[Video]Evicting the Unwanted: Berlin’s Refugee Crisis

The Ohlauer crisis: a watershed moment for asylum policy in Germany?

From Equal Times

By Sharon Dodua Otoo

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On 24 June 2014, Kreuzberg – a vibrant, multicultural neighbourhood of Berlin – was virtually turned into a police state overnight.

<p>Local government and police mishandling of the situation in Ohlauer Strasse almost brought the situation to near fatal disaster.</p>
Local government and police mishandling of the situation in Ohlauer Strasse almost brought the situation to near fatal disaster.

(Photo/Ole Ukena)

Up to 1,720 officers, some in full riot gear and armed with machine guns, were deployed in an area no bigger than a few blocks.

They were there to remove 40 refugees who were staging a roof-top protest against their imminent eviction from an abandoned school building on Ohlauer Strasse.

Hundreds, at times thousands, of demonstrators came out to support the political demands of the refugees.

The siege lasted for eight days, during which time freedom of movement – even for members of parliament and journalists – was completely restricted.

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“We want our freedom!” Refugees resist in Berlin

Post image for “We want our freedom!” Refugees resist in Berlin

The resistance of a group of refugees against the eviction of an occupied school building in Berlin is exemplary of migrant struggles across Europe.

Originally Posted in ROAR Magazine

For eight days, a small group of about forty refugees from different but mostly African countries have been occupying the roof of a vacant school building in Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood. The former Gerhart Hauptmann School on Ohlauer Strasse had been home to more than two hundred people since October last year, ever since a nationwide wave of refugee protests culminated in a six-hundred kilometer long protest march from the Bavarian town of Würzburg to the center of the country’s capital, Berlin. The refugees first set up camp at the central Oranienplatz, and later moved on to occupy the vacant school building where they were holding up, awaiting the slow processing of their asylum applications.

Last Tuesday, June 24, the police evicted the majority of the two hundred refugees who had sought shelter in the occupied school, but a group of between forty and eighty refugees and fellow-activists refused to leave the building, instead moving onto to the roof to resist their forced eviction. Some of the refugees have threatened to jump if the police moves in on the building. In the words of 32-year old Adam from Sudan: “There are some people here who have been waiting in centres around Europe for years only to have their asylum request rejected. They stand to lose everything – they’d rather jump off the building than get caught.” Continue reading