Non-Citizen Protest at Sendlinger Tor in Munich

Following protests in the years of 2013 at Rindermarkt and 2014 at Sendlinger Tor (24mmjournalim reported), [and many other actions] non-citizens have gathered once again at Sendlinger Tor to protest against the situation for people asking for asylum in Germany. Approximately  70 refugees are protesting in downtown Munich right now. Munich’s far-right has shown up several times at the protest camp, held rallies and pegida has marched past the camp.

Protest Camp and Goals
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“We are human beeings!”

Six pavillions, pallettes, an info-table, food, water, sleeping mats and bags. As one gets off the Tramway at Sendlinger Tor in the city center of Munich the protest camp can easily be spotted. Right next to the fountain, non-citizens try to deliver a message. “We are human beeings!” – as Adeel (one of movement’s speakers) also loudly stated at the spontaneous demonstration on Tuesday September 13th – gallery below. The camp  emerged out of a demonstration on September 7th – Thomas Bergmann reported. On the 7th day at Sendlinger Tor, Refugee Struggle for Freedom published a statement:

“Wir sind hier um Bleiberecht zu erlangen, in der öffentlichen Wahrnehmung zu sein, um mit Politiker*innen zu sprechen, Verbündete zu bekommen, sodass wir als große Masse auftreten können, um so die Asylgesetze zu verändern. …”

“We are here to gain the right to stay, to be in public perception, to talk to politicians, gain supporters, so we can rise to change asylum laws …” [roughly translated]

-Refugee Struggle for Freedom

Life at Sendlinger Tor
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Pavillions are set up in the middle of the night.

Non-citizens and supporters of the movement work together to make Sendlinger Tor a place to hold a camp. Pavillions were set up in the middle of the first night. Food is delivered on a regular basis – cooked close to the camp. Supporters stay over night to help in case help is needed.  The – right now – turned off fountain has evolved to a place where people hang out, make music and hold meetings to discuss how protest should go on. “In general the situation is ok”, Adeel told me. Still goods are needed. Even on Saturday night – 24mmjournalism stayed to watch the situation and understand what spending the night at Sendlinger Tor means – there were still people without sleeping bags and mats. Some protestors sleep on the bare ground – only wrapped in banners and clothing. In case you want to support and find out what goods are needed right now – ask at the info-table in front of the camp. As there were heavy rainfalls during the time of the protest the camp has been made safe against bad weather. Further impressions from the camp at  night:

Munich’s far-right scene reacts
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Michael Stürzenberger with ‘cameraman’ / DieFreiheit activist.

As expected Munich’s far-right and neonazi scene has reacted. On Saturday September 10th Michael Stürzenberger (failed local politician, Die Freiheit, pi-news) showed up and started filming in the middle of the camp with his “cameraman”. In a video published to his YouTube channel Stürzenberger states that he wanted to report as an unbiased journalist and got attacked by left-extremists as he wandered through the camp. Non-citizens and supporters seem to have reacted and expelled him from the demonstration. Also an article by him showed up on PI-News. The comments section of the article makes one shudder. Openly some users ask to do a “drive by and warmly remove the camp” – following words about molotov-cocktails. Those words seem especially dangerous, as refugee housings have been set on fire through the past year all over Germany. Below a collection of the worst, most racist and filled with hatred comments:

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Lukas Bals that has been in media reports recently for causing trouble at the AfD election party, as well as Robert Andreasch’s talk at the Eine-Welt-Haus, was also spotted close to the camp according to eyewhitnesses. A gardener watering the plants poured water over sleeping bags as reported by Refugee Struggle for Freedom on Twitter:

 On Monday night after the local PEGIDA branch marched 13 well-known participants of the racist rally showed up a Sendlinger Tor. Amongst them: Rolf H. known for violent attacks on journalists and Heinz Meyer, leader of the regional PEGIDA movement. On the next day convicted neonazi terrorist Karl-Heinz Statzberger and hooligan Petra K. showed up and handed out flyers with the headline “Asylflut Stoppen!”. The flyers are printed by neonazi-party “Der III. Weg”- Statzberger and K. are both affiliated with the party.

After all it can be mentioned: Racist resentments can be noticed on site – people walking by shake their heads and cuss at refugees. Neonazis show up at the rally and hand out flyers and far-right “journalists” walk through the camp to write articles which are later commented with call-ups for acts of violence and murder.

UPDATE

By now neo-nazis have gathered close to the camp  at Sendlinger Tor during heavy rainfalls. Local PEGIDA leader Heinz Meyer joined their protest. Gallery:

One day later PEGIDA marched passed the camp and will again on September 26.

The Struggle Continues

Although this all does not look like a good prospect, activists of Refugee Struggle for Freedom say they will not stop to fight until they gain the rights of basic human beings in Germany. Until their voices will be heard. This could clearly be felt at the spontaneous demonstration that was held on Tuesday night, as well as the demonstration through inner city Munich held some days later. Picture gallery:

The protest will continue – at least until Semptember 30th. The city has permitted the camp until that day. 24mmjournalism will continue to report about the protest and update this article

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Camp Eviction at Macedonian Border

After Macedonia closed down it’s borders for migrants to pass the situation for people searching asylum in northern Europe worsened a lot. The camp of Idomeni developed. Tragic pictures from Idomeni and the border made it to international media. On May 24th the Greek government started an operation relocating people from Idomeni to camps run by the government of Greece. People left the camp before the eviction was complete.

Smaller camps in the area

Refugees that made it to escape before the eviction process started set up new smaller camps in the surrounding area. One at an empty gas-station ‘Ekostation’ right off the highway housing approximately 1000 people according to activists on site. People from the camps kept trying to cross the border.

‘I have been to Macedonia seven times at least’ – refugee at BP camp
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BP camp at night. Food is served.

Journalists were warmly invited even though the situation for migrants is aweful. They feel stuck, want to leave the country and always live in fear of an eviction. Still they invited colleagues and me to have food with them after the sun had set – it’s ramadan. Whilst having dinner with them they told some small pieces of their stories. Nationalities are very various. Syrians trying to escape war, as well as Algerians trying to escape an … 

‘oppressive government that wants you to work as much as you can, but not earn anything’ – asylum seeker from Algeria.

Even the little amount of food they have was shared. As we were on site the camp of Ekostation was already evicted and there were rumors about an eviction of BP and Hotel Ara.

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BP camp after sunset.

Some said that they want to try another time to cross in the night. As we left the camp they were listening to music from their homecountries and discussing, joking and dancing. Still the mood was full of tension and insecurities

Eviction of Ekostation

The biggest of the three left camps was evicted on Monday June 13th. We arrived late to document any of the eviction. Police blocked the highway near Thessaloniki. We were told to take a rural road to pass by Ekostation. Over some fields we managed to reach the camp. A devastating picture of the camp was left.

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The only people that were in the camp as we stopped by were refugees from a military camp, where the condtions are supposed to be very aweful, collecting leftovers before the Greek governments sends bulldozers to clean the shut down gas-station. On June 14th supporters from MedicinesSansFrontiers were collecting blankets. Other supporters were tearing down Ekokitchen that fed refugees in the camp.

Eviction of Hotel Ara- and BP-camp under exclusion of media

In the morning of June 14th the other two camps located near the highway were cleared. Police blocked media from reaching the camps. Supporters on site reported on the phone:

Everything is full of police. They arrived in the morning and are putting people into busses. We are asked to leave.’

After the highway was opened again we managed to stop at BP station. Working only with the phone, we captured the bulldozers entering the forest and riot police resting.

At Hotel Hara on the other side of the highway, there were still some people left.

Few People left at Hotel Hara:

After only few minutes of being on site at BP station and stepping out of the car civil police officers approached us. We were asked to leave and our ID’s were checked. Police and the Greek government are trying everything to prevent any media besides a government-close TV station to report about the situation.

All in all it’s unsure what happens to people. According to supporter on site they are brought to Vassiliki a camp located near Thessaloniki. Taking pictures in this government-run camp is not possible we have been told. Forgotten In Idomeni reported about neonazis on site:

What will happen now seems very unsure. On Wednesday government said it will start on working on the registration process and checking single asylum seeker on the right to stay. This might take up to months. Even though the camps are evicted and the government tries to make the place look there have been no people searching shelter at all, worldwide attention has to be kept on what happens to the people that were on site.

Refugees await in camp at the German-Austrian border to cross over

On Sunday a colleague and me visited the Austrian-German border near the town of Freilassing to document the situation of refugees here. As we arrived at the train-station of Freilassing – the first station after the Austrian-German border we found it almost completely empty. Some volunteers were waiting, prepared for the next refugees to arrive. Some policemen were searching a group of 5 young refugees that managed to cross the border and end up at the train-station. The border is walking distance from the train station – so we hiked there. From quite a distance we were able to see police controls similar as we experienced at the G7 summit last summer. Policemen and women were stopping trucks, looking into busses and controlling “suspicious” drivers. On the other side of the bridge the humanitarian situation seemed critical to me. Refugees await to cross the bridge. People sleep on the floor and in tents. Volunteers try to make the situation easier for refugees, hand out food, clothing and help with translations. Children played hockey when we were there while the Austrian military watches. Every now and then when another group is controlled by German police forces, movement starts and people gather on the bridge to be let through. Compared to pictures I have seen from a week ago the situation already got better – but still people are sleeping on the floor in horrible sanitarian conditions just because the German government decided to reinstate border controls and stop the train services to and from Austria.

My impressions from yesterday afternoon in Freilassing:

You can find an excerpt on GettyImages for licensure and the full story on Demotix.