Hagen Kopp (born 1960) has been active in social movements since the late 1970s, initially in the fields of anti-militarism and ecology, and since the late 1980s with a focus on anti-racism and migration. Since 1992, he has supported the daily struggle of refugees and migrants for their residence and social rights: with legal advice, in collective right to stay initiatives with those affected, and with demonstrations and campaigns against deportations.
In 1997, Hagen Kopp was one of the co-founders of the nationwide network "kein mensch ist illegal" (no one is illegal), which took an offensive stand against the criminalisation of "Sans papiers" (people without papers) with a much-noticed appeal. With "Stop Deportation Class", "kein mensch ist illegal" developed an equally creative and effective campaign from 1998 to 2001, which was directed against airlines involved in the deportation business. The success of this "image smear campaign" was so great that Lufthansa then announced that people would no longer be transported "against their recognizable will": a partial success that has since spared many refusing refugees deportation.
In the past 20 years, Hagen Kopp has also helped organise numerous "Nobordercamps": anti-racist action weeks that follow the respective hotspots of the European border regime. At the end of the 90s, the tents were first set up on the Oder and Neisse rivers, and in 2007 a Nobordercamp took place in western Ukraine. In the summer of 2009, a protest week followed on the Greek island of Lesbos, because this is where Frontex, the European border protection agency and symbol of the militarised and often deadly forward shift of migration control, operates.
On Lesbos, activists successfully protested with affected refugees for the dismantling of a detention camp, and out of this joint struggle emerged the Welcome to Europe network with a quadrilingual online platform offering contacts, information and support to migrants across Europe.
Against the backdrop of several thousand boat people who have lost their lives between Italy and North Africa in recent years, our movement worker has had a new focus since 2011. He regularly travels to Tunisia, establishes contacts with human rights groups there and was involved in setting up the transnational monitoring platform "Watch the Med" in 2013. From this research and conversations with survivors came the idea of the Alarm Phone, a hotline that can be reached around the clock by rotating shift teams for refugees and migrants in the boats and that does everything in real time to ensure that they are rescued as quickly as possible. Since its launch in autumn 2014, there has been contact and assistance to sea rescue for over 2500 boats in all regions of the Mediterranean. With now around 200 activists from many countries and in many languages, this project has developed into one of the most continuous and active transnational networks for the right to freedom of movement.
"Freedom of Movement" is the central demand of refugees and migrants from the global South. For Hagen Kopp, global freedom of movement is a legitimate right that is directed against the global exploitation gap and must be defended. For him, this demand is in the context of a comprehensive struggle for global social rights. Accordingly, he is also repeatedly involved in cross-thematic and cross-spectrum projects, such as in the Solidarity Cities network and currently in particular in the initiative "In welcher Gesellschaft wollen wir leben?" (What kind of society do we want to live in?).
In 2016, Hagen Kopp and his local group "Lampedusa in Hanau" participated in the establishment of "We`ll Come United". In 2017, this nationwide network of the anti-racist movement organised a large parade for the first time with around 10,000 participants in Berlin, and in 2018 even 30,000 people came together for the second parade in Hamburg. Never before had it been possible in Germany to bring such large manifestations for the struggle for freedom of movement together on the streets.
Some links to websites of initiatives Hagen Kopp is involved in:
Overview site with monthly newsletter on the anti-racist movement:
On transnational networks and campaigns:
On cross-issue initiatives: