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Refugee protest march pitches up in Berlin

The Local · 12 Oct 2012, 08:45

Published: 12 Oct 2012 08:45 GMT+02:00

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On September 8, a group of 20 asylum seekers and activists set off on foot from the southern German city of Würzburg. As they marched up the country, banners in hand, they stopped off at different refugee shelters, urging fellow Flüchtlinge to join them.

The group grew to 200 people, some of whom travelled to the city in buses organised by the Refugee Tent Action, a group that organised and successfully executed the protest march.

Twenty eight days after leaving, the protesters arrived in Berlin and pitched camp on Oranienplatz, in the multicultural district of Kreuzberg. Since October 6, more tents have sprung up, signalling that the group intends to stay until their voices are heard.

'The government refuses to accept that I exist'

Humming with music and bustling with people on Wednesday evening, the city-centre camp consisted of about 10 large marquee tents and a scattering of smaller ones. Berliners walk past and pick up information leaflets from the welcome hut.

“The right to asylum is not a privilege, it is a human right,” said one slogan on a large poster. “In refugee camps we have forgotten the life outside the walls so that we even forget how days passed before we lived there,” says the Tent Action manifesto.

What the group wants, and why they want it, is clear. An end to obligatory limited residence, to deportation and to close, or at least improve, the notoriously bad housing complexes that the government provides those fleeing their homeland, and often political or religious persecution. Some would face certain imprisonment if they were to return.

One bearded man, who would only give his name as “Refugee”, told The Local, “The government refuses to accept that I exist, so my name does not matter.”

“No one is listening, that is why we are here, and we will fight until they do,” he said. “The public need to open their eyes, I don't care if they think we are all terrible, I just want people to know what is happening.”

“I have been homeless for two years, I'm in no-man's land,” he said. But gesturing around to the camp, the 28-year-old seemed animated and determined. “It's much better here than it is in the camps the government gives us.”

Cold nights and poor living standards no deterrent

The media was, he added, serving to spread negativity towards refugees in Germany. He was largely right, as the country's papers tend to report simply that asylum seekers figures are out of control.

Beneath the headline "Asylum applications climbing rapidly," the Bild daily published figures from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) saying that 3,744 requests for asylum have been filed this month alone. If the trend continues, the paper said, there should be 11,700 new bids by the end of October – a quarter of the entire figure for 2011.

But refugee housing is often vastly oversubscribed, and in Bavaria tents were last week set up to house those who could not be given a bed. With winter looming, conditions are far from ideal.

Hundreds are expected to march across the capital on Saturday, demanding the government think about how they tackle incoming asylum seekers. Until recently, those arriving received less financial support than people on basic state welfare.

But cold nights and poor living standards have not deterred refugees from seeking shelter in Germany.

Protest march to take place on Saturday

The atmosphere in the camp was calm on Wednesday, but this will probably change when the demonstration march reaches parliament on Saturday. One woman said that although the walk was strenuous, she was looking forward to Saturday.

“We want the public to hear our demands,” she explained. She, like her fellow unnamed protester, refused to say which country she had fled.

Neither of them could say what should happen or where refugees should be housed if their current accommodation were to be shut down.

Story continues below…

The German government recently revamped its resettlement programme, which now grants 300 refugees a year of full residence and financial support.

The protest will start at 3pm on Saturday, at the Oranienplatz camp. It will progress through the city and end outside the Bundestag. How long the camp will remain is unclear, but the group are not going to leave without a fight.

Jessica Ware



The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:58 October 12, 2012 by pepsionice
If you aren't happy in Germany....just sneak over into Austria, Italy, or France. No one said you have to sneak around and beg off the Germans, or expect four-star treatment once you arrive unannounced.
11:43 October 12, 2012 by Bavaria Mike
"The right to asylum is not a privilege, it is a human right" This is wrong, asylum is a privilege and not a human right. What do these people offer the country besides burden? Are any of these people doctors or engineers that can offer anything to society? Probably can't speak any German either. Come to Germany looking for free handouts then complain. Seriously, get out if you don't like it! I consider their actions grounds for deportation!
14:05 October 12, 2012 by eddyrock19
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
15:56 October 12, 2012 by Major-Ji
@Bavaria Mike. You probably forgetting past of Germans. At one side billions given to debt infested countries. On the other side these poor have not right to be considered as human being. What a double standard. It is world of hypcrats.
16:03 October 12, 2012 by Semtex
And the large poster demanding ¦quot;The Right to Work, Support Ourselves and Pay German Tax¦quot;, until it is safe to return to their homeland with their families was Where?
18:23 October 12, 2012 by ebenezer66
I am in America. I would suggest seriously that Germany do something to control

this. If you are not German or a citizen of the EEU, deport them.

You are not getting doctors, scientists or engineers coming this way.

America should have taken care of the problem with undocumented immigrants

years ago with no amnesty. Now it is out of control as millons are involved.

The standard of living has gone down here because of claims on the social

services, southern borders by these people, and jobs are taken from less

skilled Americans, the whole ethnic pattern of the country has been destroyed

The same holds true for England where I immigrated legally from 50 years ago.

People should have visas to enter other countries.
18:36 October 12, 2012 by gnuk-meke
Who are this asylum seekers? Where did they come from?

Begging in Style.



Your concerns sound more racist.

However, these asylum seekers are already abusing the host country. I already don't like their attitude. Being an immigrant, it is hard for me to say what I am about to say. If people have this attitude fowards a country that gave them shelter then I would say deport them.
18:43 October 12, 2012 by ebenezer66
As above, I would suggest that if people are not an immediate

relative of a German or EEU national, have special skills

or the money to support themselves without taking jobs,

send them back where they came from.

I did notice during a visit to Munich in 2004 that the areas these

type of people inhabited were dirty w ith papers thrown

everywhere. Elsewhere it was a clean city.

They might have problems in their own countries.

However, as with America and England, Germany

cannot be the international policeman.

Your own country will suffer if you do.

You want anarchy help yourself!!!
19:49 October 12, 2012 by joysonabraham
This is like eating the ear of a guy who showed the mercy to carry you on his shoulder.

If this anger & spirit were shown against the so called oppressors in the home country , wont that be more meaning full and helpful.

Due to some of these guys actions, many outsiders, even those who are not even immigrants, will now be branded as bad and as leeches even more, as many a time they are distinguished only by "you all know what".
20:53 October 12, 2012 by gtaglia
Refugees from what? From where? What are they doing in Germany? If Germany is going to accept refugees, they should be screened and confirmed to meet whatever legal standard is required, or deported.
23:22 October 12, 2012 by avatar009
i think the german must accept the EU crisis, although the german nation unable to sort out every global problem, at least try to deploy your army personals where the refugees are coming from. Im sure the germans are constructive nation, also is good for future german economy. My friends try to be global.
08:42 October 13, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Bavaria Mike

What??? "asylum is a privilege and not a human right" you say? Are you still living in the medieval Dark Ages? Do you think that breathing is also a privilege?

May I suggest that you read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which was adopted some 64 years ago, possibly when you were not yet born)? Specifically Article 14: "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."
09:07 October 13, 2012 by Englishted
@ ChrisRea

Agreed ,but the problem is when a "asylum seeker" is not a "asylum seeker" but a economic refugee.
09:34 October 13, 2012 by catjones
I'd like to thank the commentators for providing the background facts not mentioned in the story regarding where and why these refugees found themselves in the welcoming arms of germany.
13:26 October 13, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Englishted

Is this article about asylum seekers or about economic refugees? I think it deals entirely with asylum seekers. Where did you get the economic refugees from?
01:11 October 14, 2012 by StoutViking
The poor sods must have heard how much the guy, who murdered the worker's agency lady, was recieving in welfare since he arrived to Germany in 2001, and how many days he worked since and felt rather discriminated...
01:02 October 15, 2012 by Onlythetruth
Complain complain, its not going to do you any good. The german elite have decided that germany needs more cheap labor and these refugees know it. Don't give me any of this lack of respect nonsense is their message, you need us so treat us the way we expect or we'll complain. After all, look what you did to the jews! Nope, the refugees are home free and they know it.
01:54 November 3, 2012 by Lady Daphne
Economic refugee will wreck your Country. They do nothing but drain resources. Take it from some who lives in America and knows what happens when the flood gates open.
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