We will rise – Berlin Refugee Strike

Interview with Victor from the Refugees Tent Action at the infopoint at the Oranienplatz, Berlin

Can you please tell us something about the camp? What does the camp mean to you? What does the camp stand for?

Originally everybody knows the aim, the purpose of this camp. The people inside the camp, you all know where they came from – people from Lampedusa are here, asylum seekers. We are together here and we fight as one, because most of the problems we have are very similar. We came to Lampedusa and now we fight for the right to work, for legal work contracts and to resist and abolish the law of Dublin II. This law is not about helping, but about killing us!

Why can’t we use our Italian documents to work in any European country?! We have to find a work contract in Italy. That is why we are fighting, especially why we are in resistance. We don’t want to be in resistance – especially we from Libya. We came from war.

What we want to achieve, is to abolish the »Residenzpflicht«, to abolish »Lager«! We claim: Freedom of movement! Stop the quotation!

So, we unite as refugees. We join together to fight and together our fight is strong. We are all activist people and we have political supporters, like the green party. They are struggling behind the movement. We went to that political party. The camp is to help and welcome refugees. That is why I love this place!

You see what happens in Lampedusa. Europe supports war, brings famine to Africa. So that makes flee the refugees. They should expect millions of refugees for the next years to come; because Gaddafi is no more. They are the cause. They sell weapons. They should accept the refugees, but they are denying refugees. They give the weapons and the weapons are meant to kill ourselves and they cause war. Without war, no weapons will be sold.

Are you also in contact with the protests in Munich and the hunger strikes at the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin this year for example?

Yes, it is one movement with one voice, one group! All refugees have the same problems. There is not difference. We are in contact with the struggles in Hamburg and Munich and we are also in contact with other struggles in France – we want to make it more internationally. Many people need what we are doing. We have one goal and one voice!

What did you already achieve? What are your aims?

We, who came from Libya, we had a good life and then our lives changed upside-down. We have to fight to get our lives back. We all want to get our life back. Go to Libya now – there is no political structure.

We are a political movement. Our problems rely on the political problems, on the political issue that there is no political structure and no organization.

And in Europe they are applying this Dublin-II-system to most of the people. If you are staying here for more than 3 months, you have to return back to Italy because of this law. These laws are the strictest, they ever have put out; even the police and the government know, that people with Italian documents are here longer then they are allowed to be here.

So, this camp is the power! I see it as a solution place.

Other people will come and continue the fight. That is my point. Even citizens want this thing to grow more.

How do the politicians react to the camp? Did they visit you?

They grip people that are supporting this camp and this movement. There is the opposition, but they don’t have so much influence. They are trying to do their best and they see what they can do.

I believe that change does not come easily. Change is a much bigger process. They does not force law to men – they make the law. It is a right guarded process. It needs true peoples action.

What kind of support do you need? How can other political groups support your fight? Who can support you?

Everybody who is spreading the idea.

The leading government, the CDU, they don‘t even want to listen to the refugees – they don‘t want to listen! There are some political parties who are supporting the camp. But there are a lot of political activists who are really supporting, who have the same goal. There are supporter of this movement with the same goals – we have much in common.

So, it would be a great support to spread your word, your objectives? Is publicity one way to support the camp?

Yes, spread the word! Sometimes we spread the word and sometimes there are journalists who are not spreading what we said. Sometimes there is a problem with the journalist people because they work for the government and do what they want them to do.

If I say something and it is not what they want to hear they write what they want. So sometimes we don‘t welcome them.

But there are some who are supporters of the refugees.

The most important thing is to try to use the opportunity to be helpful and grateful, to try to be truthful. Remember, one day you can be a refugee. How would you feel?

Who is the next victim? Who will be the next?

In Syria there is war for two years now. Who will be next?

They can be the next, because war will never stop.

There were journalists that made our lives miserable in Lybia: Al-Jazeera, BBC, ...: They are players in thoses wars. Even though they are not soldiers.

I was running for my life. Whole Europe was supporting Gaddafi to fight this war against terror. Politics changed and our lives were in danger. Because Al-Jazeera is making propaganda, our life became in danger. My friend lost his life because of Al-Jazeera and because he was black, you see? Very bad!

I would like to come back to the question of support. Do you need money or maybe things that people can bring here? Would that also help?

Yeah, that helps. You can bring things. You can see the jacket I wear? That is a donation. Yeah, we need donations. Anything you can afford.

Come along and bring things. People already do so. All these things help here, and even practicall help. Not only money but to get in connection with people who help.

What are the disappointments you experienced during your work in the camp?

Actually, there is a lot of disappointment now concerning our accommodation. We have to find new apartments because the winter is coming. Everybody needs a place to sleep. For the political struggle, it is a very difficult situation. People are very afraid that they move to a house and then the camp here has to close. That is why this issue is very complicated. We don’t want to give up. I don’t want that the camp will be closed.

But if they do so, new people will come and then they have a new camp here again.

People who started the movement were shouting »house, house, house« – yes, house is good, but looking on it from the side politically – it is very dangerous.

One solution could be that someone who can afford a place to stay, that anybody who can, goes there, sleeps there and then comes back to the camp. That is the only solution for how the fight can continue.

Are you still in the old school in Kreuzberg?

Yes, but the old school is full – the school is full. People can sleep there – but it is not a refugee camp. We can use it as our advantage for the people.

When the refugees are leaving, they go to the house and give up what they have here. In the house there is no structure. There is no law in any of the buildings, there is no organization, there is no structure or anything.

Me, I can’t, I can not go to the school and sleep there, I sleep in the camp.

Even though they give us apartments, there has to be structure, there has to be control. And they have to know that it is a political house! People don‘t know. They give you a house only to sleep. That is why they give you the place.

Are there any political actions planned for 2014, maybe demonstrations?

We are here – that is a form of political action. This here is a big demonstration. A lot of people are here.


Published: ZAG 65, 2014