About 100rejected asylum seekers from the refugee camp in Choucha are currently protesting in Tunis.
About 100 refugees from the refugee camp in Choucha, which lies on
the border between Tunisia and Libya, reached Tunis on Monday 28th
January in order to stage a protest that will continue for several days.
They had no choice but to live in the desert for two years while the
UNHCR negligently worked on their cases, and eventually rejected them as
refugees. Since October 2012 they have been denied access to food and
medical care. Now the protesters have taken the necessary steps to
challenge their isolation and the consequent lack of prospects.
Idle individuals become activists
The camp in Choucha was established during the Libyan civil war
during winter 2011. It offered refugees the opportunity to access an
asylum procedure and to travel on to participating states in the
framework of the resettlement programme. Over the past two years, daily
life in the refugee camp hasn’t had much to offer apart from unbearable
periods of waiting while putting up with the heat and sandstorms. This
particularly affected refugees who were not recognised as such by the
The camp has to be seen as a part of the externalisation politics of
the European Union – it prevented hundreds of people from challenging
the EU’s border regime by trying to enter its territory, by embarking on
a boat. At the same time, granting access to a limited number of
refugees allowed the media to paint a different picture, diverting
public attention away from a militarised campaign against migrants.
Germany (pop. 82 million) demonstrated its extraordinary generosity by
accepting 205 refugees, whereas Tunisia (pop. 10 Mio.) welcomed half a
million people during the Libya-crisis. However, only people who hold a
refugee certificate are granted access to the resettlement programme.
Many of those who the UNHCR did not recognise as refugees have already
traveled back to their countries of origin. 230 of them are still in
Choucha. They accuse the UNHCR of severe mistakes and negligence in
processing their demands for asylum. These errors range from biased and
incompetent interpreters, misspelled names of places and families to the
cooperation with the government bodies that refugees fled from in the
The ensuing exclusion and lack of perspectives of this group of
about 230 people led to various protests last year and to the most
recent demand for an independent review of the rejected cases. In order
to make their voices heard, 100 of them traveled to Tunis.
No one is illegal – not even in Tunisia
The journey to Tunis represents an act of resistance in itself.
Because they have been rejected by the UNHCR, the group of 230 refugees
are now considered “illegal migrants” by the governent and are not
allowed to move freely. That is why they may be arrested, detained and
deported at any time if the Tunisian state decides to. Until now the
illegalised protesters have only been detained for short periods of time
and sent back to Choucha after having been told that the UNHCR is
reponsible for them. In this passing on of responsibilities the UNHCR’s
most recent course of action is remarkable. Since October 2012 rejected
asylum seekers are being denied access to food and medical care. This
scandalous and merciless strategy of a reputable humanitarian
organisation evidently aims at forcing people to leave.
The refugees keep emphasising that because of persecution and/or war,
they cannot return to their home countries – which the UNHCR would have
been able to ascertain if it had adequately reviewed their cases. They
decisively reject the UNHCR’s cynical suggestion to just go back to
This is why two central demands of the current protest are for the UNHCR
to resume the supply of food and medicine to the refugee camp, and to
allow access to the resettlement programme for everybody who remained in
Chocha. The latter demand is also directed at the European Union and
all NATO states that caused the current situation by intervening in the
civil war in Libya.
To reinforce these demands to the UNHCR and the EU, and to make them
accesible to the Tunisian and the international public, the Chocha
refugees will stage a protest for several days in Tunis. In order to
achieve this, they need support! Please:
* Spread information about the protest via mailing lists, Facebook and by word of mouth!
* Sign the open letter adressed to Ursula Aboubacar, the head of the Tunisian UNHCR, containing the demands of the protesters!
* Participate in the fax campaign and send a fax (english,francais,deutsch) to UNHCR offices in your country, to the Tunisian Representatives and to their headquarters in Geneva.
* Donate money for food, transport and means of telecommunication for
the protesters. Transfers can be made to this bank account:
Sparkasse der Stadt Berlin
Account number: 61 00 24 264
Bank code: 100 500 00
* Organise solidarity actions – in front of UNHCR offices all over the world!
Contact to the Protesters: 004915210453991 (deutsch, english, francais, ‘arab)
Libya still does not offer security – black people in particular are
constantly threatened by arbitrary arrests and racist violence. Many
refugees in Choucha were told about such experiences by people who did
return to Libya.
LOOKING BACK ON THE REFUGEE PROTESTS OF 2012
Lecture and Discussion with Salomon Wantchoucou (Member of THE VOICE Refugee Forum & Flüchtlingsinitiative Wittenberg)
Wednesday, January 30th, 8 pm @ Bonn University Main Building, Regina-Pacis-Weg 3, Auditorium 3 / free entrance
In 2012 a number of refugee protests caught the public’s attention,
denouncing their inhuman living conditions and lack of political rights
in Germany: In January Mohammad Rahsepar committed suicide in his room
in the collective refugee accomodation in Würzburg. A couple of refugees
living in Würzburg sewed up their mouths and went on hunger strike.
Hundreds of refugees took part in the refugee march from Würzburg to Berlin and in the Refugee „Tent Action“.
We want to look back on these events, trying to find out how refugees
can organize in order to gain political power and realize their
interests. What kind of political action can be next?
Tribunal against the Federal Republic Germany
13-16 2013 in Berlin)
rising their voices and denouncing the massive abuses committed by
the German state.
to the first gathering for information and mobilization
of January 2013, at 1 pm
Fallersleben, Hafenstrasse 28, Wolfsburg
In a coordination
meeting in November 2012 refugee activists from North Germany
(Schleswig-Holstein, Niedersachsen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and
Hamburg) discussed about the preparation for the Tribunal and a
mobilization plan for the north region. It was agreed to have a
common first gathering in the refugee camp in Fallersleben. Activists
from this place informed already their fellow refugees in three other
The invitation is
addressed to all refugees especially from that area. We also want to
invite delegates from the other regions in Germany – south, east
and west – and as well serious supporters who are willing to help
in the further preparation.
The agenda for
the gathering contents:
1 pm – 3.30 pm
and short presentation of the participants
of the forgone discussion on the Tribunal 2013 and the meaning of
by delegates of the Lager Fallersleben, Meinersen, Salzgitter, Peine
Break (30 min)
4 pm – 7 pm
on preparation and contributions by the refugee community
Niedersachsen for the Tribunal
mobilization events and documentation work
Lunch ( 60 min)
After the meeting
we plan to present some film/video material connected to the topics
We also want to
use the opportunity to record some video statements – refugees
interview refugees - on the upcoming Tribunal 2013.
decades the German state has modified the asylum right to its virtual
abolition. … The Tribunal will strengthen our self-confidence and
express our solidarity among each other. Too long we remained in
fear, too long we believed in their lies about democracy and human
rights … It is high time to put the facts on the table and bring it
to the Tribunal: Here we are!” Salah from Palestine
We take our
right to charge and to judge every act of injustice committed on us!
We organize ourselves to protect ourselves against all forms of
oppression and persecution and we denounce publicly the crimes and
In memory of Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Söylemez
Solidarity with the local Kurdish Community!! Following the shocking assassination of 3 (one very senior) Kurdish political activists today (10/1/13) demonstrations have been called; Friday 11/1/13 1pm at the Turkish Embassy London and march to French Embassy Saturday 12/1/13 All Europe demo in Paris (transport from London) Sunday 13/1/13 12pm march from Halkevi Kurdish community centre, Dalston Lane, Dalston ( opposite old CLR James library ) to Kurdish Community Centre, Haringey, off Green Lanes Ladder. These murders, in the midst of attempts, by the Kurdish movement to move to a peaceful political solution after 3 deacdes of war in which over c.40,000 Kurds died and millions were made refugees, fighting for basic freedoms, is a massive shock to the large local Kurdish refugee commmunity and we should come out in solidarity with them.