“We are staying”
The refugees are being persistent in their fight. They have been in Berlin for a month already. A hunger strike at the Brandenburg Gate led to a session in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, in which “compulsory residence” and other asylum laws were discussed.
After the government rejected all the claims on November 7th, the refugees restarted their hunger strike. “The “compulsory residence” law isn’t about bullying or harassing refugees. The main goal is to distribute the number of asylum seekers fairly”, says Reinhard Grindel from the governing CDU. In fact, the number of people asking for asylum in Germany has risen, mostly due to the bloodshed in Syria. According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees a total of 61.507 people filed for asylum till October 2012.
Still, it seems paradoxical that the government doesn’t do more to speed up processes as the situation in refugee housings is becoming more and more unbearable. In early September, 27-year-old Samir Hashemi took in a committed suicide in a refugee camp near Stuttgart. “These homes are generally really disgusting. The rooms are tiny and the toilets unusable”, says Heidi, one of the volunteers at the provisional tent camp in the borough of Kreuzberg. “There should be organized tours, so citizens can see, what those housings really look like. You have to see it, in order to believe in what horrible conditions these people live.” On the other hand, Heidi says, those camps are the refugees’ homes, and public tours would only disturb their privacy.
“The situation is so bad, that here in Kirchheim unter Teck, one of the supposedly better homes, a guy killed himself. The situation in other camps is much worse”, Morteza Oshtorani, Hashemi’s roommate, told the newspaper “The Voice of Refugees and Migrants”. The same newspaper reported that women in these circumstances have an extra burden to carry, as they are often exposed to sexual harassment. Employers take advantage of the fact that women do not have a working permit. Frequently, the newspaper said, the motto is: “I give you work and you give me your body.” An aggravating fact is that women often have to share rooms with single men.
It is still uncertain how long the provisional tent camp will stay in Berlin. But it is clear that the refugees are tenacious in the fight for their rights. “We will stay until our demands are heard”, says Ulu, the Turkish writer. Everyone knows that they have broken a law. The repeated breach of “compulsory residence” is punishable under § 85 of the Asylum Procedure Act with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine. The refugees in Berlin still hope that their protest will not have any legal consequences. At least the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg has tolerated the camp so far.
Author: Josephine Landertinger Forero
Asylum Procedure Act (§ 56 Geographic restrictions):
The temporary residence permit is limited to the district of the immigration office, where the body responsible for receiving the alien is located. The geographic restrictions cease if a residence permit is issued.
Exceptions: In Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and probably from December 2012 in Hesse, the residence requirement is extended to the territory of the Bundesland.
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention):
The Geneva Convention is the most important document for the protection of refugees. It determines who is actually a refugee or not. The Convention was adopted in 1951 and 144 countries have signed it. More info here: >>>