Protest against Deportations to Afghanistan in Munich

After a massive bomb attack on the diplomatic district of Kabul, violent scenes going viral of police deporting a pupil from school in Nuremberg and protest by politicians and the public, deportations to Afghanistan have been – partially – paused since the evening of June 1st. The past two days protestors had been taking it to the streets all over Germany – and also in Munich, showing solidarity with refugees in danger of deportation.

Demonstration on Wednesday, May 31st

More then 400 people attended, of whom many were refugees themselves to stand up against deportations to Afghanistan. The event was very peaceful, only when riot-police showed up the atmosphere got worse. Also smaller scuffles with police broke out when a bystander showed a Hitler salute towards the demonstration walking down Ludwigstrasse in downtown Munich. Police arrested the bystander.

Rally by Bellevue di Monaco on June 1st

Many politicians and celebrities from Munich joined a rally in front of the ministry of education and cultural affairs on Wednesday night to especially protest against deportations out of schools – but also deportations to Afghanistan in general. Munich Hip-Hop/Brass band Moop Mama played a few songs.

Deportations to Afghanistan Rescheduled

On May 31st another two charter-deportation flights to Afghanistan were supposed to be conducted from Munich and Frankfurt Airport in the evening hours. In the morning a heavy explosion shattered the area around the german embassy leaving more then 80 dead – death tolls still rising. Therefore the ministry of the interior issued a statement announcing a rescheduling of the flights. The statement from government circles states that the embassy does not have the capacity to handle the bureaucracy connected to the deportations after the attack.  At the same time a 21-year-old Afghan trainee was pulled out of his class in school. Pupils tried to block his deportation. Police used massive violence. Afghanistan is still seen as a safe-to-deport to country.

Header-picture: Rejected refugees are transported to the charter-plane heading for Afghanistan March 2017.

Flights rescheduled

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Meridiana plane with rejected asylum seekers aboard, before heading to Afghanistan – March 2017

According to government circles the flights are cancelled for the following reason:

” Die deutsche Botschaft in Kabul hat eine wichtige logistische Rolle beim Empfang rückgeführter Personen vor Ort. Die dortigen Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter haben so kurz nach diesem Anschlag jetzt wichtigeres zu tun, als solche organisatorischen Maßnahmen vorzubereiten. In den nächsten paar Tagen wird es daher keine Sammelrückführung nach Afghanistan geben.

Es ist und bleibt aber richtig, dass nach unserem Gesetz bestehende Ausreisepflichten durchgesetzt werden müssen. Dieser Grundsatz  gilt auch für Afghanistan, insbesondere bei Straftätern, und dieser Weg wird konsequent weiter beschritten. “
– aus Regierungskreisen

roughly translated, this means:

The german embassy in Kabul is taking an important logistic role in taking in deported people on site. The employees have more important things to do after the terror attack, then preparing bureaucratic measures. In the upcoming days there will therefore be no mass deportations  to Afghanistan.
It is and stays important to conduct obligations to leave the county according to our laws. This principle also applies to Afghanistan, especially with criminal offenders, and this road hast to be taken consequently.

– from government circles

This statement undermines the government’s approach on deporting to Afghanistan very well. The country is seen as safe. Therefore people – no matter how well integrated – will be deported. In our short video-report we took on the question if Afghanistan is a safe country and documented deportations from Munich a little more then a month ago.

Deportation from Class in Nuremberg

On May 31st police entered class of a refugee from Afghanistan, according to the BFR a 21-year-old, well integrated, fluently german speaking man that had begun a traineeship as a carpenter a while ago. As they arrested him other 200 to 300 pupils stood up to show civil unrest and block the seportation. According to nordbayern.de after the first police car was blocked the young man was forced into a second car. A second roadblock was evicted by police and several pupils were arrested. A spontaneous demonstration evolved from the events.

Demonstrations in several cities tonight:

Activists, supporters and refugees are calling for demonstrations against deportations tonight – we will be in Munich to cover the demonstration.

Forced Journey – MUC to KBL Nonstop [Multimedia]

Video-report

15 Afghan refugees were deported on March 27th at Munich airport. It was the fourth mass-
deportation conducted at the airport. Currently the deportation practice is discussed highly
controversially in society. Many people criticize the German asylum policy because Afghanistan is no safe place for anybody.

Protests against deportations to Afghanistan

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On the evening of March 27th an aircraft took off at Munich airport. Inside the plane there were 15 Afghan refugees who got deported to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. While the refugees were taken to the airplane people gathered and rallied on the airport’s grounds. The demonstrators criticized German asylum policy and claimed to stop the deportations immediately.

Those mass deportations are taking place because of the German government’s assessment: the islamic republic is partially secure. People working with refugees or coming from Afghanistan think differently about the situation there:

„ … For refugee-people, for german- people, for the whole world Afghanistan is not safe. This is not a situation [that will be lasting] for one or two years. Afghanistan will be unsafe and at war for 4 or 45 years. And all the people [should] know [that]….“

… commented a protester in front of the deportation jail in Mühldorf.

Afghanistan – a safe country?

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A day before the deportation the demonstrators also took a stand against the current asylum policy in Mühldorf. 400 or 500 people surrounded the jail forming a human chain. The purpose of their protest was to support the deportation prisoners. On sunday night two detainees hurt themselves and had to be taken care of. They were probably commited to the psychiatric ward.

The fear of being deported bribes refugees into desperate deeds. That is, because in Afghanistan they are exposed to far greater danger. Coming back most of them don’t have any chances to earn money or find shelter. Also terror attacks can happen at any time in the islamic republic and civilian victims sadly are no exception. The number of civilians killed reached a record high in early 2016 for the first time since 2009. According to the most recent UNHCR report the situation worsened compared to 2016.
Despite those facts the German government doesn’t stop deporting people into the state, it even raises the number of deportations: While in 2015 78%% of the applications for asylum were granted, in 2016 only 60% of the Afghan refugees were granted asylum.

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Thomas Nowotny, Pediatrician & Activist

„It is against human rights, german, international and bavarian law to deport people to war- and crisis-areas. We do no tolerate this and stand up for the refugees.“

Thomas Nowotny, initiator of the protests in Mühldorf, states. Maybe his and other people’s protest will move people to think about the justness of deportations to Afghanistan.

 

Deportation to Afghanistan from Munich – Protestors Gather at Munich Airport

Today the so far third deportation flight from Germany to Afghanistan was held. Between fifty to sixty people According to officials and press reports 18 men, together with police forces, were put on a charter plane of Meridiana. The plane left the spot at the airfield approximately at 9.30 PM. The procedure was conducted under exclusion of media and the broad public. Colleagues with strong tele-photo lenses were not able to display the faces of the humans transported back to Afghanistan with this flight. Protestors gathered in the area between Terminals 1 and 2. At least 350 participated in the rally and demonstrated through the terminals.

Munich BAMF Offices  Closed for the Past Weeks ?
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Archive Picture – BAMF in Nuremberg guarded by police during demonstration of Refugee Struggle

Talking to activists supporting refugees that want to stay anonymous 24mmjournalism was told that the Munich local office of the BAMF – ministry of migration- has been closed during the past two weeks. This was one of the first times one could expect something like this flight happening from the Bavarian capital. Asylum seekers were not able to reach the office or had to go to Nuremberg to have their papers either renewed or checked.
Activists also told us that the last pick-ups for the deportation flight happened in the late afternoon of February 22nd.

Deportation from Terminal F
Germany deports to Afghanistan from Munich airport - activists rally at Munich airpor
Entrance to Terminal F blocked by police.

According to a federal police spokesman the procedure for people getting deported is equal to the procedure for a normal passenger – besides they are not flying by their own will. Papers are reviewed luggage is checked, people go through security and then board the plane. This all happens behind closed doors. No possibility to accompany the situation as a journalist. To enter high security terminal F at Munich airport one had to show boarding passes checked by police officers already far in advance. The entrance was blocked by police forces with dogs on site.

Even though too late to take a picture we can report from having a look at other photographers pictures that the plane was parked so the boarding took place on the other side of what can be documented from outside the airport area. This makes the whole process seem distanced. The ones deported have no face. On February 23rd we tried to get a hold of press officials of Meridiana. The Italian airline seems to have conducted the deportation flight as pictures displayed in mayor german news magazines such as Spiegel Online suggest. Trying to get in contact with the airline asking on their Facebook Fanpage for contact to a press official they blocked 24mmjournalism’s reporter:

We will keep trying to reach their press office and if we get a statement this might answer our questions:

Did you conduct a flight deporting 18 male asylum seekers to Kabul on February 22nd from Munich?

How much did the german government pay you for this flight?

Does your company stand behind the deportations and sees no ethical problem in this controversial discussed topic?

Why did you block our reporter on your Facebook page?

Do you think this will damage the way your company is seen by the public?

Will you conduct more deportations if the german government pays you?

The company has answered 24mmjournalism’s reporters e-mail sent, after trying to get in contact via different social media channels and a phone number handed out by their call-center, stating:

Dear Michael,

Meridiana works with many brokers. No information on services performed for third parties is divulged.

For your kind information, we didn’t get any phone call or email from you, before your one below.

Best regards

Protest in the Area of Munich Airport

Germany deports to Afghanistan from Munich airport - activists rally at Munich airpor

Several political groups mobilized for a demonstration in the late afternoon just before the deportation would take place. At least 350 participated in the rally. First speaches by refugees were held and then a demonstration throughout the area of the airport followed. Several passengers looked surprised as they did not know what was going on while they were boarding their flights. One hissed passing by: “Put them on the plane too!”.

All in all February 22nd marks a sad mark in german history with deportations to a war-zone departing from Munich. After deportations in December, January and now February one can guess that this will become a monthly thing to happen.

Stonewall against Refugees – Residents Force City of Munich

Munich citizens and refugees cheer as the hard journey finds an end.
Refugees arriving at Munich Central Station.

More then one year ago the city of Munich presented itself to the world as a harbor for stranded refugees. Angela Merkel asked Hungarian and Austrian politicians to let through asylum seekers desperately looking forward to a better future. Those who fled were warmly welcomed by Munich citizens. One year later though in November Munich citizen’s once again show how they like refugees to be treated. Six neighboring parties filed a law suit against the city of Munich forcing a ‚noise-protection-wall‘ to be built to protect themselves from refugees that are supposed to move in next door.

Wall against refugee shelter in Munich
Construction worker looks through one of the holes in the wall.

The first snow has fallen in Munich. Refugee Struggle for Freedom activists were evicted on November 5th. A picture shows up on Munich regional newspapers: A wall. Snow is falling in front of it. Angry neighbors have forced the city to build a wall between them and a future refugee shelter. The neighbors pretend that this is just a ‘noise protection wall’. The wall is four meters of height, built out of metal cages with filled with small stones. The last pieces still have to be put together. Small holes are left to look through. Between the next houses and future refugee shelter there is an old train track covered up by bushes und trees. Whilst documenting the wall two camera teams showed up. Their interview partner: One of the six neighbors filing the law suit. Stefan Reich, judge at the  Landesgericht – state’s supreme court. Explaining widely that this has nothing to do with racism and that he just wants that it stays as peaceful as it is when ‚they‘ arrive. 

The housing units are almost finished. First unaccompanied minor refugees are supposed to move in this week. The wall has been hit by spraypainting. One can hardly read what it says. Construction workers have covered it with euro-pallets. 

Eviction of hunger strike refugee camp at Sendlinger Tor in Munich
The wall was hit by spraypainters. The Graffito was hidden by the construction workers.

 According to pictures published by newspaper Abendzeitung the Graffito says: ‘RASSISMUS PUR’. In the area around the future wall racist and far-right stickers of the Identitarian movement can be found. They start at the bus stop and lead into the neighborhood. 

Civil courage is needed to prevent that the already worldwide in newspapers reported about racist incident stays unanswered. Munich activists have filed an online petition against the wall.

Eviction of Hunger Strike Refugee Camp at Sendlinger Tor in Munich

After one month of protest camp, a protest march to Nuremberg and five days of hunger strike refugees announced to start a dry hunger strike on Saturday November 5th. After several activists collapsing due to weakness, the city of Munich decided to evict the protestors at Sendlinger Tor. The refugees tried to draw attention to their miserable situation and refugees dying at the European borders with their protest in the city center of Munich. A prospect for the evicted activists can not be seen. After the eviction they will be returned to their camps.

Peaceful eviction of camp
Eviction of hunger strike refugee camp at Sendlinger Tor in Munich
Police evicts camp at Sendlinger Tor. Non-citizens peacefully tare down camp and leave Sendlinger-Tor-Platz. Several collapsed due to weakness after hunger striking for five days.

At 5:15 PM massive police forces appeared around the Hunger striking activists. Police surrounded the camp on Sendlinger-Tor-Platz. After three announcements and with the last one letting people know force will be used to clear everybody off the camp’s grounds according to Refugee Struggle the group decided to peacefully end their strike. Several persons had to be brought to the hospital. Activists and supporters cleaned up tents, mattresses, sleeping-bags and all other goods on site. Approximately 50 refugees then left Sendlinger-Tor-Platz and went to get food and warm up after more then six weeks of protest. The group was accompanied by riot police forces. Some activists could barely walk.

Picture gallery of the eviction

Tree occupation and eviction
Eviction of hunger strike refugee camp at Sendlinger Tor in Munich
Special forces remove refugees from trees.

Similar to the events in 2014, when Refugee Struggle for Freedom also held a hunger strike at the exact same spot, about 20 activists managed to occupy two trees. Munich police first completely ignored the occupation. Only at 9 PM a first group of officers surrounded the new protest site, but soon left. It can only be guessed that Munich police officials hoped that after 5 days of hunger striking people will climb off the trees themselves. At 11 PM the eviction of those trees started. First off riot forces surrounded the rally. Some activists left the tree by themselves. Soon later more forces arrived and set up blocks to keep off more supporters. After three announcements police and Munich fire department started setting up so called “jump pillows”, straw and mattrasses to prevent injuries in case activists fell off the tree. Soon later the supporters forming a chain around one tree were cleared and arrested. A special forces climbing unit arrived. Those then rappeled and under screams and the threat to commit suicide by the refugees, removed activists from the trees.Some could barely walk, but were taken in custody by riot police officers. The operations were finished at 4:34 PM with the last activist torn off the tree.

Picture gallery of tree eviction
Prospect for refugee protest in Munich

After six weeks of protest ending today in the early morning hours of November 5th a prospect can hardly be seen for refugees in Germany. Asylum cases from so called “safe-third-countries” are dropped even though people fear their death after deportation. Politicians have completely ignored the prostest and neglect the peoples’ wish to work, integrate and become part of a “normal” social life in Germany. With several activists brought to the hospital and an eviction made reasonable due to health risks for the activists one can only hope that none of the refugees have permanent injuries. This will for sure not be the last refugee protest in Munich. To finish with a quote often said by activists and supporters: “The struggle continues”.

Video Reportage by the colleagues SPICY

Demonstration against Bavarian ‘Integration Law’ in Munich

On Saturday October 22nd more than 1800 people gathered in Munich to rally against the so called ‘Integration law’ that has been drafted by the Bavarian conservative party CSU and will worsen the situation for refugees. The participants of the demonstration were a potpourri of labor unions, parties and political groups. After smoke grenades were launched and paint bombs were thrown Munich police forces violently tried to split the mass of demonstrators injuring more then fifty people according to paramedics on site.

Non-citizen’s participate in rally fighting for their rights

Protest against New German Integrationlaw in Munich - Police Violence Errupts
Refugee Struggle block.
After non-citizen’s organizing themselves as Refugee Struggle for Freedom held a protest camp and –march to Nuremberg during the past two months, the group participated in the demonstration on Saturday. Several times sit-ins and choreographies were performed.

Violence erupts after smoke grenades and paint bombs

Protest against New German Integrationlaw in Munich - Police Violence Errupts
Paint on police helmet.
At Sendlinger Tor antifascist activists according to reports pulled a banner above their heads, launched smoke grenades and paint bombs. Police forces on site tried to split the rally and separate the demonstration. According to news reports six people were arrested.

Pictures taken by colleague Robert Andreasch during escalation:

Paramedics on site told 24mmjournalism after the demonstration that they had to treat more then fifty people with injuries. The types of injuries varied: At least 35 times the paramedics treated irritations due to pepper spray, 2 possibly broken hands, 2 head injuries and some minor lesions. This is the highest number of hurt people on a rally in Munich for at least one year. The paramedics’ statement can be found on their website: http://actionmedic089.jimdo.com/aktuelles

Paint attack performed on SPD Munich headquarter?

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Entrance to SPD headquarter.
Passing by the german social-democratic parties’ headquarter one could notice neon-pink, black and purple color splashes across the buildings glass facade. It seems like activists conducted a paint attack on Munich SPD‘s headquarter. One can suspect that the reason for this attack might be the participation of the SPD in the rally even though the party agreed on the draft of the Integration Law.

After the rally ended riot police forces went into the mass of demonstrators listening to speeches on Odeonsplatz several times causing chaos and confrontation. To support activists incarcerated some demonstrators held a spontaneous rally in front of the Munich police department’s headquarter. Also here riot police forces violently arrested at least one person. All of this is a new level of escalation during a labor unions’ demonstration in Munich.

Picture Gallery