A report on the living conditions in the camp Lindestraße (ZAST) in Vegesack
Lindenstraße is a camp located in Bremen Vegesack. It is officially called „ZAST“ – „Zentrale Aufnahmestelle“. Except for unattended minors, all refugees arriving newly in Bremen have to live there for the first weeks or months. Even though many members of our group are minors, they have to live in this camp for as long as their „age determination process“ is going on – which can easily take up to a year. According to the law, nobody should live there for more than three months before moving to a more permanent place or an own flat – because Lindenstraße is not a place that is in any way suited for living at for a longer time.
Read the following report of a resident of the camp:
“Lindenstraße is no place where people should live for a long time. Actually, nobody should live there at all, but living there for a long time is just not possible.”
In Lindenstraße live about 400 people. Some people live in rooms of 3 people, some with 6 or 8. Everyone has a room number. Most people live there for up to three months for the time of their asylum process. But others, us, who have objected the age the authorities gave us have to live there longer. Some even longer than 8 months.
Lindenstraße is no place where people should live for a long time. Actually, nobody should live there at all, but living there for a long time is just not possible.
In the rooms the ventilation is really bad because it is not possible to open the windows. There is no fresh air and especially in summer it is hard to breathe with so many people sleeping in one room. If we want to have fresh air we have to go downstairs or outside.
“They make everything so hard to make us desperate and go crazy. This is what it is designed for.”
Lindenstraße controls us. We enter the camp through one big entrance where we have to swipe the identity cards they gave us and walk past the securities. If we miss to sleep at Lindenstraße for two times we will be thrown out of the the camp and the whole social system. Then we will have to start the registration process newly. If it happens more than two times, they cut us out completely and we are out of the system.
They do not necessarily control us physically. But the way Lindenstraße is designed, the way it is set up controls us. There is no other way to live, to act, to move than according to its design. We have to follow the rules and their decisions – whatever they want you to do, you have to accept it. There are no kitchens but central eating times. They set the time when everyone has to eat. Imagine you have to eat lunch at 12 and dinner at 6. You cannot eat after dinner time until the next day.
To walk up to the rooms, everybody has to use the stairs, even though there are lifts. Even pregnant women are not allowed to use the lift. They make everything so hard to make us desperate and go crazy. This is what it is designed for.
„No matter how talented or intelligent you are, if you live in this kind of situation, you will become a very desperate and frustrated person.“
We do not have access to go to school or to be part of society in any way. It is designed this way: if you apply for a school, they will ask you for documents and if you cannot show them, you will have very little chance to go to school. This is because they don’t want us to integrate. People who are denied all chances and therefore are not integrated into the society have to become criminal and then it is easy for the authorities to send them back.
Living in Lindenstraße means being totally isolated from the society. When you are there, the biggest question is, “when do I get out of here”. There are people who have stayed there for longer than a year and, you know, they are voiceless and powerless. No matter how talented or intelligent you are, if you live in this kind of situation, you will become a very desperate and frustrated person. Because you ask yourself “what have I done, why should I be in that place?”. You will force yourself to accept it hoping to get out of it. If you fight to get out they will just sent you to another place which is the worst place. That is what other people tell us and this is, how they want to make us obey everything they tell us. This is how the system is designed to keep us quiet.
“Living in Lindenstraße is denying us the privilege of getting the education we need.”
And it is affecting us: the first thing people notice when they start living in Lindenstraße is the lack of concentration. Even if we manage to get a school place, we cannot concentrate there. And in Lindenstraße you live with so many people in a situation where you cannot read and you cannot have any concentration to do your homeworks. Living in Lindenstraße is denying us the privilege of getting the education we need.
„…having to live in Lindenstraße is like being punished once again, being denied the life of a normal human being.“
After all the things we have experienced on the way here, in Libya or maybe in war in our home countries, coming here and having to live in Lindenstraße is like being punished once again, being denied the life of a normal human being. Nobody deserves to live in a place like Lindenstraße, especially not for a longer time. And the people who design this system design it for a reason. They want people to become desperate and to fall onto their traps.
There are people living in Lindenstraße who have never smoked before but when they come there it is like they have to. They don’t know what kind of life they are living – after facing all the struggles to come here and then to be packed in such a place you have to smoke weed in order to be able to live normally. Otherwise you have a negative thinking and your only thought will be “when can I finally be free and live a normal life?” If you watch the people who smoke weed, you will see them change completely. It makes you an unconscious person, your mind is controlled, even when you talk to people you are not there.
„That is how a modern prison looks like: There are only walls to run at without anyone showing you the way out to a better perspective.“
Lindenstraße is a modern prison. In a normal prison people are kept in cells and they are not allowed to go out. The prison takes their freedom in all aspects. In Lindenstraße they will give you a key to open and close your room. So people would think you are free there, it is no modern prison. But, you have the key in your hand but you are still not free. You have to stay there for a long time and you do not even know what your crime is. They have securities there, who guard every part of the building. They are assigned to do their jobs in a very certain way. They are given instructions how to treat people in Lindenstraße. They react aggressively when the smallest issues occur and they do not at all care about the situation we are living in or what they could do to contribute to an improvement. Even the nicer social workers can in the end not really help you and will only tell you, that a certain issue is not in their responsibility. And that is how a modern prison looks like: There are only walls to run at without anyone showing you the way out to a better perspective.
„When problems occur, the securities will not look at both sides they will just grab you, hold you on the ground and fix your hands so you cannot do anything.“
Anti-Blackness in Lindenstraße:
Sometimes when problems occur, especially when it is among people of different races, we can see that there is racist acting from the people who are working there. Most of the securities and the workers there are from the middle east. Most of them will defend the people who understand them, who also speak Arabic. Even in the food place, we will have to take whatever they give us, while for others they are more flexible. When problems occur, the securities will not look at both sides they will just grab you, hold you on the ground and fix your hands so you cannot do anything. And the social workers of AWO, they will not do anything, they will just sit there and watch the actions of the securities.
„How do you imagine someone living there for so long, someone aged 17 or something?“
Those who have to live there because of the age process have to live there for about a year. Most of them finally win their cases and will be taken to the youth system eventually. How do you imagine someone living there for so long, someone aged 17 or something? Most of the people who live there only have to live there shortly, because they apply for asylum. These are mainly Arabic people. Most of the Black people who live there have to live there for a long time and many are transferred afterwards. This is such a brutal way of treating people.
Continue the fight / raise awareness
This is why we have been demonstrating in front of the Senator for Social in the past month, this is why we will continue to fight against this system of oppression. As long as basic human rights are continously violated, our answer is resistance!
And our protest shows effect: As soon as we called out the politicians for hiring violent so called „securities“, they got nervous. But they do it as long as nobody is there to speak up about it. Help us raise the attention & awareness, let them not get away with what they are doing!
Actually the „Koalitionsvertrag“, the coalition agreement of the new Bremen government, says, that all youth in the process of age determination should be taken into the youth system and get access to education. Why are there still people being put into such a situation? Act on your own promises, now!