In contrast to many other European metropolises, the old and new Turkish President Erdogan was ahead in the German capital. According to rbb columnist Cem Dalaman, Erdoğan won because his supporters, including in Berlin, are afraid of change. Dalaman goes on to say that “he [Erdogan] has successfully hammered into their heads that he cares for them like a father”. He goes on to say that the opposition was neither strong or well-organised enough. This might count for those Berliners of Turkish origin who do not feel picked up by German politics, considering as well if they have had racist experiences. He closes his article by saying “Erdogan is also the strong man for them, their protector. An image that catches. Whether we like it or not”. Source: rbb
What lies behind the Tesla data leak
Customer bank details, employee addresses, internal information on battery production: the data leak at Tesla is massive. How was this able to happen? One potential reason is Tesla’s internal organisation. Despite its size, the company is still structured more like a start-up tailored to its boss. Also, what does it mean for the Tesla factory in Grünheide? If the suspicion that Tesla’s internal IT security precautions are inadequate is confirmed, the company will have to make improvements in its German factory. Since the data leak involves data from customers across Europe, the Brandenburg data protection authority passed the case on to the Netherlands, where Tesla has its European headquarters. Source: rbb
NEWS FROM GERMANY
Nationwide raid against Last Generation
Time and again, members of the Last Generation cause a stir with their actions, demanding better climate policy. Last week there were large-scale raids in seven federal states (Hesse, Hamburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Bavaria, Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein). The justification given for the searches relates to numerous criminal charges filed since the middle of last year. In addition, the group’s homepage was seized and shut down on the instructions of the public prosecutor’s office. The accusation is the formation or support of a criminal organisation. Many climate protection activists have reacted with sharp criticism. Source: dw
When even two jobs are not enough to live on
More than 3.5 million people in Germany have more than one job. This number has more than doubled in the past 20 years. Now the general secretary of the service sector union ver.di has said that Germany is becoming a low-wage country: “At twelve euros minimum wage, one earns a little less than 2,200 euros for a 42-hour week full-time. That is only about 60 per cent of the average income in Germany and thus not enough to live on.” According to the Paritätischer Armutsbericht (Parity Poverty Report), almost 17 percent of the population in Germany were recently affected by poverty. Source: tagesschau
Ver.di: new members, new responsibilities
Whether from the Deutsche Post, the civil service or the Deutsche Bahn: strike action has been on the rise since the beginning of 2023. The DGB unions negotiate for around eleven million workers, and in times of inflation, the need for organised negotiations is particularly great. It is in this context that Ver.di has gained 100,000 new members since the beginning of the year. We can all be happy about this, ver.di especially. However, the increased power and strength that these numbers represent entail obligations. Otherwise, the trend reversal of decreasing union membership will soon be over. It is not only a question of trade unions not promising their members what they cannot deliver, but also about involving their members in decision-making processes. Source: nd-aktuell
Genç family: determined against racism
On May 29 1993 there was an arson attack on the house of the Genç family in Solingen. Two young women and three girls died. The victims were daughters, granddaughters, and a niece of Mevlüde and Durmus Genç, who immigrated to Germany in the 1970s. The attack in Solingen is one of the most serious racist attacks in post-war German history. On the 30th anniversary, high-ranking politicians and representatives of the German and Turkish state will again come to the commemoration ceremony. However, Germany still owes to all the victims of racism the wish of Mevlüde Genç for a respectful and peaceful coexistence. Source: nd-aktuell
No reason to celebrate
The Minister for the Economy, Robert Habeck (Greens), has announced a relaxation of the proposed “heating exchange law”, which plans to make to heating of house more environmentally friendly. In doing so, he is taking account of the immense public uproar and the falling poll ratings for the Greens. This is understandable – but is bad news. Homeowners who believe they will benefit from rule loosening are mistaken. Once anyone who has a new ‘eco-friendly’ gas or oil heating system installed will soon be groaning under the rising costs of fossil fuels. Only if industry is forced to change over very quickly to climate friendly heating will this become the standard and thus cheaper. Source: taz
A Setback for India’s right wing ruling party in southern India
An analysis of the recent elections in the key state of Karnataka.
The recent elections in the Indian state of Karnataka saw the defeat of the hyper-nationalist and fascist BJP party of the Indian prime minister Modi, and the victory of the opposition Congress party. Karnataka is mostly known internationally for its capital city Bangalore, which is the so called “Silicon Valley” of India and home to most of the major IT and tech companies. While most foreign visitors to Bangalore see the IT companies and the glittering shopping malls, and are often perturbed by the horrific traffic jams, most people do not know that Karnataka has been ruled for the past four years by the extreme right-wing BJP. The ruling party in India since 2014, when it came to power under the leadership of Narendra Modi, established a regime based on religious majoritarianism, hyper-nationalism, crony capitalism, targeting of minority communities and large scale repression of dissenters, human rights activists, journalists and opposition political figures. While Modi is lauded and celebrated by Western governments, including Germany, India has slid down to some of lowest positions in international indices of press freedom, democracy and human well being.
The Karnataka elections are remarkable because the BJP legitimises its fascist rule by its election victories, which it consistently wins because of its control over money and media, and the extreme religious polarization it has engineered in India. By mainly targeting the Muslim minority in India as the “other”, it consolidates the majority Hindu votes into huge electoral victories. This is the formula which is the basis of Modi’s power. Karnataka, situated in the more progressive southern part of India, has been a laboratory for this politics of “Hindutva” – the right wing ideology of Hindu majoritarianism. The major thrust of this politics in Karnataka has been the terrorising of all opponents of this rightist ideology, including the killing by right-wing death squads connected to the BJP of M.M Kalburgi, a progressive scholar and critic of Hindutva in 2015, and Gauri Lankesh, a well known progressive woman journalist and editor, in 2017.
Over the last four years, this ideology saw some of its worst manifestations in Karnataka and the BJP ran its election campaign on the basis of this ideology. In media and popular discourse, the BJP’s election campaign was focused on “hijab, halal and hanuman” referring to three polarizing issues used to target the Muslim minority in the state. The BJP government in Karnataka had issued a ban in February 2022 on wearing hijab or headscarves by women Muslim students in educational institutions in the state. This direct attack on the personal choice of Muslim women in the state sought to delegitimise the community’s self-identity. Its effect was that thousands of young Muslim women were prevented from attending school or college for months and many even failed to take examinations.
The other move was to ban halal meat, the distinctive way following religious regulations in which Muslims prepare flesh for consumption. Additionally a total ban was imposed on the selling and consumption of beef, which has led to right-wing vigilante groups beating up and even killing Muslims, accusing them of selling and killing cows. The third issue of hanuman was a recent addition to BJP’s electoral campaign, as the opposition Congress had proposed a ban on a fascist group named after the Hindu god in its election manifesto. This group has indulged in numerous attacks on Muslims and Christians in Karnataka, including beating up and killing Muslims accusing them of selling and transporting cows, attacking and vandalising churches and attacking Muslim men for relationships with Hindu women. The BJP, especially Modi, represented this opposition proposal to ban this fascist group as an attack on the Hindu god, and took this up in every election meeting he addressed.
These issues just represent the politics of the BJP, and Modi, which it pursues all over India. In Karnataka over the last four years this has been accompanied by campaigns to economically boycott Muslims, passing laws similar to “racial purity” laws to prevent marriages between Hindu women and Muslim men, destruction of places of worship of minority communities, removal of Muslim voters from electoral rolls and a concerted campaign to push out Muslims from social and political life. This might sound chillingly similar to what happened in Germany in the 1930s, but something which most of the international public is not aware of.
At the same time as pursuing these fascist policies, the BJP government in Karnataka was mired in corruption, coming to be known as the “40% government”, as government officials and ministers regularly asked for 40% of the cost of government-funded projects as bribes from contractors. Rampant and illegal constructions in Bangalore, to satisfy the demands of an affluent minority connected to the IT and other multinational corporations, resulted in major infrastructural problems and environmental destruction. Destruction of green belts, natural habitats and lakes in Bangalore and all over Karnataka led to environmental disasters such as regular flooding and economic hardship for farmers.
The opposition Congress party, whose former leader Rahul Gandhi was recently disqualified from the federal Parliament, is generally considered to be so weak and disunited that it is not considered to be a match for the BJP in elections. However, in Karnataka it put up a spirited fight against the BJP, based on its local leadership. It based its campaign on social-democratic issues and promised to help out in the economic hardships of people by giving welfare guarantees. For once it criticised the majoritarian politics of the BJP, which it often does not for fear of losing Hindu votes. The Congress won the elections with a huge margin, winning 135 out of 224 seats and the BJP getting only 66 seats. A government of the Congress party took over power on 20th May, 2023.
While the defeat of the BJP in the elections in Karnataka gives hope, the situation in the rest of India is not so hopeful. Modi and the BJP continue to pursue the politics of polarisation and have complete control over the media, money and muscle power. Moreover, the legitimacy Modi gets from Western governments, which completely ignore the destruction of democracy that has happened in India under his rule, gives him extra popularity in the country. Based on this, the BJP hopes to win the elections for the federal parliament in 2024 allowing Modi to get another term in power. The only thing which can stop this is the mobilizing of the common people of India against the politics of hate and “othering” which the BJP follows, and international solidarity of all progressive forces with the struggling people of India. If this fails, India is unfortunately looking forward to a dark future of fascism.
At the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, the government plans to build a massive deportation prison. Already now, mass deportations via charter flights silently take place there every month. We want to break the silence and are organizing the “Stop Deportation! Protest Camp” in Schönefeld from June 1-6 2023.
Get your tents and sleeping bags ready! Only a few more days before the Stop Deportation! Protest Camp starts ✊✊
We expect around 500 people to sleep at the camp:
⛺️ 6 days full of workshops, trainings, panel discussions that focus on the daily realities of anti-deportation struggles
🎤 an evening schedule with live-concerts, films and theater
🍽️ 3 meals per day are taken care off
✨ there’s a kids programme, sports, library & exhibitions
🏕️ sleep in your tent next to the airport
📢 and at the end we will take to streets in protest against the planned deportation center at BER airport
The Camp will be a place for:
Workshops & Skillsharing
So many people and groups are already doing great work to fight and resist deportations and structural racism. Let’s share our knowledge and learn from each other.
The camp will show presence in the Schönefeld area and raise awareness about deportations, deportation detention and the perspectives of affected people.
We believe it is necessary to build a broader movement against deportations and for the right to stay. At the camp we can get to know each other better and connect.
Join the Camp from June 1-6 2023! To make our planning easier, please sign up for the camp at firstname.lastname@example.org (not mandatory, it is also possible to join spontaneously). In the sign-up email, please let us know how many people you will be, if you are organized in a group, if you can help us with translation or need translation for our workshops, or if you need support with anything.
Participation in the camp is of course free of charge. We will ask for donations for the food at the camp. Having little economic resources should not stop you from attending the camp. If you can’t donate anything, that’s no problem!
If you need financial support for travel expenses to the camp, please contact email@example.com as soon as possible. You will need to bring your printed ticket/receipt to be reimbursed. In order to reduce costs, please purchase your tickets as early as possible and consider using the “Deutschland-Ticket.” If you have the possibility to financially support the camp, please consider donating via our crowdfunding–
WE ARE HERE, AND WE WILL FIGHT! FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT IS EVERYBODY’S RIGHT!
DEMO: ABOLISH DEPORTATION Monday, 5 June 13:30 | Rathaus Schönefeld
During the Stop Deportation! Protest Camp, we will march together upon the infrastructure of deportation that is spread around Berlin airport. Let us take this time to express our verbal rage against this racist system, against this whole architecture of deportation at the airport and let it inspire us to turn Schönefeld into a regular place of anti-deportation resistance! After days of camping together with workshops and networking on how we can resist the system of deportation, we will take to the streets and loudly demand: Stop All Deportations! Abolish the racist machinery of deportation!
Not many people know that within the shiny new quarters of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), an inconspicuous facility operates, often unbeknownst to travelers passing by. This building is a detention center, constructed to deal with up to 24 individuals whose residence status is in question by the German state. However, this is set to change drastically. A far larger detention & deportation center has been approved by the Brandenburg State government, intended to expand the detention capacity to a staggering 108 places. It is benignly being referred to as an“arrival and departure centre” – painting an innocent facade and drawing attention away from the devastating track record of human rights concerns that have come with deportation in Germany.
The planned expansion was a murky process since its inception,with a formerly convicted investor projected to earn a minimum of 315 million euros over the next three decades and government intervention around hiding airline profiteers to protect them from public backlash. But most importantly, it raises critical questions about the future of Berlin, Germany and the whole of Europe.
“The reception and departure center in Schönefeld will be unique in Europe. The facility created sets new standards for rapid, networked processing of incoming and outgoing exit procedures directly at the capital city airport. It is a showcase project of international importance and top priority at federal and state level!”
With the current geopolitical and economic uncertainties around the world, as well as the imminent future of climate migration, the center’s opening is symbolic of the far-reaching implications for the future well-being of anybody without a German passport.The deportation centre is going to start being built this year, with aims to be operational by 2026. So, what is it, why should we be concerned – and what can we do about it?
Why is Germany deporting people?
In 2015, Germany opened its borders for over a million asylum seekers – a compassionate moment in the country’s dark history of displacement. While this decision was initially met with a lot of support, anti-immigration sentiment driven by centrist & far right narratives quickly grew over time. Deportation has since then become a routine event. Between 2015 and 2022, Germany has deported a total of 151,670 people. But what are the justifications? Unsurprisingly, media outlets & politicians in Germany tend to frame deportation as something that only happens to criminals to gain public support. Stories of stabbings and violence committed by men are always front and centre in the stories of deportation. Why wouldn’t you want to get rid of violent individuals? In reality, the morality of this narrative is actually a lot more diluted. You can be deported because your asylum application was turned down, or because you don’t have a valid residency permit. This is the reality for hundreds of thousands of people. The term criminal becomes a slap in the face.
One of the other justifications for deportation is the black-and-white fallacy around distinguishing refugees whether they are ‘genuinely seeking safety’ or not. In handling asylum cases, a clear hierarchy and categorization is created to measure deservingness. If you were applying from an internationally recognized war zone, it was more likely you’d receive protection. If you were from a state-defined ‘safe country of origin’ – your personal vulnerabilities, as well as systemic violence from the country you were living in, might not be good enough to qualify you.This critically discounts poverty, homophobia, political, ethnic & community violence – which are the main reasons people leave.
Germany gets to decide whether countries should be categorized as ‘safe’ to return to – and can arbitrarily decide to reverse their decision. This leaves many people living in fear of having their protection status revoked, and is extremely dangerous for people’s right to safety in the future. In 2021, the state banned all deportations to Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. They’re currently considering lifting the ban, despite the Taliban still being in power.
If the German state decides to deport you and you attempt to hide, you can be incarcerated in detention centers for up to 18 months. An estimated 50% of these detention orders were later found to be unlawful. Deportation enforces a violent separation of individuals from a country that they have come to see as a refuge or a new home. It involuntarily tears apart friends, families and communities – ones in which people have built up for months, years and decades.
The BER deportation centre is going to be really expensive. It will cost the Brandenburg state government a total of 315 million euros for rent and leases. This is all funded through taxpayer money.
The investor of the centre is Jürgen B. Harder –a well known & infamous investor notorious for his white collar crimes in corruption and bribery. Harder is projected to earn a minimum of 315 million euros over the next three decades from leasing the deportation center to the state of Brandenburg. “There are clear advantages of having an investor build and not the state itself: there is no need for coordination between the state government’s coalition partners,” a report by FragDenStaat states. The costs for the deportation center do not appear in the state budget until the construction is complete and the first rent to the investor is due. If the country were to build it itself, the money would have to be applied for beforehand. Then the finance minister and the state parliament would know – and could question the construction. In other words, the contract to build this deportation centre sidestepped democratic participation from politicians and the public.
To acknowledge the elephant in the room, it was not that long ago when German authorities decided to deport millions of Jewish, Sinti, Roma & others to their certain deaths. Deportation was first introduced in 1919 on the basis of antisemitism, even before the Nazi Regime. As time and history rolled forward, this became condemned globally as an indisputable act of cruelty. Today, the lessons that should have been learned from ‘Never Again’ get muddled when hard lines of justifications are used to excuse the harms inflicted on minorities. It isn’t genocide, but we need to call it what it is – state sponsored violence. We cannot forget that many of the people who seek asylum are still living with the direct consequences of a European colonial legacy. We can do better than this – this isn’t the foundation for the future we want to build.
Black & white public narratives about migration need to change – a 2020 report found that the majority of German media outlets covered migration in a negative way – only focusing on crime, violence, the costs of integration & ‘too much diversity’. Today, migration is a fact – European societies are imminently heading towards a trajectory of becoming more diverse. The BER centre is the tip of the iceberg, emblematic for the way they are choosing to handle it. We don’t (yet) live in an absolute climate of silence like that of the Nazi regime, so there is still much we can do to make our voices heard. Instead of spending millions in deportations and the detention, there are effective ways of increasing social cohesion and participation in our societies. Instead of spending millions on a deportation centre, we should demand for the money to be placed where it is continuously called out for – stronger community participation, social housing and combattingthe rising cost of living.
Activists in Berlin & Brandenburg have formed an initiative calledStop BER Deportation Centre along with a coalition of organisations. From June 1 to June 6 2023 their campaignStop Deportation! Protest Campwill take place in Berlin Schönefeld. Apart from making noise around the deportation centre, “the protest camp will be a place of exchange, protest and networking,” says Alexis Martel, press speaker of the initiative. “Workshops, lectures and panel talks are planned, as well as concerts, spaces for children and theater.” Everyone is welcome to join.
The recent attacks against the player Vinicius Jr. in the Valencia CF – Real Madrid match of La Liga highlights the racism in a part of Spanish society expressed through football. Unfortunately, football is once again the launching platform for racist feelings and thoughts. Not for the first time. In the past, players such as Wilfred, N’Kono, Eto’o or Williams were insulted because of their skin colour. But it goes beyond racism, LGTBifobic, sexist and regional insults when Basque and Catalan teams play – recur in stadiums. Outside them, insults and anti-democratic comments are also heard.
Racist incidents in Spain with football, also outside the game, are without any consequences. Sanctions on individuals, clubs, fan clubs, hooligans and supporters are insignificant with no long-term closures of football stadiums, or huge fines, or halts to the Liga or Copa del Rey championship. To date, no football match has ever been postponed for racism. True – one match was postponed in Spain (Rayo Vallecano vs Albacete in 2019) when fans shouted and chanted in a humorous way the neo-Nazi sympathies of the Ukrainian player Zozulya. Rayo Vallecano also suffered a fine of € 30,000 – paradoxically for displaying a fan banner against racism in the stadium.
There has been a lot comments about Brazilian President Lula Da Silva, who explicitly supported his fellow citizen. This set off alarms in Spanish sport and its press. An unprecedented campaign began against racism but gives only a superficial washing. Many in Spain believe that nothing will change without radical measures: suspension of matches, annulling scores and penalty points to teams whose fans show racism; harsh economic sanctions and bringing to justice hooligans screaming against coloured players. We remember the Dutch coach Guus Hiddink – who refused to start a Valencia vs Albacete match in 1992 – until a flag of the Third Reich was removed. In Spain we have had relevant figures standing against racism in sport, but unfortunately they not seen in the decisions of the official structures of Spanish football.
And this racism is not only when some events national or international events occur. On the TV when watching football, insults are also made. These bring out the lowest emotions of fans. The more firmly we stand up to bigots, the less racists can rant and rave during match broadcasts.
It goes beyond that. Football business and its marketing model highlights the Vinicius Jr. case. But under the iceberg an underlying racism comes to light in moments of sporting tension. And the danger is even greater with this model of football, with its staging, its marketing, its players elevated to gods and with media reaching all corners. These players, and what they do, are a reference for millions of children, adolescents and Spanish youth. Their gestures, fights, forms of expression, non-verbal communication penetrate and reach deep into the mentality of the youngest. And unfortunately no one teaches them what Guus Hiddink did in the aforementioned match.
In Spanish education, it is increasingly worrying how “bad football” is ever more present in our schoolchildren. This business football model with fighting is increasingly present in school breaks and leisure time. Even the rhythm of teaching in a school is altered by the tension and level of violence in the “little games at break time”. It is terrible how this current mode in sport conditions and emotionally alters our schoolchildren so much. If racist insults are normalized or go unpunished in Spain which is increasingly multiracial, it becomes a real problem. Therefore, the sooner action is taken, the better.
There are reasons for optimism. In Spain there is a growing awareness of what “bad football” means in society. There is an anti-fascist resistance that asks for steps in the football world.
Popular football continues to grow in Spain. There is a network that conceives this sport as something different, with social participation and democratic values are primary. Clubs that, along a democratic, citizenly and open operation, campaign against LGTBIQA+phobia; for the benefit of refugees; feminism; for the solidarity of the people or for the visibility of labor conflicts in their cities. These clubs are more and more rooted, and that gives a breath of fresh air as compared to a mercantilized Spanish football drowned by scandals. It is a question of regaining a narrative. A popular story of football that raises figures, clubs and events that dignify resistance against business football.
Also showing optimism, is the boom taking hold with women’s football in Spain. Ever more play football, and ever more interest grows in women’s football, which is linked to sisterhood and the healthy practice of sports. This is so needed in my country.
At the educational level, ever more female teachers create co-educational, inclusive school breaks and playgrounds with physical activities other than football. There is a growing sensitivity to educational proposals that conceive recess and playgrounds as diametrically opposed to business and racist football. In particular, in Sports Education, educational projects are developed to demand changes in the architecture and design of schools to give more diversity of physical activities to Spanish children. Against considerable social resistance, because in Spain football (and in this case “bad football”) is widespread. Removing football goals and balls from the playgrounds is a very hard battle.
In short, we cannot give up. The fight against racism is also a fight for an idea of sport and football – where socialization and the generation of positive values, health, inclusiveness, understanding between people and the democratization of society are connected. To fight against racism is to fight for a good football. To fight for a good football is to fight against racism.
Iván Fradejas de la Vega is a school teacher and affiliated to Unión Popular de Palencia Football Club. Translation from the original Spanish: Jaime Martinez Porro