Report on the deportation of Felix Otto - Felix Otto Campaign
On 25th August 2009, at 10:40 the VOICE-Activist Felix Otto was deported with Air France over Paris to Douala/Kamerun. The deportation took place, ignoring the massive public protest.
First of all, we want to thank all the people who supported the campaign against the deportation of Felix Otto and against the Apartheid-law, the so called ‘Residenzpflicht’ for refugees. Without you and our joint fight we could not have reached the public attention, that there was. The deportation of Felix Otto is one reason more, why we have to strengthen and continue our campaign against this racist German system. Human right activists in Cameroon will observe how Felix Otto is doing there. We will be documenting all procedures and the public will be informed here and at home, how barbaric and inhuman this society here operates. We have not given up and we will never do this, until the migrants have raised their voices and the silence is broken.
Felix Otto was in public mind for months, because he revealed clearly how the Apartheid law of the ‚Residenzpflicht’ works, not only as racist mean of social exclusion, but serves criminalising, controlling and deporting refugees too.
Felix Otto was arrested on 30th March 2009 because he had broken the rule of ‘Residenzpflicht’, which limits the freedom of movement of refugees to a single Landkreis. He was sentenced to eight months prison.
Since the end of June the foreign office began to prepare his deportation. On Wednesday, 19th August, his lawyer was informed by the ‘Landesverwaltungsamt Thüringen’, that the deportation is planned for the following Tuesday by chartered flight. This was scandalous disinformation. In fact it was planned from the beginning to deport Felix Otto by a regular flight of Air France over Paris. The broad protest from the start and the public attention seemed to ask for special treatment. Not only to the court, but also during visits to the doctor or even at hospital, Felix Otto was handcuffed like a criminal. Before and after a court hearing on 24th June the security guards did not allow any contact with friends. As one day later there was a manifestation against his imprisonment in front of the jail, he was brought to a different cell in the back, where he could not hear or see anything. As the date of deportation was published the repression increased, aiming to intimidate and isolate Felix Otto. On Thursday it was possible to speak to him twice on the phone. In the first call he was informed by the ‘caravan for the rights of refugees and migrants’ about the upcoming deportation. On the next and the last phone call with Felix Otto, he told us that he was brought to a monitored solitary cell, hands and feet tied. His Clothes were taken off him. This measure was justified by saying that there was the risk of suicide. Although it was said to the lawyer by officials that Felix Otto was not tied in his cell, it was not allowed to contact him at all in the following time. It worried us a lot, not hearing anything from Felix Otto, knowing at the same time about the bad conditions. Felix Otto confirmed that he was not allowed to call anyone later, on Monday after the next court hearing, as we had a chance to talk to him, while the guards were busy avoiding this. The prison doctor said on Monday that he cannot say anything about the information, that Felix Otto was beaten in prison. The transport to the plane was concealed too. In the plane he was, as passengers reported, under the control of BGS-Officers and in Paris he was passed to French police.
In the last weeks hundreds of people followed up the case of Felix Otto and protested against his imprisonment and deportation by faxing and phoning the internal ministry of Thüringen. In an urgent action yesterday and today a lot of people asked Air France and the pilot to refuse taking Felix Otto. Around 35 people demonstrated loudly in a rally at Frankfurt Airport against the deportation to Cameroon and against the collaboration of the Airport and Air France with the German deportation offices.
Nevertheless the responsible bodies and the Ministry of Internal Affairs ignored persistently the high public concern towards the fate of Felix Otto. Also the exercising airline reacted dismissively, as they were asked.
We condemn the collaboration of Air France with German deportation system and we will hold the Airline liable for this irresponsible action. We are worried about the health of Felix Otto, who was repeatedly under medical care in the last few weeks and we also are worried about his security in Cameroon, where violation of human rights is daily practice and where opposition is chased systematically. As a deported political refugee he is considered as someone who has given a negative picture of Cameroon and only this fact is enough to be in danger.
The cold war announced against The VOICE and any self organisation of refugees by the state of Thüringen since the beginning of the 90s will be an important focus for us and an important challenge too in our determination to continue the fight against the organised crime and the continuing oppression of refugees in Thüringen and Germany.
The current developments around Felix Otto will be an important item on the agenda of our conference on “Colonial Injustice” from the 9th to 13th September 2009 in Jena. There we will tackle the colonial Apartheid which showed in the treatment of Felix Otto. All activists and people, who have supported the campaign in various and very committed ways, are invited sincerely to this conference, which will focus on the restrictions of movement and Isolation of refugees in camps.
The nationwide network of the ‘caravan for the rights of refugees an migrants’ and the support of those, who believe in our work, was of great importance for pointing out the maltreatment and debasement of refugees. A lot more refugees are still affected and face deportation.
Protest against colonial injustice and it’s system of Apartheid!
Abolition of Residenzpflicht and camps of isolation!
Solidarity is a weapon!
The VOICE Refugee Forum Germany