Migration may occur because of many different reasons. Often its aim is to improve one’s life quality and/or to gain basic human rights. It is a form of geographical relocation. It is not always a matter of social status. It may also be a desire to reach freedom of will and choice.
In 2015 thousands of people from Asia and Africa risked their lives in a journey with the aim of reaching, at minimum, a simple and peaceful life. In 2015 -16, the world witnessed a wave of humans in their thousands, who did not have basic personal security and possibilities in their native countries. They walked hundreds of kilometres, crossed many roads, these in worst possible physical and physiological conditions, often on empty stomachs. They slept anywhere they could, in the mountains, train stations, under bridges or just simply in open fields.
They risked everything, exposed themselves to endless dangers day and night, across seas and mountains, to find their lost future and destiny. Many of them to this day have not found what they were looking for. This human wave on the move to Europe in search of better life shocked the world. Many of them died during this journey, in ships, in trucks or in seas. They knew they are risking death, but to them dying once were better than dying every day. The destiny of many of them is still unknown and even for those who did manage to reach their destination. The subsequent waves are following in the meantime. The future for these migrants is ambiguous. In addition to uncertainties of being allowed to stay, there is the identity crisis. Many of them are still not registered as normal citizens. They have a foreign identity and status and must search and fight for a time and place where they could say I am myself and I belong.
Migration, internal or external, takes place due to many different factors. The most common of these is the desire to improve. However for those from war zones, who in the meantime build the majority of migrants, it goes beyond that. Their escape is not just about migration. It is often result of physiological scars and search for basic human rights. To have the basic human right is what they are fighting for. That was what I expected from my migration. The first and most important of the human rights is the right to live, to survive. All other rights such as the right to security, identity, education, work, marry, freedom of speech, freedom of ideology etc. are secondary to this.
Many humans are still in search for the right to live. War and destruction are at their highest level in many countries. To survive is becoming increasingly difficult in many places. Since years, every day in the news we hear about loss of life in various wars and conflicts. This is the main reason for migration. What most humans want from migration is to survive. Only once that is secured do they look for other human and social needs that every citizen of the earth should be entitled to. This is no easy task in a society where you migrate to. Once the basic security is achieved, the struggle for other rights is just beginning. Through migration to a new society one often losses ones identity and beliefs. Your family and friends, with whom you have lived and grown for years, are all of the sudden no longer with you and you might never see them again in your life. People with whom you make new acquaintances such as new friends behave very different to what you are used to and on top of it perhaps differently towards you compared to the people they consider as the same to themselves. As mentioned before this is no easy task!
The fact that your civil status and hence the society considers you as second or third class citizen, and your civil rights are accordingly also more limited, (e.g. You are not allowed for a long time to choose which city or state you would like to live / work in) is a very painful and difficult thing to get used to. In effect they cause even more psychological scars and may lead to decline of joy and quality of life. In a social sense, it is not possible to compare yourself with the original citizens of the place you end up living in. You will never feel equal. This challenges social justice.
Therefore one can conclude that phenomenon migration is an ethical and human crisis. Humans running away from other humans, trying to establish new base in new society. On an emotional level to lose the sense of not belonging is a very difficult thing to do.
This article describes my personal experiences as migrant. It explains why human ran away from other humans’ prejudices. I am criticizing the factors that shaped my experiences.
Swiss life is full of prison, even you didn’t commit any crime – no love and respect for immigrants, no freedom no peace for immigrants, no human rights at all for immigrants. I am innocent, they treated me like a criminal and I feel powerless – justice and liberty not for immigrants, political division based on color. Rights are associated with political and economical subordination – but a minority can follow the rules and have no access to rights anyway. Rights are an important statement about the nature of power-relations in any society.
Swiss life could be de ned as a prison life. I am in prison just because I don‘t have documents. If you don‘t have documents, life here is full of tension, because if you are controlled by the police, you are going to be in prison. We immigrants living in Switzerland have no peace and there are no human rights for us. We also don‘t have freedom – especially we black people. Could you imagine, that a policeman will walk in where many people are and controls only blacks and leaving others because of their skin color? Is that not a racist practice? Meanwhile there is no love and respect for immigrants, especially black people. Switzerland have one of the most racist policemen in the world, but you wouldn’t know this if you are real Swiss. From all my ndings as an African black migrant living in Switzerland, some laws here are mainly for migrants but people outside prisons don‘t know this, because swiss police and government paint a good picture in the public eye and everybody will think that their government or police is correct. Meanwhile I was hearing this from people before I experienced it here in prison by myself. Nevertheless my experience here as a black migrant in swiss prison is, that they treat us here as SLAVES. The security men will wake us up in the morning at 7h15 by unlocking doors and they will make sure the doors are widely open, so as to disturb and wake you up from sleep. If you ask why do you do that, the answer you will get is: „this is a prison and not a hotel“. When you have visitors according to the law, if you were alone with your visitor in the guestroom, your are going to be naked by prison guards. But randomly they do it even when you had many visitors. If they search you and you ask why, they will still tell you they must naked you and that you as a person can’t say no. If not they will take you to a place called „Bunker“ – that is a very bad place where you will be locked up alone in a room and would be tortured by them. Perhaps you could be there like one week without seeing or going outside. They don‘t care about us at all here in prison. To be frank, many people I met here in prison did not commit any crime, some have been in prison for two years, while some others have six months and there are some cases of more than that. And when you ask them, you will nd out that it is only because of not having papers or documents. Another thing I experienced here in prison is when you are brought to the prison the police takes all your money, so that you are forced to work in prison. There is a work they provide here in prison, which ought to be two hours but they will use us to do the work in 2 hours and thirty minutes. Meanwhile the work is too big, but for the whole day they give you 6 Franks. Coming to the aspect of the food, we eat here in prison only two times a day. They give us food at around 11:am and the dinner is at 5:pm. There is a small kiosk here in the prison, where the things are sold for the double price as outside and the kiosk is open only fridays, that is once in a week and it’s only 20 minutes. So if you miss that minutes of shopping time you have to wait till the next week friday. Remember I have earlier stated, that the money you came with, they collect it from you, so you have to work while you are in prison. If you refuse to work here in prison they will hate you and you won‘t have access to many things here in prison. They make sure you are punished. Moreover you have to be well sick before they will take you to the hospital. If not it is not possible because they treat you like a SLAVE in prison. Even if you are taken to the hos-pital your legs and hands must be handcuffed by the police while the treatment is going on, unless the doctor instructs the police to remove the handcuff. If not the handcuff will be there from the time you are going to the hospital until you are back in the prison. And before you are allowed to go inside the prison you will be naked. Meanwhile, if you go to court, when you are back you will be naked by the prison guards or anywhere else you go to, when yo are back they must search you before you could be allowed to go inside the prison. If you ask them, they will tell you, it is because you are in Switzerland. Another thing here in prison ist, that you have the right to see a lawyer – either they give you one ore you are allowed to get a lawyer. But they deny you of that, then if you ask the answer you get is: No, that you are in Switzerland. All these treatments exerted on us are all about not having papers or documents – what they call ILLEGAL. Furthermore if you are controlled by the police or border guard, and you don’t have the right papers, they will take you to the police station, take your fingerprints to see if you have been ngerprinted elsewhere in Europe. If you have you will be sent where you were registered, but if you don’t have anywhere in Europe, immigration police will force you to seek for asylum in Switzerland and after three months you will be rejected with a negative decision and they send you to prison. There in prison you are brought to the court and get three months for illegal stay, then after three months, they will give you another three months till maybe 18 months and after you will be deported to your country of origin. For instance, if you have a negative swiss decision and you go to another country, when the country calls Switzerland, they tell them to send you back. And back in Switzerland the immigration police will take you to prison, then after two days they bring you to the court – imagine for being illegal, without giving you a lawyer and they will be against you and ask you, why did you travel out of Switzerland. If you tell them, it ist because you have got a negative decision, they tell you that you don’t have any right to go anywhere except your country of origin without even allowing you to express yourself in front of the court. There in the court you will be given three months until eighteen months before you are deported back to your country. Outside the prison Most at times here in Switzerland police normally go to african shops to control black people buying something to eat or to drink, what sometimes could scare away the customers of the shop owners. That is why I said, we blacks or black immigrants walk in fear in Switzerland more than in other countries in Europe. We are meant to understand that we don’t have rights as a black immigrant living here.
Swiss life is full of prison, if you don’t have documents, because once you get controlled by the police, they will put you inside prison. But if you have other european countries documents, they will try to give you what they call „Verboten“, which means, you won’t be allowed to come to Switzerland for so many years, depending on the years they give the person (a man I know had an Einreisesperre until 2099). For instance, there was a case like that, where Police went to an african shop and after they controlled, they left with one black person and the black guy was asking them „why should I go with you when I have document?“ and they answered, that he has VERBOTEN in France and he answered „Yes, but here is not France but Switzerland“. Could you imagine he slept in a police cell for three days before they took him to court and the judge was asking the police „what did this man do?“ Police said to the judge, that he has VERBOTEN and the guy immediately asked the police where, when and which country, because according to the person, he said he only has VERBOTEN in France for the past ten years and he has never been to France since then. Meanwhile, after the whole explanation the presiding judge told the police, that he has not seen any offense he committed and gave the police one week to nd the place he has VERBOTEN since they could not say or mention the place at the moment, because after one week they should release the man. Furthermore, a day after immigration called the man out of prison and said, we called France and they said the VERBOTEN is only in France and we have searched in our system we didn’t nd anything bad against you. After some hours he was released. This is what we blacks or immigrants experience here in Switzerland. Another one is, that if you are working in prison, if the immigration want to deport you back to your country of origin, they will not give you the money you worked for. Because there is a job, they usually give people in prison but when taking the person back to Africa or his country they will not give the person his money back, which is very BAD. They treat us as if we are ANIMALS. Therefore if your wife or girlfriend visits you and when you guys are holding each others hands while sitting in the guest room, could you imagine that the security guards would walk in and tell you people not to hold each others hands and that if not the girl or your wife or you will have problems with him. Imagine the kind of insults we are tolerating from them, you can’t hug your wife or girlfriend again because you are in prison for being ILLEGAL. This is what I call VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS! Meanwhile these things I have written here is little to compare to what we are seeing here in swiss prisons on a daily basis.
I am 30 years old, originally I come from Guinea Conakry and now I live and work in Basel. Ten years ago I have been forced to leave my country because of the dictatorship and family problems. My journey from Guinea to Switzerland took almost eight years – here I can draw a rough sketch:
I left Guinea in December 2006 to Senegal, and then went on to Mali, Niger and Libya, where I did arrive three months later. It was a journey through the dessert and through hell – not every- body of our group did come through. Arriving in Libya I realised, that there were a lot of problems with the police. People could not go out how they wanted. My passport was ripped and I was put in prison for 3 months near Tripoli. In this time I was tortured and abused – I and many other Africans were suffering a lot. But going back through the dessert was not an option; I would not survive it again.
When I was out of prison and arrived in Tripoli it was so hard to get a job and also to get a help when you are sick. Because if you try to go to the hospital they will call the police to arrest you. That’s why many migrants were suffering a lot. Sometimes in the night the police tried to come also into the houses to arrest people. I saw a lot of men, women and children, who always got abused. This is why I think, that Europe doesn‘t have the right to send back people to Libya. And since I was there, it got even more dif cult than before, when Gadha had the power.
I decided to leave Libya and the only possible way was by boat. The rst attempt did end in a disaster – many people died. The second journey took us ve days on the sea. I arrived in Malta on the 18th august 2007 with other 28 people. In Malta the police arrested us and brought us to a detention-center called Alhalfar. In this prison I had to stay for one year, some others were there for one and a half year. Only Africans are treated like this in Malta – others are deported directly back to their countries, others are allowed to live in a camp. The official statement to justify imprisonment is that west Africans can be vectors of infectious diseases and therefore they have to be isolated. The bad thing in the detention-center was that we were not informed what’s going on with us, how long we have to stay there and why we were arrested.
To organize ourselfs is something which is positive, if it‘s happening. But it‘s not easy. Because we as groups are being separated.
I had the very big problem that I couldn’t sleep at night because of worst nightmares. But when I could meet the doctor and tell him about my problem, he always gave me a sleeping tablet. That was not good at all, because even with medicaments you wake up with horrible pictures, you cannot sleep anymore but however you feel weak and powerless. There was also another big problem; there was no translator at all. In that center there was more than one at and every at had three rooms. There were two toilets for over 500 people and we had one TV.
After leaving the center I was working in a hospital for nine months. Because I realized, that I will not get help in Malta to be- come healthy again, I decided to go to Italy. Arriving in Italy they did let me know, that I have to go back to Malta, because I had my rst ngerprints over there (Dublin contract within the EU).
So I had to continue the journey and in November 2009 I did ar- rive in the Netherlands. That was the rst time I discovered that I had a trauma. They did send me to a psychologist doctor and I got the help I needed. I was given medicine and I was sent to school – I learned how to read and write. After two and half year stay in Holland they evaluated me to be a healthy person and sent me back to Malta on the basis of the same Dublin contract.
Arriving in Malta I was put in prison again, because I went out of the country without a passport or any permission. I was im- prisoned another 6 months. After all of this I decided to learn from the past and to share my experience with other migrants, to help them to orient in the new culture, system and society. Ano- ther aim is to inform young people in Africa about migration to Europe and not to leave the school and study a lot to get a good education. So they can grow up in their own countries, change their country for the better and do not have to risk their lives and dignity on the dangerous ways to Europe.
To organize ourselves is something which is positive, if it’s hap- pening. But it’s not easy. Because we as groups are beeing se- parated. For example the Senegalese and the Guinean, or the Nigerians and the Ghanaians, they will not go together. This is a big problem. If you will be able to break this problem between these groups, things could go better. In Malta three main categories of migrants are made – people from
Near-East countries, from East-Africa and from West-Africa. Everyone has different chances to get a legal status. So the East-Africans (who has better chances) will not join the West-Africans (who have almost no chance) to fight against the problems. Only West-Africans are trying to organize themselves. And also within the West-Africans
maybe there are five out of thousand, who know the situation, the people, the country,
so they will not join because they’re afraid to lose their benefit. Furthermore you need to have a specific place where to stay. I remember for example when we were trying to organize a meeting to discuss the humanitarian temporary. We were in a stadium where you can play football. The first meeting was good; we had a lot of people joining in. During the second and third time, there was already police there. Since the police showed up, people didn’t come to the meeting.
In Europe, I was educated; I learned about my rights, I learned that here is some more equality and that one can fight for ones rights. In Malta I went about setting up a Facebook page under the name “R. Know More Network” and then proceeded to roam the open centers, speaking to migrants about the importance of educating themselves and learning about the local culture. The ‘R’ stands for my mother’s name, Ramatah. Many Africans have a tendency of keeping inside the feelings, problems and troubles they have and do not speak about their experience. But we need to tell the Europeans who we are and why we left our home country for them to understand.
The arms industry is profiting in two major fields from the current conflict in the Middle East: war and border militarization. The Middle East is in need for weapons for its conflicts and at the same time the borders are being closed and „protected“ from the consequences of war: Refugees.
The so called „flow of refugees“ is the result of violence and civil wars that were made possible by the support of the arms industry.
International players in the weapon business (weapon-producers) have an interest in keeping the Middle East an instable region, because this provides them work for the future. European policies support the producers and help them to reach their goal. Many groups in border-regions are getting money from the EU, to militarize or close their borders and therefore make it impossible for migrants to find a way to Europe. A report by the UN confirms that between 2005 and 2014 weapons worth more than 82 billion Euros were sent to the Middle East and Northafrica. The report shows that the wirepullers of this weapon-game are neither situated in the Middle East nor getting harmed by the consequences. (keyword: Syria)
Despite restrictions and embargos, the weapon-producers feed the war with technically advanced weapons and ensure, that the war continues. Most informaiton about the weapon trade doesn‘t reach the public sphere and many deals are made in an illegal way. Thus it is evident that this trade is only possible because it gets supported by the governments in Europe and by the military institutions in the war regions. The weapon-dealer alone wouldn‘t be able to participate in this business without the support mentioned before. The militarized borders are forcing the refugees to take ways to Europe that are getting more dangerous. This fuels human trafficking and makes the prices rise. Human rights are irrelevant and only serve for the purpose of advertising. The politicians abuse the situation to push through their national interests and they camouflage their actions with the disguise of human rights. This does not rescue any Refugees. The EU has always been really good at passing on guilt to human trafficking. This has led to a situation in which the EU isn‘t being criticized. For many years, experts and human rights organizations have been pointing out that this is a problem. This has been ignored by the public. The number of casualties and the people who were being forced to migrate because of the enduring conflicts is rising. In this context governments and the arms industry are not only playing with weapons but also with the fear of the people.
The author of this text wrote what he experienced while he was fleeing and what he found out from different social networks.
In november 2016 i went to Lesvos, Greece. Thats why i was asked to write a text in this paper about the situation there. To be honest: I don’t have much to say. Yes, the situation is fucked. But i met amazing people from different places in the world on Lesvos, which all were trapped there because of the european border regime. Some of them are experts in questions of asylum, migration, routes, refugees selforganization, police brutality and so on. Thats why i asked M., a young guy from Aleppo, if he could write something.
Here is what i got:
Hello europe, hello.
I think you are sleeping, because you are not doing anything for what the refugees are facing here. It‘s time to wake up.
A lot of people flee their countries seeking safety and peace. We left our children, the dreams and memories and came here to the land of dreams, but we figured out its not the land of dreams but the land of nightmares. We have been driven to detention camps, sleeping under hundreds of people in only shity tents.
Dear europeans, imagine this please.
Refugees have lost their hopes. You have closed your borders in our faces. Because of fear. What fear, i don’t know. What danger can our present bring? This person that is only seeking security. You don’t know us. Thats why you are afraid of us. Please try to communicate with us. It’s not that hard and you will see: We are humans, just like you. Try to hear us, only one time. We are all humans, we are all brothers and sisters.
It‘s time to wake up.