Refugee Strike Berlin’s Statement on Torture of Refugees in North Rhein-Westphalia
On Sunday, 28 September 2014, several cases of abuse of refugees by private security personnel in German refugee centers were made public.
We are outraged. We are furious. We are not, however, surprised. It was not without reason that we left the camps ourselves.
How can it happen—again—that so-called “security” personnel have tortured, humiliated, abused, and attacked innocent people? How can it happen that these so-called “security” personnel photographed themselves, smiling, while committing these atrocities? And how can it be that, once again, investigators are claiming that “there is no evidence of a racist or xenophobic motivation” behind them?
We ask these questions, bewildered, but we already know the answers.
Comparisons to Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib are appropriate. How can it happen? It always happens, historically speaking, when people are dehumanized, when people are not regarded as people. These abuses just now brought to light are only the tip of the massive iceberg of systematic dehumanization confronting refugees on a daily basis in Germany.
When you talk about “full boats,” “floods” of refugees, “asylum fraud” and a “burden” on society, you are not talking about people, but numbers. Dangerous numbers. When people in refugee centers—CAMPS—are surveilled and isolated, they are not being treated as people, but as a problem. A dangerous problem.
We are not a problem. We are not a “flood.” We are not numbers, not perps. We are people; people who fled to Europe fearing for our lives; we have not come to Germany for no reason.
True to current trends of privatization, the state has handed off the duty of accommodating asylum seekers to private companies. These companies are only interested in squeezing profits out of the business to be found in people seeking protection. It is just plain cynical how the German state—one of the world’s richest—and private companies work, hand in glove, for political and economic gain through the abuse of refugees, ignoring our human rights. We are not commodities!
There is no question that handing such solemn tasks of state over to private companies is criminal. But public discourse continuously attempts to tiptoe around these glaring examples of crimes of state. It’s not just about these specific cases, or about these specific “security” personnel. It’s not just about whether or not it is right to assign the task of accommodating refugees to private companies.
It’s about the basic fact that the entire German camp system is fundamentally misanthropic, and is in and of itself a gross violation of human rights. It can only exist as part of a broader and deeper system of dehumanization and criminalization.
This kind of dehumanization and criminalization, it should be said, has a long tradition in Germany and in Europe. For this reason (but not for this reason alone), it falls to you, citizens and politicians of the Federal Republic of Germany, to change this immediately. Do not let yourselves become collaborators in this crime.
For years we have taken our struggle to the streets, not just to end the camp system, but also to abolish compulsory housing and for an immediate end to deportations; for humane treatment of all people; for our basic rights, and the basic rights of all. We will keep fighting until we achieve these goals.
Today, as any day, we call loudly for an end to the camp system and demand our right to self-determination in housing.
As long as there are these camps, and people are not regarded as people, these kinds of crimes will continue to be committed.
Come together in solidarity and rage! Stand up and say NO! This is happening in your name!
End the camp system!
End compulsory housing!
Sympathy and solidarity to all people humiliated, abused, and killed in German camps.
Refugee Strike Berlin
Oranienplatz, Berlin, 1.10.2014
Translated from the German by Antidote’s Ed Sutton