Remember Mahmud Azhar – Press release of AStA FU

Photo showing the wreath at Hahn-Meitner-Building

Today, a memorial event commemorating the 30th anniversary of Mahmud Azhar's death took place at Freie Universität Berlin, where a wreath was laid.

 

 

January 7, 2020, was the 30th anniversary of the racist attack on Mahmud Azhar, who was a doctoral student and research assistant at Freie Universität.

Mahmud Azhar died 2 months later as a result of the attack.

Azhar was born in Pakistan and had been a doctoral student at the Biochemistry Institute of the FU since the mid-1970s, which was then located in Lichterfelde at Ostpreußendamm 111. He was 40 years old when he became a victim of the racist murder. He would have completed his doctorate in the same year.

After he was called racist and xenophobic names by the perpetrator while leaving the institute, he entered the building again and tried to contact the police twice. To this day it is still unclear why the police did not react. Thereupon the perpetrator attacked him, using a fire extinguisher of the institute. Only after a taxi driver passing by called the police did react.

The perpetrator, who was a citizen of the GDR, was interrogated by the police and released shortly afterwards. He then fled to East Berlin, where he could not be found by the West Berlin authorities. No arrest warrant was issued by the West Berlin public prosecutor's office, as they considered this to be "disproportionate". The case was handed over to the GDR justice system, which was in the middle of restructuring.

In the end, the perpetrator was sentenced to only one year in prison on probation and the murder is not recorded in the official statistics of the FRG as rightful murders (statistics begin on 3.10.1990). Only in some statistics of victims of a right-wing attacks Mahmud Azhar appears with the number 0.

 

 

On January 7, 2020, two tweets were published on the official Twitter account of Freie Universität Berlin. These say that the memorial plaque, which is still located in the former institute building and therefore not open to the public, should be given a place on the current campus.

The plaque, which according to the Executive Board of Freie Universität is a listed building, is to be given a place on campus in the spring, possibly until the 30th anniversary of the death of Mahmud Azhar, March 5, 1990.

The planned location is the current Institute of Biochemistry, the Hahn-Meitner-Building in Thielallee 63. Furthermore, the university management informed the AStA upon request that it plans "to commemorate the anniversary of his death during a session of the Academic Senate and to inform the university public again via the university media about the racially motivated attack and its consequences” (translation by AstA). This is to take place on 22.4.2020.

This is very welcome, but is hardly enough to make up for the inactivity of the university management at the time of the attack.

Thus, the statement of the presidents office of January 15, 2020 "Freie Universität Berlin is a place where all forms of racism or discrimination are fundamentally not tolerated. Any discrimination of people [...] is not tolerated at Freie Universität" is not enough!

 

There must not be any discrimination in the application process for people with foreign university qualifications and no disadvantages in BAföG for students who are not German citizens. There has to be sufficient counselling for people affected by racism, anchored in the university structures and not only at the AStA. We therefore demand that specific and adequately equipped anti-racism offices be included in the new version of the Berlin Higher Education Act (BerlHG)

There needs to be more co-determination for students, a critical look at researching and learning and who teaches at Freie Universität.

It is insufficient if only interpersonal incidents of discrimination, which are regarded as alleged individual acts, are addressed and not the structural patterns of oppression that affect individuals and that exist everywhere, including at university. Since 2019, the AStA has been the contact point for people affected by discrimination within the Berlin Register.

 

 

Educational justice now! 

For an anti-racist and decolonial practice at the university!

 

 

We condemn the handling of the German justice system in this case and other racist attacks, some of which are and were not punished at all or only very weakly. This runs through German history, which is also evident in the handling of the murders by the National Socialist Underground (NSU). In a frightening clarity, the attack in Hanau recently showed that racist murders must not be dismissed as isolated cases. 

 

 

Solidarity with all people affected by racism and xenophobia!

Against the never absent and increasing threat of right!

Remembering means fighting!

 

Allgemeiner Studierendenausschuss der Freien Universität Berlin (AStA FU), 6.3.2020

 

Sources:

See Peschel, A. (2014, Mai 26). Remember Mahmud Azhar! | AStA FU Berlin. Abgerufen 13. Januar 2020, von https://www.astafu.de/node/269

See Zentrale Online-Redaktion der Freien Universität Berlin. (2020, Januar 7). @FU_Berlin [Twitter]. Abgerufen 13. Januar 2020, von https://twitter.com/FU_Berlin/status/1214575308243898370