“Crossing Borders” – From the Edge of Society in the Middle of the Markusplatz

Political Refugees from Iran to Start Education and Protest Action

Bamberg, 2nd July 2012

We, Iranian students, had to leave our homeland because we pushed for human rights. Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression were denied us on a daily basis. To avoid being imprisoned and tortured, we fled to Europe hoping for help. On the winding path that brought us to Germany, we were at the mercy of traffickers and government officials. More than once, we were in danger of losing our lives. We petitioned the German government, which promotes human rights the world over and encourages the Iranian democracy movement, for political asylum.
We have now experienced a year of living in a German asylum seekers’ accommodation, which means living without personal privacy, in confined space, with strangers. We are given food, but it is institutional food and boring. Indeed, living in Roßdach also means living in isolation, effectively cut off from the rest of German society. In our “exile”, isolated on the fringes of society, and without an opportunity to interact and contribute, we are becoming apathetic. Some of us appear at times even to have lost the will to live.
We are three free and open-minded students, and are not affiliated with any political, religious, or other group. Our goal: to again lead a “normal life” – one without fear for personal safety – as productive members of the community. Additionally, we aim to achieve an improvement in living conditions for all asylum seekers in Germany – including and especially here in Bavaria. Therefore, we have decided to protest – not against society, but in the midst of society and in person-to-person dialogue. This way, we feel, we can best draw attention to the refugees and their unique situation and needs. We urge the responsible parties to make drastic changes in asylum policy as it is implemented, so that all who seek protection in this country, for the duration of their asylum procedure, can lead the fullest and most decent life possible. Because of that we protest: peacefully and nonviolent but determined.

Specifically, we seek:

  1. The acceleration of the asylum procedure for all asylum seekers, and more transparency at the administrative level. This will ensure that procedures are clear, and that our responsibilities are understood. The applicant must be given the opportunity to take a personal hand in his or her asylum procedures. For that they need adequate legal advice and a competent translator. It is unacceptable that people are left for years in a dead-end and disabling state of uncertainty that necessarily drives them to despair and even thoughts of suicide.
  2. Freedom of movement without restrictions on asylum seekers. The possibility to be involved in civic and community processes, to build friendships and learn about German culture, should be a given.
  3. Work permits for asylum seekers. Instead of living on benefits, we also will be useful members of society. We want to contribute our skills and training, but are condemned to inaction.
  4. To improve the ability of understanding and integration of asylum seekers. We call for state-funded German language courses and access to training and education.
  5. That the accommodation of asylum seekers in remote areas be ended. The living conditions in the camps must be improved, in particular the connection by public transport and proximity to community centers. Staying in such a “shared housing” should be restricted to only a minimum period – as it is already done in other regions of Germany.
  6. Choice for food and clothing. We are responsible people with individual needs. The dull repetition of the same pre-packaged food takes from us even the smallest sense of self-determination. In-kind benefits should be replaced by cash benefits, to allow us to make our own choices.

Our demands correspond to the human rights and the ideals of humanism! We ask the German government and all institutions and organizations active in the field of asylum policy, for these improvements.

And Thanks!