„We feel like in prison here“
“We are in the middle of the forest”
“We feel absolutely isolated and lost”
“How are our children supposed to go to school in Kreuzberg from here?”
Statements by the Roma families, after they left on 24th of June 2014, because of the police operation for the “voluntary eviction of the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Schule”, and after they have been brought by bus to a first-admission-facility (“Erstaufnahmelager”) for refugees in Hohengatow.
The Roma families have been surprised, like every other resident of the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Schule, by the fact that from 10.00 am in the morning every entry into the building was blocked on a wide scale by the police. There was no information ahead of the eviction regarding the plans by the district for the families. A number of kids were at this time in their respective schools in Kreuzberg. When coming home from school, they could return to their parents only after teachers helped them for hours to get through the police blockade.
The families stated that they were demanded to leave the building and were supposed to go to the prepared busses with little luggage. The busses drove away without anyone telling them where they would be heading. Staff from the district told them only that it would be a short temporary accommodation. Any possessions they could not carry, they had to leave inside the school or just on the streets. Some persons were stopped from entering the busses because they were not “on the list” of the district. Others, who were “on the list”, but happened not to be inside the school during the eviction, are still living inside Görlitzer Park.
The families have thus, contrary to the statement by the district to the press, not been housed “close to the school”, but rather been brought to the farthest outskirts of the city in Hohengatow. This is exactly the kind of “Lager”, against which the protest by the refugees at Oranienplatz and inside the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Schule is directed.
Traveling there from Kreuzberg takes over an hour. During the first days, the families were forbidden by the administration of the AWO-Lager to receive guests.
Since Roma families, contrary to asylum seekers, are not regarded under the controversial asylum-seeker-benefit-law (“Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz”), they do not receive money, instead they only receive provisions. Special food for diabetics or pregnant women is not cared for. They are not able, through their own resources, to buy BVG-tickets. Structural care to go to governmental offices (translators, lawyers, counseling as well as financial aid) is missing as well. This means that they cannot care independently and self-determined for their livelihood.
Up until now the families are still not receiving any information by the Lager administration or the district Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg about what is supposed to happen with them. Further it needs to be emphasized that the district might not have forced them into homelessness, but instead brought them into a first-admission-facility for refugees, which is not responsible for them as EU-citizens. Additionally, this kind of accommodation is contradictory to the program of the Green Party as well as the Left Party.
Under this kind of circumstances there is for the Roma families, even though they still retain their formal freedom of movement, no possibility to make use of it, thus free themselves of the structures of dependency und live a self-determined life.
The situation of the families from the GHS is only the crystallization point of a problematic situation in Berlin. The tense situation of Berlin’s housing market and the discrimination of immigration families leads to many families sleeping in cars, garden summer houses, vacated buildings or parks. Generally much too few, up to none at all, family emergency housing exists.
Possibilities for accommodation in the districts are created only once those families receive social aid. No attention is being paid to the consequences of homelessness regarding the health of those affected and the well-being of the affected children.
We stand in solidarity with the demands of the refugees in the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Schule and demand from the district Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and the state authorities to provide the families with the possibility of a self-determined living situation worthy of human beings. This means guaranteeing a return to the social surroundings they are used to.
Additionally we demand, that homelessness of families is recognized as a socio-political problem and that general solutions to the benefit of the affected families are found!
To an end with racism, antiromaism /antiromaismus and the discrimination of Sinti and Roma!
The Roma families and some of their supporters