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Rex Osa’s Testimony by Affidavit for The INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS TRIBUNAL Quezon City, Philippines
Int’l migrants’ court finds 37 States guilty of modern-day slavery - Manila http://thevoiceforum.org/node/2958
MIGRANTS ALL OVER THE WORLD at the suit of MIGRANTE INTERNATIONAL (MI), GABRIELA, , ASOSIASI TENAGA KERJA INDONESIA (ATKI-INDONESIA), CARAVAN, THE VOICE REFUGEE FORUM and MOVIMIENTO MIGRANTE MESOAMERICANO Complainants
GLOBAL FORUM ON MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT (GFMD) through and represented by the heads of governments and relevant agencies of the States forming its Steering Committee, and all other similar formations or other individuals, organizations and entities acting or cooperating under its authority and for or on its behalf, name and stead,
Republic of the Philippines )
Quezon City ) S.S.
I, REX OSA, Nigerian with office address at Böblingerstr 105, 70199 Stuttgart Germany, after having been sworn to in accordance with law, do hereby depose and state, that:
1. I am a member of The VOICE Refugee Forum and The Caravan for the Rights of Refugees (hereinafter referred to as “The VOICE”), a self-organization of refugees and asylum seekers in Germany. Our organization has been fighting for justice and the rights and welfare of refugees and asylum seekers in Germany for more than 18 years now. The VOICE has established a strong partnership with CARAVAN for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants, a network of refugees, migrants and their advocates in Germany but also with members outside Germany.
2. As refugees, we have become victims of Western Exploitation and colonial injustice. “We are here because you destroyed our countries” – this statement encompasses a general definition of the reason of flight from our home countries. This was concluded by CARAVAN and The VOICE Refugee Forum after long study and deliberations.
3. The history of The VOICE Refugee Forum in the CARAVAN for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants in Germany began in the summer of 1998 with a protest tour through 44 cities. Buoyed by the solidarity of comrades and colleagues from different continents, we attacked the racist consensus in Germany just before the general elections in that year. Using the slogan “We have no vote, but a voice!” we highlighted the deplorable condition of refugees in Germany. We openly spoke about and condemned the inhuman treatment and conditions that led to our flight from our various home countries. The tour also marked the first coordinated nationwide struggle against the state-organized, institutional and societal system of racist exclusion, persecution and the deportation of refugees back to their countries of origin.
4. The VOICE Refugee Forum and CARAVAN exposed the sorrow and horror resulting from the German-led EU asylum politics and demonstrated a spirit of resistance and solidarity against the daily attacks on the human dignity of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as attacks on our children and families.
5. Since our formation, we have launched countless actions and campaigns to break the isolation and the European community's silence on injustices inflicted upon refugees. We fought against colonial structures and the racist mind-set. We opposed deportations, isolation camps, police brutality, and racist special laws such as the apartheid residence obligation law (Residenzpflicht) which restricts the movement of refugees.
6. We have fought against Germany’s collaboration with the regimes which we fled from. We have never forgotten the people we left behind in our home countries, the kind of misery they have to live in, and what the roots of this misery are.
7. We have never stopped denouncing the policy of Fortress Europe which costs thousands of lives every year. Under such policy, migrants and refugees continue to experience violations of their human rights, racism, discrimination, social exclusion, exploitation, expulsions, deportations and criminalization in Europe. With the economic crisis weighing down heavily on European countries, migrants and refugees have been used as scapegoats for the failures of the capitalist system which is wreaking havoc on the lives of the people worldwide.
8. The European Union is responsible for the documented deaths of 14,000 migrants and refugees since 1993. The European Union has created a special border control agency called FRONTEX which guards the external borders of Europe and forcibly pushed back boats of refugees from North Africa trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to seek refuge in Europe. Thousands died including women and children because of drowning, hunger, dehydration and disease. In 2011 alone, 1,500 migrants died at sea.
9. For the past 14 years in Germany, human rights violations against actual and would-be refugees were committed by the authorities. Some of them were our own friends and fellow activists who lost their lives or suffered untold abuses in the hands of police or immigration officers. Some of our sisters were raped by the police in their station before being deported (with countless pictures of such ignoble acts taken). Others were suffocated to death in their deportation process. Some were shot and killed by the police or mysteriously burnt to death while in police custody.
10. Wars and political conflicts have created large numbers of refugees. The US-NATO led invasion of Libya and Afghanistan violated the independence and sovereignty of these countries, destroyed lives and property of the people, and caused massive dislocation of their population. It is reported that 50,000 refugees from North Africa have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to seek refuge in Europe, fleeing from the imperialist launched wars against Libya and Afghanistan and the dictatorial regimes of Ben Ali in Tunisia, of Mubarak in Egypt, South Yemen and Bahrain.
11. However, European governments are clear in their message –“We do not want you here”. Vividly reported in the media are the deplorable conditions of detention centers in Lampedusa (Italy), the isolated lagers in Germany or in the Evros region of Greece. Detention was what awaited refugees and migrants in Europe.
12. In Germany, refugee survivors who risked terrible hurdles in the search for protection are hunted by FRONTEX elements, the militarized European Border control agency. They have tried to impose artificial borders, targeted at preventing refugees escaping persecution from crossing into Europe by land, sea and air. This has caused many brutal deaths during transit in clear violation of International Laws to which Germany (a major financier of Frontex) is a signatory.
13. Upon arrival in Germany, those refugees who do get through FRONTEX are subsequently confronted by the Federal Office of Migration and Refugees (known as BAMF), acting as inland head hunters of refugees with powers to decide who is allowed to stay or not. BAMF remains bent on rejecting as many asylum applications as possible, showing the true face of racial exclusion.
14. Germany is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions on Refugees, but it continues to deny persons the chance to seek or otherwise get protection from persecution, rendering asylum as illusory for those fleeing persecution. This practice is in direct contravention of its obligations under the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees (1951) and its 1967 Protocol. In particular, it blatantly violates Article 33 and Article 32 of the 1951 Convention.
15. Article 33 (Principle of Non-Refoulment) of the 1951 Convention states that: “No Contracting State Shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner, whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”
16. Article 32 of the 1951 Convention stipulates the process which Contracting States must follow in cases of non-acceptance of refugees. It states that the states shall not expel a refugee lawfully in their territory, save on grounds of national security or public order, and any such expulsion of a refugee shall be in pursuance of a decision reached in accordance with due process. The refugee shall be allowed to submit evidence to clear himself, and the contracting States shall allow a refugee a reasonable period within which to seek legal readmission into another country.
17. Events have proven that the repression of refugees and migrants is connected to imperialist domination and the ideology of racial superiority. The current policies on refugees continue to reproduce the western deception of civilization, with pretenses to humanity, freedom and international solidarity, but on the contrary, it actually practices a waged war on refugees and migrants.
18. While Germany continues to flourish in its business of weapons of war and manipulation for exploitation in the home countries of refugees, there is at the same time, an intensifying effort to stop these vulnerable victims from seeking protection from a so called humane state.
19. In addition to the terrorizing asylum procedure of the Federal Office of Migration and Refugees (BAMF), there are the State Regional Authorities (Regierungspräsidium) which registers the refugee and plays the role of isolating the Refugees with the aim of making their lives intolerable. This is probably to discourage others from coming to Germany, as well as to induce voluntary return.
20. The compulsory requirement for refugees to live in lagers has been described as a process of “ghettoization“(Gemeinschaftsunterkunft), with restriction to freedom of movement (Residenzpflicht – modernized police regulation of the Nazi era). The lager has become the instrument for social exclusion, as persons of different religious and cultural backgrounds are herded into isolated lagers, deprived of privacy and totally controlled through institutionalized discriminatory rules.
21. Refugees are also deprived of basic rights under the 1951 Convention, such as right to work and freedom of movement. In most cast cases, they are arbitrarily restricted to an area within the community of accommodation, and even within lagers located in rural communities whose inhabitants are known to be hostile to foreigners. The facilities are also commonly rundown and dilapidated, with bad transportation infrastructure referring to the connection or the bus drives through the community three (3) times daily. As a result, one may have to walk some kilometers to catch the bus.
22. The refugees are deprived of their responsibility to care for themselves, and instead are made to rely on state officials for basic necessities like food, distributed to them on a “take it or leave it” manner and with total disregard of their cultural specificities. For example, Islamic persons get pork meat; the foodstuffs are mainly German/European stuffs and we are used to getting expired meat, eggs, chicken etc. We have also experienced contaminated water with fungi in the bottle, rotten vegetables etc.
23. Racial profiling when there is police control is the daily order at nearly every train station and even inside the trains. This tends to criminalize refugees who could then be arrested, imprisoned or deported after 3 violations of the law of “Residenzpflicht” which brings you into the borderline of criminality (90 Tagessatzen) and serves as criteria to deny your right to stay in Germany. These are used to justify injustices and racist practices being done against refugees, such as stopping and frisking of innocent refugees and migrants in public places. This is an everyday issue and can be said as something that defies statistics. I have had occasions where the Police tells me to my face that he is controlling me because I am black and goes further to ask if I would need his name to make a petition against him. An accused German Police officer confirmed the Skin colour as criteria at the Higher Administrative court in Koblenz on 29.1012.
24. Medical care is also very limited. There is a strong structure of control in this regard, causing lots of complicated illness which ordinarily would have been easily treated if attended to at the early stage. It is a usual routine that every refugee faces. For doctor’s attention, refugees are obligated to get a recommendation (Krankenschein) from the Social Office. In most cases, “Ibuprofen” is the maximum you get but in critical cases one would need to wait for a confirmation from the social office which in most cases may be negative with the excuse that it is too expensive. Personally, I have experienced this: The whole trauma of giving even more than necessary proofs about my case and the brutal manipulations brought my blood pressure over 200/130, causing my doctor to recommend a Therapy which was rejected - the rights of medical doctors are abused also in Germany because when they recommend, the officials who are not medical experts decide their own ways or sometimes require confirmation from their District doctor (Gesundheitamt Doctor) who most likely will do what the authority wants. ( i.e Mohammed Selah see http://thecaravan.org/node/2720).
25. Germany’s willful disregard of asylum right dates back to 1993 when it spearheaded an amendment identifying asylum seekers traveling through “safe third countries” or coming from "safe countries of origin." Under the revision, a "safe" country is one "where the legal situation, the application of the law and the general political circumstances justify the assumption that neither political persecution nor inhumane or degrading punishment or treatment takes place." As Germany is surrounded by states deemed "safe," in theory no person entering Germany by land has the right to asylum in Germany. Some politicians have argued that the asylum reforms did not go far enough and that Germany should completely abolish the right to asylum within its territory.
26. More than 98 percent of refugee status applications are unjustly rejected without any concrete reasons but based on the German state policies and statistics of acceptance which may vary from one country to another. More than three-quarters of such applications are rejected on the basis of “Offentsichlich Unbegründed“ (obviously untrue) and thus exposing Asylum seekers to the ordeal of deportation.
27. Refugees are oftentimes held hostage and deprived of freedom of movement even when it is clear that neighboring countries may handle the situation in a different way. In my situation, the Case Officer from BAMF was recommending a confession of entering Germany by ship as a better argument than my confession of entering the country by air. And because I refused to accept his intimidations and habit of cutting me off from giving a detailed description of my situation, the case officer arrogantly asked me if I am aware that he is responsible to making my life either good or bad in Germany. I responded by telling him to stop threatening me, and that my duty was explain my true situation to him but his decision is left to him. After this hearing, he really made life miserable for me by rejecting my application within 5 weeks without practical investigation. On appeal against my first rejection from the Federal Office of Migration and Refugees (known as BAMF), I was invited to the court for a second hearing to see if there was a mistake in the First decision. In this hearing my lawyer sent an original newspaper publication and other documents connected with the police as evidence. We realized years later that the about 2 hours court hearing was not protocoled and copies of the evidence documents were not made in the file. My new lawyer detected this when she began to request for my files to enable her investigate the whole processes. Even the evidences sent through my lawyer were not photocopied in the file. This act of neglect and hatred was discovered about two years later when I started my second asylum application.
28. The incessant threat of deportation are made through state elements like Alien Officers, who compel refugees to sign their own deportations through deceit, physical abuse and refugee country delegations, which issue deportation documents through corruption-ridden deportation hearings. These are intended to legitimize the issuance of deportation papers through the delegations’ identification of the person, and by means of facial features, accents and otherwise. The Aliens Offices in the name of the Regional Authority (Regieriumsprasidium) continue further threats of deportation through identity search, and coordinating police restriction with periodic issuances of “toleration” permission (Duldung) within short time frames.
Statement of The VOICE Refugee Forum - Petition against German State Occupation of the Nigerian Embassy in Berlin - Collaboration Founded on Corruption
29. The principle of the German state sovereignty and rule of customary racist law violates virtually all provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). I am referring to a customary racist law like Sondergesetz which is a special Law/Legislation that takes the rights of Asylum seekers i.e Asylum seekers procedure law (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetzt) Law .
30. In particular, these policies trample upon Article 7 of this Declaration, which states that, “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.” For example, the Asylum Procedure law carries the whole elements to deny refugees the Right to Protection as well as confine Refugees to live in lager. The Asylum Benefit Law regulates the way the refugees have to be handled and kept in abject isolation. The amount they are entitled to get as well as the medical limits etc. The Constitutional court had confirmed this law as unconstitutional. In short, this law is responsible for the structural isolation and deprivation of their privacy and self-determination.
31. Article 1 of the German Constitution, states that: (1) “Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.” and (2) “The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human rights as the basis of every community, of peace and of justice in the world.” In clear contravention of this provision, racist control apparatuses in Germany trample upon the dignity of refugees on a daily basis.
32. As far as we refugees are concerned, the Global Forum on Migration and Development (hereinafter GFMD, for brevity) remains a callous and inutile forum of anti-refugee governments, monopoly capitalists, and pro-neoliberal globalization civil society organizations (CSOs).
33. The GFMD's rhetoric and the reality of an undeclared war against refugees are unconscionably cruel and inhuman. Since it was started in 2007, GFMD policy-makers and supposed high-level policy practitioners have not discussed any policy relevant to refugees. Practical challenges and opportunities have been defined in terms of looking deeply into the roots and reasons why the refugee problem has become monumental in the age of US-instigated wars of aggression that have displaced millions.
34. The so-called good practices and experiences that have been duplicated or adapted in other circumstances that the GFMD talks about in its annual meetings have been nothing but the fortification and building of more fortresses and invisible walls and measures that make it more difficult for refugees to find a safe refuge, specifically in western countries.
35. The GFMD has miserably failed to identify the invisible walls and fortresses that states have created to control the flow of refugees into their countries. It has failed to speak up against the documented deaths of refugees on the borders in Europe and the Americas, and the use of state brutality to manage the flood of refugees. The European Union, including Germany whose states are active in the GFMD, and several states in north and south Americas, have long been cooperating by putting up militarized borders and agreeing on common policies that are intended to keep refugees out, rather than providing them genuine safe haven.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed this Affidavit this ___ th day of November, 2012 in Quezon City, Philippines.
REX OSA, THE VOICE REFUGEE FORUM
The VOICE- Protocol 11.11.12: O&A with Alassane Dicko and Rex Osa on Beyond the borders Conference in Berlin