The Left Berlin News & Comment

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Die LINKE Neukölln AG Straße

Fighting homelessness in Neukölln


23/06/2022

The number of homeless people and people affected by poverty is very high in the district of Neukölln. Due to the austerity policy of the senate towards homelessness and the ever worsening gentrification of the district, services have been cut in recent years and funds for socially vulnerable people have been reduced.

The AG Straße was founded to draw attention to and address the political and social needs of homeless and socially vulnerable people. Through our work, we hope to identify failures in and solutions to the current social care infrastructure and pass these up within Die Linke party to achieve changes in policy. The AG Straße sees itself as a voluntary and donation-based working group of the Left Party in Neukölln. In order to understand the needs of those affected, it is essential to talk to people and to address their needs.

To this end, a focal point of our working group is that we cook and serve a warm meal on the streets of Neukölln once a month, normally on the last Sunday of the month. Through this we hope to become visible and reliable points of contact for people affected by homelessness. 

Behind the scenes, we are working on projects and campaigns to draw attention to the problems that homeless people face and to bring about political improvements in the provision of services for vulnerable and socially disadvantaged people in Berlin.

In the long term, we want to contribute to ensuring that all people in the district of Neukölln have access to adequate care infrastructure.

We are committed to alternative forms of housing and want to enable everyone to live a self-determined life with the support they need.

During the Zeit der Solidarität (Time of Solidarity) we have been carrying out interviews with homeless people and those in precarious living situations in Neukölln, and will conclude the week with a Kiezfest on Hermannplatz this Sunday, 26th of June, between 14:00-18:00. Come along and bring your friends, there will be music, speeches and food for all on a pay as you can basis! If you would like to find out more to get involved with the monthly meal distribution or our upcoming campaigns and projects, please get in touch at agstrasse.linke-nk@posteo.de. 

Kotti und Co

The tenants’ community at Kottbusser Tor


16/06/2022

In 2011, some social tenants at Kottbusser Tor, then and now one of the poorest neighborhoods in Berlin, found the third rent increase within a year in their letterboxes. What followed was a journey that has yet to stop. First, an open letter was written, asking to end the rent increases. After all, this was social housing and still at the time more expensive than the free market average in Kreuzberg.

One year later, the first iteration of the Gecekondu, a protest hut built from pallets, was constructed on the sidewalk. Few were read into it and we had no roof, but we made a promise: We won’t go away until our problem with high rents is solved. Weekly demonstrations, a conference on social housing and other topics and 24/7 protest at Kottbusser Tor followed. We did not fight only against high rents anymore. The protest is about dignity, it is about migration, the right to the city and friendships that seek and find the common ground in order to fight for our common goal: A safe and just future, right here where we belong.

10 years after that day when we constructed the Gecekondu, a lot has been achieved, from social rent freeze to re-nationalization. We even have a roof now.

To celebrate the victories, honour former members and have a great time, join us on Saturday, 18th of June, from 3pm at our Gecekondu at Kottbusser Tor (Admiralstraße).

There will be food, a lot of music, face-painting for kids and we’ll present the most bizarre case of bad landlording, a co-production from Deutsche Wohnen and Howoge.

More Infos here.

Watch our documentary here.

 

Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland

Representing the interests of Black Germans and standing up for justice in the migration society


09/06/2022

The Initiative Scharze Menschen in Deutschland (Initiative of Black people in Germany) which was formed in 1985 as the Initiative Schwarze Deutsche, has become the oldest self-organisation by and for Black people in Germany.

The formation of the ISD led to the book “Farbe bekennen”, which as the first publication by Black people laid a foundation stone for the young Black movement.

If we speak today of the young Black movement, this is because before the initiatives which exist today there have been socially relevant activities by Black people in Germany for a long time already. So, for example, in the 1920s Black workers, trade unionists, artists and colonial migrants join together to fight for their rights and life plans.

The contributions in “Farbe bekommen” laid the foundation stone for the political work of the ISD and shape it in part until today. For example, the book contributions from May Ayim and Katharina Oguntoye discuss German colonial history from the perspective of Black people for the first time, and present their effectiveness on a global and local level.

The ISD represents the interests of Black people in society and politics and wants to make a legislative impact. The subjects everyday racism, racist violence and police violence are a central focus of the work. Black resistance for is is primarily a fight for the recognition of this perspective.

The aim is the advancement of the political participation of Black people and the improvement of their living conditions in German. We demand an anti-racist stance in all areas of politics (education, residence, citizenship, asylum laws) and that the reality of different and interlocking forms of discrimination are recognised. In the awareness that collective political work is essential, the ISD organises networking of Black and migrant communities. This is how we connect the fights in the 20th Century which colonial migrants and anti-fascists fought against exploitation, discrimination and persecution. In this sense, the ISD shows solidarity with displayed people, in order to make it clear hear that flight and migration are an immediate consequence of European colonialism.

The ISD recognises and points out the different experiences and background of Black people, at the same time as making clear the possibilities of acting in solidarity and collaboratively. The initiative offers individual and collective experiences as a resource to use for political reflection and social engagement. We organise meetings like the yearly national and regular networking meetings and organise events like Black History Month, the Homestory Deutschland exhibition or the European networking meeting for People of African Descent & Black Europeans.

The ISD does not understand itself as the only representative of Black people in German, much more as part of the Black community with all its NGOs, initiatives, organisations and projects.

SAOT

The Palestine Solidarity Festival in Berlin


02/06/2022


The word SAOT means sound in Arabic. The sound of Palestine has been silenced since 1948, when Palestinians were forced to live under the threat of dispossession and survive within the conditions of enforced displacement. The disappearance of most Palestinian archive materials and historical narrative, as an existing nation of own culture, language and heritage. The sound of Palestine simulates the physical characteristic of sound forces. It forever intertwines ist appearances and disappearances, simultaneously, in the process of creating a sonic event.

Why

Berlin has always been a hub for cultural and political activism. People from West Asia and North Africa have arrived in Berlin with fraught stories. Having made experiences in the wake of the past years in which they revolted in manifold waves of discontent and demanded freedom and dignity. There is a real thirst for a thriving cultural and artistic life that mirrors the languages, roots, and newly created practices of people from the WANA region. Within this wider picture Palestinian communities in Berlin, the biggest in Europe, are completely marginalized from the city’s cultural life, politics and public spaces. The collective space is further disrupted by the locally enforced fragmented geographies of Palestinian communities worldwide.

SAOT – The Palestine Solidarity Festival confronts the efforts of undoing these injustices and contributes to the decades-long battles manifested through resistance and art. As struggles for justice, in a strongly networked globalized world, are intersectionality intertwined and our identities are shaped by one another, a festival that centres around solidarity reconnects the mutual longing of the diverse diasporic communities in Berlin.

What we want

SAOT – The Palestine Solidarity Festival in Berlin is an initiative that wishes to transcend the Palestine question beyond the usual boundaries, discourse limitations and restrictions usually exercised upon it in the mainstream German Culture and Media Landscape. Thus, the festival creates a time and space where Palestine can be discussed, so it can be informed about as a contemporary political issue that holds emancipatory potential and decolonial power. Our aim is to refocus the Palestine question on people while breaking through the walls of exceptionalism imposed constantly on this question.

By creating a platform for Palestinian artists to present their art as well as historical Palestinian culture, we share and celebrate our identities with the Berlin community and initiate a collective space for Palestinians to reconnect. SAOT – Palestine Solidarity Festival extends this space for queer artists, films, literature and people to raise the question of what queer theory and Palestinian liberation share, a defining resistance to elimination and an enduring commitment to not getting rid of their own issues. As such, queer politics is and can certainly become a decolonial practice, just as decolonisation has a clear kinship with queer dissident resistance.

When and where

SAOT- the Palestine Solidarity Festival will take place in Berlin from June the 3rd to June 26th 2022 at various locations across the city such as Oyoun, Al Berlin and the Centre Français de Berlin.

What we do

The events in this festival cover four main categories:

  • Music: The festival will present and merge different musical genres. This combination does justice to the musical and geographical diversity of historical Palestine. In an act of solidarity, musical contributions from artists from other parts of the world will be presented.
  • Film: A selection of films by international and Palestinian filmmakers will be shown. These films revolve around the Palestinian cause and intersectional anticolonial topics.
  • Art: The exhibition ‘Eine Heimat mit uns’ aims to visualize variable homes through memories and relics that you have brought with you, lost or had to leave behind. For the realization of this exhibition, we ask you migrants, regardless of their origin, to share their experience with us by sending us a picture of such an object that is meaningful to them and explaining the special meaning of this object with a short text. These items are intended to represent an interpretation of the abandoned homeland. Regardless of whether this home was or is a dream or a nightmare for them. The various objects carry multiple experiences with them, with which we want to present a vision of these homes. A vision that may one day become reality.
  • Discussions and Talks: The festival will present a series of discussions and talks that take a critical and timely perspective on the Palestinian question within the local-German context, the wider perspective of global order and intersectional struggles. Cooking events, book exhibitions, Tatreez workshops, theatre performances and literary events will complement the festival activities.

Who we are

We are a collective of Palestinian artists and activists in the diaspora, who aim to mobilise around the culture and politics of the Palestinian question and intersectional struggles.

Ararat Collective

An Armenian antifascist collective founded during the Artsakh war in 2020


27/05/2022

Ararat collective was founded by Armenians in Berlin following the 44-day war against Artsakh by Azerbaijan, which together with its Turkish and Islamist allies killed over 4,000 Armenians and ethnically cleansed over 70,000 in the Fall of 2020. During the protests against the war, we realized that we needed a platform for Armenians who actively oppose colonialism, imperialism and patriarchy in all their forms, and who wish to focus on an internationalist approach to resistance—building links and practical solidarity between all of the communities targeted by Turkish fascism, including Assyrians, Yazidis, and Kurds.

Together with members of these communities we started to meet and exchange and organized several demonstrations under the call “United Against Turkish Fascism”. We found many 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation exiles from our region who are eager to engage in conversations and get to know each other here in ways that are not possible under the shadow of fascism and war in our homelands.

At the same time, Germany is not exactly a safe refuge for our communities. Besides facing deportations and racism as other migrants and refugees, there are also very real threats from Turkish fascist organizations such as the Grey Wolves (Ülkücü), which are estimated to be the largest fascist organization in Germany with 18,000+ members. More broadly, many Turkish migrants remain ideologically aligned with the nationalist, panturkish and religious-chauvinist doctrines of Turkey and Azerbaijan, such that daily racism, threats and genocide denialism are a constantly reopening our wounds in schools, the streets, and the media.

Furthermore, the German state, politicians and capital remain deeply invested in their military alliance with Turkish imperialism, and heavily police our communities and our resistance. The media here is also largely silent on Turkey’s aggressions, war crimes, genocide denialism and acts of ethnic cleansing and ethnocide. This is particularly painful given Germany’s deep complicity in the Armenian and Seyfo Genocide of 1915 as an ally of the collapsing Ottoman empire and then the Young Turk’s regime. There has been almost no official recognition of how German leadership knew of the three Pasha’s intention to annihilate the Ottoman minorities and yet continued to supply weapons, infrastructure and logistical support, while arguing that the “disloyal” Armenians deserved it.

The response of EU governments—but also of civil society and the left—to the war has been shockingly inadequate if we consider that the fact that a Turkish state that still denies the genocide it was founded upon has now gone to war with the remaining people it could not destroy and has announced its intention to “complete the mission of the forefathers”, as Erdogan recently stated, while continuing to use terms like Lebensraum at a high level of government.

All of this means it is more crucial for than ever Armenians to come together with each other and with potential allies, especially those of us who are not blinded by the hypocrisy of Western ‘humanitarianism’ and ‘democracy’ and do not succumb to the wishful thinking that after 106 years the West, or Russia or any other great power is willing to save us from this perilous moment.

Last but not least, Armenian diasporic life is a space of great potential joy and divergent experiences. We have much to learn much from one another and about the cultures and politics we have been part of and the places we have called home after the Aghet—the catastrophe. Armenians in Berlin come from the state of Armenia (East Armenia), from West Armenia (occupied by Turkey), from Syria, Iran, Lebanon, California and all over the world.

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