Lampedusa in Hamburg: Refugees fight for their right to stay! – #LampedusaHH

Banner near Altona train station in Hamburg: "Refugees stay here - Deport the senate"

Banner near Altona train station in Hamburg: “Refugees stay here – Deport the senate”

Since the winter of 2012/2013, approximately 300 African refugees live in Hamburg, Germany. They managed to escape from Libya, migrated to Italy and then reached the German border. In May 2013 fighters of the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg,” recognized in Italy as refugees from the NATO-war in Libya, publicly stepped into action for the first time in Germany, in their struggle for free access to the labour market, housing, medical and social care, education and free choice of their residence within the European Union—legal rights which can always be granted, in contrast to the claims made by the Hamburg state minister of the Interior and the mayor. The Senate is only eager to provide temporary accommodation ahead of the cold winter if the refugees hand over their documents and agree to be deported. Recently, mayor Olaf Scholz of the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) even stated that Hamburg have the most modern refugee-politics in the country… At that very moment—while the agony for the latest deaths of migrants on Italy’s southernmost island Lampedusa is still fresh—the Hamburg government has unleashed a large-scale police operation also against these refugees, who survived the war and the escape to Lampedusa some time ago. 

Image of a refugee who gets detained during a racial profiling operation by the police in Hamburg on October 16.

Image of a refugee who gets detained during a racial profiling operation by the police in Hamburg on October 16.

Mid-October 2013 activists gave an ultimatum to the Senate of Hamburg to stop the racial profiling, but naturally there was no positive sign from the side of authorities. However, the city of Hamburg has not seen one quiet day ever since. The local police forces were unable to cope with all of the actions over the past few weeks, thus police deployments have moved to Hamburg from other regions to their aid. There have been numerous activities and demonstrations in Hamburg and several other cities across Germany, and beyond. And on top of that the demonstrations are getting bigger and bigger.

Footage from October 15th, 2013 the day that the ultimatum to the senate ended at circa 18.25 (local time):

On the 15th of October:

– The Senate of Hamburg did not move back. A “political solution” for refugees seemed to be impossible.

– Cops raided a safe-place of refugees in the St. Georg district of Hamburg. The refugees weren’t allowed to have access to their belongings.

– The police increased their presence at several points in Hamburg all day long, controlling people who looked “suspicious.”

– The large evening demonstration that took place after the ultimatum passed unheeded on October 15 was massively attacked after five minutes by police forces (with water cannons, tear gas, cavalry division, brutal kicking and beatings). A lot of people were kettled. Protesters had to move into back-streets, where they were attacked by even more police forces. The demo was split in two parts. As a result, many smaller activities developed. People were outraged after the attacks by the police and started to build barricades in many streets in the Schanzen neighbourhood and started to fight back.

Footage of police vans that had to retreat on the Schanzen street at October 15:

– It was estimated that 2,000 people participated in street protests. Until late hours of October 15th, several spontaneous demonstrations took place throughout Hamburg. A march of a few hundred people at Weidenallee was later formed; police forces unleashed an attack with batons and pepper spray. Water cannons and cops on horses appeared in the back of the protest. At the same time, the German Press did not miss out on the chance to portray demonstrators as “criminals,” and reported nothing about police violence.

– While some of the spontaneous marches were also blocked and kettled by the police after few meters, the heavy police presence did not manage to stop protest everywhere in the city. Plenty of activists confronted cops directly in the streets; fireworks were used; during clashes on a crossroad, materials of a construction site were placed all over the street, etc.

– Nearly 250 people moved successfully in Altona neighbourhood for several hours; this protest ended by 11pm in front of Rote Flora. While demonstrators walked through the Schanzenviertel and Altona, solidarity was also expressed at the opening of the Hamburg International Queer Film Festival, where participants stated that fighting for lesbian-gay-transgender-queer rights always requires solidarity with other victims of repression. Additionally, a banner was unfurled there, which read: “Lampedusa in Hamburg – They are here to stay – Nobody is illegal!”

On the 16th of October:

– In the early hours of Wednesday October 16, the district court in Flensburg was attacked with paint, and the slogan “Stop racial profiling” was sprayed on the building.

– An evening demonstration of the Lampedusa group in Hamburg was planned for the 16th; more than a thousand people joined this call. Meanwhile, more racist controls were conducted in St. Pauli und St. Georg districts and at least one refugee got arrested on Reeperbahn (in the red light district of Hamburg).

Footage from Protests October 16:

– Unauthorized evening demonstration of nearly 500 people in Berlin was held in solidarity with refugees in Hamburg. Two police cars were smashed and several roads blocked with construction materials.

During the Demonstration at October 16 there was a light projection saying: "Shame Europe"

During the Demonstration at October 16 there was a light projection saying: “Shame Europe”

– Around 40 people participated in a spontaneous evening march in the streets of Hannover. Flyers reading “Lampedusa is everywhere!” were shared out to passers-by with information about the struggle in Hamburg. The demonstration dispersed shortly after repression forces arrived.

On the 17th of October:

– During the night of Wednesday to Thursday, activists attacked a local office of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in Frankfurt am Main, in solidarity with sans papiers in Hamburg and everywhere. Windows and doors were destroyed. In the responsibility claim it is also mentioned that party officials like the Hamburg SPD mayor Olaf Scholz are responsible for the current policy against refugees, a policy that segregates and incriminates people because of their background, history or skin colour. As far as these matters are concerned, the SPD in Hamburg is no different than the Frankfurt SPD; hence their attack was directed against the entire party and anyone who supports this racist policy.

-On Thursday morning activists blocked traffic at the Hafenstraße in Hamburg. A few hours later  activists managed to stop one of the racist controlls at the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. After more and more activists arrived and blocked traffic, the cops ended their control and retreated.

Thurday night there was another spontanious demo at Gänsemarkt in Hamburg with about 500 people. Cops kettled the whole demo at Gänsemarkt immediately so people could not march.

At 20:00 about 100 activists blocked the Kennedybridge in Hamburg. They were chased by cops on horses. After that groups blocked several streets near the Alster demanding to stop racist controls.

At 21:30 about 150 people blocked Pferdemarkt in Hamburg. After more and more cops arrived people started another spontanious and loud demo and marched from Pferdemarkt to Altona Altstadt.

The whole evening there were several spontanious demos simultaneously which made it difficult for the cops to move in the city.

Later in the evening people were building barricades in Sternschanze and St. Pauli and there were actions against the governing party in Hamburg: the SPD.

Footage from the demo at Gänsemarkt in Hamburg at October 17:

– In Bielefeld almost 20 activists attacked several capitalist targets, such as profiteers from Europe war politics. Cops were unable to stop the action.
– An unauthorized demonstration of nearly 50 people took place in Vienna, Austria.

On the 18th of October:

– Nearly 1,200 people participated in a demonstration that started from the Hamburg university. Several spontaneous demonstrations were held in the Schanze neighbourhood and around the Altona railway station. Members of the “Gezi Park Fiction” group, in St. Pauli, expressed their solidarity with the message: “Love real boat people – Hate maritime marketing” connecting the refugee protest with the anti-gentrification struggle. They also stated: “People from Lampedusa have enriched our lives for a few months now. They gave back to St. Pauli a sense of community and a sense of knowing that our right to the city doesn’t know nations or property; and surely no skin colour.”
– Some 10th grade pupils from a school in St. Pauli released an open petition to make their gym available for the refugees in winter.
– In the evening, around 80 people participated in an uncontrolled stroll from St. Pauli to the Schanze neighbourhood, passing out flyers to pedestrians, spraying graffiti and attacking banks and shops with stones and hammers. The stroll dispersed when cops arrived on the scene.
– A night dance-demonstration for affordable housing also showed solidarity with the refugees’ struggle.

Footage of the night dance demonstration at October 18:

On the 19th of October:

– Racial profiling and migration controls were significantly reduced due to the fact that the police did not have enough forces to conduct those. Yet another round of small, spontaneous demonstrations took place allover Hamburg.

Police kettled activists at October 19 in Hamburg.

Police kettled activists at October 19 in Hamburg.

– Rostock saw the largest demonstration since the anti-G8 protest in 2007. More than 1,500 people hit the streets in solidarity with refugee fights.

– Nearly 200 people marched through the Rheinhausen area in Duisburg, where racial tensions against Roma accommodated in a shelter have existed for months.

– Approximately 500 people participated in a demonstration in Büren against the biggest German migrant prison. It’s been a long time since this annual demonstration had attracted so many participants.
– Some 50 people in solidarity with refugees held a spontaneous demonstration in Bamberg.
– A solidarity demonstration took place in Flensburg, too, with a total of 80 activists.

On the 20th of October:

Repression practices increased rapidly in Hamburg on Sunday. A spontaneous demonstration of 200 people at Dammtor was kettled on different points of the route, and the crowd was forcibly evicted from the area. Cops detained demonstrators, and several participants were singled out and filmed by the police.

On the 21th of October:

– People in solidarity with the refugees in Hamburg gathered in downtown Wuppertal. Approximately 70 participants carried out a spontaneous demonstration to the local office of the SPD. An open letter from this solidarity initiative was read and given to the SPD. Cops didn’t attempt to attack the demo.

Unauthorized spontanious demonstration in Wuppertal on October 21.

Unauthorized spontanious demonstration in Wuppertal on October 21.

– In the south of Leipzig nearly 60 people held an unauthorized march using fireworks and building barricades. Comrades tried to destroy an infamous surveillance camera at the Connewitzer Kreuz by placing burning trash bins underneath it.
– Spontaneous demonstrations took place in Hamburg once again, counting with a large presence of people. Streets were blocked by protesters, and oftentimes cops were too slow to intervene.

On the 22nd of October:

– There was an evening critical mass ride of 500 bicyclists in solidarity with Lampedusa refugees in Hamburg. Police vehicles drove after the bike demo. Shortly afterwards, Hamburg’s mayor Olaf Scholz (primarily responsible for the escalation of repression) gave a public speech to his loyal voters. Anti-racists mobilized to effectively disrupt the meeting. People inside the hall started to chant “No human being is illegal – A right to stay for everyone.” Few activists were reportedly detained during the action. Outside, their 500 supporters were blocking the traffic.

Footage of the bike demo on October the 22nd. Protesters are chanting “Stop the racist controls!”:

– Nearly 100 people held an evening solidarity demonstration at Frankfurt airport area and started a second demo a few hours later in downtown Frankfurt.

Hamburg on October 22nd.

Hamburg on the October 22nd.

On the 23rd of October:

About 1250 marched in Hamburg on the weekly refugees demo which is organised by the refugees themselves. Later in the evening there were several smaller spontanious demos.

In Berlin cops attacked a spontanious demo that started at the refugees protest camp at Oranien Platz. Several people were injured and there were detentions as well. In the evening hours a spontanious demo started with 750 people at Lausitzer Platz. Some groups broke through police lines and there were injures and detentions here as well. The spontanious demo went on for hours and ended at 02:30 in the morning as the cops released sveral detainees that were detained shortly before midnight.  (video)

On the 24th of October:

In the evening there was a spontanious demo in Hamburg which was kettled immediatley. After that several smaller actions.

On the 25th of October:

In the afternoon there was a demo in solidarity with refugees in Frankfurt. Around 400 people participated. Local SPD party office was attacked with paint bombs.

The local SPD party office in Frankfurt was attacked with paint bombs during a demonstration on October 25.

The local SPD party office in Frankfurt was attacked with paint bombs during a demonstration on October 25.

At 20:30 a large demonstration started at the St. Paul football stadium in Hamburg. Several St. Pauli fan groups and other groups from the St. Pauli neighbourhood organised this demo. Cops expected 1000 people and went on low profile as 10.000 people showed up.  The demo was loud and angry with a lot of pyro and because the cops went on low profile it was a peaceful demo. Later in the night there were a few minor incidents during spontanious protests after the demo.

Footage of the demonstration at October 25: People are chanting “Solidarity must be practical – Fire an Flames for the deportation authorities!”:

In Berlin about 1000 people took the streets to protest against police violence and in solidarity with refugees in an unauthorized demo. Cops attacked the demo and after that there were several spontanious demos during the night.

On the 26th of October:

On Saturday afternoon there was a demo in Hamburg in solidarity with refugees and agains arbitrariness of police and racist controls. About 1000 people marched through St. Pauli. From the occupied Pauli tower there was a banner drop: “No Human is illegal”.

Bannerdrop iin Hambarg on October the 26th.

Bannerdrop in Hambarg on October the 26th.

After October the 26th there were several militant actions like one against an SPD party office in Berlin, the state prosecution’s office in Hamburg and similar actions in other cities.

On the 30th of October:

There was a demo in Hamburg again with 500 people. At the moment that we write this there is a spontanious demo in the Schanzen neighbourhood. Just a few days before the nationwide demo at November the 2nd the senat tried to divide the refugees but they did not succeed. The refugees and supporting activists achieved that the racist controls have stopped for now. Its only a temporary stop but for the moment its a first step which activists and refugees could achieve.

Upcoming protest dates:

Saturday, 2.11: Nationwide solidarity demonstration for Lampedusa refugees in Hamburg —see flyer

Saturday, 21.12: Nationwide demonstration in Hamburg in solidarity with the Rote Flora squat, the Esso houses initiative, and for the right to permanence for refugees and everybody else.


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Jennifer Baker is the founder and editor of Revolution News - Contact us with inquiries, tips, corrections at -