• Tom W

News round-up 18th January 2020

BERLIN


Investigators find hit list on computer of Neukölln right-wing terror suspect

The names and addresses of over 30 potential targets have been found on the hard drive of the main suspect in a police investigation into right-wing attacks in Neukölln.


Authorities have informed people including the left politician Anne Helm that they were on the list dating back to 2013.


The drive was seized in spring 2018 during a house search but could apparently only be decrypted last month.


For Ferat Kocak, a Left politician in Neukölln whose car was set alight in early 2018 in one of the right-wing attacks, the new findings are "a shame on the investigating authorities".


"The terror list from 2013 should have been uncovered long ago," Kocak told Neues Deutschland.


Kocak and other victims have been calling for an inquiry to examine failings in the investigations in to the right-wing attacks.


He said the NSU affair, in which police failed to investigate a series of murders carried out by neo-Nazis for over a decade, showed how right-wing elements within the state could be obstructing investigations.


Berlin rebrands "Aliens Department" in attempt to welcome migrants

Instead of an Ausländerbehörde ("Aliens Department"), Berlin is now the first state in Germany with an Einwanderungsbehörde ("Immigration Department").


Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) explained the name change, saying: "We have to make people who want to immigrate feel welcome.


"The Berlin economy is urgently dependent on the immigration of skilled workers," he added.


The reborn foreigners office will provide a central complaints unit, legal and procedural advice, and an interpreting service.


However, Berlin's Flüchtlingsrat ("refugee council") said it did not believe the new name would change anything, pointing out that the department would continue to be responsible for deportations.


"Instead of the symbolic renaming, we call for a reorientation of the authority in terms of content and culture," it said in a statement.


University staff demand end to temp contracts

University staff in Brandenburg have formed a new coalition calling for the end of temporary contracts.


The alliance Frist ist Frust says precarious working conditions at workplaces such as the University of Potsdam lead to burn-out and high staff turnover.


The trade unions GEW and ver.di, and the Brandenburg students' association BRANDSTUVE are among the members of the alliance.


Frist ist Frust has called for a nationwide day of action, and protests have been held in Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main.


Police raid alleged Chechen militants

Police carried out raids against alleged Chechen Islamist militants at nine locations across Germany, including the Berlin suburb of Marzahn-Hellersdorf.


Police said those targeted were aged between 23 and 28 and were suspected of scoping out locations for a "serious act of violence".


"Suspicious photos" had allegedly been discovered on the phone of one of the suspects.


As well as Berlin, police stormed properties in the Brandbenburg towns of Seelow and Ludwigsfelde; in Arnstadt, Thuringia; and in Hagen, NRW.


Police said they seized "cash, cutting and stabbing weapons and data".


GERMANY


States demand right to take in refugees

More than a hundred cities and districts are demanding permission from the Federal Ministry of the Interior to take in more refugees.


The alliance Städte sicherer Häfen ("Safe Haven Cities") is part of the Seebrücke initiative. The first localities joined together in July 2018 to take in refugees rescued from distress at sea quickly and without complications.


After being rescued from the Mediterranean Sea, people seeking protection have faced long waits on board the ships of aid organisations until EU states agree to take them in.


Bundestag Vice-President Claudia Roth said: "Dying in the Mediterranean is a cruel normality".


Attack on office of black MP

The office of one of Germany's two black members of parliament has been attacked.


Karamba Diaby posted a photo online showing what appear to be bullet holes in the window of his office in Halle, in eastern Germany.


The social democrat MP has spoken about being targeted by racists in the past.


There was widespread condemnation of the attack. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said the incident was "disgusting and cowardly".


Diaby and Charles M Huber became the first black MPs in Germany when they entered parliament in 2013.


Mother threatened with losing children over Kurdish activism

Court proceedings have begun to decide whether to take away the children of a woman involved in Kurdish solidarity activism.


The public prosecutor filed charges against Zozan G., a mother of five, at the family court in Oberhausen. She is accused of "indoctrinating" her children.


Zozan's 13-year-old daughter had joined a peaceful march of Kurdish activists from Mannheim to Karlsruhe in February. The march was a legal protest, although Zozan's daughter wore a vest bearing the portrait of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned Kurdish left leader. Showing Öcalan's portrait is a criminal offence under German anti-terror legislation.


The daughter had also been present at a March 2019 action at the Düsseldorf state parliament in which activists sat down on the floor in the foyer.


Zozan says her daughters are voluntarily involved in politics and find out about planned activities themselves via social media.


Law to end "scandal" of unnecessary operations on intersex children

Politicians from all parties have signalled agreement on a draft law to end the practice of unnecessary "gender alignment" operations on children.


The dgti, an organisation which advocates for the rights of intersex people, welcomed the move.


Operations on children to "correct" ambiguous internal or external sexual characteristics to comply with gender norms, which are cosmetic and not medically necessary, will be banned.


Jean Riedel, spokesperson for the dgti, told Neues Deutschland: "This means that intersex people will no longer be forced to undergo surgery, but will be able to decide for themselves." The draft law provides that young people aged 14 and over can decide for themselves whether they want to have an operation.


The Greens and the Left Party made commitments in 2011 backing an end to the practice. The CDU and SPD also included the issue in their coalition agreement.


Sources: Neues Deutschland, rbb24