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Trailer from ‘Sans Papiers’
The video is not longer available for online exhibition.
in collaboration with David Rych
Video-documentary/ DVcam, 14 min / Video-installation
TANJA OSTOJIĆ | SANS PAPIERS
SEPTEMBER 1–OCTOBER 5, 2014
One of the most problematic issues in the EU today is the “Fortress of Europe,” enforced by a body of restrictive asylum laws. EU state governments do everything they can in order to give as little asylum as possible. Refugees are deported and removed, pushed over EU borders to fend for themselves.
The video Sans Papiers portrays “illegalized” people, interned in one of the major deportation jails in Germany, Berlin-Köpenick. Interviews with prisoners give testimony to the differences in between those defined as being Sans Papiers, shedding light on their conditions and treatment while caught in circular bureaucratic structures of control.
A mere five percent of those imprisoned receive status as “political refugees.” Some 45 percent remain in Germany in limbo, without any rights accorded to them. The rest are deported – continually. Germany alone expels around 30,000 people annually, this statistic sourced from the Initiative against Deportation in Berlin and on the basis of research by students of Theory of Law at the University of Leipzig.
Most rejected asylum seekers cannot be expelled, due to civil wars raging in their home countries or complicated cases of “non-confirmed” identity. They are however still imprisoned for one to six months, with a maximum of eighteen months, all while being billed for their stay – an average of €65 per day. I received this information from a number of talks with activists, as well as a number of resources received as part of the Initiative against Deportation, and press clippings and research conducted by doctoral students of Prof. Dr. Klaus Gerd Giesen, at Theory of Law, University of Leipzig.
Upon release, the absolute majority of migrants are without resources or work permits, forced into the black labour market in order to pay off their debts, targeted for more stringent police tactics. Yes, they are tolerated by the German authorities for a while, but like a spring-cleaning of its own prisons prompted by fear and anger, the occasion demands a seasonal sweep. Being “illegalised,” the asylum seekers find themselves imprisoned yet again.
1) This text is an excerpt from Tanja Ostojić’s essay “Crossing Borders: Development of Different Artistic Strategies,” printed in Integration Impossible? The Politics of Migration in the Artwork of Tanja Ostojić, M. Gržinić and T. Ostojić eds., argobooks, Berlin 2009.
2) Initiative against Deportation: www.ari-berlin.org/doku/PE_english_14.pdf
3) Global Norms in the Twenty-First Century, Klaus-Gerd Giesen, Kees van der Pijl, eds., Cambridge Scholars Press, Cambridge, UK, 2006.