Lampedusa Hamburg – Open Letter to the Northern Church

After days of rumours, the Lampedusa Refugees Hamburg have
written a - very diplomatic - letter, that makes quite a point.
It clarifies the dissent the group has with the recent shift 
of argumentation by the church. 
We document the letter, not only because we 
find the refugee's arguments very convincing, but also because 
we support their arguments and struggle completely.
Park Fiction has a long term relationship with the church,
as well as with immigration issues and the struggles for the
end of the deportation regime. "We can work it out" - as the 
slogan by Lampedusa Hamburg and Enmedio says.   

As the Refugees point out, the pressure on church and our 
pastors might just have become too high. But politically, the move
by the church is wrong, and it comes at the worst possible 
moment in time - when all pressure is needed, when the mayor of 
Hamburg and the SPD are facing the strongest and most 
decided opposition, and are about to loose everything, 
when there is a decisive shift happening - at last! - in 
societies feeling about refugees and immigration policies - 
and injustices. Let's work it out - together.

Open Letter To the Nordkirche and the Christian communities by 
The group of Libyan war refugees "Lampedusa in Hamburg"

The group of Libyan war refugees "Lampedusa in Hamburg" 
13th of November 2013


Open Letter To the Nordkirche and the Christian communities

Thank you very much for the great support from the Christian communities
in Hamburg, in particular for the housing and supply in St. Pauli but also
in many other parts of the city. We specially thank the African community
of the Church of Redemeer which always kept us supplied twice a week with
warm food and left the church room open for our meetings.
We appreciate very much, that you all help us to survive for months
protesting together with us for our residence.

Because of this we could even suggest in our open letter to the Senate,
that application of § 23 - Group recognition - even in the absence of
social benefits, would be imaginable for us. Many of us would have long
been working, many are learning the German language for months, the young
among us could start apprenticeships. Along with the many people on our
side, we might support those of us for whom it can be difficult to find
work for some more time. The broad and lasting solidarity in recent months
has shown us, that this is possible.

But it's about all of us, it is about a group recognition. We all have an
equal traumatic history at the same time, which was led from Libya to
Lampedusa and Italy. There, in Italy, this has already been recognized. We
are Europe's recognized refugees and need the right to live and work. For
almost 3 years, not only we, but also our families are in great need. We
are fighting for our right to rebuild our lives.
This is what our group of the Libyan war refugees "Lampedusa in Hamburg"
stands for.
Thats what we have always said. We have also said that any help, support
and advice is welcome. But we also had to repeatedly make clear, that we
ourselves decide about our fate and our future, that we are victims of
injustice and fighters for justice.

More and more people in the city and beyond are demanding the residence –
and work permit for all. The political leadership of the city does not
want a solution of our problem.
The Senate continued police controls against black people, kept people of
our group in police custody for hours and forced the fingerprinting. At
the same time we received proposals of the Senate through the Bishops
office with the announcement that the controls would end if we accepted
their conditions.

The proposals of the Senate result in more months and years of uncertainty
for us. They want us to go through individual residence procedures. Our
recognized refugee status by Italy changed exchanged against a „Duldung“.
The Senate also further emphasizes that our reasons for staying will not
be accepted and that we are free to then pursue legal action. We would not
be deported until the completion of these procedures. But what happens
after that? We do not see this as a constructive solution, but as a game
on time to later get rid of us individually. A fair and reasonable
solution looks different. Moreover, we still want to hold direct talks
with the Senate.
This we have recently continued to state in our open letter to the Senate
from 28th of October 2013 and at the press conference the following day.
At the same time the leaders of the Nordkirche have accepted the Senates
proposal over our heads and advertised it to the public. The Evangelical
Press Service published the false information that 80 of us from the St.
Pauli Church would request a „Duldung“ at the authority . This has
generated much confusion and mistrust.

From the side of the church it was emphasized over and over again, that it
is delivering humanitarian aid in the first place, it is now that the
Bishop of the Nordkirche and the Interior Minister of Hamburg have
discussed a solution that would provide a fair trial for all. We see this
completely different and also representatives of the Nordkirche have
repeatedly expressed towards us, that with the proposed method, only a few
of us will have a chance.

The Nordkirche may have its reasons - we have often heard the pressure of
the Senate on the bishop is too large, the pressure on the pastors of St.
Pauli is too big. But then it would be fair and decent to say this as
well, instead of talking about some of the group to follow the dubious
proposal in order to fall in the groups back. The former speaker of the
refugees sleeping in the church of St.Pauli told us afterwards that he had
accepted the offer, because the pressure on the church was too large. Some
others have requested a „Duldung“ because they were told there was no

The vast majority of us refuse that procedure because of its insecurity
and because of the same negative attitude of the Senate. We are
disappointed and angered by the declaration of the Bishops office to have
agreed with the Senate on a feasible solution.
We should go this route, but we were not involved in the negotiations. We
have not instructed someone to negotiate on our behalf. We have always
demanded direct talks. Why can this, what is the most normal and natural,
not be respected? Why does the leadership of the church decide for
cooperation with the Senate against our interests, in a moment where a
huge solidarity is with us? Why is not accepted, that we decide for our
lives? Why is it not possible for the church leadership to view us as
equal subjects?
Why is a group solution not being supported by the Nordkirche? Why should
the solidarity between us, which stems from our shared traumatic history
be broken?
We have all suffered the same and we all need the same. How could we make
distinctions between us?

We hope you can understand us - try putting yourself into our situation
and ask yourself how you would act. We are grateful to each and every one
of you who sincerely supports and accepts that we make decisions about our

We wish you all a wonderful and happy holiday season.

The group of Libyan war refugees "Lampedusa in Hamburg" 13th of November 2013