For nearly one year we have been fighting in Hamburg for the right to live a decent life after our flight from the NATO-war in Libya. We have been refused any opportunity to work and to support ourselves and our families. We look back on years in limbo, between hope for a new life and the cold reality of European legislation against refugees and migrants, which criminalises us, calls us a problem and refuses our right to exist.
In Hamburg we experienced a year of struggle, always between the overwhelming solidarity of the people of Hamburg and the ignorance of those governing the city. The political leaders are trying to simply sit out the humanitarian crisis in their city and declare to the public that the problem has been solved. At the same time the governing politicians have thanked us for our contribution to a lively and controversial discussion in their open city and colorful civil society. Their cynicism is not breached by the fact that we, having been deprived of all our rights, have to make these contributions at the risk of our very existence, simply because we don’t have any other choice.
The only reason why we survived the winter was the practical help of the supporters of the “Solidarity Winter Emergency Program”. But this solidarity is also limited – the private initiatives, workers, students, families that supported us in our misery whilst the state neglected its responsibility only have restricted financial means. In mutual respect we had agreed right from the start that the “Solidarity Winter Emergency Program” would only be temporary and should end in April. This means that by the end of this month we will have to live on the streets again – like a year ago.
We thank our supporters for everything but we don’t want to and cannot live from their charity forever. We need a residence and a working permit. But there is no sign of development from the responsible authorities or from the senate.
They are playing for time at our expense. We have the feeling that the senate is hoping that we will
slowly vanish, that we will lose our courage and will stop fighting back. But we will not forget who we are and why we are here in Europe. We are the living evidence of the NATO-war in Libya, an aggression against our continent Africa disguised as a “humanitarian” intervention. We are the living evidence that Europe is breaking its promise in front of the whole world: The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU says that it is founded on the “indivisible and universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity” (preamble). The dead of Lampedusa and the survivors of the European refugee policy tell a different story, a story of Europe from below.
We, like countless other refugees and migrants all over Europe, resist every single day. We are here and have to tell our stories. Our struggle will continue and we call upon everyone to support us, no matter how long it will take. This is a common struggle and everyone has to contribute to create more solidarity and to make our world more just.
Group “Lampedusa in Hamburg”, 19 March 2014
As a reminder:
19 March – Anniversary of “modern” war :
Three years ago – on 19 March 2011 – the NATO bombardment of Libya started.
Eleven years ago – on 19 March 2003 – the illegal invasion of Iraq by the “Coalition of the Willing” began.
The group Lampedusa in Hamburg calls for a demonstration on the 1. March 2014. The demonstration will be held on the occasion of the first anniversary of the end of the “Emergency North Africa” program for the reception of war refugees from Libya in Italy which was terminated on the 28. February 2013. The Italian authorities had at that time closed down the reception centers and had turned the refugees out onto the streets, they had given them residence permits and urged them to leave Italy towards northern Europe. With this action the Italian authorities clearly stated what many assessments and reports from human rights organizations also verify – that there is no perspective for a humane life for refugees in Italy.
Some affected persons formed the group Lampedusa in Hamburg and have since been fighting for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds. After one year of this hard struggle the senate of Hamburg still opposes our demand for a collective residence permit and tries to wait out the humanitarian crisis on the roads of Hamburg.
The senate had offered a Duldung for the time of process in October 2013 to those who would register at the foreigners office and who would officially apply for a residence permit. This offer had been negotiated between the senator of interior and the Nordkirche without involving representatives of the group and has been rejected by the majority of the group. Only individuals chose under this strong pressure to make applications.
Through the intensive exchange with fighting refugees from the German Lagersystem we are aware of the inhumane consequences of the Duldung. We mainly see the offer of the Senate as an attempt to depoliticize the struggle of the group and to cede the solution to the courts in the form of hundreds of individual cases.
In reality the foreigners authority has not yet decided upon any application. There has also been no decision about a model application which was already made by a member of the group in September 2013. This supports the analysis of our group that the aim of the offer of the senate is to stall us in the uncertainty of the Duldung, to weaken the political struggle and to wait until the topic has disappeared from the agenda.
The speaker of the Department of Interior has announced in the MOPO that the refugees of the group have all been cared for and that they had either made applications or have disappeared from Hamburg.
This is a lie and a strike in the face of the group and all its supporters.
While the St. Pauli Church still remains in the center of the media coverage, although only a small number of group members stay there, private supporters have long since set up a „Solidarity Winterprogram“ which enabled us to survive the winter without the help of the state. The Infotent at Steindamm also still serves as a meeting point and has been occupied night and day since May last year.
We are and we will stay in Hamburg and we demand the senate to take a political decision for a right to stay for the group Lamepdusa in Hamburg.
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