Statewatch article: RefNo# 24026
Report on the: Border Tour
Statewatch archive
Report on the: Border Tour
artdoc February=1994

Report on the: Border Tour of the New Walls in Europe
organised by Bndnis 90/Die Grnen, 29 October - 3 November 1993

The tour was organised by the office of Claudia Roth MEP to
investigate the situation at the new walls of Europe on the
borders between Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. Visits
included the detention centre for deportees at Berlin airport,
the central reception camp for asylum seekers at Rostock
(Hinrichshagen); the working conditions of foreign contract
workers in southern Germany. Information was collected on the
militarisation of the borders from interviews with police, border
guards and town officials in the three countries. The final
visits were to Usti nad Labem and Prague where members of the
tour saw the appalling conditions in which Roma people live in
the Czech Republic and learned of the effects on their lives of
changes to citizenship laws. This is a summary of the full report
which is available from Statewatch. A Statewatch contributor

The economic infrastructure of eastern Germany has been
devastated and the five new Lnder of eastern Germany are
struggling to cope with the reorganisation of local and regional
government. Privatisation of former state owned properties and
industries has resulted in a massive rise in unemployment, with
the loss of thousands of jobs in rural and urban areas. Large
areas are polluted by heavy industry and brown coal extraction.
Many villages, including those near the borders are not connected
to the telephone system. These economic and social conditions
have provided a breeding ground for racism which has been whipped
up by the debate over asylum seeking and the changes to the
German constitution in July 1992. There has been racist violence
against black people, asylum seekers, migrant workers, Roma
people and east Europeans in many of the areas visited.

In Rostock the producers of a video, "The Truth Lies in Rostock"
showed film taken from inside the flats of Vietnamese residents
during vicious attacks by gangs on 24 August 1992. Over 3 days
concrete blocks were thrown at the building and the residents
were put in fear of their lives. The attacks culminated in the
burning of six floors of the building. One man was filmed
carrying a gun, then with others scaling the walls, setting fire
to curtains and flats in which people were living and attacking
the police. Residents had returned to the burnt flats after 14
days and were given a month free of rent. Two newspapers, the
Ostsee Zeitung and NNN, had been anonymously informed about the
events before they happened. The Ostsee Zeitung supported the
right of the former contract workers to stay. There had also been
an attack 2 weeks before our visit, after which people who were
attacked were not allowed back in the building and the attackers
were released.

There are about 350 Vietnamese former contract workers in
Rostock, more are men than women. Only single people were given
contract work. They are "allowed to marry", but if women are
pregnant they have to `go home' or have an abortion. A change to
the law on 17 June 1993 has allowed some rights to family
reunion. Roma organisations say the Roma are not allowed even
these rights to stay although it has been difficult for them to
prove this.

The head of the workers council of a shipping firm gave his
account of living and working in Rostock. Born in Rostock in 1938
he hadn't been aware before of the latent xenophobia and racism
in the town and felt powerless to react in August 1992 to the
racist attacks. Police had taken the residents to Hinrichshagen,
the centre for asylum seekers outside the town, but he said that
the same thing could happen at the camp which is isolated and
marginalised geographically from the town. He had been shocked
at the sight of the ordinary people applauding in the streets

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