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PM: “Building bridges” Festival: A protest camp for refugee women* in Oranienplatz

Women in Exile and Friends, a refugee women*s’ organization, want to hold a protest camp in a form of a festival between 26th – 28th July, because we want to continue fighting against racism, sexism and discrimination in a joyful way. Our everyday life is full of pain and hard times, hence as a political strategy when we come together, we want to care about ourselves. We are organizing it with our national wide networks and with the support from local activist groups.

But the protest camp “Building Bridges Festival” is encountering resistance amongst the authorities to allow it to happen in Oranienplatz, a reference for the refugee movement. Oranienplatz is a symbol of resistance against laws that violate basic human rights as the freedom of movement, proper accommodation, right to education and work. Asylum Law makes refugees second class citizens and means double discrimination for refugee women*.

Authorities wanted to deny us to be in a public space like Oranienplatz, because we are not the victims that European societies expect us to be. We are not weak and helpless. We know why we are here. We understand that we have rights and we will fight for them because we are strong.

Calling our festival “Building Bridges” was intentionally because we are aware of the existing gap between illegalized people, refugees and german citizens. A gap within the society that ends up creating again saving hero*ines and fleeing victims.

We appreciate the work of Carola Rackete and we are happy they have released her. We expect that many others will follow her steps. But we wonder why mainstream solidarity campaigns are done for those who rescue. What is with the thousands, that were left dying in the sea and furthermore? Who cares for those who arrived and are struggling daily with structural racism, discrimination and sexism of Fortress Europe?

Who cares about Rita Awour Ojunge, who was found dead at the end on June around her lager in Hohenleipisch, and all those like her who have met death as a result of the structural violence and racism of the lager system? Rita had been missing for 2 months before the police found her. Did the police invest enough time and used the adequate means or is it that a non-white’s life or refugee’s life is not a priority?

There is a need for building bridges in times of death and criminalization, and we claim Oranienplatz as a public space for everybody, and expect the festival to be a moment to speak between us all, to bring awareness so that we don’t reproduce colonialism, patriarchy and start a conversation on how to build an inclusive society for all.

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