Deportation problematized

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Saxon Deportation Practice

The current deportation practice of Saxony is rigid and brutal. It is characterized by a number of human rights violations. Until now, we documented separations of families, the deportation of sick people possessing certificates confirming their illness and inability to travel, the deportation of pregnant women as well as the captivation of minors. All of that happened over the course of the last year. Human rights violations like these happen again and again and every time when deportations are carried out. Often the claim is raised, those human rights violations would be an exception of an enforcement act that „concludes due process of law“. But this is not the case, those violations are the rule, they are inherent to deportations. Hence, deportations are always an act of violence, carried out by the state. Peope are being deported to a country where they do not want to live. If one adds the political will to produce high deportation numbers as it is the case in Saxony, tragedies in Saxon cities and municipalities are unavoidable. 1.725 peope have been deported in 2015 (BT-Drs. 18/7588). In 2016, 3.377 people were affected. To put it into perspective: until the end of September of last year, 19.914 people were deported from the whole of the republic (numbers of the Federal Police, reported on by Rheinischen Post). Although both time periods differ by a month, one might get an idea of how far Markus Ulbig has taken the lead already among the Ministers of the Interior competing on the highest deportation numbers. Saxon Refugee Council supports the Right to Stay for All and thereby the Right to Free Movement. This involves us fundamentally opposing deportations.


Blackbox Deportation

Often, deportations are described as blackbox. Dozens of police officers stand in front of apartment doors, usually in the middle of night. The people about to be deported are exposed to mental stress to the uttermost limit. Translation service is provided in only a few cases by Foreigners’ Departments and the police. Within a short period of time, the people about to be deported need to pack their belongings, are transported to assembly points and brought to separate airport terminals. There they board the plane aside from tourist traffic, aside from the public. The impact of that enforcement act on the people to be deported is disastrous. If children are affected, the night of deportation will be remembered as decisive point in their biography.

'Safe Countries of Origin'

People from the so-called “Safe Countries of Origins” are mostly affected by deportations. According to German law, that category applies to the states of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ghana, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Senegal and Serbia. The EU-member-states are labeled as “Safe Third States”, though their citizens enjoy freedom of movement within the EU. Solely in the course of applying the Dublin Regulations deportations from one EU-member-state to the other take place. Also, there are states who de facto are treated as “safe” by the Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). People of Algerian, Moroccan or Tunisian citizenship have a remarkably low chance to receive protection in Germany, most often their decree (“Bescheid”) is issued as “obviously unfounded” by the BAMF. Only, neither the states of the Western Balkans nor the Maghreb-states are safe really. The first officially and socially exclude and persecute Rom*nja, the same holds for the case of LGBTIQ-people in the states and societies of the Maghreb. The BAMF would not classify the Maghreb-states as safe either. A BAMF-report certifies that, documented and cited by Zeit newspaper. According to BAMF-internal guidelines dealing with countries of origins, the agency assumes that in the whole of Algeria terror organizations operate, cause attacks and gunfights. In Morocco, torture is executed by authorities. For Tunisia, the agency would not want to preclude systematic persecution of specific groups.

Individual reasons of escape disappear behind the term of the “safe country of origin”. Suddenly, deportation of people to these states appears to be legitimate. Here it is not only the word “safe” that borders cynicism. Also, for many people the origin from one of those countries is based only on their citizenship. They spent a major part of their life, if not all of it, in Germany or in any other of the EU-member-states. „Origin“ does not have anything to do with the state that issued their passport.

Not the number of the dead, the number of the arriving is supposed to decrease

Deportations are only one appearance of state enforcement that contradicts the position of the right to stay for everyone. The border regime of the EU is another example. The dying in the Mediterranean did not only begin when 4.220 people drowned in 2015 or 5.022 more did so in 2016. It began a long time ago already. Just the number of the arriving had to increase to a level where the societies, especially those in the north of Europe, seriously dealt with the questions asylum and escape raise. The conclusion however, was not to reduce the number of dead people. No, all purposeds aimed to reduce the number of the arriving survivors so that the questions of asylum and escape would disappear out of public discourse again. With all effort the EU tries to externalize its borders to the periphery. The Union does not shy away from making contracts with dictatorships so that they would prevent their own population from escaping (comprehensive information on that on the migration control platform published by taz newspaper. Countries like Tunisia are being supported with technology and knowledge to close their borders today already, without a deal like the one between EU and Turkey even to be required. This way the escape routes become more and more dangerous. However, people dare to escape.

The inherent fault of the nation state

Deportations, the concept of “safe countries of origins” as well as the EU border regime are only three examples, as roughly described as they were in this text, how EU-member states want to prevent people from escaping. For the price of dead and injured, of desperation and traumatization. We do not think of this situation as bearable. The flaw in the construction of the nation state becomes apparent: it simply cannot meet the requirements that are raised by human rights. In the end, only citizens of the nation will enjoy protection by the nation state and will make use of their right to stay unconditionally. Nation and state are not united stably and never did so. There has always been migration, people always set off, looking for a better life. Today, intercontinental escape and migration movements stretch over seas and deserts and pass border after border, often to a high price. Modern information and communication technology makes it possible. The arrival of the escaping in Europa is widely described as “refugee crisis”. But the people who pass borders are not in crisis, they are in bare necessity. Only, necessity may be remedied and mitigated under the condition that the political will to do so is existent. A crisis in contrast is characterized by the high risk every decision holds. People crossing borders expose the crisis  of the nation states, who for the most part still have a self-understanding as liberal and representative democracies. The refugees do that by simply appearing physically in the territories of those states, making apparent the contradiction between the universal values of democracy and human rights and the particularity of exclusive nations. Although universal rights, participation in the representative system and the liberal understanding of the state of law in the interest of the individual apply to the citizens, they are not applied to the others, to those who shall not belong. However, the remarkable thing, not only since 2015, is that the refugees are not granted the right to move, they simply take it.

States are forms to organize social relations. Those who prefix the nation to the state do not act in the interest of universal rights and liberal state of law. Those who propagate the nation want to get rid of these accomplishments: recognition of the single case and rights that apply universally. Those rights are the points the individual can refer to. Refugees are those who cannot rely on their individual case to be recognized. They are unprotected in the sense that human rights, universally composed, are refused to them and thereby are violated. Simply by the dynamics of migration that crosses borders, the currently most strongest concept of societal relations – the one of the static unity between nation and state – is being questioned on the continent of its origin. And yes, the concept has been successful due to the world map being ordered by nation states. Because of the same modern communication technologies that enable people to escape over continents and a lot more of secured knowledge, a lot of ignorance is required to close one’s eyes in front of the people on the escape routes and the conditions in their countries of origins.

Answers rather than temporary measures

A position inheriting the right to stay for everyone rejects the concept of an homogeneous nation as not usable for finding the answer to the most important question raised of the 20th century. The question of escape and migration finally needs to be answered for it is the 21st century already. Deportation and externalization of borders are no answers to these questions, they are lethal and only temporary measures. Deportation and externalization of borders happen whenever states are abused for the ideology of the nation and are no longer perceived as orders of societal relations. In this sense, the slogan “Right to Stay for Everyone” is both political demand and political challenge. Because, as Miltiadis Oulios argues in “Blackbox Deportation”:

[…] we [need] to change perspective: at the very beginning of all efforts should not stand the begging for humanity any longer. Instead, the focus should be on the struggle for freedom and for the recognition of the fact, that migrants, that refugees will take their right to free movement anyway, that they will exercise it. And this long before we grant it to them.” (Oulios 2015: XIV; translated from the German original).

Chances for change

These words sound a lot more grand than they actually are. Concretely speaking, everyone is able to participate in exposing the inherent faults of deportations (we will try to present concrete options in this dossier). If possible, one may convince him- or herself of the disastrous situation at EU’s external borders. Change starts in the mind and this change will only succeed when humanity in its plurality communicates, has conversations – when “Politik” understood as polity, politics and policy at the same time is applied. Chances for change or effect exist. The concrete case of the collective deportation to Afghanistan in December 2016 was accompanied by an outspokenly critical public. The addressees of that critique are the German state governments. Deportations lie in their responsibility. Also the Saxon state government could push for a more humane policy. It may do so by renouncing deportations or, only as an another example, by aiming for a judicial review proceeding by the Supreme Court on the ever stricter asylum laws that were passed ever since 2015. It may sound naïve considering the behavior of the Saxon Minister of the Interior, but still, the coalition consists of two partners. Rethinking Saxon interior policy is urgently needed. We, Saxon Refugee Council, draw the following conclusions from the individual cases we and others made public and thereby from Saxon deportation practice:

  • By producing high numbers of deported people the politicians responsible want to shape their profile in the face of the political opponent from the right-wing fringe. Copying the righ-radical and inhuman original will not profit. CDU never got benefit in election whenever the party tried to adapt that fringe. The only result was a strong shift of rhetoric and law in the direction of inhumanity.

  • Absolute, inalienable human rights, for example article 2 or article 6 of German constitution, do not play any role when enforcement authorities realize political objectives.

  • This is a worrying development. All powers controlling the executive branch should take notice and start to act, question and judge accordingly.

  • The Saxon Delegate on Foreigners’ Issues needs to reevaluate his legally defined duties. The interests of all foreigners should lead his political acting.

  • There should be a general stop of deportations! We explicitly demand a stop of deportations to Afghanistan. The state government also plans to deport to the civil war country.

  • The Saxon government stretches moral and legal borders. It is everybody’s task to point out that fact – towards refugees as well as towards Saxon public.

Literature used

Arendt, Hannah (2003): Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft – Antisemitismus, Imperialismus, totale Herrschaft, Piper: München (English title: Origins of Totalitarianism)

The human being possesses rights only when he*she is a state’s citizen and the state actually grants and enforces them. Hence, human rights are downgraded to citizens’ rights. Those who cannot rely on the state’s protection or even have to fear it are thrown back to being human. After Auschwitz one cannot assume that being human is the foundation of having rights any longer. Accordingly, a new right is needed which is fundamentally different to citizens’ rights – the right to have rights.

What the right to have rights exactly means is explained by → Förster, Jürgen

Arendt, Hannah (2011): Über die Revolution, Piper: München (English title: On Revolution)

Arendt uses her comparison of the American and French Revolution (with references towards the Russian one) to define the desirable objective of any revolution. It is not liberation from a regime perceived as illegitimate, the sheer overthrow. This is supposed to be an only negative definition of freedom, freedom from something. Instead, revolution is about a new beginning, creating a new order, a constitution, in which the positive understanding of freedom, the freedom to act, is being kept. The European understanding of revolution inherents an outspokenly destructive element. An understanding that is based on necessity, on what has to be done, lays the foundation for war, for destruction. Revolution in contrast rests on freedom. Freedom always needs to push for a new beginning.

Bauman, Zygmunt (1998): Globalization – The Human Consequences, Polity Press: Cambridge

The way globalization has served only the privileged for now and how humanity is being separated in “tourists and vagabonds” describes Zygmunt Bauman. Only one of the mechanisms pushing in that direction: the slow disappearance of immigration visa with a simultaneous increase of passport and migration control and trafficking.

„The first [the tourists] travel at will, get much fun from their travel […] are cajoled or bribed to travel and welcomed with smiles and open arms when they do. The second [the „vagabonds“] travel surreptitiously, often illegaly. Sometimes paying more for the crowded steerage of a stinking unseaworthy boat than others pay for business-class gilded luxuries – ande are frowned upon, and, if unlucky, arrested and promptly deported, when they arrive.“ (Ebd.: 89)

Förster, Jürgen (2009): Das Recht auf Rechte und das Engagement für eine gemeinsame Welt – Hannah Arendts Reflexionen über die Menschenrechte, – Zeitschrift für politisches Denken, Nov. ’09, Ausg. 1, Band 5: Berlin (English translation: The Right to Have Rights and Engaging for a Shared World – Hannah Arendt’s Reflections on Human Rights)
URL: (last time visited January 15th 17)

If Arendt rejects human rights because they only come into effect as citizens’ rights, how then should a right to have right be effective? Arendt does not even want to provide a legal structure for this right to have rights, to draft or to institutionalize it. Because then a state would be needed again, enforcing that right only for a group within humanity. Again, the right to have right would be degraded to a citizen right. Arendt also does not understand the right as a pre-state/ natural/ God-given/ metaphysical one. This understanding turned out to be of no use considering Auschwitz. Arendt perceives the right to have right as a guiding principle for political acting. To speak out for human rights always means to be political. The condition for „Politik” in its threefold meaning are interhuman relations.

“[…] human rights [are] not owned steadfastly, they do not come with birth. […] Even more so they are the expression of a specific humane relationship that constantly needs to be renewed and taken care of. Its effect and appreciation needs to be subjected to everlasting concern. Humanity needs to ensure that human rights appear in the world so that they become real and have practical effect.” (Ebd.)

Original: „[…] die Menschenrechte [sind] kein unverbrüchliches, qua Geburt verbürgtes Eigentum der Individuen […]. Vielmehr sind sie Ausdruck einer spezifischen menschlichen Beziehung, die stetig erneuert und gepflegt werden muss, so dass ihre Geltung und Beachtung ständiger Auftrag zur Sorge ist. Die Menschen müssen dafür Sorge tragen, dass die Menschenrechte in der Welt erscheinen, dass sie Wirklichkeit und praktische Wirksamkeit erlangen.“ (Ebd.)

Oulios, Miltiadis (2015): Blackbox Abschiebung – Geschichte, Theorie und Praxis der deutschen Migrationspolitik, Suhrkamp: Berlin

Deportations are the one side of asylum and migration policy that is consciously being kept away from the public. This is shown by Miltiadis Oulios in this comprehensive research. His purpose: to initiate a political discussion on deportations that goes beyond the outrage about the individual case because only that way change may happen.

Sternhell, Zeev (2010): The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition, Yale University Press: Yale

Sternhell finds the origins of nationalist thought in the 18th century and demonstrates the development of the Anti-Enlightenment tradition with its organic nations, of nation’s bodies” until now. Sternhell recognized a repeal of universal human rights and the state of law – those mechanisms that are supposed to protect the individual. He concludes:

„Progress may not be continuous, history may advance in zigzags, but that does not mean that humankind must trust to chance, submit to the regime of the hour, and accept social evils as if the were natural phenomena and not the result of an abdication of reason. To prevent people of the twenty-first century from sinking into a new ice age of resignation, the Enlightenment vision of the individual as creative of his or her present and hence of his or her future is irreplaceable.“ (Ebd.: 443)

Vowinckel, Annette (2001): Geschichtsbegriff und Historisches Denken bei Hannah Arendt –Dissertation eingereicht am Simon-Dubnow-Institut Leipzig, Köln: Böhlau Verlag (English translation: Hannah Arendt’s Understanding of History and her Historical Thinking)

Arendt defines history in a fragmented way, that means, every person’s perspective on the world bases on his or her own experiences. His or her story (the fragments) enable people to engage in conversation and to exchange their different and plural experiences. Only out of conversation politics emerge. The experiences of the 20th century have been unambiguous for Arendt. “Hell on Earth” was realized in Auschwitz, “hell” defined as the individual made completely superfluous and thereby destined to be exterminated. Also, the possible end of humanity was demonstrated by the nuclear bombs that had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Considering these experiences, Arendt concludes without any doubt: humanity needs to prevent totalitarianism for its own sake by preserving its inherent skills which are plurality, conversation, acting and thereby being political. Arendt preserves her trust in humanity to always refound a political space aside of such ruinous processes.

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