Helvetzids are systematic deaths of racialized people that take place in police custody, in refugee centers, and in hospitals in Switzerland. These killings are not simply isolated cases. They are an expression of the structural racism and prevailing deportation policies that shape Swiss institutions. We demand an end to racist violence!
Black People, People of Colour, Indigenous People and allies in the fight against racism all over the world are angry and mourning for those who have been killed by racist police violence. We do not only mourn George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery, who were killed in the last weeks in the USA by police officers or by vigilantes. We do not only mourn for the many people who were killed in other countries like Ágatha Vitória Sales Félix and David Nascimento dos Santos in Brazil, Adama Traoré in France and Achidi John, Laya-Alama Condé, Ndeye Marieme Sarr, Christy Schwundeck, Yaya Jabbie oder Amad Ahmad and Oury Jalloh in Germany. We also mourn those people who were killed in Switzerland by racist police violence, such as Khaled Abuzarifa, Samson Chukwu, Cemal G., Hamid Bakiri, Claudio M., Yaya Bakayoko, Ousman Sow, Alhusein Douto Kora, Mariame Souaré, Abdi Daud, Andy Bestman, Joseph Ndukaku Chiakwa, Medina Yassin Suleyman, Oleg N., Ilhan O., Hervé Mandundu, Subramaniam H., Lamin Fatty, Mike Ben Peter, Salah Tebbouche, Roger Nzoy, Sezgin Dağ, Nesurasa Rasanayagam and many others. And these killings are not just isolated cases. They are an expression of the structural racism and the prevailing politics of deportation that characterise Swiss society and state institutions. Racist police violence is a deadly reality in Switzerland too!
On February 15, 2022, Nesurasa was last seen by a roommate. His body was not found until the following Friday in the field about 500m from the Gampelen refugee camp. Only after two weeks of pressure on the authorities by members of Stop Isolation Collective was Nesurasa's death officially communicated to the family by the Swiss authorities. Without knowing the exact cause and time of death, the Swiss authorities had Nesurasa's body cremated, although his family explicitly did not want this! The family's wish to have an autopsy performed and to have the body transported to Sri Lanka was not respected: according to the migration office, this was too expensive. Nesurasa was married and had three children. As illegalized person, he was not allowed to work. He used to receive eight francs per day as emergency aid. For Nesurasa's friends and family, it is clear that the responsible authorities and the Swiss asylum system are partly responsible for his death. Nesura's death is a helvetzid!
Roger Nzoy was hit at Morges train station on August 30, 2021. The 37-year-old Black man from Zurich suffered from mental problems and was walking around on the tracks at rush hour on that Monday evening. Someone called the police. When they arrived, they shot him three times. Videos document the fatal incident. And also show the moments after the shooting: During four minutes Roger Nzoy is not resuscitated, he is handcuffed. The death of Roger Nzoy is reminiscent of another Black man, almost identical case: in November 2016, a police officer in Bex shot Hervé Mandundu three times in front of his apartment door. Nzoy's death is a helvetzid!
On December 30 at 8:30 a.m. Saleh T.* is found dead in a cell in Basel's Bässlergut prison. It is a case of Helvetzid. The Bässlergut is a deportation prison where detainees serve short prison sentences. Djafar Mohammed knew Saleh T. so well that he calls him "a friend". During a prison visit in mid-January, he says, "Saleh was a warm person." Saleh T. and Mohammed shared a cell in Basel's Waaghof prison last year. They played cards every day back then, he says. But T. also often sat quietly, sometimes reading the Koran, sometimes crying. Djafar Mohammed has since been deported to Spain. Several detainees say that if they have problems, they are mainly offered medication. Often they do not understand what they are getting. Some did not trust the information because they never saw their medication packaged. Salah's death is a Helvetzid!
Mike Ben Peter died in Lausanne on Feb. 28, 2018, after six police officers kneel on him for minutes. For six minutes, Nigerian Mike Ben Peter lies face down on the asphalt near Lausanne train station. On him the weight of six policemen who push him to the ground. Previously, the officers allegedly kicked him in the genitals. Mike Ben Peter suffers a collapse on the spot in the presence of the police officers. Twelve hours later, he dies of cardiac arrest at University Hospital. The case bears striking similarities to the death of George Floyd (†46) in Minnesota (USA), which led to mass protests around the world. Mike's death is a Helvetzid!
Lamin Fatty was a 23-year-old when he died from a Helvetzid in a Swiss cell in Mont-sur-Lausanne on Oct. 24, 2017. Lamin's death is a Helvetzid!
Subramaniam H., who has been waiting for his asylum application from the SEM (Federal Office for Migration) since 2015, was killed on 06.10.2017 by a Ticino cantonal police officer in Brissago by a shot in the chest. Subramaniam's death is a Helvetzid!
Susanna was threatened with deportation. She doesn't know what to do anymore. She wants an answer to the question that has been bothering her for years: "Why don't I have the same rights as everyone else?
Five days before her 16th birthday, her psychiatrist writes a letter to the Thurgau Migration Office. Susanna, she says, has massive fears about the future, mainly related to her residence status. "From a specialist's point of view, we recommend a definitive residence permit for Susanna in order to give her the opportunity to stabilize herself psychologically and to be able to master the task of 'living' well."
The migration office rejects the application. It was probably the tenth negative decision, says Susanna. Each year with the same reason. Since she is a minor, her application is linked to that of her mother. Because of social welfare debts and minor offenses, her mother does not meet the requirements for a regular residence permit. The lawyers' appeals do not change this.
Susanna was born in Switzerland, went to school here, never spoke any language other than Swiss German. She had never done anything wrong. Nevertheless, she was considered a provisionally admitted person since birth. On a Wednesday in spring 2021, Susanna's death is a Helvetzid!