|This is the first report from the camp of the campaign "no one is illegal"on the german-polish border, july 24th till august 2nd.||
On early tuesday morning activists established two new border crossings
across the Neisse border river near the German town Goerlitz. Each year
and especially in summertime the green outerborder is used by thousands
of migrants and refugees, who are not allowed to enter the "Schengen"
countries. In fact, the border here is really green and river is only
ten meters wide.|
But in the southeast part of former East Germany these days ten thousand new border patrols are being stationed to detect "illegal" border crossings. The borderline hacking on tuesday morning has been organized from the "no one is illegal" camp, where average 300 people have gathered near the small town of Rothenburg to protest against the European migration policy. With German police forces being slightly confused, polish military guards managed to arrest two activists and cut the new bridges under construction and seized the beta version of the pan-European ferry boat.
Simultaneously, a press conference took place at the same location to stress the right of free movement for everybody and to proclaim free access for all to Europe. In the afternoon some dozen campers on bikes lead the field of the regional cycling tour called "Sachsendrundfahrt" in "no one is illegal" tricots. In Goerlitz they crossed the finish line ten minutes before the professional sportsmen.
In the evening a discussion took place about the huge amount of deaths along the new wall along Fortress Europe. Flight assistants (called 'coyotes' on the American-Mexican border), who were recently arrested, reported about their motivations and experiences. Flight assistance has got a long tradition in Central Europe: During facism hundred thousands of refugees from Germany were smuggled into neighbouring countries, during socialism this profession gained true status supported by the former West German government. After 1989, flight assistants have become public enemy number one. Even more so: According to statistics of the german border place up to 70 percents of the arrests of illegal border crossers goes back to information provided by local inhabitants. The reality of these denunciations is confronting the camp with a double-bind: on one hand, we, activists are trying to inform the local population with information and the distribution of a free magazine (with a circulation of 20,000 copies), while on the other hand the camp policy is toprotest against this dominant popular mentality of fear against the "criminal foreigners" and to fight against collaboration with the police. The main aim is to support those people who offer to the incoming new European citizens some discrete help on their most dangerous part of the travel.
The camp started last weekend with a 36 hours rave, attendedby 800 people mostly from the region. On monday the camp joined by an all-italian reggae sound system drove to Goerlitz stopping on the way in every village to hand out the newspapers. Afterwards, a manifestation took place on main square of Goerlitz. Under the slogan "Jump across the Border", Germany's most famous basketball player, Henning Harnisch, played a symbolic game with the city youth in front of the monument for the victims of facism, dating back to communist time.
At the moment taxis drivers plus supporting vehicles are cruising through the area of Goerlitz. The reason for this has been several court cases against local taxis drivers who can be sentenced to two years in prison just because transporting refugees within German territory. [Photo report]
By and large, local media have been responding to the actions in aincreasingly positive way. These days the camp is making headlinenews in a zone full of apathy and resignation. Up to now the strategy has been succesful to act in a careful, but offensive way. So far, there has not yet been confrontations with neo-nazi gangs. Heavy police presence has yet been limited to roadblocks and some ID-controls on the streets.
A few weeks before german elections the camp is an attent to intervene in the ongoing public debate about racism and migration issues. The campaign "no one is illegal", which started at documenta X/Hybrid Workspace one year ago, demands freedom of movement for everybody in a period, in which even so-called left wing governments of European countries are obsessed with restrictive laws and can only opt for repression and the fiction of closed and controlled borders.
Follow up to the second report (wednesday august 10, 1998)