24 Jan [EN] We are refugees, not prisoners! Bamberg AEO camp demonstration 17th JAN 2018
The inhabitants of the Bamberg AEO transit camp (Bavaria, Germany) protested on 17th January 2018 against the scandalous conditions and treatment they face in the camp. They marched from the camp to the town hall in city center to hand over their petition to the mayor of Bamberg.
Refugees are currently kept in the AEO without money, work, school and any German document for months, some even 24 months already. Legal aid is not given, not even basic legal information, the administration acts in a fully intransparent way and violence and criminalisation by camp securities and the police is quotidian. The inhabitants are not allowed to leave Bamberg. The AEO, an integrated reception and deportation camp, has 1400 inhabitants, with a total capacity of 3400. It was built by the state of Bavaria in a former U.S. Army military base and is run by the regional goverment of Upper Franconia, who presents it as a “model project” for Germany and whole Europe. A new law from July 2017 allows German states to decide to keep people with „no perspective to stay“ in such camps (Gesetz zur besseren Durchsetzung der Ausreisepflicht; see also No 24 months in this camp!).
The protesters were mostly asylum seekers from countries which Germany has classified as “safe countries of origin”, in order to massively reject their asylum applications – such as Senegal, Ghana and Balkan countries –, or who have otherwise been stigmatised with no “perspective to stay” in Germany, or whose (Dublin) deportation is pending. For these inhabitants the AEO is worse than a prison.
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Statement of Bamberg refugees:
Against inhumanity! Stop the camp system! We´re refugees, not prisoners!
We are refugees from different countries, who are all facing the same problems. We are living in the „AEO“ camp in Bamberg. We were searching for protection and a life in peace. But what we are facing is no life at all. This is why we stand up – against the inhumanity and harassment in the Bamberg Lager system. On Wednesday 17th January 2018 we are going out and taking our demands on the streets. Our demand is for a life in dignity. We are calling for all inhabitants of the AEO Bamberg, as well as groups and individuals to join us in solidarity for this peaceful demonstration through the town of Bamberg.
Our situation is this: We arrive in Bamberg traumatised and exhausted of long and dangerous travels. We are given no time arrive, we are immediately sent to a comission to be interviewed. One week later most of us receive a negative decision. From that moment on we are in fact imprisoned. Our documents are taken, all we get is a camp card, printed on a white sheet of paper. Even our German asylum seeker documents or our Duldung, if somebody had those before, are taken away.
After a negative asylum decision, we receive no money any more. Not even young mothers are getting one cent: They get no baby food nor can afford to buy some. We are not allowed to work or to leave Bamberg. Our children do not get access to school or education, because they get a negative decision as soon as their parents do. We are not allowed to study German. Nevertheless we have to stay here for months, even for years. Some are here for 24 months already. The camp security is harassing and using violence against us – and we get charged by the police and courts. The police can come at any moment – to search our rooms or to take one of us for deportation. Nobody can live like this!
When we escape and leave to another country we are brought back to the Bamberg camp, because our finger prints are here and Germany asks to bring us here. But if Germany does not want us, then please let us go to another country which repects our rights. Germany is not the only country in Europe!
We are tired of this camp. We cannot live like this – not even one more day. We are treated like prisoners, not like refugees. We will not accept this any longer! We were searching for protection, but we still have to fight for our right to live in peace and freedom. There is no justice to us – our struggle just continues. We will take our protest to the streets – and we will not stop it, until our situation is changed!
1. Many of us are here without any German Ausweis, only the white camp card: We need a German Ausweis and the right to work
2. Schooling is a universal right of every child in the world: Our children need to go to school – and we adults also need to study
3. Many of us are denied the basic financial support that is guaranteed by the German constitution – even young mothers do not get one cent for baby food. We need a basic financial livelihood
4. We stay here for months, some even 24 months: We need transfers! Shut down the Bamberg AEO-Lager! No Lager nowhere!
5. We need proper medical care
6. The constant harassment and inhuman treatment of us refugees needs to stop (by securities, administration and others)
7. The women need their own spaces of privacy and safety
8. No deportations, Dublin or other
9. Stop racism
We will not watch anymore how we are chased, harassed and finally deported. We escaped from that: persecution, torture, poverty and war. We will not go back. We will fight for that right to live – and to be treated like human beings! We are here – and we will stay!