ANTIFA INFO-BULLETIN, Germany Update, Oct-Nov 1996

Tom Burghardt (tburghardt@igc.org)
14 Dec 96 21:22:00 +0100


## Nachricht vom 11.12.96 weitergeleitet
## Ursprung : r.wogatzke@term-43.link-cr.bawue.cl.sub.de
## Ersteller: tburghardt@igc.org

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U P D A T E
_____

** Topic: germany update oct/nov 96 **
** Written 6:34 AM Dec 8, 1996
by MISCHA@VLBERLIN.comlink.apc.org in cdp:gen.racism **

-----

** BERLIN ANTIRACIST INFORMATION NETWORK **
_________________________________________________________________

GERMANY UPDATE:
OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 1996
_________________________________________________________________

CONTENTS:

-----

1. Riot Police Raid Anti-Racist Film Showing
2. Further Controversy on Police Use of Emetic Drugs
3. SAFWAN EID TRIAL:
- Dirty Tricks and Directives from Above
- Interview with Defence Lawyer Gabriele Heinicke
- 1000 Demonstrate in Leubeck Against State Racism
4. Refugees from the Former Yugoslavia to be Deported
5. Transsexual Held in Male Deportation Prison
6. 26 Children Detained for 2 Days
7. Prison Sentences for Racist Attackers

-----

1. RIOT POLICE RAID ANTI-RACIST FILM SHOWING

Around 200 riot police raided a showing of the film "How to
come through" in Frankfurt am Main on September 27th. The film
was part of a public meeting on state racism and deportation
practices at Frankfurt's Rhein-Main airport. 72 people were
arrested.

The police justified the action by claiming they were
looking for members of a group called "K.A.B.E.L. S.C.H.N.I.T.T."
(Cable Cut) who sabotaged the airport's computer system in the
summer of this year. Charges to be brought against the group
include paragraph 129a - "Formation of a terrorist association".

Participants at the public meeting reported how the police
stormed the venue and threw a number of people to the floor,
injuring them in the process. All participants were then forced
to stand spreadeagled against the wall, where they had to remain
for over an hour. They were then handcuffed and taken to nearby
Klapperfeld prison, where they were fingerprinted. A number of
those arrested reported being informed that they were to be
charged under paragraph 129a. A spokesperson for the Federal
Prosecutor later denied that any charges had been brought.

Thomas Kieseritzky, the lawyer commissioned by the event
organizers to deal with the raid, called the action an example of
"massive intimidation" against antiracist activists. He also
stated that "the police action is not covered by the warrant
issued by the investigating judge".

As well as looking at racist practices at Frankfurt airport,
the film "How to come through" also documents various aspects of
racism in Germany, including the Rostock pogrom and the May 1993
fire-bombing in Solingen in which 3 women and two young girls
were killed, and raises the question as to the kinds of anti-
racist resistance it is possible to develop. The film itself is
not forbidden under German law and was also shown during the
Frankfurt Book Fair. Following the police raid over 25 publishing
companies expressed their solidarity with those arrested and
demanded the return of all confiscated property and the
destruction of fingerprint records and all other related personal
data stored by the police. The publishing companies also called
for the film to be widely shown and used as a basis for
discussing forms of anti-racist resistance.


2. FURTHER CONTROVERSY ON POLICE USE OF EMETIC DRUGS

A ruling by the Frankfurt State High Court from October 11th
banned the use of emetic drugs (i.e. drugs which induce vomiting)
by police against suspected drug dealers in the state of Hessen.
The verdict was the result of a case brought by a 28-year old
Moroccan man who was forced to take emetic drugs in order to
bring up the cocaine packets he had swallowed. The man then
collapsed and needed medical attention. Amnesty International has
long criticized the use of emetic drugs as an infringement of
human rights and called for them to be banned. In addition the
Drztekammer (Chamber of Medical Doctors) in Hessen has also
condemned the use of emetics, saying that the administration of
such drugs is incompatible with a doctor's code of conduct.

The controversy around the use of the drugs is however
continuing, as the Frankfurt ruling only applies to the state of
Hessen. Police in other states, particularly in the northern
city-state of Bremen, still regularly use emetics against
suspected drug dealers. The Bremen Anti-Racist Bureau has
consistently criticized police practices in this area as racist.
One Bremen police officer has even been quoted as saying that
emetic drugs were being used as "punishment"against black drug
dealers.


3. SAFWAN EID TRIAL: DIRTY TRICKS AND DIRECTIVES FROM ABOVE

"The trial against Safwan Eid began on September 16th in
Leubeck State Court. He is accused of starting a fire in a
refugee hostel in Leubeck on 18th January in which 10 people died
and 38 were injured, many severely. Thanks to the one-sided and
racist investigations on the part of the Leubeck State Prosecutor
it is one of the victims of the fire who is on trial, instead of
the heavily incriminated racists from Grevesmeuhlen".


TRIAL INFO FROM THE LEUBECK COALITION AGAINST RACISM

As the trial against Safwan Eid drags on, criticisms of the
apparent racist bias of the German criminal justice system
increasingly overshadow the proceedings. Not enough that an
independent international commission has established that the
Leubeck authorities' investigations into the arson in which 10
people died have been "one-sided"; the authorities have also
shown themselves prepared to accept the most incredible of
unlikely alibis by potential right-wing suspects and have even
gone so far as to provide fresh alibis where the old ones have
fallen apart.

To cap it all there is now growing suspicion of witness
manipulation in the trial proceedings as witnesses change their
statements to a version more favorable to the prosecution.

The version of events being peddled by the State Prosecutor
totally denies the existence of a racially-motivated arson
attack, ignores the fact that one of the hostel residents was
tied up with wire and murdered before the start of the fire and
concentrates solely on the fiction of unruly immigrants setting
themselves alight in the middle of the night. All leads pointing
to the right-wing suspects from the town of Grevesmeuhlen have
been consistently ignored, and evidence contradicting the
"official" version of the fire starting on the first floor of the
building events has disappeared.

The State Prosecutor has also found an ally in the person of
the lawyer Ulrich Haage, attorney for a number of former hostel
residents who are bringing their own case as secondary plaintiffs
against Safwan Eid "in order to find out the truth" as they put
it. Mr Haage has been conspicuous in the way he has attempted to
manipulate his clients' statements in order to bring them into
line with the State Prosecutor's version of events. Mr Haage's
first client, the Angolan refugee Joao Bunga, complained that he
was being "functionalized for interests which are not my own" and
dismissed Mr Haage as his lawyer. Such was Mr Haage's desire to
participate in the trial that he took the unusual step of
declaring that he would continue to represent Mr Bunga against
his will, even when Mr Bunga hired the services of a fresh
lawyer.

This continued until Mr Haage announced that he had found new
clients, namely the El Omari family, who already had a lawyer.
Since accepting Mr Haage as a second lawyer the El Omari family
have completely contradicted previous statements made to the
police and now follow the State Prosecutor's line. It would thus
seem that Attorney Haage is pursuing his own political agenda in
the case and that, in the words of defence lawyer Gabriele
Heinicke "the El Omari family seem to be under some kind of
influence, which was not present when they made their previous
statements" (see interview with Gabriele Heinecke below).

Gabriele Heinecke appeared along with speakers from Leubeck
Coalition Against Racism and the newspaper "Junge Welt" at a
packed discussion meeting in Berlin's Humboldt University in late
October. Her client Safwan Eid was also present in the audience,
but did not speak to the meeting. The meeting was entitled
"Germany needs an alibi"- drawing attention to the political
dimension of the trial for the German state.

When asked if she thought there had been political
interference in the investigations into the Leubeck hostel fire,
Ms Heinecke said: "If, on the night of a serious case of arson in
which 10 people die, the police arrest 3 known right-wing
extremists at the scene of the crime with fresh burns on their
faces and release them within a few hours with the announcement
that no further investigations will be conducted against them, I
think it is safe to say that this is not normal police procedure.

I think it would also be fair to assume that the police were
acting on instructions from above".

Both Ms Heinecke and her defence colleague Ms Barbara
Klawitterhave been the subject of threatening letters from right-
wing extremists. The Junge Welt newspaper of September 10th
reported that the two lawyers had found a letter from a group
calling itself the "Powergroup for German Justice" on their seats
in the allegedly tightly guarded courtroom (!). Threats have also
been received by the independent fire expert Professor Achilles
as well as Leubeck's mayor Michael Boutellier, who though not
directly involved in the case was outspoken in his support for
the victims of the arson attack following the fire.


INTERVIEW WITH GABRIELE HEINECKE, DEFENCE LAWYER IN THE TRIAL
AGAINST SAFWAN EID

Printed in the 25th November edition of the newspaper
the "Junge Welt".
_________________________________________________________________

TURNING POINT IN THE TRIAL AGAINST SAFWAN EID?
_________________________________________________________________


Junge Welt (J.W.): There's a lot of talk about the Leubeck arson
trial reaching a turning point. The witness testimony of the El
Omari family in particular is said to have produced evidence
against your client Safwan Eid. One of the El Omari sons
testified that the accused's father has attempted to put pressure
on witnesses...

Gabriele Heinecke (G.H.): The El Omari family has not so far
been able to produce any evidence against Safwan Eid. The State
Prosecutor is attempting to use the El Omaris' testimony to
undermine the credibility of Safwan Eid's father Marwan Eid. This
important witness reported hearing glass breaking below his
window on the night of the fire, as well as an explosion and also
having seen the wooden porch of the house on fire. Witness Walid
El Omari claims that he heard via hearsay that Marwan Eid had
called his family on the phone. Marwan Eid is supposed to have
said that the press wanted to come and visit them to talk to the
children who lived in the hostel. He is then alleged to have said
that the children ought to say that one of the porch windows was
open. It seems to have become really important for the El Omari
family to establish that this window was always shut, and in this
they are getting closer and closer to the State Prosecutor's
version of events. In fact, (independent) fire expert Professor
Achilles already established in April that the window had no
locking mechanism. In recent weeks we have also heard from a
young witness that the window flew open if a football hit the
frame, for example. It really seems unimaginable to me how Marwan
Eid's telephone call - if it took place at all - can be
interpreted as "putting someone under pressure". What is
noticeable however is that the El Omari family is now
contradicting earlier statements by saying that relations between
the two families were not so positive.


J.W.: How do you explain these changes?

G.H.: For one thing the mother of the family, Mrs El Omari, is
suffering a lot from the death of her son. She seems to have got
used to the idea that Safwan Eid is responsible. The long time he
spent under arrest and his role as accused could easily have a
suggestive effect. Another thing is that the family seems to be
under some kind of influence, which was not present when they
made their previous statements.


J.W.: Mrs El Omari says that if everyone else is lying, they at
least want to tell the truth...

G.H.: In the main hearing Mrs El Omari testified that everything
came back to her when she saw her son Rabia. However she
conspicuously contradicts her previous statements on almost all
counts. When the defence drew her attention to this, she said
that she doubted that the police had written her statement down
properly. Of course it is possible to doubt whether the police
recorded everything 100% correctly. But for them to take down the
opposite of everything that was said in an interview conducted in
the presence of an interpreter, seems to me to be unlikely.


J.W.: The media are saying that there were after all arguments
between the Hafenstrasse hostel residents. Mrs El Omari's
testimony provides decisive support for this version. She claims
to have heard loud voices just before the fire broke out on the
first floor.

G.H.: According to a statement made in April, Mrs El Omari heard
shouts or noises in the street during the night. In the main
proceedings this turned into an argument on the street. In the
course of further questioning by the State Prosecutor she stated
that it was a loud argument carried out in an African language in
the apartment on the first floor. She heard all this while half
asleep and so was not able to give the exact time. Her son Walid
El Omari, who up till then had never mentioned any such argument,
has now started to repeat his mother's assertions.


J.W.: Difficult for African voices to be used in evidence
against a Lebanese person.

G.H.: That's exactly how I see it.


J.W.: Marwan Eid is supposed to have said that he heard a bomb
go off at around 2.30. The "Taz" newspaper even wrote that the
defence was obliged to hold on to this time in order to maintain
the theory of an arson attack from outside. The suspects from
Grevesmeuhlen are said to have an alibi for the time of 3.40 a.m.

G.H.: It is rubbish to say that the defence has to hold on to a
particular time. Nobody has ever said anything about the fire
starting at 3.40 a.m. Investigations geared towards finding out
the time the fire started have not been pursued very far up till
now. If Marwan Eid did indeed hear the explosion at 2.30 and saw
the fire in the porch, it would be difficult to imagine how he
could then stay in the house with his family for another hour.
His wife and his youngest son were severely injured jumping from
the burning house. The defence is trying to find out what
actually happened during this night. The El Omari family's recent
assertion that Marwan Eid said something about 2.30 a.m. is
intended to cast doubt on his whole testimony.

It is finally time to start investigating in the other direction.
Besides the large amount of evidence there is a report from the
LKA (State Criminal Department) Kiel, which states that the
ground-floor window next to the porch was smashed in and levered
open. That clearly points towards violent action from outside.


1000 DEMONSTRATE IN LEUBECK AGAINST STATE RACISM

Around 1000 people demonstrated in front of the burnt-out
hostel in Leubeck's Hafenstrasse on November 2nd. After 3 minutes
silence as a mark of respect for the victims, demonstrators
listened to speeches criticizing the racist bias in the German
criminal justice system.

A speaker from the Organisation of Black and African People
in Hamburg asked the fundamental question: "Why are the voices of
the 38 survivors of the arson attack not being heard in the court
or in the media, whilst the statements of a German paramedic are
held to be central to the proceedings?". "We see in this the same
discrimination that we experience every day, the same
discrimination that is anchored in the special (anti-immigrant)
laws".

According to the Hamburg Coalition for the Support of the
Survivors of the Leubeck Arson Attack, Leubeck is more that just
a legal scandal, but "shows how far the nationalist political
formation in Germany has advanced", and how much support for such
racist attacks exists in the population at large.


4. REFUGEES FROM THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA TO BE DEPORTED

Germany has begun moves to deport refugees from the former
Yugoslavia. A repatriation agreement has been reached between the
German and Yugoslavian governments, and similar negotiations are
underway between Germany and the authorities in Bosnia.

In a press statement at the end of September the Bavarian
Refugee Council criticized the planned German-Yugoslavian
repatriation agreement. The Council claimed that the German
government was more interested in "mass repatriation as quickly
as possible" than in "genuine improvements in the human rights
situation in Yugoslavia. The agreement was however duly signed on
October 10th and will come into effect on 1st December. Figures
supplied by individual federal state authorities suggest that for
Germany as a whole some 135,000 people of Yugoslavian origin will
be required to leave the country under the terms of the
agreement, with Kosovo-Albanians as the main group to be
affected. The deportations will take place over the next three
years.

However the state authorities in both Bavaria and Berlin
decided not to wait for the agreement to be signed at federal
level and instead announced in late September/early October that
they would be commencing deportations of Bosnian refugees
immediately. Deportations would initially be confined to
"criminals" and Bosnians who left the country after the signing
of the Dayton Agreement on 15.12.95 - the latter numbering around
350 people in Berlin from a total of 30,000 Bosnian refugees
currently living in the city.

The Bavaria and Berlin decisions come in spite of a
recommendation by the United Nations High Council for Refugees
UNHCR that no refugees should currently be repatriated to the
area of the former Yugoslavia, even to so-called "safe areas".
Six other states in the German Federal Republic have agreed to
delay repatriations of Bosnian refugees until April 1997.

Although the lack of an agreement with the Bosnian
authorities meant that deportations planned for early October had
to be postponed, preparations for deportations are continuing. In
Berlin for example 1343 Bosnian refugees lost official residency
status during the month of October. Their previous residency
documents entitled them to "tolerated" status in the country. Now
they have been issued with "border crossing certificates", which
give the bearer no particular right to stay in the country. Thus
by removing their residency permits, the Bosnians are being
effectively criminalized.

Advice centres for Bosnian refugees report of people
attempting to make their own way back to Bosnia in order to avoid
deportation, but according to Michael Stenger from the Bavarian
Refugee Council, "such acts of desperation have nothing to do
with voluntary return". He continued by saying that a Bavarian
Interior Ministry statement that it was counting on voluntary
repatriation was "pure cynicism", maintaining that in view of the
enormous pressure on the refugees there could be no question of
repatriation being voluntary.

The pressure on Bosnian refugees also increased throughout
the whole of Germany in October following an October 1st
announcement by the government that social security payments for
Bosnian refugees were to be reduced to 80%. The Federal Ministry
for the Interior attempted to justify the move by claiming that
all Bosnians were now able to return to their country and that
they therefore had to make their own decisions whether they
wanted to stay in Germany.

However confusion still surrounds the issue as the order
contradicts a ruling from Berlin's High Administrative Court from
13.6.96, stating that such cuts were illegal, with the result
that in some areas the cuts are being implemented, whilst in
others refugees still receive their full entitlement. The overall
effect however is to sharply increase fear and uncertainty among
the Bosnian refugee community in Germany.

Renate Wilson-Gemkow, head of Berlin's Central Counselling
Unit for Refugee Work said that she was afraid that most of the
30,000 Bosnian refugees living in Berlin would be forced to
return, given that "there is simply no political force prepared
to resist". Budget cuts by the Berlin authorities mean that all
funding for the Central Counselling Unit will be axed from
January 1st 1997.

And although the situation for most Bosnian refugees looks
bleak, the authorities in the state of Sachsen-Anhalt did cave
into public pressure by issuing a last-minute reprieve for 31
Bosnian orphan children who had been threatened with deportation
in early October. The move came after a nationwide outcry
following press reports of the children's impending repatriation.

By the end of November however the German government had
also signed a deportation agreement with the Bosnian government,
clearing the way for mass deportations. Germany's Interior
Minister Kanther commented that agreeing to accommodate refugees
from civil war areas for a limited time could not serve as an
excuse for "covert immigration". By the time the formal agreement
was signed on November 20th the Bavarian authorities had already
succeeded in deporting 13 Bosnian refugees.


5. TRANSSEXUAL HELD IN MALE DEPORTATION PRISON

The 24th October issue of the "Junge Welt" reported that a
preoperative male-to-female Moroccan transsexual is being held in
detention awaiting deportation. Hamid Aazri, known as Katrin,
came to Germany in 1993 and applied for asylum on the grounds
that openly gay men suffer persecution in Morocco. The
application was denied. A further application, based on the need
to continue with the hormone treatments necessary for a planned
operative sex change, was also denied.

Katrin's presence in Germany was officially "tolerated" as
long as her partner declared himself willing to finance the costs
of medical treatment. However, during a visit to a bar in July
Katrin was sexually molested by a male customer. A fight ensued,
and Katrin was arrested and detained in the infamous Beuren
special prison for (male) refugees.

In spite of the fact that the Petitions Committee of the
Dusseldorf State Parliament has decided in favor of immediate
release for Katrin, the Immigration Authorities have refused to
implement the decision on the grounds that requires a directive
from the Interior Ministry. Meanwhile Katrin is reported to be
suffering physically and mentally following the enforced
interruption of her hormone treatment. The Interior Ministry has
so far refused to act on the case.


6. 26 CHILDREN DETAINED FOR 2 DAYS

26 Turkish children who arrived unaccompanied at Frankfurt
airport on October 29th were held incommunicado by Federal Border
Guards (BGS) in the airport transit area for two days. The
youngest child was three months old, the oldest 15 years. A
further two children were deported back to Turkey directly on
arrival at the airport. The organisation Pro Asyl said that the
BGS actions were in contravention of the United Nations
Convention on Children's Rights.


7. PRISON SENTENCES FOR RACIST ATTACKERS

Two men aged 18 and 24 from the village of Mahlow south of
Berlin were given prison sentences of 5 and 8 years for an attack
on 3 black British building workers which left one of the victims
paralysed from the neck downwards. After verbal racist insults
the two men, named in the press as Mario P. and Sandro R.,
started a car chase which ended when they threw a stone weighing
some 6 kilos through the window of the British workers' car,
which then crashed against a tree.

The sentences, passed by a court in Potsdam on December 2nd,
exceeded the recommendations made by the State Prosecutor for the
crimes of slander, dangerous intervention in public traffic,
intentional and grievous bodily harm and damage to property. The
court had previously rejected an application for the two to be
tried for attempted murder.

Berlin
3.12.96

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