FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT TO BE TOGETHER! A campaign to unite families separated between Germany and Greece

copyright: Salinia Stroux

All children have the fundamental right to be with their loved ones no matter what. Despite this fact it has been broadly accepted in Europe, that refugee families end up separated, due to limitations of laws and an even more restrictive interpretation of these laws by states. The “best interests of the child should be a primary consideration of Member States”, says the Dublin III Regulation, the primary legal tool within the EU to regulate the distribution of asylum seekers. Despite this fact, thousands of refugee children who reach Europe are held far from their parents, siblings or other close relatives such as aunties, uncles or grandparents, residing in other EU countries. 

In the dawn of the “long summer of migration” in 2015, thousands reached Northern Europe entering the EU initially through Greece. Many of their family members arrived later through the same route to Greece actually aiming to continue their journey and find protection near their loved ones in Germany or elsewhere. The following four years are marked by a sudden return from a short trend of a ‘welcome refugees’ EU-politics to the states’ deadly ‘closed gates’ approach, which came into force parallel to a right wing upsurge in the governments of different member states and left the vast majority of newcomers after March 2016 blocked in Greece. 

In an atmosphere ruled by repressive anti-migratory policies all over the EU, grassroots groups and networks across the continent are struggling against deportations, push-backs, police violence, repressive asylum laws, continuing border deaths, the criminalisation of solidarity and an increase in racist attacks. Silence persists despite the fact that thousands of families are torn apart and kept actively separated by national authorities. 

It is in this context that we want to share stories of refugee families split between Greece and Germany. It should not be accepted that failing to meet deadlines, separating with the best interest of children in mind or being separated by border policies, growing fences and intensified Frontex patrols / controls is an acceptable reason to keep families apart. Refugee families can in most cases not submit the necessary documents to prove they are relatives. They cannot supply authorities in many cases with passports, family books, birth certificates – all translated properly, because they escaped war and conflict, they came from situations and escaped under such conditions where most people lack such documentation or lose it on the way to safety. 

We chose to start this campaign on 15th March 2017, the date that marked the resumption of Dublin returns to Greece, following the European Commission’s recommendation that conditions had improved there. North European countries, most notably Germany, were keen to take the opportunity to force people back to Greece. Germany sent 1,887 take-back requests to Greece in 2017, 6,827 in 2018 and 9,275 last year, despite the ongoing systemic human rights violations documented by numerous organisations.

Protection seekers struggle to reach ‘safe’ territory and survive in Greece

Today, the right-wing government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Nea Dimokratia elected in Greece last summer is imposing more and more drastic measures to keep refugees out no matter what. Ruling politicians have re-introduced an anti-migratory, mostly racist rhetoric, offensively propagating even the most ridiculous measures that would supposedly seal the borders (i.e. floating fences). After a recent upsurge of attempted border crossings caused by Turkish Primeminister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement that he would open the Turkish border to Europe at the end of February, authorities’ use of violence to stop people from entering Greek territory has been apparently justified. Refugees were teargassed, beaten, stripped naked, pushed-back and even shot with rubber-bullets at the land border. They were attacked and shot in the sea, their engines were broken and petrol stolen and they were left adrift in distress. In these two weeks, two persons were documented dead at the land border and one child drowned in the Aegean Sea. Greek officials have found it legitimate, to start criminalising newcomers in search of protection with prison sentences reaching four years and fines of up to 10,000 Euros for mere ‘irregular entry’. It has also been agreed that people will be returned swiftly back to Turkey or deported to their homelands without even being able to claim asylum. EU authorities have been silent on these breaches of fundamental human rights, instead offering Turkey and Greece more money.

New immigration laws introduced at the end of 2019 already had created numerous practical obstacles to protection seekers in Greece accessing their rights, with an increasing number of asylum claims being ended for arbitrary reasons and the number of rejections to asylum claims growing. No more social insurance number for asylum seekers (AMKA), new obstacles to get a tax number (AFM), no more direct right to enter the job market (only after six months from registration), big technical difficulties to access the asylum procedure through Skype, long waiting periods to receive social benefits for asylum seekers (people waiting for the cash-card for many months), increased periods to naturalize for beneficiaries of international protection (from five to seven years) and so on.

In mid-March 2020, the threat of the Corona virus pandemic has not only bought public life in Greece to a halt, but experts warn that an upsurge in infections is still to come next month and will hit the most vulnerable worst. Greek refugee camps where hundreds of vulnerable persons are living close to each other, usually without their basic needs being met are spaces of high risk of infection. NGOs have called for the immediate evacuation of the camps on the islands. At the same time, emergency measures for employees have limited the presence of site managing organisations such as IOM and NGO employees offering essential services to a minimum level. The Asylum Service has temporary halted its services to the public nationwide.  

On the Aegean Islands, thousands of refugees remain trapped in tents in and around the ‘hotspots’, many of which do not even have access to food, medical aid or basic sanitary infrastructure. Those arriving after March 1sthave been held in dire conditions in outside areas of ports and a navy ship in Lesvos Island for many days. After two weeks trapped on the warship they have been transferred to the mainland. On the islands, protection seekers are searching desperately for legal aid, to access information on their rights and procedures. Most remain without any help and go through the asylum process unprepared. The already burdened public health care system is breaking down and medical aid as well as access to medication is in fact not existent. In the meanwhile, locals infiltrated by fascists are protesting since weeks against the government’s plans to build closed immigration prisons next to the already infamous and overcrowded ‘hotspots’ on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros islands. They have attacked refugees, aid workers and journalists alike. 

On the mainland, more and more people live in marginalised camps far from any possibility to find help, to integrate or to identify any future prospects for themselves. The number of people homeless is growing and with the announced exclusion of beneficiaries of international protection from state housing, hundreds more will be on the streets by the end of this month. People arriving from the land border to the cities do not have access to the asylum procedure. They cannot access reception conditions and have to stay unregistered inside camps without any social welfare and services for months while living in tents, overcrowded common spaces or other residents’ prefabs. 

In short, protection seekers risk their lives to reach European soil and continue to be at risk even upon arrival to Greece.

Germany actively hinders families from being reunited since 2017

With the surge of family reunification applications after the sudden closure of the ‘Balkan Corridor’ and the implementation of the EU-Turkey ‘Deal’, the German authorities started developing a harsh anti-reunification policy. First, hundreds of family reunification cases which had already been accepted were unlawfully delayed, keeping children for months and even years apart from their families. By the end of 2017, systematic and generalised rejections of such applications increased suddenly first from the German side and as a consequence also from the Greek side, using administrative grounds to keep refugee families apart for indefinite periods. Instead of authorities deciding in favour of refugee families being united, the families now have the burden to prove why it is best for them to be together. Today, it is a common story of desperate children, mothers and fathers, that they are told by the Greek Asylum Service and NGOs: ‘You cannot apply for family reunification!’ or ‘It is likely that your application will be rejected by the German authorities!’ 

Before, there was strong self-organised resistance from refugee families against the delays of transfers to Germany throughout 2017 / 2018. Nowadays, the extremely harsh interpretation of the Dublin III Regulation and German immigration law when it comes to family reunion, is being presented as a given fact and seems non-negotiable, despite the inherent injustice. Refugee families’ voices have remained widely unheard.

We want to platform these voices. We stand against EU-policies that focus on closing borders and subjecting children to extreme violence, we demand families must be reunited. Basic rights are superior to immigration and asylum law. The wellbeing of children has to be protected and their best interest must be upheld. Authorities of all EU member states must stop putting children’s welfare in danger and instead comply with the Dublin III Regulation, which explicitly states:

„(T)he best interests of the child should be a primary consideration of Member States when applying this Regulation. In assessing the best interests of the child, Member States should, in particular, take due account of the minor’s well-being and social development, safety and security considerations and the views of the minor in accordance with his or her age and maturity, including his or her background. In addition, specific procedural guarantees for unaccompanied minors should be laid down on account of their particular vulnerability.“ (paragraph 13)

„In order to ensure full respect for the principle of family unity and for the best interests of the child, the existence of a relationship of dependency between an applicant and his or her child, sibling or parent on account of the applicant’s pregnancy or maternity, state of health or old age, should become a binding responsibility criterion. When the applicant is an unaccompanied minor, the presence of a family member or relative on the territory of another Member State who can take care of him or her should also become a binding responsi­bility criterion.“ (paragraph 16)

End the separation of families!

Equal rights for all children and families!

Contact details for the families whose stories are included in this campaign as well as other separated families can be shared with the consent of the families in order to support legal efforts to reunite them with their loved ones. Contact us on facebook: www.facebook.com/w2eu.gr or email to: contact@w2eu.info

copyright: Salinia Stroux

EXPERT OPINION

Psychosocial repercussions of the authorities’ practice of not reuniting families 

From a psychological point of view, it is unjustifiable in a family separated by the circumstances of the flight, to deny the affected children to re-establish a relationship and bond with the parents and / or siblings, or other closest caregivers, who have taken the place of the parents (grandparents, aunts / Uncle), unless their behaviour is per se endangering the child’s well-being (‘Kindeswohlgefährdung’).

The experience of children who, together with their family, survive an often very long flight, is characterized by extreme forms of relying on one another. The habitual social framework is missing, which was enabling the children to take development steps outside of the core family. Instead, the family is dependent on itself in an unknown environment. The children are required to perform enormous adaption, which often puts them an unhealthy dependency from their parents or other adult relatives who replace them. On the other hand, children generally adapt to new environments and languages faster than adults, so that because of their faster language acquisition, they often have to carry out translations for their parents. They also experience their adult relatives helpless, humiliated and sometimes ill-treated by the authorities and police officers. Experiences of safety from earlier childhood are lost both externally and internally.

If, after such experiences, the children are separated from their parents and / or siblings or other close relatives, by the circumstances of the flight, they leave the family framework under circumstances that are already stressful. In addition to war and violence as reason for fleeing, many families have already experienced massive exclusion. As a result of the flight and its traumatizing circumstances – also in Greece, the families come under additional pressure and sometimes lose their old functions. On the other hand, they are the reference framework that is necessary for survival. Many children find themselves suddenly without their habitual family environment and often have to adapt to another foreign language in a foreign culture and environment without their main caregivers. The children are now trying to orient themselves on the given reference frame of the current place of residence, but remain very closely connected internally and through multiple phone calls every day to the separated family of origin – a family framework which is not practically liveable.

Children separated from families can have unforeseeable effects on their psychological development. In particular, their emotional stability can be so severely affected that the factual impossibility of seeing the family of origin again endangers the child’s well-being. Also, children who have been separated from individual main caregivers (mother, father, brother, sister, etc.) need contact with these people for their further development. If the family or individual family members remain unreachable due to authorities’ omissions, it is sufficiently likely that a child will dive successively deeper into psycho-somatic symptoms and develop them into a (virtual) world of their own. These children in a dysfunctional way, try to stay in touch with the separated parents, siblings or other close relatives who are replacing them, knowing and feeling that they are in a likewise bad psychological condition. Depression and other symptoms often become a self-affirming bond, which aims to keep the torn family together. This is particularly important if children are separated in the main phase bonding (up to the age of 3 years), as otherwise the bonding possibilities are likely to be disrupted.

A permanent separation from the family creates increasing risks for the psychological development of all affected children and consequently endangers their best interests.

Dipl. Psychologist and Family Therapist Reimer Dohrn

The EU’s coordinated and unlawful assault on the rights of people crossing the Mediterranean

From the Guardian: “…While the level of violence at Greece’s border with Turkey has shocked many Europeans, Europe’s retreat from refugee rights did not begin last week. Greece’s decision to seal its borders and deny access to asylum is only the most visible escalation of an assault on people’s right to seek protection.

The groundwork for this was laid in the central Mediterranean, where the EU and Italy created a proxy force to do what they could not do themselves without openly violating international laws: intercept unwanted migrants and return them to Libya.

The strategy has relied on maintaining deniability of responsibility for Libyan coastguard operations. But the connivance revealed in the audio recordings is supported by previously unpublished letters between high-level EU mandarins, confirmed by inside sources and laid bare in emails from the Libyan coastguard, all obtained by the Guardian. Taken together, this evidence threatens to unravel a conspiracy in the Mediterranean that flouts international law in the name of migration control….”

Migrant Deaths on the Mediterranean Since 2014 Exceed 20,000

From IOM: “A tragic shipwreck off the coast of Libya last month and more than a dozen other recent fatalities elsewhere have pushed the death toll in the Mediterranean Sea to 20,014 since 2014, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project. ‘The disappearance and presumed drowning of at least 91 people reported missing aboard a dingy north of Garabulli, Libya, on February 9 is the latest in a series of so-called “ghost boats” that have vanished en-route to Europe, claiming hundreds of lives,’ said Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre. … Although the annual number of deaths has decreased every year since 2016 when more than 5,000 lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean, the proportion of deaths compared to attempted crossings rose in both the Central and Western Mediterranean in 2019 compared to previous years – a continuation of the increasing risk of death seen since 2017….”

Tensions mount at Greek border with Turkey amid contested history of migration in the Aegean

From The Conversation, “Tensions mount at Greek border with Turkey amid contested history of migration in the Aegean“:

“… The Aegean islands were also where boats filled with Greek Orthodox residents of Asia Minor came in the wake of the Convention of the Forced Exchange of Populations of 1923 between Greece and Turkey, signed after the first world war. Following the arrival of more than 1.5 million people in Greece, the population of the islands almost doubled to the extent that many locals still have family members from among the group originally and still known as the ‘Asia Minor refugees’….”

Romnja Power Month 2020

Romnja Power Month 2020

vom Romani Phen

Liebe Freund*innen, liebe Schwestern* und liebe Interessierte*,

der Romnja* Power Month wird von der IniRromnja und dem RomaniPhen Archiv nun schon im 5. Jahr organisiert. Wie auch in den vorigen Jahren erwarten Sie interessante, empowernde und vielseitige Veranstaltungen! Der Romnja* Power Month findet vom 8. März bis zum 8. April 2020 statt und wird somit vom Internationalen Tag der Frauen* und dem Internationalen Tag der Rom*nja eingerahmt. Mit dieser besonderen und in Deutschland einzigartigen Veranstaltungsreihe wollen wir Romnja* und Sintezzi* als künstlerisch, wissenschaftlich und gesellschaftskritisch handelnde Akteurinnen* hervorheben und ihre Arbeiten einem breiten Publikum vorstellen. Der Romnja* Power Month macht Beiträge, Geschichte, Themen und Gesellschaftsanalysen von Rom*nja und insbesondere auch von Frauen* sowie von feministischen Perspektiven sichtbar Wir freuen uns sehr, dass der Romnja* PowerMonth dieses Jahr nicht nur bundesweit, sondern auch europaweit veranstaltet wird!

Das aktuelle Programm zum Romnja* Power Month 2020

Erschießungen und Hetzjagd – Die Faschisierung des EU Grenzregimes

Artikel Erschießungen und Hetzjagd – Die Faschisierung des EU Grenzregimes mit Hyperlinks zu den Quellen zum Donwload

Es häufen sich Nachrichten von Menschen, die an der griechisch-türkischen Landgrenze von griechischen Grenzschützern erschossen werden. In sozialen Netzwerken ist die Rede von 7 Personen, die mit Schusswunden ins Krankenhaus gebracht wurden, Videos zeigen Tote. Der erste Fall, die Erschießung eines jungen Syrers am Montag ist von Forensic Architecture bereits detailliert analysiert worden. Sogenannte „Schießübungen“ werden von der Küste von Lesbos ins Meer angekündigt. Zeitgleich gibt es immer mehr Berichte von Fliehenden, die auf dem Ägäischen Meer brutal von Maskierten in Zusammenarbeit mit der griechischen Küstenwache angegriffen werden. Die Motoren ihrer Schlauchboote werden zerstört, Boote auf offenem Meer aufgestochen, Boote durch Bugwellen fast zum Kentern gebracht und sogar Menschen in Schlauchbooten angeschossen. Ein Kind ertrinkt.
Hinzu kam die Ankündigung der griechischen Regierung, das Asylrecht einfach außer Kraft zu setzen. Ca. 500 auf Lesbos angekommene Personen wurden im Hafen der Hauptstadt Mytilene konzentriert und sollen direkt abgeschoben werden, ohne jegliches Verfahren. Einige hatten tagelang an den Küsten ausgeharrt und wurden dann schließlich zur geplanten Abschiebung in den Hafen gebracht.

Derweil ist auf Lesbos die Hölle der faschistischen Gewalt ausgebrochen. Rechtsradikale Schlägertrupps beherrschen die Insel, sie jagen Migrant_innen und haben entlang der Straßen Blockaden errichtet. Autos werden danach kontrolliert, ob ihre Insassen griechisch sind, wenn nicht, werden sie angegriffen und Scheiben zertrümmert. Die Eskalation von Protesten begann, als die griechische Regierung versuchte, den Bau neuer geschlossener Lager auf den Inseln durchzusetzen. Immer mehr NGO-Mitarbeiter_innen werfen nun das Handtuch und verlassen die Insel. Menschen wurden verletzt, ihre Fotos werden von Faschisten auf Facebook geteilt und sie werden zur Hetzjagd ausgeschrieben. Selbst das UN-Flüchtlingshilfswerks bleiben nicht verschont. Seenotrettungs-Teams, die seit Jahren Migrant_innen an der Küste erstversorgt haben, werden nun gejagt und auch von der Polizei an ihrer Arbeit gehindert. Rechte Gruppen verhindern, dass Geflüchtete anlanden und die Boote verlassen können.

Fazit: Brachiale Gewalt und Erschießungen von Menschen in Europa; es wäre zu erwarten, dass die Täter wegen Mordes auf die Anklagebank gesetzt würden. Man könnte meinen, dass die Aussetzung des Grundrechts auf Asyl, welche die Europäische Menschenrechtscharta und Genfer Flüchtlingskonvention in den Staub tritt, ein Skandal ist und von der EU scharf sanktioniert würde. Oder dass sich die EU entsetzt über die entfesselte Gewalt von Faschisten gegenüber ihren eigenen Hilfsorganisationen äußert.

Doch nichts von alledem. EU-Kommissionspräsidentin von der Leyen scheinen Erschießungen innerhalb Europas nicht übermäßig zu beunruhigen. Sie dankt Griechenland dafür, das „europäische Schild“ zu sein, denn “(d)iese Grenze ist nicht nur eine griechische Grenze, es ist auch eine europäische Grenze” und verspricht Griechenland 700 Millionen Euro Unterstützung. Die Grenzaufrüstung soll noch verstärkt werden, durch einen Rabit-Einsatz der europäischen Grenz- und Küstenwachenagentur Frontex.

Das ewige Mantra, 2015 dürfe sich nicht wiederholen, hat sich so tief in die Köpfe eingebrannt, dass jede Eskalationsstufe recht ist, solange keine Flüchtlinge nach Europa kommen. Dies zeugt nicht nur von realitätsferner Panikmache, sondern von einer faszinierenden Naivität.

Die EU gibt mit ihrer gewalttätigen Abschottungspolitik nicht nur ihre vielbeschworenen menschenrechtlichen Grundwerte der Lächerlichkeit preis, sondern lässt sich zum Spielball der Regierung Erdogan machen.

Mit einer ausgefeilten Pressestrategie wurden Geflüchtete auf Betreiben der türkischen Regierung aus Abschiebegefängnissen freigelassen und Bustransporte an die Evros-Grenze und an die türkische Küste organisiert. Ablegende Boote wurden durch das Staatsfernsehen gefilmt und als Drohung in Richtung EU geschickt. Es war ein militärischer Gegenschlag im syrischen Krieg. Die Waffe: Flüchtlinge, deren Schicksale skrupellos missbraucht werden. Die türkische Regierung stiftet Chaos, um die EU und die Nato zu erpressen, sie im Krieg in Syrien zu unterstützen.

Doch viel erschreckender als die türkische Machtpolitik ist die Hilflosigkeit der EU: Die ca. 13.000 Personen an der Grenze aufzunehmen wäre für die EU mit fast 450 Millionen Einwohner_innen ein Klacks und juristisch geboten. Doch heute lässt die EU lieber Schutzsuchende erschießen, als ihr Abhängigkeitsverhältnis zu Erdogan zu lösen. Ihr Kardinalsfehler war der Beschluss des EU-Türkei Deals, an dem sie eisern festhält. Anstatt aus den fatalen Fehlern zu lernen, spricht der Architekt des Deals Gerald Knaus nun von einer “Übereinkunft 2.0 zwischen der EU und der Türkei”. Denn die europäische Grenzpolitik basiert in ihren Grundfesten auf Erpressbarkeit – Abhängigkeiten von autoritären Regimen, die die Drecksarbeit für sie erledigen. Kommt dieses Verhältnis ins Wanken, wird für alle sichtbar, dass diese Politik auf dem Fundament von Entrechtung gebaut ist. Menschen an der Grenze zu erschießen ist nur die letzte logische Konsequenz einer Politik, in der der Zugang zum Asyl systematisch verweigert wird.

Dabei verkennt die EU die eigentlichen Gefahren: Ihre Politik führt nicht nur zum Tod von Fliehenden, sondern auch zur Faschisierung Europas. Es führt eine direkte Linie von den rassistischen Morden in Hanau zur faschistischen Hetzjagd auf Lesbos. Nur wenig überraschend ist daher, dass rechtsradikale Netzwerke in Deutschland dazu aufrufen, in den Kampf an die EU-Außengrenze zu ziehen und Menschen zu jagen.

The linkage between Erdoğan’s decision to open its border with Greece and the Idlib offensive

Reporting by the Guardian, “Erdoğan says border will stay open as Greece tries to repel influx“, discussing the linkage between Erdoğan’s decision to open its border with Greece and the offensive in Idlib:

“…Erdoğan complained that funds transferred to Turkey from the EU to support refugees were arriving too slowly, saying he had asked Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to send them directly to his government.  But the policy shift appears to be intended to force the EU and Nato to support Ankara’s new military campaign in the north-western province of Idlib, Syria’s last rebel stronghold, where thousands of Turkish soldiers are supporting opposition forces facing an onslaught from regime forces backed by Russian air power.  Erdoğan said Turkey could not handle a new wave of migration, in an apparent reference to the growing humanitarian crisis in Idlib. …”

Report that Libya has ordered coast guard to stop missions

23 February article from the Times of Malta:

“Interception and rescue operations by the Libyan Coast Guard have stuttered in recent weeks following instructions by the Tripoli government to halt all operations at sea, raising questions over the future of Malta’s deal with Libya to minimise the number of arrivals. Times of Malta is informed that the Libyan Coast Guard received orders in the second half of January to halt rescues and stop disembarkation of migrants in Libya.

They have since restarted some interceptions, however, most of the boats that left the coast were not aiming to land in Malta. Back in November, Times of Malta had revealed how Malta had secretly negotiated an agreement with Libya that sees the Armed Forces of Malta coordinating with the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrants headed towards the island and returned to the war-torn North African country….”

At the Greek-Turkish border, politicians play with people’s lives

People trying to enter Europe in search of protection face brutal repression in the Aegean region. Although this is not new, we currently see an escalation of violence as Turkey and Greece play a dangerous game with people’s lives. The survival instinct and hope of many for a better future is exploited and manipulated for cynical political stunts. Greece has now declared a state of emergency and to remove people’s right to claim asylum.

On the Greek side the situation is devastating, every day: Overcrowded detention centres and camps where thousands are forced to survive the inhuman conditions. Riot police forces secretly transferred to the Greek islands to crack down on local inhabitants with tear gas and clubs. Riot police forces along with soldiers and anti-terror squads firing tear gas and water cannons at refugees who attempt to enter through the land border. Those who do succeed in reaching Greece face imprisonment merely for crossing the border. Boats attacked by masked men in the Aegean Sea and prevented from disembarking by fascists at Greek harbours. 

In Turkey, on the other side of the border, the situation is equally cruel: As a response to the Turkish fatalities in Idlib, President Recep Erdoğan announces the ‘opening’ of borders and thousands of people follow his call and move toward Greece, in the hope of finally finding safety. They enter white busses, reportedly provided by the Turkish government, but end up trapped in the border-zone between Turkey and Greece stopped by armed forces and army vehicles. 

Despite this current escalation, it is clear that push-backs and violent excesses along the border are daily phenomena, not exceptions. But commonly, they target smaller groups, not such a large crowd. Usually, civil society is not able to see how these human rights violations unfold, how police and army officials stand in people’s paths, preventing them from stepping on EU soil and exercising their right to ask for asylum. 

Europe enacts a ‘closed door’ policy, enforced by the right-wing government in Greece which sends riot police and special forces to deter people escaping war, conflict, and hunger, and aims to temporarily suspend their right to claim asylum and immediately deport them to countries of origin. We have already seen images of NATO war ships patrolling the Aegean Sea along with border guards from all over Europe in Frontex missions. 

We will not accept this European war against people who seek protection! We will not remain silent, when repressive anti-migration policies give space to fascism!

We have seen people being violently pushed back to Turkey where they are detained or even deported from to places where they face war and persecution. We have seen people drowning in the Aegean Sea or Maritsa river. We have seen dehydrated, frozen, and unrecognizable bodies of mothers, fathers, children. We have seen also people dying in Europe’s ‘hotspot’ camps due to inhumane conditions – babies dying of dehydration, lack of adequate medical aid and desperation leading to people committing suicide. 

But we have also seen people ‘on the move’ claiming their rights and standing in solidarity together with locals against these repressive policies. We have heard their loud voices shouting united for freedom. We have seen people marching across borders against all odds and against the violent European border regime. 

We will stand united against this cruelty! We will raise our voices to tell the stories that are not told, show the images that are hidden away from the world! We will not stop denouncing the violent excesses at Europe’s borders and we will not stop struggling for another world of freedom of movement! 

Equal rights for all! No one is illegal!

Stop the border deaths! Stop racist policies and fascist violence!

Close detention centres, hotspots and other camps and open homes!

No borders! 

w2eu – infomobile Greece and WatchTheMedAlarm Phone 

Sea-Watch 3 rettet 194 Menschen und kommt in Quarantäne

Wir haben zwei sehr anstrengende Wochen hinter uns. Bei unserem zweiten Einsatz in diesem Jahr konnten wir innerhalb weniger Tage 194 Menschen von drei Booten retten. Gestern durften die Geretteten endlich von Bord der Sea-Watch 3 in Messina sicher an Land gehen. Und so kam es dazu: Am 14. Februar sind wir mit der Sea-Watch…

Der Beitrag Sea-Watch 3 rettet 194 Menschen und kommt in Quarantäne erschien zuerst auf Sea-Watch e.V..

Fire in protest at horrific conditions in Amygdaleza pre-removal immigration prison, Athens Greece – footage and words from those detained inside

I am a young man from Syria, detained in Greece. Amygdaleza.  I escaped from the war in my country in order to obtain safety, but I was detained in Greece for a long time. I no longer feel safe, reassured and stable that I was looking for here in the camp. There is nothing and they do not offer us any help. We hope for your help. There is someone who tried to commit suicide because of the difficulties he is facing here.

How I wished and how much I looked. I left my homeland and looked for safety. I looked for freedom. I looked for an alternative homeland. I needed help, but no one gave me a hand. No one comforted me. I dreamed a lot of things and big dreams, but dreams were awake, and now I have fallen again.  Whoever says to me will realize your dreams that I had built when I arrived in Greece I have said this is the beginning of my career and from here I will fulfill my dreams but unfortunately it was not what I expected but the worst was my dreams were broken in front of me I no longer want to achieve those dreams but rather I want to live in peace and security  And stability, I just hope to be a cat that lives in the house with its owners or a dog that lives  I have a private house and its owner takes it on a short walk or I am a rose that grows on the balcony of a house and the owner of the rose takes care of it every day, but I found myself flying in a cage and could not fly as I had dreamed, it was only my fault that I was born in my country where the war broke out and because I no longer  I can dream, I can no longer think. The sun rises every day to increase my suffering again and every night I say Is this what I was looking for Is this life that I had hoped for but I could not answer my question I started dying from all empty promises I can no longer search for myself I wonder  Every day, why does this happen to me? I did nothing but dreams, screaming loudly, I did nothing  Why am I here but nobody hears my screams searched among my papers my numbers books but I did not find myself can I dream again or that dreams not present in the human language dictionary searched and did not find myself

I will write but I do not know what to write. Should I write about the war in my country, or the war in my country? I do not know about it except the smell of blood, the screaming of children, the tears of women, the sadness of youth, the loss of young dreams, or write about the war in me, but I will not be able to describe that war and that outrage, or write  What I feel, but I no longer feel anything, I no longer feel for myself, I no longer feel the spirit that inhabits my body, I no longer find my thinking, I can no longer think of things that I was thinking about before. Has the stage of thinking ended for me or am I thinking that has become restricted? I did not know about  What do I write? Do I write about the freedom I searched for and did not find it or write about the vine  My time is no longer human dignity or write about humanity that I did not find her presence Soh with animals I can not find what you should write about Soh meanings experienced by humans do not know what to write and did not promise I want to write something will just read what they write.

What happened?

What happened Why am I here Why am I in this place that looks like a swamp Why did I become alone in this place What led me here I began to feel tired and I am trying to leave this place I no longer have even a glimmer of hope Will my life end here I no longer dream about a light I have started my life  By fading before my eyes, I no longer see anything but sadness. I see with everyone’s eyes. There is only a question, why are you here. I did not realize that I would be every animal placed inside a cage. Unfortunately, the animal has some rights until it has a name, but I only became a number. I am called through that number.  What happens to human beings as if they do not see it and avoid hearing our screams? Is this it for man?  Why is this life? I don’t think that’s what I was looking for. What happened? Why am I here?

What happened?

Deadly cold

  It was raining and strong winds I tried hard to get to my brother’s bedroom. The suffering of reaching it was dark. The darkness prevailed over the atmosphere of the place, and the land of each swamp had a lot of wetness on the road. I was falling from that to another that I got up and completed my career. I reached my brother’s fortune. It was lightening quickly and quickly closed.  The door was few, the door was not closed with provisions that were as if all kinds of rain and wind were permitted to enter a worn ship taken by the waves. My worn-out coat was removed from me, my worn out coat and I looked at my brother, he was trembling with the freezing cold.  Know how I can comfort myself  My brother just stayed silent. He wrapped himself in a blanket that did not protect him from anything from the cold. My brother embraced me in my arms. I was warming him, even a little. I wanted to burn myself to warm my brother. My tears were falling on my cheeks from pain.  I want something, just save my brother.

drinking water supply in Amygdaleza
food in Amygdaleza
18 people sharing a room in Amygdaleza

Aufruf nach Hanau zur bundesweiten Demonstration am 22.02.20

Nachdem Björn Höcke am vergangenen Montag zum Umsturz aufgerufen hat, ist Tobias R. in Hanau in sein Auto gestiegen und hat zehn Menschen ermordet, die in seinen Augen nicht-deutsch waren.

Diese Gewalt ist grauenvoll, aber nichts Neues, auch nicht, dass migrantische Menschen, Familien, Communities getroffen und nicht geschützt werden. Das kennen wir von den NSU-Morden, wir wissen es, seit Angehörige der Mordopfer 2006 eine Demonstration in Kassel organisierten und vom Staat ein Ende der rassistischen Mordserie forderten. Das milde Urteil im NSU-Prozess war dagegen eine Aufforderung an alle Nazis, weiter zu morden. Seitdem gab es unzählige weitere Anschläge und Morde gegen migrantische und jüdische Menschen.

Schon in Kassel, in Köln, in Frankfurt, in Duisburg, in Halle.. wussten wir, dass wir uns nicht auf den Staat verlassen können, sondern uns selber verteidigen müssen. Gegen eine Politik, die zwar nach Anschlägen betroffen ist, aber trotzdem nicht im Entferntesten soviel gegen den rechten Terror tut wie gegen Migrant*innen – die Toten im Mittelmeer sind die Brüder und Schwestern der Toten in Hanau.

Wir wissen, dass wir nicht auf die bauen können, die damals von Döner-Morden und heute von Shisha-Morden reden und von Fremdenfeindlichkeit statt Rassismus – oder die wieder einmal von verwirrten Einzeltätern fabulieren. Dass wir uns nicht auf eine Sensationspresse und die Politiker*innen verlassen werden, die jetzt wieder zum Spektakel nach Hanau anreist, aber die Warnungen und Erfahrungen nicht ernst nehmen, nicht hinhören und nicht handeln. Und es ist mehr als klar, dass die Hufeisentheorie eines Hans-Georg Maaßen nur dazu dient, rechten Terror und Hetze zu verharmlosen und antifaschistischen Widerstand dagegen zu schwächen.

Wir nehmen uns das Recht, uns selbst zu verteidigen. Wir fordern die solidarische Gesellschaft auf, mit uns für die Unversehrtheit unseres Lebens und unseren Zusammenlebens zu demonstrieren und uns dafür stark zu machen, dass den Nazis und Rassist*innen das Handwerk gelegt wird. Mit diesen Taten sind alle gemeint, aber getroffen werden wir.
Wir sagen aber auch, dass uns der Rassismus nicht vertreiben wird, sondern wir diese Gesellschaft für immer geprägt und verändert haben.

Für eine migrantische, jüdische, schwarze Perspektive. Für die Gesellschaft der Vielen. Das Problem heißt nicht Migration, das Problem heißt Rassismus.
Wir rufen und fordern alle dazu auf, auf die Familien und Angehörigen der Opfer zu schauen, ihre Stimmen zu hören, die Namen der Opfer zu nennen. Wir sind bei ihnen.
Migrantifa jetzt!

Samstag, 22.2. um 14 Uhr bundesweite Demonstration in der Hanauer Innenstadt. Startpunkt: Hauptpost am Kanaltorplatz (nähe Westbahnhof).
Wer nicht nach Hanau kommen kann, ist zu gleichzeitigen dezentralen Protesten aufgerufen.
Mehr Infos auf https://www.facebook.com/events/557536291639934/

Hanauer Initiativenbündnis „Solidarität statt Spaltung“ lädt zur Kundgebung am Freitag und zur Demonstration am Samstag ein.

In der Nacht zum Donnerstag wurden zehn Menschen in Hanau getötet. Viele weitere wurden schwer verletzt.

Wir trauern mit den Familien und Freund*innen um die Opfer dieser rassistischen Morde.

Wir sind wütend, dass so etwas in unserer Stadt passieren konnte.
Wir sind wütend über die rechte Stimmungsmache, die solche Taten möglich macht.

Wir kämpfen weiter um gleiche soziale Rechte für Alle, gegen jede rassistische Hetze und Ausgrenzung und gegen jede Abschiebung.

„Die Gesellschaft der Vielen stellt sich dem Rassismus auf der Straße wie auch in den Ämtern entgegen“, betont Newroz Duman von der Initiative und hält fest: „Wir werden diese Menschenverachtung überwinden.“

Wir laden dazu ein:

1) am Freitag, 21.2., um 17 Uhr zur Mahnwache und Kundgebung am Heumarkt zu kommen, dem ersten Tatort. Ab 16.30 laden wir am Heumarkt zum Pressegespräch mit FreundInnen der Opfer ein.

2) am Samstag, 22.2., um 14 Uhr zur bundesweiten Demonstration in der Hanauer Innenstadt zu kommen. Genauer Ort wird noch bekannt gegeben.

„Die Öffentlichkeit schaut jetzt auf Hanau. Für uns alle heißt es aber: Es ist Zeit für Migrantifa. Überall. Kommt zur bundesweiten Demonstration“, schließt Duman.

Wer nicht nach Hanau kommen kann, ist zu gleichzeitigen dezentralen Protesten aufgerufen.

Präsidentschaftswahlen in Togo am 22. Februar 2020 – Die Menschenrechtslage in Togo ist weiterhin äußerst angespannt

Pressemitteilung von Afrique-Europe-Interact
Download deutschEnglish versionversion francaise

31. Januar 2020: Präsidentschaftswahlen in Togo am 22. Februar 2020 +++ Afrique-Europe-Interact fordert Öffentlichkeit und Bundesregierung zu kritischer Begleitung des gesamten Wahlprozesseses in dem westafrikanischen Land auf +++ Die Menschenrechtslage in Togo ist weiterhin äußerst angespannt +++ Trotz massiver Proteste hat sich Präsident Fauré Gnassingbé durch Veränderung der Verfassung die Möglichkeit zu einer vierten und fünften Amtszeit verschafft +++

Bereits 1963 – drei Jahre nach der Unabhängigkeit Togos – wurde der erste demokratisch gewählte Präsident Sylvanus Olympio bei einem Militärputsch ermordet. Seitdem befindet sich das westafrikanische Land im eisernen Griff einer einzigen Familie: Zunächst errichtete der ehemalige Kolonialoffizier Gnassingbé Eyadéma eine skrupellose Diktatur – auch mit tatkräftiger Unterstützung seines Duz- und Jagdfreundes Franz-Josef Strauß, dem langjährigen CSU-Ministerpräsidenten Bayerns. Nach Eyadémas Tod im Jahr 2005 übernahm dessen Sohn Fauré Gnassingbé die Regierungsgeschäfte. Erst durch internationalen Druck erklärte sich dieser zu Wahlen bereit, bei denen es allerdings zu massiven Fälschungen gekommen ist. Bei den anschließenden Protesten wurden über 800 Menschen von staatlichen Sicherheitskräften getötet. Gleichwohl galt Fauré Gnassingbé fortan auf der internationalen Bühne als legitimer Präsident Togos.

Hierzu passte, dass Deutschland 2012 nach knapp 20-jähriger Unterbrechung die staatliche Entwicklungszusammenarbeit mit Togo wieder aufgenommen hat. Begründet wurde dies damit, dass das Land unter Fauré Gnassingbé einen „Demokratisierungs-, Versöhnungs- und Reformprozess“ angestoßen habe. Doch diese Einschätzung ist hochgradig fragwürdig. Denn auch wenn Fauré Gnassingbé weniger brutal als sein Vater regiert, müssen Oppositionelle weiterhin mit gravierender Repression rechnen. So schreibt Amnesty International in seinem letzten (bereits 2017 erschienen) Bericht zu Togo: „Die Sicherheitskräfte wandten auch 2016 exzessive Gewalt gegen Demonstrierende an. Nach wie vor kam es zu willkürlichen Festnahmen und Inhaftierungen sowie zu Folter und anderen Misshandlungen, und die Straflosigkeit für Menschenrechtsverletzungen bestand fort.“ Ganz ähnlich die Togoische Liga für Menschenrechte: In einem im November 2019 veröffentlichten Bericht zu Folter und Polizeigewalt in Togo werden schwerste Menschenrechtsverletzungen geschildert – etwa am 21. Juli 2019 in Lomé im Quartier Hédzranawoé, als mehrere Dutzend Menschen von Sicherheitskräften ohne Anlass verprügelt und festgenommen wurden.

Vor diesem Hintergrund ist es zwischen August 2017 und Januar 2019 immer wieder zu Massenprotesten gekommen. Die Menschen demonstrierten nicht nur gegen die desolate soziale und ökonomische Lage im Land. Sie forderten auch den Rücktritt von Fauré Gnassingbé und die Rückkehr zur Verfassung von 1992. Denn diese (bereits 2002 außer Kraft gesetzte) Verfassung sieht lediglich zwei Amtszeiten für Präsidenten vor, was für Fauré Gnassingbé bedeutet hätte, dass er bei den kommenden Präsidentschaftswahlen nicht mehr hätte kandidieren dürfen. Die Regierung reagierte auf die Proteste mit brutaler Repression und Gewalt: Über 20 Demonstrant*innen wurden getötet, darunter auch Kinder und Jugendliche. Tausende wurden verletzt, hunderte (zum Teil bis heute) inhaftiert. Zudem haben Sicherheitskräfte Privatwohnungen und Büros der Opposition verwüstet, zwischenzeitlich flüchteten auch zahlreiche Menschen in die Nachbarländer Benin und Ghana.

Ungeachtet dessen akzeptierten Regierung und Opposition Anfang 2018 eine Vermittlungsinitiative der westafrikanischen Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft ECOWAS. Diese sah grundlegende Veränderungen bei der Organisation zukünftiger Wahlen vor (unter anderem bezüglich der Zusammensetzung der Wahlkommission und des Verfassungsgerichts, das die Wahlen überwacht). Doch diese Vorgaben wurden seitens der togoischen Regierung nicht umgesetzt. Und selbst das Gesetz, das die Zahl der Amtszeiten regeln sollte, wurde an entscheidender Stelle entschärft. Denn das Parlament (in dem gerade mal sechs Abgeordnete der Opposition sitzen) beschloss zwar im Mai 2019 die Beschränkung auf zwei Amtszeiten, dies jedoch mit dem Zusatz, dass die bisherigen Amtszeiten von Fauré Gnassingbé nicht mitgezählt werden. Zudem beschloss das Parlament, dass ehemalige Präsidenten nicht für Vergehen angeklagt und verurteilt werden dürfen, die sie im Rahmen ihrer Präsidentschaft begangen haben.

Umso mehr muss es beunruhigen, dass togoische Sicherheitskräfte weiterhin brutal gegen die Opposition vorgehen, wie drei Beispiele aus der jüngsten Zeit zeigen:

Am 25.08.2019 wurde in Lomé eine reguläre Parteiversammlung der ANC unter fadenscheinigen Gründen von Sicherheitskräften aufgelöst. Die ANC ist die Partei von Jean-Pierre Fabre, der als einer der aussichtsreichsten Oppositionskanditaten bei den anstehenden Präsidentschaftswahlen gilt.
Am 14.11.2019 berichtete der ehemaligen Erzbischof von Lomé, Phillippe Kpodzro, dass er Morddrohungen erhalten habe, nachdem er sich am 12.11.2019 mit den Führern des Oppositionsbündnisses „C 14“ getroffen hat. Ähnlich muss Tikpi Atchadam aus Angst um sein Leben im benachbarten Ausland leben, er ist Präsident der Parti National Panafricain (PNP), einer der wichtigsten Oppositionsparteien.
Am 25.01. und 26.01.2020 wurden zwei prominente Parteikader der PNP bei nächtlichen Razzien ohne Angabe von Gründen festgenommen – unter anderem der Generalsekretär Acoubou A. Moutawakilou.

Angesichts dieser und ähnlicher Vorfälle scheint es absolut erforderlich, dass der gesamte Wahlprozess seitens der internationalen Öffentlichkeit genau beobachtet und etwaige Unregelmäßigkeiten ungeschminkt benannt und ggf. auch sanktioniert werden. Zu den drohenden Unregelmäßigkeiten gehören nicht nur Einschüchterungen und Benachteiligungen im Vorfeld der Präsidentschaftswahlen, sondern auch Wahlmanipulationen am Wahltag selbst. Und das umso mehr, als sich die Regierung weigert, selbstverständliche Standards in Punkto demokratischer und transparenter Wahlen umzusetzen – beispielsweise die Bekanntgabe der Wahlergebnisse getrennt nach Wahlbezirken (eine Maßnahme, die Wahlmanipulation deutlich erschwert). Laut verschiedener Umfagen will eine Mehrheit der Bevölkerung, dass Fauré Gnassingbé als Präsident abgewählt wird. Zu ihren wichtigsten Forderungen zählen daher: Die Freilassung aller politischen Gefangenen, das Ende jeder Repression, die strafrechtliche Verfolgung all jener, die Gewalt gegenüber friedlichen Demonstrant*innen ausgeübt bzw. verantwortet haben und eine transparente, faire und gewaltfreie Organisation der Präsidentschaftswahlen.

Afrique-Europe-Interact unterstützt diese Forderungen und bittet die (internationale) Öffentlichkeit, die Wahlen in Togo kritisch und wachsam zu begleiten. Diese Bitte richtet sich nicht zuletzt an die Vereinten Nationen, die ECOWAS, die Afrikanische Union und die EU. Zudem möchten wir die deutsche Bundesregierung auffordern, sich gegenüber der Regierung in Togo für die Durchführung transparenter, fairer und gewaltfreier Wahlen einzusetzen. An die Medien appellieren wir, Meldungen aus Togo sorgfältig und kritisch zu prüfen. Das Land ist keine Demokratie im eigentlichen Sinne des Wortes, der aktuelle Präsident ist 2005 lediglich durch massive Gewaltanwendung ins Amt gelangt. Insofern sind vor allem die Stimmen von Menschenrechtsorganisationen, von unabhängigen Wahlbeobachter*innen und von Vertreter*innen der Opposition zu beachten – vor allem nach den Wahlen.

Bei Interesse vermitteln wir auch Kontakte zu Mitgliedern der togoischen Diaspora in Deutschland.

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Auf der Webseite von Afrique-Europe-Interact finden sich in der Rubrik „Kampagnen“ unter dem Stichwort „Togo/ Solidarität mit ATE“ zahlreiche Hintergrundinformationen zur Situation in Togo.

Presidential elections in Togo on 22 February 2020 – The human rights situation in Togo remains extremely tense

Press release from Afrique-Europe-Interact (pdf-download)

31 January 2020: Presidential elections in Togo on 22 February 2020 +++ Afrique-Europe-Interact calls on the public and the German government to critically accompany the entire electoral process in the West African country +++ The human rights situation in Togo remains extremely tense +++ Despite massive protests, President Fauré Gnassingbé has managed to secure a fourth and fifth term in office by amending the constitution +++

As early as 1963 – three years after Togo’s independence – the first democratically elected President Sylvanus Olympio was assassinated in a military coup. Since then, the West African country has been in the iron grip of a single family: First, former colonial officer Gnassingbé Eyadéma established an unscrupulous dictatorship – also with the active support of his personal friend Franz-Josef Strauß, the long-time CSU Prime Minister of Bavaria. After Eyadéma’s death in 2005, his son Fauré Gnassingbé took over the affairs of state. Only through international pressure he did declare himself willing to hold elections, which, however, were subject to massive fraud. During the subsequent protests, more than 800 people were killed by state security forces. Nonetheless, Fauré Gnassingbé was henceforth regarded as the legitimate President of Togo on the international stage.

Fittingly, Germany resumed state development cooperation with Togo in 2012 after a break of almost 20 years. The reason given was that under Fauré Gnassingbé the country had initiated a “process of democratization, reconciliation and reform”. But this assessment is highly questionable. For even if Fauré Gnassingbé governs less brutally than his father, opposition members continue to face severe repression. In their last report on Togo (already published in 2017), Amnesty International writes: “The security forces continued to use excessive violence against demonstrators in 2016. Arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and other ill-treatment continued, and impunity for human rights violations persisted”. Very similar the Togolese League for Human Rights: A report on torture and police violence in Togo published in November 2019 describes severest human rights violations – for example on 21 July 2019 in Lomé in the Hédzranawoé district, when several dozen people were beaten and arrested by security forces with no apparent reason.

Against this background, mass protests have repeatedly occurred between August 2017 and January 2019. People demonstrated not only against the desolate social and economic situation in the country. They also demanded Fauré Gnassingbé’s resignation and a return to the 1992 constitution. For this constitution (which had already been repealed in 2002) only provides for two terms of office for presidents, which would have meant that Fauré Gnassingbé would not have been allowed to run in the coming presidential elections. The government reacted to the protests with brutal repression and violence: More than 20 demonstrators were killed, including children and young people. Thousands were injured, hundreds were imprisoned (some to this day). In addition, security forces destroyed private homes and offices of the opposition, and in the meantime many people fled to the neighbouring countries of Benin and Ghana.

Regardless of this, the government and the opposition accepted a mediation initiative by the West African Economic Community ECOWAS at the beginning of 2018. This initiative provided for fundamental changes in the organisation of future elections including the composition of the election commission and of the constitutional court that monitors the elections. However, the Togolese government did not implement these provisions. Moreover, even the law that was supposed to regulate the number of terms of office was softened at a crucial point. In May 2019, the parliament (in which there are just six members of the opposition) decided to limit the number of terms of office to two, but this was done with the addition that Fauré Gnassingbé’s previous terms of office are not counted. The Parliament also decided that former presidents should not be charged or convicted for offences committed during their presidency.

That is why it must be all the more worrying that Togolese security forces continue to brutalise the opposition, as three recent examples show:

+++ On 25.08.2019, a regular party meeting of the ANC was dissolved in Lomé for flimsy reasons by security forces. The ANC is the party of Jean-Pierre Fabre, who is considered one of the most promising opposition candidates in the upcoming presidential elections.

+++ On 14.11.2019, the former Archbishop of Lomé, Phillippe Kpodzro, reported that he had received death threats after meeting with the leaders of the opposition alliance “C 14” on 12.11.2019. Similarly, Tikpi Atchadam has to live in neighbouring countries out of fear for his life. He is president of the Parti National Panafricain (PNP), one of the main opposition parties.

+++ On 25.01. and 26.01.2020 two prominent party cadres of the PNP were arrested during night raids without giving any reasons – among others the Secretary General Acoubou A. Moutawakilou.

In view of these and similar incidents, it seems absolutely necessary that the entire election process must be closely monitored by the international public and that any irregularities must be named and, if necessary, sanctioned. The impending irregularities include not only intimidation and discrimination in the run-up to the presidential elections, but also electoral manipulation on the day of the elections itself. This is all the more so because the government refuses to implement self-evident standards in terms of democratic and transparent elections – such as announcing the election results separately according to electoral districts (a measure that makes election manipulation considerably more difficult). According to various surveys, a majority of the population wants Fauré Gnassingbé to be voted out of office as president. Among their most important demands are the release of all political prisoners, an end to repression, the prosecution of all those who have committed violence against peaceful demonstrators and a transparent, fair and non-violent organisation of the presidential elections.

Afrique-Europe-Interact supports these demands and asks the (international) public to critically and vigilantly monitor the elections in Togo. This request is addressed particularly to the United Nations, ECOWAS, the African Union and the EU. We would also like to call on the German Federal Government to make a strong plea to the government in Togo for the holding of transparent, fair and non-violent elections. We appeal to the media to examine reports from Togo carefully and critically. The country is not a democracy in the true sense of the word; the current president came to office in 2005 merely through massive use of violence. In this respect, the voices of human rights organisations, independent election observers and representatives of the opposition should be given particular attention – especially after the elections.

For questions: Lukas Meyer (Afrique-Europe-Interact), Mobile: 01521 750 055 0

If requested, we also arrange contacts with members of the Togolese diaspora in Germany.

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On the website of Afrique-Europe-Interact, under the heading “Campaigns” in the section “Togo/ Solidarity with ATE”, there is a variety of background information on the situation in Togo (but only on german).

Elections présidentielles au Togo le 22 février 2020 – La situation des droits de l’homme au Togo reste extrêmement tendue

Communiqué de presse de Afrique-Europe-Interact (pdf Download)

31 janvier 2020 : Elections présidentielles au Togo le 22 février 2020 +++ Afrique-Europe-Interact appelle le public et le gouvernement allemand à accompagner de manière critique l’ensemble du processus électoral dans ce pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest +++ La situation des droits de l’homme au Togo reste extrêmement tendue +++ Malgré des protestations massives, le président Fauré Gnassingbé a réussi à obtenir un quatrième et un cinquième mandat en modifiant la constitution +++

Dès 1963 – trois ans après l’indépendance du Togo – le premier président démocratiquement élu, Sylvanus Olympio, a été assassiné lors d’un coup d’État militaire. Depuis lors, ce pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest est sous l’emprise d’une seule famille : l’ancien officier colonial Gnassingbé Eyadéma a d’abord mis en place une dictature sans scrupules – également avec le soutien actif de son ami personnel Franz-Josef Strauß, le Premier ministre bavarois de longue date de la CSU. Après la mort d’Eyadéma en 2005, son fils Fauré Gnassingbé a pris en charge les affaires de l’Etat. Ce n’est que sous la pression internationale qu’il s’est déclaré prêt à organiser des élections, qui ont cependant fait l’objet de fraudes massives. Lors des manifestations qui ont suivi, plus de 800 personnes ont été tuées par les forces de sécurité de l’État. Néanmoins, Fauré Gnassingbé est désormais considéré sur la scène internationale comme le président légitime du Togo.

Il semblait donc normal que l’Allemagne a repris sa coopération avec le Togo en 2012, après une interruption de près de 20 ans. La raison invoquée était que sous Fauré Gnassingbé, le pays avait entamé un “processus de démocratisation, de réconciliation et de réforme”. Mais cette évaluation est très discutable. Car même si Fauré Gnassingbé gouverne moins brutalement que son père, les membres de l’opposition doivent s’attendre à une forte répression. Dans son dernier rapport sur le Togo (déjà publié en 2017), Amnesty International écrit : “Les forces de sécurité ont continué à faire usage d’une violence excessive contre les manifestants en 2016. Les arrestations et les détentions arbitraires, la torture et les autres mauvais traitements ont continué, et l’impunité pour les violations des droits de l’homme a persisté”. Un constat très similaire à celui de la Ligue Togolaise des Droits de l’Homme (LTDH) : Un rapport sur la torture et les violences policières au Togo publié en novembre 2019, fait état des plus graves violations des droits de l’homme – par exemple, le 21 juillet 2019 à Lomé dans le district de Hédzranawoé, lorsque plusieurs dizaines de personnes ont été battues et arrêtées par les forces de sécurité sans raison.

Dans ce contexte, des manifestations de masse ont eu lieu à plusieurs reprises entre août 2017 et janvier 2019. Les gens ont non seulement manifesté contre la situation sociale et économique désastreuse du pays, mais ils ont encore exigé la démission de Fauré Gnassingbé et un retour à la constitution de 1992. Car cette constitution (déjà abrogée en 2002) ne prévoit que deux mandats pour les présidents, ce qui aurait signifié pour Fauré Gnassingbé qu’il n’aurait pas été autorisé à se présenter aux prochaines élections présidentielles. Le gouvernement a réagi aux protestations par une répression très brutale : plus de 20 manifestant.e.s ont été tués, dont des enfants et des jeunes. Des milliers de personnes ont été blessées, des centaines ont été emprisonnées (dont certaines encore à ce jour). En outre, les forces de sécurité ont détruit des maisons privées et des bureaux de l’opposition, et entre-temps, de nombreuses personnes ont fui vers les pays voisins du Bénin et du Ghana.

Malgré cela, le gouvernement et l’opposition ont accepté une initiative de médiation de la Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO) au début de 2018. Cette initiative prévoit des changements fondamentaux dans l’organisation des futures élections (notamment la composition de la commission électorale et de la cour constitutionnelle qui supervisera les élections). Cependant, le gouvernement togolais n’a pas mis en œuvre ces exigences. Et même la loi qui devait réglementer le nombre de mandats a été désamorcée à son point le plus important. En mai 2019, le parlement (dans lequel il n’y a que six membres de l’opposition) a décidé de limiter le nombre de mandats à deux, mais avec l’ajout que les mandats précédents de Fauré Gnassingbé ne sont pas comptés. Le Parlement a également décidé que les anciens présidents ne devraient pas être inculpés ou condamnés pour des infractions commises pendant leur présidence.

Il est donc d’autant plus inquiétant que les forces de sécurité togolaises continuent de brutaliser l’opposition, comme le montrent trois exemples récents :

+++ Le 25.08.2019, une réunion régulière du parti de l’ANC a été dissoute à Lomé pour des raisons peu convaincantes par les forces de sécurité. L’ANC est le parti de Jean-Pierre Fabre, qui est considéré comme l’un des candidats d’opposition les plus prometteurs pour les prochaines élections présidentielles.

+++ Le 14.11.2019, l’ancien archevêque de Lomé, Phillippe Kpodzro, a rapporté qu’il avait reçu des menaces de mort après avoir rencontré les dirigeants de l’alliance d’opposition “C 14” le 12.11.2019. De même, Tikpi Atchadam, président du Parti National Panafricain (PNP), l’un des principaux partis d’opposition, doit séjourner dans les pays voisins craignant pour sa vie.

+++ Les 25.01. et 26.01.2020, deux éminents cadres du parti de la PNP ont été kidnappés lors de raids nocturnes sans donner de raisons – dont le secrétaire général Acoubou A. Moutawakilou.

Au vu de ces incidents et d’autres similaires, il semble absolument nécessaire que l’ensemble du processus électoral soit étroitement surveillé par l’opinion publique internationale et que toute irrégularité soit dénoncée et, si nécessaire, sanctionnée. Les menaces d’irrégularités comprennent non seulement l’intimidation et la discrimination à l’approche des élections présidentielles, mais aussi la manipulation électorale le jour même des élections. Et ce d’autant plus que le gouvernement refuse d’appliquer des normes évidentes en matière d’élections démocratiques et transparentes – par exemple, l’annonce des résultats des élections séparément par circonscription électorale (une mesure qui rend la manipulation des élections considérablement plus difficile). Selon différents sondages, une majorité de la population souhaite que Fauré Gnassingbé soit évincé de la présidence. Leurs principales revendications sont donc les suivantes : la libération de tous les prisonniers politiques, la fin de toute répression, la poursuite de tous ceux qui ont commis des violences contre des manifestants pacifiques et une organisation transparente, équitable et non violente des élections présidentielles.

Afrique-Europe-Interact soutient ces demandes et demande à l’opinion publique (internationale) d’accompagner les élections au Togo de manière critique et vigilante. Cette demande est adressée notamment aux Nations Unies, à la CEDEAO, à l’Union Africaine et à l’UE. En outre, nous voudrions demander au gouvernement fédéral allemand de faire des démarches auprès du gouvernement togolais pour la tenue d’élections transparentes, équitables et non violentes. Nous appelons les médias à examiner avec attention et un esprit critique les rapports en provenance du Togo. Le pays n’est pas une démocratie au vrai sens du terme ; l’actuel président est entré en fonction en 2005 par un simple recours massif à la force. À cet égard, les voix des organisations des droits de l’homme, des observateurs électoraux indépendants et des représentants de l’opposition devraient être prises en compte – surtout après les élections.

Pour toute question complémentaire : Lukas Meyer, 01521 750 055 0

Si vous êtes intéressé, nous pouvons également organiser des contacts avec des membres de la diaspora togolaise en Allemagne.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sur le site Afrique-Europe-Interact, sous la rubrique “Campagnes” de la section “Togo/Solidarité avec l’ATE”, vous trouverez de nombreuses informations de fond sur la situation au Togo (mais seulement dans la version allemande).

Schiffstaufe von United4Rescue in Kiel: Sea-Watch 4 soll bereits im April Menschen im Mittelmeer retten

Das zivilgesellschaftliche Bündnis United4Rescue hat gemeinsam mit Sea-Watch ein zusätzliches Seenotrettungsschiff in Dienst genommen. In Anwesenheit des Ratsvorsitzenden der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland, Landesbischof Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, taufte Aminata Touré, Landtagsvizepräsidentin des Landes Schleswig-Holstein, das Schiff am heutigen Donnerstag in Kiel auf den Namen “Sea-Watch 4”. Das Logo von United4Rescue am Bug zeigt prominent, dass das…

Der Beitrag Schiffstaufe von United4Rescue in Kiel: Sea-Watch 4 soll bereits im April Menschen im Mittelmeer retten erschien zuerst auf Sea-Watch e.V..

Offenens Plenum! Open plenary! Join SleepingplaceOrga, 12.Februar 2020, 20 h

english below***

Macht bei der Schlafplatzorga mit:
Schlafplätze organisieren sich nicht von selbst! Werdet Teil von der Schlafplatzcrew und macht mit uns möglich, dass etwas weniger Menschen draußen schlafen!
Bei uns fällt einiges an:


• bei unseren Schichten die Suchenden an die Angebote zu vermitteln


• Unterstützung für Suchende


• Vernetzung mit anderen Gruppen


• Veranstaltungen vorbereiten


• Küfas organisieren, und schnabulieren


• Die Schlafplatzorga vorstellen, überall wo wir eingeladen werden


• Kohle organisieren! Mit allen Mitteln von Glühwein bis Finanzantrag!

Alles kann, nix muss, und vielleicht fällt euch noch was anderes ein, was der Schlafplatzorga schon immer gefehlt hat – also: kommt zu unserem offenen Plenum am Mittwoch den 12. Februar um 20:00 Uhr, Oranienstr. 159, 10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg oder schreibt uns einfach eine Mail!

sleepingplaceorga@systemli.org

Wir freuen uns auf jeden Fall auf euch!

*****************************************************************

Participate in the sleeping place organization’s (Schlafplatzorgas) work:
Sleeping places don’t organize themselves! Become a part of the sleeping place-organization crew and help create a situation where fewer people have to sleep outdoors. We do the following:


• During our shifts we mediate offers of sleeping places to searchers.


• Support searchers in finding housing/sleeping places.


• Networking with other groups/organizations


• Organize events


• Organize Küfas (donation based kitchens), and schnabulieren (snacks?)


• Represent the sleeping place organization, at all events where we are invited


• organize coal (does this mean resources, funding etc?)! By various different means, from Glühwein to funding applications!


Everybody can, nobody must, and perhaps you can also think of something else that the Sleeping Place Organization can provide, that we’ve been lacking – SO: Please come to our open meeting on Wednesday the 12th of February at 20.00 (8 PM), Oranienstr. 159, 10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg or write us an email!

sleepingplaceorga@systemli.org

We are definitely looking forward to meeting you!

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 13)

Author: A migratory girl

Note: This photo is not showing the persons described below in the letter.

I am the mother of two sick babies

Every mother raises up her baby being proud of it from the first day. When she kisses her baby, her baby kisses her back, and this is the absolute happiness for her. When the child grows, she is watching how it plays with others. She watches it grow and develop. These are the joys of a mother. 

I have raised my two children under the hardest conditions of life. I spent everyday praying for them. But while the body of my four year old girl grew, her brain did not follow along. And the same happened to my boy.

I love my children. But society humiliated us for them being different. I will never forget that everybody expected my husband to get married again, because I gave birth to mentally disabled babies.

I didn’t even know that I was getting married. I was so small, getting married was for me was like playing with my dolls, and it was the same for all other girls of my very young age.

When I started to learn about life as a couple, I realised that I was pregnant and when I hugged my Mariam* (names changed) for the first time, I became also aware of people’s talk – mostly the nearest persons around me. They called my baby “handicapped”, “abnormal”, and those words aggrieved me.

To find medical help for the growth problems of our child and escape their stigmatisation and the painful talks around our family we decided to escape, first to Iran and after to Turkey.

We tried to find appropriate treatment for our daughter for four years. For the first three years, no one could tell us the reason of her illness. Finally, they found out, that she had a brain damage.

My Mariam … she is full of emotions, full of love and affection, full of innocence. Her world is simple, but pure. Her view on life is different. Even when humiliating hands rest on her shoulders, she feels that they are innocent, hands full of sympathy.

When I see that she goes near flowers, I become happy that maybe she is getting pleasure from her environment, but then she becomes aggressive to them. Observing her in such scenes feels like thorns piercing my eyes.

Every mother wishes to see her baby crawl, but I couldn’t see it, since she was like a dead body in a corner until she became two years old. Every mother wishes to hold her baby’s hand and teach her how to walk, but I touched her weak joints and she whined and cried in pain.

Hey mothers on this earth! Hey you who have children!

I swear that I raised this girl 9 months in my belly. I swear that I desired death while giving birth. I passed a long period after her birth, eating dry bread with water, praying that she becomes better, that she becomes a happiness for us and happy herself.

I have lived with such pain. The Turkish doctors told us that there was no hope to treat Mariam.

And, then, in Turkey, another seed was planted and started growing. I have grown Amir* full of hope. Although looking at Mariam made me cry every day, my husband, cleared away my tears, put his hand on my belly and gave me hope. How many nights didn’t I cry for the health for my kids… but in this inhumane world, my souls screams haven’t been heard.

This mother, after 9 months of carrying her baby and 6 days of labor pains, was told once again the same news: She is having an unhealthy baby.

I passed two years full of hope, telling myself that maybe it was not true, that things may change. The doctors in Turkey told us that he had the same problem as Mariam. His brain will not grow and the muscles of his body will not work well. However, there was a treatment for him, especially because he was smaller that Mariam, but that treatment was not possible in Turkey. For that we needed to move on to a European country.

We had been living as refugees in Turkey for four years. We were beggars on everybody’s door. Every day we visited the doctors. However, we didn’t know their language, and we didn’t have an interpreter. We wandered for hours and days to find the hospitals as we didn’t know the addresses, only to understand, in the end, that we were in Turkey for nothing. We saw that all doors were closed to us. So we gathered everything, held our children’s hands and started our migration towards Europe.

Now we ask ourselves: Is this really Europe? Is this the continent of hope? Where is that bright light that we came here to find for our children?

No! Here our heart’s light didn’t turn on. Europe turned our hopes off and we are trapped in darkness.

For four months now every day we go to the doctors in Mytilene. It seems that our babies are pictures, that can be diagnosed by a quick look. Without having carried out any test, they tell us that our babies don‘t have any problems. It is as if you go to the doctor and tell him that you have a headache and the doctor tells you, “where is your pain, I cannot see it”.

No one answers our questions. We are like ping pong balls for them. They throw us from one hospital to another for nothing.

If you have parents, if you are a father or mother, if you love someone around you, you will understand us. You will understand how hard it is to see a seed of your body, growing to become a human that is just alive but doesn’t live. Every day looking at our children’s situation we wish to die.

We didn’t come here for money or luxuries but for the doctors. For us just having a nest to protect us from the cold and to live with our healthy children would be enough.

In search of just a nest…

Parwana

p.s. Thanks to my friend who shared her story with me. I wish she will find what she is seeking for!

Das Bündnis United4Rescue hat ein Rettungsschiff

Die „Poseidon“ wird bald im Mittelmeer Menschenleben retten In einem verdeckten Bieterverfahren konnte das Bündnis United4Rescue mit der Seenotrettungsorganisation Sea-Watch das frühere Forschungsschiff „Poseidon“ ersteigern. Der Hashtag des Bündnisses #wirschickeneinSchiff soll noch im Frühjahr Realität werden. Bis Ende 2019 war die „Poseidon“ als Forschungsschiff im Einsatz. Sie ist hinsichtlich ihrer Größe und ihrer technischen Daten…

Der Beitrag Das Bündnis United4Rescue hat ein Rettungsschiff erschien zuerst auf Sea-Watch e.V..

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 13)

Author: A migratory girl

Note: This photo is not showing the persons described below in the letter.

I am the mother of two sick babies

Every mother raises up her baby being proud of it from the first day. When she kisses her baby, her baby kisses her back, and this is the absolute happiness for her. When the child grows, she is watching how it plays with others. She watches it grow and develop. These are the joys of a mother. 

I have raised my two children under the hardest conditions of life. I spent everyday praying for them. But while the body of my four year old girl grew, her brain did not follow along. And the same happened to my boy.

I love my children. But society humiliated us for them being different. I will never forget that everybody expected my husband to get married again, because I gave birth to mentally disabled babies.

I didn’t even know that I was getting married. I was so small, getting married was for me was like playing with my dolls, and it was the same for all other girls of my very young age.

When I started to learn about life as a couple, I realised that I was pregnant and when I hugged my Mariam* (names changed) for the first time, I became also aware of people’s talk – mostly the nearest persons around me. They called my baby “handicapped”, “abnormal”, and those words aggrieved me.

To find medical help for the growth problems of our child and escape their stigmatisation and the painful talks around our family we decided to escape, first to Iran and after to Turkey.

We tried to find appropriate treatment for our daughter for four years. For the first three years, no one could tell us the reason of her illness. Finally, they found out, that she had a brain damage.

My Mariam … she is full of emotions, full of love and affection, full of innocence. Her world is simple, but pure. Her view on life is different. Even when humiliating hands rest on her shoulders, she feels that they are innocent, hands full of sympathy.

When I see that she goes near flowers, I become happy that maybe she is getting pleasure from her environment, but then she becomes aggressive to them. Observing her in such scenes feels like thorns piercing my eyes.

Every mother wishes to see her baby crawl, but I couldn’t see it, since she was like a dead body in a corner until she became two years old. Every mother wishes to hold her baby’s hand and teach her how to walk, but I touched her weak joints and she whined and cried in pain.

Hey mothers on this earth! Hey you who have children!

I swear that I raised this girl 9 months in my belly. I swear that I desired death while giving birth. I passed a long period after her birth, eating dry bread with water, praying that she becomes better, that she becomes a happiness for us and happy herself.

I have lived with such pain. The Turkish doctors told us that there was no hope to treat Mariam.

And, then, in Turkey, another seed was planted and started growing. I have grown Amir* full of hope. Although looking at Mariam made me cry every day, my husband, cleared away my tears, put his hand on my belly and gave me hope. How many nights didn’t I cry for the health for my kids… but in this inhumane world, my souls screams haven’t been heard.

This mother, after 9 months of carrying her baby and 6 days of labor pains, was told once again the same news: She is having an unhealthy baby.

I passed two years full of hope, telling myself that maybe it was not true, that things may change. The doctors in Turkey told us that he had the same problem as Mariam. His brain will not grow and the muscles of his body will not work well. However, there was a treatment for him, especially because he was smaller that Mariam, but that treatment was not possible in Turkey. For that we needed to move on to a European country.

We had been living as refugees in Turkey for four years. We were beggars on everybody’s door. Every day we visited the doctors. However, we didn’t know their language, and we didn’t have an interpreter. We wandered for hours and days to find the hospitals as we didn’t know the addresses, only to understand, in the end, that we were in Turkey for nothing. We saw that all doors were closed to us. So we gathered everything, held our children’s hands and started our migration towards Europe.

Now we ask ourselves: Is this really Europe? Is this the continent of hope? Where is that bright light that we came here to find for our children?

No! Here our heart’s light didn’t turn on. Europe turned our hopes off and we are trapped in darkness.

For four months now every day we go to the doctors in Mytilene. It seems that our babies are pictures, that can be diagnosed by a quick look. Without having carried out any test, they tell us that our babies don‘t have any problems. It is as if you go to the doctor and tell him that you have a headache and the doctor tells you, “where is your pain, I cannot see it”.

No one answers our questions. We are like ping pong balls for them. They throw us from one hospital to another for nothing.

If you have parents, if you are a father or mother, if you love someone around you, you will understand us. You will understand how hard it is to see a seed of your body, growing to become a human that is just alive but doesn’t live. Every day looking at our children’s situation we wish to die.

We didn’t come here for money or luxuries but for the doctors. For us just having a nest to protect us from the cold and to live with our healthy children would be enough.

In search of just a nest…

Parwana

p.s. Thanks to my friend who shared her story with me. I wish she will find what she is seeking for!

Sea-Watch 3 rettet 119 Menschen in drei Rettungen innerhalb 24 Stunden, auch heute wieder Boote in Seenot – Über 150 Menschen von EU-Partnern illegal nach Libyen zurückgeschleppt

Am gestrigen Donnerstag wurde die Sea-Watch 3 über mehrere Seenotfälle alarmiert und hatte unverzüglich die erfolgreiche Rettung von 60 Menschen an Bord eines Schlauchbootes durchgeführt. In einer zweiten Operation konnten weitere 17 Menschen aus Seenot gerettet werden. Die Suche nach einem dritten Boot in Seenot wurde in der Nacht von Donnerstag auf Freitag abgeschlossen und…

Der Beitrag Sea-Watch 3 rettet 119 Menschen in drei Rettungen innerhalb 24 Stunden, auch heute wieder Boote in Seenot – Über 150 Menschen von EU-Partnern illegal nach Libyen zurückgeschleppt erschien zuerst auf Sea-Watch e.V..

STOP WAR ON MIGRANTS

Clandestina participates in the ‘Stop War On Migrants’ campaign. The campaign was initiated on October 2019, after the announcement of the new anti-immigration policy in Greece.

This is the text that presented the new governmental policy on migration and called for launching the campaign (Oct. 2019): StopWar_leaflet_EN

This is a presentation of the assembly of the “Stop War On Migrants” campaign in English, French, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu: Who_we_are_5_languages

This is the facebook page of the “Stop War On Migrants” campaign:

https://www.facebook.com/StopWarOnMigrants/

4_Posters.indd

Sea-Watch startet nach sechsmonatiger Blockade in erste Rettungsmission unter deutscher Flagge

Das Rettungsschiff Sea-Watch 3 hat am heutigen Montag den Hafen von Licata (Sizilien) verlassen und ist auf dem Weg in die Such- und Rettungszone. Zuvor hatte die Organisation die Berufung vor einem italienischen Zivilgericht gegen die unrechtmäßige Beschlagnahmung des Schiffes gewonnen, das nach der Rettung von 53 Menschen durch Kapitänin Carola Rackete und Crew seit…

Der Beitrag Sea-Watch startet nach sechsmonatiger Blockade in erste Rettungsmission unter deutscher Flagge erschien zuerst auf Sea-Watch e.V..

Sea-Watch Sonderbeilage 2019

Taz-Beilage: 701 Tonnen Solidarität – Für das Recht zu bleiben, Für das Recht zu gehen Auch dieses Jahr haben wir wieder eine Sea-Watch Sonderbeilage für Zeitungen entworfen. Nach einem Jahr mit viel Aufmerksamkeit für die Seenotretter*innen, beschäftigt sich diese Beilage mit den Geschichten derer, die sonst nicht auf der Titelseite landen. Lest hier die Geschichten…

Der Beitrag Sea-Watch Sonderbeilage 2019 erschien zuerst auf Sea-Watch e.V..

Letter to the World from Moria (No 12)

Author: A migratory girl

copyright: Hinrich Schultze

I am mother Earth

I have existed for billions of years. Every century I raised new generations, but I have never been at the same time as proud of myself as I am today and as sad and disappointed as I am today.

Today, I stand tip-top on some incredible advances and discoveries achieved in this world. Yet, it looks like my residents are returning back to old false thoughts, thoughts thousands years old. Thoughts of egoism, thoughts of greed, thoughts that make you fight between each other, that made you built borders in order not to share between your kind or other creatures.

I am mother of you all. I am equally belonging to all people. You can all live on me. So what are these borders for that you created? Why don’t you open your doors to each other? Why don’t you get rid of racism and come together sitting on one table?

We are a family. Didn’t you realise? Is it possible for one child to ask another child to give him back his mother? Is she mother to just one child? Which mother can be happy to see one of her kids happy and wealthy and another poor and miserable? Which family can draw borders between its members? You are all earths people, how can one be more and another less?

You want to conquer other people, other countries, other planets. Have you pleased me, to now think that you will please other planets? Did you look after me so now you think that you can look after other planets?

Today, more than any times in the past, I need protection from you people and people need protection from each other. Instead of looking after me, you want to conquer me, you think that I belong to some few of you. You don’t want to care and to share…

Don’t you need me all in order to survive? I am soil and water for you, and if the goal is to live and not to turn others into slaves, get a piece of land for yourself and give a glas of water to others.

Every day, with your growing greed I fall into more trouble and you loose yourselves. Your attempt to conquer me burns forests into ashes, forests that have grown over thousands of years nurturing us with oxygen. Seas turn red with human blood, and more lands with their thousand years old history, turn into dry sand.

Your pressure on me is ever growing. With every century of your “progress”, I get closer to the end of my life. You want to exploit me, but don’t you realize that you deplete me every day, that you end my days and yours.

Why don’t you content with what you already have? Why don’t you protect the treasures in your hands? Your life would be terribly short if I belonged to one man only, if you were alone. If you continue the same way, you won’t be able to have me for more than 100 years more. I will die. You will die.

So let the people see the grasses also in future, let them touch the lawns, let them smell fresh air, let them climb the mountains and swim in the seas. Don’t force the future generations to spend all their days and lives with masks! My ozone layer is being destroyed. I cannot escape harmful radiations anymore, all because of you! Every day by making more nuclear power, by building more factories, I come closer to the end of my life.

…This is only an Abstract of the letter.

One can wander to the East or the West, to the North or the South, but where home is, it is the best.

Parwana

Letter to the World from Moria (Nr. 11)

Author: A migratory girl

Life of a Transgender

I am in Moria Camp.

Being a transgender means not to be of female or male sex, neither man nor woman – but of transgender sex. In a society like Afghanistan, being a transgender person is like being an extra-terrestrial, landing on earth from outer space. In Afghanistan people think of sex binary: only female and male are considered as “normal” genders.

In Afghanistan I used false names. I am Mina. This name gives an understanding that I am a girl. Yet, every day, during my whole being, my soul screams: “I am not a girl! Don’t cover your self with these clothes.”

I was born, in 1992, in Mazaresharef, the western province of Afghanistan. Being a girl in such a society carries guilt. Being a transgender born as a girl carries double guilt. So when I realised that I was not really a girl, my life became a nightmare. I felt myself separate from everyone, not belonging to any of the dominant sexes. Although I had a female body, I wanted to be with boys, behave like a boy. Playing with them, learning with them, speaking with them was pleasant for me.

While I was little, my family allowed me to do more or less what I wanted. But as soon as my female body developed, they didn’t allow me to be what I wanted to be, as I wanted to be. They were always thinking about their reputation and honour and not about what I wanted. When I became 18, I felt like a prisoner in the jail of my female body and I couldn’t tolerate anymore wearing girl’s clothes. So, I decided to take off my hijab and be what I wanted to be.

I loved one of my classmates and I was all the time with her. She didn’t know everything about me. She just knew my deep feelings for her and she thought that I was like all girls. Sometimes, she felt uncertain and would ask if I was ok. Soon, I decided to speak with her and with my family.

First I told her all my feelings, that I really loved her and wanted to be with her all my life. She was shocked, but she accepted me and wanted me to be what I wanted to be, not what others wanted me to be.

When I then spoke with my family, they told me that they would kill me if I did not do what they wanted. They also told me that there was a suitor asking for me and that he and his family were coming the next day to visit to ask for my hand. I should just dress like a lady and that was it!

I thought ok, I will do what they ask me to do. I will get married, but I won’t have any relation with him. Relations need feelings and I had no such feelings for him or any men. I thought, I will divorce him after two months, I promise!

I did the opposite. I went to a barber and cut off my hair like a boy. Then I wore a t-shirt with a pair of jeans and went home.  

I did all of that in order to live in freedom, and I will continue my struggle until I achieve my freedom. Freedom for ever.

I hope that here I will be free!

Parwana

…This is only an Abstract of the letter.

Letter to the World from Moria (10)

copyright: Salinia Stroux

Author: A migratory girl

Seeking for protection in a world of war

Where is safety?

In a camp with 14,000 refugees coming from different places of earth living under inhuman conditions one piled upon the other, the authorities can do very little to protect us. In fact, the miserable conditions they force us to live in, the inhuman laws and rules they subject us to create a small world of violence – a form of systematic violence against all of us.

If you live this violence day by day, you become part of it. In the end we humans, who are currently refugees in your Europe, must defend ourselves, our tents and our families against a generalised violence from above, but also from all sides. This violence can come come from any side now.

Where is safety?

If you live under conditions not worth for animals, violent conditions, then you can become violent any time yourself even if you share the same pain.

I feel powerless against this violence. I feel it crawling in our veins. I don’t want to become a part of this. I feel shame, when I see anger growing between people who suffer the same pain and shame when I feel anger rising inside me.

Instead of establishing friendly relations between each other as oppressed people that face the same discrimination, we become part of the reasons of fear. We escaped war, but it seems we are in war again. There is no way out. This is the war to survive the jungle called Europe.

Where is safety?

How long are we going to search for safety by holding guns in our hands? These hands, which long for a pen not a gun!

Open your doors for our lives’!

Parwana

…This is only an Abstract of the letter.

Letter to the World from Moria (No 12)

Author: A migratory girl

copyright: Hinrich Schultze

I am mother Earth

I have existed for billions of years. Every century I raised new generations, but I have never been at the same time as proud of myself as I am today and as sad and disappointed as I am today.

Today, I stand tip-top on some incredible advances and discoveries achieved in this world. Yet, it looks like my residents are returning back to old false thoughts, thoughts thousands years old. Thoughts of egoism, thoughts of greed, thoughts that make you fight between each other, that made you built borders in order not to share between your kind or other creatures.

I am mother of you all. I am equally belonging to all people. You can all live on me. So what are these borders for that you created? Why don’t you open your doors to each other? Why don’t you get rid of racism and come together sitting on one table?

We are a family. Didn’t you realise? Is it possible for one child to ask another child to give him back his mother? Is she mother to just one child? Which mother can be happy to see one of her kids happy and wealthy and another poor and miserable? Which family can draw borders between its members? You are all earths people, how can one be more and another less?

You want to conquer other people, other countries, other planets. Have you pleased me, to now think that you will please other planets? Did you look after me so now you think that you can look after other planets?

Today, more than any times in the past, I need protection from you people and people need protection from each other. Instead of looking after me, you want to conquer me, you think that I belong to some few of you. You don’t want to care and to share…

Don’t you need me all in order to survive? I am soil and water for you, and if the goal is to live and not to turn others into slaves, get a piece of land for yourself and give a glas of water to others.

Every day, with your growing greed I fall into more trouble and you loose yourselves. Your attempt to conquer me burns forests into ashes, forests that have grown over thousands of years nurturing us with oxygen. Seas turn red with human blood, and more lands with their thousand years old history, turn into dry sand.

Your pressure on me is ever growing. With every century of your “progress”, I get closer to the end of my life. You want to exploit me, but don’t you realize that you deplete me every day, that you end my days and yours.

Why don’t you content with what you already have? Why don’t you protect the treasures in your hands? Your life would be terribly short if I belonged to one man only, if you were alone. If you continue the same way, you won’t be able to have me for more than 100 years more. I will die. You will die.

So let the people see the grasses also in future, let them touch the lawns, let them smell fresh air, let them climb the mountains and swim in the seas. Don’t force the future generations to spend all their days and lives with masks! My ozone layer is being destroyed. I cannot escape harmful radiations anymore, all because of you! Every day by making more nuclear power, by building more factories, I come closer to the end of my life.

Your egoism and greed is my death. But my death will be your destruction. It will affect all of you. Every day more species of herbs, plants and animals become extinct. More humans lose their lives fighting in front of the borders of your greed and pride.

People were all born with many hopes, but not feeling the joy of life, they lost everything. When I see that in one part of me, people die from hunger and children are threatened by malnutrition, and in another part of me, people go under surgery‘s blades to lose weight, I feel anger.

I am sorry for the countries where people live below the poverty line. I should also say: I am sorry for the residents, of those parts of a country, living under the poverty line, while just next to them others live on top of joviality. I feel pain for those who work in their own territories for other people and give their own natural wealth away for a few cents.

It pains me to think that, millions of years from now, the inhabitants of other planets would call Earth “the planet of the greedy species”, and amazed from the horror, they will look at the destruction caused by atomic wars and missile weapons.

You have closed the borders, when in one of my hemispheres population density is low, while in my other hemisphere it is very high. The rich eat more, the poor face hunger more.

Are not the rich countries of the world responsible for that? The nations, the presidents, the politicians, the businessmen? Have they not taken away all natural resources? Should they not feel shame? They don’t. Instead the rulers, the real thieves, just give “development aid” and present themselves as benefactors to our world. They interfere in politics of other countries, they throw down governments and start wars to “save” others.

In a period when Europe has decreasing birthrates and schools and universities close down because of a lack of students, in Asia and Africa and in most other continents, thousands of schools are destroyed under bombs and students are deprived of education.

In an era when generations should deliberate together to get to know and understand each other, people have raised borders higher and thousands die as a result, including children, pregnant women, old men.

One day from the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the North Sea terrible screams will rise — screams to break down the borders. I have never raised borders to hold someone out. Nature has always stretched a friendly hand to all – so hold it tight.

In an era when you still want to visit Mars, I have never constructed a border. You were created as free people and freedom is what you deserve. I need life not borders. No one needs borders.

Come together to find new ways to protect life and dignity. I am getting old and I cannot tolerate fumes of chemical factories, atomic power’s gases, missiles, atomic bombs.

Let one day of life be a gift for yourself and give one day also for all the others.

I turned centuries around the sun to give your life, but, today, when I need you to listen to me, don’t turn your back on me. Earth don’t want no borders. Earth want people united.

One can wander to the East or the West, to the North or the South, but where home is, it is the best.

Parwana

Letter to the World from Moria (Nr. 11)

Author: A migratory girl

Life of a Transgender

I am in Moria Camp.

Being a transgender means not to be of female or male sex, neither man nor woman – but of transgender sex. In a society like Afghanistan, being a transgender person is like being an extra-terrestrial, landing on earth from outer space. In Afghanistan people think of sex binary: only female and male are considered as “normal” genders.

In Afghanistan I used false names. I am Mina. This name gives an understanding that I am a girl. Yet, every day, during my whole being, my soul screams: “I am not a girl! Don’t cover your self with these clothes.”

I was born, in 1992, in Mazaresharef, the western province of Afghanistan. Being a girl in such a society carries guilt. Being a transgender born as a girl carries double guilt. So when I realised that I was not really a girl, my life became a nightmare. I felt myself separate from everyone, not belonging to any of the dominant sexes. Although I had a female body, I wanted to be with boys, behave like a boy. Playing with them, learning with them, speaking with them was pleasant for me.

While I was little, my family allowed me to do more or less what I wanted. But as soon as my female body developed, they didn’t allow me to be what I wanted to be, as I wanted to be. They were always thinking about their reputation and honour and not about what I wanted. When I became 18, I felt like a prisoner in the jail of my female body and I couldn’t tolerate anymore wearing girl’s clothes. So, I decided to take off my hijab and be what I wanted to be.

I loved one of my classmates and I was all the time with her. She didn’t know everything about me. She just knew my deep feelings for her and she thought that I was like all girls. Sometimes, she felt uncertain and would ask if I was ok. Soon, I decided to speak with her and with my family.

First I told her all my feelings, that I really loved her and wanted to be with her all my life. She was shocked, but she accepted me and wanted me to be what I wanted to be, not what others wanted me to be.

When I then spoke with my family, they told me that they would kill me if I did not do what they wanted. They also told me that there was a suitor asking for me and that he and his family were coming the next day to visit to ask for my hand. I should just dress like a lady and that was it!

I thought ok, I will do what they ask me to do. I will get married, but I won’t have any relation with him. Relations need feelings and I had no such feelings for him or any men. I thought, I will divorce him after two months, I promise!

I did the opposite. I went to a barber and cut off my hair like a boy. Then I wore a t-shirt with a pair of jeans and went home.  

My older sister was shocked to see me like that and told me to change my clothes immediately and wear a scarf. “Otherwise”, she told me, “our father will kill you”.

I put a scarf over my short brown hair and wore a skirt over my jeans.

The guests came and I got married, but I had no relation with him. We were together for two months and then I divorced.

When my father learned that I divorced, he beat me up. My eyes became black and purple.

“What is this,” he shouted. “Do you want me to kill you? What did I do wrong to you that you behave like this? What did you want, that I didn’t give you”, he shouted and continued to beat me.

“You didn’t give me my right,” I answered. “Did you ever ask me what I wanted? Did you ever ask how I felt? Did you ask anytime how I wanted to be? You know nothing about me,” I went on. “You were always thinking about your reputation and honour, not about your child.”

And as I was speaking my voice stopped. I was sobbing. “Your crying won’t change anything,” he cried, “I will decide about you.” He threw me out of the house and that was the last time I saw him.

It’s about six years that I have not had a single contact with my family.

My mother died some years ago and my two sisters got married. I went to them.

I couldn’t stay a lot with my sister. Her husband, my brother in law, was not happy with me and his behaviour towards me became worse and worse. I understood that I could not stay there any longer.

One day, my bother in law called me in the room and told me: “We are taking a decision about you. As you know, our financial situation is not good and we cannot spend money for you. We will tell you our decision tomorrow.”

I felt totally stressed out. I didn’t know what he was going to decide and how it was going to be. That night was like a nightmare for me. I couldn’t sleep. Yet, I was pleased with my new style. I was day-dreaming all night long in front of the mirror, brushing my short hair and changing my parting hair line.

The next day, the sun was shining and I was still day-dreaming. I wanted to become a lawyer to protect the rights of people, make the world a just world. But they burned my dreams, they burned my child and my adult dreams. They burned my hopes.

In the morning my brother in law asked me: “Will you change yourself?”

“No”, I replied.

“Won’t you change your decision?”

“No!!!”, I insisted. “I know who to be and how to be. Everyone has the right to chose.”

“We are not in Europe, never forget it”, he shouted. “I live in society, with many other people. Every day I hear them speak about you. Their words bother me. I don’t have any problem with you working in the municipality, or you going to university, but I cannot tolerate that people speak about you and us.”

I was living with my sister for 3,5 years. But, after this conversation with my brother in law, I decided to leave them and not to make them uncomfortable anymore.

I was sad, hopeless, upset and disturbed. I realized that I was alone. Alone in all respects. Totally alone in the whole world. I didn’t know what to do and where to go. I cried, and cried. I cried continuously.

I went to my classmate who had promised to give me money to escape from Afghanistan and become free — free to spin in the air for all to see me. No need to hide anymore.

I found a family that also wanted to go Germany. So I took the money from my classmate and I went with them to Farah, then to Nemroz, the nearest city to Pakistan’s border. Then we went to Pakistan, to a city of thieves, war and deception. When we were there, I didn’t know that I should dress like a girl and wear a hijab. I thought it would be more tolerant and open-minded than Mazar-e-Sharif. But when we arrived at Nemroz, I understood that I should cover all my body. Even then, however, everyone was looking at us as if we “women” were guilty of a crime. Then I understood that they were looking at us, because our men wore t-shirts and trousers, clothes very different from theirs, since they were all wearing long dresses and Tomban (traditional trousers). So our men changed their style and borrowed a Pirahsn and Tomban for themselves.

We were eight nights at the Pakistan border and this was the most difficult part of our journey. One night three men wanted to invader our tent while we were sleeping, but fortunately our men stopped them and had a fight with them. They left, but, after that, we couldn’t sleep all night.

We reached Iran, a country of racism and hatred, between Shiites and Sunnis, Iranians and Afghans. When we were there, we spent three days in the mountains. The weather was very cold, but no one of the smugglers helped the families that had children. I felt very sorry for the family of that baby who fell from the mountain and died.

Finally we arrived to Turkey.

The UNHCR helped me a lot in every respect. When they learned that I wanted to change my gender, they tried to collect money for the operation. Unfortunately there was no doctor to perform such an operation. They suggested that, I should go to Europe.

I spent two and half years in Turkey. After six months, I got a money card, and every month, I took 7 hundred and fifty Lire from PTT. But as I had to pay for rent, water, gas and electricity that money wasn’t enough for me. So I was peddling everyday at the corners of the streets. I do the same here too, just to earn 5€.

It’s so hard when somebody asks me, how many siblings I have. How can I say 6, when I have not been with them for so long? I share nothing with them.

Isn’t it wrong?

It’s very hard when somebody is looking at me strangely and I sense that he or she wants to ask me who and what I am.

I cannot say anything. I just hide myself, hide my gender, because of my feelings and I hide my feelings, because of others.

I passed the borders not to be hidden!

I risked my life not to be hidden!

I lost everything not to be hidden!

I did all of that in order to live in freedom, and I will continue my struggle until I achieve my freedom. Freedom for ever.

I hope that here I will be free!

Parwana