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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Late to the party 2 (or Snowden & Asylum: Zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe)

Whoa...and I'm super late to the party now. 

So, I was going to add my "mustard" regarding one point to the NSA/Tempora/whistleblower/mass surveillance issue.

It took me so long to add this, because of my reticence in (potentially) detracting from one important cause by dragging up issues from another important cause. There are few things worse than engaging in a discourse where someone downplays an injustice by saying that some other injustice is much worse. I had to take a step back for a moment to frame what I wanted to say.

Taking a look at the Stop Watching Us movement, as I said, there's really nothing about it that I can't get on board with. And in the time since that post, I've read some scarily shortsighted arguments that approach pro-surveillance attitudes. Namely, "If you're not doing anything illegal, then you have nothing to worry about" and "Protect children from pedophiles". Both from various articles revolving around a recent TOR crackdown. It's a fucking difficult argument to have, particularly the latter...because it usually disintegrates into some kind of "If you're against secret mass surveillance, then you're pro child porn" bullshit.

BUT...that's not even remotely where I want to go with this.  

I just saw a point where one movement could join forces with another movement in mutual aid.

That point happens to involve the first item on the Stop Watching Us "manifesto" (or points that they're fighting for, or whatever you want to call it). That point being "Political asylum and protection for whistleblowers like Edward Snowden." It's the shortest point, but also a very important one.

When I saw the first petitions -- on Facebook, of course -- it was kind of a mind-blowing. To be honest, my first reaction was kind of emotional. And actually anger and a bit of sadness were the particular emotions. Aside from certain parts of my social circle, I haven't seen much preoccupation with asylum politics in Germany. It's good. I mean it's a really good thing. Potentially a great thing. I say "potentially", because I think more Germans would benefit from knowing/understanding how completely fucked up asylum seeking in Germany (and the EU) has become and why it's that way. And because it would sadden me, in a way, to see that the face of the political asylum struggle become a singular poster child from an industrial nation...when there are plenty of people in Germany and the EU who have been essentially fighting the same battle for years.

See that last sentence? Yeah, that's the type of argument that I want to avoid. It's not a "these asylum seekers" vs "these other asylum seekers". Everyone should be on the same page.

That's the point that I want to get at. Two (or multiple) groups can find a point for a common fight and join forces for a mutual benefit.

The riots in Rostock-Litchtenhagen in 1992 (and similar anti-immigrant attacks in the early 90s), as well as the Dublin Regulation (aka Dublin II)  make it incredibly difficult to apply for and receive asylum in Germany. Nearly impossible, not to mention a brutally degrading process (see the videos above).

The events of the Rostock riot, documented in the film The Truth Lies in Rostock (VHS quality on YouTube FTW) basically resulted German officials determining that right-wing extremist violence wasn't really the fault of right-wing extremists, but by an influx of too many immigrants. So the government was like , "How 'bout we start letting fewer foreigners into the country." (a very, very, very watered down summary, I know. Sorry.). And Dublin II basically states that the country in which an asylum seeker first enters the EU is responsible for that person's asylum application. Germany is more or less land-locked, which means that it's nearly impossible to enter Germany without going through another EU member state. So....yeah...maybe you see where I'm going with this one.

Is it a "reliable legal basis" as called for in the Stop Watching Us points? Well, I mean it's an EU law. For whatever that's worth. So maybe the movement should also go after that.  Fixing the fucked up asylum situation in Germany and the EU would go far to help other potential whistleblowers (and, you know, other oppressed people seeking asylum. Win-win, right?)

US-German extradition treaty aside (like pretend it didn't exist at all), Snowden could enter Germany and, if he somehow made it directly into Germany without somehow being officially documented in any other EU member state, he could apply for asylum. And then what? He'd be put in some crazy dormitory/housing for asylum seekers on the outskirts of some city, where his movement would be regulated under the so-called Residenzpflicht (manditory residence, i.e. not allowed to leave that place or work or take language classes or do anything without express permission). And live on weird food stamp things until his case was decided.

Currently there's another movement (comprised of several different anti-racist/refugee/asylum seeker groups) in Germany who have been working for reform and engaging in civil disobedience by ignoring the Residenzpflicht. They expressly wish to work with native Germans, because...well...German/EU citizens are the ones with the political power, i.e. the ability to actually vote and change the laws.

So, long story short, if there would be one thing that I would add to the discussion, it would be to open up this point about asylum politics in Germany. Look at the people who are currently affected as well as potential other cases like Snowden's and join forces. I think it'd be pretty easy to do that.

And each cause would gain a shitload of extra supporters.

Power in numbers and whatnot.

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