Rant – When A Flux of Pink Indians might not be such a bad idea

Cleansing the underground, cleansing the neighborhood, cleansing the population: A rant about bad things happening, over-reacting, pointing fingers, underbellies & crocodile brains, and my personal aversion against (self-)proclaimed protectors. And why it might actually come to me dressing up in bright pink, slapping faces with my house-shoes.

People sometimes tell me I’m a pessimist. I rather describe it as “I hate it when I’m right”. Or worse, when my more absurd jokes become true (hey, Life, that was a frikkin’ JOKE!). But lately, I’m beginning to lose that sense of pitch-black humor, and feel the need to hide under a blankie, being “sick & tired of waiting for this world to end”.

I’m sick and tired of hate. Sick and tired of generalizations. Sick & tired of polarization. Sick & tired of “cures”, which are worse than the “disease”. Sick & tired of (self-)proclaimed “protectors”.

Yes… many bad things happen. Thing I can’t, and won’t condone. Things I can’t and won’t laugh away. Things which make me want to hide in a dark corner. But the reactions to those bad things are so out of proportion, I have to shake off that blanket.

“Cleansing” the underground

Recently, an underground – neofolk – party had to close, because the owner of the venue where it took place received threats from “the Left”. I’m very much aware that, in some undergroundier than underground music scenes, there are some “bad apples”. I walk around in those scenes, and am not one of the people who shuts up when I spot “brownish” tendencies. And I’m not the only one. The reaction however, of some people outside that scene, to threaten the venue where a party from that scene takes place with violence, and on the net, start a hate campaign, is completely out of proportion.

Condemning a whole (albeit very small) music scene because of a few bad apples, and a lot of unfounded suspicions, will only lead to polarization. To the people who threatened the owner of the venue: you in fact give the opportunity to those few bad apples to take over that scene, because this kind of intimidation won’t make people give up their music. But it will make any kind of discussion completely impossible. I’m on the fringe of that scene, and consider myself an antifascist. Believe me, I can really do without the “protection” of some self-proclaimed, uninformed, self-righteous, outsiders.

And be realistic: the fascist threat isn’t coming from a few dozen people dancing slowly to neofolk music by candle light…

“Cleansing” the neighborhood

Another local “incident” of the past few weeks: cops invading squats in full riot gear because an uniformed person dealing out parking tickets was beaten up. Probably more than just the parking ticket happened, but still, beating someone up with 5 people is not ok in my book. Now I know dealing out parking tickets in Berlin is a risky job (just like telling people not to smoke in a small pub where the owner smokes himself). And really, not just in this neighborhood. It still is not ok to beat someone up for it. However, the reactions of the cops to this incident was absurd. It became the excuse to invade a local squat in full riot gear, and quite a few other actions following this. Resulting in the confiscation of a few fire extinguishers (hooray!). It was not exactly the first time the cops interpreted their task of “keeping the peace” in a rather, well… violent and disproportional way (for example last summer).

Dear cops: I applaud you. Very brave. It will most definitively help to release the tension in the neighborhood and make us all just love & want to hug you. Especially if you invade another house a few days later because of a small bag of garbage dumped 20 meters away from the helmeted, shielded, and well-insulated invaders. Or raid a small bakery because a few “suspicious people” are buying their breakfast there. Or get up a ladder in full riot gear to silence the music coming from a nearby balcony.  Circling low above the neighborhood for days in a row with helicopters until deep in the night also makes me wish I had a bazooka at hand. And, as always, when such an “incident” happens, I just love being followed by a police van when I walk the streets with two friends of mine. Gosh, I never felt so safe in my life, having our own, private, surveillance unit.

Again, me, as one of the people living in the neighborhood, can do without this kind of “protection” from outsiders. Really, dragging people out of bakeries, invading a house because of some garbage thrown out, trying to intimidate with helicopters or following any group larger than 2 people on the streets, does not make me feel any safer in my neighborhood.

Again, this kind of intimidation won’t work, it will only lead to polarization. And again, be realistic: the chances that this will lead to a “bloody revolution”, the government being overthrown or Friedrichshain declaring its independence are pretty minimal.

“Cleansing” the male population

Last but not least. A very belated reaction to the “incidents” on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other cities. Just to bring it back into memory (though I don’t think people have forgotten, yet…), on New Year’s Eve near the Central Station of Cologne, a lot, and I mean a LOT of women were sexually harassed or even raped, and subsequently robbed, on a scale rarely seen, by a mob of drunken men. This is bad. This is very very very bad. However, the reactions in the press, the social media and especially, the violence coming from “gangs” of hooligans and other self-declared “protectors of the german woman” were completely out of proportion. Within hours, the rumors about “nord-african” or “arabic” looking attackers, or “refugees” were all over the net, and the hate-campaign started. Again, leading to generalization & polarization.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty sure there are quite a few male chauvinist sexist pigs among refugees or people from the Middle-East. I just don’t think there’s more of them among those groups as in any other group… (hey, I’m a pessimist, remember?). And I’m all in favor of rooting this out. But…

Pointing the finger

What scares me are the reactions. First, I see people from whom I thought they had some kind of brain all of a sudden supporting the Pegida-movement.”oh, they were right about the hordes from the middle-east threatening our o-so woman-friendly culture”.

Already much has been said about this elsewhere, so I guess I don’t need to repeat the statistics in detail. Just a quick summary: most refugees are christians;  gang-criminality, including robbery and group-rape (aka “gang-banging”),  is associated with poverty & bad perspectives and yep, being an immigrant is associated with poverty & bad perspectives; rape is caused by rapists, not by the clothing the victim wears nor the “ethnicity” or “religion” of the rapist: there’s no statistical evidence of a higher occurrence of rapists within “refugees” or ” people from the Middle-East”.

Not to forget the instrument of  robbery under cover of sexual harassment or grinding up (“antanzen”) is not exactly a new strategy. It is, unfortunately, a pretty well known, and used, instrument by petty criminals for example in touristic areas or by gangs in Berlin (who supposedly already have divided the different club-districts among each other). We had quite a few nasty incidents last summer here in Berlin. The latest trend I’ve heard about distracting someone to be able to rob him/her (usually her) is to set his/her hair on fire… This resulted in a completely stupid and helpless reaction of “law and order” (leave your phone at home, or don’t use it openly, don’t wear expensive jewelry). Which boiled down to another nice case of victim blaming. Just as stupid as the reaction of the mayor of Cologne: keep those men at arm length.. yeah, right… So the phenomena is not new, and to blame it on certain groups or the victims is pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

But well.. I guess the people who now all of a sudden go over to the Pegida camp are probably just as fact-resistant or susceptible of conspiracy theories as that Pegida guy I tried reasoning with (until he started denying the Holocaust, then the discussion stopped from my side).

The underbelly & the crocodile brain: fear is all you need

Second, I see fear. I see people sharing this “Taharrush gamea” (organized sexual harassment)  phenomena when referring to Cologne, and being afraid this might become “normal”.

Well, except for the fact there’s a lot of discussion about this phenomena, especially about the (pre-)-organized aspect of it, rape culture isn’t exactly new. Any woman in any culture, also in our oso beloved western culture, does not at least take a deep breath and mentally prepare herself before walking through a mob of drunken young men. One of the yearly events in our neighborhood I hate the most, the so-called “Biermeile” on the Frankfurter Allee, I mostly exactly hate because of this. I think the average hair color there was some darker shade of blonde, and I observed a higher occurrence of mustaches. Also, I do not enjoy walking past a club just around the corner on a saturday, which “clientele” used to consist mostly of young white males from the surrounding countryside. It changed ownership a few times after that, now programming mostly russian artists. The cat-calling and harassment diminished, but sure as hell is still there. Typically enough, it was the least when that club programmed popular turkish artists… Again, I don’t like generalization. Not when it comes to blonde hair, or mustaches, or being from the countryside, or russian or turkish.

Again (yes, I’m a pessimist), I’m quite sure all groups have quite a few male chauvinist sexist pigs among their ranks. Believe me, there’s no pre-organization needed for sexual harassment on a huge scale. Just add alcohol, add “group dynamics” or male-bonding-rituals: many of these men would not try to grab you, or even do some cat-calling if they were on their own. My impression is that often, they are more trying to prove themselves in front of their mates, than actually trying to get their hands on you. Though it’s still frikkin scary and disgusting. Add the above named factors, and the crocodile brain takes over and any woman suddenly becomes a potential prey, who “should know her place”. And me, as a woman alone, I rather avoid places on a weekend night where I know I might bump into a group of drunken men, exactly because of this.

Oh great.. there are the protectors again

Third.. I see this “phenomena” of “we have to protect our women from the invading hordes” and these self-declared protectors patrolling public spaces (and beating up anyone dark-skinned in the process). Protectors. Oh really. Knights in shining armor. Sure. Need a white horse? Get real. I’m a woman. Not german, and probably a tiny bit too dark to be considered “worthy of protection” by those self-declared protectors. But heck, even if I was german and a platinum-blonde, I’d rather pass on that protection. I wouldn’t trust it. Rely on a group of male chauvinist pigs to protect me from another group of male chauvinist pigs? And expect them not to turn on me to “express my gratitude” for being protected? I don’t think so….

A flux of pink indians

Nope. If I would see any group phenomena which would actually protect against large scale, organized or not, sexual harassment of women, it would be self-organisation. Of women solely, yes. Non-aggressively of course. What I’m thinking of, is something like the “pink ladies” (or Gulabi Gang) in India. If you don’t know what this is, look it up. Rape culture, again, is everywhere. And in India, a group of women, wearing pink saris, organized themselves to educate, to protect and, in unfortunately some cases, to avenge. And how did they avenge? By beating rapists with house shoes, and thereby publicly shaming them…. I don’t like revenge, I don’t like publicly shaming.. but heck, I laughed me ass off with a vid of a group of pink ladies slapping a group of rapists with house-shoes and giving them a good verbal bashing… Thereby making clear that sexual harassment is not cool, it’s not normal, it’s not something any woman asks for, no matter where & with whom she is or on her own, or what she wears, and it’s something you should be fukking ashamed for even thinking about it.

And believe me. Male chauvinist pigs won’t like women organizing themselves. Not the so-called aggressors, and not the so-called protectors. One the regular demonstrations I participated in, was the so-called “witch-night”, when a huge group of women only, went on the streets to claim them back. No other demonstration I participated in, not even the most controversial ones, met so much verbal, and also physical aggression from the “general public” as that one. Yes, from males. No matter what age or background or even “intellectual” level (heck, one of the most aggressive reaction usually came from the balcony of a fraternity, and from mostly white, university students).


We don’t need reactions which are out of proportion and only lead to more hate, more generalization, more polarization.

But a Flux of Pink Indians… I’d like to see that happen on the Biermeile on Frankfurter Allee next year… Actually, I might even put on a pink sari for that..

Impressions – Random Snapshots of Humanity

Random snapshots of people in a big city’s underside – how human we are…

  • Mummy takes her little son along to the giveaway shop to bring the toys she sorted out. He sees a box with toy cars to be given away on our shelves. Shouts out: wow, those are exactly the same cars as the ones we have at home. Mum tries not to look guilty. She was here last week too to bring stuff and secretly unloads another bag of toys behind his back.
  • Foodsaving brunch. A guy with bad teeth and probably no money to spare loads up his plate, and fills a container for a friend. First time here, and he thanks us so much: his housebound friend only gets 10 minutes a day for household help, barely enough time to warm up a microwave meal. And finally he can bring his friend real, good, food. He’s so happy, not so much for his own plate, as for the tasty food he can bring his friend.
  • A homeless guy has taken up residence on one of the wooden benches in front of the free shop. No matter how much we try to convince him to come in and get some free hot tea and cake in a warm place, he proudly refuses, and rolls up in his sleeping bag. The evening before I had a little chat with him. He enjoys the clear skies and the stars, even yes, it is actually too cold to sleep outside. One of my colleagues tells me, the only offer he actually took up, was the offer of the house to take a shower. When I leave the giveaway shop, there’s loud snoring coming from the sleeping bag, and I notice someone passing by has covered his sleeping bag with another blanket.
  • A team of people comes in half-frozen through the wet snow for the hot soup at the foodsaving brunch .They just organized a friendly football match with a group of refugees who just arrived in the neighborhood,. One of them asks me in the kitchen if it’s ok if the refugee team joins us for the food too. Of course. The only problem is, just one week ago, when the foodsavers found out about the shelter and started bringing food to the refugees, they were told they sometimes get too much food, and well.. now that food is saved and brought to the brunch. So those refugees might actually get the leftovers of their last night’s meal if they join us today.
  • One of our regular guests in the giveaway shop is in desperate need for help. She’s more an alternative minded person and likes bright colors and “india” fabric. But now she has to attend a classical concert of her grand daughter, who gave her a “dress code”. We have a lot of fun dressing her up in “classical” style… and she is semi-shocked, but also pretty satisfied when she sees the result in the mirror.
  • Foodsaving on the week market, and we have like boxes and boxes of prunes which need to be eaten the same day. Me and a new foodsaver bring it to one of the house projects, where they organize “cooking and eating with and for homeless people”. Immediately we are invited for the food, but no, we just want to get rid of the prunes. Quickly the plans are made for prune pie, and the spokesperson, in between calmly pointing out to a homeless lady “no smoking while other people eat” tells us there’s another initiative for involving homeless people to help themselves, but the source for the food ingredients is drying up, He emphasizes it is so important not to treat homeless people as if they are little kids, but to take them serious so they can get themselves out of that situation, with a little support. The guy obviously knows from personal experience what he is talking about, and you noticed how much the (still) homeless people respect him.
  • A woman comes in the giveaway shop with two little refugee boys. One speaks a bit of german, the other one only english. Big-eyed they look at all that stuff, and shyly ask if they can take some of the board games and puzzles. The woman tells them not to take everything, but leave enough for other kids. They politely nod, and make an obviously huge effort not to go wild on the cakes we offer for free. Then a bunch of german school kids storm the place… going through all the cakes, and the shelves. When I put a hold to their enthusiasm the moment they want to take a pair of crutches, they tell me, ok, they would only take stuff if they could really use it, for a school play or so, and then return it. After watching this, the refugee kids lose some of their shyness, and not only happily consume their cakes, but also find out there’s a piano… Which after 10 minutes, we wished they hadn’t.

Rant – I am a trafficker – a smuggler of humans (reprise & reblog)

This is the “semi-official” report from the incident a few weeks ago, published on a dutch blog (in dutch, sorry..), about when I was stopped by the dutch border cops & threatened with 3 days detention because, omy, I dared to tell a Syrian refugee where the train to holland left, & chatted with him in the train crossing the border between Germany and Holland.

And since then, I’m registered as a “refugee smuggler” in their computer system. Since I can’t let this just happen…. and I hope it will wake up a few more people.

Ik ben een mensensmokkelaar

Rant – I am a Trafficker – a smuggler of humans (reprise)

At a time, when politicians promise to welcome refugees, but at the same time, close their borders and make their laws more strict; promise financial aid, but it never arrives there where it is needed; assign quotas among each other, but only take up a very small amount of people, & make deals with bordering countries to prevent refugees to actually enter Europe.

At a time, where everywhere in Europe xenophobic idiots burn down the oso needed shelters, or “businessmen” profit from renting out empty buildings to the government, assuming volunteers will take care of bringing food and medical help (yes it’s happening, unfortunately there have been quite a few examples already..)

And everywhere in Europe, people are left in limbo, hungry, freezing, in between borders, at registration & so-called transit zones from Greece to Germany, or left to take care of themselves in makeshift shelters.

I’m almost proud to be registered as a trafficker… (even though I was no help at all)..

Rant – Intimidation for being human

It actually slowly but steadily becomes dangerous to support refugees with “humanitarian” help as the stabbing of a pro-refugee politician in Köln showed, and a newspaper article about how volunteers in Berlin are threatened.

Not that this kind of actions will stop me from doing what I think is necessary or plain human. I won’t be intimidated (yet?). Not by strange interpretations of anti-smuggler laws by cops, not by xenophobic violent hate-preachers.

I’m still working on the border incident…. still angry.. in contact with an active group of journalists and lawyers because of this intimidation, huge intrusion of my privacy and restriction of general human rights, not even talking about just being frikkin helpful & friendly to a fellow-human being.

(Note: a few weeks ago, I was registered as a “refugee trafficker” by the dutch border police because I told two refugees where & when a train left & talking to them when the train crossed the border between Germany & Holland).

Rant – I am a Trafficker

Pissed, shocked.. It’s THAT easy to get registered as a “refugee trafficker”. Just happened to me.

And why? Because at a train station in germany, an elderly guy asked me where & when the trains to Holland were going. We chatted, he told me he came from Syria, and also in the train, we talked about his trip, his life there (or what was left of it) and his hopes for the near future. He already had a train ticket, and would have made the trip without me. So I did NOT give any help, I was just friendly.

The good news, he & his friend made it over the border, and were actually free to go to register as a refugee.. but I had to talk like mad to get myself out of 3 days of jail… Yes, we prolly were naive. Maybe we shouldn’t have talked. Cause prolly the border police heard us talk… Ok, the Visas from Serbia & Montenegro in my passport didn’t help either.

But WTF??? ALL I did was help point out platform & time, and just have a friendly chat on the way… And now I’m a “trafficker”.. Ridiculous.

Rant – The world in a handbasket… or not?

Sometimes reading the news feels like reading a leftish satire magazine. I sometimes SO hope it’s all really becomes true: the government is starting to squat!

More or less serious plans to house refugees are:

  • Berlin’s new to be built airport, which already costs billions too many, and prolly won’t be finished until 2050 or something, might be used to house refugees
  • Empty, luxurious apartments, too expensive for the average Berliner and only used as “investment objects” and speculation. should be confiscated. The owners will receive an “average local rent”. Also other cities consider confiscating luxurious apartments, criteria named are “owned by large investors” & “empty for a longer period”, in other words, speculation objects…
  • Same goes for empty office buildings and bank buildings standing empty, only used for speculation. Not just in Berlin, Hamburg is considering the same thing. Investors fear this will set a trend for other cities. I can hardly wait..
  • Villages completely empty in the old east of Germany will be used (and therefore, an older dutch win-win solution will actually get implemented: there are so many “ghost villages” all over Europe, on fertile soil…)
  • A known “conservative” organization, which presents itself as an interest group for tax payers, emphasized the government should not waste tax payer’s money, and pay no more than the “average local rent” even if the investors try to rent it out for many times more that average local rent.

Gosh, I’m sure beginning to like this refugee “crisis”. Bring ‘m on 😉 With a bit of luck, nobody will object to a few weirdos doing a bit of squatting too…

Impression – The Borders between the Balkan and Germany

Back home. Situation traveling on the way back from the Balkan to Germany. Crossing three borders – easy if you have the “right” papers and the “right” skin color.

Border Slovenia: a few 100 refugees, a LOT of cops, a LOT of press, and a LOT of volunteers. The volunteers (I saw cars with license plates from Bosnia, Croatia, Austria & England, FULL of blankets, food & drink, kid carriers and so on) were putting up tents.

I saw people with dreads and antifa-shirts working together with religious people. I saw people playing football with the refugees. A kid holding a huge yellow plastic ball.

Behind me in the bus sat a bosnian guy. When we were allowed to get out of the bus and wave our passports, he started talking to me in bosnian, with a sad face, looking to all the refugees that did not get through. When I told him I don’t speak bosnian, he simply looked at me and said “I’m a bosnian refugee”.

The border with Austria was empty. So were the border control stations on the german side. A few kilometer past the border btw.

And the crisis at the station in Munich? If there was any, it was caused by the 1.000s of visitors of the oktoberfest (in september, but anyway) in Lederhosen & dirndls…

But yah, glad I made it home…

(pics are here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10207514489405216&set=a.10207385245814207.1073741842.1378531435&type=3&theater )

Rant – Crossing Borders

Three weeks with bad internet connection. So three weeks without real “news”. Now, in the notsocheapmotel, I’m reading up…

Three week ago, I though I would be traveling against the stream of refugees taking the dangerous Balkan route. Well… I did. After the closing of the border of Hungary, I expected many refugees would try to go over Montenegro & Bosnia, but there weren’t as many as I expected.

But from tomorrow, I will join that stream. Though with a valid ticket. And with the “right” papers and the “right” color of skin. The worst I can expect is a traffic jam near the german-austrian border and I might miss the last train back home. But I won’t have to jump that train, or walk over the border. And I will “pass” any border controls.

I was thinking of going back for a longer period to help out in Serbia.

However, I’m also catching up with the mails of my friends volunteering in the giveaway shop and the foodsharing, One of the reports I read was from one of my colleagues now volunteering in the “Jungle” in Calais…

But I’m afraid I won’t need to travel to help out. There’s a lot of support needed, both in people as well as in goods, for those who have actually made it. One of the mails I read was about a group of 20+ minors (between 15 and 18) stuck in some sort of “vacation village” without any kind of support, not from the government, not from NGOs, and only 2 volunteers. Those kids only have summer clothing, one of them has no shoes, there’s no medical help, and two of them are seriously ill….

Nope. I won’t have to travel. Damn you Fortress Europe.

Rant – Don’t panic. Organize.

(warning, long read… this is a resume of just a few days of intense, personal, experiences…)

The past week I traveled against the stream of the refugees, saw the actual situation in the improvised camps & talked to a lot of local and international people on the way.

I’m no journalist. Just a simple human being. I have hardly any words for what I saw, getting off the train in Budapest, seeing the border situation between Hungary & Serbia, the people literally sleeping on the streets and in parks in Belgrade.

Again and again, I bumped into a heavily changing situation. In Budapest, the border fence being closed, and arriving while the people were protesting “this is not my country”. Leaving Budapest at the moment all the trains in the direction of Western Europe were stopped. Entering Serbia, and the now closed border at Subotica. And on a smaller scale, the first rain & cloudburst in Belgrade, and the refugee camp being soaked.

If you witness this, you can do three things. And I did all three. I’ve cried. I’ve hardened my heart and walked on. And I did some small things, to help just a few people…

But basically. Don’t panic. Organize.

Ok, let me make one thing clear from the start. No matter how desperate the situations of the refugees sometimes was, what is so frikkin great is the amount of support, both material, moral, political and in many other ways. . And no matter how bad the politics of a country seem to be, and Hungary is unfortunately one of the greatest examples, this does NOT represent, at least what I witnessed, and from the people I talked with, the general opinion of the people.

Of course, I might be biased in who I meet. But also in the hostels where I was staying, and I seemed to have a great talent for picking hostels where the refugees literally slept in the doorway, I’ve not heard one negative word about them. More a lot of understanding, and a wish to help… And this is seen everywhere in Europe.

There is no migrant or refugee “crisis” (statistics told us this long ago). This is not even a political crisis, though a xenophobe minority tries to present it that way. It’s a politician’s crisis.

Every time some politician shouts “not in my backyard” or screams to close the borders, there’s an uproar from all corners of the people they should represent. Every corner. Even the most unexpected ones.

Football-fans holding up huge banners with “refugees welcome”. The frikkin Bild-tabloid starting a campaign in favor of refugees. The people from a far-from-the-heat-country such as Iceland who put up the middle finger towards their government which only wanted to take up 50 refugees. People in germany starting an “AirBnB”site for refugees. The rich-people-village of Haren in the Netherlands which as one of the first communal governments says to the dutch national government: no, closing the borders and deporting people is not the solution, stick it with your laws, send them here, to us, to our backyards. People from Austria who, after 5 people were arrested in Hungary for bringing refugees over the border (no, these were not the money-grabbing smugglers, these were dedicated people) organized a convoy for next Sunday, and already over 2,000 drivers (ok, it’s facebook, so maybe 100 will actually show up….) have said they will join the convoy to go to Hungary and load the refugees in their cars & vans.

Don’t panic. Organize.

This is not even counting all the initiatives I have seen popping all over my facebook timeline. For Calais. For the refugees on the LaGeSo in Berlin. To protect the refugees there, where they are unfortunately met by aggression and intolerance in small villages in Germany. People who physically block the cops trying to deport refugees in Germany and Holland. All the stuff happening after the eviction of the refugee camps on Oranienplatz, and all the small initiatives in every neighborhood to “support your local refugee”, also after a refugee’s request is denied and his stay has become illegal. The huge turnup a few months ago when the “Center for polical beauty”decided to literally turn the lawn in front of the german parliament into a graveyard, and thousands of people digging makeshift with their hands, and peacefully protecting this “cemetery” against the cops.

I saw the pictures from when the refugees started walking from Budapest to Austria, how many individual people decided to bring food and water on the route. I’ve met the people who, even in not very wealthy countries, work their asses off to support the refugees with food, shelter and clothing. I’ve met people when traveling who risk their lives and their freedom to get refugees over the border, who break the fences again, and who have been to northern Africa and on the Mediterranean sea to literally pick up refugees and save them from drowning. They showed me the pictures of children, up to age 13, in overfilled prisons in Northern Africa… They told me stories, how they visit the deportation centers, and people shouting through the small holes in the doors: “I’m a doctor” “I’m a teacher”… They are imprisoned for fleeing a war.

Because Europe, the politicians say that “we”, the people, don’t want them here. Which, seeing the enormous amount of support, is simply NOT TRUE.

And the support is practical (food, shelter, clothing) but also political. Mostly practical at the moment. I luckily live in a city where there always has been a good “network” of small alternative initiatives. So it was relatively (relatively!) easy for these little hubs in the network to finetune their normal activities (the foodsaving, the huge network of re-using and sharing-economy, the many initiatives which exist to support homeless people..) for that which was needed for example on the LaGeSo.

This isn’t the same everywhere. In many places, the people who want to support the refugees (independent from governmental or bigger official organizations) have to start from scrap. And that’s frikkin hard.

But you know what? These small, unprofessional, spontaneous, local initiatives seem to work a lot better, are a lot more flexible and efficient, than many “official” organizations, let alone the governments. Don’t panic. Organize.

It seems the “general public”, the laymen, have a better idea about how to handle the situation, or are at least a lot quicker to learn by doing, than the, well.. dinosaurs. And though these small initiatives started very local, I don’t know if it is my bias, since I was literally traveling from situation to situation, it seems they are spreading like ink stains, and it slowly seems to become an actual, international, network…

At the moment, I see a lot of initiatives popping up for Calais. The “Jungle” has been there for some time, but now the support truly goes international. I somehow hope (duuuh… hippie….) that my little sidetrip and meeting up with the people in Hungary and Serbia will result in maybe really practical, trying to transport the stuff, of which we have excess, and which is seriously lacking somewhere else. Already friends of mine told me they would like to support the people in Serbia with stuff… (gosh, I want Scotty to do some beaming up…)

It ‘s not that the situation there, or in the other places I saw on my travels, are all of a sudden heaven, just because some people are trying the best they can. In Germany, or at least in Berlin as well as in Budapest the problem is not too little material support, more, well.. too much of things that weren’t needed. But it was quickly coordinated. In Hungary, the political situation is really, really bad. So are the cops and the police brutality. That’s the main problem, at least, my impression when I was there. Material and moral support is plenty. The demonstration against the government because of its refugee policy on Wednesday says it all.

Politics have always been simply ignored in Berlin. Here there’s more the problem of the xenophobes, who are more than willing to use organized violence against the refugees.. after all they’ve been through. And I have to admit, from some of the stuff I heard, I’m happy the antifa reacts quickly, and can be there when needed.

The other problem is, Germany IS for many refugees the end of the journey. But many are turned down. Even if a deportation is prevented, even if for example a youth club refuses the orders of the city to kick the refugees out of their building, they still have nowhere to go in the longer run. And no hope left… All you can do is “emergency help”.

What I saw in Serbia, and I guess it will be even worse further down south, is simply not that many “leftovers” from a consumer society, so many, very necessary, materials are constantly lacking. Also, from what I’ve heard, there’s a very good reason to distrust many of the more official, governmental, support (different as in Hungary, where it seems it’s a “power” thing, here it is, well.. simply money). Corruption is not exactly unknown… Also, many refugees, when they finally manage to cross the border to Serbia, risk losing the last of their few possessions because they are a far too easy prey…

The fences won’t stop the people from fleeing. They will only have a bigger chance of dying, or suffer more on the way. The fence in Hungary is a good example. It is closed, but there’s 1.000s in Serbia who will find means to cross it. The people in Budapest are already preparing for the next wave of refugees. The train station in Budapest was blocked for the refugees. So the people started walking. They will come here. They have hardly any choice. You would do the same in their situation. And you’d prolly try to get as far from the danger, just like they do. And you wouldn’t want to try to seek safety in Saudi Arabia either…

They’re human beings. Not statistics. Not a “crisis”. I’ve seen their children, playing with pink balloons donated by volunteers in front of the station in Budapest, and for a short moment, smiling and playing. I shared a video of the kids dancing in the park in Belgrade. But think of the memories they will have, because Fortress Europe rather sees them drown, tear-gasses them and their parents, packs them in overfilled trains to a deportation center, or forces them to walk along the highway, or how they have witnessed their parents getting arrested for trying to get through a fence…As one of the people I met on my travels, who was a refugee as a kid, told me: your childhood stops, when you become a refugee.

Oh, and yes, I’ve had more than enough discussions about how the capitalist system is to blame, or how we should change the system, or how the situation in Syria, Eritrea, or Afghanistan should be improved so there’s no need to flee. Of course I agree. But that won’t happen over night.

And the people are here. Right here, and right now. And they need support.

Practically, morally, and politically. Again. Don’t panic. Organize.