no camp is illegal

"Traffick safety - the superior principle of every military driver". you can find this kind of advice written in big black letters on every barricade, to remind the former NVA (National People´s Army) soldiers who used to practise here, of their duties. At the movement, the site is occupied by colourful caravans, two donkeys are looking at each other, a few Hippies are about to light the campfire and the 'Volxkueche (People's kitchen) is preparing vegan food. Along the fence, which is the only green spot here, around 300 anarchists, anti-fascists, people from refugee initiatives, freaks, and anti-imperialist groups squash themselves into their tents. There's no space for an action camp, no space to build the necessary organisational structures in order to start the discussions on borders in peace and prepare different actions. In particular, there's no space for the other few hundred people that are expected to arrive in the next few days. It's no surprise that everyone wants to leave this place. We need a new site! Those who have already taken part in the last border camp near Rothenburg nostalgically remember the quiet, green field. But even then, the site for the camp was in dispute. It does not seem to matter where the "lefties" arrive near the borders in Saxony, nobody wants them.

But this year, it looked like the camp, which had been planned for quite some time now, would not take place at all. However, the difficulties for the organisers this time were not so much posed by the many threats by Nazi's against the camp members and anybody willing to lease them a site, but by the Landratsamt (regional administrative authorities), which denied them the 'special permission', to camp along the border area which is a designated 'nature reserve'. In Brandenburg, these 'special permissions' are given out regularly. And the importance that is attached to these nature reserves is reflected by the case of the Nuclear Power Station Brockdorf, which was built in one of these areas. No wonder then, that the organisers and their lawyer Ulrich von Klingengräff, suspect political motivations behind the sudden ecological concern of the local aothorities. The athmosphere in Lückendorf, the original site location, had been poisened weeks beforehand. The man who had originally leased the field, said that nobody in the village was greeting him anymore, at the Lückendorfer parade last week, nobody wanted to join him on his van. The 'National Sozialistische Partei Deutschland's' (German National Socialist Party)'distributed hundreds of leaflets in Lückendorf: "Loony Lefties are coming".

Despite the fact that the government and regional district authorities had known about the camp for months, and despite the fact that contracts had been signed with the local water works and other amenity firms, the authorities never sought a compromise with the organisers, Klingengräff complains. Contrary to past experience, nobody had mentioned any preconditions for ecological preservation or offered an alternative site. The legal steps of the lawyer remained inconsequential, as well as political intervention by MP's Marieluise Beck (Greens), responsible for aliens matters, and MP angela Marquardt.The search for an alternative site was also unsuccessful. The organisers appealed to everybody, dewspite the unclear situation, still to came to Lückendorf. The field was finally legally leased, and the permission to camp was supposed to be achieved through direct action. But the lease was withdrawn on short notice. Before the frustrated organisers got into their cars to drive from all over Germany to the camp, they withdrew the contracts for water, toilet and tent facilities.

When on Friday, around 100 activists tried to get onto the field, the police stopped them. The waiting then commenced on a nearby parking area. The organisers started negotiating with the district authorities, in the background, the Interior Ministry pulled the strings and several members of the 'Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus' (Democratic Socialist Party) attempted to reach a compromise. Finally, the head of the regional îrdnungsamt' (public order authority) offered the oganisers and altrnative site, teh fornaer NVA site south of the city. The short lived idea to occupy the site for tehh whole week was abondened on grounds of the circumstances mentioned above. On Sunday, teh camp, which by now had increased to around 500 participants, packed their belongings and moved to a different site, north of Zittau. Not exactly a pretty site, but enough space to set up the communal tents and start the camp. "We don´t want to waste our time with arguments with the authorities and police, at least not around site issues", one of teh organisers complained to Jungle World.

In fact, the discussions around teh site and teh move on Sunday delayed the start of teh Camp. An event planned by the "Beute" editorial committee already had to be cancelled. On Saturday, the demonstration at least, was used as a "Move" demonstration through the city to the Polish border. The civilians, already prepared for the event by local media coverage, sceptically watched teh demonstration from a safe distance. Camp members distributed a ´camp paper´ with background infomation on the border regime, teh Schengen Implementation Agreement and the local Nazi-scene. If this information will convince the citizen´s from Zittau however, is questionable. The concert, for exmaple, where several famous and semi-famous bands from Hamburg played in the central square under different names in order not to frighten off the local population, did not attracked the masses, to say teh least.

But who had expected that in the first place? And anyway: the relation to the local population is one of the most interesting questions of this camp. On one hand, its intention is to bring a bit of counter culture to the region. But for whom? Is teh local population a entral taget group for alternative information and education attempts or are they on ´the other side´anyway, as teh majority of them are racist and denounce refugees trying to cros the border to the BGS (Federal Border Police) ? If one refuses to "pick up" the population from where they come. If one has given up on the idea to reach anybody with a demonstration. But if on the other hand, one cannot leave regions like the district Zittau-Loebau to the Nazis, the racists and the BGS, what exactly is teh realtionship between the Left and the local population?

"We want to address those who think differently, who show solidarity with the refugees, or even are prepared to actively help refugees to cross teh border", this is how one of the organisers Maria Woelker explains the concept. Moreover, teh camp activists are especially concened with breaking the everyday racism and border terror the refugees have to face. If this concensus will survive until the end of the camp however, is to be seen. If teh spectrum of participants of last year was seen to be diverse: young east German anti-fascist groups, west German óld anarchists´/anti-imperialists and people involved in refugee work, this years membership has expanded in number and background: former ´Wohlfahrtsausschuesse (literally: welfare committees), anti-nationalists and especially dreadlocked caravan hippies should not have too many political commonalities. On Sunday, it had already become clear, that the hedonistic part of the participants, the lake in the Czech border region and the ´Szegediner Gulasch´ (eastern European traidtional meal) was seen as the main alternative to the Tofu People´s Kitchen.

How the camp will develop, can be followed online through the web newspaper, where a daily update is published by the Internet-Project

Ivo Bozic, Zittau, Vorabdruck aus der Jungle World vom Mittwoch

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