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[ 03. Oct 2004 ]

Invitation to participate in The VOICE Refugee Forum Ten Years Anniversary

Here is the official invitation to the VOICE Refugee Forum Ten Years Anniversary Congress in Berlin.


From the 13th to 16th October, 2004 we are organizing a Congress to mark the Ten Years anniversary of The VOICE Refugee Forum under the Motto: Self Organisation and Restriction of Movement. The Congress will take place in Mehringhof, in the School of Adult Education. The address is Gneisenaustr. 2a and the U-Bahn station is Mehringdamm (U6/U7).

It is almost contradictory to say we would like to come together to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Voice Refugee Forum. Though we are proud to have maintained consistency in our struggle and in our engagement against deportation, exclusion, racism, discrimination and paternalism while remaining true to our principles and though we continue to resist the Apartheid Residenzpflicht Law, unfortunately we do not have much to celebrate at this moment.

This is because the situation in Germany, Europe and the world at large has become drastically worse and our rights have deteriorated to point of non-existence. Contradictory also because we are convinced this is an issue that goes beyond persons and groups, which affects us all both in terms of the problems and in terms of the solutions.

More than a celebration however, we see the tenth year anniversary of The VOICE as a time of reflection, self-criticism and the search for a way forward in the midst of this worsening situations. We see this as an opportunity to come together, listen to each other, and see what possibilities exist for collectively confronting our increasing problems.

As we all know, the situation has reached alarming proportions. They have destroyed the very basis of their own democratic process and made us the first to be criminalized and made scapegoats. With no rights and almost no visible possibilities to change this situation, virtually everyone has reached a state of fear that is paralysing. We are hardly capable of defending ourselves from the accusations; much less make proposals for change.

This invitation is a plea to all groups, to mobilise others, sit down together and discuss our common problems. We cannot continue to be our own enemy. We cannot continue any longer in this state of helplessness and isolation. We can no longer continue to be victims, doing nothing or too little to change our situation.

We are threatened now more than at other time in recent memory. The new foreigners" law, the criminalization of migration and protest, environmental collapse, the proposed lagers in Africa, wars throughout our countries and hunger, all ominous signs of what is in store for us. We invite all migrants and refugees who disagree and are willing to stand up for their rights to participate in the Congress with proposals and discussions.

Please note that all costs for refugees are to be taken over by the Congress. Nevertheless, the Congress has very little money, of which we are trying to dedicate a large part to transportation. This means we have almost no money for food or housing. If you or your group could help organize one meal during the Congress we would be extremely grateful. Likewise, we are still short on accommodations, so if you have places where people can sleep, please get in contact with us. The more we can self-organize ourselves and create our own independent structure the better off we are.

Finally, it is very important that you confirm your participation in the Congress as well as the number of participants. This is the only way we can fairly calculate how much food and how many sleeping places we really need.

We hope to see you in the Congress. Please feel free to contact us at any time with the e-mails and telephone numbers given below. The latest programme of the events will be published soon