As 2019 is over we took the time to capture some highlights and appreciate the moments and connections that were part of Together we are Bremen in 2019. This review was published originally as a series of 6 postings on our social media channels. Enjoy reading!
Die deutsche Version des Textes findet ihr hier.
In march 2019 Momodou, a member of our group, was put into deportation detention facing a so called „Dublin deportation“ to Italy.
Deportations, racial profiling, deportation detention and a border regime, that trys to dictate refugees and migrants where they can go and live, are symptoms of blatant injustice, racism and Anti-Blackness shaping the lives of many in Bremen and elsewhere.
We rallied in front of the deportation detention for four weeks demanding the release of Momodou and others and by this made the practices and underlying policies visible.
The Black Student Union – Bremen wrote a very on-point analysis of the situation Momodou and many others had and have to experience putting it into the context of Anti-Blackness. You can read it here.
Momodou was not the first nor the last person to experience deportation detention, Dublin deportations or racial profiling. Also in the next year(s) we will all have to continue to make this practice public, to voice our protest and to be there with those affected as much as we can. Deportations are produced by laws which are made by and can be changed by humans.
To those who are currently facing deportations, who are right now in the very same deportation detention as Momodou was, who experienced them in the past or those, who are fearing them to come: We see you, we stand with you and will not forget about you.
NO TO CAMP LIFE – FIGHTING RACIST SECURITY VIOLENCE IN LINDENSTRAßE
Many members of our group live in the camp called Lindenstraße. It is the „Zentrale Erstaufnahmestelle“, the first place people are sent to when they arrive in Bremen, where they are supposed to stay for a few weeks and maximum three month. This is the place that followed the Gottlieb-Daimler-Straße as camp for all minors, whose age is not recognized and who are in the process of age determination by the authorities. It is supposed to be a place for short-term stay of adults and families and not at all for unaccompanied youth. Nevertheless, young people often are obliged to stay there in overcrowded rooms for far longer than three month.
What brought our special attention to this camp was an incident of security brutality in May. Several members of our group were without reason brutally harassed by security personnel. This incident showed once again the racist and anti-Black structures that are dominant in institutions as refugee camps. Still, racist security violence is „only“ one of the many aspects that make the Lindenstraße such a cruel place. It was the occasion that brought us in front of the social senator, who is responsible for this camp, but our reasons were and still are plenty.
Our protest against the conditions of the camp took place in May and July and led to discussions with the senator of social and other responsible persons and institutions as the AWO, who is running Lindenstraße. Unfortunately, still today, not much has changed and our demands stay the same. What our protest hopefully changed: Those who run the camp, those who are supposed to make it „safe“ know, that their actions will not happen unseen. Whenever these things happen, they will be made public and we will demand for them to be held accountable.
The problem does not start or end with racist and violent securities, the whole camp system is an institution build to control and scare people. To gain a better understanding of how camps as Lindenstraße are actually working, you can also read this report of a resident of Lindenstraße.
We demand: no to camp life! Real and good housing for everybody!
Transfers mean, that Germany decides for you, where you are allowed to be.
Transfers mean, that Bremen says, that is not responsible for your case and you have to go somewhere else to apply for a chance to build up your life there.
Transfers mean, that you can not decide where to make your home.
Transfers mean, that you can have to go to some remote area where there is not much else than a big camp where you have to sit around and wait for others to decide your fate.
Transfers mean, that you are most likely to receive a Dublin deportation because you are pushed to apply for asylum.
Transfers mean, that you will experience this at some remote place where there are few to no counseling possibilities, no solidarity structures or communities that can support you.
Transfers mean, that they try to take away your agency over your own life.
Transfers mean, that the authorities try to take away your chance to continue building what you already built up in Bremen. They will put you to the streets to force you to leave. By that, they think, you will not have any other option to survive than to leave.
That’s why many members of our group decide not to follow the transfers they receive but to stay in Bremen and continue to protest for justice and the right to stay here. As a group we build up solidarity structures to make the protest possible. And the fact, that many fought successfully their way back into the state’s social system proves, that the authority’s decisions are full of mistakes and missed flexibility to decide differently.
We continue to bring the protest against the transfers to the streets and demand for what seems to be natural for everybody with a European passport: to choose the place that we call home.
Read this exchange of three activists of our group on what it means to have a transfer.
This whole issue is not going to less of a problem next year. We will continue to organize solidarity in order to enable protest and increase agency and self-determination. We call you to be in solidarity and to support our structures and we want you to question and protest against the absurd and racist construct of nations and borders that allow only few to be free to move and live wherever they want. Because freedom of movement is everybody’s right!
ORGANIZING SOLIDARITY: MONEY AND HOUSING
Yesterday we described what transfers are and what effect they have. To resist the transfers out of Bremen and to continue the protest for the right to stay in Bremen we created solidarity structures. These solidarity structures are a big organizational task and only possible because of the support of many people and groups in Bremen and elsewhere. What we organize: sleeping places and donations and all the things that come up in between.
Sleeping places are offered to us by people who go onto vacation, who are away for a few weeks or months or by shared flats or families who have a room which they don’t need. Some sleeping places are available for a few days, some for a few weeks or month and some without limit until the person is receiving the state’s social benefits again.
To raise money we started this year to call people to donate money regularly. Apart from that we did different other things: We went to events and told the audience about our group and our fight and gave around donation boxes. With a crowdfunding campaign in the beginning of 2019 we raised more than 5,000€. We organized own events like parties or bar evenings or had information tables at festivals or other bigger occasions. There were groups and event organizers who decided to dedicate the profits they made with their activities to our group. Just recently we started creating solidarity-t-shirts which we printed by ourselves and now often bring along to our events and our other activities.
The sleeping places are used by people who would otherwise be forced to follow the transfers they got by the state. The donation we receive are also mostly used for the most basics everybody needs: for food, for urgent medicine and for tram and bus tickets. Apart from that we sometimes have to pay contributions to rents for sleeping places.
These things should not be covered by the donations and organizational skills of a bunch of private people or political alliances. Nobody should rely on someone to offer a private sleeping place. All of these are tasks the state is responsible for. We built up these solidarity structures and we keep them going, but we do not at all like the dependencies and the uncertainties they bring. Organizing and building solidarity does only make sense if it is connected to the demand of the state to recognize its responsibility.
Nevertheless we really want to take this occasion to appreciate and thank all who contribute to the solidarity structures and by this contribute to making our activities and our protest possible. A big thank you goes to all those who offer their homes to members of our group. We thank all those who make small and big donations every month or only occasionally, those who thought of us when organizing festivals or auctions of paintings, those who decided to donate their christmas money to us and those who continuously forward our calls for donations and sleeping places.
With 2019 ending this fight is not over. Transfers are coming, solidarity is needed. Let’s stand together to make happen what we can’t do alone! Let’s become more, let’s build more solidarity!
For further information about how to support Together we are Bremen check our website.
BUILDING ALLIANCES AND NETWORKS
What we do and what we fight for is not isolated. It is taking place within a greater global struggle against racism, the neocolonial order of the world and for a world in which we all are really free and have access to everything we need in order to have a good life.
This fight is going on at different levels, it has many faces and many forms. It is carried by the power of many, organized in various networks, sharing their skills and experience, motivating each other, making sure that nobody is in this alone. Uniting with others facing the same or different challenges is what keeps us going and inspires us to go new ways. Therefore we want to take the time right now to acknowledge the alliances and networks that we have been part of within the last year.
Already the previous year we were part of the big demonstration of the network We’ll come united in Hamburg. We were part of one of the network’s meetings during the year and finally organized together with the Solidarity City Plenary a full bus (the Solibus!) going to Dresden in August to join the block of We’ll come United. There we met many other groups involved in similar struggles as ours. Attending this big demonstration and meeting other groups through the network is truly motivating and strengthening in times the conditions put on many of us become too much to bear.
One alliance that has developed through the We’ll come United network is the connection to Asmara, an activist from Hamburg who joined together with a group of youth our festival „Papers for all or no papers at all“ in July as MC and giving a Workshop. Check out Asmaras World-RefugeeSupport and learn about her activism in Hamburg!
Through the campaign against the deportation of Momodou (read pice 1/6) we started joining forces with the Black Student Union – Bremen. Their strong and precise analysis of the anti-Blackness Momodou was experiencing and many members of our group are experiencing daily also brought the discussions and positions of our group much forward. For February the Black Student Union is organizing a series of events for the Black OurStory Month Bremen, check out their Facebook and Instagram!
In summer, the discussions among different groups in Bremen about how to create better structures working towards the goal of Bremen to become a solidarity city, led to the founding of the Solidarity City Plenary. Different groups as Seebrücke Bremen, Queeraspora, BOMP – Equal Rights For All, Medinetz Bremen, Flüchtlingsrat Bremen, Flüchtlingsinitiative and others joined together and created a space to discuss ideas and concepts of solidarity city and to find ways to work towards this goal both politically and practically.
Coming together needs space: Our meetings and events took places at different locations this year. Additional to the Paradox., the Buchte, the BDP-Haus and the Zionsgemeinde that shared their rooms with us for most of our regular meetings, we want to highlight the cooperation with the Spedition Bremen, which hosted the two solidarity parties we organized this year. Activism and networks need infrastructure and space and sometimes a party to come together. The Spedition is, thanks to those who keep it going, an amazing space for this.
And the networks and alliances we built and we were part of this year go so much further: Iuventa10 who always have us on their mind when organizing events in Bremen, Hamburg or Oldenburg, the screen-printing collective 3B who together with us took care of the printing of our t-shirts, the ultra groups whose football tournament we attended, Decolonize Bremen, Seebrücke Bremen, the Ehrenfrauen-Kollektiv and Queeraspora who very often make sure to share some space in their events with us. Linksjugend [‘solid[ Bremen with whom we organized two events at the end of the year. And many more who go unnamed today: Collaborating and cooperating and learning from each other is a very important part of our activism and we hope to nurture and extend the alliances and networks in the year(s) to come.
This one is to us. To all of us, because we are still on it. When we started organizing ourselves together to shut down Gottlieb-Daimler-Straße, nobody believed we could do it. People were giving us a few weeks, maximum a few months. And now, we’re coming to two years. We have changed. We have changed as a group, growing together, disagreeing, discussing, despairing together. We have been laughing together, motivating each other, celebrating together. We’ve been out in the streets, holding up our banners, speaking, making ourselves visible and heard. We’ve talked about power imbalances, about dependencies, about the impossibility to overcome these and the necessity to still try. We have learned together and from each other. We have found ways to organize ourselves, to meet every week, to translate each other’s languages. We have found ways to be in this struggle together and not alone, to create something stronger to oppose the seemingly overpowering force of the authorities. We have created alternatives to what the rules say and we don’t hide but want you to do the same.
We have not only changed ourselves, we have also changed this city. Making visible what is happening in camps, making visible what those facing transfers or deportation experience, making visible the realities of crossing all the hardships to come to Bremen, making visible the reality of racism and anti-Blackness. Demanding solidarity from the society and creating structures for solidarity to become reality is creating ways of actually doing something instead of only saying, that a lot of stuff is going wrong.
The system does not want us to be together. Joining together, with others in the camps, with others being affected themselves, is resistance. Joining together with other people from Bremen, with people who are not in the same situation but decide to join in solidarity is resistance as well. The systems run to keep us all isolated, apart from each other and alone.
This is the why the fact, that we are still active and organizing ourselves is by itself already a success. To us and to everything yet to come. Cheers!
…the title of our last demonstration in October was „Together we fight, together we stay“. Re-watch the video of the demonstration, let’s take it as motivation for 2020!