Saturday, May 12, 2012

I accuse Tribunal 12

I came home on Saturday night (May 12th) very exhausted, hungry and sad after "attending" the so-called "We accuse Europe" meeting organised by Tribunal 12 at Kulturhuset in Stockholm. First, they or their partners posted a wrong programme schedule, which said that there would be a MANIFESTATION between 10-11:30 AM at Sergelstorg, but when my compatriots from the Ethiopian Refugees Association and I arrived at the scene, it was, to our dismay, completely empty, except for the huge screen on which a live-stream about the event was being broadcasted. By the way, I heard the same disappointments from many participants of the meeting and onlookers, who were deceived by this huge PR stunt, but found it to be not at all close to their expectations on the ground.   
We waited until 11 o'clock and then we decided to ask the person who e-mailed me that we are welcome to the event, but she was nowhere to be seen. No one could tell us why; it was so disorganised that we had to sit for nearly four hours before somebody explained to us that the protest would actually be held at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. And after a while, we watched people enter showing tickets, and we were wondering whether one had to pay in order to attend a meeting? So, I went there and asked the women who was standing at the entrance, and they told me yes. I asked how much the fee was, and they said 100 Swedish kronor per session or 350 Swedish kronor per day. Hmm, we never heard people actually pay to attend a meeting; in our country it was the other way around . So, I told the receptionists that we're refugees and we don't have that kind of money. And one of the organisers told us
to wait until the tickets fixed; we waited and waited until the participants were leaving after the second session.
Then, the organisers came and told us that all the tickets were sold out and there's no free ticket for us. We sat outside the meeting hall while the wealthy continued chatting about our problems; isn't that amazing? Can you imagine how it feels to be a bystander and not to be able to hear what other people are saying about your "cause"? But we insisted to meet the person in charge, after we were informed by a Kenyan attendant that we were in fact that prohibited from entering the meeting because they were tipped off that we allegedly came there to "bully" a gay participant; we were awestruck! To make a long story short, thanks to relentless efforts of that Kenyan participant and others, I was allowed to go in at 3 o'clock in the afternoon after waiting for more than five hours, but my other compatriots went back feeling down and rejected. When I went inside, it was packed with people who had most probably never been refugees or had met any, with an exception of some of the jurors and some experts.

All the horrific accounts about refugees/asylum seekers in various EU countries including Sweden that were read by some ex-refugees/asylum seekers were so depressing and saddening; what's even more sad is that these problems will not be resolved any time soon. There's been so much ado in the social media and the press about this "I accuse Europe" event, and I was looking forward to this day, but what I found was way below my expectations. There was no manifestation, and the  real victims, whom the very attendants/organisers were claiming with the event was for, were excluded. In the end, the person who was in charge of our entry into the meeting came and apologized about the "inconvenience". Too little too late – the damage was already done. What a shame, our causes/problems/issues that we're supposed to discuss was being handled by people in suits and ties who live in their comfort zone, while we were sitting and watching them from the outside. What a bluff – how do you make an "ACCUSATION" in the absence of the real victims (refugees/asylum-seekers/undocumented migrants) and their abusers (EU immigration authorities/policy makers/politicians), is just beyond me. I must sleep now but I accuse the Tribunal for its disorganised/fancy/non-participatory event. (May 12/2012 at 11:45PM) 
Good Night    

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