Join us at the camp and in the struggle against racism
An action camp featuring protests, workshops, discussions and networking
From 13 to 22 July, there will be a NoBorder camp in Cologne which is being organised by an open collective of anti-racist groups and activists. Come to the camp! Contribute your ideas, actions, and workshops! Get involved in the decentralised preparations! The camp will be what you make it!
(short version of the call below)
WHY A NO BORDER CAMP?
Europe’s borders have many shapes. They encompass the European Union and they also show outside of the Schengen area in neighbour and “transit states”. There are also interior and invisible borders that pervade society. Similarly they express themselves through relations characterised by exploitation and dominance, which are also based on gender. While non EU states such as Ukraine and Tunisia have been committed to intercept migrants and refugees before they can even reach the Schengen area, the EU member states make use of structural violence: racist stop-and-search operations carried out by the police, precarious working conditions, detention in refugee camps or deportations operated from the airports of major European cities. These are only a few examples of manifestations of racism towards those who are perceived as “different”, exposing the deeply entrenched racism in European societies.
However, these borders are constantly transcended: When refugees revolt in camps near the EU’s external borders, when migrants stay despite precarious living conditions or when they organise themselves in solidly united collectives. What’s more is that discrepancies have become apparent between states maintaining the European border regime. Even though 2011 turned out to be the most fatal year for refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the Arab spring caused a temporary collapse of Europe’s extended borders. And also within the European Union, political conflicts have erupted concerning the austerity measures authoritatively pushed forward by the German state. They are particularly evident in Southern European protests against economic attacks which were justified by the crisis and the impoverishing policies imposed by more affluent European states.
WHAT’S THE AGENDA OF THE NO BORDER CAMP COLOGNE/DÜSSELDORF?
As participants of the camp, we’d like to create a space in which demands can be made, listened to, supported and knowledge shared – where refugees/migrants/PoCs1 can find room to organise themselves. We’d like to develop strategies that allow us to surmount existing divisions amongst people and to unite in our fight against racism. Through our actions we’d like to raise awareness and to overcome the feeling of powerlessness. Because structural racism has its effects, the group organising the preparations predominantly consists of white2 people. However, we intend to create an environment that enables and encourages everybody to participate in the preparations of the camp. The camp will exert political pressure on the people responsible for the deportation apparatus and on those profiting from it. Actions during the camp can temporarily suspend the border regime and resistance and self-organisation can effectively prevent deportations! An action day against the deportations from Düsseldorf International Airport is scheduled on the 21st of July which won’t leave beneficiaries of the deportation apparatus like Air Berlin unmolested.
Living conditions of refugees and migrants in Düsseldorf and Cologne
The camp will also look into refugees’ living conditions at the respective locations and try to reinforce present struggles and self-determination! The compulsory internment in asylum seekers’ accommodation far away from city centres are part of a racist segregation policy. It harms people both physically and psychologically and refugees constantly try to take action against this kind of accommodation as a systematic attempt to humiliate and to isolate them. The aims of the detention centres’ refugee policies, which heavily rely on deportations, are followed up by other repressive measures, like the Residenzpflicht or the interrogation of refugees who try to obtain a permit to travel that take place at the central alien office in Cologne.
There are many places in which people who are directly affected by these measures have initiated actions: Conferences or campaigns against the Residenzpflicht and protests against accommodation in refugee camps and the food stamp system, also bringing up the issue of racist police violence. This may saw people in Berlin having action days against deportation hearings, in Thuringia, Eastern Germany, the Break Isolation Camp against accommodation in refugee camps will be held and people are joining them from all over.
Other spots in Cologne represent the conditions which migrants/PoCs/black people (…) and their descendants who, despite having grown up in Germany are still considered “foreign”, have to face: In 2004 in Köln-Mülheim the far right terrorist group NSU committed an attack aimed at the colour population using a nail filled bomb. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution which has some involvement in the NSU’s serial killings has its headquarters in Cologne as well. In Mülheim and in other parts of Cologne, Bulgarian and Romanian migrants are currently subjected to public hostility and continuous police raids. The central record of foreigners which registers people without a German passport on racist criteria, and which thousands of “partner departments” can access, is one of the most extensive databases in Germany and is also in Cologne.
Main focus Anti-Romanyism
In Germany and in Europe structural discrimination, social stigmatisation and everyday-racism are historical continuities. During the 3rd Reich Roma were persecuted, defamed and murdered. The Federal Republic of Germany has never assumed responsibility as the successor state. Instead many Roma and Sinti are still being denied the right of residence, stigmatised and face deportation. Anti-Romanyism, the stereotypical perception and the widespread rejection of Roma and Sinti does not only manifest in marches and pogroms which have recently taken place in various Eastern European countries. They only represent the violent climax. In Germany Roma are confronted with racist agitation in the media and social exclusion. Roma who migrate from countries such as Romania or Bulgaria to Western European countries, because of an increasingly aggressive racism and their extreme poverty, will find themselves persistently discriminated against and subjected to general suspicion in populist campaigns directed at them. This is currently happening in Leverkusen where the media uses terms such as “Mafia” when speaking about Roma families, the police carry out raids and make use of racial profiling when stop-and-searching people in public transportation.
On a local level, racist prejudices enter public discourse without resistance, the media being more than complicit in this. The social situation that’s constituted by the consequences of persecution, expulsion, and poverty is considered an intrinsic trait of Roma people, followed by a demand for more repression against them. An ostensible cause for the imagined threat in one of the anti-ziganist campaigns in Dortmund was the presence of people working as sex workers who migrated from Bulgaria. Stigmatised in multiple ways (as sex workers and as women) their work has been put on a level with violence and organised crime to illegalise their already precarious working conditions.
Other than that, social exclusion manifests in regular collective deportations which even concern families who have lived in Germany for more than twenty years, based on so-called readmission agreements, to Kosovo, Macedonia or to Serbia. The deportation practice and the methods used against Roma in Germany traumatise the people affected and force them to live under inhumane and marginalised conditions in the ex-Yugoslavian states. All over Europe, the white majority tacitly accepts the fact that Roma are only allowed to stay in camps, “in their part of town” where they can “move freely” while white people ponder how they might be able to colonise the moon.
The campaign “alle bleiben!” (“everybody stays!”) which fights for the right of residence to be granted to Roma has staged protests at the latest collective deportations from Düsseldorf Airport which lead to a life without perspectives that’s characterised by social exclusion in Kosovo and Serbia. The activists stick up for people threatened by deportation and try to get the flights to depart with as few passengers as possible. The No Border camp intends to pick up on these struggles against deportation and for better living conditions and to bring attention to the resistance of Roma activists. Let’s support and show our solidarity with Roma-activists! Stop all deportations!
From detention camps to deporations, from Sarrazin to the NSU – let’s attack racist realities!
What do the “NSU” (National Socialist Underground, a far-right German terrorist group), the right-winged organisation “Pro Deutschland” or the controversy about Thilo Sarrazin’s theories (a German politician promoting a restrictive immigration policy) have in common with deportations carried out in practice by the German authorities and the everyday life of refugees in detention centres? We conceive racism as a widespread societal and institutionalised reality that cannot be assigned to the margins of society or be trivialised as isolated cases. Racism is ubiquitous, people are turned into “others” on a daily basis, pushed to the fringes of society having to endure generalised stereotyping and prejudice. This resulted in the serial killings of the Neo-nazi murderers of the NSU remaining unknown to the public.
Instead, the victims and their families were accused of having been involved in criminal activities by the investigators. This strategy of reversing guilt has a long tradition in Germany. The refugee Safwan Eid was accused of an arson attack on a refugee camp in 1996; the asylum seeker Oury Jalloh who burned to death in a police cell in 2005 had allegedly caused his own death by setting fire to the mattress that he was tied down to. According to this logic, people who are discriminated against in a racist manner represent the cause of just that discrimination – it thus being a problem of those who have to endure it and not those who gain privileges from it, i.e. the white German majority. Anti-Islamic racism often claims that Muslims, or those who are perceived to be Muslims, are associated with terrorism and fundamentalism. In anti-Islamic racism, the sexualistation of women defined as “Muslim” works through the urge to “unveil everything” in an interplay with their deprivation of self-determination and emancipation.
This widespread racism saw another climax in 2010 in the controversy caused by Thilo Sarrazin in which the social democrat combines his biologism with cultural racism. Whether people use the colonialist category of “race” as a pretence or replace it with the term “culture”, both inevitably ascribe certain characteristics to people. Thus turning them into “representatives” of some arbitrarily defined group. And it wasn’t just during the Sarrazin controversy that people were classified according to their “usefulness”. This is the point where racism becomes something ordinary and gains the support of the tacit majority, when Roma are collectively deported to the hard winters of Kosovo, when refugees have to put up with discriminatory laws such as the heavily criticised German Residenzpflicht or when PoCs keep being asked “where they’re really from”.
Action focus Deportations
This year’s No Border Camp will focus its actions on Düsseldorf International Airport which serves as a hub for the European deportation apparatus. Collective deportations are coordinated by FRONTEX, the European border protection agency which wages war against refugees on the EU’s borders. The agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union also fights refugees and migrants long before they reach the actual European borders, for instance at the West-African coast and turns people in the need of protection into “illegals” while they’re still on their way to Europe. FRONTEX uses more than 10 million Euro to finance the so-called “Return Operations” during which charter planes head for various airports in different EU states to “collect” the deportees to then secretively deport them using violence. These flights depart from all over Europe – we know of collective deportations to numerous countries departing from Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK – amongst others. However, there are protests against charter deportations operated by Frontex at many points of departure. Most collective Frontex deportations concern migrants and refugees from Nigeria, and are obviously meant to intimidate migrants who have left Nigeria, which is one of the most populous African countries. Refugees who have organised themselves have been trying to defend themselves against the “hearings” carried out by the German Federal Police in cooperation with the Nigerian embassy for years. People are simply “identified” as Nigerian citizens to be deported using the papers which are then issued. These hearings and deportations will also be a topic to be discussed over the duration of the camp.
The biggest airline in Düsseldorf, Air Berlin, provides planes for deportations to Kosovo and Serbia and therefore profits from the nasty deportation business. That’s why people have started to organise resistance: 70-75 seats were booked for a collective deportation in early February 2012 – ultimately only 16 people could be forced to take the flight. Demonstrations and blockades at the airport meant a significant interference with the business as usual at Düsseldorf International and we’ll try to follow up to this with further actions!
AND BEYOND THE BORDERS
The aim of the camp is to point out the connection between everyday and institutional racism and to link them to other fields or forms of discrimination. We want to criticise racism as a power relation in society as a whole and to intervene by performing actions. By providing critical media we’d also like to interfere in discourses which relativise racism and trivialise it as a problem of isolated fanatics. In order to achieve this, racism must be put into the context of neo-colonial dominance and capitalist exploitation – following up on the slogan coined by self-organised refugees and migrants many years ago: “We’re here because you destroy our countries!”. The subjects concerning this, issues and challenges will be addressed throughout the camp, we’re planning to do a big action against the sell-out of fertile farmland to banks, investment funds and big corporations that has rapidly increased since 2007. The land grabbing has turned into a massive wave of expropriation which leads to the loss of livelihood of hundreds of millions of peasants and fishers in the global south and as a consequence, migration to cities and to “Western” countries.
We’ll raise the issue of exploitation of migrants and their labour conflicts at the airport, which are linked to other struggles against precarious work conditions: Not only Greece saw mass protests and strikes. The immense consequences of the crisis have exacerbated the already disastrous conditions under which refugees and migrants/refugees/and many PoCs try to make a living. In this case the camp could serve as a space that allows us to intervene by taking into consideration current developments in which protests against everyday impoverishment are combined with migration as a movement against global inequalities. The No Border Camp should be a space that allows refugees, migrants and everybody who wants to join their struggles to develop visions, analyses and practices uniting different kinds of struggles. The camp will give us the chance to combine anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-fascist and (queer-)feminist or anti-patriarchal perspectives in order to oppose the concurrence of different forms of discrimination and dominance by providing various resistance strategies to ultimately fight a united struggle against all forms of racism.
|white awareness and Empowerment|
Racism affects all of us, everybody who is not affected by it in a negative way unknowingly or knowingly benefits from the privileges that it grants them. Racism occurs in the neo-colonial contexts of white supremacy and a white culture of dominance. It defines white as normal and is by no means simply a personal view, prejudice or stereotype. It’s obvious that racism affects people in different ways depending on their social standing, whether they’re white, black, people of colour, people with or without experiences of having to flee their country, as illegalised individuals, as women or men etc. That’s why people who are critical of racism from a white perspective need to fight their own privileges and to actively break through their white normality. Racism won’t just vanish thanks to altruistic intentions! The privileges of the white majority must be named if racism is to be fought since that’s where it emerges from.
We will try to provide the framework during the camp to establish safe spaces to exchange with other PoCs/migrants/Slavic people/Sinti/Muslims/Roma and to network. We want to break isolation and test strategies to focus and to strengthen ourselves. In doing so, we will attach great importance to anti-authoritarian visions. Solidly united we’d like to concentrate our experiences to direct them as strong energies against racism and any form of authority.
|No Border Camps|
No Border Camps have been organised since the ’90s both inside and outside the European Union, trying to bring transnational protest to border regions and to the European Union’s main offices. No Border camps combine the raising of public awareness and the networking of anti-racist initiatives at hot spots of migration control. They establish a provisional and autonomous space allowing local anti-racist organisations to network, activists to exchange experiences and to reflect and to discuss. No Border camps represent the attempt to get a little closer to the vision of “freedom to move – freedom to stay” by joining people in taking action.
1 PoC – Person of Color / People of Color – Is a term describing people who have experienced racism and serves as an empowering self-designated name. PoCs/migrants/refugees/Jewish people(…) are all self-positionings which are very powerful in political struggles. We oppose an oppressive uniformity and the attribution of external terms thus trying to always mention other positions. One is a PoC if one chooses to use that term for oneself.
2 white – The term white and PoC/ black/ migrants (…) does not refer to biological traits but to social constructions based on arbitrary racist characteristics. White defines a dominant social position which can never be relinquished and always remains effective (just like it would lose its meaning in a non-racist society). To emphasise global power relations, and to reverse them on a linguistic level, we’ll always write white in lower case and in italics.
(German for “mandatory residence”) is a legal requirement affecting applicants for refugee status (Asylbewerber_innen) living in Germany, or those who have been given a temporary stay of deportation (Geduldete). Those affected are required to live within certain boundaries defined by the applicants’ local foreigners’ office (Ausländerbehörde).
Short version of the call
No Border Camp 2012 in Cologne/Düsseldorf
From the 13th to 22th of July a No Border Camp will take place in Cologne. The Camp is prepared by an open network of groups and activists fighting against racism.
The Camp is supposed to be a place in which racism can be fought collectively, with actions, demonstrations, discussions and workshops. We want to actively deal with: everyday racism, institutionalised racism, migration control, antiziganism, living conditions of refugees and migrants, root causes for migration, colonialism etc.
Many people who are part of the preparation process of the No Border Camp are not personally affected by racist exclusion. They did not experience flight or know what it is like to live in an asylum-seeker-camp, to live a life under racist laws, racist harassment and police brutality. But they don’t want to accept this racist status quo. A state from which they all to often even personally profit. They know, that change does not just happen, it always has to be fought for.
People who are discriminated against racially consistently fight against the racist system of abasement and isolation. Resistance by Refugee-activists, People of Colour (PoC), Roma etc. happened and happens in many places throughout Germany. This resistance is a huge problem for the German racist policy and it shall become an even bigger problem!
These anti-racist struggles have to be strengthened even more. The No Border Camp in Cologne can be a place to get to know a lot of different people, to network, to exchange experiences and perspectives, and a place of solidarity.
Not everyone has the same possibilities to organise and to participate in such a camp. Thats why the No Border Camp in Cologne provides:
In case of repression during the Camp and actions, i.e. “violation” of Residenzpflicht or the right of assembly. There will also be addresses to visit. If you have any questions regarding the Residenzpflicht, contact ( in any language): email@example.com
For train and bus tickets, food etc. Tents and sleeping bags can also be provided on the camp.
Spaces which are only open for people who experience racism and/or have experienced migration.
Structures which support a respectful and sensitive mutual interaction.
There is a common agreement on how much risk will be taken during the actions. It is important that everyone can participate and can feel safe doing so. Absolute safety can never be guaranteed.
Communication and Decisions
There will be translations into many different languages. It has to be possible to discuss and to make decisions collectively.
A day of action against deportations will take place in the context of the No Border Camp on the 21th of July at the Düsseldorf Airport. It is also possible to only come to this action.
If there are questions or if specific support is needed, contact ( in any language): firstname.lastname@example.org
More information regarding the camp: http://noborder.antira.info/
For a world without borders!
Refugees Rights! Right here! Right now!
Some people from the preparatory circle of the No Border Camp 2012 in Cologne/Düsseldorf