Archive | September, 2014


24 Sep


I have always had a soft spot for the Greens. Imagine me, in my last year in high school in 2000, going door to door in Texas and asking people to vote for Ralph Nader and the Green Party. (Yes, in Texas!) For those of you who are too young to remember, that didn’t turn out well. Around the same time, I was psyched that the Greens were in government and the photos of foreign minister Joschka Fischer that had just surfaced showing him attacking a policeman at a demonstration in 1973 gave them a certain edge.

In time, however, I learned that the Greens were in favor of things like the war on Afghanistan or the Hartz IV reforms, the biggest cuts in social services in Germany since 1945. Wasn’t this the kind of stuff the Green Party was founded to oppose?

So when I read Konrad’s piece yesterday, I was torn. Yes, the Greens had voted to make it easier to deport Roma and Sinti to Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. But does that make them “shape-shifting lizards”? Let’s ask them. Claudia Roth – the former party leader, and not exactly a left-wing radical – said to the Bayerischer Rundfunk that it was “not a good day for the Greens”. And as refugees were in front of the Bundesrat chanting for the Greens to “feel ashamed”, the leader of the Green Youth responded on Facebook that he was deeply ashamed.

Refugees occupied the Green Party headquarters in Mitte last Wednesday to demand they vote against the asylum law. The party co-chairperson Simone Peters said she “calculated” that the Greens in the Bundesrat would vote no. “Stop the bla bla’ said one of the refugees. And Peters’ “calculations” were just that. Sure, the Greens had put up election posters saying “I am a refugee”. They had specifically demanded a better treatment of Roma and Sinti in their election program. But Winfried Kretschmann, former Maoist and now Green head of Baden-Württemberg, decided to support the government anyways. Say what you want, but at least the CDU is honest enough to say they hate refugees.

This comes, of course, after the Greens in Kreuzberg evicted the protest camp at Oranienplatz, and then had thousands of police lock down a whole Kiez for a week in order to evict the school in the Ohlauer Straße, while allegedly using pepper-spray countless school students in the process. In Hamburg, the SPD’s anti-refugee policies led to a massive FCK SPD campaign, with thousands of RUN DMC-style t-shirts worn all over the city. Now a FCK GRN campaign for Kreuzberg has popped up.

So what to do? Well the Green’s competition doesn’t look much better, with the Pirates collapsing before our eyes and many prominent members like Anke Domscheit-Berg and Anna Helm resigning over the weekend. All I can think of is to keep supporting the refugees’ protests. After George Bush’s election in 2000, lots of people said “Fuck the Greens”, accusing Nader of spoiling the election and giving it to Georg W. Bush. Now I’m going to join them and get myself a FCK GRN shirt.

Comedian Marc-Uwe Kling once said the Greens are like bananas: “Today green, tomorrow yellow, the day after black.” Yellow, of course, stands for the neoliberal FDP. And black represents the conservatives. I worry the Greens are turning into brown mush.



Performance: Tying the knot

16 Sep


Oder: Ein familienrechtlicher Verwaltungsvorgang nach BGB §1297-1588, durch den ein Mensch ohne die Staatsbürgerschaft der Bundesrepublik Deutschland bestimmte aufenthaltsrechtliche und steuerliche Vorteile erlangen kann.

the adventure of getting married in Berlin
a performance in Englisch and German
with high-tech audiovisual effects
by journalist John Riceburg

Wednesday, October 8, 20:00
at Laika, Emser Str. 131
S+U Neukölln, S+U Hermannstr.
free, but suggested donation: 5€

I don’t have a womb and even I’m pissed off!

10 Sep


It was a dark winter afternoon in Berlin. A Sunday. A Spanish exchange student and I were wandering through Prenzlauer Berg, from one gynecologist’s office to the next, trying to get the morning-after pill, and it wasn’t going well. In Germany, you can’t get the pill without a prescription, but most doctors’ offices are closed on Sunday.

Our experience was not unique. A friend went to a hospital on a Sunday and waited 90 minutes before giving up and going to the doctor the next day. Another friend broke down in tears at the pharmacy – and the pharmacist eventually gave her the pill without a Rezept.

Why should anyone have to go through this? The pill is more effective the sooner it’s taken. And Germany’s Bundesamt für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte (BfArM) has declared the medication safe as far back as 2003. So is there any medical reason it shouldn’t be available over-the-counter?

No. There is only a cabal of (mostly male) conservative politicians who are demanding these medically unnecessary trips to the doctor. Their thinking seems to be that if a woman wants a normal sex life (which will inevitably include an occasional emergency), she should be subject to degradation.

This is only one example of the fact that reproductive rights in Germany are not as far developed as you might think. The infamous Paragraf 218 of the criminal code – which millions of people protested against in the 1970s – still penalises abortion with a jail term of up to three years. But the procedure is decriminalised in certain cases, such as if a woman is raped, if her health is in danger, or if, within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, she goes to a state-sponsored consultation and then waits for three days. “Advertising for the termination of a pregnancy” is also prohibited – with up to two years in jail – making it difficult for providers to offer information on the internet.

Even rape is, in modern Germany, not technically illegal. It is criminal to have sex with someone using force or violence or the threat of force or violence. But having sex with someone against her (or in much rarer cases, his) will is not by itself a crime. This means that judges look at how a victim physically defended herself – one court in Essen decided that since a 15-year-old girl didn’t scratch or scream, the rapist hadn’t committed a crime.

Next Saturday at the Brandenburg Gate, fundamentalist Christian, anti-choice demonstrators – so-called Lebensschützer or “protectors of life” aka 1000 Kreuze – are marching against the severely limited right to abortion. But this isn’t just a lunatic fringe, either. Thousands of people attend the march every year, which gets greetings from CDU politicians and Catholic bishops. Catholic bishops that are paid from your tax money – whether you’re Catholic or not.

Now, I don’t mind if these celibate men don’t want the morning-after pill for themselves. But they have no right to order their tax-funded hospitals to deny a safe, reliable medication to the victim of a sexual assault.

I’ll be going to be out on the street next Saturday, together with the Bündnis für sexuelle Selbstbestimmung, to protest for a woman’s right to choose. That’s a much better way to spend the day than trying to find an open gynecologist’s office.

Protest: Saturday, September 20, 1pm, Platz des 18. März