The following interviews were conducted on April 18 and 19, 2014, ten days after the eviction of the squatted refugee encampment at Oranienplatz (O-platz) in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin.
The camp was set up in 2012 by a group of asylum seekers, mostly travelling from Lampedusa, Italy. O-platz was home to more than 200 refugees until officials made a deal with some refugees to destroy the camp and move refugees to another location. Many refugees did not accept the deal and organized other occupations and a hunger strike. As we go to press, under threat of police eviction 40 refugees have barricaded themselves inside a squatted school in Kreuzberg, armed themselves with molotovs, and threatened mass suicide by burning down the building if the police enter by force. For updates, go to asylstrikeberlin.wordpress.com.
Turgay and Patras, refugees from Turkey and Uganda, were on hunger strike at the time of the interview. They were occupying the plaza immediately opposite the former site of the encampment. It was fenced off and ringed by police. Yvon and Jannick, refugees from Benin and Cameroon, live in “Lagers” (state residence centers for asylum seekers) on the outskirts of Berlin. Turgay spoke Turkish and was translated by a supporter at the camp. Yvon and Jannick spoke French and were translated by Upping the Anti. The interviews offer a brief history of the refugee movement in Germany. They provide an account of the recent events surrounding the eviction of O-Platz and reveal the oppressive conditions of daily life faced by asylum seekers in Germany.
Many thanks to Judith Muster who donated her time to translate the French interviews.
To read this interview in full, order a copy of Upping the Anti here.