. (27), a stateless Kurd who fled oppression in Syria. He inhabits half a room in the Munich refugee camp of Emma-Ihrer-Strasse. It is not
suitable for handicapped people, but who cares for the needs of a person in a wheelchair but without passport?

Refugee camps shall enforce “the readiness to return”

These are three stories, but there are thousand more to be told. All these people are forced by law to live in refugee camps. Usually, these camps are barracks or containers, separated from the rest of the population by fence or isolated location outside residential areas. There, privacy doesn't exist, people have to share little space. Up to four people have to share a room of 15
sqm, showers and toilets are communal, as well as the kitchen if existent. The bosses of the camps and the police arbitrarily control people, times for visits are limited and people live in fear of being taken at 5 o’clock in the morning for deportation- all this is part of daily life in the lager. This permanent state of exception makes many inhabitants physically and psychologically ill. It is forbidden to rent an own flat, even if one could afford it. The forced stay in camps, is supposed to "encourage the willingness to return to the country of origin", as the Bavarian ministry of the interior puts it.

Systematic exclusion and isolation

Refugees are barred from work and therefore condemned to be idle. Only after one year, they have the theoretical chance to obtain a work permit, but with "subordinate access" to the labour market only. So, refugees have to find and employer who gives them a written confirmation that he/she wants to employ them. With this confirmation, they have to apply for a working permission. But usually, these jobs, which had been confirmed for refugees, are given to other people looking for work by the work agency. The gratitude for this creative way of announcing free jobs is frustrating- the refugees get nothing. In this way, refugees and other jobless people are played against each other. Those who manage, in spite of all difficulties, to get a working permission, cannot feel safe. At the moment, many people who had got a working permission in the past are withdrawn again this working permission. Anyhow, they have no claim to get unemployment benefit, although they have paid unemployment insurance for years. Thus banned from securing their own subsistence, refugees are treated as second class citizens: Twice a week, the company "Drei Koenig" from Schwaebisch Gmuend (Baden-Wuertemberg) delivers food parcels which at times contain foul food, or food past their best-before date. This inadequate supply of non-cash benefits, accomplished by second-hand clothes and toilet paper, deprives human beings from any form of self-determination. In cash, refugees in Bavaria have 40 Euros a month (20 for children), which are spent for additional foodstuff, bus fare, medication of toys for children. In many cases, even theses benefits are reduced or even cancelled as a means of sanctioning. Because of "Residenzpflicht", refugees are not allowed to leave the constituency they live in. An infraction against this law is often avenged with fines or imprisonment. In this way, refugees are criminalized for visiting their relatives and friends and for engaging themselves politically and socially. Furthermore, due to this criminalisation, refugees are later refused the right to stay with reference to their previous convictions.

The inability to integrate into the world society

This exclusion, isolation and criminalisation is characteristic for refugee policies not only in Bavaria, but also in Germany, Europe and all over the world. The European-Union-states try to make Europe an asylum-free zone- with deadly consequences: People drown in the Mediterranean, are shot at the fences of Ceuta and Mellilla, or they are set out in the desert of Libya and Morocco. With foreigners' laws, borders, camps, prisons and deportations, European Union states try to control who stays and is allowed to stay in their sovereign territory. But this means more than only sticking to the antiquated nationalist ideas of the 19th and 20th century. In that way, they insure their dominance in a worldwide capitalist system – a system which denies the access to vital economic, natural and social resources for the majority of all human beings and which simply devastates large parts of the world for economic profit. While they concede more and more freedom of movement to capital and goods in the globalised
economy of today, they restrict the freedom of movement of six billion "members of the human family" (general declaration of the human rights) by more and more rigid means. This refugee policy ignores a reality in which there have always been and will always be human beings who will try to escape a situation threatening their very existence and to find a better living perspective for themselves and their families, despite all legal attempts to thwart this.
States that chose to ignore this reality prove their very incapability to integrate into a global society. By clinging to their nation state ideology, they accept to agonise people, to deprive them of their rights and to violate their human dignity.

Human Rights can’t be achieved by begging for them- they are claimed by fighting for them!

Worldwide, refugees protest against being excluded, isolated and criminalised by law. This discrimination because of their country of origin is a violation of the human rights. During the last few years, the struggle against such policy has also taken place in Bayern in the form of public protest, boycott of food packages or many, often publicly invisible, acts of daily resistance against bosses of camps, authorities and police harassments. We feel linked to this struggle. We, refugees and supporters, jointly demand to respect the human dignity of refugees and to guarantee their rights and needs. We ask you to demand, together with us, the abolition of all refugee camps and an immediate end to the practices of “legalised” exclusion, isolation and
criminalisation of refugees.

We demand:
- Abolish refugee camps – free choice of residence!
- An end to exclusion and isolation!
-The right to stay for everyone!
- No food packages, but money, so that everyone can buy the food that she/he desires!
- Abolish Residential Restriction Law (“Landkreis-Residenzpflichtgesetz”)!
- Stop criminalisation of refugees and racist controls!
- Equal right to work!
- Fight racism- equal rights for everybody!

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