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Invitation to the Campaign of The VOICE Refugee Forum: Katzhütte is not closed yet!

We demand for the Abolition of Lagers and Isolation Camps for Refugees

One year of campaign for the closure of isolation camp - Katzhütte is not closed yet!

On behalf of those who have survived the vigorous struggles of the refugees and in solidarity with everyone who opposes our persecution and criminalization of the refugees in support of the refugee protests and their demands for normal housing, we are calling you all again to join our campaigns to close the isolation camps in Katzhütte, Gehlberg and Apolda (Stobraer Straße 86) in Thüringen.

The first meeting of the refugees from Katzhütte with The VOICE Refugee Forum took place in Jena on 24 February 2008 in which the various protest actions like conferences, solidarity visits with rallies and protest demonstrations in Katzhütte refugee camp were planned. A nationwide fax campaign and information events in other cities of Germany, demonstrations, rallies in Saalfeld and Weimar for the closure of isolation camps and lagers were also initiated.

Further calls for actions, demonstrations, rallies and press actions in Arnstadt and Ilmenau, Gehlberg and Apolda were also connected for the first time during the Katzhütte protests to close the lagers and isolation camps in other parts of Thueringen.

Your solidarity support and participation, donation, press and messages from Germany and other countries contributed to the successful coordination of our various campaigns and protests in 2008:

Our activities reached from the campaigns on Katzhütte and Gehlberg to the Posseck isolation camp (in Sachsen), from the campaigns for deportation stop in Katzhütte / Eisenach to the threat of deportation to the Republic of Niger from Dessau, from deportation hearings to the collaboration of Embassies with the deportation authorities, from the Syrian family campaign in Thüringen to the freedom of political prisoners in Syria, from family separation and police brutality of children in Vogtlandkreis (Sachsen) to „Residenzpflicht“ court hearing in Halle. We have been actively engaged in the Oury Jalloh campaign and the Caravan co-ordination network in Germany.

Our fulfillment to overcome these challenges could have been much harder to accomplish without the necessary support and active participation from the refugees themselves, who are the first witnesses to the protest against these special laws and the discriminatory “authoritarian decrees” that are enforced on us to keep our daily trauma by their threats to perpetuate the psychological terror.

In every refugee camp there are these authoritarian decrees as special laws for refugees in their various forms of “madness” to dehumanize our dignity through the daily persecution: the restriction of refugees' movement to their districts of residence by the apartheid law of Residenzpflicht (Residence Obligation), social exclusion, racist controls and discriminations, sexual abuses and rapes, criminalisation and deportations in isolation, collective punishment, suicide, police brutality and torture, separation of families, forceful adoption of our children and lacking protection of families in the camps.

Invitation:

We are calling on each and every one of us to show their solidarity against the isolation camps and lager system and against the de facto open prisons for refugees in Germany, to plan further protest actions and strenghten the resistance against Katzhütte Isolation Camp and against many other refugee camps where many more refugees are protesting against the same regime of isolation.

Katzhütte has become the latest struggles of the refugees since The VOICE and other refugees began organizing protests against these camps back in 1997, starting with the struggle against the former Tambach-Dietharz camp to the closing of the former Jena - Forst camp in 2004, and after our long time campaign against the lagers, isolation camps and the persecutions of refugees in Thüringen.

There will be a continuous evaluation of the campaign and the hostile asylum policies towards the refugees in the isolation camps and of the role of the SPD woman leader Ms Marion Phillipp of the Katzhütte district of Saalfeld-Rudolstadt in Thüringen.

Resolutions on the campaigns and the protests will be made public.

Close the isolation camps and lagers for refugees and migrants!

Close the Katzhütte Isolation Camp!

The VOICE Refugee Forum in Jena – Thueringen, Germany.
Coordination Büro
Schillergäschen 5, 07745 Jena
Tel. (Handy): 0049 (0) 0176 24568988
E-mail: thevoiceforum@emdash.org,
http://www.thevoiceforum.org

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Germany - Camp country,

Antira Camp Hamburg, Reader, Sunday 17 August 2008

..and Katzhütte too

Germany - Camp country

The battle of the refugees from Katzhütte/Thüringen

In February 2008 several refugees from the "Communal Accommodation for Asylum Seekers" in Katzhütte/Thüringen left in search of help and went to a gathering by The VOICE Refugee Forum, who was holding a conference at the time in Jena. They were looking for support for their fight to publicly denounce and put an end to the unspeakable conditions in the barrack camp as well as the behaviour of authorites and camp leaders. The VOICE discussed the "Syrian Family Campaign" and saw to it that Katzhütte would also be included in the disucssions in Bremen, Hamburg, Berlin, among others.

A remote barrack camp

Concretely, it is an old East German summer holiday camp built in the 1960s which is now an all-year round housing for asylum seekers. The accomodations come with black mould in 2 bungalows that has been painted over, leaking roofs, tears in the wall that are as thick as a finger, increasing moisture, no insulation, an old, worn out warm water system which is not able to produce sufficient heat after many of the 88 inhabitants have showered. It is also a few hundred metres away to the communal showers and the communal kitchen. There is a lack of toilet paper, harassment from the home leader and abuse of mail confidentiality as well as privacy, haphazard delays in issuing treatment documents for illnesses, non-processing of applications and twisting of the facts by the responsible immigration authorities Saalfeld/Rudolfstadt, a long (1.5h train trip) and costly journey to the authorities in Saalfeld, a voucher system with a fee twice a month and limited shopping possibilites in Katzhütte, residency obligation as well as the non-guarantee working permits and the right to stay despite long residency in Germany.

PR work

After the publication of these conditions on the internet, in the local and cross-regional press as well as on national television and an open invitation to the interested public to visit the camp on 11.03.08 (this appointment was made at a VOICE meeting in Jena with the idea of a fax campaign for the closing of the camp), the responsible district office Saalfeld/Rudolstadt reacted with a press release and excercised their domestic authority. As a further result of this publicity the first cross-regional reportage appeared in the daily newspaper 'Taz'.

The strategy of the responsible authorities was and is a reflex-like belittlement of the real conditions, an offensive cover-up of its own shortcomings and the denial of possible freedom of action in prayer wheel-like reprimands on obedient order executions within the authorities as well as in the higher state and federal authorities. These kinds of reactions are not new, but not less destructive - neither for the people involved nor for the engaged public.

In co-operation with and with financial support from the Caravan for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants, a nation-wide fax campaign was organised which was supposed to support a petition of the Katzhütter refugees in Saalfeld. Around 300 signatures were passed on to the district authorities on 31.03.08. At the same time, the district administrator in Saalfeld, Mrs Marion Philipp (SPD), sent a request for a statement which was never answered.

But Mrs Philipp found herself prepared to enter into a "dialogue" with the equally involved German refugee unions and organisations (Flüchtlingsrat Thüringen e.V. and REFUGIO Thüringen e.V.), which in hindsight, through massive twisting of facts in a release lanced by the press from the district administrator, only caused further corrected reactions from the involved representatives.

On the same day, the official application forms of the protesting refugees were documented and updated through the involved refugee support organisations to help open the authorities' eyes to further humanitary argumentation help and different solutions.

The petition from Saalfelder and the long standing controversial reportage about the citizens and activists of the city slowly becoming aware of their area, both called for a demonstration under the motto: "Deportation or mould - whoever has the (no?) choice, has torment" in expressive support for the demands of the Katzhütter refugees. In this demonstration the refugees had, for a second time, the possibility to make their protest heard publicly and this time in the face of the authority residence.

Katzhütte is not a rare case

Upon the background that Katzhütte is in no way a rare case in how they handle refugees in Thüringen or in Germany, there was the need for asylum seekers from different camps to exchange their experiences and they were invited to Jena and Katzhütte from 25 to 27.04.2008 . On this weekend of action there was also a solidarity visit of the particpants to the camp Katzhütte. There was an attempt to prevent this by the authorities in Saalfeld using a reinforced security service and implementing a "house arrest".

In addition, it was decided to name the responsible operators of many asylum seeker camps in East Germany and Niedersachsen (K&S Dr. Krantz SocialBuilding and Supervision GmbH&Co.KG with offices in Sottrum, near Bremen) was decided upon as the adressee for the protests through the network.

After the first demonstration in Saalfeld, the local district promised to get rid of all constructional deficiencies and an inquiry regarding Katzhütte was formulated. But just as the first inquiry, this was also not answered. Interestingly, however, the specialist leader of youth and social matters, Dr. Jörg Fischer, resigned/didn't renew the trial contract due to moral reasons.

Pressure on the refugee speakers

In the further progression of events, the immigration of the district firstly decided to forcefully move the two active speakers of the protest, Mr Mohammed N.S. Sbaih and Saadad Mustafa Sajren to Eisenach (West Thüringen)/ Greiz (Sout east Thüringen). The protest was multi-layered and the lawyer Bertram Fritzenwanker from Saalfeld, who in the meantime had been representing 9 Katzhütter asylum seekers and had had the necessary background talks with the district administrator, Mrs Marion Philipp (SPD), again demanded a reprimand in the name of his mandate because of this new drastic measure.

The "communal accommodation" Katzhütte was turned into a true "Potemkinschen village": Most families with children didn't want to turn down offers from the authorities to move into city housing for asylum seekers in Thüringen; the roof of a bungalow was "re-covered" with corrugated iron, tears in the outer walls were covered over and finally the black mould was painted over...and now finally an inspection appointment with the state speaker of the Green party, Mrs Astrid Rothe-Beinlich could be made. And again the furtiveness of the district office was confirmed - many protest parties and even the responsible pastor were uninvited.

The second last coup in the progresion of the reprisals against the protesting refugees from Katzhütte was the deportation declaration against the speaker of the refugees from Katzhütte from 19.052008 by the Thüringer district administration office, which was however first prohibited for formal reasons on the 20.05.2008 by elite decision of the administration court.

The demands and depiction of the events are documented on the website of THE VOICE:

http://thevoiceforum.org/

Donations are urgently needed to continue the protest:

Förderverein The VOICE e. V., Göttingen

Bank: Sparkasse Göttingen

Bank Account: 127 829; Bank Code: 260 500 01

IBAN: DE97 2605 0001 000 1278 29, BIC: NOLADE21GOE

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The VOICE Refugee Forum continuous fight for the abolition of Obnoxious laws against humanity 23rd - 24th of 2008 to 5th of June 2008

The meeting of The VOICE Refugee Forum on 23-24 February in Jena paved the way forward in the continuous fight against subjugation, oppression and suppression perpetrated via obnoxious, expropriators status and constitution designed by the German State against foreigners and especially asylum seekers.

Amongst the members of The VOICE Refugee Forum activists from Berlin, Bremen, Baden Wüttemberg, Goettingen and Thueringen, there were also about 27 representatives from the Katzhütte Asylum group, including a Nigerian Lady from the isolated asylum camp in Posseck, asylum seekers from Dessau, Markel and different parts of Germany as well as The VOICE Refugee Forum activists from The Caravan network.

Issues bordering on the real definition of membership and responsibility as it reflects on the structure and realities of the present day were a major concern in this meeting, and as the usual nature for which The VOICE Refugee Forum has always stood for, reports and remarks from different Asylum camp situations were entertained alongside other crucial internal issues of The VOICE Refugee Forum on strengthening our activities within the network of the Nationwide Caravan for the rights of refugees and migrants, and the Initiative in memory of Oury Jalloh.

There was the issue of the Syrian family and the positive report on the reconsideration for Taufik to study in Jena after the attempted manipulation by the Authorities in Immenau. They also narrated the situation of their pending asylum case in the past 5 years with a call on all progressive activists to participate and observe the Asylum court hearing slated for 23rd March 2008 in Verwaltungsgericht Meiningen as well as a call for support in their campaign on Human right abuses and freedom of Political Prisoners in Syria was coordinated with the Caravan network in Hamburg, Bremen and Wuppertal.

Then the Katzhütte issue which was one major reason for hosting this meeting in Jena rather than Gottingen or Bremen as suggested in the last meeting of The VOICE Refugee Forum in November 2007 that took place in Berlin. There was an impressive participation of the refugees from the Katzhütte group who had the opportunity to express their personal situations as well as general experience in the Camp.
Objective proofs were produced to express the real situation of the bad accommodations facility in Katzhütte with the photographs of the Isolation lager. The inhabitant called for the closure of the Camp and for the transfer the refugees to normal houses which has been long overdue.

It was really sympathetic to feel the suffering of these supposed human beings left with no other option than an accommodation facility that could only be compared to an abandoned colonial grave hut. But from a normal human point of view, this would been more than enough Punishment for the "SIN" of seeking protection in a country that prides itself as champion in the protection Human right but their motivation to unite together for a common cause was very inspiring not withstanding the usual tactics of the administration to divide and rule systems in the refugee camps.

There was also the issue of the Nigerian Lady from Posseck who narrated the experience she had been facing along with her four children in ages (14), (13), (8) and (6) respectively. They have been living as the only family in the midst of Men in the Isolated camp and faced with various forms of sexual harassment and intimidation which the Authorities have refused to show concern about in spite of her consistent complaint.
The Children were deprived of their right to education for about 4 years now, poor medical attention through the calculated inhuman design of the authorities responsible to them. The Posseck issue was complemented by a report from an Iraq lady presented by a member of The VOICE Refugee Forum who has been monitoring the Posseck situation.

The truth remains that no camp is better than the other as long as this deep rooted racist administrative structure remains in the German Constitution. It is clear that these problems boil down to the structural framework of the German Political design against foreigners and most especially against asylum seekers. We have been maltreated in various ways from being deprived the integration to plan our day to day life that are modified by the special constitutional decrees [sonder gessetze] operated in the form of tightening and loosening mechanism by the German authorities mainly to choke refugees more and more.

It was clear in this meeting that the struggle remains the same as ever, be it stopping deportation, closing of Camps, Abolition of residence obligation [residenzflicht], food package and vouchers feeding allowances, limited medical attention and other forms of exclusion and isolation but that it was important to see the clear possibility of success based on achievements in the past.

It was also identified that every one of us both as migrants and the good hearted Germans have a role to play in the abolition of the inhuman Administrative design of the German state and the necessity for us to be extra ordinary in the struggle for the abolition of "Alle" device, standing as Channel of deprivation of our right as human as well as encouraging ourselves to come together from time to time and be part of the planning for the 2008 October congress - Which an important occasion to celebrate the ten years anniversary of the Caravan for the rights of refugees and migrants in Germany

The meeting brought up concrete Strategies on how to carry on the various campaign with delegation of activist to monitor and make up comprehensive reports for urgent actions to follow up the various campaigns without delay.

As for the issue on Katzütte, it was confirmed that co-ordination is going on already within the network of The VOICE Refugee Forum activists and activists of the Plataforma, the Caravan between Berlin, Jena and Katzhütte. Initial support of The VOICE Refugee Forum coordination before the meeting has resulted to a Voluntary legal support offered by a lawyer from Hamburg based on the circulation of information from the refugee call.

Daily contacts were intensified by telephone with weekly meetings of refugees in Jena and

Photographs of the Katzhütte were made public, A refugee press conference was planned to take place in the refugee isolation camp in Katzhütte two weeks after the meeting in Jena on the 11th of March 2008, and A fax campaign was initiated in Hamburg to demand the immediate closure of the camp.

Interestingly the campaign to close the isolation camp was successfully combined with participation of the refugees from Katzhütte during the events with the Syria family campaign for the freedom of the political prisoners’ tour in Hamburg, Berlin, Halle and Bremen before the court hearing on their asylum on the 23.03.2008. Their engagement further inspired active solidarity to make public their isolation and other problems in refugees camp in Gehlberg - Thueringen

One Positive development in this struggle was the impressive demonstration of unity amongst the Katzhutte asylum community without recourse to ethnic barrier, this is a clear hope that the struggle is on a positive path of success which we all need to keep flying in our different locations because, the more united we are, the easier the success would be achieved in our struggle.

Our Online activities on Katzhütte and on our activities in 2008 were amazedly impressive and inspired by the refugees and the supporters all over Germany. Apart from the positive interventions of the press and the media, solidarity and financial donation from various groups and individual were at its best like never before in our struggles against Isolation camps in Thueringen in the last years.

We are proud of all those who stood by us or supported the campaign in any way possible and to reassure our commitment to continue our struggles for better and healthy development of human resources in Germany.

From Katzhütte to Gelberg and Posseck Isolation camps, deportation stop in Eisenach to deportation threat in Dessau, from deportation hearing to collaboration of Embassies the the deportation authorities, From Syrian family court hearing in Thueringen to family separation and police brutality of children in vogtlandkreis and Residenzpflicht court hearing in halle to Oury Jalloh process, including our active participation in the caravan co-ordination network in Germany.

More reports and detail information on specific issues of campaigns and about our activities in 2008 will be compiled for our online internet home page in http://thevoiceforum.org

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