Statement on police brutality in the reception center in Donauwörth on 14th of March

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On Wednesday, 14th of March, police forces showed extreme brutality towards the inhabitants of the reception center and arrested at least 29 persons. This happened after a legitimate protest against an attempted deportation. The location of those who were arrested is still unclear. There was no violence against humans on the side of the refugees. The charges of “breach of peace” and “grievous bodily harm” are utterly unfounded and constructed and will need independent evidence.

Refugees and human rights organisations have been criticising the inhuman living conditions in the reception centre (EA) in Donauwörth for months. The minister of the interior, Herrmann, used the false accusations against refugees spread by police as a pretext to personally travel to Donauwörth on Friday to continue his electoral campaign with right wing demands such as more police and more deportations.

The refugees in the EA of Donauwörth have released a statement (see below), in which they reject the unfounded accusations against them, demand the release of the prisoners, the recognition of their asylum applications, working permits and protection from the police.

Antiracist innitiatives and human rights organisations are stating their solidarity with those involved and with their demands. In addition to this, these groups demand the dismissal of the social workers who have violated their mandate towards the refugees in the EA.

We, the refugees of Donauwörth, demand that the unfounded claims, that we used violence against the police and that we threw furniture out of the windows, are withdrawn immediately. The police came to deport our colleague and began knocking at the doors to all our rooms between 3 and 4 in the morning, as they could not find him in his own room. Around 100 people of different nationalities woke up and demanded with their voices to immediately stop of the deportation. At around 2 pm more than 50 police vans and over 200 special police unit officers entered the camp armed with pistols, tear gas, batons, knives, ropes, rifles, dogs and pepper spray. They locked us in our rooms and barred the main entrance. Everywhere in the house they blocked the passages while taking our personal details and searching our rooms. They were seeking at least 29 people with a list of names, which had been obtained that morning with the help of the social workers and security personell. They threw tear gas canisters into the camp and sprayed pepper spray into some rooms as well as into our eyes. Some people fainted, others jumped out of the windows to save themselves. Window panes had to be broken to allow fresh air to enter the rooms, as all the windows in the EA are locked.

The demands of our previous protests have been, and remain, the recognition of our asylum applications, the closing of the transit camps or transfer to private appartments and the right to participation. Furthermore we demand the release of the prisoners.

We want to declare our solidarity with the refugees of Donauwörth and demand independent investigations concerning the violent police operation against the protests in Donauwörth!

We demand that the social workers of the charity organisation Malteser leave the EA and that they take a stand regarding their role in relation to the police!

This operation is part of a strategy of criminalization and intimidation on the side of the police towards refugees who are become active in the struggle for basic human rights.”, says Raja, a member of the group Antira Muc.

The accusations they have constructed are those of breach of peace and of grievous bodily harm. We see that grievous bodily harm has been committed by the police, who locked people up and simultaneously victimised them with pepper spray within closed rooms without windows they could open.”

The outbreak of police brutality only shows that the Bavarian politics will use any means to suppress uprisings against the Bavarian camp and deportation system and the policy of isolation. What remains questionable is also the role of the social workers, who supported the police in identifying individuals. For this reason we demand that the Malteser immediately withdraw the social workers concerned!”

Backround infomation on the events in the EA in Donauwörth

What triggered the massiv bout of police violence were presumably the previous protests. For several months refugees were on strikes (e.g. about the German classes and the 80-Cent-jobs in the reception center). Various other protests also raised awareness about the conditions in the EA.