The voice of the oppressed: Against solidarity misunderstood (2011)

by Rex Osa

// transl. from German, original published in November 2011:

Positioning of The VOICE Refugee Forum on understanding self-organisation and the struggle for one’s own voice.

The history of oppression is long and victims need the space to express their feelings and fight these structures of oppression. This does not mean excluding people, nor does it mean ignoring other struggles that are also against the system. It is about making clear how urgent it is to change soon, without undermining our position.

This resistance needs a revolutionary consciousness and orientation that focuses on naming the repression exactly for what it is. Furthermore, clear and concrete demands need to be formulated that leave no room for a solidarity that has its limits with the law.

Our commitment is to mobilise people against the brutal and repressive measures of the state and against its neo-colonial policy of exclusion by strengthening the self-liberation of the victims of systematic repression.

We seek to link different struggles and call for solidarity that is independent of bourgeois-democratic processes and bargaining positions that oppose the position of the victims. Instead, we build on self-organisation, on empowerment to a self-determined stance.

Our self-organisation intends to take the struggle beyond structures that merely want to reform asylum laws. Instead, it aims to create structures that strengthen resistance against everything that produces refugees today and in the future. It is designed to strengthen the movement of the oppressed to fight against everything that leads to deportations, wars, racism, etc.

The main task of The VOICE is to push for the establishment of refugee communities and camp committees on a regional level, thus breaking isolation – regardless of any institutionalised racist restrictions. We focus on a gradual, long-term building of structures of refugee resistance against everything we are confronted with on a daily basis. Be it the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act, the isolation in the camps, compulsory residency, deportation or even the destruction of our countries of origin, which forced us to flee from there.

We say no to compromising reforms and insist on our belief in continuous work through our presence to unleash change at all levels and to inspire effective action at the parliamentary level as well. But these changes are not the end of our struggle.

We defend our autonomy of struggle even as we recognise the positions of different parties or NGOs in legislative or systemic reformist negotiations with their counterparts.

We welcome any campaign against exclusion or ill-treatment that aims to support the self-organisation of the oppressed, and not just generate public attention while leaving the core of the problem untouched.

Therefore, we see our duty in building pressure through public presence and creating our own space around ourselves and around other oppressed people. We rely on naming the injustice and denouncing the oppression in its concrete and specific form from our experiences.

Years of struggle have shown that the diversity of people in our networks, “The VOICE Refugee Forum” and the “Caravan for Refugee and Migrant Rights” are the source of a progressive movement of the oppressed, especially for refugees. We have seen that confrontation and the exchange of different opinions, views and experiences of each individual teach us to question the mainstream media and the ruling class worldwide.

The process of our self-organisation is based on everyone having the opportunity to get information face to face, instead of being dependent on the mass media with its journalists, experts and other parts of the ruling class with the same interests.

We welcome everyone to share experiences and knowledge that can strengthen our solidarity base against the colonial and capitalist system, which is responsible for everything we struggle against every day.

Come to us and leave behind absolute attitudes that result from one-sided, uncritically accepted information.

We are open to anyone who accepts us as we are, instead of telling us how to deal with our experiences of police brutality, state and institutional racism, rape, psychological trauma, etc. We define our demands.

We define our demands. We recognise advances and advice from all those who accept our legitimate right to speak openly about our suffering, our visions and dreams, without giving priority to compromise with the dominant society.

Our self-determination and autonomy are non-negotiable, so herewith our inevitable demands for alternative structures:

We want honest solidarity instead of paternalistic support.

We want people who fight with us and not just for us.

We reserve the right to speak for ourselves with our own voices.

We refuse to let you speak for us because we cannot allow you to write our history.