The case of FEMEN and ‚Arab Feminism‘: A Chance for Globalized Awareness and Globalized Political Discourse – How New Social Media and Communication Technology Influences Social Movements

Since the Battle in Seattle– anti-globalization protests in Seattle 1999, when the world saw the first ‘globalized’ mass protest occur on the surface, the gathering of people from many different backgrounds and political contexts – globalization has changed many areas of life and also the face of social movements. Recent social uprisings such as Occupy and the Arab Spring characterize a new form of global social movements: they were highly influenced by progressed communication and media technology with a large impact on information exchange and eventually lead to an increased world wide awareness of the movements and new forms of globalized solidarity.

The Arab Spring has made women of the Arab world in particular ‘visible’, in terms of Western[1] media coverage. Although the women rights struggle and diverse women rights movements exist since decades, Western media has paid little attention to these sort of struggles; which reveals the epistemological power of discourse[2] of the West in the world. Now, with progressed technology, information on women rights activism is easily spread and noticed, without dependence on mainstream media, it offers the chance of first-hand information, opportunity to spread political discourses concerning social inequality e.g. and subsequently leads to the chance of an increased international solidarity.

I want to combine the case of rising solidarity through the globalized communication network linked with the role of political discourse. My specific example will be the fairly new feminist FEMEN movement which has raised attention by its provocative topless protests. Defining solidarity actions in general I want to take a particular FEMEN action of solidarity into account, which addressed former FEMEN activist Amina Sbouï´s imprisonment in Tunisia. On the one hand I want to situate the FEMEN movement in a moment of feminist movement history and theory, linked to the political discourse that aroused around the solidarity actions. I want to pose and attempt to answer questions such as: In how far does FEMEN represent a Western model of women, in how far can they speak for other women, in how far were obviously hegemonic Western values and world views on body politics reproduced and represented? On the other hand, in how far did the solidarity actions, as much as they were criticized and dismissed, do contribute to a heightened political discourse, question positions of power and speech? – And has made many women take action and make many women ‘visible’ for the ‘Western eye’, as they spoke out in disagreement.

***

Beyond the anti-globalization movements occurring since 1990s, globalization has entered many areas of life – in certain parts of the world of course on a higher technological standard than elsewhere. Globalization has also changed the face of social movements. Social struggles profit from a world wide network, awareness raising strategies influenced by the proceeding development of technology. Even in recent years, means of communication and media technology have changed rapidly. Providers such as facebook have played a huge role in recent social struggles, for instance during the Arab Spring, considering mobilization, networking, witnessing, documentation, and has contributed to the distribution of political issues and political discussion.

Even if we have a huge variety of information, knowledge and discourse production nowadays, which makes it difficult to distinguish and verify truth, the new technology and media offers a great chance for political change in various ways. People do have the possibility, beyond the information overload but also beyond the dictate and propaganda of government influenced media, to select information and educate themselves, which offers a step towards a self-responsible, sufficient, political individual. ‘Objectively’, it would offer the chance for a wide range of political education across countries, cultures, classes, ethnic backgrounds, etc.; if, of course access to recourses do not depend on and social, cultural and material capital and position. I also argue that new forms of communication and social media lead to an increased level of awareness of happenings in the world and subsequently lead to a higher chance of international solidarity for social protests in this case. Besides the networks being built and the exchange of information, strategies and tactics of struggles, one can recognize an increased number of solidarity actions as well.

When in the 1970s people demonstrated against the Vietnam War internationally, one can consider them acting in solidarity on the same cause. Nowadays there is an increased amount of solidarity actions which are on the one hand easily spread widely and fast by the internet and offer different possibilities for political change. The strategies range from solidarity demonstrations to raise awareness in society for a cause, protests in front of embassies or state ministries to pressure governments and bilateral relations, on small scale signs of solidarity, for instance by sending videos, pictures, benefits to people involved in a struggle. All these sorts of solidarity actions are encouraged by international awareness and sympathy. In recent years the world has witnessed via the World Wide Web a high mobilization rate for social protests, watched the square occupations in Athens and Cairo via live stream and seen pictures of people holding self written signs of solidarity in effort to prevent a war between Iran and Israel on social media. The ongoing social struggle in the Arab countries, following the Arab Spring has come close to hand for us, seemingly, by internet. Of course, the self-written signs may not prevent a war or reach and pressure politicians; however, I consider these actions of solidarity nevertheless highly political, as they address society and aim for a world wide understanding and empathy for each other, beyond rivalling representative politics.

In the following I want to highlight solidarity actions on the basis of feminist and women rights struggles with two contrasting models: the rather new FEMEN movement, which claims a new form of feminism versus women rights activists who dismiss the Western term of feminism for themselves and women who do not even define themselves as activists in Arab countries. Specifically, I choose the incident of Tunisian activist Amina Sbouï, who was imprisoned, after uploading a topless picture of herself on facebook. This was followed by the “topless-jihad”- protest of FEMEN activists in various countries and in turn reaction protests especially of Muslim women followed these particular solidarity actions.

FEMEN is a feminist activists group founded in 2008 in Kiev, Ukraine. The group of activists, self-acclaimed, new radical feminist movement, promoting itself with the aim to free women from patriarchy by “sextremism”, has raised media attention by their topless-protests. They started off addressing social issues and inequalities women face in Ukraine; meanwhile their protests address several political, social and environmental issues.

One particular FEMEN action took place in April 2013 in reaction to the imprisonment of Tunisian women rights activist Amina Sboui. She posted a topless picture on the internet with “Fuck your morals” written over her chest, protesting Tunisian’s oppressive social structures towards women. Shortly after, media reports ranged from her missing, to imprisonment, to death and religious Muslim leaders were demanding Sboui’s death by stoning. FEMEN organized in several cities in Europe the “International Topless Jihad Day”, which was mainly held in front and on the steps of mosques or Tunisian embassies. The signs the women were presenting, applied to Sboui’s message “Fuck your morals” besides “Naked Freedom”, “Free Amina”, “No Masters No Slaves”, “Arab Women against Islamism”, and chanting “Amina Akbar, Femen Akbar” (applying to “Allah akbar” = “God is great”) – the protest was in the name of ‘liberating’ Muslim women. The actions had high media coverage and soon criticism was heard. In Berlin, for instance, the local FEMEN activist group had chosen one of the oldest mosques in Germany for their protest, the Ahmadiyya mosque, which represents a Muslim religious movement from Pakistan, politically prosecuted themselves and known for their highly moderate position and tolerance towards other religions and believes. In Paris the FEMEN activists even burned a black salafist Tawhid flag.

femen berlin

FEMEN has drawn critic – not only for the “topless jihad protest” – from different positions, from conservative religious view points to radical feminist scholarship. Apart from good intentions to emancipate women regarding the provocative nude protest, I argue that using the woman’s body to provoke is not a very new nor creative concept regarding its application in Western media and arts. Politics on the bodies of women is a sensitive and provocative topic, whether it is reducing the woman’s body on its sexuality, subsequently reducing women to objects, or heated discourses upon Muslim women’s veiling. In my opinion, FEMEN fails to constitute a serious feminist struggle by first and simple, choosing superficially mainstream, Western good-looking women for their naked protests, in their attempt to emancipate themselves as women beyond their bodies. Second, they represent and reproduce a white feminist “failure” which was seemingly resolved by the emerge of black and postcolonial feminism in the 1970s: Feminism had failed to address the issues, needs and circumstances of women of colour and from subaltern backgrounds, by universalizing women’s suffering under patriarchy and mainly speaking from the position of privileged, educated, white middle class women. By occupying positions of epistemological power Western feminists convinced their values and understanding of human rights would save every woman. Furthermore, FEMEN received criticism for an obviously Islamophobic attitude, addressing Islam as an utterly patriarchal, women suppressive ideology which reveals a very culturalist standpoint. The activists are certainly not the only ones with this opinion; however also represent a mainstream resentment towards Islam and Muslim societies nowadays, concerning stereotypical images of a culture and religion, to most people in position of judgement unknown. I do not want to argue at this point, that within many Muslim societies women are not suppressed and suffer under patriarchical superstructures. However, one can not essentialize the whole Muslim society or put Islam even Islamist Terrorism. Certain societies can not be perceived patriarchical and oppressive due to Islam, but have to be seen in contexts of traditional, historic dynamics and how this particular society has implemented certain (religious) values. To sum it up, FEMEN can be criticized due to their actions throwing feminist struggle and theory back in decades and showing no tolerance for other cultures or taking into account, to let Muslim women speak and fight for themselves, not needing the white women to save her from her misery, once again.

One can criticize and denunciate the FEMEN activists for several mindsets and actions but eventually their provocative demeanour has had a positive end-product. The days after the nude protests in front of mosques, social media networks were flooded with self-uploaded pictures of women, mainly from Arab contexts, portraying themselves with signs of protest: “I am a PROUD Muslimah. I don’t need ‘LIBERATING’. I don’t appreciate being used to reinforce WESTERN IMPERIALISM. You do not REPRESENT ME!”, “Nudity DOES NOT liberate me and I DO NOT need saving”.

muslimah pride1muslimah 2

This viral protest which called itself #Muslimah Pride or Muslim Women against FEMEN that followed the ‘solidarity’ action instantly represents the anger of thousands of women, fed up with part of the Western world putting them into collective categories of the Muslim woman. Obviously, not being able to see beyond the veil, the individual, the woman, that might be suppressed by a patriarchical superstructure and fed up with sexual assaults on the streets (as women in the West experience them as well), but who is a person beyond suffering and victimization. With this reaction protest, many women emancipated themselves somewhat, for the Western viewer, since there is little general recognition of their progressed emancipation, as the Muslim women are made invisible by western society and media, not only by their veils, but also by epistemological violence.

Very few people have knowledge about women right’s movements in Arab countries, although these movements are somewhat as old as European feminism, regarding political struggles and debates around gender equality already the 19th century. Historical examples like the conference in 1923 held in Alexandria which was as a founding moment of Arabian feminism from which the Egyptian Feminist Union emerged or Habib Bourguiba’s political enhancement of gender equalization after Tunisia’s independence and laws enacted concerning maternity protection, distribution of contraceptives free of charge and the possibility of abortion in hospitals – show that European countries in comparison, where considerably backward in terms of equalization of women in this period of time. Of course, the Arab women rights movement has a different history and different challenges to face than European feminism; Tunisians state feminism under the socialist rule of Bourguiba eventually symbolized a range of politics in this region trying to keep pace with Western modernity which also lead to an increased Islamisation of Arab countries in the last 20-30 years. Where young women in Egypt nowadays wear veils, however their mothers and grandmothers never did, shows how difficult the situation of Muslim women and the development of women movements is to grasp. The push for women rights started off with the anti-colonial struggle in the 1930s and 1940s, when women fought side by side with men against the French in Algeria. It was a struggle in attempt to regain identity, within colonial suppression which operated under the disguise of human rights and equality, for instance by unveiling Algerian women publicly – seemingly unveiling the backwardness and cruelty of the Algerian society – where the white man could emerge as a kind of saviour, the Algerian society felt bereft of its identity. This is one example where the veil became a sign of resistance. After independence the situation for women worsened again, and proves today an example of a nationalist feminist struggle as well as the challenges history keeps at hand. Today one can find a range of women rights movements, from atheist feminist groups financed by foreign NGOs, to Muslim feminists, to so-called Islamist Women Movements. Since 20 years and since reformative Muslim groups increasingly emerged, declaring a break between the West and the East, the situation has certainly not improved for many women living in Muslim societies. Nevertheless, one has to keep history in mind, in particular colonial histories of oppression. Up to today, societies are left in a lower position in the hegemonic world order due to a Western stigma of underdevelopment; simultaneously the West represents secular rationality, human rights, modernity and progress. This certainly did lead to an attitude of defence in various ways; let it be conserving traditions and identity, in attempt to remain autonomous in today’s dynamic, changing world.

***

As G. Spivak refers to the colonial past with the phrase “white man saving brown woman from brown man”[3], I consider fractions of white feminism and in the particular case of this essay – FEMEN’s feminist politics as a reproduction of fantasized collective identities and imperialist politics of suppression, which often work subtle and are conceived positively when (white) people advocate themselves for liberation and human rights – however perpetuate the epistemological power and hegemonic position of the West.

As I have argued before, this has changed; due to the new communication technologies we are entering an era in which this kind of epistemological power can be challenged and subsequently create a political sphere of increased exchange, political discussion, discourse and understanding. This is proven by internet activism and social movement organisation by means of new communication technology which has reached a new peak and for instance also made female bloggers appear in the political sphere of the Arab Spring uprisings – there is a chance for a widened awareness for seemingly subaltern struggles – depending on the eye of the beholder.

The first action, so much to be criticized about it, and the understandable reaction of anger and hurt, did in all its violence and anger involved, make a step forward possible towards debate with one another. Conflict seems to be necessary sometimes, like in the described case, to lift a veil, which reveals one another’s position but offers the chance for exchange and deeper understanding of each others different situations, world views and values.

References:

Articles from the magazin „iz3w – informationszentrum 3. welt.“: Yala! Yala! Arabische Frauenbewegungen. Juli/Aug. 2013. Ausgabe 337. Aktion Dritte Welt e.V. informationszentrum 3. welt: Freiburg. S.37

–         „Selbstbewusst zwischen den Welten. Über 100 Jahre arabischer Feminismus zwischen Moderne und Tradition.“ S. 18-21.

–         “Die ägyptische Kultur ist auch Frauenfeindlich”. S. 22-23.

–         „I’m not a feminist. Frauenrechtsaktivistinnen in Ägypten“. S. 24.

–         “Zähes Ringen. In Tunesien kämpfen Frauen für den Erhalt feministischer Errungenschaften”. S. 25.

–         „Ungleichheit per Gesetz. Algerische Frauen kämpfen um ein egalitäres Familienrecht“. S. 27.

–         „Mit dem Koran gegen Sexismus. Plädoyer für einen Feminismus ohne Grenzen“. 28-29.

–         „Politisch, nicht kulturell! Zur Kritik von „islamischem Feminismus“ und Kulturalismus““. 30-31.

–         „Empowerment und Ausschluss. Islamistische Frauen und die Politik der Frömmigkeit in Ägypten“. S. 32-33.

Muslim Women Against Femen: https://www.facebook.com/MuslimWomenAgainstFemen

Femen: Flower-Crowned Islamophobia: http://bitchtopia.com/2013/04/18/femen-flower-crowned-islamophobia/

Interview with Amina Sboui: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/amina-sboui-quits-femen_n_3785724.html

http://femen.info/about/


[1] Cursive written words apply either to the names of movements, groups etc. or to concepts for a better understanding of today’s world or how the world is perceived by a majority. The construction of binary models of the world like ‘East’ and ‘West’ lead to better understanding of  topics which are dealt with, however at the same time hide the danger of essentializing, reproducing and reducing concepts of the world to a static category.

[2] ‘Epistemology’ refers to the term ‘normative power’ mostly developed by postcolonial theory; describing today´s hegemonic world order – who has the ability to ‘speak’ and to be ‘heard’?  – which means who is represented in media and scholarship for example, in which language are academic texts are written… … …

[3] G. C. Spivak, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, eds. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester, 1993), p. 93

Advertisements
Veröffentlicht unter Uncategorized | Kommentar hinterlassen

FEMEN: Flower-Crowned Islamophobia

Rose Water Magazine


What do you get when you mix white women, flower crowns, racism and colonial imperialism?

FEMEN!

Unfortunately, FEMEN and their actions are no laughing matter. Self-described as a „radically feminist“ organization, FEMEN’s roots are in protesting against sex trafficking of Ukrainian women and demonstrating for pro-choice legislation in Ukraine. The group was founded in Kiev, Ukraine, in 2008, and now boasts having members and branches all over Europe, with a large branch located in Paris. In October of 2012, FEMEN claimed to be composed of 40 topless protesters, with another 100 who had joined their protests outside of Kiev. Most recently, FEMEN has become increasingly offensive and racist and has sparked an international debate.

The women of FEMEN, who have recently acquired mainstream media fame for what they declared to be a Topless Jihad Day, have become known for staging topless protests in front of religious institutions. The group…

Ursprünglichen Post anzeigen 818 weitere Wörter

Veröffentlicht unter Uncategorized | Kommentar hinterlassen

Student_innen verhindern Auftritt Verteidigungsministers De Maizieres – so sieht Unipolitik aus.

Yay so sieht Unipolitik aus. Wieder einmal wurde der Verteidigungsministers daran gehindert einen Vortrag zur Rolle der Bundeswehr an einer deutschen Uni zu halten, wie zuletzt auch in Leipzig geschehen – heute Abend wurde er an der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin blockiert. Nur diesmal kam er überhaupt nicht zu Wort. Und ging nach einer halben Stunde wieder, nach anhaltendem Klatschen, La-Ola-Wellen  Jubel- und Sprechchören. Von anfangs noch ausgelassenen, albernen „Thomas, wir lieben dich“ oder „Wir wollen den Thomas sehen“ zu bisweilen hämischen schließlich ernst gemeinten politischen Sprechchören, in denen dann durchaus Zorn mitschwang. Dies vor allem nachdem Universitätspräsident Jan-Hendrik Olbertz wie auch de Maiziere versuchten über die Beamerprojektion in verschriftlichter Form mit den Studierenden zu kommunizieren, da sie sich ->kein Gehör verschaffen können<-, ja ihr autoritäres Auftreten wurde ignoriert. Hier wurde an ihrer Macht gerüttelt. Als de Maiziere erst schreibt „wer hat Angst davor ein Argument zu hören“ aber schließlich auch als Erwiderung auf das kleine Banner „Eine Aussage wie ‚Nie wieder Deutschland!‘ ist einer Humboldt Universität nicht würdig“ schreibt, wird dies nur noch lautstärker gebrüllt. Denn es zeigt offensichtlich, dass ein Dialog keinen Sinn machen würde, dass unser Anliegen, unser Protest, gegen Krieg, gegen Waffenhandel, gegen die Propagierung der Bundeswehr,  gegen das alltägliche Morden und Sterben, dass es daneben auch einen speziellen geschichtlichen Hintergrund gibt, den manche Menschen zu leicht zu vergessen scheinen oder nicht erkennen, dass die Aufarbeitung nicht beendet ist – nicht vernommen werden würde. Und wer sagt, wir wollten uns nicht mal seine Argumente anhören… auf was für einen Dialog sollen wir uns denn einlassen? Wer mit de Maiziere diskutieren will kann das woanders tun… Universitäten und Schulen sind kein Ort für Bundeswehrpropaganda, kein Ort wo Morden propagandiert werden darf, diesen Ort gibt es eigentlich nirgendwo.

„Armee der Einheit – Der Beitrag der Bundeswehr zum gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalt“ – allein der Titel ist schon zum kotzen. Und ein Widerspruch in sich. Es geht nicht nur um/gegen nationalstaatliche „demokratische“ Ideologien, die von einer Armee geschützt werden müssen, es geht auch um Rüstungsforschung an deutschen Universitäten, ohne dass es die Öffentlichkeit mitbekommt, dass ihr Steuergeld da hineinfließt, wodurch letztendlich irgendwo Menschen sterben. Es geht auch darum, dass Deutschland in Waffenhandel und Waffenexport involviert ist (Top 3 weltweit?!) und dies unter der Hand läuft, und letztendlich irgendwo Menschen sterben. Es geht darum, dass Deutschland nie wieder Krieg führen sollte, und wollte. Und Deutschland führt nicht erst Krieg, wenn deutsche SoldatInnen in Afghanistan sterben, sondern bereits wenn Waffen an andere Länder verkauft werden. Dies mag vielleicht pathetisch klingen, aber es geht um ein Geschäft mit dem Tod. Da darf mensch auch mal pathetisch werden. Und unser geliebter Universitätsdirektor kann das ja auch ganz gut, auf die Moraltränendrüse drücken, wenn auf der Projektion dann geschrieben steht, er gehe nicht weg, er „bleibe, für die Freiheit des Wortes und der Meinungsfreiheit. Ihr Präsident.“

Das leitet gut zu meinem Lieblingsthema über: „Gewalt“. Ja, wir haben heute eine Form von „Gewalt“ ausgeübt. Aber diese Gewalt ist nichts im Vergleich zu der Gewalt des Krieges. Wir haben die Verhältnisse heute mal umgedreht. Und ein bisschen Chaos gestiftet. Ich finde es wichtig über Begriffe wie „Gewalt“ oder auch „Frieden“ zu reflektieren, und wer diese eigentlich definiert. Es  sind die Menschen, die in unserer Gesellschaft Macht und Gewalt haben, und damit meine ich nicht nur die Politik, sondern auch unseren Universitätspräsidenten, die ganz oben in institutionellen Hierarchien stehen. Sie definieren Frieden und Demokratie und verteidigen sie notfalls mit Gewalt. Aber wer schützt uns vor ihnen? (Es waren im Umkreis der Uni übrigens geschätzte 30 Polizeiwannen, und im Saal jede Menge Zivis, Riotpolice war im Begriff hereinzukommen) Hätten wir uns heute auf jeden Fall wieder einmal auf einen Dialog eingelassen, wären die Verhältnisse wieder hergestellt worden, Friedefreudeeinerkuchen, … nein, ich will die Dinge anders anpacken. Die Studierendenschaft hat de Maiziere nicht eingeladen, weil wir in diesen Universitätsstrukturen auch zu wenig Mitspracherecht haben – wir haben ihn aber ausgeladen  Wenn es um Mord geht, kann es keine Kompromisse geben, darum, warum sollte Maiziere zu Wort kommen?

Zwei Artikel, die ein wenig ausführlicher als die anderen Medien  berichten:

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/protest-gegen-bundeswehr-studenten-schreien-de-maiziere-nieder-a-893684.html

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/protest-gegen-bundeswehr-studenten-bruellen-de-maiziere-nieder-a-893692.html

Humboldt-Universität: Protest gegen de Maizière

Veröffentlicht unter democracy, human rights, protests, student protests | Kommentar hinterlassen

Refugee protest action at the Nigerian embassy – followed by massive police brutality, arrests and two spontaneous rallys taking the streets – Berlin.

„Wir sind nicht alle! Es fehlen die Gefangenen!“ // „We are not all. The detainees are missing.“ // „Free our friends!“

Watch this.

archiv.media.!etc!medialib!rbb!rbb!abendschau!abendschau_20121015_botschaft.html

Yesterday, on Oct 15, an action by the activists of the refugee protest (camp) in Berlin took place at the Nigerian embassy, protesting the dubious agreements between Germany and Nigeria concerning the deportation of asylum seekers (more information on this issue here for example). We only arrived after a group of activists had gone inside and were detained inside and arrested afterwards. In front of the embassy more and more people gathered to protest the detentions, surrounding the police, which increased their number of forces enormously as well; about 100 protesters gathered, not willing to leave. The atmosphere heatened up – but it is not my intent to judge people’s emotions or any actions at this point; as one often recognizes in discussions later on, that actions are condemned and judged, situations get out of hand in these sort of actions once in a while and one should keep once subjective judgement for oneself but stand in solidarity together. – However, it is my intent, to judge the police’s procedure, as riot cops drew out individuals, mainly refugees in order to arrest them, some could be released by fellow protesters during the proceeding of the incident but not all. The cops continued agressing towards the people, charging us with pepper spray; agression from both sides continued but clearly unjustfied from the police’s side. They started running into the sit-in-blockade on the street, more beating without giving the legal order to leave, which must be announced before clearing non-violent civil disobedience actions.

When things calmed down, we were allowed to leave as a spontaneously registered demonstration, from the embassy to the camp at Oranienplatz. We were assured to march with police supervision, but legally, reassuring no agression from both sides. The march proceded peacefully but in anger of the recent repression and the detained persons. As the rally had almost reached the camp the cops suddenly ran into the demonstration drawing out individuals and agressing and charging the protesters, again with beats and pepper-spray. This incident clearly violated the agreement arranged before and the repression was unnecessary. More people got arrested.

All together about 28 arrested.

For 5pm people were mobilized and then gathered at the camp for another spontaneous demonstration, which turned out to count amazing 800 to 1000 people, taking the streets of Kreuzberg, playing cat-and-mouse with the police, stopping the traffic, heading for the police station where the detained were kept. The rally was powerful and stayed peaceful, seemingly with the awareness that this day wasn’t about fighting the cops, even if we had experienced repression, still confident and ambitious, for the cause of the detained refugees and activists. Eventually we gathered in front of the police station and as the night proceeded all arrested persons were released; thanks to the legal work of the lawyers at this point.

(Source: demotix.com)

Notice: This report was made by my and friends subjective observation and experiences made throughaout the day during the actions. I am thankful for any correction of numbers and other facts, any other witnessed incidences. It was a long day, I hope this report can help some people who did not have a chance to join the actions get an overview. Let’s see how the situation proceeds, see you on the streets.

We are here, and we will fight. Freedom of movement is everybody’s right.

Veröffentlicht unter anti-racism, democracy, human rights, police brutality, protests | Kommentar hinterlassen

8000 to 10 000 join Refugee Protest March – Demonstration in Berlin

CLICK_TO_ENLARGE berlin2012101312.jpg

One can probably say Berlin and Germany in general has not seen a demonstration like this before. It wasn’t the per se the size of the rally, it was that the refugee and asylum issue concerned between 8000 and 10 0000 people to join the demonstration on Saturday Oct 13 and that media reported on the rally, what proves that the migration, refugee and asylum issue has gained somewhat public attention. The demonstration was picked up by two others, the „Global Noise Day“ rally coming from Neukölln and the „I love Kotti“ protest from Kreuzberg – which is concerned with tenats issues, increasing rents, housing instability and especially social housing instability in Berlin. Also, different groups and organizations from diverse political backgrounds and  individuals joined. It was a powerful, colourful rally, solidarizing with the refugees who had walked 400 km from Bavaria to Berlin in demand for human rights and against the inhuman treatment of asylum seekers by the German government.

Demands amongst others addressed the freedom of movement, the abolishment of the residency law,  institutional and structural racism,  the abolishment of the food stamp system which also refers to the demand for human rights and dignity in general.

Besides speeches from refugees, activists, people with different backgrounds, amonst others a Roma woman addressing Germany’s and Europe’s role in diplacement, jailing in camps outside the fortress of Europe; the actual serious causes for the protest were addressed.

The end of the day was overshadowed by the burning of a 23-year-old man in front of the German parliament. There was no connection found to the refugee protest,  some sources say that he commited suicide because he became homeless. This is the first death of this kind happening in Germany, after deaths of this sort have been happening in Greece and Italy in the last few months, apparently due to the desperate economic situation of individuals, affected by the countries‘ and Europe’s current economic crisis and austerity measures. Media here did not report on this case.

 

More information on the refugee protest in Berlin: http://refugeetentaction.net/index.php?lang=de

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veröffentlicht unter anti-racism, democracy, human rights, protests | Kommentar hinterlassen

The Refugee Protest March reaches Berlin – Join the Demonstration on October 13

The refugee protest march has reached Berlin. The group of refugees , asylume seekers, activists and supporters arrived in Berlin on October 6. There is a camp that was set up on Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg where the protest will find a new base from where information will be spread and actions will take place.

On Saturday the first big demonstration will take place, starting at Oranienplatz at 3pm. Join!

More information on the refugeetentaction website.

 

Veröffentlicht unter anti-racism, human rights, protests | Kommentar hinterlassen

Refugee Protest March to Berlin

Since the beginning of this year refugees have been protesting in Würzburg, Bavaria – after one of their Iranian companions commited suicide due to the circumstances in the refugee housings. They protest against the inhuman treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Germany. Against worst living consitions in the refugee housing. Against the recidency law which obliges them to not leave the area around their housings in a radius of 30 km. The housings are often isolated in the woods, there is neither contact to residents of the area, no opportunity for work or German lessons, or access to health care, they receive food stamps and few means. Many people living in these housings decsribe it as worse than prison in some way, since they sometimes spend there years, not knowing when they can leave and lead a self-determined life.

In the course of the protest the refugees in Würzburg started a hunger strike and stiched up their lips as their demands were not heard and their previous actions had not solved problems with the local authorities or any laws. It is a fight which was picked up by those people affected by the neglection of human rights in a country which calls itself proudly a defender of human rights and dignity. Major newspapers did report on the situation of the refugees and their protest, not sufficiently, but they did, which is one step towards a rising awareness among the population. It wasn’t white-dominated left groups which picked up the struggle, they support it, but the struggle is fought by those who it belongs to. They solidarize with all refugees and asylum seekers in Germany, with all those who suffer under the growing fortress of Europe. It is our task to support this struggle and solidarize with it, but in the end it is their fight, for their rights. It is not about us, playing the savior again and it is not our task to judge their actions. It is our task to reflect the brutal system we are living in, be aware of our privileges, which laws protect us and harm others and lead to demeaning circumstances.

The refugees are on their way from Bavaria to Berlin. They are marching and crossing borders, not only those of residency law, they are also breaking other laws; laws that forbid them to protest their situation. Breaking silence. Let’s join.

 

NO BORDER. NO NATION. STOP DEPORTATION!

More information on the refugee protest march:

http://refugeetentaction.net/index.php?lang=de

Veröffentlicht unter anti-racism, democracy, human rights, protests | Kommentar hinterlassen