“Disdain for women is not specific to islam”

Ulla Jelpke, member of the Bundestag for the Left Party, on German asylum policy and the incidents in Koln

In the wake of the events in Koln, the asylum law is being tightened up. Were these really the cause or are they just a pretext to legitimize a different asylum policy?? Allegedly, a BKA report on the matter is being kept under lock and key. An Interview with Ulla Jelpke, Member of the Bundestag for the Left Party.

Ms. Jelpke, today you visited three Bavarian asylum shelters. What was your impression?
Ulla Jelpke: We were in the first emergency reception center in Pfaffenhofen, the special camp for Balkan refugees near Ingolstadt and in the collective accommodation in Neuburg. What I saw in these camps even exceeded my fears: A pure policy of deterrence is practiced there, the refugees live in terrible conditions. In the first reception center, about 300 people live in a hall, which is divided with makeshift cloths and allows almost no privacy, not even for the women. In my constituency of Dortmund, there are comparable facilities, but the refugees stay there for a maximum of three or four days. In Pfaffenhofen, on the other hand, they have to wait for months without being able to file their asylum application. People often come here traumatized and then they get traumatized even more. And how were the conditions in Ingolstadt and Neuburg?
Ulla Jelpke: In the deportation prison near Ingolstadt they were just as hair-raising. Here, about 800 refugees from the Western Balkans are waiting to be deported. The capacity there is currently estimated to be almost 3.000 places, and this despite the fact that fewer and fewer refugees are coming to us from the Balkans. One wonders who will be imprisoned there in the future – perhaps refugees from North Africa, from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia? In Neuburg, I visited a collective housing facility, where mainly so-called "old traps" live. There three people share rooms of 20 square meters, often for four or five years. I even met people who have been living there for ten years.

"Economically nonsensical demoralization strategy"

Is this due to the inability of the authorities or rather to the political will??
Ulla Jelpke: I think there is a real will to discourage people, to demoralize them by forcing them into a bureaucratic procedure and leaving them hanging there without any real perspective and condemned to inactivity. There would only be a real chance for them if integration took place from the very beginning: This would mean language instruction and compulsory schooling for all children, further education for adults and at least the attempt to integrate them into the labor market as soon as possible. This, by the way, is represented not only by the left, but also by the Federal Labor Office and the business associations, which have a corresponding interest in it. For example, there are refugees like the young man I spoke to yesterday: He graduated from high school in Syria and started an apprenticeship as a bank clerk and then learned the German language in Germany in a very short time. Here he now does not get permission to continue his education, although he has found an apprenticeship – instead he has to pack bread in a bakery. This is an economically nonsensical demotivation strategy, which aims to demotivate these people through bureaucratic harassment. This strategy is intended to make the refugees travel to other European countries. They want to keep them down – and that’s exactly what happens: these people say that their minds are broken. I have heard this many times today.

"Thousand criminal charges"

What is your opinion on the events in Koln?? Can you imagine that these were instrumentalized to whip up a xenophobic mood or were they initially concealed in order not to cause distress to an indelicate police president?
Ulla Jelpke: In any case, there was a police failure and a large number of criminal acts, but it is becoming more and more difficult for me to understand how they happened: We are now at a thousand criminal charges. And an enormous instrumentalization by politics and media can be observed, which in my opinion leads to a tipping of the mood in Germany against refugees. The fact that the Union parties are now immediately digging out of the drawer measures that they always wanted to implement, namely a stricter deportation policy with the possibility of deportations with a suspended sentence of only one year, fits in with this. With the events of New Year’s Eve in Koln, pressure is being built up via the media and politics to further undermine human rights and to tighten criminal law – and all this without yet knowing exactly who the perpetrators actually were.

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