Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Tanja Ostojic

Naked Life

Tanja Ostojic. Naked Life, 2004–2006.

The Naked Life video-performance is based on information from Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Center Concerning Germany For Consideration by the United Nations Human Rights Committee at its 80th Session, March 16, 2003- – April 3, 2004 =================================================== "Come on, stop crying, do that in your country!" =================================================== I'm reading the fates of different Roma families taken from the footnotes of the reports' segment on deportations. Each following testimony seems more severe than the previous one, adding to my disturbance, while I strip down to nothing but vulnerable bare life. =================================================== Some of the fates: =================================================== In October 2003, in contravention of Germany's obligations under Article 23 of the Covenant for the Protection of National Minorities, Berlin authorities expelled two pregnant Romani women from Germany to Belgrade. Both women had been living in Germany since 1991. One was married to a German national while the other had a German partner. The situation was aggravated as both had to leave children under the age of 7 behind in Germany. Already, during remand pending deportation, the families had been separated, in one case for more than two months. =================================================== Living in the Airport =================================================== According to testimony by 52-year-old Mr Marin Mogos to the ERRC and partner organization Aven Amentza (Roma Center for Public Policies), on March 7, 2002, at approximately 4:30 a.m., fourteen armed German police officers forcibly took Mr Mogos, his 19-year-old daughter, Gabriela, and his 18-year-old son, Gheorghe, from their home in Wiesbaden to an airport in Munich and expelled them to Romania. This took place despite the fact that the family had applied for asylum in Germany and had not yet received a final decision regarding the asylum application. The family had been in Germany continuously since 1990. From 1990, they had given up their Romanian passports and declared themselves stateless. From 1997, they had possessed the status geduldet (tolerated). Since 1998, the family has had an application pending before the European Court of Human Rights in connection with the refusal of German authorities to grant them asylum in Germany and the concomitant threat of expulsion. In January 2002, their application for renewed "tolerated" status was rejected and they were issued an order to leave Germany by January 31, 2002. During forcible expulsion on March 7, 2002, Mr Mogos was reportedly not permitted to telephone his lawyer and the officers also threatened him with guns and handcuffed him. Upon arrival at the Otopeni Airport in Bucharest at around 11:45 p.m., Police Major Cristian Fugaciu and four other officers met and detained them. An officer of Romania’s Passport Division informed the family that they would be held in the transit zone until they signed documents stating they would voluntarily enter Romania and accept Romanian citizenship. He also threatened that they would not receive any food, medicine, or legal assistance. At approximately 1:00 a.m., on March 8, 2002, Mr Mogos's 49-year-old wife Anisoara and their 16-year-old daughter Dorina were also expelled to Romania and joined the family in detention at the Otopeni Airport. According to Ms Mogos, at the airport in Germany, she was handcuffed and body searched by female officers while fully naked, and was also only allowed to use a toilet with the door open. On March 8, 2002, at approximately 8:30 a.m., the Mogos family was transferred to a building in the transit zone at the Otopeni Airport. The Mogos family has refused to accept Romanian citizenship and has lived in the transit zone of the Otopeni Airport since March 2002. They were still living in the transit zone of Otopeni airport as of December 2003. As a result, they have missed a number of domestic hearings for their asylum application in Germany. In addition, police officers have physically abused them on at least one occasion. The case seriously calls into question Germany's compliance with a number of the provisions of the Covenant, most notably Article 13. ================================================== Former Home looted ================================================== ERRC/MRC interviewed Ms R.S. on January 6, 2003, in Bujanovac, a southern Serbian town near the border with Kosovo. Before the ethnic cleansing of Roma from Kosovo in 1999, Ms R.S., a 33-year-old Romani woman, lived in the town of Kosovska Kamenica, in Kosovo. In 1999, together with her husband Mr L.S. and their young son P.S., she fled to Cologne, Germany, where she applied for asylum and received the so-called "tolerated" status. According to Ms R.S., on September 12, 2002, her family's permit of toleration was prolonged until January 15, 2003. However, around 4:00 a.m., on November 21, 2002, the family awoke to a loud banging on their door. They opened the door to meet six police officers in plain clothes who told the family that they would be sent back to Kosovo and that they had ten minutes to pack all their belongings. The officers told the family that they could pack around twenty kilograms of luggage per adult and some clothes for P.S. They also told the family that they should not speak in the Romani language. According to Ms R.S., this unexpected early morning visit deeply frightened her family, especially the little boy who reportedly could not stop crying. Ms R.S. also stated that the officers took away her mobile phone card and 4,000 Euros in cash, only letting the family keep 600 Euros. The officers then took the family in a police van to the airport in Düsseldorf, where the family boarded a Montenegro Airlines flight to Pristina at around 2:00 p.m. According to Ms R.S., the rest of the passengers on the plane were all ethnic Albanians; the family did not dare speak Romani as they feared for their safety lest they be recognized as Romani. The only documents they had were one-way travel documents that had been given to them by the police officers, dated November 8, 2002, which Ms R.S. understood to mean that their expulsion had been prepared well in advance of the actual act. Ms R.S. stated that the family never received any information to the effect that they had to leave Germany. Upon arrival at Slatina airport in Pristina, a man and a woman, who did not identify themselves, took the family by van to a local bus station, where the family boarded a bus to Gnjilane, and continued by taxi to their previous place of residence in Kosovska Kamenica. The family found their former home looted and damaged. Having no shelter and fearing for their safety, the family decided to leave Kosovo and cross the border to the south Serbian town of Bujanovac where Ms R.S was interviewed by the ERRC/MRC. Ms R.S. stated that P.S. was traumatised by the expulsion, had experienced nightmares since the expulsion, and had developed a fear of unknown adult men. At the time of the interview, both Ms R.S. and her husband were unemployed and did not receive state benefits or other assistance. According to ERRC findings, many of the Kosovo Roma deported to Kosovo have fled Kosovo again and currently reside in poverty in southern Serbia.


human rights, deportaion, bare life, naked life, germany, Roma, performance, reading, live arts, women artist

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Naked Life

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