Solidarity statement from antiauthoritarians in Germany and Austria
After a white cop in Minneapolis, Minnesota suffocated the Afro-American George Floyd under the eyes of three of his colleagues, half the country is on fire. It was not the first racist murder by the US police, it was not even the first one this year and not the last since. It was just one too many.
The night after George’s murder, protests broke out in all kinds of cities across the United States and quickly increased. The protests were organized from within black communities in big US cities and quickly met with a huge wave of solidarity. After Trump had feigned sympathy and demanded an investigation into the murder, the mask has now fallen: Swinging his Bible, the autocrat declares the protests to be terror, against which he now wants to bring in the military, after the National Guard has already been mobilized in most states. Following the motto “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, Trump wants to put a stop to the social uprisings. In the same breath, he wants to blame antifa directly for the protests, whom he has long since known to be communist and anarchist agitators. Fair enough! But while the truncheon orgies continue on the streets of America, Trump leads a campaign against those who stand in the way of the unchained state power.
The authoritarian Republican bloc in the US has long since mobilized all its media power to shift the discourse: Instead of racist cops and structural violence, FOX News discusses looting and terrorism. In trying to divide the protest into peaceful and violent, the Liberals, as so often, willingly let themselves be pulled in front of the Republicans’ trolley and toot the same horn: While armed sections of the Ku Klux Klan have opened the hunt under the eyes of the police, the Liberals on both sides of the Atlantic emphasize how important it is to remain non-violent. As if this is an option against police state and gangs of nazi thugs!
Trump had already made it clear in his presidential election campaign that he would not only stand for complete neo-liberal unleashing, but would also be prepared to use the strong state to beat this order into existence with all necessary force. The social distortions in a country where half the population considers health insurance to be Stalinist cannot be ignored. The COVID crisis has only exacerbated these differences: More than 20 million people lost their jobs and the foodbank queues stretch for miles. While it is the role of the state to ensure the normal accumulation of capital in times of peace and crisis, particularly exceptional situations such as this one show the other side of the coin: where integration fails, terror must be unleashed!
Meanwhile in Germany a whole sea of crocodile tears is being shed. From the conservative paper FAZ to the left-liberal Taz, from Christian Democrats to the Left party everyone agrees that one cannot handle justified anger in this way. Forgotten are the beatings of the G20 summit, the state’s involvement in Nazi networks, forgotten the evictions, deportations, deaths in police custody, etc… We write this declaration in solidarity one day after the 53rd anniversary of the murder of the student Benno Ohnesorg by the bullet of a German policeman.
It is not new that for the state no means are too drastic in the fight against insurrections to secure its monopoly on the use of violence. We send greetings of solidarity to our comrades and friends on the streets of American cities, who are showing practical solidarity against the state’s power!
From Germany & Austria to Minneapolis: Fight the Police! Solidarity beyond borders! Black lives matter! Abolish the system from below!
…ums Ganze! – 3rd June 2020
Take part in the action week from 24 April to 1 May! We share with you the call for action by …ums Ganze! from Germany/Austria:
While in Germany measures such as the contact ban will be continued at least until May 4th, 40.000 people are living in excessively overcrowded camps on the Aegean islands, detained at the EU’s external borders even before they were able to reach the European mainland. The reason why they have to stay there is to allow the authorities to deport them back to Turkey, as part of the EU Erdogan deal, in case that their asylum applications will be rejected. This disparity clearly shows how, even with the pressing aim of “epidemiological protection”, a distinction is still being made between life that is worth protecting and life that is not worth protecting, ergo surplus life.
The group of more than 20.000 people crowded together in the hell of Moria on Lesbos have become a symbol for this disaster. The camp in a former military base is designed for a maximum of 3.000 occupants. Sanitary facilities, disinfectants and medical care are scarce, water is limited and the infrastructure is on the verge of collapse. In view of the danger of a corona outbreak, the camp is now becoming a death trap for those who fled from war and violence. Keeping distance or taking other precautions is simply impossible. Masked as a protective measure for the refugees, the Greek government has now sealed off the camp and de facto abolished the people’s freedom of movement, that had already been very restricted. True protection against the virus is now provided only by the residents themselves, who have organized themselves and are working together with local initiatives to inform the camp’s residents about the virus.
Meanwhile, Germany coldly demonstrates how to govern with maximum emphasis on national interests: the coronavirus parties continue to take place at workplaces such as logistics centres, the steel industry or in the poorly paid care sector. Now further loosening of lockdown measures, for example in the retail sector, have been granted. A few billionaires are profiting from the crisis, while most people do not know how to pay their rents with the deminished wages that the state is offering them. At the same time, the provisionally installed massive cuts in the rights for freedom of assembly and freedom of movement remain valid. Demonstrations are often prohibited even when they imposed strict protective measures on themselves. These restrictions also prevent the refugees here in Germany, many of whom are also still housed in camps, from defending themselves against the health-threatening living conditions inside those camps. Their protests, carried out with every precaution, are violently dissolved by the police. Even in prisons people remain locked up in very cramped spaces which has already led to several prison revolts, as in Italy for example.
This double standard is also evident in many other areas: The so called „German Airlift” brings back 100.000 stranded German tourists with numerous charter planes, but it is obviously not justifiable in the “pandemic” to rescue more than 50 unaccompanied youths from the hell of Moria. There is no mentioning of the old and the sick people in the camp who would be most affected by the disease in case of an outbreak and who would be dependent on the supply of intensive care beds and respirators.
Meanwhile, the first of the 40.000 harvest workers that the German Government has flown in from neighbouring eastern european countries has died of Covid-19. The solidarity that has been conjured up by Söder, Laschet, Merkel, von der Leyen and the likes, obviously has very narrow and very national boundaries.
After the financial crisis in 2008ff., the austerity policy under German dictation has destroyed the health sector in many European countries. Now, this policy is developing devastating consequences, as can be seen in the enormous death rate of Covid-19 cases in Italy with all its cruelty. In crisis-ridden Greece more than a third of hospitals have been closed and over 40% of funding cut. In order to prevent a collapse of the desolate Greek health sector, the right-wing government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is now reacting with even more authoritarian border control measures than before. But already in early March – as a result of the escalation between Turkey and the EU – Mitsotakis suspended the right to asylum for a limited period of time and received 700 million euros financial support from the EU to further ward off refugees. Almost forgotten are the shots that were fired by the border police and which killed the refugee Muhammad al-Arab.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner EU is not only counting on external border control and protection against the pandemic for selected individuals only. European policy and national interests also reach out to one another. The debate on the so-called Corona Bonds shows this clearly. Once again, the winners of the crisis in 2008 – above all Germany – are putting all their energy into fighting common debts at EU level. It is in vogue to express concern about the fate of their poor European neighbors but at the same time relentlessly trying to secure their own competitiveness on the world market at the expense of exactly those neighbors. The German press, from FAZ to Bild, once again uses the stereotype of the lazy Italians.
One hardly dares to imagine the extent of the catastrophe that will occur as soon as the pandemic hits the Sahel zone, where Islamist groups are trying to use the crisis to their own advantage, or war-ravaged Syria, from which a large proportion of the refugees originate already. Still, humanitarian demands, as articulated by „Seebrücke“ or „Mission Lifeline“, are currently being ignored.
And yet, during the recent weeks, numerous people in Germany and Europe have clung to the fact that solidarity knows no borders and human rights are indivisible. From Sea Rescue and Refugee Councils to the organization „Seebrücke“ and artists: they have set sail, set signs, put up posters, submitted petitions and published appeals. They try to find out how to protest under the conditions of the pandemic, with physical distance and masks, with shoes and street chalk left behind as symbols, with protest online and offline. And they will continue until the camps are closed and the people are here. And so will we!
The closure and evacuation of all refugee camps! For a decentralized and humane housing for refugees!
Autonomy for the people living inside the camps and support of their self-organizing!
Free and unrestricted access to medical care, medical supplies and corona tests for all!
We are accusing the profiteers of isolation, exploitation and exclusion!
Therefore we are organizing campaigns in many cities in Europe from 24st of April to 1st of May. Keep your eyes open, take part in initiatives or do something in your city or village! There are many ways to become active in this protest, online but also on the streets, and still take care of each other. Naturally, do not endanger yourself or others. But it is also clear that we cannot stand idly by while the refugees on Lesbos and the other Greek islands are left to fall ill and die. The fight for a better society after the pandemic begins now!
EVACUATE MORIA – SHUT DOWN CAPITALISM!
…umsGanze!-Bündnis, part of Beyond Europe, Antiauthoritarian Platform Against Capitalism, April 2020
Why it is only a short step for Germany from the crisis winner in 2008 to the ventilation world champion of the #Corona crisis and why we must now urgently fight for open borders, among other things. A statement by …ums Ganze!
We will feed each other, re-distribute wealth, strike.
We will understand our own importance
from the places we must stay.
Communion moves beyond walls.
We can still be together.
(Britney Spears/Mimi Zhu)
What many thought impossible just two weeks ago has become reality: The corona virus is spreading internationally, the capitalist machine is faltering. And the bourgeois state is taking action. It should come as no surprise that in Germany, too, parliament and government do everything the monopolist on the use of force has in store: the protection against epidemics has always been the area where the nation state could demonstrate to its citizens that it is indispensable. What is now being democratically implemented is a dream come true for all fans of authoritarian politics – and all too often has little to do with health policy. Whether their names are Söder, Klöckner or Kramp-Karrenbauer: Border closures, curfews, contact ban, police deployment of the German Armed Forces inside the country, stop of humanitarian refugee admissions and soon compulsory work for asylum seekers, are being carried out almost incidentally. It is not very reassuring that the fascist agitators of the AfD have little to say at the moment. The reason for this is that in the still ongoing initial phase of democratic crisis management the grand coalition is single-handedly pushing through the country’s isolation. The “Yes” to the “Luftbrücke” (Airlift) makes this clear: The state is bringing back 100,000 stranded German tourists with airplanes, but refusing entry to 20,000 refugees on the Greek islands, who are acutely threatened with death there. For this murderous racist logic of nationalism, no tips from the right-wing opposition are needed.
The dead and the undead system
The irrationality of capitalism becomes all the more apparent in the crisis: when meetings of more than two people are banned except at work, capitalism shows that it will go over dead bodies for its survival. The biggest corona parties do not take place illegally in playgrounds or parks, but are state-sponsored: every day in open-plan offices, Amazon fulfillment centers and the country’s factories, as well as, not to be forgotten, in the refugee housing facilities where the state cramps the unwanted people together. What would really help – the interruption of normal operations – is, however, highly controversial. While the World Health Organization warns against a resumption of production, not only autocrats such as Donald Trump and the Brazilian President Bolsonaro are counting on trivializing the problem, but also the German Health Minister Jens Spahn. May they differ in their argumentation and choice of words, the result is essentially the same: accepting deaths in order to get the national economy back on its feet. And to do it before anyone else does, because this is the only way an advantage can be gained in the global market competition. And even though many more people will die in Brazil and the USA than in Germany – the world champion country in respiratory care – the question arises here and there, what kind of a broken society sells the measures for resuming all kinds of work as reasonable and at the same time tries to persuade people that the only thing that counts is their private, self-responsible actions as citizens? The radical left demands what really helps at this point: the abolition of the obligation to work and the interruption of all economic activities which are not absolutely necessary for the basic supply of people now. We must fight to ensure that wages are safeguarded and that people do not have to go to work. Collective solutions for wage losses and new forms of action on the shop floor must be fought for.
Crisis of production, society and politics
The virus has triggered a capitalist crisis of production and at the same time a crisis of society, or more precisely: of social reproduction. The economy was not, however, plunged into crisis by the virus as such – it is only the trigger to which the immanently crisis-ridden capitalism with its latent financial bubble, its industrial over-accumulation and its fragile supply chains now reacts by severely interrupting production. Nature and society are not contradictory: the spread of the coronavirus is ultimately the result of the capitalist mode of production in agriculture and livestock farming. There is neither a naturalness nor a mode of production which is outside the capitalist relationship. The global economic crisis that is now beginning is as real as the virus itself, which must be fought with a poorly organised health system. The condition of the latter, broken by the perseverance of neo-liberal austerity and capitalisation, requires reactions like #flattenthecurve and leads to a bad compromise between virus control and economic rescue. The left must make it clear that the crisis of capital does not necessarily have to be identical with the crisis of society or, for that matter, the crisis of people dying from the virus. Only if it succeeds in this can the corona crisis become a political system crisis. On the other hand, it should refrain from accusing the state of some dark conspiratorial bio-power games – the virus is real, the threat is real. The fight against the virus is itself a vital state interest, because citizens dying of Corona question the sovereignty of the state. But the left should also refrain from speaking out in the wake of state measures to privatise the health crisis. Of course it is right to keep distance, wash your hands and wear a face mask. But left-wing politics does not consist of giving tips on how to behave to others; the state, as the monopolist on the use of force, can handle that on its own. The left muss endure and not misinterpret the contradiction that both the people and the authoritarian state have a shared interest in fighting the virus. The state does this out of the interest of maintaining production. Instead, it must build political pressure and make radical demands: Expropriate companies and billionaires, and pay workers in care, health and nursing appropriately. The mainstream discourse on “systemically relevant professions” should be gratefully received and sharpened. On the one hand, we must point out that it is predominantly women who are in charge of these areas: nurses, supermarket sellers, teachers. On the other hand, we must point out that systemically relevant work is not to be had for nothing. A little nightly applause from the balcony is cynical [In german cities currently people are “thanking” helpers by clapping at 9pm] if it does not lead to political consequences. In the former case it is nothing more than an ideological maneuver pretending that women have only been keeping reproduction going since the beginning of the crisis, whether in reproductive jobs or afterwards at home. Moreover, it is women, whether “systemically relevant” or not, who are disproportionately affected by violence in the private sphere. For some, #staythefuckhome means the opportunity to learn artful pottery, for others it is a domestic hell of violence. For the left, making systemic relevance clear must mean emphasizing the role of reproduction. In this respect, it is once again true: feminism is class war.
Open the borders – save lives!
All over the world the nation states – like Europe – are closing down their borders. The national community suddenly appears again as the only obvious, natural and plausible one. There is a retreat into the national as a narrative of non-ideological solidarity of a considerably expanded charitable community. However, this narrative is actually that of the objective “community of fate” of the citizen collective: who happens to have a German health insurance card is well off, unlike those with an Italian or Spanish one. The fact that after the last crisis in 2008 Germany forced a brutal austerity course on other countries once again proves to be murderous. After all, countries like Italy and Spain have had to cut back on their health systems under pressure from the German “black zero” policy. It is no coincidence that it is these two countries where thousands of people are dying these days – and not in Germany. It is only a small step being the crisis winner in 2008 to the ventilation world champion in 2020. In the current situation, the most important thing is therefore to break through the rampant nationalism of self-care and stand up for those who have neither passport nor health insurance card. The central demand of the radical left must be to stop the humanitarian disaster in Moria on Lesbos and provide medical care for the people crammed together and distribute them among the EU member states so that they too can be protected from infection.
No matter how long it lasts: after the crisis will not be like before the crisis. But it is not clear whether social democratic models with state-capitalist aspects, which have been frowned upon for a long time, will prevail, or whether economic liberals with an authoritarian framework will prevail in order to help undead neoliberalism over the next cliff. Whether all this is accompanied by models of public social control in the South Korean way, or whether new economic forms and changed consciousness are perhaps emerging here and there – will not be negotiated after the crisis, but now. The fact is: capital fractions, such as those of the supply services or pharmaceutical companies, are profiting from the crisis. Amazon, for example, recently advertised 100,000 jobs. And the way in which we work in the future is also being renegotiated: Will the home office remain a low-cost workplace for capital? How will short-time work change the income situation? And how is capital dealing with the slump in the low-wage sector? Far-reaching changes are imminent that can only be won through well-organized struggles.
To find something something good in the current situation seems cynical to us. Nevertheless, the result of the crisis could at least be that the necessities a reasonably society should satisfy are more clearly evident. With the gradual dawning of the public’s recognition that the professions in the care sector are “systemically relevant”, the debate on care revolution, women’s strikes and the labour disputes of health care workers can be linked to this. This also applies to the neighborhood mutual aid that is beginning to emerge in many places, which could be developed into solidarity-based district structures if it were possible to politicize them. They could form a pole from below to support the emerging struggles for wages, the distribution of reproductive work and rent – what Adidas can do with its rent strike, so can we. The current wave of solidarity, which also includes the neighbourhood work of various leftist initiatives and collectives, has to be expanded in order to win these struggles. Today, more than ever, anti-national criticism means scandalising the racist isolation of Germany and Europe from refugees at the national borders.
It is bad enough that we humans die and become ill naturally. But there is no reason to further duplicate this problem socially by continuing to place human needs under the constraints of the “second nature” of capitalist irrationality. Against the authoritarian administration of epidemics in the service of business location and competition, we therefore wield the liberated society as a countervailing power from below. Not as a distant light at the end of the tunnel, as a utopian ideal in dark times, but as a practical movement against the normal execution of capitalism that produces sick people, seeks scapegoats and literally walks over masses of corpses in hospitals as well as at the borders. What else could stop it now?
…ums Ganze! Alliance
March 29th, 2020
Right after URA gave the following interview, the greek vice Minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management announced the following restriction measurements concerning Moria Camp due to the COVID-19 situation: 1) Only one member per family will get a daily permit to leave the camp and go to the nearest town for buying necessary goods 2) Exiting and entering the camp will be allowed only from 7am to 7pm. 3) There will be public busses leaving every hour. 4)All the measures will be controlled by the police. 5) All NGOS will not be allowed into the camp for two weeks. In addition to all these fences will be erected around migrants camps and special medical centres will be created inside.
What we understand is that these inhuman camps, these open air prisons, instead of being evacuated are being set in quarantine. We must show #coronasolidarity to all humans imprisoned in Moria and all the other camps on the islands. #staythefuckhome does not apply for them, since „home“ means in this case what the people themselves call „jungle“: 20.000-28.000 people in a camp that has a capacity of 3.000, no water for bath and toilet the last three days and a handful of doctors to take care of them. These are the ideal circumstances for the virus to spread and the MSF stated it will be impossible to contain the epidemic once it spreads.
You know who to blame for putting at risk all these lives: the EU and its migration policies, which we still have to find ways to fight also in this new situation for everybody. We do not believe a word from the promises of the greek state and the EU to create a more human situation in Moria. One picture of the camp will persuade everybody that not a cent from all these millions was invested there, but only into the militarisation of the EU borders.
This is why we demand the immediate evacuation of the Moria prison and the transfer of the asylum seekers to a place of safety.
* * *
Two days ago there was a fire in the detention camp Moria on Greece’s island of Lesbos. At least one person was killed. We spoke with activists of URA Dresden, who are currently on site, to get an impression of the situation in and around the camp, the cooperation with the local population and necessary next political consequences.
You are currently on Lesbos: When did you arrive and what are the reasons?
We are a small delegation of antifascists. The last disasters at the external border of the EU with Turkey did not leave us cold. The blackmail attempts of Erdoğan and the isolation policy of the EU dehumanize people seeking protection and make them the plaything of a policy, which will only cause more war, chaos and further flight movements. Especially on Lesbos, the coverage of the last five years has been rather poor. In retrospect, neither the situation in Moria nor on the other islands has improved fundamentally. Politically, there is a lack of will – not only on the part of the Greek government, but also in the rich countries of Europe. Even the decision by seven EU states to admit 1,600 children sounds like a bad joke and has so far been nothing more than hot air. After the attacks by local fascists and parts of the villagers, many journalists have disappeared again. Corona makes the information situation even more precarious, so we are exactly at the right place at the right time. Last but not least we have to stress that we want to promote an exchange with local antifascist structures. How does the local movement react in such exceptional situations. We know a similar situation in Germany. We still remember the events in Heidenau well.
At the moment the Corona crisis seems to overlay everything. The situation in the Turkish-Greek border area is hardly present any more. What is the situation on the ground?
Of course Corona plays a major role here too. Even if there is only one confirmed case on the island of Lesbos so far, it is harder to get an idea of the current situation in the camp from newspapers and timelines in times of pandemic reporting. But the camp and the situation in Moria play at least locally a role and every now and then an article makes it into the German speaking media. In general there is a great fear of the corona outbreak in the camp. The danger that the disease will be brought into the camp from outside is higher than that the people who are there have brought the disease with them, as racists like to claim.
There was already an appeal from Médecins sans Frontières last week to finally do something to improve the disastrous hygienic and medical conditions. The sewage, for example, is provisionally drained off in the so-called jungle via small hand-dug channels right across the entire camp. Furthermore, there are no isolation possibilities, no special treatment of high-risk patients, and no testing. There are an estimated 20,000 to 28,000 camp inmates, but only a handful of doctors. Much of the basic care is currently provided by volunteers and NGOs. For political reasons, for example, MSF has withdrawn from inside the camp and is now providing care outside the camp. SOS Children’s Villages has since ceased its work due to harassment by Greek authorities. Grassroots structures, such as the No Border Kitchen, are also wondering what to do now. The situation can change from day to day.
Yesterday we received reports of a fire in camp Moria, in which, according to current information, at least one child is said to have died. What tasks does the camp face after the fire?
Yes, there was a big fire and we were also on site. At that time the fire was finally extinguished. The cops tried to close off the entrances to the inner area of the camp, there were reports of arrests of journalists and in fact we could not see any of them inside. We talked to residents inside the camp. They told us that the camp administration and the police reacted much too late and that the fire probably burned for up to two hours. There is at least one dead child and camp residents inside are talking about another one. However, we do not know for sure, as yesterday there was also talk of five dead people for a short time.
If you ask what to do now: Well, you could build emergency routes and water connections and paint the walls a nice pink, but that won’t help. The infrastructural tasks alone, which the camp would face, are simply not up to the task, especially since they are the same problems as before the fire. We believe your question has to be answered on a political level: The existence of this camp is inhuman and it is illusory that something can be changed for 23.000 people in such a small space and on this island. The idea of the camps itself is inhuman and always linked to the politics of sorting and sealing off. Everyday life for the people there is hell, marked by misery, scarcity and massive violence by the police and, at night, often among themselves. We say that the camp must be shut down immediately and the people brought to the rich EU states. To us, there is no way around a full evacuation.
Again and again we receive information about attacks by Nazis on refugees, their institutions, journalists and NGOs. How do you see the situation on the ground?
The situation is very challenging to assess, because the information situation is difficult. Activists on the ground have started to compile a chronology of attacks, but many attacks on refugees often go unnoticed. We know that since October 2019 there have been frequent actions by organised right-wing groups. Very regularly there are road blockades and patrols. Thus, at least once the food transport to the camp was sealed off. And often this is an attempt to prevent journalists and NGO workers from entering the camp. But we have also heard about physical attacks and damage to property by fascists. So it is very likely that the fire of the non-state school and supply centre “One Happy Family” was set by these people. One notices that there is no intervention of the security forces. On the contrary, even the local press reports that they are directly involved in the actions against the camp, as are local politicians. In Lesbos, too, the shift to the right seems to bring to light what has long been a part of society’s attitude. This is also noticeable in the parliaments: With the “Free Citizens” (Eleftheri Politis) an explicitly racist party sits in the village parliaments and has won twelve seats in the regional parliaments of the southern Aegean. Subjectively, our experience so far was that we have felt animosity, especially after the two anti-fascist demonstrations on March 14. Nevertheless, we would feel more uncomfortable in some parts of Saxony than walking through the streets here in the evening hours.
Are there possibilities for antifascist counter-activities?
Sure, there are always and everywhere! For example, research work has worked well here so far. Especially as far as fascists from abroad are concerned, it has been possible to counteract them, as was shown by the example of the German IB’s (Identitarian Movement) or the Irish fascist Grand Torino. This led to the fact that these people now do not dare to come into public so easily and hopefully discourages others from coming here. That is why this is also an important field of anti-fascist work, which can be supported very well without being here.
Apart from that there are of course the usual activities like graffiti and antifascist demonstrations. However, we know a problem of the local antifa movement also from home. Especially in the rural areas, but also here in the capital of the island, the mostly young activists are not regarded as locals. Family ties still play a very strong role in the province. There it is not so much about a political attitude, but about personal conflicts. In addition, many of the villagers are armed and would also use these weapons, as could be observed in the recent uprisings against the newly planned closed camps. We have also heard from refugees that they protect each other and that this is of course an issue with them. Even the term antifa is familiar to many and has positive connotations. It is therefore a pity that we have not seen an organized joint struggle between Refugees and Antifa so far. In general, it will unfortunately be difficult for the local anti-fascist scene to reverse the political discourse on the island, because the right-wingers with their blockades and their anti-NGO attitude have found socially accepted forms of action and the antifascists now have to find an answer to this without getting stuck on the defensive.
What is the cooperation with NGOs and the inhabitants of the island?
Some of our local contacts work in the NGOs. The relationship is generally divided. There are residents who say that the NGOs would not improve the situation. It sounds to us like the accusation of misery administration. Of course many people on the island are frustrated and feel left alone. You always have to look at the whole situation against the background of a German-European austerity dictate for years. But none of this is an excuse for racist attacks. Nor is it an excuse for declaring NGO employees the target of violence.
On the other hand, there is of course also an emancipatory criticism of NGOs. But this is very constructive. On the one hand, there is internal networking of NGO workers, for example about working conditions within the NGO. The working conditions can also be harshly exploitative, fixed-term contracts, worse wages for Greek workers compared to Central Europeans. This network has fallen somewhat asleep due to current events. But people are now active on other levels, for example in organising demonstrations. On the other hand, there are also numerous solidarity projects on the ground, which do not necessarily have to have an NGO character. But in between there are often mixed forms. In the long term, however, we believe that we cannot avoid fighting together. With all the shitty things that the local people have to go through here, however, we have to look very carefully to see whether tourism has really collapsed and whether it is really due to the refugees that this is so. Yesterday we got figures on this, which we will have to look at first, if we can find a quiet minute here at all.
There is also a kind of NGO business from which many people on the island benefit. Taxis are used more, hotel rooms are rented out to NGOs, shops make better sales or have restructured their range of products to a cheaper price range in order to meet the demand of the refugees. We still have to talk to people a lot to be able to make really well-founded statements. It is important for us to demystify all the statements and to obtain reliable facts.
It is not possible for all activists to provide practical support on the ground. What do you think is a meaningful help for the people on Lesbos that we can also provide from elsewhere?
The most sensible thing would be if people in the rich countries of Europe would organize themselves and put massive pressure on these countries to finally accept people from the camps who are looking for protection. That will not be easy, because there are hardly any people among them who have not suffered trauma and health problems. But any person who still thinks that the European idea of human rights is more than just a hollow phrase should act decisively now.
Corona does not, of course, make things any easier now, but it may be an opportunity to point out the urgency of an evacuation. It is important that not only left-wing or anti-racist scenes are mobilised, but also broad sections of society. In our opinion, the people in this camp uphold human dignity and basic human and fundamental rights against Europe. We should take an example from them. For, in addition to the terrible things that happen in such a camp – after all, it is a situation of coercion in which people are trapped – there is also massive solidarity, openness and friendliness. People from the camp always welcomed us openly and friendly and helped us to avoid police barriers, for example, so that we could report and be eyewitnesses.
But also for those who just want to donate: We will try to find projects worthy of support in the next few days. But once again: The western left must finally learn to fight again, to address broader sections of the population and thereby build up pressure. Something has to happen now. We believe that this will bring more than a Solidarity party in the local Autonomous Center for a school project here. Because only this pressure can change the political situation. You have to keep in mind that conditions like in Moria take place on European soil and not in a civil war country. People who do not want to change this are complicit in every death, every victim of rape and violence in this camp. In Moria alone there are 8 000 children and young people whose future is being systematically destroyed by current policies.
Can you estimate how the next months will develop on the ground, what dangers do you see? Are there perhaps also opportunities that could develop from the situation?
That is a difficult question. We still have too little insight into the local situation. The fire has shown that things can always change or intensify spontaneously. It is important that local antifascist structures find answers to actions of organized Nazis. The time of a balance of power seems to be over and so there must be pro-active approaches on the part of the antifascists. But we don’t want to go too far, but rather talk even more to local people to understand the situation better.
Our comrades in Munich are co-organizing next weekend a demonstration against the annual Munich Security Conference (short SiKo). We share with you the general call and a call by Ende Gelände which focuses on the debate on safety and climate justice. See you on the streets of Munich!
From 14th to 16th of February 2020, international representatives from politics, military and (arms) industry will meet at Hotel Bayerischer Hof for the Munich Security Conference in order to „counter the world’s most pressing security risks.“ While various power blocs are competing for political influence and the access to resources and markets, remaining barriers to an economic exploitation of the world are to be removed. Therefore, instead of security for human beings – be it from unmediated physical violence or social immiseration – the MSC is about the legitimization and worldwide enforcement of capitalist rule. War here, increasingly authoritarian police laws there and militarized borders between them: the repressive administration of social contradictions – if by political or military means – is enacted as „Security“. The choice between various variants of the same is being presented as as „without any alternative“ so that it is impossible even to imagine a completely different future. Where humans are taking their destiny in their own hands, resisting the violent logic of this order, highly armed despots counter these projects with all their cruelty without having to reckon with serious opposition from other actors of the security conference. The defense of human rights appears at most as a legitimizing story for the next obnoxious event, but is as little a real issue for the MSC as the destruction of the ecological foundations of life on earth.
Whether as a contact exchange for the armaments industry, as a simulation of world politics or as a propaganda event for the status quo – the MSC not only stands symbolically for global rule and violence and is therefore the most appropriate occasion to take our radical hostility towards these conditions to the streets. We fight for a world beyond patriarchal and racist opressions as well as beyond state, nation and capital.
Join us at the protests against the Munich Security Conference on the 14th of February and let’s collectively demonstrate that there is no security for global power relations. For an end to violence!
No safety without climate justice
call by Ende Gelände Munich
Federal Call for demonstrations against the Security Conference in Munich
Come to the Climate Justice Block at February 14th | 18.30 | Gaertnerplatz, Munich
The hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich is going to host an international war politics debate for the 53rd time. Behind closed doors of splendid halls and a wall of thousands of police officers, representatives of politics, economy and military will negotiate conflicts and the economic interests of the richest countries in the world. In times of flight, drought and other consequences of the climate crisis, the Munich Security Conference is a symbol for the absurd conditions of our system.
War as a legitimate climate killer? You are insane!
Warfare and war preparations during so called “times of peace” immensely contribute to the human-caused climate crisis. War planes and war ships have an enormous fuel consumption. A Eurofighter without an afterburner uses up 70-100 litres of aviation fuel per minute. That is without talking about kerosene and fine dust, ultrafine particles and nitrogen oxides which are being emitted into the air. You cannot even compare a diesel to that.
The US military alone used up 42,6 million litres of oil every day in the year 2017. That means that more than 25 million tons of carbon dioxide were emitted. More than half of the world’s helicopters are used for military purposes and around a quarter of the usage of fuels come from warplanes, of which most are inefficient, carbonintensive and harmful to the environment” according to a study by IMI from 2019 [i]. The US ministry of defence is responsible for around 80 percent of the US energy consumption. That makes is a bigger carbondioxideemittent than Portugal, Sweden or Denmark [ii].
Still, high emissions and air pollution caused by military equipment is not the whole problem. There are also military bases that valuable biotopes get sacrificed for. Rare moors, forests and nature reserves must make room for military infrastructure. This happened when US Air Base Ramstein in Rhineland-Palatinate got extended to be the biggest airline hub of US Air Force in Europe [iii]. Floors are sealed, sensitive ecosystems destroyed and Co2 binding trees exterminated. Floors and groundwater are poisoned through industrial accidents or wrong waste disposal of toxins. On top of that, the production of radioactively enhanced Uranium, which is essential for the production of nuclear weapons, has a catastrophic impact on the environment. Poisonous arrears coming from ammunition – just like enhanced Uranium, Phosphor and Dioxins – that are used on exercise fields during manoeuvres and, in war areas, do the rest.
The fossils beneath the war
Politicians around the world do not talk about the catastrophic environmental consequences of warfare. Neither the Kyoto Protocol 1997 nor the Paris Climate Agreement from 2015 talk about military activities. However, the 20% of the world population who use up about 80% of the world’s resources are the same who profit from humanitarian crises. In order for us to keep our privileges, wars are waged, people killed and the environment polluted. This has nothing to do with democratic intervention as the Western Powers have argued sometimes.
According to IPPNW, it’s proven that oil, gas, other resources and transport routes were the reasons for most of recent western wars. Human rights are just the official justification and used as an excuse [v]. However, economic interests are obvious and no secret. Germany’s Defence Policy reads: “Free trade routes and a secure raw material supply are essential for Germany’s and Europe’s future. That’s why trade route and energy safety and following questions will play a growing role for our safety” [vi]. It is out of question that those raw materials are fossils like oil, gas and coal. Problematic: These resources come from regions with little infrastructure and/or countries of the Global South.
Resources for everyone – Climate Justice now!
Wars – with their high consumption of fuel and energy – destroy the bases for life of people in the Global South in a twofold mode. Forced displacement of indigenous people, civil war, mass extinction, flight and hunger is accepted in order for us to secure our privileged way of living. The Global North reacts with walls and securing external borders. Instead of taking responsibility for the causes of flight, the military increases its arms. The neo-colonial exploitation of the Global South is not only a question of human rights, but also of climate politics.
In our opinion, the solution is a new justice of distribution which means an immediate switch to 100% renewable decentralised energies. Prosperity for all means overcoming the exploitative capitalist system logic. We demand the immediate end of all neo-colonial wars and the end of negotiations in Munich serving one-sided economic power interests. We are striving for a world where everybody has access to vital resources – without being dependent on states and corporations.
Come to Munich on the 14th of February and join the Climate Justice Block. Let us take a stand for just conditions worldwide!
Ende Gelände Munich
Ende Gelände Bamberg