A Short Description of Our Network
Afrique-Europe-Interact is a small transnational network, which was founded in October 2009. Its members are activists from Mali, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. And anyone else who’s interested is welcome to join!
At the moment ca. 40 groups from Mali are part of our network. Most of them provide practical support for deported persons; several groups were founded by people who had been deported themselves. Apart from providing direct help, many of the groups focus on development policies in their everyday work, since one of their main goals is to help deported people to develop new means of existence. However, it should also be mentioned that some activists concentrate on other issues. For example, the MSV (Mouvement des Sans Voix, Movement of the Voiceless) cooperates with victims of forced evictions, and so does the Union des Déguerpis des Terres au Mali. Afrique-Europe-Interact’s partner in Mali and all of Africa is the AME (Association Malienne des Expulses, Association of Deported People of Mali), without which our network would not even exist. The AME, which is supported by, among others, medico international, is a grassroots organisation with three main fields of operation: firstly, social, legal and medical support for deported people, not least in connection with their (involuntary) return to Mali; secondly, political work against the anti-migration regime of the EU; thirdly, the promotion of self-determined development in Mali and Africa, e.g. perspectives for organic farming.
The participating German groups are mainly anti-racist grassroots initiatives and self-organised refugee groups. Amongst them are the Caravan for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants, The Voice Refugee Forum, the Initiative in Gedenken an Oury Jalloh, NoLager Bremen, kein mensch ist illegal Hanau (No One Is Illegal Hanau), the anti-racist group Antirassistisches Plenum Blankenburg-Oldenburg and the refugees' organisation Fluechtlingsrat Hamburg. Many activists have met during earlier campaigns, especially actions of the NoLager-Netzwerk (2002-2007) and the anti-racist mobilisation for the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany (2007). Their political work concentrates on the fight against various forms of social and legal exclusion of refugees and people without papers, such as deportation, detainment in camps, racist police violence or exploitation on the labour market. Some of the participants are also involved in political networks concentrating on agriculture, climate and crisis help.
Last but not least: apart from Mali and Germany, there are also groups from Austria and the Netherlands in Afrique-Europe-Interact. One of them is the European civilians’ forum Europaeisches BuergerInnenforum from Vienna, which plays an important part in the solidarity campaign for the Andalusean trade union of farm workers Sindicato de Obrer@s del Campo (SOC); another is the anti-racist organisation all included from Amsterdam.
Afrique-Europe-Interact has several political goals. First of all we aim to strengthen the civil, political and social rights of refugees and migrants – especially the global right of movement and settlement. This does not only refer to creating and developing transnational campaigns, that is campaigns with roots in Africa as well as Europe, e.g. against the EU border protection agency Frontex, against repatriation agreements or illegal deportations (no matter where from and where to). No, it also refers to informing people in Africa about the concrete situation of refugees and people without papers in Europe. One reason is to help people who plan to emigrate to make better and more realistic preparations (‘empowerment’). The other is to reduce prejudices against those who are deported to Africa and stigmatised as ‘failures’ by their families and their social environment.
The right to leave is only one side of the coin. What is equally important is the right to stay: to live securely, with dignity and autonomously in one’s country of origin. In this context Afrique-Europe-Interact also cooperates with grassroots initiatives and social movements against the neo-colonial exploitation and subjection of Africa that connect their activism to concrete demands and projects. For example, they fight enforced market openings and privatisations (such as the Economic Partnership Agreements or EPAs launched by the EU); the catastrophic impacts of climate change on Africa; the agricultural policies of the US and EU; or the current sell-out of African land to western companies, government investment funds or transnational banks (so-called ‘landgrabbing’).
Be it migration, agriculture or climate – the basic goal of Afrique-Europe-Interact is to create transnational networks between social grassroots movements in Africa and Europe using a long-term strategy. The reason is our conviction that the levels of dominance and exploitation between the poor and the rich areas of the world, which are based on historical developments, can only be fundamentally changed in one way: through social movements (or, to put it more generally, civil actors) cooperating on a large scale, acting equally, dependably and directly. We find it especially important to develop analyses, strategies and visions together. Now it is more urgent than ever – not only for social, but also for ecological reasons – to comprehensively re-define what makes a good life and, therefore, what are desirable social developments. This is true for the northern hemisphere as well as the southern.
Afrique-Europe-Interact did not turn up from out of the blue. We see our place within all the forms of cooperation of grassroots activists in Africa and Europe that have developed over the past years. One of our main influences probably was the ‘Call of Bamako for Respect and Dignity for all Migrants’, which was issued during the polycentric World Social Forum in Bamako, Mali in 2006. This text brought forth numerous activities that are still going on today (see the article ‘Solidarische Netzwerke – Bewegungen an den euro-afrikanischen Grenzen’ (Solidaric Networks – Movements at the Euro-African Borders) by Conni Gunsser). As early as Summer 2006 there was an ‘anti-conference’ in Rabat, Morocco, which was a protest against the first Euro-African summit. Its participants were a good 150 activists from numerous grassroots initiatives and NGOs – mainly from north and sub-Saharan Africa but also from Europe. Amongst other events, the foundation of transnational migration network ‘manifeste euro-africain’ was agreed during this conference. In 2007 the groups' activities together continued not only during the G8 summit in Heiligendamm but also in Oujda during an action conference about the violations of human rights at the borders – a conference organised by Moroccan grassroots initiatives. In 2008 African and European groups joined up to create a transnational action chain with the motto ‘Against the Border Regime: Transnationalisation Now!’ The ‘Call of Bamako’ was created in the same context. There were also shared and coordinated actions against the second Euro-African summit in several African countries as well as Paris. From our point of view, one of the reasons that event was important is that it was when the first steps towards the foundation of our network were taken.
As we have mentioned before, Afrique-Europe-Interact benefits from long-term efforts of other transnational networks like De Ponts Pas Des Mures (Bridges Not Walls), Manifeste Euro-Africain, Migreurop or NoVox International, to mention but a few. Afrique-Europe-Interact is therefore highly interested in trustful cooperation with these groups and other networks, grassroots initiatives and organisations.