Refugees need freedom, not handouts

As immigrants, refugees and citizens, we must fight together to stop the rampant racism created and sustained by the government and their policies of forced isolation.

As a refugee rights activist and an immigrant who has experienced all of the trials and tribulations faced by those seeking asylum in Europe, my head is full of thoughts and questions I’d like to share. Do we see the repetitive media messages, particularly those delivered by the German Chancellor, materialize on the ground? In reference to efforts for integration, Angela Merkel proclaimed, “We have done it.” But how accurate is this statement when, in many cities across the country, we see xenophobic demonstrations targeting Muslims and foreigners in general.

Does the burning of more than one hundred future resettlement shelters reflect a culture of integration and welcoming?

When the German parliament issues new laws that restrict or prohibit freedom of movement for refugees, thus forcing them to remain in deteriorating asylum camps, or the distribution of canned food rather than offering a stipend; does that reflect a culture of integration and welcoming?

German society, propelled by the political elite, spread their culture of integration and welcoming by making refugees feel victimized and dependent. All the while forgetting that they are contributing to the instability elsewhere in the world that has forced so many to flee. They forget that German companies continue to export arms internationally, including to active conflict zones. Take for example the arms deal with Saudi Arabia, currently leading the offensive in Yemen under the guise of legitimate support.

In order to stop the flow of African refugees, Germany has chosen to incentivize dictatorships (Sudan, Eritrea, South Sudan) to monitor their borders. This has been accomplished in part by generous financial support and the establishment of refugee camps outside of Europe.

With these new restrictions, the so-called culture of integration and welcoming has failed miserably in Germany. This becomes particularly clear if we consider the results: The refugee protest movements, which began in 2012, continue today. Refugees remain confined within German borders – a decision that was approved by the German parliament at the beginning of 2015. This confirms the death of the culture of welcoming and integration in Germany.

What is required to solve these problems goes beyond the scope of law. Great effort must be put forth to end war, and cease the support to dictatorships propped up by European powers.

As immigrants, refugees and citizens, we must fight together to stop the rampant racism created and sustained by the government and their policies of forced isolation.

Refugees must not be seen as victims or burdens, dependent and in need of help. There should be political solidarity. Refugees do not need food and drink in so much as they need freedom, dignity, and safety from xenophobic attacks. Finally, they need protection from the laws that restrict their movements and remove their freedoms. They live in authoritarian conditions in countries said to be democratic.

Further Reading

The land of the freed people

‘We Slaves of Suriname’ (1934), by Afro-Surinamese author Anton de Kom, was the first study of Dutch colonial rule from the perspectives of the people who resisted it. It is has been published in English for the first time.

Take it to the house

On this month’s AIAC Radio, Boima celebrates all things basketball, looking at its historical relationships with music and race, then focusing on Africa’s biggest names in the sport.

El maestro siempre

Maky Madiba Sylla is a militant filmmaker excavating iconic Africans whose legacies he believes need to be known widely—like the singer Laba Sosseh.

Madiba and Mali

There is a remarkable connection between Mali and South Africa, dating back to the liberation struggle, and actively encouraged by the author’s work.

A devil’s deal

Rwanda’s proposed refugee deal with Britain is another strike against President Paul Kagame’s claim that he is an authentic and fearless pan-Africanist who advocates for the less fortunate.

Red and Black

Yunxiang Gao’s new book takes a fresh look at connected lives of African American and Chinese leftist activists, artists and intellectuals after World War II.

The Dar es Salaam years

In the early 1970s, Walter Rodney, expelled from Jamaica, took a post in Tanzania. In Leo Zeilig’s new book, he captures those exciting, but also difficult years and how it formed Rodney.

Rushing to boycott

The cultural boycott of Russia turns to the flawed precedent of apartheid South Africa for inspiration, while ignoring the much more carefully considered boycott of official Israeli culture by the BDS Movement.