Berlin Fountains Run Red

On Sunday June 28, 2015, Berlin activists turn the water of several fountains in Berlin blood red to protest asylum politics and refugee deaths. The is a translation of the original German statement in which the claim responsibility for the protest action.

Photo: Brigitte Schmiemann / BM, taken from Morgenpost

“Ladies and gentlemen, dear Berliners,

today (Sunday June 28, 2015) we dyed the waters of two central fountains in the German capital red in order to call your attention to the impending tightening of asylum law that will be adopted next week. On 07.02.2015 the German parliament will vote on a Federal Government bill revising the right to stay in the country and the termination of residence. This bill contains numerous changes for the worse for asylum seekers. It also contains, among other things a list of criteria that will justify placing refugees into detention centers pending more quickly in order to deport them faster and more effectively. We consider Germany’s deportation practices to be highly questionable and to be part of a refugee policy that consists of deterrence and exclusion. We consider the crackdown on people seeking protection — both at the external borders as well as inside the country — to be inhumane. We think that it is inappropriate for a civilized society incarcerate people whose only crime is to have escaped in search for a better life.

Given that we unfortunately do not have the financial resources of other political organizations to bring our mission to public awareness, we had to resort to this unconventional medium.

We chose the color red to remember the blood of people who have lost their lives at the external borders of the EU, and of those whose existence is threatened by bureaucratic decisions and inhumane laws. That might be a little melodramatic, but our imagination couldn’t come up with a different color.

Our protest however is not only dismay at the many victims of humanitarian disasters in the Mediterranean. Our protest must also be understood as criticism of this political system and of an economic system that produces hunger, poverty, misery, war and displacement as a side product to unfathomable wealth. Contrary to our colleagues of the Center for Political Beauty, we don’t believe that the policy of Federal Minister Thomas de Maizière is pathological and insane, but rather that it is highly rational and commensurate to this economic system. The deaths at the external borders of the EU, the harassment of asylum seekers in Germany, the policy of exploitation of African countries, the geopolitical setbacks of recent years, all this is related to the fact that we are dealing here with a kind of wealth production that is not about how to take care of as many people as possible as well as possible, but about milk more money out of money. As long as production follows this tenet and doesn’t change, laws like that of July 2, 2015 will be passed, racists will stand in front of asylum centers giving free rein to their xenophobia, and Mr Seehofer [German right-wing politician] will be allowed to spread his racist propaganda in the media.

Unfortunately, we also do not have equivalent access to media to challenge this agitation. We therefore ask for your understanding for your fountains’ color impairment. The color, however, is non-toxic and will have washed itself out within a few days. Unlike the so-called asylum problem, this action will have dissolved on its own within days.”

(German original text — not by me — published Morgenpost, July 1, 2015; statement authors: anonymous; translation by me, Nine Yamamoto-Masson; I have no affiliation to Berliner Morgenpost or the fountain activists.)

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