Artist: Themba Mhbele|
Confronting Bodies: German embassy in South Africa and "authorities in Cologne"
Date of Action: 13th to 16th of October 2004
Specific Location: Mehringhof in Berlin
Description of Artwork: Congress for freedom of movement and against the criminalization of refugees and migrants
Themba Mhbele, General Secretary of the South African Anti-Privatization Forum (APF), denied visa to participate in the 10th anniversary congress and celebration of The Voice Refugee Forum. German Embassy in Johannesburg says the order came from authorities in Cologne.
Themba Mhbele had been invited by the Refugee Council of Hamburg to participate in the celebratory activities of The Voice Refugee Forum. According to the Refugee Council and confirmed by the German Embassy in Johannesburg, all necessary travel documents needed to issue a visa had been presented to the Embassy. When asked about the decision, the German authorities in South Africa refused to justify their decision.
The Anti-Privatization Forum is the largest and most well organized social movement in Africa. The movement is the result of the struggles of different grassroots organizations, which brought down the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Many of their members have faced repression and even death in their campaigns against the privatization of public services and the evictions of people from their houses in the townships.
"This is part of the colonial heritage. What historic irony; refugees are attempting to break the isolation of foreigners in Germany and to show that the people can stand up for their rights no matter what the conditions. With this aim, we invite the General Secretary of the largest African social movement to speak with refugees and migrants about the experiences of struggle against Apartheid and then the German government makes the decision to deny Mr. Mhbele his visa," said Osaren Igbinoba, founding member of The Voice Refugee Forum.
"This is obviously a political decision that is not only a direct attack against our congress, but also against Mr. Mbhele and the Anti-Privatization Forum.
From the 13th to 16th of October, the refugee self-organization The Voice Refugee Forum is organizing a congress for freedom of movement and against the criminalization of refugees and migrants. Other events are to be held in Bremen, Hamburg, Bielefeld, Munich and Frankfurt.
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