Rex Osa

Nobody should have to flee – but everybody should have the right to migrate. The movement worker Rex Osa (born 1973) wants to fight the root causes of migration in the countries of origin as well as in Germany and wants to point out connections to economic and political structures.

Because he was politically persecuted in Nigeria, Rex Osa took flight to Germany in 2005 and applied for political asylum. As an asylum seeker however, he was met with suspicion and rejection instead of protection; and he was threatened with deportation. He perceived the hearing at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees as a police interrogation. The official in charge did not listen to him but confronted him with accusations. Decisions were procrastinated unnecessarily and the Regional Council Tübingen refused his lawyer to inspect the files. The Administrative Court held a two hours trial completely without protocol. This had nothing to do with a fair court case. “Asylum seekers have gotten into a machinery of control and discrimination”, explains Rex Osa.

Instead of accepting the role assigned to him, he broke the silence and searched for political contacts. That’s how in 2007 he got in touch with the refugee’s self-organization „The Voice“.

He was involved in the investigations around the death of Oury Jalloh, who was burned in police custody in 2005. From 2009 to 2010, Rex took part in a campaign for closing down the refugee centre Katzhütte, where the inhabitants faced intolerable hygienic conditions. „The exchange with the other activists gave me a lot of motivation“, said Rex Osa when looking back. I realized that it is the affected people themselves who have to fight for their rights.”

Therefore Rex Osa contributed considerably in the „Break Isolation“ Campaign which he initiated together with „The Voice“ from 2010 on. The aim was to make conditions in refugee centres better known to a wider public. Rex raised awareness for the issue among other refugees living in centres; he organized, e.g., barbecue evenings together with them to which they invited refugees living in other camps to overcome the barrier between „those inside“ and „those outside“. The campaign contributed not only to the Empowerment of refugees, but made clear within the refugee community as well as within solidarity groups of the antiracist movement how important it is for refugees to self-organize, who can tell their story better and fight much better for their rights than a third party could do.

The campaign succeed in many cases to break down the barriers between inhabitants in different refugee centres; also friendships between people from the neighbourhood and asylum seekers developed that have lasted until today.
Since the beginning of the campaign, Rex has been raising awareness for the everyday reality of refugees in homes; and he pointed out frequently that migrant self organization has to be in the centre of the fight for refugee rights.

Moreover, Rex was part of the European wide anti-deportation network that made public the collective deportation practice with Frontex as a leading agency. He is still organizing anti-deportation workshops .in which migrants are informed about how they can offer resistance against deportation as an individual but also as a group.

Among his experience with deportations in Germany belongs a practice that Rex Osa has been criticizing especially ardently for many years. With the campaign “Refugee Country embassy deportation collaboration” he offers resistance against so called Forced Embassy Hearings. This means that migrants who do not show any proof of identity are taken by the police without their consent and by force to an African embassy. There employees identify them according to facial features, skin colour or accent – or not. According to Rex, the Nigerian embassy again and again issues Nigerian passports which are the basis for a deportation to Nigeria. This is based on a readmission agreement between Germany and Nigeria that many media already reported on.

Now Rex Osa wants to make the exchange between other migrants and refugee activists possible in a larger framework. In the spring of 2014 he took the plane to West-Africa to connect with a network of people who were deported after their flight to Europe. The network wants to connect deported refugees in West-Africa and the refugee movement in Europe. One benefit of the network is that the deported can share their individual deportation experience. Not to scare the others, but in order to help them have realistic expectations, and to adjust their hopes to the actual conditions. Rex is still looking for fellow travellers for a second journey and motivated people who are interested in contributing to building this network.

Moreover, Rex Osa is planning a campaign about root causes of migration. Therefore he is presently mobilizing more migrants for a refugee tour to point out political and economic players whose activities are in several respects responsible for the flight of many people from their countries of origins. Rex Osa wants to organize the tour to weapon factories who export arms and thus  make it possible that wars can be led and continued. Further actions are planned against large multinational corporations such as Monsanto, which see agriculture as an industry and take away small farmer’s livelihoods.

Rex Osa has represented the German refugee movement on several international events. In 2012 he was on the International Tribunal in Manila, where human rights violations of several UN-states against migrants were criticized; and which addressed the representatives of the UN-Committee Global Forum for Migration and Development that took place at the same time. Rex took also part in the world social forum Migration in Manila 2012, and in the World Social Forum in Tunesia in 2013. He represented the rights of refugees at the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees in New York in 2013, in the World Social Forum Migration in South Africa 2014 and on many other events of the refugee movement in Europe and world-wide.

Even if he is not threatened any more with deportation himself, this does not change anything about his commitment. “The fact that I am still here in Germany and that I am allowed to stay here, was only possible because I resisted against the fake buerocracy and because I have been standing up against deportations for a long time. Many refugees do not have the courage to offer resistance against state repression, but this has to change.

Therefore he says today:

„I see it as my duty to help those who cannot resist, and to fight against injustice and exclusion. Rex knows frustrations and disappointments. But he sees also signs of change to which he contributed himself. He motivates more and more refugees to make the topic public.“ The Credo of my work is: “We cannot change the world in one day. Therefore I appreciate every little step and I do my best, myself. “

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