German pro-refugee activists attacked

This video says about itself:

One woman’s strength is helping refugees in Macedonia

“I’m doing this because I have never seen so many people on the street. No one is helping them.”

The smiling face that greets refugees when they get to the Greece-Macedonia border is that of Gabriela Andreevska. She welcomes them, feeds them, and sends them on their way to the EU feeling like human beings.

Filmed by Matthew Cassel.

By Verena Nees in Germany:

Pro-refugee organisation comes under political attack in Germany

6 February 2016

The Berlin-based refugee support organisation Moabit Hilft (Moabit Helps) has recently come under strong media criticism. In the course of the past 10 days the organisation has received threats of murder in hate mail and by telephone.

An online group calling itself “Moabit Lies” has become active,” backed by the well-known Berlin neo-Nazi Gregor Stein. It has accused Moabit Helps of dishonestly using donations. On Monday, the door of its office on the grounds of the Berlin state office for health and social care (Lageso) was kicked down. The media has also joined in the attacks on Moabit Helps.

The immediate pretext was an incident last week. A volunteer assisting refugees who was part of the circle around Moabit Helps claimed on Facebook that he had assisted a young Syrian who had been forced to wait in line at Lageso for days. The volunteer alleged the Syrian had caught a high fever and frostbite, and died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

But later that day, the author of the message, Dirk V., admitted to police he had made the story up. Diana Henniges, a Moabit Helps spokeswoman, said they had made a mistake in not reviewing the Facebook message more closely. However, “every volunteer, every politician and every press representative” had been able to imagine the death of a refugee. “This is the real tragedy”, she said. “It could have been possible.”

Dirk V. stated he had been pushed to the breaking point by the back-breaking work of providing assistance and wanted to use the story to “shake things up and change something.” In fact, Dirk V. had just been released from a long stay in hospital due to burnout, according to Reyna B., another volunteer who chatted with him during the night.

Reyna B. also did not initially doubt the veracity of the report of a fatality.

“For six months, we residents have watched what has happened”, she wrote in shock after Dirk’s final message. “For six months we have assisted, rushed around cared, fed, provided, healed … and we have repeatedly said, there will be deaths if this continues. And it is downplayed, sugar coated and dismissed. It is being presented as if this is normal, just a minor administrative crisis … ”

She referred to miscarriages, the case of the young refugee boy who was kidnapped in the chaos at Lageso last summer and murdered, several resuscitations on the Lageso grounds following heart attacks, diabetes shocks, all-night ambulance deployments to assist collapsed individuals, and the hunger endured by refugees when Lageso refused to pay out pocket money. She wrote, “Last Friday, I cried on the way home for the first time. Until then, the hope that this city, this country, would hear the humanitarian call had not been broken.”

Politicians and the media have used the incident to launch a cynical propaganda campaign against Moabit Helps. It is aimed not only at intimidating this organisation, but all volunteers assisting refugees. It also opens the door for right-wing hate mail, as Henniges told the WSWS. “Cologne was the starting gun. But the report of a dead refugee has released the genie from the bottle.”

Media representatives, who went to Lageso in the morning after the report with large camera teams to sensationalise the death of a refugee, are now targeting Moabit Helps. They are accusing an organisation of volunteers, most of whom work for free and without whose efforts the provision of care to refugees would have long since collapsed, of being “unprofessional”, “haughty” and “starry-eyed.”

A report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from January 29 was especially repugnant. Under the headline “The haughtiness of the helpers”, it stated, “Many still feel the exhilaration of the summer days, when anyone who brought a case of mineral water to the Lageso felt they were better than the Berlin administration, leading to haughtiness. Several helpers have been cultivating an exaggerated image of themselves ever since, which they would never concede to a professional politician.”

The FAZ based itself on the statement of a Berlin Green Party politician, Bettina Jarasch, who described the work of the volunteers as basically “self-fulfillment”.

In a piece headlined “How to make propaganda with a lie”, N-TV wrote that the problem was not the author of the false report, but rather “an association like ‘Moabit Helps’, which did not even check the story before using it as a pretext to score points.”

The Berlin Senate exploited the incident for its own ends. On the following day, it quickly signed off on a plan to create a refugee ghetto on the grounds of the former Tempelhof airport.

Interior Senator Frank Henkl (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) called for legal consequences for Dirk V., fully aware that simply posting a false message online is not a criminal offence. He threatened the spokespeople at Moabit Helps, stating, “Whoever triggers and spreads such rumours without checking them is deliberately trying to poison the atmosphere in our city.”

Responding to the call for “professionalisation”, Diana Henniges said, “Only because we neglected a trifle and did not check the message? We were forced out of bed in the early hours of the morning and press representatives demanded statements by telephone. Where were these parties and media representatives six months ago, when the people at Lageso were starving, having to stand in line day and night and sleep on the ground? Nobody was talking about professionalism then. Without us, without the many people who assisted without pay in their free time, we would have a worse situation today, the probability of deaths would be much higher.”

Moabit Helps was formed by residents in the longstanding Berlin working class district of Moabit at the beginning of the refugee crisis and became a role model for many other volunteer initiatives across the city. It plays a leading part in the strong solidarity towards refugees in the Berlin population, which has not diminished in the wake of the New Year’s Eve events in Cologne. They have repeatedly criticised the terrible conditions at Lageso and in the mass accommodation centres, and organised protests against them. Based on their information, 40 lawyers filed charges against those responsible in the Senate for violations of law at Lageso.

The Berlin Senate had recently come under criticism from the establishment. The pictures of people lined up at Lageso and overcrowded accommodation centres are inopportune for the capital city. If the report of the fatality of the Syrian refugee had been true, some journalists speculate, the Senate and Social Affairs Senator Mario Czaja could well have been brought down.

It is no wonder that Moabit Helps has long been a thorn in the side of the city’s political elite. For workers and young people in the city and beyond, the attack on the organisation is a warning sign. The stepped-up attacks on refugees are increasingly also directed against the general population that has spontaneously come to the aid of refugees and who, like them, oppose war and poverty.

Thousands of people attended demonstrations across Australia on Thursday, opposing Wednesday’s High Court ruling sanctioning the bipartisan government-Labor Party regime of indefinitely detaining refugees in virtual concentration camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island: here.

4-year-old refugee Mohamed murdered in Germany

This video says about itself:

Germany: Vigil for murdered 4 year old refugee held in Berlin

29 October 2015

Dozens of people attended a vigil in Berlin, Thursday, held in the memory of the 4 year old refugee Mohamed Januzi who was found dead in the trunk of a car after he had been kidnapped from Lageso’s registration centre.

By Ludwig Weller and Ute Reissner in Germany:

Berlin: Bureaucratic treatment of refugees leads to death of 4-year-old

31 October 2015

Four weeks ago, at around noon on October 1, 4-year-old Mohamed disappeared in the crowd in front of the State Office for Health and Social Affairs (LAGeSo), the central reception centre for refugees in Berlin-Moabit. On Wednesday the boy was found murdered in the trunk of a car. The alleged perpetrator was arrested after police released surveillance video from the scene. He was apparently identified by members of his own family, who informed the police.

The child was abused before being strangled. While the exact circumstances of the crime remain unclear, it is clear that the conditions leading to this terrible tragedy were the result of a chain of bureaucratic arbitrariness and harassment. This applies not only to the chaotic crowd of hundreds of refugees in front of the LAGeSo office, which made it relatively easy for the offender to kidnap the child. It also applies to the indifference and coldness of the authorities, which forced the mother to enter the centre in the first place and endure its hellish conditions together with her three small children.

On Thursday evening, many mourners gathered outside the central reception centre in Berlin-Moabit to express their condolences. “We just had to come here”, declared Denis M. and G. Dzevan, whose names have been changed to protect their identities. Their parents had fled to Germany in 1992 to escape the war in Bosnia, when the two were both small children.

“His mother just wanted a better future for her children, like our parents formerly”, Denis said. “We fled from the war; this woman came because of grinding poverty. And then this happens. It’s incredible. I have three children myself. It is hard to bear.” The young mother had come to Germany from Sarajevo.

Dzevan was angry because he had heard rumours in the last few weeks blaming the mother for the child’s disappearance. It was implied that the mother had given the child away or hidden him in order to improve their chances of getting a residence permit. “This is sheer madness”, he said. “No mother would ever do such a thing. That was purely to whip up hatred against refugees.”

Denis M. accused the police of not investigating vigorously enough. A surveillance video at LAGeSo shows a man escorting Mohamed away from the premises, but it was only accepted as evidence on October 7. “After one week had gone by!” he declared angrily. “If a German child had disappeared, then they would have mobilized dogs and helicopters.”

This version of events was confirmed at a press conference October 29 by the public prosecutor, who declared: “We learned at a very late stage that there were photos from LAGeSo.”

From early evening people come to bring candles, or just stay on the spot, visibly shaken. Right Rusmira D. and her mother

On the fringe of the sea of candles erected for Mohamed on the street outside the LAGeSo we met Rusmira D., a young woman from Berlin who is originally from Bosnia. She came with her mother, who lives in the refugee camp on the grounds of the former Karl Bonhoeffer Nerve Clinic in Berlin-Reinickendorf. The camp houses a total of about 900 refugees, including the mother of the murdered child, Aldiana J., and her two other children, Melina, 9, and Kevin, 5 months.

Rusmira reported that her mother lives on the same floor and had often taken care of little Mohamed. She translated what her mother related to her about the family’s background.

She reported that on October 1, 28-year-old Aldiana had an appointment with the State Office for Health and Social Services to pick up her money for the next two months. It was planned that a social worker from the Youth Welfare Office would take care of the children that day, but the social worker was ill and did not turn up. No replacement was available.

Aldiana then asked the mother of her partner to look after the children. The warden, however, who had already clashed repeatedly with Aldiana, had forbidden this and instructed security guards not to permit visitors. Bans on visits are quite normal in the home.

As a result, Aldiana set off with her three children at 3:00 in the morning in order to gain admission to the LAGeSo offices on the same day. At noon they were called in, but in the confusion in front of the offices she briefly lost sight of Mohamed.

“On the surveillance video you can see that the man gave Mohamed biscuits”, said Rusmira. “And the little one probably had not eaten anything all day.”

“He was such a dear, trustingly blessed child”, her mother added. “He was a very unsuspecting little boy.”

Rusmira reported that there had been repeated fierce conflicts between the camp management and Aldiana because Mohamed played outdoors. “But there is no playground and no play area for the children. ‘What does he want me to do? You cannot lock three children all day in a room’.”

On two occasions the 28-year-old mother had been threatened with expulsion from the camp. There had been constant trouble. Aldiana had repeatedly packed her bags and was only persuaded to stay by other residents.

The family, who had come from Sarajevo, lived in constant fear of deportation back to their supposedly “safe country of origin”, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Shortly before Mohamed’s disappearance, their stay in Germany was again extended by six months.

“No one took care of the mother”, Rusmira explained. “As a result, the little one is now dead and all are to blame—the authorities, the youth welfare office, the camp management. They are responsible.”

“She was in Germany alone with the three children. Had they at least allowed the mother-in-law to take care of the little ones, then this would not have happened. If someone had helped her, the child would still be alive.”

It's 21:00 at LaGeSo: refugees sit less than ten meters from the place where candles have been lit. They have wrapped themselves in blankets to survive the night in freezing temperatures

If Turkey chooses Erdogan at the polls this weekend, Isis will gain strength and the refugee crisis will worsen. The West should make it clear to Erdogan that his destructive policies are starting to overshadow geopolitical and strategic benefits that Turkey has historically brought to the table: here.

Pro-refugee demonstration in Germany

This German video shows a pro-refugee demonnstration in Berlin, on 17 October 2015.

From the World Socialist Web Site:

Demonstrators condemn brutal treatment of refugees in Berlin, Germany

By our correspondents

21 October 2015

Around a thousand people took part in a rally last Saturday, organised by the refugee aid group “Moabit helps,” to protest the abysmal treatment of refugees arriving in the city of Berlin.

Displaying placards with slogans such as “Registration instead of freezing” and “Winter is coming, against lethal freezing in queues,” demonstrators expressed their anger at the indifference and bureaucratic arrogance with which the Berlin government is treating refugees.

In a number of speeches volunteers described the catastrophic and shocking conditions at the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs (LaGeSo), a refugee processing centre in Berlin’s Moabit neighbourhood. One of the first speakers said it was only due to the tireless work of volunteers that no one had died during the past three months.

She described the situation: “Since mid-July between 500 and 1500 refugees have been waiting to get numbers and begin initial reception procedures. The period between drawing a number and receiving an interview with the authority is around 57 days.”

Pro-refugee demonstrators in Berlin

This reality is the result of years of neglect on the part of politicians, declared the spokeswoman for the Berlin Refugee Council, Marina Mauer. She stressed: “Recent decisions aimed at tightening up asylum law give the impression that the main concern of the federal government as well as the government of Berlin is not to enable genuine integration but merely to harass and deter refugees.”

Yousef Alkhatib, a refugee from Syria, spoke about the horrors of war in his home city of Aleppo. He then described the bureaucratic jungle in Berlin and thanked the volunteers who helped him and others to deal with harassment by the authorities and exploitation by hostels and private companies.

At the conclusion of the rally, Dr. Günther Jonitz, the President of the Berlin Medical Association, gave a moving speech. Every day six doctors, four nurses and four midwives volunteer to provide health care for unregistered refugees at LaGeSo. Every day they take care of up to 200 refugees, some of them working 40 hours a week. There are no full-time doctors at the centre.

Jonitz harshly criticised the Berlin Senate administration and accused it of sabotage. The prevailing bureaucratic harassment and failure to provide medical care at LaGeSo was potentially life-threatening. He said it was hard to “keep the lid on” his anger and bewilderment.

He thanked the many volunteer doctors and nurses who work tirelessly for the refugees, and emphasised: “We are talking about something that is more important than medical care and assistance to refugees. It is about the very foundations of our society. It’s about humanism and human rights.”

Amid cheers and applause, Jonitz declared: “The foundation of our society is humanism, not capitalism!”

Figen, Beria and Eslem

A WSWS reporting team spoke with many participants about the outrageous situation in Berlin, as well as the relationship between the behaviour of the authorities and the growth of militarism in Germany.

The phrase “Enough is enough” was hand painted on the placard of social worker Figen (42), and her two children Beria (12) and Eslem (10). She said they came to the rally because it is important to help people fleeing war. Beria added, “And because no one should be treated in such a way.” Her school, the Friedrich Engels Gymnasium, had established its own welcome class for refugee children.

Figen currently carries out a great deal of work accommodating refugees. She stressed: “Formerly, when many refugees arrived in Turkey, Germany wagged its finger at Turkey and accused it of infringing on human rights. But the way in which refugees are treated here and the fact that they can wait up to two months until they make an initial application is inhumane. This cannot and must not be the case in Europe.”

Sandra Meisel (45), a Berlin photographer and artist, has already made donations to LaGeSo in Moabit, where she lives. She angrily denounced the conditions there: “Berlin holds its parties, the Love Parade, celebrations for footballers and other events, which are always very efficient and well organized. But now apparently the city is unable to set up 50 heated tents?

Sandra Meisel, left, and another demonstrator

Sandra said she was delighted that so many young people were taking part in the rally. “The average age here is 25. I think it is great that so many young people are participating in such a conscious manner.”

The media, she complained, tended to ignore such demonstrations. “What I find so bad is that only the right-wing Pegida demonstrations have such large coverage in the media. If the protesters are leftist, then the media disappears.” When asked about German foreign policy, she said, “The refugees all come from countries where Germany delivers weapons.”

A number of refugees took part in the rally. Ahmad (22), Karam (18) from Syria, and Nabih (18) and Roneg (18) have been through an ordeal. They came to Germany a year ago. Their journey involving a perilous boat trip across the Mediterranean to Italy or Greece, from there, via the Balkans to Munich and Berlin. “It took me 25 days,” said the Palestinian youth Nabih. They were forced to leave their families because of the intensification of war and the lack of any prospects for the future.

Karam, Nabih and Ahmad

Tina (31) attended the rally with her boyfriend, who came to Germany from Morocco about five years ago. Tina regarded the manner in which migrants were treated in LaGeSo as a “disgrace to the capital.” There were so many projects for which money is spent pointlessly, but nothing is made available for the “poorest.” Her friend nodded and complained that so much money was devoted to “the military and the armed forces.”

Franziska (55) said she has always thought a country like Germany was “relatively open.” Now she is “shocked” about the conditions at LaGeSo. The politicians responsible for the terrible treatment in Berlin should resign, she said. She was especially shocked by racist incitement against refugees by politicians such as CSU leader Horst Seehofer. She expressed her sympathy for asylum seekers: “The refugees face all the rigours of their flight in order to provide a better life for their families.”

Harald Riese

Harald Riese (75) is an organist and came to the demonstration by chance. He saw the rally from the bus he was travelling on to visit his aunt. He is involved in a refugee aid initiative he co-founded in his hometown of Heilsbronn. Among other assistance, he gives the young refugees guitar lessons.

Even in the small town of Heilsbronn the refugees could count on great support from the public, he said. For their part, the authorities only make things more difficult. “The 3,000 inhabitants of our village wanted to accommodate refugees in 63 apartments, but the district administration was opposed and instead advocated a container village for 200 refugees they want to build outside the city. Why? Because they want to keep them under control, they want to demonstrate their power!”

Berlin nazi march stopped

This music video from a British punk rock band says about itself:

Angelic Upstarts (UK) performing “Anti Nazi” (live at Punk & Disorderly Festival in Berlin, Astra Kulturhaus 11.04.2014).

The lyrics of this song are here.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Berliners stop neo-Nazi march

Saturday 26 May 2014, 17:02 (Update: 26-04-14, 17:21)

In Berlin, thousands of people have prevented a march of neo-Nazis in the Kreuzberg district.

A district where many immigrant workers live.

They closed the quarter hermetically, and the approximately one hundred members of the right-wing extremist NPD party had to turn back.

At least 2000 mostly young protesters blocked the entrance to Kreuzberg with a sit-in. The organization, “Berlin nazi free“, also wants to stop a planned neo-Nazi march on May 1 this way.

See also here. And here.

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