Berlin: Gürtelstraße 39 update

On Sunday evening, August 31st, a large demo started from Warschauer Straße in Friedrichshain and reached the Gürtelstraße and Scharnweberstraße junction, at one of the police blockades around the besieged former hostel, where refugees are threatened with eviction and deportation process since the morning of the 26th. The participation of people in solidarity in the demonstration was good enough, but lots of protesters left the spot soon after. Before the arrival of the demo, cops had already tried to disperse the gathering near the hostel in Gürtelstraße, claiming that the number of people present was not enough to be considered a legitimate protest. In other words, apart from solidarity demos, what is needed the most is constant and mass presence of protesters at the barriers.

Meanwhile, there are still refugees on the hostel roof. There is not a live connection with them anymore, because the batteries of their cell phones are empty. They have gotten only 6 liters of water since Wednesday the 27th. On Sunday it was raining, and the refugees managed to collect some water. While starving them, cops have spread the lie (also through the mainstream media) that the 9 refugees are on hunger strike.

After the protest march reached Gürtelstraße, refugees on the street held emotional speeches. Some of them pointed out that they had no choice but to migrate after capitalism and the wars destroyed their homes. There was also a band with instruments playing live music. In terms of neighbourhood solidarity, there are now more banners hanging from the surrounding balconies, showing support and demanding the right to stay for everyone (from time to time, cops steal the solidarity banners on the sidewalks). Moreover, two groups of residents attempted to pass through the police barriers to give food supplies to the refugees resisting on the rooftop of the building, but with no success. The first group was blocked. Some of them had their IDs taken and were escorted by cops to their flats, where they got their IDs back. They also had to endure racist remarks from the cops (for example, they were told that if they care so much for these “dirty ones” they should take them home and feed them there). The other group was reportedly able to leave food items at the entrance of the building in Gürtelstraße, which were taken by the cops but were never delivered to the refugees.

At least two times a cop-lover pacifist (not someone from the refugees) called the crowd to remain non-violent and to not throw anything at the cops because “they are also humans and have kids and families.” A part of the crowd expressed their disapproval through whistles and shouts, and some protesters left after this repulsing call. Truth be told, it is practically impossible to raise a violent clash against the repression forces on the spot, mainly because there is no critical mass of people to support this case. In fact, anybody who shows support gets harassed, yet there is some civil disobedience from neighbours against the police-state measures inside the militarised zone.

Below are some pictures from the junction of Scharnweberstraße and Gürtelstraße.

“cops’ terror, restricted area; this is german asylum policy”
“right to stay for all!”

“every flag is a border… every border kills [people]”
“right of asylum = human right”
“we are here, we will not move away”

While the state authorities are rigorously trying to silence the refugee protest, direct actions in solidarity with the refugee protesters took place the last days: for example, “autonomous groups” carried out an arson attack on the cable shaft of the Berlin S-Bahn between Treptower Park and Ostkreuz stations on the 28th, causing considerable damage and a temporary halt to that part of the transport network, and the Berlin Foreigners Registration Office in Moabit was symbolically attacked on the 30th.