The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.62/No.31           September 7, 1998 
 
 
Refugees Discuss How To Fight Racist Attacks  

BY ANITA ÍSTLING AND DANIEL AHL
GIMO, Sweden - A gang of skinheads attacked a refugee camp July 24 in this community of 2,500 people about 50 miles northeast of Stockholm. They stabbed Redep Kajtazi, who came here 18 months ago from Kosova, in the arm and the side, puncturing his right lung.

"After midnight we heard noise," said Naser Kajtazi, the wounded man's son. "My father and I went out, and then we saw a crowd of maybe 30 skinheads rushing toward us. We began to run back into the house, but they caught up with my father and stabbed him.

"We don't know them, we have never done anything to them. Why would they do this?" Naser Kajtazi continued "I left Kosova to get away from the war. And now this.... It would be better for us to have a residence permit. Then we could move away from here."

"I'm from Serbia, but I'm a Muslim and these are my brothers and sisters," says Cemal Demirovic, a friend of the Kajtazi family. He spent six and a half years in Sweden before he got his legal papers and was able to move out of the camp.

Another man from Kosova said that he has just gotten his permit to stay after seven and a half years. Now he wants to move to Stockholm. "But they won't let me. They will send me somewhere else. I'm sure."

Some 350 refugees live in the camp, where they are required to stay until the get legal papers.

Koorosh Khosravi is from Iran and has spent four years in the camp. He now has his papers and works as an operator at a local factory. Khosravi heads up the Refugee Council, a voluntary organization that aids the refugees. He told the Militant he has previously warned the authorities about the danger of racist aggression in Gimo. "They claim it's a case of fighting youth gangs. But it's their job provide safety for us.... The authorities defend these people indirectly. Windows were smashed on Monday. The skinheads had had a party the weekend before. Their party this weekend served as the starting point for attacking the camp."

After the assault on the Gimo camp, the Refugee Council and the residents immediately demanded that the cops patrol the area at night to ward off further attack. Then Khosravi publicly raised a discussion about the refugees forming self- defense units. "Since then, the police have been here with two cars at night. So we've let discussion rest for a while."

The idea of self-defense has sparked a debate among the refugees in the camp. Some are afraid that it might be provocative, and hope that Khosravi's threat will put sufficient pressure on the cops to keep guarding the camp at night. Others favor the idea of staying alert and being prepared if necessary. Signs in the windows read: "Stop Racism" and "Defend The Right To Asylum."

Daniel Ahl is a member of the Young Socialists and Anita Ostling is a member of the Transport Workers Union in Stockholm, Sweden.

 
 
 
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