Via mailinglists:

November 22, 2017

Please share widely in the respective communities:

‘Solidarity Messages for those in Transit’ is a video project that
emerged through the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone network. It aims to reach
travellers along their migratory trajectories, in order to support them
when they navigate the many border obstacles and traps that the EU and
its member states have erected in their paths. Through the videos,
survivors of the border regime who reached their desired destinations
and people still on the move, speak directly to the many thousands who
are forced onto dangerous migration routes or into inhumane conditions
in Libya and elsewhere, to those who risk their lives when escaping via
the sea, and to those who face oppression and the threat of forced
deportation after arriving in Europe. The videos were shot in Germany
and Italy, and share the insights of several people who survived the EU
border regime and continue to resist it. Based on their lived
experiences, they offer information, warnings, support and
encouragement. Some of the videos’ themes include ‘Safety at Sea’,
‘Fingerprints and the Dublin Regulation’, ‘Warnings against Frontex’ and
‘Asylum and Detention’. The first three videos about the fingerprint
issue have been released in Somali, Amharic and Tigrinya, with English
as the subtitle. While we face a time of repression in the aftermath of
the long summer of migration, there are still cracks in the system and
we hope that these videos will be spread widely, moving alongside those
who travel on despite Europe’s desire to deter.

You can help to share the video:

Youtube chanel with all videos:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8euh2Zh5e_PHnovsiUiCBQ/videos?disable_polymer=1

Amharic video – Kindesha: https://youtu.be/FVsf_yS53YA
Somali video – Abdulkadir: https://youtu.be/5zD87J9B-vY
Tigrinya video – Asefaw: https://youtu.be/Xy4i4MnEfO8

You can also share the videos via Facebook:

Somali:
https://www.facebook.com/watchthemed.alarmphone/videos/2012585879015645/
Tigrinya:
https://www.facebook.com/watchthemed.alarmphone/videos/2012580772349489
Amharic:
https://www.facebook.com/watchthemed.alarmphone/videos/2012560262351540
____________________________________________

Advertisements

#RefugeesGR Protests on #Lesvos Continue: #OpenTheIslands!

November 21, 2017

Please support …

Enough is Enough!

The protests of refugees on Lesvos island continue. In the past days conditions at the Moria refugee camp even got worse because of heavy rainfall. According to a post by Arash Hampay on Facebook. Hesam (who is on hunger strike) was questioned about his refusal to eat. Hesam replied that, “Until you set me free I will stay on hunger strike, because I didn’t do any crime, and if you deport me I might die there,” to which the policeman replied, “Ok. So you will die.” 

freehesam

Image: Hesam is on hunger strike for eight days now.  Image by Arash HampayFacebook profile.

Ursprünglichen Post anzeigen 610 weitere Wörter

Une lettre de Mehdi Kassou, représentant de la Plateforme Citoyenne de Soutien aux Réfugiés, à Rudi Vervoort, Ministre-président bruxellois

November 21, 2017

© Olivier Papegnies / Collectif Huma

Lettre ouverte de la Plateforme citoyenne de soutien aux réfugiés à Rudi Vervoort – © Olivier Papegnies / Collectif Huma

Monsieur Vervoort,
Monsieur le Ministre-Président,

Il y a maintenant de nombreuses semaines, fin septembre, vous annonciez le déblocage de 500.000 euros « pour la prise en charge de sans-papiers du parc Maximilien ». Annonce dont les médias avaient fait largement écho. Etait-ce davantage la recherche d’un effet d’annonce qu’une réelle volonté de rendre la réalité des acteurs de terrain et des résidents du parc moins difficile ? Était-ce davantage la recherche d’un écho médiatique sachant que votre promesse devait encore être avalisée par votre gouvernement ?

Il y a quelques semaines, le Conseil communal bruxellois votait la location et la mise à disposition d’un bâtiment à destination des migrants du parc Maximilien. Annoncée pour le 1e novembre, cette ouverture n’allait, nous le savions, vous, nous et tous ceux qui s’intéressent un peu à la problématique qui nous occupe, pas avoir lieu – au mieux – avant le 15 novembre, soit la date du début du plan hivernal.

Aujourd’hui, 17 novembre, si nous pouvons théoriquement disposer dudit bâtiment, nous sommes confrontés à d’énormes difficultés logistiques : les lieux ne sont pas équipés en sanitaires et ils ne sont pas sécurisés. Une présence sur place est nécessaire pour la gestion quotidienne de l’espace (dortoir, repas, …). Nous sommes, vous le savez, des membres de la société civile qui œuvrent à titre totalement bénévole, qui avons des vies familiales, professionnelles ou estudiantines à mener et nous ne disposons pas davantage de moyens pour encadrer l’accueil dans ce bâtiment.

Nous sommes le jouet de desseins politiciens

Une fois de plus, nous – et quand nous disons « nous », nous parlons des migrants et des milliers de citoyens bénévoles mobilisés pour les secourir – sommes le jouet de desseins politiciens qui occupent la quasi-totalité du temps des politiques belges en matière de lutte contre la grande pauvreté et d’accueil des migrants.

Nous ne pouvons malheureusement pas nous contenter d’un effet d’annonce et réclamons votre intervention urgente afin de garantir la mise en place d’un centre d’accueil offrant un minimum de dignité.

Des centaines de foyers, des milliers de citoyens contemplent chaque jour le lamentable spectacle, résultat des politiques migratoires belges et européennes inhumaines, tout en continuant, inlassablement, à faire ce qu’il faut pour que notre pays garde sa fierté et sa dignité.

Nous continuerons à accueillir, secourir, soigner, nourrir et loger des gens que les pouvoirs publics refusent de prendre en charge, uniquement par manque de courage politique

Nous refusons qu’au nom d’un électorat jamais tiré vers le haut, des êtres humains soient maltraités et renvoyés vers des dictatures avérées. Nous continuerons à accueillir, secourir, soigner, nourrir et loger des gens que les pouvoirs publics refusent de prendre en charge, uniquement par manque de courage politique.

Nous continuerons à défendre les droits les plus élémentaires de tout être humain et nous vous enjoignons à nous soutenir, au risque, peut-être, de perdre quelques voix électorales.

Nous espérons de vous et des moyens que vous mettrez à notre disposition : des installations sanitaires dignes ; une sécurisation de l’espace ; les moyens de l’encadrer ainsi que les outils de gestion humains et matériels.

Et si nous sommes exigeants avec vous, c’est avant tout parce que nous le sommes avec nous-mêmes. Nous le sommes dans la mise en place de tous ces petits moyens qui nous permettent de pallier, nous-mêmes, une fois de plus, de manière insuffisante, mais humaine au moins, les incuries de ceux qui nous dirigent.

Alors Monsieur Vervoort, Monsieur le Minsitre-Président, de quel côté serez-vous quand l’histoire se souviendra de Bruxelles en 2017?

Allez-vous nous soutenir, nous, citoyens qui aujourd’hui et depuis plusieurs mois maintenant, offrons le gîte, la protection, la sécurité et la dignité à ceux que personne ne veut prendre en charge ?

Publié sur la RTBF, le 17 novembre 2017

http://www.bxlrefugees.be/2017/11/19/lettre-ouverte-de-la-plateforme-citoyenne-de-soutien-aux-refugies-a-rudi-vervoort/

Via Fluchtliste:

November 20, 2017

Afghanistan: Weiterhin keine Lageeinschätzung möglich | Pressemitteilung NDR Norddeutscher Rundfunk

Ein neuer Hinweis auf die Proteste zum Bundesparteitag der AfD in Hannover, diesmal ein Aufruf des Niedersächsischen Flüchtlingsrats, der auch die Gegendemonstration supportet … es reisen aus mehreren Städten Gruppen an, um gegen den Parteitag zu demonstrieren …

November 20, 2017

Proteste gegen den Bundesparteitag der AFD am 02.12.2017 in Hannover

Noch eine Veranstaltung, diesmal aus Grone bei Göttingen …

November 19, 2017

Veranstaltungshinweis: Die Veränderungen auf dem Wohnungsmarkt in der Weststadt/ Grone

Der Verein IN-Grone (Verein für interkulturelle Nachbarschaft in Grone e.V.) lädt ein zur Diskussion

Die Veränderungen auf dem Wohnungsmarkt in der Weststadt/Grone

mit:

Dr. Michael Miessner, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen,
berichtet über die Entwicklung der Mietpreise in Göttingen und speziell in Grone

Hendrik Falkenberg, Ortsrat Grone, Göttinger Linke,
berichtet über die Pläne der „Adler Real Estate“

Bärbel Safieh, GroBiAn (Groner Bürgerinitiative Antifaschismus und betroffene Mieterin)
berichtet über die jüngsten Mieterhöhungen und die Aktionen des „Groner runden Tisches“
Rechtsanwalt Cornelius Blessin, Mieterverein Göttingen
berichtet über die zu erwartenden Mieterhöhungen wegen der Modernisierung

Donnerstag, 23. November, 19.00 Uhr, Nachbarschaftszentrum Grone
Deisterstraße 10, 37081 Göttingen

miete grone1117 web-001

miete grone1117 web-002

Ich hoffe, daß ich diese zwei – kostenlosen – Veranstaltungen in Göttingen hier nicht bereits geteilt habe … Falls doch, hoffe ich mehr informieren zu können … und vielleicht fährt ja auch jemand aus weiter entfernten Regionen dorthin …

November 19, 2017

Veranstaltungshinweis Göttinger Bürgerasyl

Die “Göttinger Initiative Bürger‘asyl – Jetzt!” lädt ein:

Freitag, 24.11.2017, 19:30, Literarisches Zentrum, GÖ, Düstere Str. 20, Veranstaltung mit Albert Scherr (Prof. Soz., Freiburg, Rat für Migration)

An diesem Abend wollen wir uns den Fragen rund ums Thema Bürger‘asyl aus Sicht des Soziologen, Mitglied des Rats für Migration und Freiburger Bürgers Prof. Dr. Albert Scherr nähern. Welche gesellschaftlichen Entwicklungen stehen hinter dieser bundesweiten Bewegung? Welche praktischen Schritte gehören dazu? Welchen Aufgaben stellen sich Bürger*asyle? Da in Freiburg bereits ein Bürger*asyl durchgeführt wurde, treffen wir an diesem Abend auf politischen Sachverstand und Erfahrungswissen gleichzeitig.

Mittwoch, 06.12.2017, 19:30, OM10, GÖ, Ober Masch Str. 10, Veranstaltung mit 3 KollegInnen von Bürgerasylen in Hanau, Frankfurt und Darmstadt und Claire Deery (RA‘in Göttingen)

Die KollegInnen aus Hanau waren bundesweit die ersten, die mit dem Hanauer Appell speziell für Afghanische Geflüchtete an die Öffentlichkeit gegangen sind. Ihrer Initiative haben sich im Rhein-Main-Gebiet inzwischen weitere Städte angeschlossen, die Ausstrahlung ins Bundesgebiet ist groß. Mit ihnen wollen wir an diesem Abend über praktische Fragen des Bürger*asyls und Bausteine in der Kampagnenarbeit sprechen. Die RA’in Claire Deery wird uns an diesem Abend zudem in rechtlichen Fragen zur Verfügung stehen.

Der Eintritt zu beiden Veranstaltungen ist frei.

Die Initiative BürgerInnenasyl-Göttingen ist aus dem Göttinger Netzwerk Solidarity-City erwachsen. Damit ist sie eine von mehreren Initiativen bundesweit, in denen derzeit aus der Zivilgesellschaft heraus Kirchenasyl unterstützt und ergänzt werde sollen. Ein wichtiger Schritt, denn die Kirchenasyle können die Menge von von Abschiebung bedrohten Geflüchteten nicht mehr auffangen. Die Zahl derer, die durch Abschiebungen grundlos schikaniert und gedemütigt werden, wächst aber weiter.

Die Göttinger Initiative Bürger*asyl – Jetzt! Ist zu erreichen über b-asyl-goe@lists.riseup.net . Weitere Informationen finden sie auch unter http://buerger-innen-asyl-goettingen.info/index.html . Dort können Sie auch unsere aktuelle Anzeigenkampagne mit ihrer Unterschrift unterstützen.

Via Fluchtliste:

November 18, 2017

Sondierungsgespräche zu Rückführungszentren: BumF veröffentlicht Auswertung zur Situation von Kindern und Jugendlichen in Aufnahmeeinrichtungen

 Im Rahmen der bevorstehenden Koalitionsverhandlungen fordert die Union, Asylsuchende bis zum Abschluss ihres Asylverfahrens, bei einer Ablehnung bis zur Abschiebung in Aufnahmeeinrichtungen (sog. Entscheidungs- und Rückführungszentren) unterzubringen und nicht mehr auf die Kommunen zu verteilen – begleitete Kinder und Jugendliche eingeschlossen.
Der Bundesfachverband umF hat 2016 im Auftrag von UNICEF Deutschland bundesweit Mitarbeitende aus Flüchtlingsunterkünften befragt. Eine aktuelle Auswertung des Bundesfachverbands umF in Bezug auf die Aufnahmeeinrichtungen zeigt, dass Kinder in diesen Einrichtungen besonders stark leiden. Es fehlt an Privatsphäre, kindgerechter Versorgung, Teilhabemöglichkeiten und Bildungschancen.

„Kinder benötigen ein Umfeld, dass ihnen Geborgenheit, Stabilität und Perspektiven vermittelt. Sie haben ein Recht auf Schule und KiTa. In Aufnahmeeinrichtungen wird ihnen dies vielfach verwehrt“ erklärt Adam Naber vom BumF, „Dass gerade diese Unterkunftsart nun über Jahre der Lebensmittelpunkt für viele geflüchtete Kinder und Jugendliche werden soll, ist ein Vorschlag, der die Entwicklungschancen von Kindern massiv gefährdet.“

Der Bundesfachverband umF fordert die Unterbringung in Aufnahmeeinrichtungen auf maximal einen Monat zu begrenzen. Hierbei darf es keine Ausnahmen geben für Familien aus sog. sicheren Herkunftsländern oder Personen im Dublin-Verfahren.(www.b-umf.de)

Zur Auswertung der Online-Umfrage

Herzliche Grüße,


Dörthe Hinz

Flüchtlingsrat Niedersachsen e.V.
Röpkestr. 12
30173 Hannover

Tel.: 0511/98 24 60 30
Durchwahl: 0511/98 24 60 37
Fax: 0511/98 24 60 31

Telefonsprechzeiten: Mo-Fr: 10.00 bis 12.30, Di+Do: 14.00 bis 16.00

www.nds-fluerat.org
www.facebook.com/Fluechtlingsrat.Niedersachsen

******************************************************************
Der Flüchtlingsrat Niedersachsen ist für seine Arbeit auf Spenden angewiesen.
Unterstützen Sie uns:

GLS Gemeinschaftsbank eG:
IBAN: DE28 4306 0967 4030 4607 00 / BIC: GENODEM1GLS
Zweck: Spende

oder werden Sie Fördermitglied im Flüchtlingsrat Niedersachsen e.V.
Spenden an den Flüchtlingsrat sind steuerlich absetzbar.

Steuer-Nr. 25/206/30501_______________________________________________

Per Mail via Fluchtliste:

November 18, 2017

Liebe Listenleser/innen,
vor einiger Zeit wurde bekannt, dass die Bundesagentur für Arbeit mit Weisung vom 12.07.2017 auch afghanischen Asylsuchenden einen Zugang zu Integrationsmaßnahmen des SGB III zubilligt. 

Mit erneuter Weisung vom 09.11.2017 (siehe Anlage) kündigt die BA nun an, dass diese Regelung nur noch bis 31.12.2017 Gültigkeit hat. Eine in 2017 bereits erteilte Zusage für einen Deutschkurs gilt aber auch für einen Kurs, der erst in  2018 beginnt.

Asylsuchende aus Afghanistan können – und das ist die weitreichendste Einschränkung – ab 01.01.2018 in KEINE Maßnahmen mehr zu ausbildungsbegleitenden Hilfen, zur assistierten Ausbildung und zu berufsvorbereitenden Bildungsmaßnahmen mehr vermittelt werden. .
Eine Förderung von asylsuchenden Afghanen/innen mit vermittlungsunterstützenden Leistungen der Arbeitsförderung (§§ 44 und 45 SGB III) ist dann grundsätzlich erst wieder nach einer Wartezeit von drei Monaten möglich, soweit die Erwerbstätigkeit nicht generell untersagt ist.

Es macht also Sinn, nunmehr mit viel Energie und noch viel mehr Erfolg afghanische Asylsuchende so schnell wie möglich in eine der noch möglichen Maßnahmen zu vermitteln. Haben Sie afghanische Asylsuchende beschäftigt oder haben Sie mit ihnen zu tun, dann lassen Sie nicht locker, notwendige Unterstützungsleistuungen für sie zu erstreiten!

Offenbar zeigt sich bereits jetzt, dass der Rückzug der Sozialdemokraten in die Opposition der Ordnungspolitik Flügel wachsen lässt. Das BMI war im Sommer 2017 gegen den Einbezug afghanischer Flüchtlinge in (unbedingt sinnvolle) Integraionsmaßnahmen. Sturm gelaufen und scheint sich nunmehr bestätigt zu fühlen. Dabei sind es nicht nur Akteure der Flüchtlingshilfe, sondern auch Ministerpräsidenten/innen, die vehement eine Öffnung dieser Unterstützugnsinstrumente für alle Flüchtlinge fordern, die eben keine „gute“ Bleibesperspektive haben, – allein schon deshalb, weil deren Asylverfahren schon sehr lange dauern.

Bleibt abzuwarten, wie die neue Ressortbesetzung an diese längst überfällige Beseitigung von Integrationshemmnissen herangehen wird; – die jetzige Entwicklung lässt nicht optimistisch in die Zukunft schauen.

Herzliche Grüße

Norbert Grehl-Schmitt
Caritasverband für die Diözese Osnabrück e. V.
Fachbereich Projektentwicklung
Knappsbrink 58, 49080 Osnabrück
tel.: +49(0)541-34978-161
Fax: +49(0)541-34978-4161
Mobil: +49(0)173-3909258

Received via Mail on coyote-list:

November 18, 2017

Intervention – “1.5 year City Plaza: A Project on the Antipodes of
Bordering and Control Policies”
Olga Lafazani

The idea of a large-scale housing squat for refugees was first proposed
in September 2015 among the “Initiative of Solidarity to Economic and
Political Refugees”[1]–a grassroots coalition of groups of the radical
Left in Athens. At the time, the “summer of migration”, as it would
later be called, was continuing. Most migrants passing through Athens
were in transit, as the “Balkan route” was still open and the borders
could still–more or less–be crossed. This meant that the need for decent
housing was not yet imperative. In this context, the Initiative decided
to organise different mobilisations and actions of solidarity in various
public spaces in Athens.

However, in the months that followed things would change. The signing of
the EU-Turkey agreement on 18 March 2016 and the gradual closing of the
Balkan route led to the entrapment of more than 50,000 migrants in
mainland Greece, while effectively transforming the Aegean islands into
a buffer zone between Turkey and Greece. These developments meant that
housing quickly became an emergency issue, especially in light of the
statutory response being confined to the creation of refugee camps and
“hotspots” in remote areas under harsh conditions.[2]

At the same time, the presence of solidarity movements–previously
celebrated in the media all over Europe and rewarded with Nobel prize
nominations[3]–gradually diminished in mainstream discourse and was
repressed by the state. Solidarity groups were increasingly forbidden
from entering the camps, and control over the volunteers was enforced,
even in informal spaces such as the Port of Piraeus. Furthermore, groups
were systematically accused of inciting demonstrations and riots,
leading to members’ arrests in certain cases.

In these circumstances and after a month of intensive preparations
following the signing of EU-Turkey agreement, on 22 April 2016 we took
over City Plaza, an abandoned eight-floor hotel in the centre of the
city, transforming it into a housing project and hub of struggle.[4] The
decision to squat came as a “radical answer”, activating a multi-scale
response to the re-establishment of borders. What we proposed–namely,
co-habitation in dignified conditions in the heart of the city–went
against the social and spatial exclusion of the camps. It was also a
counter-attack against the illegalization of the antiracist movement by
mustering an excess of solidarity and grassroots self-organisation.

The City Plaza squat offers an experience to its participants that is
very different from other political and activist projects/movements. It
brings together and unifies seemingly disparate struggles and themes on
social, political, and ideological levels, such as social solidarity and
political disobedience, offering a counter-example and making concrete
political demands. It organises everyday life while furthering the
broader struggle for rights and freedom.

If you can’t do it, we can

Drawing on the experiences of radical unionism and self-organisation,
City Plaza is a counter-example that stands in stark contrast to the
dominant policies of managing the “refugee crisis”. Day to day, City
Plaza proves that if the antagonistic social movement–with access to
limited resources; without any institutional or organisational funding;
reliant only on donations; without employees and “specialists”–can run
one of the best spaces for housing refugees in Greece, then the model of
the “camp” becomes a question of political choice. Through the
counter-example of City Plaza, we challenge the dominant narrative that
“there is no alternative” to camps, within the discourse of the
“emergency” and “refugee crisis”.

The City Plaza project contains a double movement. On one hand, it
articulates a wider demand for social and political rights–for proper
housing and provision of basic needs, and for free access to education
and healthcare. At the same time, however, these rights are also
produced in City Plaza from “below”. Those who were deprived of their
right to dignified housing, to healthcare and education, can now
exercise these rights within a self-organized structure. In this sense,
City Plaza is not just a counter-example contrasting the dominant
policies around the “refugee crisis”, but an example of how
self-organization can function and produce social rights from the ground
up, thus exemplifying emancipation and solidarity.

However, City Plaza does not simply pose questions around migration or
self-organization and rights. It also touches upon multiple dimensions
of the social and the political. For example, squatting in private
property is an action that challenges a core value of capitalism, which
sees ownership as the most “sacred” of all rights. By taking over City
Plaza, we pose the question: is the right to own an unused eight-floor
hotel more important than the right to use this property as a house for
400 people who are in dire need of accommodation? Squatting in private
property for social purposes challenges the co-relation between legality
and social justice.

The location of the building, in the Aghios Panteleimonas area, was also
a political decision. This Athens neighbourhood was where the far-right
party “Golden Dawn” first came together and holds a strong social base
to this day.[5] In such a neighbourhood, City Plaza forms a space of
everyday encounter and intervention. It also exists as an organised
space that acts as a barricade to fascist action.

Organizing everyday life, or, Challenging the border between host and hosted

Everyday life in City Plaza should not be romanticised as an easy or
smooth process. In some ways City Plaza is a “peculiar” transit village,
comprising 400 migrants from around ten different countries, living in
110 rooms. Every hotel room is home to a family and every floor is a
neighbourhood of people who until recently were strangers to each other.
There are common spaces: a cafe, a big kitchen, a dining room, a storage
space of basic personal hygiene items, an assembly hall, a children’s
room, two schoolrooms, a women’s space, and a healthcare clinic. Another
15 rooms are provided for people who work in solidarity with City Plaza,
both those from the initial collective and those from all over the world
who come, for shorter or longer periods, to participate in the project.

City Plaza is “peculiar” in that it has no “social structure”: its
residents don’t share the social or ethical codes that are created
elsewhere through commonly held religion, education, language, or sets
of social relations. The residents of City Plaza come from diverse
places, have had different life experiences, speak different languages,
and have different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. At the same time,
they also face different challenges, have different opportunities, and
different plans and dreams for their future. Last but not least, it is a
“transit” village because the vast majority of its residents dream of
leaving Greece and reaching Northern Europe.

City Plaza stages a “meeting”: while the solidarity group is involved
because it is part of a wider struggle against racism, exclusion, and
capitalism, refugees themselves first and foremost need safety and a
dignified space in which to live. In this sense, City Plaza is very
different from other political social centers or squats as it is not
composed of a more or less homogeneous group that has actively decided
to participate in a self-organized and collective project. Rather, it is
the meeting of many different experiences, practices, backgrounds,
languages, and expectations.

This actuality renders it a challenging but also a fascinating political
project. What for other projects would be the ground agreement, such as
anti-racism or anti-sexism, in City Plaza is part of the everyday
struggle: it is the goal and not simply the starting point. In this
sense, the solidarity collective that participates in the project
shoulders a lot of responsibility. Ranging from the very material but
demanding work of raising donations of goods and money (and the
interminable difficulties involved in this endeavour), to the
maintenance of the building, to raising awareness, solidarity, and
political support for the project and its wider political claims, to the
most challenging aspect, the organisation of everyday life. Different
working groups form a structure for sharing this responsibility:
reception; the kitchen; storage; the financial, medical, and security
groups; the children’s activities; and the teachers. All these different
groups consist of people from the solidarity group but also of the
refugees themselves. The project demands a lot of commitment: some of us
were here on the first day and we will be here until the last.

For every person or family that comes to live in City Plaza the process
begins with an exhaustive discussion with the Reception Group. The
purpose of this discussion is to explain the project’s nature, to
clarify that the squat is not an institutional space but an occupied
hotel supported by donations, that the people involved are not paid but
are there voluntarily because they believe in the project, and that new
people themselves have to actively participate and share
responsibilities. However, the way this discussion is understood depends
on the context of one’s lived experience. People unfamiliar with similar
political and social spaces often struggle to translate into their own
experiences the reasons and motives that drive us to participate in such
projects. For many people solidarity is something expected by family or
close friends but not by strangers. In this sense, “understanding” does
not come from words but from actions. It also comes with time, by living
together, by sharing food, responsibilities and struggles, difficulties
and problems, relaxation and joy. This was illustrated the day that all
of us gathered to stop the water company from cutting off the supply.
This collective action was much more “convincing” for the residents, as
it exemplified how City Plaza is not a given, institutional space, but a
space that can only be supported and maintained by standing together and
fighting side-by-side.

Everyone needs to participate in the everyday life of City Plaza. Among
the people who live here are chefs, translators, teachers, and doctors.
An established rota system ensures that adults from every room have a
shift once a week, participating in cooking, cleaning, serving food,
washing dishes, etc. This participation is crucial for the project to be
self-sustaining and not dependent on help from “volunteers”. However,
this structure is also a political decision. Sharing everyday
responsibilities also means the coming together of different people–in
terms of age, nationality, gender, and so on–who cooperate and work
together. Furthermore, it stands against the relations of dependency
that usually evolve in institutional shelters. This participation
creates the conditions in which people don’t feel useless, don’t feel
that they are only “assisted” but that they are the ones who can assist,
who are responsible for different tasks, who take care of their own
space. As “J”, a woman from Iran that has lived in City Plaza since day
one, put it: “In City Plaza I was for the first time a person with
responsibilities acknowledged by all others. People were coming and
asking me what to do. That was very unique for me.”

Henri Lefebvre wrote in 1968 that everyday life is not only about
tedious tasks and preoccupations with the bare necessities, but also
about the coincidence of need with satisfaction and pleasure, the
extraordinary in the very ordinary, the feeling of fulfilment. For the
residents of City Plaza in some ways this process of participation and
sharing responsibility is a process of political and social emancipation
within everyday life.

However, participation is not limited to doing everyday work but also
involves decision-making: every 15 days there is a “House Assembly”, a
meeting of all the residents; and every week there is a co-ordination
meeting–a smaller gathering including people who are more involved and
have lived longer in City Plaza–and the meetings of the many different
working groups. Nevertheless, the process of decision-making, the
decisions that can be made in the assemblies, the ways of participating
and not participating, the different ways in which people understand and
become members of this “peculiar” community, and so on are and will
continue to be a challenge.

A community of struggle

From the organization of common life to articulating wider demands and
mobilizations there is a multi-scale process of trying to create a
community of struggle from below, a struggle on the antipodes of the
policies that manage “flows” of people on the one hand and the industry
of “aid” projects by NGOs on the other.

However, the creation of a community of struggle is not an abstract
claim but a result of political action. The common struggle is the goal.
Still, certain initiatives and projects take place within conditions of
harsh inequality, partitioning of rights, and antagonisms between the
oppressed. This contradiction cannot be overcome voluntarily, just
because we willed it to be so and invited others to join us. In other
words, a belief does not exist in the existence of “islands of freedom”
within the wider relations of exploitation and domination, within the
world of capital and the state. The belief that does exist, however, is
that between the cracks created by social struggles, moments of
emancipation grow and come to light, the horizon of our possibilities
expands, and we can catch glimpses of a society of freedom and equality.

In this sense, within City Plaza “refugees” are not seen either as a new
“revolutionary subject” nor as victims who just need our help to
survive. Against romanticising on the one hand and victimization or
fostering relations of dependency on the other, we are promoting
collectivity, cooperation, and cohabitation. We are experimenting with a
different possibility of thinking and living our everyday life. City
Plaza is a space where strong collective social and political
experiences are produced, where self-organisation, cooperation, and
resistance are manufactured–for a short time or for a while longer.

Notes

[1] The Initiative of Solidarity to Economic and Political Refugees was
launched in the summer of 2015 mainly by four different radical Left
groups long active around issues of anti-racism, anti-fascism, and other
social and political struggles. The main groups that are still active in
the City Plaza squat are: (1) Diktio–the Network for Political and
Social Rights, a collective active since the beginning of the 1990s
mainly around issues of anti-nationalism, political prisoners, and
migration struggles; and (2) Aren/Onra, a collective of young people
that used to be part of Syriza but left after the referendum of the
summer of 2015.

[2] In SocietyandSpace.org’s forum “Governing Mobility Through the
European Union’s ‘Hotspot’ Centers” there are many interesting
contributions on the system of managing migration in Europe with many
references to the Greek case. See
http://societyandspace.org/2016/11/08/governing-mobility-through-the-european-unions-hotspot-centres-a-forum/
(last accessed 3 November 2017)

[3] See, for example,
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/24/greek-islanders-to-be-nominated-nobel-peace-prize
and
http://www.euronews.com/2016/02/04/refugee-crisis-a-nobel-peace-prize-for-the-heroes-of-the-aegean
(last accessed 3 November 2017)

[4] See
http://solidarity2refugees.gr/refugee-accomodation-center-city-plaza/
and
https://www.youcaring.com/refugeeaccommodationandsolidarityspacecityplaza-716186
(last accessed 3 November 2017)

[5] Golden Dawn started being active in Aghios Panteleimonas after 2008,
when the first signs of the financial recession were obvious in Greek
society. Focusing mainly on “clandestine migration” in the following
years, their social influence widened and they formed groups that
attacked migrants daily, keeping the square of Aghios Panteleimonas
“clean”. Their street action was downgraded in 2013 when most of the
leadership of Golden Dawn was arrested for the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.
Still today, however, Golden Dawn is stronger in the electoral
departments around Aghios Panteleimonas than at the national scale. For
more on the development of Golden Dawn in the centre of Athens, see
https://ejournals.epublishing.ekt.gr/index.php/ekke/article/view/6739
(last accessed 3 November 2017)

Olga Lafazani
PhD, Department of Geography, Harokopio University, Athens
Member of City Plaza Squat

https://antipodefoundation.org/2017/11/13/intervention-city-plaza/

https://hua.academia.edu/OlgaLafazani, olgalafazani@yahoo.gr

_______________________________________________