.on Anti-Eviction and Migrant Solidarity

What is this? Eyfa is back with regular newsletters? Yes it is true, although not as regular as some years ago, we will have 2 newsletters each year. One in the spring that shares announced days of action for the summer; and one in the winter that shares a bit more content. In 2014, Eyfa has been active in anti-eviction and migrant solidarity activism and therefore this newsletter will go a bit deeper into this content.

Content
1 –> What’s Eyfa up to?
2 –> We’re broke!
3 –> Anti-Eviction Struggles
4 –> Migrant Solidarity Activism

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What’s Eyfa up to?

Yeah, what are these Eyfa folks up to these days? Times of Ecotopia are long behind us and the collective has since settled in Berlin. Without a yearly, visible event like Ecotopia, Eyfa has been active under the surface, supporting gatherings, camps and trainings in constantly changing regions and topics, together with a whole range of groups around Europe.

This year for example, one of the project EYFA has been involved in was the Transnational Eviction Resistance Meeting (ENTRAD) that took place in October in Cordoba, Spain and has been hosted by 15M Stop Desahucios Cordoba. Eyfa organized a gathering which included the participation in the ENTRAD meeting with anti-eviction activists from around Europe.

Or there was a gathering in Calais, France where Eyfa has been involved in setting up meetings, trainings and workshops together with migrant solidarity activists around Europe to develop strategies of resistance and to help dealing with questions of burnout, trauma and privilege while being active in the heart of border repression.

2014 was a long ride…but whats next, you are asking? Well, we’re not giving away all the fun yet. But how about a sneak peek into 2015!

Eyfa is going after fracking!

Fracking is the new hype in state and corporate discourses; it is the water and chemical intensive process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside. With intensive water use for this extraction, the release of toxic chemicals into the ground and groundwater and potential increases in earthquakes in extraction areas, this energy production practice is boosted around Europe by states and corporations that seem keen to make major steps these years to profit from fracking. It is time to halt their plans of shale gas extraction and spark momentum for anti-fracking resistance around Europe.

In the summer of 2015, an action camp will gather activists from around Europe to share workshops, trainings and take direct action against shale gas extraction.

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We’re broke!

Eyfa has always attempted to share and spread ideas on where to fundraise. It is not easy to find money these days! Like we all know, money comes with power relations and lots of funders are closing the parameters in what they fund – even our almighty applications are not always getting through anymore as they feel we might be a bit outside the norm…

Therefore we would love to hear ideas from you where to get money. We really could use donations! If you know people with money, maybe you can send them a donation callout? The Eyfa network is huge, but most of us are not particularly packed with cash – but indirectly we most know people that are. So let us know! For donation details: https://eyfa.org/

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Anti-Eviction Struggles

The supremacy of the right to property, the commodification of housing and its unequal distribution as as a commodity in capitalist societies has ever since created conflicts around the housing issue. Since the economical crisis in 2008 we can observe a growing violation of housing rights: In countries directly affected by the crisis, like Greece, Spain and Italy many families lost their homes and are suffering from austerity policy imposing the privatization of social housing and cuts of subsidies. Additionally high unemployment rates and shrinking real incomes make housing more and more unfordable for people with lower income. In response to this we can also observe a growing engagement in the housing topic by grassroots movements:

Spain
A country where the crisis hit hard a lot of former middle class families lost there houses because they couldn’t afford the mortgage of their houses anymore. The “Plataforma de afectados por la hypoteca” (PAH – Platform of people affected by mortgage) arose out of this context and is fighting since 2011 against evictions. Today there are over 150 groups in Spain: they developed a variety of activities like blockades of evictions, negotiations with banks and public actions to prevent the evictions of indebted inhabitants. Furthermore they organize alternatives like food-banks, self-organized education, child-care and provide housing for evicted families.
http://afectadosporlahipoteca.com/2014/04/03/pah-international-committee/.

Italy   
The “Abitare nella crisi” – Living in the crisis network was established in 2009 by  different organizations involved in struggle for housing rights in Italy. The network has the aim to share reflections on squatting houses, claims on housing right, income, solidarity, mutual aid and antiracism. The community squat Cantiere in Milano is currently struggling to prevent the eviction of 200 families who have been squatting houses to escape from homelessness. Call for international solidarity: http://www.cantiere.org/884/international-solidarity-stopevictions-movement-milan/

Greece
Here a change in the law in January 2014 has dramatically changed the housing situation and evictions have become a serious threath for impoverished families. While before only secondary housing could be evicted, the authorities are now evicting people into homelessness. There have been several direct actions to blockade the forced sales of houses that are usually followed by forced eviction. The group “Solidarity For All” in Athens is working on the housing topic and providing tools and concepts of mutual aid for those affected by the crisis (http://www.solidarity4all.gr/sites/www.solidarity4all.gr/files/aggliko.pdf).

But also in other European cities housing is getting a serious problem as massive amounts of money has flooded the housing marked in many European cities in search for profit. This so called market driven gentrification process has lead to an acceleration of displacement and homelessness. In Germany, Romania, UK and many other countries the housing situation has changed dramatically and rising rents make it harder for disadvantaged families to stay in their neighbourhoods.

Germany
In Berlin where 85% of the population is paying rent, low income households face harassment and evictions by their landlords who want to get them out at any price – knowing that they can rent the apartments for more money. The “Bündnis Zwangsräumung Verhindern (BZV – Alliance against Eviction) is a group against evictions and displacement that exists since the summer 2012. The Alliance against eviction organize campaigns and direct actions together with people affected by physical displacement. They launched the campaign “United Neighbours” to mobilize against the eviction of the “Refugee Strike House” (http://zwangsraeumungverhindern.blogsport.de/).

Romania
In Cluj and Bucharest the Common Front for Housing Rights (FDCL) has been recently born. The FDCL protests against evictions, demands relocation to proper houses, do active research on different eviction cases and provide logistical and informational support for  direct action. They work a lot with Roma families – recently they helped organizing a Resistance Camp in Vulturilor street, Bucharest. The camp was made up after the eviction of 100 people identifying themselves as Roma who where living in the yard of houses since years. (http://fcdl.ro/call-support/#sthash.3j1jdLO6.dpuf)

England  
In London where housing is trade as a luxury good, the radical housing network  has grown out of several housing and neighborhood initiatives. In October they have mobilized jointly against the MIPIM the biggest European Immobiliary  fare and organized the counter conference “City for People not for Profit”(radicalhousingnetwork.org). One particular interesting group of the Radical Housing Network is the “E15 Mums” – a group of single mothers who jointly occupied a building in September and launched a campaign for social housing not social cleansing  http://focuse15.org/.

Of course there are many more housing groups and campaigns across Europe. All those movements mentioned here have in common that even though they are working on a single issue, they have a vision of a long-term transformation of  society. All those make an effort to tackle the daily problems that people face in  societies and try to find concrete solutions based on mutual aid.

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Migrant Solidarity Activism

2014 has been intense! Throughout Europe, sites of resistance against border regimes have been growing. Worldwide, more and more people are fleeing from their home regions, while European states have increased their practices of border repression. The legal process of asking asylum can only happen once on the host country’s land, therefore necessitating all that cannot afford an airplane ticket to cross Europe’s borders while illegalized; and since countries on Europe’s outer borders barely grants asylum, it means traveling across Europe threatened with detention and deportation.

In response to these restrictions of movement, refugees have increasingly organized themselves to make their struggle visible to demand freedom of movement, the right to stay and a halt to racist treatment from state and police. This has resulted in self-organized protest camps and marches around various locations across Europe where border mechanism have manifested themselves, supported by activists in solidarity with these struggles.

Greece
As major entry point into Europe, Greece is often a transit place of migration since the state barely accepts asylum seekers, witnessed a strong rise in fascist violence and normalized racist police harassment of migrants. For years and also this month, resistance is being voiced: in November, there was a 200 person strong hunger strike on Athens main square Syntagma as well as a hunger strike in the detention centre Amygdaleza.
More info: https://clandestinenglish.wordpress.com/
Support? → http://infomobile.w2eu.net/

Morocco
There are tens of thousands of migrants stuck in Morocco due to EU border policies, most unable to return home and facing repression to cross into mainland Europe. News is sometimes made with mass attempts to rush over the 6 meter high fence that separates Morocco and Ceita/Melilla (owned by Spain). In the 1995 “Barcelona Process”, the EU has ensured cooperation from the Moroccan regime on how to deal with migrants entering the EU via Morocco including a payment to the Moroccan police force per migrant arrested. Supporters are present to struggle alongside migrants trapped at the Moroccan-Spanish border. Activists attempt to document police repression; spread practical info on asylum procedures and safety measures; and spread awareness on this border situation.
Support and info: https://beatingborders.wordpress.com/

Berlin
In 2014, protest against migration control mechanisms were visible in multiple German cities, notably Berlin. Germany grants occasional asylum to refugees and with the Calais transit zone towards the UK harder to cross, more migrants attempt Germany as final destination. Berlin is a city with relatively more solidarity groups that support refugees in their struggle. In April 2014, the 2-year old protest camp Oranienplatz was evicted by the Berlin police. Oranienplatz has become a symbol of the struggle against borders and for the freedom of movement: refugees and supporters have continued after eviction to gain safer spaces for undocumented persons and to visualize the injustice of the German migration policies. After the eviction of Oranienplatz, the state went after the occupied Gerhart-Hauptmann School and the struggle to defend Ohlauerstrasse began, where refugees and supporters blocked the eviction of the school. The school seems to remain in the centre of border resistance for the coming time.
Support and info: http://ohlauerinfopoint.wordpress.com/

VIDEO visual summary of the 10-day stand-off in defense of Ohlauer-
strasse  in June. – TRIGGER WARNING: video features police violence!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U29x3-e5nTo

Calais
With the 2014 winter arriving, there are close to 2000 migrants in Calais attempting to cross into the UK, living in unused buildings or squatted camps known as jungles. One cannot claim UK asylum from abroad and UK visa’s cost money and have strict criteria, which excludes most refugees. On a daily basis, migrants in Calais are harassed by French police with beatings, arrests without charges, racist treatment, repeated eviction and destruction of shelters, teargassing and confiscating possessions such as sleeping bags and cooking materials. 2014 also witnessed the rise of a local fascist group and growing fascist violence. Supporters from around Europe have been active in Calais to show solidarity with migrants and struggle side-by-side for their freedom of movement across the Canal by documenting police harassment of migrants, supporting and co-organizing demonstrations and actions as well as simply trying to make people’s lives easier by practical support. In 2014, migrants and supporters have occupied buildings, held demonstrations and attempted to block evictions of camps and squats. In September hundreds of people blockaded the Calais port for some time. With more people fleeing from Syria and Sudan and heightened repression in Calais with stricter anti-migration policies, it seems the Calais storm is destined to intensify.
Support and info: https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/

Serbia
Many people find themselves stuck in Serbia, waiting to pass the Schengen border. As future EU candidates, much of the EU migration politics gets reproduced in the Balkans. In Serbia,  migration control happens one step earlier on migrants’ migratory routes into the EU, making Serbia a common transit zone with migrants facing inhospitable and often violent treatment inside a country with a largely dysfunctional asylum system. Also here, migrants are waiting at the border to Hungary in camps in the forests and in overcrowded asylum centers. Hungarian authorities often deports migrants to Serbia, although the Serbian state is not part of the Dublin agreement. In Serbia, authorities continue this illegal practice by further deportations to Macedonia, pushing migrants back border by border. In October, 1000 nationalists walked in a racist protest against migrant in Maldenovac and asylum centers are occasionally targeted. Solidarity activists are doing as much as they can, but are low in numbers and have capacity to document and support migrants facing detention and spread information in the camps along the border.
Support and info: http://noborderserbia.wordpress.com/

What you can do?
As supporter in the center of border repression, one gets confronted with the injustice of border controls: stories of suffering and traumatic journeys, and as documented, legalized person one must process the true extent of privilege of those documents. Potential burnout and trauma exist, next to the realization that this is nothing compared to what those directly affected by borders have to endure.

All the above mentioned places need support…badly! Structural presence of supporters is often too low to even imagine dealing with all the issues present. Lots of cities around Europe have local support groups that organize: info-events and benefits, support groups traveling to border hotspots, gathering and transporting practical stuff like tents, sleeping bags and jackets, gathering info on asylum procedures, translating texts in more languages or just donating to support groups.

Above border struggles all have links that include ways of supporting them: either with a donation, how to come there as supporter or practical actions you can do at home.

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For donations: https://eyfa.org/ For more info or if you want to spread a callout in the next newsletter for a mobilisation for action in summer 2015, let us know on eyfa-AT-eyfa.org

Well, hear from you again soon!

Eyfa