Alles klar (everything alright)?
a project by Alireza Abbasy
As the accumulated number of people with foreign origins increased dramatically all over Europe, particularly during the last decade, the issue of immigration has become a high priority topic in European politics.
Germany is a special case in Europe, in terms of its discriminatory laws against asylum seekers (refugees). In September 2012, a group of refugees in Germany started their 600-km protest march (which took them more than a month) from Würzburg all the way to Berlin.
They had three clear demands:
1. abolishing of the Lager System – Lagers are mass accommodations in Germany built in isolated locations to keep the refugees.
2. abolishing of Residenzpflicht – A law unique to Germany, which restricts the free
movement of asylum seekers; they are not allowed to leave the residency they are
assigned to. The size of the residency is regulated differently in different provinces. It may be limited to the district, the county or the state in which an applicant must reside. A 2007 complaint to the European Court of Human Rights against this violation of fundamental human rights was not accepted for judgment.
3. stopping deportations
The group got to Kreuzberg, Berlin, in October 2012 and was warmly welcomed by some seven thousand demonstrators. The refugee protest camp was set up in Oranienplatz (a main square in the center of Berlin) and the refugee protesters spent the entire winter in freezing tents which bent down under the weight of the snow. In December 2012, the refugees together with several groups of German activists occupied a former school in Ohlauer Strasse (10 minutes from Oranienplatz) which has become the second critical location for the movement.
My connection to the refugee strike was very personal. My best friend, whom I know for 15 years, after a sequence of unexpected events, ended up as an asylum seeker in Germany. Feeling totally lost and hopeless, with no money, no friends or family in Berlin, he was introduced to the people in Oranienplatz. He immediately joined the movement, became an active member, and spent the long Berlin-winter in the tents and later in the school.
When I moved to Berlin (April 2013), I started shooting Alles Klar?, a photography project to document what is going on in the refugee protest, but not from a detached and journalistic perspective. It is not about the plight of humans living in dire conditions in refugee camps but about dedicated political activists who are fighting everyday in their lives to make a meaningful change in a repressive political system which generally does not tolerate people it calls ‘aliens’.
Alireza Abbasy is a visual artist born in Tehran, Iran, and based in Berlin, Germany. Also, he is a co-founder of Sarmad, a blog to feature the work of young and talented photographers. Please view his website for further information.
All images provided by Alireza Abbasy.
This work was submitted by Alireza Abbasy on 20 March 2014.