Refugees-Welcome-Donation in March goes to…

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In the last months we were selling lots of dozens of our “Refugees welcome”-items with the result that 500 EUR could be donated to the Antirassistische Initiative Münster (AIM), a local antiracist initiative. This donation allows the AIM to buy a sound system, which can be used for demonstrations against fascism, borders and the racist system in its entirety. An essential point in their self-conception is that every person should have the possibility to live and move where he*she wishes to.


Teachers on the road – Interview und Spendenaktion

Refugees Welcome! Bis Ende September 2015 spenden wir einen Teil des Erlöses aus dem Verkauf der abgebildeteten Shirts an die Organisation Teachers on the road.

Seit 2013 gibt es das Projekt Teachers on the road als konkretes Hilfsangebot infolge der Wünsche Geflüchteter in Unterkünften in Rheinland-Pfalz und Hessen. Das Projekt ist seitdem gewachsen, und sowohl die Nachfrage nach Deutschkursen steigt, wie auch die Hilfsbereitschaft von Menschen, die sich bei “Teachers on the road” engagieren wollen. Für Anschaffungen von Unterrichtsmaterialien, Druckkosten und Fahrtkosten sowie Miete für ein Büro ist die Organisation daher auf Spenden angewiesen.
Und da wollen wir gerne unterstützen: Bis Ende September gehen pro verkauftem Refugees Welcome Hoodie und Shirt 8 € bzw. 5 € an “Teachers on the road”.
Und wenn euch das Projekt gefällt – Hilfe ist immer willkommen, gleich ob ihr einer bestehenden Gruppe helfen oder selbst in eurer Region eine neue Gruppe initiieren wollt!

Wir freuen uns, dass uns die Menschen von “Teachers on the road” trotz des Stresses ein paar Fragen beantwortet haben:

Liebe Menschen bei Teachers on the road, aus welchen Umständen heraus seid ihr auf die Idee für euer Projekt gekommen? Und wie hat sich das Ganze seitdem entwickelt?

Das Projekt wurde 2013 in Rheinland Pfalz gestartet. Speziell in Rheinland-Pfalz ist die Aufnahmeeinrichtung für Asylbegehrende in Trier (AfA) der erste Anlaufpunkt für Asylsuchende in Rheinland-Pfalz. Refugees sind meist nur eine kurze Zeit in Trier, bevor sie verteilt werden. Viele denken, nach dem Transfer wird alles besser. Es werden drei Wahlmöglichkeiten für weitere Wohnmöglichkeiten genannt. Dem wird aber selten entsprochen. Diejenigen, die in die größeren Städte kommen, leben dort oft in großen Lagern mit oft hunderten von Flüchtlingen. Die anderen werden häufig auf kleine Dörfer im ländlichen Raum, manchmal ohne ausreichende öffentliche Verkehrsanbindung, gebracht. Manchmal gibt es dort nicht einmal Geschäfte. Auch in den Großstädten gibt es nur selten die Möglichkeit, Deutsch zu lernen. Es dauert oft sehr lange, bis Refugees die Möglichkeit erhalten, zu arbeiten und Geld zu verdienen. Geld, das sie dringend bräuchten, um einen Anwalt zu bezahlen, der ihnen im Asylverfahren zur Seite stehen könnte. Die medizinische Versorgung, insbesondere im ländlichen Raum, ist für Refugees ungenügend. An dieser Stelle wollten wir gegensteuern. Wir haben Kontakt zu Refugees in Trier aufgenommen und sie dann in den Transferorten besucht. Heraus kam ein langer Katalog an Missständen in den Unterkünften, aber insbesondere auch der Wunsch die deutsche Sprache zu lernen. Mittlerweile ist das Projekt sehr groß geworden: In mehreren Bundesländern gibt es Teachers on the Road Gruppen – etwa in Frankfurt, Trier, Ludwigshafen, Darmstadt und Brandenburg.

Wie konkret geht ihr bei eurem Einsatz für Geflüchtete vor?

Wir besuchen Schutzsuchende in den Unterkünften, fragen nach ihren Wünschen und machen uns ein Bild der Zustände vor Ort. Gegebenenfalls intervenieren wir. Es handelt sich zum einen um Fälle, in denen die Lebensumstände menschenunwürdig sind. Das versuchen wir zu skandalisieren. In Haßloch wurde zum Beispiel eine Unterkunft durch das Engagment der Aktivist*innen vor Ort geschlossen. Zum anderen gibt es Fälle von falschen Sozialbescheiden. In einen Fall in Neuwied konnten wir zusammen mit juristischem Beistand das illegal einbehaltene Geld zurückfordern. Außerdem wollen wir zeigen, dass Refugees nicht alleine dastehen, wenn sie rassistischen Übergriffen ausgesetzt sind, wie in Prüm oder Ludwigshafen. Dann geben wir auch Deutschkurse und kommen so mit Refugees direkt in Kontakt. Damit versuchen wir die Isolation der Schutzsuchenden zu durchbrechen und eine freundschaftliche Atmosphäre zu bieten. Ziel ist dabei immer, den Flüchtlingen und Migrant*innen ein selbstbestimmtes Handeln zu ermöglichen, mit dem sie am sozialen, kulturellen und politischen Leben teilhaben sowie Kontakte zu den Menschen vor Ort knüpfen können, um so einer Abschottung und Isolation vorzubeugen.

Ich konnte verfolgen, dass sich im Moment sehr viele Menschen bei euch melden, die Deutschkurse geben wollen. Vor welchen Herausforderungen steht ihr im Moment?

Es ist schön zu beobachten, wie viele Menschen sich momentan ehrenamtlich engagieren wollen. Wir haben mittlerweile so viele Anfragen, dass wir gar nicht alle Menschen als Deutschlehrer*innen in unseren Kursen unterbringen können. Es fehlt uns speziell an Kursräumen. Wir haben sehr viele Refugees, die deutsch lernen wollen – jedoch: Wo soll das geschehen ohne Kursräume? Zudem sind wir ein ehrenamtliches Projekt. Das macht es schwierig, immer und sofort alle Anfragen zu beantworten. Trotz alledem werden wir das Projekt auch in anderen Städten starten und freuen uns auf jede neue Anfrage, speziell in Orten, in denen die Mehrheitsbevölkerung gegen Asylsuchende spricht, um dort die Refugees vor Ort zu supporten, z. B. in Heidenau oder Freital.

Die deutsche und europäische Politik ist gerade dabei die Reste des Asylrechts zu beseitigen bzw. die Menschen von vornherein aus dem Schengen-Raum auszusperren. Wie schätzt ihr die zukünftige Entwicklung ein, worauf können wir uns in nächster Zeit einstellen?

Das Asylrecht wird weiter eingeschränkt werden. Menschen sollen schneller abgeschoben werden. Gesetze werden weiter verschärft. Das ist kein plötzlicher Prozess, denn schon in den letzten Jahren gab es neue Gesetze zur Einschränkung des Asylrechts z. B. die Ausweitung einiger Balkanstaaten zu sicheren Drittstaaten. Das ganze System an Lebensbedingungen, Isolation, Einschränkungen, Abschiebung und Spezialgesetzen für Asylsuchende ist eine Art Stigmatisierung. Das alles hat mit rassistischen Mustern zu tun. Repressive Instrumente werden eingesetzt und vieles wird schon als normal in der Gesellschaft angesehen. Die Unterdrückung der Refugees kann auch als Experimentierfeld gesehen werden. Für uns als Supporter*innen mutet das schon schlimm an, aber für die Betroffenen ist der Aufenthalt in Deutschland oftmals eine weitere traumatische Erfahrung. Dazu kommen die vielen rassistischen Übergriffe, die fast täglich durch die Medien gehen. Vieles deutet auf eine gruselige Zeit hin.
Wir hoffen trotz der pessimistischen Aussichten das sich die Willkommenskultur ändern wird. Wir hoffen, dass sich eine Bleibekultur durchsetzen wird, die sich an den Wünschen und Probleme der Betroffenen orientiert.

Vielen Dank für das Interview!

Website von Teachers on the road
Mitmachen
Spenden an Teachers on the road
Mailkontakt: office@nksnet.org

Und nicht vergessen: Bis 30. September gehen pro verkauftem Refugees Welcome Hoodie und Shirt 8 € bzw. 5 € an “Teachers on the road”. Und danach an andere antirassistische Initiativen im Münsterland …

We’re celebrating Liberation Day

Well, maybe “celebrating” is a little over the top, since the end of the Nazi regime was neither caused by German resistance nor has it been the end of National Socialist structures or fascism in general.

First and foremost we use this day to commemorate the victims of this reign of violence, the politics of war, occupation and extinction: Jews, Romani and Sinte people, people with disabilities, homosexuals, forced workers, dissidents, prisoners of war and many more. In this context “liberation” does not mean the liberation of some dreamed up “poor German people”, but rather the liberation of those who still had been imprisoned in concentration and labor camps, all political persecutees as well as the people in the attacked regions…

Despite our wish for a non-violent and anti-militaristic world, it is also a day to remember the allied forces (although fighting fascism and anti-semitism might not have been their only goal…), antifascist partisans, resistance fighters in concentration camps and ghettos, underground activists  etc., who caused German surrender.

As implied above, Nazis have not vanished into thin air after 1945, but rather still live amongst us, not only as participants of rightist and right-wing populist parties but also as pre-school teachers in the kindergarten round the corner. In doing so they can rely on resentments of the so-called “center of society”…

In case you want to show your antifascist attitude, we have a few antifa-products on sale today. Needless to say, this cannot replace a dedicated social analysis and criticism.

We will not free the animals through shopping

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This article was published in La Vita 01/2013, a magazine by Free Animal e. V. We think it mentions some important issues and so we put it into our blog. It was read by many people, not only in Germany, but in other countries, too. Others found it important, too, and translated the article into other languages like English and Spanish. So here’s the english version …

Vegan lifestyle, animal liberation and sanctuaries

Last year Free Animal (a German registered charity that supports animal shelters where so-called domestic as well as farm animals can live free of exploitation until their natural death) took part in several vegan events and street festivals. We had some positive experiences but what mostly remains is a lot of frustration because of the response to our stalls. At vegan festivals visitors spend large amounts of money on commercial products but at our stall we are often asked if “the sticker is for free” and people are surprised to hear that we expect them to pay for our magazine “La Vita”. Infostand von Free Animal auf einem veganen StraßenfestPeople are eager to try the home-made chocolates we sell and also like them but spending a few euros on a bag seems too much to ask for. So we are wondering where the idea of animal liberation − and with it the sanctuaries – is heading. Are the liberation of animals as a political fight and possibly the animals as well in danger of being swallowed up by the bright spectacle of “vegan lifestyle“?

We have the impression that many people in the animal liberation movement lack an awareness of the sanctuaries being a project of the entire movement. Some people have to run the sanctuaries and do all the practical work but everyone should feel responsible for them and also support them financially. It is not enough if people at the stall tell us “You do a great job“, “It is great that something like that exists”. Instead, it is necessary that those who say such things actually donate a few euros to support the sanctuaries. But, unfortunately, most people don’t see this as self-evident. The animals at the sanctuaries need food, litter, veterinary care, hoof care; stables need to be repaired etc. And that costs a lot of money. A fabric bag at the stall costs 4.50 euros because the “profit“ is urgently needed for the sanctuaries. At vegan events visitors are prepared to pay 6 euros for a doner kebab and don’t try to bargain because they know: no money, no doner. But at our stalls they hem and haw and try to get a sticker or button for free after all.

One more thing we learned – not only – from last year’s vegan events is: You can deal with veganism without mentioning animals at all. Without thinking about it also vegans make being vegan only a lifestyle issue, which they sometimes try to hide in order to avoid unpleasant discussion. This of course does not help to overcome the exploitation of animals. How could it? This way no one is encouraged to question social conditions and the relationship between humans and animals. The vegan sausage is but another alternative alongside the one made from meat, but the fact that others do eat meat is not called what it really is, a scandal.

The question we ask ourselves is: Why do people become vegan, how do they see their veganism, what do they think is necessary so that animals can be free and their exploitation can be overcome, and is “exploitation” actually still a category for the average vegan? With all the pleasant discussion about vegan cooking and shopping you can easily forget that veganism is not an attitude in itself but that it is – or at least it used to be – the practical realisation of a much more comprehensive political necessity, namely the one of standing up for animal rights and of fighting for the liberation of animals from exploitation by humans. And this includes dealing with this exploitation, understanding the underlying interrelations and structures and working towards overcoming them.

In our society everything becomes a commodity, even veganism and the large number of colourful vegan products that we all like so much. Of course it is nice to be able to get your soya or other plant milk and tofu burgers in any supermarket. But it would be fatally naive to believe that this is a big step towards a society where animals are essentially better off or to think that companies offer these products because of a change of consciousness regarding animals. Just as the animals that supermarkets sell in the form of steaks, breakfast yoghurt or organic eggs are nothing but commodities that are solely meant to make the owners of the companies richer, vegan products are a market segment with which producers can make welcome money today. And why shouldn’t a manufacturer or a supermarket chain offer tofu sausages if it is lucrative? So, on the shelves, next to pork sausages, customers can find sausages made from tofu or seitan as well. But this has got nothing to do with the pigs or the tofu or the attitude of the supermarket chain towards either of them. Of course this cannot be compared with the small vegan businesses, shops or restaurants run by one or two people who are also animal rights activists. But their market share is extremely small compared to that of the big companies.

Animal liberation is a political struggle and as with other liberation movements this struggle must be fought in public; the liberation of animals must be gained within, together with and also against society. We as a society are responsible for the fact that humans still dominate animals. In the same way we can play a role in changing human-animal relations. And to those who support the realities of animal exploitation and who benefit from them, but also to those who accept them, we must present these very realities again and again, and we must ask them to change their actions. Sadly, there are far too many vegans who believe it is sufficient to follow a vegan lifestyle and to shop for vegan products. Having vegan meals that are simply tasty enough, shopping at vegan supermarkets and trying not to appear as an “irritating”, “extreme” vegan, however, will not change relations of exploitation. We will not free the animals through our shopping but only through fundamental changes – of consciousness, in society and in our economic system.

All this isn’t nice, isn’t easy, isn’t fun. It is exhausting, irritating, frustrating and often connected with fear, desperation and the feeling that you can’t go on or just want to stop. Sometimes you want to close yourself off to things and just to enjoy spending your life in shopping centres. But a different society does not come about as a side-effect of a lifestyle. The liberation of animals and changing the conditions that cost billions of animals their lives require political thinking and acting. For this it is necessary that people become informed about the larger economic and social context and look behind the pretty facade also of vegan shopping and lifestyle.

In order to support the sanctuaries, however, we still have to look for something as common as money. As mentioned above, the animals living there need food, vet care and their homes need to be maintained, and all of this can only be had for money. These animals must be cared for until the natural end of their life – in dignity and with as much freedom as is possible for them under the present circumstances, and this is something the entire animal liberation movement as well as all other vegans should feel responsible for. Why don’t we consider it a matter of course that every visitor to the vegan Christmas market or Street Day donates one, two or five euros for the participating sanctuaries and projects or that they buy their cake at the stall of an organisation or group rather than at a commercial one? Or that those who can afford to sponsor an animal or make donations on a regular basis? Sanctuaries send out a signal to this society in which animals hardly have a chance to survive. A signal demonstrating what the transition to a world without animal exploitation could look like. And this is what we have to strengthen and develop further. Maybe this isn’t as colourful and fun as vegan events. Veganism, however, has a potential to change the conditions for animals so that one day they can be free – and to eventually render sanctuaries unnecessary – not as a lifestyle, but only as an intentional part of the liberation of animals.

Anke Guido
2nd chairwoman
Free Animal e. V.

The evil f-word

Dear fellow internet users,

of course we’re well aware of the double sidedness of using facebook. It goes without saying that data safety is the main issue here. Nobody knows what happens with our data on facebook, whom they are forwarded to or who can read along. An example of what happens when the police ask facebook to provide information about its users can be found under the following link:
http://blog.thephoenix.com/blogs/phlog/archive/2012/04/06/when-police-subpoena-your-facebook-information-heres-what-facebook-sends-cops.aspx#.T4KKqWEwCpI.facebook

It can certainly be tough to pick one’s way through the jungle of submenus and small print. Terms and policies, account and privacy settings want to be taken into account. It is vital that you read on, pay attention and continue on the everlasting quest of finding the right security settings. The following link will take you to a detailed manual on facebook security:
http://www.sophos.com/en-us/security-news-trends/best-practices/facebook.aspx

Despite its highly questionable policy on data security and freedom of information we decided on using facebook as an information platform. Why? Because time and again we notice that most of you are already there anyway. And for us facebook is a possibility to spread news easily and fast, to connect and communicate with other people, being also a platform for us as a company of course. Furthermore it’s also an easy and fast way for you to communicate with us.

However you should always be mindful of the fairly high price you pay for using the popular social network. Facebook “knows” whom you talk to, which things you click on, what you look at, which videos, pictures, texts, links and postings you like. If you are logged in facebook even knows which homepages you’re visiting – which is also the case when you visit our site, because we have a facebook plugin, too.
What proved to be quite practical for us is a Firefox add-on called Multifox. It allows you to relegate facebook into an extra window, thus preventing it from monitoring your other web activities.
So you should get clear about whether or not you want to confide half your life to this company without knowing what happens with your data. What is for sure is that you can always contact us via email (pgp-key available) or phone without any problem.

Interview with children’s book author Ruby Roth

We recently had the chance to ask children’s book author a few questions concerning her work and her successful children’s book “Warum wir keine Tiere essen”. You can find the interview below. I hope you enjoy it!

1. When and how did you, personally, come across the issue of animal rights and veganism?
Even though my mother was vegetarian and I grew up on an organic tree farm and lived with vegan roommates in college, it never occurred to me to go vegan until I was 20! I never thought it was for me. Then a friend challenged me to go vegan as a health experiment. I loved it! It was like taking off a heavy jacket and starting to run. The more I learned, the more my choice was validated. I was always involved in politics and justice and so when I learned how animal consumption is tied to world-political issues: health and disease, animal cruelty, land/air/ocean pollution, environmentalism, water waste, immigration, even gender and race, I put my money where my mouth is. I’m thrilled to have chosen this path.

2. Where did your inspiration to write a children’s book about animal exploitation come from?
I was teaching art at an elementary school and the kids were all very curious about my veganism. They all wanted to know why I wasn’t eating the cheese served to them. When I went to find a book that explained why, I couldn’t find one that wasn’t about a talking animal or vegetable…and these kids were too cool for that! As an artist and a politics major, I decided to write the book myself. The education of children was the major factor in the success of recycling programs in Los Angeles. I think the same may be true for veganism and new generations.

3. From your point of view, when are children ‘ready’ to face the issue of animal exploitation and abuse? After all, the animals’ reality on factory farms is a depressing one and even from an adult’s perspective, it can be a quite overwhelming issue. What age group does your children’s book address and how would you make sure not to overburden children with your book when reading it with them?
I don’t think it’s ever too early to start teaching children the truth. I’ve never seen a child overwhelmed by my book…only adults!  Teaching the truth is appropriate as long as you do it in the right way, by stating the plain facts and not being scary, or hysterical and over-emotional. My book is written for 6-10 year olds, but younger children can look at the pictures and begin to understand. My experience is that children do not need the sugarcoating that they usually get. They respond to facts with great intelligence and a powerful sense of self-empowerment.

4. From your experience as a teacher, can you also recommend other ways in which the issue of animal exploitation can be introduced to children in a gentle manner?
Yes! Make compassionate choices and then discuss them! For example, choose non-animal tested shampoo when you’re at the store and explain why. Have your child help you look for the “Cruelty-Free” logo. Or visit a farm sanctuary for rescued animals instead of the zoo, circus, or marine park. Then discuss why it is better to visit places that help animals instead of capturing them, using them, and making them ill. Kids understand and they like to be helpful and feel brave.

5. What are you up to right now? Do you have any plans to publish more books in the future?
I have a new children’s book coming out in 2012 about vegan choices and the whole lifestyle—from food to pollution to entertainment and organics. If you join my newsletter at www.wedonteatanimals.com, you will be the first to hear about it! And I hope to bring it to Germany as well. I am so happy to hear from the growing German vegan community. Thank you!

Thanks and all the best!

Judgements in the case of the §278a-trial in Austria expected

Hey people,

suddenly, after more than a year of proceedings, more than three months of pre-trial custody, observation for years, and whatever the state has to offer with regard to repression, the time has come: tomorrow the judgements in the case of the austrian §278a trial against animal rights activists will be pronounced. The procedure of taking evidence had already been finished on April, 1st – although numerous motions to take evidence had still been expected.

During the trial we could experience a lot of rather unbelievable stuff: absurd allegations by police and the public prosecutor’s office. A judge that was challenged on grounds of suspected bias and decided herself that she was not prejudiced. Really absurd witnesses (just thinking about the linguistic expert Schweiger). A quite flexible approach to law on the part of the investigating authority, that will perhaps never be worth to catch the attention of any prosecutor. And, of course, the discovery of undercover investigations in the circle of groups who promote animal protection and animal rights by the Ferderal Criminal Police Office. Tbc.

But it almost doesn‘t matter what will be the judgement in the end. The time that has been stolen from the accused, their fears and the (financial, psychological etc.) consequences that have been caused by the observations, all the other harassments and the trial – all this cannot be reembursed for the accused.

Repression is not an individual case but part of a system. It focuses on silencing the critical voices and locking them. It can affect anyone of us. (Antirep2008)

Let us not be intimidated! Let us continue to show solidarity! Let us be creative and let us be resistive! We will not be silenced, neither in Austria or anywhere else! We wish the accused and everyone who demonstrates in Vienna tomorrow, all the best!
At 8.30 in the morning there will be a demonstration in front of the Landgericht Wiener Neustadt. The trial starts at 9.00 am.
At 7.00 in the evening there will be a demonstration against state and judiciary at the Uni Rampe in Vienna: „After trial is before trial!“

All that happened before and the latest info can be read on Antirep2008.

PICTURES OF SOLIDARITY

On March 2nd 2011, it will be for one straight year that 13 Austrian animal rights activists, organized in the „Basisgruppe Tierrechte (Bat)“ and other animal rights and animal welfare groups, are having to defend themselves in court for animal rights related activities criminalized under §278a of the Austrian penal code! Having been involuntarily in court for more than 70 times in 12 consecutive months, one can only imagine the severe effects of state repression on the accused! Considering the gruelling and absurd strategy of both state attorney Wolfgang Handler and judge Sonja Arleth, it doesn‘t need much to picture the overwhelming presence of the trial and the backbreaking routine of having to attend court 3 times a week!
When, more than two years ago, the raids of the activists‘ houses on May 21st 2008 revealed the massive dimension of surveillance and observation by police forces, the lives of everybody accused dramatically changed once and for all. During and after being held in custody for 3 months, it was because of acts of solidarity that the accused were able to cope with these attacks of the state. This shows the importance of an active solidarity movement! Touch one- touch all!

To this very day, the accused activists themselves cannot emphasize enough the importance and positive value of pictures, photos and drawings sent by people from all over the world! Visual acts of solidarity and active protest proved to play a major role in giving strength and persistence to the activists.

We want to continue passing on that strength and endurance to the Austrian activists! At the anniversary of the beginning of the court case, this seems especially important! We, thus, call for another round of the open display of solidarity! We want all of you to support our action: „Pictures of Solidarity“! We want your pictures! No matter in what form: Draw, paint, spray-paint, handicraft, film or shoot photos of your very own acts of compassion and solidarity! Portray your thoughts or deeds of action! Make your own video if you can! The sky is the limit.

All too often there is a certain feeling of helplessness. All too often a clear sign of solidarity seems very difficult. Of course, a lot of people have sent in reports of protest before and have made a donation. But it often seems difficult to display real signs of solidarity and connection without being locally present. So sending in your „Pictures of Solidarity“ is an answer to this feeling of powerlessness and a real good opportunity for showing support and encouragement!

To sum it up: Please send your „Pictures of Solidarity“ to antirep278a@riseup.net by February 28th 2011 (please upload your digital files/photos, e.g. to www.imageshack.com and then send us the link. Please don’t send files as email attachment). We will publish all incoming works on our website from March 3rd onwards.

So please forward this call for action and place our web banner on your homepage. You‘ll find the banner here, on our Homepage: http://antirep278a.blogsport.de/material/
For further information on the trial see: http://antirep2008.org.