Deportation is a crime - The Voice - a self-organised group of African refugees

'Deportation is a crime' was the slogan that was shouted angrily from the platform of a van that was positioned directly outside the headquarters of the border police in Koblenz on 15 October 1999. The demonstration outside this central deportation authority was called in conjunction with a European-wide day of action against European immigration and asylum policy. The speaker on the platform knew, not only from his own experience, what he was talking about. He belongs to The Voice, a self-organised group of African refugees in Germany that was formed in 1994 at a refugee camp in Thueringen. Three out of the four founders of The Voice were deported within the first three months and only the fourth managed to escape deportation by seeking refuge in a neighbouring European country. Nevertheless, the remaining person had to stay in hiding for months, but he managed to fight for his legalisation and in the end even achieved the legal recognition of his refugee status and thus the right to stay. The Voice has since held and organised countless days of actions and demonstrations to problematise and condemn human rights abuses in Africa, as well as the support of corrupt African governments by European states. The Voice also opposes all forms of deportation, as well as all forms of social exclusion that are imposed on refugees and migrants in Germany on a daily basis. The Voice views the increase in racist politics and policy as a "continuity of neo-colonialism”.

Refugees from various African countries, like Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, etc. have come together in The Voice. They see their biggest success in changing the attitude of other refugees and migrants who have been encouraged to stand up publicly for their rights and interests. Although members of The Voice and some of their supporters are continuously facing the threat of deportation, new Voice groups have emerged in various cities in eastern Germany.

The Voice got involved with 'The Caravan for the Rights of refugees and Migrants' during their national initiative in 1998. 'The Voice' and the Human Rights Organisation in Bremen have become the pillars of the caravan.

Given this background, 'The Voice' decided in autumn last year to call for a 10-day refugee congress, that is going to take place over Easter in Jena. More than 500 refugees, migrants and supporters are expected to participate at this congress. Amongst the expected groups are various delegates from the Sans Papiers and migrant organisations from various European countries. The idea is to enable a Euopean-wide exchange of ideas, with the aim of strengthening and increasing the upcoming self-organisation of refugees and migrants, as well as to build intensive links between these networks and overall to develop common and long-term goals/perspectives.

There are many good reasons to support 'The Voice' during and after the Refugee Congress. As 'The Voice' has written itself: 'If anti-racist, anti-fascist and other social organisations are really concerned that refugees and migrants become part of the progressive movement, they will have to draw attention to refugee's and migrant's situation, their financial problems and their social exclusion too'.

The Voice Africa Forum
Schillergäßchen 5
D -O7745 Jena
Tel.: 03641 -665214
Fax.:03641 423795
Please pay donations to:
account number: 231 633 905
bank number: 860 100 90
Postbank, Leipzig

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