Monday, August 23, 2010

Solidarity with Salomon Wantchoucou

Stop the practice of deportation and collective hearings!

The human rights activist and political refugee Salomon Wantchoucou has chosen not to participate again in the illegal and forcible procedure of the so-called embassy hearings. Already four times he has participated in the so called Hearings. On 26.08.2010 in Berlin will once again be a collective Hearing - Landesamt für Bürger und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Friedrich Krause-Ufer 24, 13353 Berlin - Immigration Office.
We ask for your support. This courageous and correct step of Mr. Salomon Wantchoucou is a stand against the harassment and racist thought patterns of forced Hearings.

Aufenthalterlaubnis für Salomon Wantchoucou!

We demand the recognition of his rights.

We ask for your solidarity. Send the below protest faxes to the responsible, competent authorities:

Saple letter for download:





Landesamt für Bürger und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin,
Friedrich Krause-Ufer 24, 13353 Berlin
Mrs. Langeheine
Tel: (030) 90269-0
Fax: 030902691299

Ausländerbehörde Wittenberg
Leiterin: Frau Makiola
Head: Mrs Makiola
Tel 03491/479 543
Tel 03491/479 544 Branch Gräfenhainichen
Fax: 03491/479 572

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I support the decision of Mr. Salomon Wantchoucou not to apear to the renewed collective Hearings which are going to be held on 08.26.2010 in Berlin.

Mr. Salomon Wantchoucou has since his arrival in Germany all his data - name, place of birth, etc. correctly given to the refugee and immigration office. After two years the immigration authorities wrote his identity "Uknown" in his papers. Since then he had to support several embassy hearings and procedures. He was also sent to the Embassy of the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Nigeria. Now he is once again to be forced to a "collective Hearing Benin". His asylum and residence procedures are blocked.

Mr. Salomon Wantchoucou has from the begining gave correct information and had cooperated. He is not guilty and has decleard his identity forever.

Mr. Salomon Wantchoucou is now in Germany because of political persecution. He was the victim of a political assassination in the Republic of Benin. He is a criticizer of corruption and bad government of Benin.

Since his escape from the Republic of Benin to Germany for refug, he has continued his commitment to political and human rights activism - both in Benin as in Germany.
He is one of the founder of the "refugee initiative Möhlau Wittenberg.
Because of his human rights and political activities in Germany, he always recieved from the district of Wittenberg threats and intimidation.
We criticize and condemn the treatment to an innocent refugees, the activist, Solomon Wantchoucou by the competent authorities of the district of Wittenberg, especially the branch Gräfenhainichen.

I emphasize explicitly: No one shall be sent to a country where he or she is exposed to danger and death.
I note that you aim directly at his life, if you follow his deportation.

I urge a rejection of the "collective Hearing Benin", which is to take place on 26.08.2010 in Berlin with ten other refugees.
I urge a secure and permanent residence permit for Mr. Salomon Wantchoucou.

Signature Date


The practice of embassy hearings in the expression of a nationalist and colonial mentality. It is based on a "völkische Weltanschauung" (which was an important part of the German national socialism), i.e. the ideology, that only that person can be part of a certain nation/people that provides certain "völkische" respectively "racial" features, resp. in colonial terms "tribal" features that are defined mainly by physical features such as height, statue, form of the ead, colour of skin, colour of eyes, the way of talking.

Whereas in Germany people believe to have overcome this backwardish and reactionary idea of belongig to nation and people are - at least partly - proud of their enlightened multiculturalism (which allows now and then even somebody who is not white, blond, blue-eyed to be a German), that degree of enlightenment is not thought to be adequate for an African state.

The criterias for the distribution of nationalities to refugees by the embassy hearings are referring to "tribal" features and they are incontradiction to a progressive and enlightened way of defining nation and nationality.

That there is no criticism on applying such reactionary criteria for an African state (whereas there are not adequate anymore for a modern European state) shows once again the colonial and racist perspective on Africa, but also questions if this "völkische" mentality has really been overcome in Germany.

For example:
A woman from a country D went to country M. In Country M, she met a friend and became pregnant. The man disappears, or dies and she can not alone care for the baby, or she may accidentally dies. Does it mean that the daughter or the boy does not comes from country M?

Salomon Wantchoucou is a victim of a political assassination in the Republic of Benin. He is a critic of corruption and bad government of Benin.

Salomon Wantchoucou has been facing a lot of psychological threats and intimidation in the local government of Wittenberg, because of his human right and political activities. He is one of the founder of the "refugee initiative Möhlau Wittenberg. Instead of according him resident permission and solidarity. They do not consider his family situation: the early death of his biological parents, who came from Benin and South Africa. He then lived in Benin with adoptive parents, who died in 2001 in a car accident. He lost the Beninese nationality. Since then Solomon Wantchoucou is stateless. He wrote on 25.02.2009 an official letter to the Embassy of Benin, with a request for natinality confirmation. The copy of this letter of the negative response message from 15.04.2009 have been sent to the competent authorities in Wittenberg.

Already on 05/03/2003 they had forced him also to collective Hearing, to be present in the Benin Embassy regardless of the background of his political opposition.

He was sent on 11.11.2008 by the competent authorities of Wittenberg to the Nigerian Embassy, despite the fact that he is not a Nigerian. Then truthfully the Nigerian Embassy informed, that he was not a citizen of Nigeria. They also sent him on 04.10.2004 and on 10.06.2009 at different linguistic analysis, in which he participated. After all of these involvements, the competent authorities accord him for many years, vouchers instead of cash. He was denied a working permit for many years. He has through all these years, no freedom of movement.

Through the present compulsory forced Hearing from the immigration authorities, once again threatened the lives of those affected. Salomon Wantchoucou currently has no contact with any relatives in South Africa and Benin. This treatment, which he recieved by the competent authorities, including the isolation of the Camp Möhlau could end up with the result that his post traumatic disorder, that he suffered in the attack in Cotonou in 2001 worsened.

Flüchtlingsinitiative Möhlau Wittenberg ; no lager halle;
Die Karawane für die Rechte von Flüchtlingen und Migranten;
The VOICE Refugee Forum

Eight Years Are Not Eight Days, enough of the pain and suffering of Ali

It is not about more and not about less than a permanent and secure right of residence for ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ.

Aufenthaltsrecht für ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ

ALI SAFIANOU TOUR was born in 1973 in Bafilou in Togo. Under the dictatorship of General Gnassingbe Eyadema and his family clan, Bafilou which is situated in the immediate vicinity of the Kara region, from where the Eydema clan originate, suffered constant oppression.
Consequently many people from Bafilou, especially among the youth, were active opponents of the regime. Mr. Ali recalls that during his early school years he and a friend once criticized that the students often had to practice theatre and dance choreographies for the president, instead of learning. Parents pay school fees for their children to be educated and hope that they later find a job or attend university. Many are extremely poor and have difficulties raising the school fees. The headmaster upon learning of the criticism summoned ALI SAFIANOU and asked him if he was a democrat and warned him to forget such ideas.

Transport workers smuggled the newspaper of the opposition Party for Democracy and Renewal (PDR) from the capital Lomé to Bafilou. ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ joined the youth organization of the PDR and was responsible for distributing the newspapers in Bafilou. Because many people were illiterate he and his school friend Abdou Gafar Tchedre Djibril organized meetings where they read aloud from the newspaper and the issues were then discussed within the group. Due to the increased threats they were forced to leave school. During protests against a rally of the President's party in Bafilou security forces attacked the demonstrators and many were arrested. Around the same time, one of his uncles was killed in an attack by the Army in Sodu.

ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ, who until then had been living with his grandmother and the brother of his father, had attracted the attention of security forces and had to leave Bafilou. He went to Lomé. Because of his disability, the result of contacting polio as a child, it was not easy to find a job. Eventually he began an apprenticeship as a tailor. After a while he became politically active again, sewed banners for the opposition and distributed leaflets. In the run-up to the 2002 presidential election the repression was particularly strong and many were afraid. Informers were everywhere. ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ nevertheless continued to attend University. As a RPT party leader, whom he knew from his schooldays saw him and asked him what someone from the north wanted here in the south, he answered, whether north or south, we want democracy and a new direction. The dictatorship must go. He then continued distributing the leaflets. In the evening he received a warning not to go home and stayed with friends. During a search of his home that night the police found leaflets decrying the impunity of the security forces - the military and police forces are responsible for thousands of deaths. Corpses were sometimes thrown from helicopters into the sea and were then washed ashore onto the Beaches of Lomé. Of particular interest was a video from Germany which his childhood friend Abdou Gafar, who was already in exile, had sent him. The video documents the vigorous protests Togolese opposition against the appearance of dictator Eyadema at the EXPO 2000 in Hanover.

After the police raid, friends took ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ to Ghana from where he then fled to Germany.

At the central reception office for refugees in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a former GDR army barracks near the town of Boizenburg, he applied for political asylum. He was sent to an isolated camp located in the woods. The "jungle home", as the refugees call it, - the term itself has became a synonym for the many similar camps located in remote areas in Germany - was a collection of huts made of wood and Masonite boards and a single brick building.

Aufenthaltsrecht für ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ

This building housed the camp administration, i.e. the caretaker and the security staff, the refugees lived in the barracks. Previous to ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ's arrival there was not even a paved road from this forest clearing to the main road a number of kilometres away. During heavy rainfalls the road was impassable by car. Originally built as a summer camp during the 60's, the complex was now completely dilapidated. Instead of closing it, Thousands of D-Marks was invested to tarmac the forest track.

The condition of the barracks remained the same. Inside, black mould in the rooms and rainwater dripping from constantly from the ceiling. Outside, a frequently overflowing septic tank and many forest animals. In winters with heavy snowfall the camp was completely cut off from the outside. The barracks were virtually un-heat able. There were often power failures due to snow or storm damage. The children received no schooling until the protests of the parents forced the authorities to set up a shuttle service to the school. The refugees could only shop with food vouchers in two supermarkets in Sternberg ten kilometers away.

The Nigerian refugee, human rights activist and member of The VOICE Refugee Forum Akubo Anusonwu Chukwudi lived eleven Years in the "jungle home". Together with other refugees he fought for the closure of the camp and against the discrimination and inhumane treatment of the refugees. The continual protests of the refugees and a growing support for them forced the authorities to close the camp in 2004. ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ and other refugees from the "jungle homes" in Peeschen and Tramm were relocated to a camp on the outskirts of Parchim - newly renovated, fenced in with an entry gate and security guards. That same year the campaign against the dictatorship in Togo was initiated, ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ's application for political asylum was rejected and the first deportation by charter-flight from Hamburg to Togo took place. Based on his experience of the rivalries between the various Togolese opposition groups in the Diaspora, Abdou Gafar Tchedre Djibril initiated an "international campaign against the dictatorship in Togo and other African countries" under the umbrella of the Caravan Network, in which all could participate. In addition to publicizing the crimes of the regime, one of the crucial issues of the campaign was the collaboration of the German Government and its Agencies with the regime. Despite the brutal dictatorship of the Eyadema clan, the German government continued to deport refugees to Togo.

The deportees were often forced to flee the country once again. Some disappeared or were imprisoned and tortured. Togolese deportees reported that the German authorities regularly handed over their asylum files to their Togolese counterparts. The German Foreign Office country reports, which form the basis of the decisions of the administrative courts in political asylum cases, try to gloss over and trivialize the true state of affairs in Togo. Nevertheless, everyone was surprised when ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ's asylum application was rejected. Firstly, he is a close childhood associate of the prominent regime critic Abdou Gafar. Secondly, he was politically active and was involved in all activities and campaigns in Togo as well as in exile. Thirdly, it was obvious to everyone that his severe physical disability left him open to danger. Through numerous demonstrations, events, appeals to human rights groups, a hunger strike at Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt Abdou Gafar Tchedre Djibril (video interview), ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ and others increase public awareness on the true situation in Togo.

In spring 2006 the Mecklenburg State Parliament convened a hearing on the situation in Togo and Togolese refugees. Several invited experts reported on the situation in Togo and on the situation of the refugees. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern issued a moratorium on deportations to Togo. Under the agreements between the State Interior Ministries and the Federal Interior Ministry a moratorium may not last longer than six months. Without re-examining the unchanged situation, the deportations were resumed.

In 2005 Eyadema's son seized power and proceeded to consolidate his regime, a number of opponents were bought-off, impunity continued and all serious criticism suppressed. The stability of his power structure guarantees him the support of France and Germany. The Foreign Office in the meantime attests to the beginnings of a "democratization process". This is grist for the mills of the deportation authorities and provides argumentation template for the many asylum-revocation proceedings.

Despite his serious health situation and his insecure refugee status ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ is still active in the VOICE Forum, the Caravan and the No Lager Network in the struggle for the recognition of basic human rights of refugees. Many know him by his nickname "president" which other refugees gave him because he is always there for them when he is needed. He is concerned with cultivating contacts, because his ear and his heart are open to all.

Aufenthaltsrecht für ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ

His application for residence on humanitarian grounds two years ago still lies with Authorities in Parchim unanswered. The limited medical care afforded 'tolerated' refugees, the camp accommodation, the residence restrictions and the reduced social benefits have led to a worsening of his health situation over the years. In the past he was able to cover longer distances with the help of crutches. Today even short distances cause him severe pain and force him to constantly pause. He fell heavily a number of times on route to or from the many visits to the local authorities or doctors in Parchim District. Meanwhile a circle of friends and acquaintances are endeavouring to ease his daily life as much as possible. The worsening physical limitations and the pain which radiates through his whole, can however only durably be reduced through adequate orthopaedic aids and regular physiotherapeutic treatment. In Togo this is not possible - unless one is very wealthy - and in the present situation for him, it is also not possible in Parchim.

After rejecting his legitimate asylum claims, the authorities are simply ignoring his second application of residence due to his health condition. This means that the immigration authorities are well aware that there are justified grounds and are just waiting for an opportunity to issue a refusal, followed by a quick deportation attempt.

Eight years are not eight days.

ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ can not afford to wait any longer; his health and life are endangered. Together with his lawyer; Sigrid Töpfer and the law office at Budapesterstrasse 49 in Hamburg, we have decided to prosecute to force a decision. We are aware that this can lead to a negative reaction from the immigration office in Parchim under the direction of Heiko Lohrenz given their previous passivity and Lohrenz’s record with Activist refugees. Nonetheless, ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ must take this risk; the present situation is no longer bearable.

We call on you to support ALI SAFIANOU TOURÉ's struggle for a secure and permanent residence.

KARAWANE für die Rechte der Flüchtlinge und MigrantInnen Hamburg
c/o Internationales Zentrum B5 , Brigittenstrasse 5 , 20359 Hamburg
Tel: +49-40-43 18 90 37 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +49-40-43 18 90 37 end_of_the_skype_highlighting; Fax +49-40-43 18 90 38 mail: free2move[ät]

Donation account:

Association: Verein zur Förderung der Rechte von Flüchtlingen und MigrantInnen
Bank: Hamburger Sparkasse
Bank code (Blz): 200 505 50
Account number: 126 813 42 59
Keyword: president

A Dublin II Deportation Diary

Why did you want me back in Greece?, ask the refugees being returned due to the Dublin II regulation from different other European countries. The deportation diary carrying the same name evolved out of a short visit in Athens, where activists from the newly founded infomobile project conducted interviews with refugees affected by this European regulation.

The findings, based on interviews with the people affected, are shocking and deeply disturbing. For although every story of flight to and within Europe is different, if we were to summarise, there are two main conclusions that need to be drawn.

In Greece, despite numerous announcements and communications of intent by the relevant authorities of the PASOK government, the situation has only worsened for refugees. There still is no support system for refugees providing even the most basic necessities, while the impact of the economic crisis has hit refugees the hardest: they are in an even more precarious situation by now. Frequent police raids have made their stay in Greece even more volatile and have increased the risk of repeated and prolonged detention under the same inhuman conditions documented countless times. At the same time, the Greek asylum system is still dysfunctional and only existent by name.

The Dublin II-regulation, on the other hand, destroys all hope refugees might have to reach their final destination and to escape the conditions in Greece by moving on to another European country. As the regulation stipulates that the responsibility for an asylum application lies with the country of first entry, many refugees that manage the journey onwards are simply deported back, without any examination of their situation. This leads to refugees straying around Europe, searching for protection and rest, sometimes even for years, only to find themselves deported back to Greece. Given the current situation of refugees in Greece, we contend that the human rights of refugees are fundamentally violated in Greece. Under this perspective, the Dublin II-regulation is a systematic violation of the non-refoulement principle laid down in the Geneva Convention on Refugees and needs to be abolished at once.

We invite you to follow the kaleidoscope of stories assembled in the report and to spread the word about it. The Dublin II-regulation is already under intense legal scrutiny by highest national and European courts, and it is the facts that you can read in this report that need to be brought to the public attention all over Europe: the state of the European asylum system in 2010 is a state of organised irresponsibility and violation of fundamental principle of human rights and international laws.

We invite you to read, not to freeze but to get involved: it is an invitation to join the refugees’ struggles for freedom of movement. It is not enough to report. Convince your government to accept more refugees and stop sending them back here! was one of the instructions we received at Attiki Square in the centre of Athens.

Download the Dublin II Deportation Diary (pdf, 700kb)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

State sponsored cruelty’: the immigration detention of children

Julian Huppert MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP invite you to ;
The launch of the Medical Justice report ; ‘State sponsored cruelty’: the immigration detention of children

4-6pm Thursday 9th September 2010
Committee Room 10, House of Commons

Discussion : The report and the next steps to ending the immigration detention of children

Welcome : Julian Huppert MP - Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees

Speakers :
* Mr. S - detained with his partner and children at Yarl's Wood detention centre
* Dr Sarah Wynick - child and adolescent psychiatrist
* Jon Burnett - Medical Justice, author of ‘State sponsored cruelty’
* UK Borders Agency representative (invited)

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described the indefinite immigration detention of children as ‘state sponsored cruelty’. Prime Minister David Cameron said “we will end the incarceration of children for immigration purposes once and for all”.

Download the Medical Justice 2008 Annual Report

We are concerned that the government has provided no timescales as to when the immigration detention of children will actually be abolished. Powers still exist to arrest and forcibly remove children from the UK by harmful means, including separating and detaining one parent, detaining a single parent and putting the child “in care”, and forcibly removing one family member from the UK without the others. Continued use of these harmful mechanisms has not been ruled out. New mechanisms under consideration include issuing removal directions whereby the date is withheld from the family until they are arrested, zero-notice removals (UKBA is appealing the July 2010 ruling that such removals are illegal), and short-term detention (which we consider to be little different from current policy whereby children are detained only in “exceptional circumstances” but have, in reality, been detained seemingly indiscriminately for weeks or even months).

The Australian government said they had stopped detaining children but reverted back to it – they just called it something different. We are anxious that there will be no such U-turn in the UK. We need policy and legislation change that eliminates all forms of family detention and separation, and related harmful practices to effect forced removals.

‘State sponsored cruelty’: the immigration detention of children’ presents the findings of the first large scale investigation in the UK into the physical and psychological harms consolidated by and/or caused by the administrative detention of children. This report draws on medical and legal evidence gathered and generated by independent doctors assessing 141 children detained between 2004 and April 2010, and exposes medical negligence, medical abuse, and structural harm ;

* 92 children where detention was reported to have detrimentally impacted on their physical health;

* 50 children who were reported to have received inadequate medical care;

* 74 children reported to be psychologically harmed as a result of being detained;

* 48 children reported to have witnessed violence in the detention estate;

* 13 children reported to have been physically harmed as a result of violence; and

* 50 cases : concerns raised about failures to provide adequate immunisations before attempted removal.

The report provides powerful support to the government’s stated commitment to end the detention of children. It will be used to hold the government to account and ensure we never again allow ‘State sponsored cruelty’.

To book a place : Please email e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

For further information about the report : Please contact Jon Burnett on e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it / 07807 726546

Notes ;

1,065 children were detained In 1009. 50% of them were released, calling the effectiveness of detention into question. Detaining a family of four for between 4 and 8 weeks costs over £20,000. Making the ending of detention of children contingent on developing alternative ways of removing families from the UK would be reprehensible, given the medical evidence that detention harms children and that UKBA admit families do not generally abscond.

Medical Justice is the only organization in the UK which organises volunteer doctors to visit men, women and children in detention centres to document scars of torture and/or challenge instances of inadequate medical provision. We are a small charity, currently handling around 1,000 cases a year. The unmet need is great. Our network includes doctors, lawyers, campaigners, scholars, and ex-detainees.