Statewatch article: RefNo# 2829
Immigration: Germany: Asylum Seeker shot dead/Refugee Congress condemns institutionalised racism
Statewatch bulletin, vol 10 no 2 (March-May 2000)
Asylum-seeker shot dead by police

On the night of 21 December 1999 Dr Zdravko Nikolov died after officers from the Sondereinsatzkommando (SEK, police tactical support group) shot him at his home in Braunschweig. Dr Nikolov, an asylum seeker who was medically diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, was trying to escape from his forced deportation. The Refugee Council condemned the German authorities for failing to provide medical support and has initiated legal proceedings against the Aliens Office.

Dr Nikolov came to Braunschweig from Bulgaria in 1993 with the German Academic Exchange Service and then took up a job with a German firm. Later, he lodged an asylum application because he had been persecuted as a communist in Bulgaria. According to the Refugee Council, Nikolov came from a communist family and was active in the "Dimitrov Youth Group". After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 he was continuously harassed by the police and the newspaper Trud described him as a terrorist. On 16 March 1992, the police beat up the then 29-year old in Sofia town hall and subsequently took him to a psychiatric prison where he was tortured. The German courts and the Federal Office for the Acceptance of Asylum Seekers (BAFL) have conceded that there were "flagrant cases of police brutality" but argued that there have been "advances in the democratic process". Nikolov's asylum application and consequent appeal were rejected.

His mental state was attested unstable by the Centre for Victims of Torture in Berlin as well as a doctor in his home town, both of whom diagnosed Dr Nikolov as suicidal and suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Despite this diagnosis, and indications that Nikolov's mental health drastically deteriorated when his employers made him redundant in 1998, the chair of the Aliens Office in Braunschweig, Edgar Wrobel, ordered a medical officer to re-examine Dr Nikolov. Aware that his mental state was not conducive to a voluntary official examination, the Aliens Office sent two police officers to his home to bring him before the judge to read his deportation order as well as to subject him to a state medical examination. He resisted arrest, locked himself in his flat and threatened to kill himself.

Instead of calling trained medical officers, the authorities ordered an armed police tactical support unit to storm his flat where they shot him dead, supposedly in self-defence. However, asylum support groups have laid the responsibility for the death of Nikolov at the door of the German authorities: "There was no justification whatsoever for the authorities to use physical violence towards a man who was traumatised by his experiences of torture," said the chair of the Refugee Council, Kai Weber. The Lower Saxony Refugee Council and the MP Heidi Lippman (Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus) have initiated legal proceedings against Wrobel, on grounds of bodily harm leading to death.

junge Welt 23.12.99, Rote Hilfe 1/2000.

Refugee Congress condemns institutionalised racism

On 1 May, the ten day Refugee Congress, which was called by the Caravan for rights of refugees and migrants, The Voice, Africa Forum e.V. and the German no one is illegal network (see Statewatch, vol 10 no 1), ended with a May Day demonstration through the eastern German town of Jena. The Congress dealt with a wide range of issues: from European imperialism, asylum policy and institutionalised racism, to women and flight/migration, the European networking of the sans papiers and the development of European strategies of resistance against deportation. In particular, it called for a campaign against the so-called Residenzpflicht, the German asylum regulation which prohibits asylum seekers from leaving their designated district and thereby criminalises their freedom of movement. Two days were set aside for the third European meeting of the sans papiers which produced a European

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