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Mar 122017
 

It was 8th of March 2017, the day was still more like a winter day, gray, cold, but at least it didn’t rain. Women in exile had done the call to celebrate the International Women’s Day in Eisenhüttenstadt . We would go together by train. Meeting time was around 10am, meeting place was Alexanderplatz.

When I left home still many people where going to work, to school … so arriving to Alexanderplatz gave no feeling of celebration of the International Women’s Day but arriving to platform 1, one could to see a big number of women, greeting each other, chatting, the good mood was in the air, immediately I recognized the meeting point, they were the women from Women in exile.

The excitement was present, for many it would be their first demo, for others time to meet again, and many were going back to Eisenhüttenstadt, the Lager where many of them stayed for the first time, it’s a Erstaufnahme Lager, so many of them knew each other from their stay inside.

While waiting for the train, people from SOLIMATE, wanted to do a picture of the women, since their project is also supporting Women in Exile, the light was strange, bright at time, then dark, sometimes blazing, it made difficult the work for the camera girl. But finally there was a moment of “light” stability and they did the picture.

Ahead we had 2:30h travel to the Lager, it’s in the border with Poland, no direct train, we had to do one change and once we arrived to the town, take a bus for 30 min until we arrived to the Lager. In the train we were around 50-55 women traveling to more or less the end of the world, chatting cheerful, the children up and down, seeing the train as an amusement park. It was a moment to get in touch with people that you didn’t know or with whom you normally don’t have the chance to speak much. So the first part of the trip went good.

Once we arrived to the Lager, at the door there were police, although normally there is always a car, now there were several cars and vans. We started gathering and the goal was that some women went inside the Lager and give flowers to the women, to break the isolation, to show that they are not alone, to give them the courage to continue, to join us, to understand that many people think that Lagers should be closed, that they are not homes but prisons and people inside have done nothing wrong to be there, they don’t deserve it.

But police was implacable, no way to make them understand that a Lager is not a prison were people could not be visited, that the goal was only to give flowers, to remind International Women’s Day. Not only they didn’t accept the idea of entering the Lager, but they “invited” the group to move 100m away from the gate.

While talking with the police, women went loud, women after women took the microphone of the loud speaker, and made clear that “lagers had to be closed, controls have to finish, discrimination has to finish”, “equal rights to everybody”, “stop deportation”, “we are here (refugees) because you are there(German/western governments)”, “That (lager) is not a home is a prison”, “ohh lele oh lala solidarité avec les sans papier”.

Anyways women from the Lagers joined, trickling in, one by one, those who were going out or coming in, some stayed, others smiled and said thank you for the flower, maybe next time we will see them at a meeting.

When women were not talking in the micro, the music was playing, many were dancing, other chatting, other giving out flowers and flyer’s, other taking care of the food and drinks. After around 3h we decided to go back, so it was announced a small demo to the bus stop, since the police didn’t give permission to a spontan demo.
The small demo, as the rest of the day, was full of power, of outrage, of decision to continue fighting, of continuing being loud.

Once in the station we found out there was no more trains going back to Berlin, there was a bus substituting the train, but the bus didn’t have enough places for everybody, so some people were left behind waiting for the next bus to come. That’s the everyday situation people in lagers have to cope with, few buses to the lager, trains being canceled, never knowing when you would arrive.

One thing is clear, it was not the first time to be in Eisenhüttenstadt and it won’t be the last, while the keep lagers open, we will return.

 

 Posted by at 10:32 am
Nov 012016
 

Almost two weeks ago, around 20 people were thrown out of the Lager at #Bornitzstr102. Many people will think, that is a bitter pill to swallow but things will go back to normal.
The thing is that there is nothing normal about living in a Lager. After the company moved the people to the “new” renovated floors upstairs, after taking several months to do it, after squashing the people for several months in less rooms promising them they would all stay, the fact is that they didn’t even accomplish the so-called renovations, the promised kitchens for the families are closed. Where are they cooking and how?

I’m still in contact with some of the people, so more conversations have been going on, from trying to reach the 8-10 people to whom the police opened a case, but having no success and wondering if they are aware that is important that they get advise before handling or accepting whatever letter comes from the police.
But not all the talks go around their situation in Germany, life didn’t start here. Through these talks come the memories of home, where all the cooking is house made, where all the fruits and vegetables are directly grown by them or some family member,”supermarkets are not the places where we buy fresh food”. The aromas of house-made food seeps in the room for a moment. Then I asked “what do you think will happen with the war on Syria?”, a couple of seconds pause and the answer comes “the war will not stop. There are too many interests. All are small groups divided, wanting power and greedy. Also now is not longer only about Syria, is a world war”. Nothing to say. We continue with small memories of things happening some years ago. “When I moved to Aleppo people thought that in the East (where I come from) we didn’t have anything, schools, electricity, can you imagine?”. The East of Syria is actually where the oil is, so is it not everything about oil?

At some point the conversation ended up with, “you know what is a fact, now we don’t have the “privilege” to be able to go back home. That’s the difference between Syrians and other nations, everything is destroyed, we have no home where to go back to.” Now everyday, he has to deal with this feeling, but even though “it’s not yet time to mourn our dead, the day will come when we cry for them, now we have to continue”.

All these words, stuck into my brain, left me thoughtful, while going back home. Automatically I entered in the ubahn, all the words popping in and out, images, aromas, at some point I saw a figure, which I thought I recognized, but there was something that made me not sure, still words coming and going while trying to focus in the face I was looking at. Suddenly a smile appeared, “hey”, so I thought “ok, I was right I know him” and directly I sited by his side. he had some ugly marks around his eyes, his eyes were red, sparkling as if they had been in tears, “what happened?” I asked, “6 people just beat me up“, astonished I answered “Whatttt?”, “yes, they asked me where are you from? From Syria”, and then the group started beating him up, in the head, the face, the legs, the arms, he had everything in pain. “Half an hour ago, I was crying like a little boy” he said with half smile. “Where? Who?” and really could not come out of the state fo the previous conversation, when I met this young guy, also staying in the same Lager. “They sprayed me with pepper spray. Do you smell it?” For a second I was tempted to say yes, but actually I didn’t smell anything, which proofs nothing since my nose is not very sensitive. Then he took something out of his pocket “Look, I also have pepper spray but I didn’t even have the time to take my hand out of the pocket, everything happened very quickly”
The only thing I managed to say, with some sense was “do you have where to spend the night or a couple of days?” “Yes, I’ll stay at a German’s friend. I just want to take a shower and sleep.” Then I suggested that he had to talk with some group Reachout or Rote-hilfe, to denounce the aggression. It can not go unpunished, “I just want to forget, I don’t want to be near the police”, “you don’t need to talk to the police, just talk with any of these groups so they can help and advise you or at least, they can document the aggressions that are taking place, to create awareness.
He kept silence, thinking “my friend will help me, now I just want to get to Kreuzberg, is the safe zone.”

 Posted by at 7:16 pm
Oct 192016
 

Yesterday night, I went to visit my friends at #Bornitzstr102, with another friend, somehow I needed to share with someone what the last 2 weeks have been for people at the Lager.

When trying to get in, yesterday, the security told me, no they cannot receive visits, they are going to be expelled, they have no right to stay here. It was 20h, my eyes wide open, “two days ago, it was the same situation, and I could visit them without problem” I said, “today we’ve been told, they cannot receive any visit”, so for the sake of a job, they were carrying out orders. Finally another person that I know, came to pick me up, he is staying in the Lager, so finally I went in. What happened after, maybe I’ll write it in another moment. Now, I feel this preventing people from receiving visits was a premonition of what was going to happen today.

19.06.2016 at 11am, a friend sent me a what’sup, “the police is here and wants us to go”,  I was trying to work, so I didn’t read this message until almost two hours later. When I read it, I thought “Oh fuck!!!!”. I answered and said “I’m coming”, I finished what I was doing, I stood up and went there. There were several police cars, blue lights on, some standing at the entrance, some in the hall, others in the first floor, the floor of the ones resisting, in whole maybe around 15 policemen. I called my friend and said “I’m here, but you need to pick me up, they will let me in to visit you”.

While waiting for him to come down, I had to see how one of the securities, a big guy, that having a shit job, at this moment felt he had power on the refugees, said to one person sitting in the hall, “out, go out, you cannot be here”, the guy just sitting said in just body language, I’m waiting, “you have to leave, you had two leave 2 weeks ago, so now out!!!!”. I asked the security, “is he not a person?, is not any other way to treat people? do you think that is ok?”, he changed his voice, from this “I have the power little piece of shit” voice, to a “this is a visitor I have to calm down before I get in trouble” voice and said calmly “well, he cannot stay here any longer, he has to leave”.

In between they came to pick me up, so I’m not sure if the security threw this guy right away or if he waited.

Once I was inside, as I went up the stairs, I saw how 5-6 policemen were surrounding one of the people and “showing” him the way. He could not move, he could not stop to say bye to some of the people still in one of the rooms, they accompanied him to the door. Already after 10 minutes in the Lager, my body got stiff, anger, impotence, rage were settling inside me. They told me, that some of the people had gone out in the morning, and now they could not go inside to pick up their staff. Another friend with medical problems was in his rooms, the fact of the police throwing him out had affected his diabetes, he got a peak, to the level of being at risk of heart attack, finally they took him to the hospital. Once his situation was under control, he came back (around 2-3h later), he could not enter the Lager. I guess that the thoughts of the workers at the Lager were “we are doing our job, we are good citizens, we follow the rules”. Again and again only one thought has being going on through my brain, “where the hell has humanity gone to, to justify everything on the name of a shit job?” “what the hell has happened with humanity not to consider humans other people, to treat them worse that animals?”, even rats are treated with care not get harmed while refugees, must cope with everything. OMG!!!!!

During the day, I could do nothing but accompany, my first idea was to try to do some “citizen journalism”, to try to make the “outside world” aware of what was going there, but there were no words to express it, what goes inside these jails is too deep, how souls are broken for the sake of business is too scary, to repeat it on an on, and see that there is no reaction it’s too hard. Almost nobody cared in 2 weeks of what was going on at #Bornitzstr102, I must say I’m very very thankful to a bunch of people that have reacted immediately, no questions, just support, to the point they could, we are not heroes, we can do almost nothing, but to feel that you are not alone, is already a lot, at least for me.

So yes, I tried to, every now and then, have my twitter account updated, but as my friend said, now is over. He said that, but he stayed in the same room, watching for the things of his friends, he said, “I will not move when they want me to move”, he also exchanged with another friend “at least we fought a bit, we didn’t stayed cross armed“. In between, we chatted, we laughed, one young entered the room and said “hola, comos esta?”, then I asked “oh, you speak Spanish?” he told me “no, I don’t but my father does”. Ten minutes later, he passed me his phone, to speak to him. It took me by surprise, “now, in Spanish?”, “yes”, and I spent talking 5 minutes in a perfect Spanish with his father still living in Syria. “Cuando vayamos a ver a nuestro hijo, me dices qué quieres de Siria y te lo llevamos”, he told me. That’s the world where we live, in permanent contact, between wars, physical in Syria, psychological in Germany. The young guy tells me, “I don’t have a place to invite my parents, I live in this Lager, can you help me to find a flat?”. I thought about housing situation in Berlin and said, “people that want to live here  don’t have it easy, not matter their status, the city is being sold to tourists and rich people”. Maybe is not the best thing to say, but is what it’s happening.

Hours passed in a cold room, with no electricity, in a floor with no water (toilets), just to make sure that if people wanted to stayed they would have to suffer. Punishment for those who resist and rise their voice against injustice. At some point a group of people entered the room, they explained to us that the police had asked for the “Ausweis” of 8-10 people and taken their names to open them a police case, the reason not clear, they will have to wait for the post at Kopenicker Allee to know what are the charges. The goal of opening a police case to people that have stayed peacefully in their heim, is just one, punishment, without the language and not knowing where to go, the police case will turn out to be a fine, to increase the money of public funds, that’s the perfect way of giving a public image of generosity to then steal the money back in a hidden way from the weakest link.

It was late afternoon already, but my friend remained sitting in the same chair, “I don’t have energy for anything”, he even had to stop talking, then he said “My uncle has died today in Syria, is too much in one day”.  We talked a bit about Syria, his region, he said “when we came here we were surprised that it was like Syria before the war, is not so different” (in relation to the so called “development”, but in relation to humanity, we agreed, “here people is too cold, they don’t want any contact, they don’t care about people. The only friendly people that have helped us are not from here”.  My back started hurting, too many hours sitting, so I stood up for a while, the body was still stiff, but that will last some days, I just needed to deal with my back, it was better if I didn’t leave the room, now the security was angry and maybe they would throw me out if they saw me in that room. I walked up and down the room, I saw they staff in rubbish bags, they didn’t even have time to get some bags to put their things inside, they were not given bed sheets, everything was upside down in the room, as their lives, as our souls.

It was already dark, we light the room with the smartphones, someone brought some food, we sat on the floor, then one said “I’ll do something crazy”, we were eating and suddenly we started hearing the sounds of the forest, cicadas, crickets, the wind in the forest, an owl … we started laughing …. yes we could imagine ourselves in the middle of nowhere, eating some fast food, everything dark, isolated and abandoned.

Tomorrow, for those who didn’t manage to go to Lageso today, their morning will be a queue and uncertainty inside a modern building, then maybe the streets. Sometimes the streets are a more honourable places than Lagers, even if it’s difficult to understand.

Human rights, democracy, justice, freedom are illusions.

 

 Posted by at 4:18 pm
Oct 132016
 

In the evening, I decided to go out and take a bit of fresh air, so I went to visit my friends at  #Bornitzstr102 Lager. Is not too far, and what they are going through there deserves some company and everybody to know. That people are invisible in a country just because is not their country, to be threatened permanently, to feel voiceless because there is no-one around , is something that basic makes me feel embarrassed. How can we turn our heads and look to another place, how can it be ignored the abuse on refugees, on extreme their fragile circumstances, for the sake of money, of profit, how can a country as Germany be so hypocritical and talk about a welcoming culture, when almost one million people are suffering on their daily basis.

This week I’m reporting what’s going on at #Bornitzstr102 but is just one of thousand cases. But maybe looking closer at it, it can be understood what means the psychological abuse at what refugees are submitted. As said I went to visit, to chat, to know what was happening since in the morning several incidents had taken place, the main one related on how the security men from the Lager went to throw out the women of the women’s room.  Also in the morning took place another incident, where security went inside of another room, and started throwing the things out of the room, but the people inside said they wouldn’t move, the security tried to provoke the people, with no luck, nobody reacted, so they stayed. It’s clear they are trying by all means, that people let themselves go a bit, to then accuse them of violence. When said by all the people I’ve talked to, there has been no violent incident between people living inside the Lager, at least the year+ they’ve been there.

Another meeting was about to take place, it starts to become quite hilarious the fact that the meetings are done between people that have no competence to change the current situation in the Lager, that is translators coming from Lageso, refugees and some person belonging to PeWoBe. They can talk as long as they want, the situation won’t be clarified, negotiations will not take place, is just to give the people the run around, tire them, lie to them, create confusion and fear.

The attitude of Lageso translators, is embarrassing,  people who’s task is supposed to be only, to transmit messages, not to build them and manipulate them.

First they simulate that they hear people’s complaints, that is, people who got a paper from Lageso on Monday saying they could stay in Bornitzstr 102 for the next two months, two days later, they find themselves in the list of people to be transfered to another Lager. So PeWoBe accepts any new registration (that means get the money for one person) and then throws out the person, so where is the money ending? and the person? where are the person’s rights? being on the list means not getting food, although not even people who are not in the list get the food, since due to having to go to courses or the school, they don’t have their food when they come back, which means that most of the people are only getting 2 meals instead of 3 (saving money, where is the money ending?) where are the rights of the people to get what they already have assigned?
Other person stands up and says “we are just money for you“, as he shows a 1€ coin, then there is a general complain about the heating, the Lager is cold, in between the translator says, well they are going to cut the electricity of the first floor, so you have to leave. Then another person takes the turn and says but I’m not in Lageso, I’m in the job center. Of course, no answer. A girl, one of the ones that were to thrown out in the morning, stands up and says, “My mum is old, she cannot walk too much, how can she go to a Lager where the toilets are 10 minutes from the room? how can she go to a place where she has to walk 15 minutes to the first bus stop?“. No answer. The next one says, but I have my school 10 minutes from here, how I move to a place where it takes me more than an hour to come here? No answer. (a side note, many of them have got a school to learn German or do an Ausbildung after 4-5 months fighting it.) Another turn says, we don’t want to go to KopenickerAllee because there are nazis around and we know they are attacking refugees. No answer. One key point in not wanting to move, is that some people get the complete amount of money from Lageso (~360€) ,that is the food is not deduced, this enables families to survive in some other country, without it, it would mean starvation for women and children back at home.

Some other interventions went on. But after getting no answers. The translators just kept repeating, as a mantra, you have to leave, you have to leave, you have to leave. Leave to where and why?, if it was clear Lageso would not be sending people day after day to this Lager, if it was clear they would be able to issue a document specifying the transfer, if would not say to people that they are lying when they are telling that they are getting no food. As people continued asking, protesting and saying they won’t move from Bornitzstr102, the translaters attacked again by saying, if you don’t leave, it will affect you asylum process, it can mean that you will not be accepted to stay in Germany. Then it came to me the disgust, no comments. Another hand was raised, No that’s not true, what happens here has nothing to do with our asylum processes. Then the translator had to rephrase what she wanted to say. But will this trigger  the fear of being punished just because they are just asking what is the reason of the transfer, why to certain people, why are people being cross out with no reason and others added with also no reason?

At the end of the session which seemed to be some kind of boss, that didn’t introduce himself, address to the people, and cynically, he said that he wanted that everything evolved with no violence, that they wanted a calm dialogue, and that for todays things would remain like that but tomorrow they will continue, probably he meant, they would continue harassing people.

Meeting at Bornitzstr102 with lageso translators, and PeWoBe staff from abriraqui on Vimeo.

 Posted by at 4:43 pm