German Pilots Show the Way: Stop
Through Workers’ Actions!
Germany: Oury Jalloh and
the Fight for Refugee Rights
Thousands came out on January 7 in Dessau, Germany for a memorial demonstration for Oury Jallho on the 13th anniversary of his death.
Full Citizenship Rights for All
For a Revolutionary Multi-Ethnic Workers’ Party!
The following is a translation of the article first submitted for Streikkurier No. 1, the rank-and-file newspaper of the Berlin student assistants’ strike, where it appeared in slightly edited and abridged form. It was also issued as a leaflet by the Internationalistische Gruppe, German section of the LFI.
After 13 years of cover-up and delays, the gruesome death of Oury Jalloh in a Dessau police cell remains unsolved. The refugee from Sierra Leone was handcuffed by hands and feet on a fireproof mattress in 2005, yet he burned to death in police custody. It has just come out that in early 2017, even the prosecutor responsible for the case had given up the long-refuted thesis of self-immolation, and presumed murder, based on the expertise of eight specialists (including medical, toxicologists and fire experts) – whereupon the case was taken out of his hands.
For years, friends and relatives of Oury Jalloh have been fighting this cover-up of an obvious murder. They organized a commemorative demonstration in Dessau on January 7, the anniversary of his death, as in previous years. More than 4,000 people came to the small town, both from the region and beyond. The regional train from Berlin was so full that the doors could barely be closed. The mood was combative, many brought homemade posters and banners against racism.
Down With the War Against Refugees!
We not only want to commemorate Oury Jalloh, as well as to finally bring to light the truth about his murder. In his memory, we want to continue the fight – for the rights and the lives of countless others like him. Oury Jalloh is a victim of the one-sided “world war” against refugees. The only “crime” of the many people who come to Germany is the attempt to flee from persecution and misery – conditions caused by imperialist powers like Germany.
The list of victims is long. Laya-Alama Condé died in 2005 in Bremen after he was force-fed vomit-inducing substances by the police who claimed he was a drug dealer. Dominique Koumadio was shot dead in 2006 in Dortmund at point-blank range by a police officer in “self-defense.” In 2014, private cops of the nursing home operator European Homecare abused refugees in North Rhineland-Westphalia. For five years, up to 1,000 policemen periodically besieged and harassed the Gerhart Hauptmann School in Kreuzberg [Berlin], which was occupied by refugees for lack of other housing. Last Thursday [January 11], they were finally expelled – under the aegis of the district government of Greens, Left Party and SPD (Social Democratic Party). German border police have also been deployed abroad, from Greece to Africa. The list goes on and on, because its systematic – it’s the system!
The worldwide war on refugees continues to escalate – from the U.S.-Mexico border to the Mediterranean. The short “summer of welcome” [in 2015] for refugees in Germany is long gone. Racist attacks on refugees and others have massively increased. Just on New Year’s Eve, security guards at a Cottbus refugee shelter opened the door to a Nazi squad and then looked on as they beat up residents. The symbiosis between state agencies and fascist gangs is an open secret, at least since the NSU revelations.1
According to the bourgeois consensus, the racists are the alleged “voice of the people.” Politicians including Left Party leader Sahra Wagenknecht are joining in the hate campaign against refugees, allegedly to “contain” the AfD (Alliance for Germany).2 In fact, it is the racist policy of the bourgeois mainstream, currently mainly directed against Muslims, which fascist forces increasingly incite and encourage.
Labor Must Take Up the Fight for Refugee Rights
Dessau, January 7: The Internationalistische Gruppe participated in the powerful protest and called for a worker/immigrant action to stop deportations, and for a socialist united states of Europe.
It should be clear: An attack on one is an attack on all! And attacks on refugees are always the spearhead of more widespread attacks on the multiethnic working class in Germany, as well as on the democratic rights of the entire population. Thus, a temporary jail for G20 opponents just before the G20 summit in Hamburg last summer was “central reception center” for refugees.
Immigrants, regardless of their legal status, must have full citizenship rights, including equal freedom of movement in Europe. Under the Dublin III regulation, all asylum seekers now in Germany who traveled through other European Union countries can automatically be returned to those countries. Down with Dublin III and all deportation laws! Class-conscious trade unionists must use their social power to defend immigrants against racist attacks and stop deportations through union action. This is possible: from January to September 2017, 222 deportations were prevented by the refusal of pilots to transport involuntary passengers. With 18,000 deportations over the same period, that’s not so many – but it does show a perspective. Transport workers unions could generalize the courageous actions of individuals and defend their members against reprisals.
The bourgeoisie and its state use racism to split the working class along ethnic lines. The struggle for immigrant rights is therefore not a matter of charity, but a necessary precondition for an effective, united struggle against the whole capitalist system, which necessarily reproduces evils such as exploitation, inequality and war and thus is ultimately responsible for the misery of those who are expelled and forced to flee. ■
- 1. It took the German police more than a decade to even notice the existence of the “National Socialist Underground”, which carried out bombings, bank robberies and killed nine immigrants from 2000 to 2011.
- 2. The rightist Alternativ für Deutschland, which now has deputies in the national parliament, is increasingly just a legal cover for fascist elements.