GERMANY: Anger and ultimatums over raids on migrants in Hamburg

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Undocumented migrants in Hamburg have a number of long-standing campaigns and are supported by thousands of local citizens. But the authorities have now decided to undertake targeted raids against “people with an African appearance”, and migrants and their supporters have reacted angrily.

Self-organised undocumented migrants have organised a number of high-profile protests and demonstrations across Germany in recent months. In Hamburg, one group that has been very visible is made up of migrants who travelled from Libya to Lampedusa, and after receiving temporary Italian papers continued to Germany where they are now seeking dignified lives.

The 'Lampedusa Group', as they are known, have found shelter in the St Pauli church and have a permanent protest encampment (Mahnwache) in front of the Central Station. They have also held numerous demonstrations alongside their supporters.

On Friday 11 October it was reported in the press that Hamburg police had been given instructions to target “people with an African appearance” for arrests and identity checks, and to isolate those belonging to the Lampedusa Group in order to expel them from Germany. [1] Authorities have also been putting pressure on the churches to cease their support to undocumented migrants. [2]

This led to great commotion. On Friday evening a demonstration of approximately 800 people marched through the city. The same happened again on Saturday, and on Sunday the entrance of the Town Hall was blocked by a large group of activists who were subsequently cleared by the police.

All this happened as the bodies of migrants from boats that had capsized off the coast of Lampedusa on 3 October were still being recovered.

On Sunday hundreds of people attended a meeting in the local left-wing activist centre Rote Flora (Red Flower), and decided to hold a demonstration directly after the meeting, at which around 1,000 people were present. [3]

Local government Innensenator Michael Neumann of the Social Democractic Party has announced that migrants have until Wednesday to cooperate with the police – and thus their own expulsion – if they don't want to be arrested.

Activists have responded by issuing an 'Ultimatum to the Authorities of Hamburg'. [4] This states that the authorities have until 20:00 on the evening of Tuesday 15 to "stop with the racist checks and the persecution of refugees". If the demand is not met, people have been urged to meet at the Rote Flora to organise further action.

"We will not longer tolerate that in Hamburg refugees are being persecuted and expelled", says the Ultimatum.

It also states that demonstrations against the raids have been relatively calm until now, but if "no solution is reached, that may change".

Wednesday has traditionally been a day for demonstration in solidarity with Hamburg's migrant population, and this will also be the case this week. On Saturday 26 October a larger demonstration is planned. [5]

Further reading

Lampedusa in Hamburg website and Facebook page

[1] Kai von Appen, 'Razzia gegen Schwarze - Polizei begehrt auf',, 14 October 2013. It is worth noting that the newspaper article ends with the observation that "several policemen have registered sick with belly aches, so they don't have to participate in the operation." See also: 'Protest nach rassistischer Hetzjagd auf Mitglieder von “Lampedusa in Hamburg”', Lampedusa in Hamburg, 12 October 2013
[2] 'Senat will Flüchtlingsunterkunft verhindern',, 12 October 2013. The broadcaster NDR appears to be standing in solidarity with the migrants in Hamburg: it has an article on its website called 'How to support the Lampedusa refugees', in which it is explained that it is not a criminal offence to help irregular migrants: Fabienne Hurst, 'Lampedusa-Flüchtlinge: Wie Sie helfen können',, 14 October 2013
[3] 'Protest nach rassistischer Hetzjagd auf Mitglieder von “Lampedusa in Hamburg”', Lampedusa in Hamburg, 12 October 2013
[4] 'Ultimatum an den Hamburger Senat Alle auf die Straße – Schluss mit der rassistischen Machtpolitik', Rote Flora Bleibt Unverträglich, 14 October 2013
[5] 'Demo gengen Polizeiwillkür und rassistische Kontrollen', Gefahrengebiete gefährden!, 11 October 2013

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