From the blog

Say their names

This post is also available in: Deutsch (German) العربية (Arabic)

Hanau is a city of about 100.000 citizens in Hessen Germany. On 19 February of 2020 the lives of 9 families changed forever as they lost their loved ones in Hanau due to a racist and right-extremist attack. Since that date Hanau is the place of one of the biggest hate crimes in Germany.

A right extremist shot 9 young people mainly migrants, Roma or Germans with migrant ancestors , then his mother and himself. The Father of the assassin shares his worldview and was at the last crime scene, yet he was not investigated officially.
The shootings took place at around 22:00 local time on 19 February 2020, in and in front of two shisha bars (hookah bars)—one at the Midnight Bar in Hanau’s central square, and the other at the Arena Bar & Café in Kesselstadt.
The massacre was called an act of terrorism by the German Minister of Internal Affairs. The right-extremist had not been linked to a terrorist organization or extremist group.

Say their names and say it loud

from the small memorial place that Wemigrants members organized in Pferdemarkt
  • Gökhan Gültekin, 37, was born in Hanau from Kurdish parents. He was a skilled bricklayer and worked part-time as a waiter.
  • Sedat Gürbüz, 29, was one of the partners of the shisha bar Midnight.
  • Said Nesar Hashemi, 21, was a German with Afghan parents and grew up in Hanau. He was a trained machine operator.
  • Mercedes Kierpacz, 35, was a German from the Roma community with Polish roots. She left behind two children.
  • Hamza Kurtović, 22, like his father and three siblings, was born in Germany. Their ancestors were from Prijedor in bosnia herzegovina, then Yugoslavia.
  • Vili Viorel Păun, 22, was from Romania member of the Roma community and the only child of his parents. He came to Germany as a 16-year-old to earn money for medical treatment for his mother. He worked for a courier service.
  • Fatih Saraçoğlu, 34, had moved to Hanau from Regensburg three years earlier. He died at the Midnight shisha bar.
  • Ferhat Unvar, 23, was born to Kurdish parents in Germany and grew up there. He had just completed an apprenticeship as a gas and water fitter.
  • Kaloyan Velkov, 33, was a Bulgarian from the local Roma community and had been living in Germany for two years. He was the landlord of Bar La Votre next to the shisha bar Midnight and left behind an infant son.

But all those small details after their names do not say anything about their dreams, their love for others or their plans for their life. All that vanished because of the hate that governed the soul of an individual, that is caused and accepted by structural racism.
What remains are their names and their desperate families, that are still fighting for justice, enlightenment and consequences. we must not forget their names, and that Hanau is everywhere. We must not forget, that racism is deadly and proliferates in the structures of authorities, institution and among society.
That’s why a year later many citizens, in various cities in Germany decided to commemorate the victims and the tragedy by organizing small events and showing the faces of the murdered people.

Commemoration Day in Oldenburg

In Oldenburg a group of organizations decided to pay, with their own way, their respects to the victims.

A map from Seebrücke Oldenburg depicting the memorial places and the Organizations taking part

Every group chose a public place and the way that they will honor the dead. “We Migrants” had to be a part of this and we were. Two of our members, Seedy and Shanice organized a memorial place in Pferdemarkt with pictures of the deceased, flowers and candles. Although it was a working day in working hours people passed, looked, asked and informed themselves.

A video made from pictures from the various Organizations that commemorate the victims in various places in Oldenburg

Also the other organizations in Oldenburg that participated had the same success in their memorial places, although for all of us the Corona situation made the approach of the memorial places difficult. Distances should be kept and mask were obligatory. Nevertheless people were interested and participated in commemorating the victims and fighting against racism, Discrimination and hate. Racist terror that is being build up from inequality, ignorance and also from political parties or groups who invest in the fear of the unknown in order to gain political power.

Screenshot of the first edition in the local newspaper

Sometimes also „small innocent” mistakes as the one happened with a local newspaper in Oldenburg could also build doubts and keep the hate alive. Normally we wouldn’t refer to it but it is a nice example of how we should react in such cases. In an article, in the local newspaper in Oldenburg, presenting the commemoration, the attack was presented as an alleged right-extremist and racist attack. It was one! Not because we say it but because it was pronounced officially as one. It could be an honest mistake from somebody who was reporting without any knowledge of the case, but still we expect more from professionals. After complaints from the organizers of the events the newspaper changed the sentence in its Internet site. There is a lesson here to be taught. Never waive your rights by staying silent.

We as “We Migrants” try to participate in any event that promotes the peaceful coexistence between the people, no matter what gender, background, religion, culture they have. In the first place we are all human. That’s why we complain that something like this can only happen if nothing is done about it.
So we try to do something about it by participating in every event that is against violence, discrimination, racism, sexism.

We urge also the migrants who are reading the article to participate in causes like this one in their own cities. We need to be heard, we need to be seen. Hiding in our small communities does not help us integrating in the country that is hosting us. We are a living part of it and as such we need to participate and also act against issues that do not let us feel that we belong here.