After it was their turn on the queue , a security which was carrying a walky-talky on his shirt’s pocket told them “ you, you, you and you are going home now”. But Hüsnü was insisting on asking “ but why?” But his questions did not work. Security officer was explaining the rules of the city; “ there are women inside, there are bags and valuable belongings of the guests”. Hüsnü and his friends had returned to the beginning of the street with the feeling of exclusion.
When Olcay had heard the invitation on the phone, he felt excited because he thought that its a preparation for a demonstration. When the meeting time had came , Olcay faced the difficulty about finding Hüsnü’ house. Because of experiencing torture and the prison he was in, he was always bad about finding addresses. But Hüsnü came and took him in front of the wrong building he was waiting for. They went to the top floor from the stairs of the apartment which has no elevator.
There were some food like peppers, potatoes on a untidy table in the kitchen. Hüsnü was preparing for cooking. Olcay started to cut the foods of which Hüsnü had showed him to do so. Hüsnü was self-confident as always and he was telling that he will cook a delicious meal from his hometown. Hüsnü has an athletic body and he was talking with the friends he invited while he was putting cooking pots on the oven. Selma , Ferit and Mehmet was sending photos and laughing each other. Hüsnü was sometimes making comments by looking at the pictures. Hüsnü was criticizing them ;“ All of you have cell phones that worth at least 1000€ but you can not find any money for other things.” mehmet was putting his cell phone under the hot water and trying to tell the other how good his cell phone is.
After a long preparation, the meals were finally ready. They were making comments about the meals while eating them. The potatoes did not cook well. Hüsnü said that it had been Ferit’s fault. He was telling how could his mom cook that meal. He was telling with missing about the wine that he had been making with his brother in their garden. His eyes was lighted up and it was understood how he hanker about his hometown.
Selma, who comparably was younger than others had left, althought she was here during preparations. It was not good to be late to the refugee camp she was living. The strict control system of their camp was restricting their lives. They always had to live within those boundaries of control system.
Klad was the last person that came for the dinner and he had brought a Portugal wine with him. Hüsnü and Olcay became first people that had tasted the wine. The others were not sure about tasting it. A funny talk started about the terms of “Halal” and “Haram”. there were always restrictions for the poor. The rules that decide what to do and what not to do; all were decided by traditions, religions and systems. They all had decided to go beyond those boundaries little bit this evening. There were New Year preparations in all parts of the city. The other parts of the society were making preparations of holiday and entertainment. But they were far behind of this idea of including this atmosphere.
Hüsnü; “ lets do something different tonight, like going to the night club”. Olcay was an older refugee compare to the others and he knew the life in the city better than others. Because he had some experiences. One time his roommate from refugee camp in Hannover asked him to go to disco together. The security guy at the entrance didn’t want to let his black friend in. Security guy told Olcay that “ You can go inside but this black guy can not”. After facing that kind of conversation they had to turn back to refugee camp in a sad and disappointed mood. That night Olcay’s roommate could not sleep because of this bad feeling. Whereas this guy could dance very well. But would he act the same to the Europeans which comes to Africa? He told till morning about how they threat the guests, how hospitable African people are… And he couldn’t understand this exclusion in European cities.
In the city which Olcay and his roommate lived, refugees used to meet at the corner of main train station. When you see one of the refugee camps in a city, its enough to go one corner of that main stations. They come together at those places to find someone to talk and share problems because it was not easy for them to enter into the society. Not being able to included into the public places is not only because of the language. Skin color and public status were determinants of this issue. Olcay had written a poem named “ From the Exterior” about this topic. Olcay was glad to be with the oppressed class like himself. He always liked to observe those environments. He always preferred and continued to live in refugee camps instead of living at a flat after he had applied to refugee process. By this way, he could reorganize strong resistance against to these inhuman treatments.
Although Olcay tried to explain those experiences to his friends which are pretty new for being refugees, he had promoted Hüsnü’s insistence about doing something different tonight and by this way the night had started.
Firstly they went to a cafe which is known as “alternative” but they couldn’t find an empty table when they went inside. Than they saw a table near a group of people but there were no chairs. At this point Hüsnü’s initiative stepped in. He asked a woman from the group with his good German “ Kann ich der Tisch haben? (Can I get the table?)”. The woman told him that he had stated the sentence wrong and corrected him ; “ You must say “ Kann ich den Tisch haben?” He couldn’t have used “artikel” in the sentence correctly. He replied the woman in German “ Okey , I got it! You did sure understand what I mean! Thanks for correcting me though!” and took the table with his strong arms and placed it in front of his friends. He found and brought a couple of chairs too. They started to discuss “Artikels” in German after they sat down. They talked about that even some Germans can not use the “Artikels” correctly.
Klad had came to Germany over another European country. He was working as a constructor and sometimes he let the refugees to work with him which have no working permission. They started to talk about the resistance of workers in Köln in 1973. It was known as Resistance of Ford Factory which was declared as a “Terrorist Strike” by German government and German media. At least 12 thousand workers did strike here and most of those workers were from Turkey. IG Metal Union and German workers did physical attacks with German police and as a result, a communist worker from Turkey who leaded the strikes had been deported. After the chat, Klad said that he had to go home. Then he said goodbye to everyone and left.
The refugees were again sitting as groups in Alternative Cafe. No one was sitting at the same table with the locals, that was spontaneous situation. People were chatting and laughing each other in other tables. Hüsnü and friends had played table soccer in the cafe. Again the players were only refugees. They were always separated in every place they get in. After some time they got bored and decided to go to the bars in city center, due to Hüsnü’s plan.
First attempt to enter the first bar had became unsuccessful. They pied at the corner after they left the queue. There were no toilets around. Moreover they did this to protest the rejection from the bar. Then Hüsnü said “ we will definitely enter the second bar, I’ll try a different tactic.” While walking on the street desperately, Hüsnü asked a couple of women to help them; “We want to enter the club but they don’t let us in. Can you come with us as our friends into the bar? Then you can go if you want” but he had been rejected every time ; “No!”
There was a big yard before the main entrance of the second bar and the this yard was covered with gratings. You have to pass through a barred door to reach the queue in front of the main entrance. So Hüsnü and his friends did that and started to walk through the queue. At this time two security came and stopped them. One of the securities was talking Chechenian, the other was talking Arabic and little bit German. Both of them had long beards and were weareing the jackets that are special to securities. One of them was translating was Hüsnü was saying for the other. One of the securities was telling Hüsnü why they can not go inside. Hüsnü was correcting the German sentences of the security; “ Varum oder vuğum?”. He was trying to tell that he is speaking better German than those two securities, that he is a pretty normal person and he was asking why he has no permission to enter the bar. “ You guys are not German either, you are immigrants too; why don’t you let us in?” The securities were foreigners and they were not letting the foreigners to get in. That was a big paradox! If you were working at a job and you make your boss make more money, your color and your language skills were not very important. But it was a huge problem when you try to enter a club! The discussion between Hüsnü and friends and securities lasted long. Finally the securities said; “we will have to call the police if you don’t leave here now!” The second attempt to enter the bar was also not successful. The attitude for refugees and immigrants had became stricter because of the events that happened last year in Köln and truck event that happened this year in Berlin.
Hüsnü was thinking that they were rejected two times because of wrong tactics. He was thinking that they were rejected because they were not speaking good German except him. Then he told that he will try alone to enter the bar this time. Olcay said “ Okey then if you think so, we are waiting for you at the corner.” Hüsnü started to walk confidently through the entrance of another bar. There was civilian security at the entrance. Security said “ Personal Ausweis bitte! (Personal ID please!)” Hüsnü put his hand to his pocket and gave the blue-green ID card (which is only for refugees) to the security. Security gave the card to Hüsnü back and said “ we don’t get the people inside who has this type of ID.” Hüsnü was no longer calm and he became really mad; “ I’m speaking good German, I’m from Berlin, I was born in Berlin, why don’t you let me in! What’s the difference between me and those people!”… he was rioting this debauchery and unfair treatments. Unfortunately, third attempt to enter the night club was unsuccessful too.
Four friends were walking in the street, between people but alone. Olcay had known already that it would end like that but again he didn’t want to prevent his friends. He was thinking that learning with experiences is a more effective method than others. He had tried this method before to organize the working class too. He took the workers to the places in luxury and tried to show them the huge division between workers and riches and told them the reasons of this division while letting them to observe and feel it.
After unsuccessful attempts of going to the night club, they decided to turn back. Olcay was telling his frieds “ Look! We are refugees , we have tried and saw that we don’t have the same rights with others” all the way long. Speaking the language in a good level was not enough, this racism and inequality have had deeper roots. Olcay was telling his friends his resistance experiences. He told about their 600 km long freedom walk to Berlin. They had done this walk because of prohibition of free movement, closure of refugee camps and deportation of refugees. They had teared the IDs up and posted to Foreigners Section , the same ID which Hüsnü had showed the security guy at the entrance. This protests lasted long years. But the protesters had broken the isolation of the refugee camps, they built up tents at the areas they had occupied and tried a communal lifestyle. Occupation of the parliament, occupation of political party buildings, occupation of houses, roofs… And they had organized successful Europe-wide protests against to the borders.
Olcay; “ Yes dear Hüsnü, without resistance we can not gain our freedoms. Having a good language skill is not enough as you see. All the rights that had been gained in the history were the results of long and hard resistances. Dominant class do not give you freedom, rights and freedoms can be achieved with struggle.” was trying to explain his friends.
Four friends got on the metro to go to the cafe where they were at the beginning. A woman who was sitting next to Hüsnü, started to take photos inside the train. Hüsnü said her “ You don’t have rights to take photos without permission.” And the woman said “ Everybody is free, I can do whatever I want”. Then Hüsnü said “ okey then , I will take pictures of you!”. The woman said “ No! You can’t!” Hüsnü got really angry. Some people have right to do everything, some people can not. What kind of a system was that! Hüsnü argued with this woman loudly and for a long time. Other people in the metro watched this discussion with shocked eyes and no one promoted Hüsnü’s riot against to this injustice. Everybody was responsible from themselves. Big majority of the society was not saying anything against to an unfair treatment when it is not harming them.
After this experience, Mehmet and Ferit understood that its not possible to include into German society with wearing like them, with modern hairstyles and with smart phones that worth thousand euros. On the way, they spoke about “wir sind penahende”, we are refugees and that’s why we were not accepted. They see us different.” Refugees Welcome; they’ve heard that several times but in real life it had no meaning. They have learned that with experiencing.
People were visiting their parents or relatives, organizing parties, going to holiday in Christmas Eve. But refugees didn’t have those chances. Instead they were meeting each other at home, chatting and cooking traditional foods. That was their way of celebrating Christmas. Actually Hüsnü and his frieds were kind of lucky. There were a lot of refugees that are living in refugee camps in forests, far away from society and social life and they didn’t have chance to communicate with people. Even communicating with people had been achieved with resistance. Hüsnü and his friends were able to visit some cafes and that had been achieved by resistance. Some cafes were organizing solidarity meetings with refugees.
Sometimes, Hüsnü and his friends are meeting in a cafe , drinking tee, cooking traditional foods from different cultures, organizing film shows and seminars. They are trying to share the resistance experiences with new refugees with publishing a newspaper in different languages.
The next day, they again met at a friend’s house and cooked food, watched theaters and listened to musics that are made about the problems of migrants and refugees. But Ferit was not happy today. They have learned that Ferit got a letter yesterday and deportation judgment is made about him. They suddenly put their heads together and started to think while they were consoling Ferit. Finally they set an appointment to a lawyer in order challenge the decision of deportation. They translated the letter for Ferit. They had stopped several deportations with resistance and struggle. Moreover, Klad told them that they had prevented a deportation with occupying the airplane. Ferit was now more hopeful. It must be resisted against to injustice. Isolation, outsiderdom, inequality could only be prevented like that. Refugees didn’t come to Europe with pleasure. The reasons of continuing war and suffer in their geographies were those dominant powers.
As the meetings continued, the content of their conversations started to be more politic. The words “ war, exploitation, capitalism” started to be heard more then before even in their jokes.
(Translate: Özcan Candemir)
TURGAY ULU – BERLIN