Only a few months after the racist progroms at Rostock-Lichtenhagen and Hoyerswerda, the town council of Büren decided to convert a former NATO-barracks, hidden in the woods nearby, into a deportation prison. The town could have opted for a “reception facility” instead, but – true to the hostile spirit asylum seekers met with- they preferred them in prison rather than freedom. Conversion works only lasted a few months, and the first prisoners were confined early in 1994, roughly 20 years ago. A procedure not limited to Büren: the deportation regime received a boost all over Germany at that time. Numbers of deportation prisons increased heavily, as did deportations themselves. Recently, however, these numbers declined again, and deportation prisons were closed or reconverted. Thus, the women’s deportation prison at Neuss was closed down in 2012, its remaining inmates being moved to Büren. Having encountered sexualized or other violence either in their countries of origin or whilst fleeing and being illegalized, psychological aid is essential for many. However, none is provided. On the contrary: German institutions and the arrest continue the story of violence. The people are left with the fear of being deported back into the insufferable situation they tried to leave behind. By now, Büren is the only deportation prison left in North-Rhine Westphalia and the largest one in Germany, having a capacity of 384 places. And whilst Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate, among others, are actually discussing whether imprisonment on pending deportation is feasible at all, the local authorities use it frequently. Consequently, no other federal state has so many people in prison for deportation as NRW. In fact, Büren has as many inmates as all other federal states together.

Deportation Imprisonment: What does it mean?

As far as the law is concerned, deportation imprisonment is nothing but a means to secure an administrative measure’s implementation – the deportation.
For persons concerned, this means up to 18 months of imprisonment to guarantee their deportation. Again and again, their imprisonment will be extended, as the immigration authorities fail to obtain all necessary papers in time or no flights take place to the country of destination since airports are damaged by bombs. For the prisoners, this means continuous insecurity, since they never know with any certainty what may happen with them. Either, deportation could take place any day or imprisonment will extend three more months. This daily insecurity as well as the grueling wait puts many under extreme pressure. Consequently, it is common for prisoners to suffer from recurring traumatism. Out of fear from impending deportation, more than 60 people have committed suicide since the right of asylum was de-facto abolished in 1993. The current deportation policy has these and many other deaths to account for.

On August 30th, 1999, Rachid Sbaai burned to death in a cell of Büren deportation prison. He had been subjected to isolated confinement following a foul on the sports field. The exact circumstances of his death can no longer be determined. It is a fact, however, that Rachid sounded an emergency call before his death. However, the emergency call centre was not operating, so that help came too late.

Meanwhile, the German Republic is busy delegating responsibility for arriving asylum seekers to other states of the EU. The DUBLIN II-treaty demands applications for asylum to be made in the country of arrival. Most immigrants reach Germany via Greece or Italy, but local reception capacities are limited. As a result, treatment of asylum seekers in these countries is often limited to imprisonment, only to release them to homelessness later.
At the same time, border control gets more and more intensive, whilst legal migration is bound to high requirements. By now, the European border control agency, FRONTEX, is operating all over the Mediterranean and on the Eastern borders of the EU, to prevent any irregular migration. With military-grade technologies, refugees are detected, forced to turn back or deported straightaway illegally. The greater the stringency of this merciless machinery becomes, the more dangerous the routes which the people are forced to take. The European border regime thus produces dead bodies in order to secure their own citizen’s wealth. The Mediterranean has become a watery mass grave, with the responsibility being in Berlin and Brussels.

Racism Kills!

Deportation prisons are expressions of a racist policy towards migrants, selecting migrants for ‘utility’ and the demands of capital. Besides, they guarantee that people who have fled to the EU out of fear and distress are deported against their will, to despondency, torture and death. Deportation imprisonment has to be abolished without replacement! Deportations must be prevented and those affected have to be guaranteed permits of residence without condition!

After an Iranian had committed suicide in a Würzburg asylum camp, a new wave of self-organized protests has erupted since March 2012. With multiple marches across Germany and protest camps in city centres, with hunger strikes and a public tribunal the refugees have protested against their isolation in camps, against forced-residency laws and for a permit to stay. Many of these actions carry on, increasing pressure on those who are responsible. Besides, various actions against deportations have achieved publicity in the past weeks and months, showing first signs of success.
We will not trust any promises of politicians and administration. Although both the Social Democrats and the Green Party have announced conditions at Büren to be improved greatly, the only result was a coalition agreement stipulating to abide by existing laws.
In effect, the right to stay still has to be fought for by self-organized movements. We will return, until the very last prisoner has been freed! Abolish Deportation! Close Deportation Prisons!


Anti-Knast Gruppe im Infoladen Anschlag, Bielefeld
Antirassismus-AG an der Uni Bielefeld
ausbrechen Paderborn
Infoladen Paderborn
move and resist Bielefeld
Rassismus tötet! Göttingen

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