Press release by the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg” concerning the ban of containers on church property in St. Pauli:
Senate escalates situation and relies on inhuman blackmail
Hamburg, 01.10.2013. Exactly five months ago the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg” publicly stepped into action for the first time. Since then a wave of humanity and solidarity has spread through Hamburg and thousands of people are actively supporting the refugees of war from Libya in their struggle for a residence permit, which in contrast to the claims made by the Senate and Department of Interior would always be legally possible.
For months now the members of the group, all recognized refugees of war in Italy, are publicly only demanding the recognition of their basic rights: free access to the labour market, to housing, to medical and social care, to education and the right to freely choose their residence within the EU.
This struggle for basic human rights has reached a new level of escalation and the Senate of Hamburg is alone responsible for this. It has evaded its responsibility for months with unfounded arguments and now wants to use the cold of the coming winter to inhumanely blackmail the fighters of the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg”.
According to latest media reports, the Senate headed by Olaf Scholz forbids the St. Pauli Church to set up fully self-financed heatable containers for the refugees of the group sleeping on the cold church floor. The senate is thus actively threatening the life of the people accommodated in the church. The members of the group are also banned from the “winter emergency program” and the city is only ready to provide saving accommodation if the refugees hand over their papers and agree to be deported.
“We don’t ask for much in Germany, two years after the NATO-war in Libya we just want to be able to lead a normal life again. But instead we are again chased away like dogs. The senate is planning to blackmail us in cold blood and is risking our lives!
In case anyone forgot, we are the innocent civilians that Germany pretended to protect when it participated in the war in Libya. We never had intention to come to Europe. Before the NATO-bombs forced us to leave we had a good life in Libya. Do the European governments think they can bomb any country on our continent Africa at will, that they can destroy our lives and then hide from their responsibility? We are here to demand our basic human rights and don’t understand, why we are faced with such wickedness. Or don’t these human rights exist for black people in Germany?”
Instead of contributing to a humanitarian solution for the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg” the senate rather wants to promote the racist sealing-off of the “cosmopolitan” city of Hamburg over the heads of the refugees. These inhuman politics will not be accepted by the group, as explained in the press release of the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg”:
Situation of the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg” still not solved after failed talks
Hamburg, 26.09.2013.In the past week the senate has made its ignorant position clear once more and blocked a humanitarian solution for the group „Lampedusa in Hamburg“ mediated by the Nordkirche. As the senate continues to refuse all responsibility for the fate of the refugees, a network of supporters set up by the people of Hamburg has been providing overwhelming humanitarian aid since May, and there is still no end in sight.
In talks between representatives of the church and the Department of Interior there had been an agreement in the past, that the authorities would accept anonymous and exemplary facts of the cases for further examination. The church gave this information to the group and three extensively reasoned and detailed applications for residence on humanitarian grounds were submitted to the Department of Interior on the 10.09.2013, including one application made with a full name. On the 12.09.2013 the head of the General Policy Department of the Foreigners Authority explicitely confirmed the willingness of the Department of Interior to talk in a letter. In this letter he said that the applications are understood “in accordance to the last agreements made with church representatives as basis for further talks“.
According to the press releases of the church this basis for discussion was cast off only shortly afterwards, in a talk with church representatives on the 16.09.2013. The Department of Interior explained, that it does not see any scope for the right of residence.
The representatives of the group „Lampedusa in Hamburg“ and also their lawyers were not involved in any of these talks. But still the group had done everything in their power to make a way out of their desperate situation possible.
Affo Tchassei, speaker of the group LiH regarding the current situation:
„We know that a humanitarian solution is legally possible, for example with §23. But for this political will is necessary but the senate lacks this will. More than two years after the war in Libya and the beginning of our flight, we are still left with nothing and the senate is responsible for that.
The senate seems to hope that the frustration and the cold will demoralize us. But there is no „going back“ for us. We will continue to fight for our rights and hope for the solidarity of the people of Hamburg. Yesterday the third Wednesday-Demo took place in heavy rain and was again attended by over 150 people. We will continue to take to the streets on Wednesdays for the weeks to come. We are additionally preparing another big demonstration and other actions for the beginning of November. We now need the support of the people of Hamburg more than ever!“
The senate still has the responsibility to fulfill basic humanitarian rights and has to find a solution for the residence of the group „Lampedusa in Hamburg“. Its members have been publicly active from the beginning on and their stay in Hamburg is de facto tolerated. The names of the speakers of the group are known and they are contactable. The same goes for the lawyers working together with the group. Further talks are only possible with these representatives of the group and are explicitly welcome.
A publication of the press release issued on the 12.09.13 by the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg” regarding the recent developements. A more detailed statement will follow next week.
First Wednesday-Demonstration – decisive developments expected
Hamburg, 12.09.2013. Yesterday the first demonstration according to the motto “Lampedusa in Hamburg – We’re staying here!”, planned to take place weekly from now on, marched through Hamburg’s city center. The demonstration with over 150 participants headed for the town hall, distributing flyers along the way and loudly demanding a solution for the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg”. The political pressure on the streets of Hamburg is maintained, also in respect of an upcoming decision by the ministry of interior regarding the representative applications for residence on humanitarian grounds made on Tuesday by the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg”.
After over four months of struggle and conscious of the strong solidarity of the people of Hamburg the group had decided to make this step, in order to end the life-threatening ignorance by the senate of Hamburg. The applications are exemplary for the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg”. A quote from Asuquo Udo, one of the speakers of the group:
“We are very grateful for the understanding of the people of Hamburg and the great support we experience every day. In our desperate situation, this gives us the power to get up again and again and to fight for our rights.
We cannot wait any longer, the situation is threatening our health and our lives. The situation makes us sick and many need medical attention. The cold weather makes it even worse. We suffer from the uncertainty and the forced passivity, this psychologically stresses us very badly. Together with our lawyers we have decided to make representative applications for a residence on humanitarian grounds. Now the senate cannot escape its responsibiliy any longer.
But we make it very clear: The applications are exemplary for the whole group, we won’t be played off against each other! The ignorance and political games by the responsible officials are threatening our lifes, this has to end! We were forced to leave two countries, the european policies have destroyed our lifes twice. We cannot go back, we’re staying here!”
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