“Keep on running? That’s not good”

Halberstadt? The few people who know about this place located in the west of the German federal state of Sachsen-Anhalt would probably think of its old city center with “Fachwerkhäuser” lined up next to each other. Or the “Burg Falkenstein” located nearby. Would anyone think of the big refugee camp located near Halberstadt? Probably not. Many members of our group who received a transfer were supposed to go there. Someone who actually followed the ordered transfer to Halberstadt is talking about his experiences with two other activists from the movement.

Transfer to Halberstadt

L: More then 1 year ago I was sent on transfer with a friend. To Halberstadt. From the train stop we had to walk, we only had Bremen ticket and that doesn’t work there and we had no money, so at that time we had to walk. They gave us directions and we were roughly walking 2 hours. So when we reach there we gave them our transfer papers and they asked our age. I gave them my age. And they told me, you don’t have to be transferred because you are a minor. But it was only 15 days left. So from there they write our names, gave us some food and asked us to wait. That someone will come and take us to a minor’s camp, near the train stop.

A picture taken by L and his friend in the camp at Halberstadt.

From the very beginning we told these people that we don’t like the place and we want to go back to Bremen. It is very bad, you have there more than 500, 600, maybe 700 people. They can’t look after all these people. There are kids. The living condition is not good. We told these people that we want to go back because you guys told me that we shouldn’t be transferred, because I was still a minor. So we told that these people and they know if we have a money or any chance to go back, we will go back. They also wanted to take our fingerprints but we knew if they take our fingerprints, then we wouldn’t have a chance to go back.

So later that day they took us to Falkenstein. Maybe you know Falkenstein? It’s like a tourist place. The place is very far, from there to town, it’s far because it is in the mountain. So from there to the city you have to take a bus, but those buses, we cannot take those buses, because we have no papers, and those buses they are meant for tourists. So they take us there only to waste our time.

In Halberstadt there were many people from Gambia, Nigeria, Syria. In Falkenstein we see only three blacks. My friend, me and another guy. So we knew, this is kind of like a trick. The thing is you have food there, any time you want you can have food and eat. Because they have a restaurant there. You can go and order it for free or, when you want to cook, you can go there and tell them what you need. But they don’t give you money. Because they know, if you have money, you have the chance to go down. So this is the problem. And the place is not meant for us, it is like for tourists. There you cannot communicate with society.

Halberstadt and Falkenstein aber basically located in the middle of nowhere… (Screenshot taken from Google Maps)

After these 15 days they take us back to this big camp, to Halberstadt. And later they told us, on Monday, you will go for fingerprint. And I told my friend, this is the chance, if we go to this place, we have to go. So when Monday comes, I told my friend, we have to go, so we left that office. That time I was having a laptop from when I was living in Bremen. So that laptop I sold it for 50 euro. So we used this money to buy a ticket to Magdeburg. From there people helped us to go back to Bremen.

Too many reasons not to go on transfers

S: There are many reasons that people don’t go on transfers. The conditions they will face when they go to these places. The transfer normally means that you have to accept and go for asylum, what is not good for them, it might lead to be deported, you know.

L: They press on us to do the fingerprints, because they know, that we don’t want to do it…

S: The problem about transfer is that you go to a big camp, you will mostly not have any chance to go to school in these places. In most of these places it is very difficult to integrate to society because it is very migrant-unfriendly cities. That’s why many people don’t accept the transfers and even those people who accept to go will eventually come back because of the circumstances and the conditions in these places that will be unbearable for them. It’s like that. So for some it is like, staying here, and fighting here, although the conditions are not that good. Still staying here and that possibility to fight is better than going on transfer and be in even more difficult situation.

K: After one year of not being in the system, would you still say, this is better than transfer?

L: I don’t know, hm, Halberstadt, oh yes, it is still better here than that place! If you want a good life, you wouldn’t want to stay there in Halberstadt[1]. It is not a good place to have good association with people. It is so far from the city, you have to walk, walk, walk. Even from the bus stop, it is a long distance. It’s like a prison you know. Someone told me that the place was from the Russians, in the war times, that place is like a camp for the Russians. If we spent more days I would maybe know more about this.
Every day, they said, they come for 2 or 3 persons, to deport them. Especially on Mondays and in the night. Someone told me that there are even people living there, they are registered, but they don’t live there, they just run, you know, keep on running, that’s not good. Running up and down, just because of deportation.

The most difficult in Bremen right now: not to be in the system

L: Not to be in the system. First, you have no documents. And here, when you have no documents, that’s a big problem. You are like a criminal. Yesterday, after I was coming from the place where we painted the big banner, I was caught on the bus without a ticket. So this is a problem and they call police. And this is no good for me. Maybe, if you don’t have a ticket, it’s normal, you can just give them your paper and they write it and you have to pay for it. But in my case, they call the police. I told them, I have no paper. And they don’t believe me and they call the police and they search everything. That’s very stupid, you know. They later called that office, I don’t know and they saw my picture and they said, this is not your age, this is your real age. And I told them, no. Bremen said, this is my age, but it is not. This is my age. They told me, you have no address, and I gave them my address. In the street they do all this, and people were passing, and they treat me like a criminal, you know. First on the bus they said, I have to give them my phone, because they thought that I might run, then they called the police. They asked me to put my hands on this police car. Searching all. It’s crazy, you know!

K: What do you think they are searching for?

L: They are searching for documents, maybe. Maybe they are searching for another thing. I don’t know. This is also a bit… I wanted to complain about this, do something. But then I decided to let it go, because I have no choice. This is how it is for blacks. Can’t change it. Maybe I can do what I feel like to do. But this is not going to change it. So I have to cope. This is a real thing.

K: It happens a lot?

L: A lot. That’s why I don’t like entering these trams, I prefer bike. But even if I have ticket I don’t want to enter these trams and see these people. They are more comfortable, they are more happy when they see a black not having a ticket. They feel proud, just because you are black. It’s fucked up. That’s what we face. People have this mentality still. Like, he is a black, she is a black, you have to treat him like this. It is not fair. If you were in Africa, maybe you have to go to the police, because there is a problem, they would treat you like a guest. Not the opposite. Not like here. This is really crazy.

Without documents you cannot do anything. Many of us like playing football, but going to a football team, without documents, you can’t do this. You can go and train with them. But to be part of the team without paper, is not possible.

S: When you are not in the system, it is like they are forcing you to something you don’t want to be. To be a criminal. You have no money you can’t buy a ticket, but still you have to move. This is a problem.

L: They push us to something we are not. And we don’t want to be. They want us to be criminals. Right now I am living without documents, in my condition, right now. So, if I get into something, later they will say, this is the problem, this is why we don’t want to give him these documents, because of this. So later they take this as an advantage to take the blame on us.

S: That’s why it is important to support these people who are living here, without money, it is so difficult.

L: If you don’t have money you can go and sell drug. If you need money very badly! I am not doing it. But I know that people are doing it. If you can’t have money the way you want it. Selling drug is not a good thing. They are spoiling our kids.

S: This group is really saving the people, this housing, this little money, it is not enough, but it is better. Without it you cannot live. If you don’t have money you have to do something, something. You have to find ways to get some money. To survive, you know, to survive. So the group is also important in that sense. But more support and more fight we need, to be in the system. This is the most important. But this temporal solution is still better than transfer. Of course it is temporal, because it cannot be sustainable.

Housing is not permanent – that’s why we demand: papers for all!

L: We do not want to be living in this Together we are Bremen forever. This is temporal. This is a real thing, you know. We don’t want to be depending on Together we are Bremen. We want to do ours. We want to do it ourselves. We are not dumb or stupid. We have our talents. When we have the chance we can show them. But there is no chance. They don’t give us the chance to do this things. But you need documents. We don’t want to depend, people feeding us. This is not our plan. We have good dreams, we have good aims, we want to be something else in the future. But this people, they don’t want that. They want us to be in the streets, selling drug. It’s crazy you know.

S: Housing should be temporal. Eventually we have to get in the system.

L: And I know that you guys are also tired of this, up and down, it is too stressful. It shouldn’t be a continuous thing. If Together we are Bremen should have to be continued forever, it is not a good thing for us.

K: And you think there will be a moment when the fight is no longer needed?

S: No.

L: There are many things to fight for. But this one, to be in the system, right now is the most important. Then all this rubbish will stop.

S: There are still things to fight in this western society that will never end.

L: As a black guy living in here, you have many things to fight for. System is just the starting. You are like.. you are like…

S: You are here and you are not here. But if everyone in this group, those who started, settle a bit, have their documents…

L: If those boys in this group, you know, they have talents, they can bring something, in the future… but you know, when is this going to stop, that they treat people like this, West-Africans you know… the treatment is still different then with other people, mental slavery is still going on, you know. You can’t stop this, I think, we all have this in our mind.

[1]For more information about Halberstadt and other camps in Sachsen-Anhalt visit https://no-lager-halle.org

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