The situation in Ellwangen already began before the raid of last Thursday (3 May, 2018). Namely, in April 2018:
“We met with the director of the LEA (asylum reception centre) in Ellwangen. We told him about our life in the accommodation and how people feel here, also because of Dublin II.
He promised us that we could talk to the press and to politicians about our situation, as he and the property management were not responsible for the conditions. He wanted to take care of everything.
On 27 April, we had a joint meeting with the head of the LEA. At this meeting, he said we could meet the press on Thursday, 3 May.
At 3am on Monday, 30 April, we heard a lot of noise. When we went outside, people were complaining about the deportation of a Togolese man. We saw that the police wanted to force the man to get into the car—he was already handcuffed. And he told the police that he disagreed. So we also said we wouldn’t let the police just take the man out of the camp. As they saw more and more people coming out of the camp, they withdrew. We were about 30 or 40 people at the time.
The police had already left when more refugees came to the scene. They only met the man in handcuffs while we told them about the situation.
The press reported a crowd of up to 200 people, however, less than 150 African refugees are currently accommodated in Ellwangen. If the accusation that we surrounded the police were true, how would they have been able to withdraw so easily? If the police are so sure, they should be able to provide evidence. The German police are—as we know—very professional in reporting powers of control.
At this point, the circular logic of the German police authorities’ racism is exposed. (“Oh, African refugees, they’re aggressive.”)
After one hour, a security guard arrived with the keys to the handcuffs, freed the man, and left with the handcuffs. We were surprised when at around 10am, the manager came to us again and asked us to give him the handcuffs. We asked: “Why are you trying to fool us when the handcuffs are with the security guard?” We went to the guard who took the handcuffs. We asked him why he had not informed the head of the facility about the whereabouts of the handcuffs, whereupon he replied that the head of the facility was already informed.
At this point it was clear to us that something was going wrong—extortion and intrigues to unjustifiably criminalise us.
At 5am on Thursday, 3 May—the day we should have met the press (organised by the director of the facility)—we heard screams and shouts: “Police! Police!”. The police forcibly broke open all the room doors (although the doors in the facility cannot be locked), stormed the dark rooms with bright flashlights, and shouted, “Police! Police! Hands up, don’t move! Give me your ID and camp chip card! Do you have them handy?”. Then we were tied up with cable ties and were supposed to lie down on the floor. After checking the identity cards and camp chip cards to identify the people, the police went on and searched our clothes and entire rooms. Before that, they asked us if we had any dangerous weapons or drugs in our possession. Some of us were naked and were forbidden to put anything on—even if the person had a cold. We were forced to be quiet, and we were beaten when we dared to ask questions. Our pants and wallets were searched. They took the money of those of us who had more than 200 euro.
After the raid, 27 people were arrested and taken to another building, opposite the police station on the premises of the accommodation. One of the people who was arrested for having unregistered Lyca SIM-cards testifies how badly they were treated—tied up and left out in the cold.
A young woman who brought clothes to her partner was not allowed to help him put the clothes on. But another arrested and tied friend helped him while the police watched them. The police chief forbade another friend of ours to use the bathroom. The same police chief asked another officer why a refugee was brought into the line of those arrested without their hands tied with cable ties. He also ordered this refugee to be tied up.
One by one we were interrogated—in the presence of almost 20 police officers with dogs. We were also photographed, and then taken to the police station within the camp, where fingerprints were taken. Even one of the social workers was shocked that such a process was being enacted, simply because of, for instance, the possession of SIM-cards.
When the police finally left, there were some wounded who were taken to the hospital. At the same time, some media began to report from outside the accommodation.
We are shocked at how the media have simply reiterated the lying police reports without investigating the actual events, or asking us what happened.
We, the refugees from Ellwangen, are not violent, even if the police say we attacked them. There was distance between us and the police during the incident. Our brother in handcuffs stood between us and the police. We have evidence of everything that the police have done to us.
Now we have decided to hold a demonstration. For us, this is the only way to inform people about what actually happened. The media falsifies our statements and turns them against us.
We meet on Wednesday, 9 May at 5pm at the LEA in Ellwangen.
Against media populism
Against police violence
Against the criminalisation of refugees