Reading Azadi (in German – ,,Asadi“) now. For those who are not aware, this is a magazine published in Rendsburg, Germany.
It has been created for the communication of migrants with one another and also with the community they live in now. Azadi is an Iranic word meaning freedom.
I am sure that people I was lucky to get to know in Germany fully understand now what freedom really means after all they have come through. But let me brief you on the subject before I start sharing my experience. I had the opportunity to participate in German-Ukrainian Youth Media Workshop “Minorities in Mass-media and Media of Minorities”. It was organised by the Association for Cultural Education of Children and Youth Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany in cooperation with the Youth Centre of Social Innovations and the Karaite Religious Community, Kharkiv, Ukraine. The Workshop was in the form of exchange, namely first the group from Ukraine came to Germany, and in several weeks the German group visited Ukraine. The groups contained majorities, minorities, migrants and refugees of both countries.
The exchange changed my outlook on certain issues. For instance, previously I had little contact with Muslims, especially with the citizens of Arab states. And when I heard about some terrorist attacks which were usually accompanied by a statement that “some Islamic organization is to blame”, I thought how cruel and dangerous those Arabic peoples were. However, now I am supremely confident I was mistaken thinking like that. Within the framework of our Workshop we had a lot of discussions dedicated to the issue of terrorism, and I still keep in mind, what Ramez Sarwary, a 25-year-old lawyer from Kabul, Afghanistan, said: “Why, if an offence was committed by a citizen of Germany, for example, would it be said that some Hans Gruber committed it, not a German? And, on the contrary, if this offence was committed by a Muslim, why don’t they say that for example Ramez Sarwary did that? Give the name! But no, they say: A Muslim committed the offence!” While listening to Ramez I understood how much such general conclusions hurt them, ordinary people, who simply wanted to have peace in their countries and who would never commit any offence… Later I had a talk with Ramez and he told me that when he was in Kabul he every day said ‘Good bye’ to his family as if it was the last time they saw each other…
I guess the communication with refugees left its
stamp on me and was really important because in Ukraine there is also a war conflict nowadays. And it was necessary to exchange the viewpoints and the attitudes towards the problem especially
living in the time of hybrid wars. Mass-media usually play a crucial part in such conflicts, so it is quite obvious that unbiased journalists are at hazard. And another story that I can’t forget
concerns this matter. His name is Hamid Ariarman. He is a 30-year-old journalist from Herat, Afghanistan. It has been almost a year since Hamid came to Rendsburg. In Afghanistan he worked in a
newspaper and on TV, he was also teaching media and law at the university. As he was fighting for the freedom of speech and women’s rights, and furthermore he was writing about political issues,
threats to kill him began to appear from Taliban. He had to leave Afghanistan. Before he reached Germany there were Iran, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria. At home Hamid had
family, high social status and prestigious job, he earned good money, whereas in Germany he receives his 350 Euro of social help and has a feeling of being a second-class citizen. As well as
other refugees, Hamid hopes to return to his Homeland, but he doesn’t sit still in Germany: he learns German, wants to continue studying and working as a journalist, and meanwhile he is editing
,,Asadi“. Such examples inspire!
Another journalist, a Syrian Mohammad Nassar received a shell splinter wound in his hand, and had to take treatment in Turkey, where he was said to go to Germany as only there he would be able to have his hand cured. His journey also wasn’t easy. It was via many countries and contained a lot of obstacles. But now, living in Rendsburg, Mohammad continues working as a journalist and hopes to return to Syria as well as Maths teacher Ali Kinny and a banker Mazen Dukhan. At the same time they are studying German actively in order to find god jobs according to their professions. Mazen lives in Rendsburg with his wife and three little children. Surely not without sadness Mazen was telling me how many stages he must overcome to work in a bank in Germany. However, what I was paying attention to while communicating with the guys was the fact that they were not in despair, but on the contrary they were studying with diligence and were engaged in the life of their new communities. They are certainly not drones who mooch on Germany, as some people consider them to be, unfortunately.
… Organizing the coming of the German group to Kharkiv, I faced people who disapproved the policy of the Chancellor of Germany towards the refugees. I was told that there were lots of them already, that
Germany wouldn’t cope with this situation, that they were spongers on those people who paid taxes and so on. There is only one thing I want to say – we never know what may happen to us tomorrow
and what misfortunes may affect our countries! The examples of the citizens of a small town Rendsburg are extremely significant to me – to unite around the problem and do everything in their
power to help refugees find their feet again! It is exactly what people in UTS (Umwelt Technik Soziales e. V., an NGO in Rendsburg) are doing. A wonderful woman Rosana Trautrims works here, a Brazilian who has been living in Germany for more than 10 years.
Rosana has a tender heart and she gives her comfort and help to every refugee.
Throughout the project we were able to learn about the aspects of Human Rights, the
wars in Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan and also about ethnic and religious minorities in Germany and Ukraine. This Workshop focused mostly on Crimean Tatars, Karaites, Frisians and other
minorities that live in Ukraine and Germany. We discussed the situations of IDPs from Donbass, which is the eastern part of Ukraine, and the Crimea as well as of refugees in both countries and
compared the representation of the matters in German and Ukrainian media. It is such a valuable asset to the Workshop that refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, and Crimean Tatars were the part of
this German-Ukrainian exchange and had the chance to share their experience with the rest of participants.
Moreover, I noticed that considering our regular communication with the second half of Ukrainian group and observing them every day I came to love Crimean Tatars, who I regard as an integral part of Ukraine, even more than before. So much is done by these people – who are by the way journalists, social activists, students and teachers – for the Crimea to become a part of Ukraine again! If all the Ukrainians had united just like Crimean Tatars had already done, I am confident we would have returned Donbass and the Crimea by now. More hard work, more helping hands, more energy and synergy – and we are bound to win all the wars!
One article won’t be enough to enumerate all the conclusions which were
made, as well as all the delight and impressions
which were received when travelling from Ukraine to Germany and vice versa, when visiting absolutely different
mosques and cultural centers, when communicating with journalists and public figures, but above all – when living together and interacting with our many-sided participants. This German-Ukrainian project gave young people the chance and motivation to either start or
continue their own journalistic activities in order to support the intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding. Having observed the work of German and Ukrainian mass-media and having made
contacts with the representatives of international, governmental and civil society sectors, the participants from different ethno-religious and social backgrounds now have an equal opportunity to
make their own journalistic research. To my mind it was the main aim of the project. And it has been successfully achieved!
I am incredibly grateful to Alexander Luttmann and the Association for Cultural
Education of Children and Youth Sachsen-Anhalt for their contribution to the project, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany for their support through the program “Development of
Cooperation with the Eastern Partnership Countries 2015”, and to Yuri Sulima and the Youth Centre of Social Innovationsfor the
opportunity to take part in the exchange. But my particular gratitude is to Mieste Hotopp-Riecke for creating “Dehnungsfuge” (it might be translated into English as a ‘joint’: the part or space between two similar junctions)! Every day during a week stay in
Germany and then a week in Ukraine we definitely filled in certain gaps of our own visions of minorities and various religions, of the fact how the real situation is shown by mass-media; we
filled in the gaps in terms of tolerance of one another and surely in terms of mutual aid, love and friendship.
Iryna Riabenka ©
Kharkiv, December 2015.