Speech given at the LINKE Neukölln rally, “Unite the struggles,” 28th August 2021
My name is Phil Butland. I’m the speaker of the LINKE Berlin “Internationals” group, which tries to connect and activate non-Germans in Berlin.
Voting rights for all
When we set up our group – 7 or 8 years ago – one in ten Berliners had no German passport. Now, nearly a quarter of Berliners do not have German citizenship.
We live here, we work here, we pay taxes and rent here – we are Berliners! But we have few or no voting rights.
At the general election, only Germans are allowed to vote. At the local elections, EU citizens may vote, but not people from other countries – this means that Britons now have no voting rights here. Non-Germans also can’t vote in the referendum for fair rents, even though we all must pay high rents.
We demand “no taxation without representation.” If you pay taxes, if you pay rent, you must also be allowed to vote.
Not just victims
Many of us are in Germany because of the foreign policy of Germany and the EU. Some of us are refugees – here because of war, famine, and the climate crisis. Others are so-called “economic migrants.” German foreign policy is responsible for a youth unemployment rate of over 50 percent in some South European countries. That’s why many of us are here.
But we aren’t just victims – we are fighters. Ten years ago, we occupied the squares in Spain, we went on strike in Greece, we made the Arab Spring. Then we fought against our own governments – and we are still fighting them. If the German government attacks us, we’ll fight them too.
Unite the struggles
But we know that we can’t win on our own – we are too weak and there’s too few of us. That’s why we need you. But you need us too.
We are now in Germany, and are fighting together with our German comrades for better working conditions, for social justice, and for fair rents.
When health workers strike, non-Germans are also there. When there are protests against rent rises, we are there. When there’s a fight against racism, we’re there – often as the people who are affected. Our strength is our unity.
That’s why I’m proud to be speaking at a rally that’s called “Unite the Struggles”. We need you. You need us. We’re only strong when we’re united.
Come to Summer Camp
I don’t want to speak for too long, but before I stop, I want to make you an offer. Every year, the LINKE Internationals organise a Summer Camp on the edge of Berlin. The next one takes place next week-end.
In the Naturfreundehaus Hermsdorf, we’ll hear speakers from Western Sahara, India and Turkey, speakers from Migrantifa, the Jewish Bund, and the trade unions. And of course, we’ll hear speakers from die LINKE and Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen.
We’ll be talking together about the coming elections and referendum, and how we can bring Germans and non-Germans together. We invite you to come and talk with us, to celebrate with us, but also to join our fight.
The ruling class always tries to divide us. They say we must fight against each other. Our message is the opposite – we need each other. We must fight together.
Hasta la victoria siempre! Hoch die internationale Solidarität!