How to say police in Vietnamese

Criticism of Vietnamese clubs: Different perspectives

Vietnamese in Berlin resist media reports on human trafficking. The emotionality of the debate is rooted in the history of migration.

Raid by the federal police against human trafficking and forced prostitution in Berlin, March 2021 Photo: dpa

BERLINtaz | Vietnamese associations in the east of Berlin refuse to speak of human trafficking when it comes to illegal migration from Vietnam to Europe. Duc Nguyen from the Association of Vietnamese in Berlin and Brandenburg turned to the taz because he “wants to straighten out the media image”, as he says. Because in films and press reports, but also in representations by the police, there is always talk of children from Vietnam being brought to Europe by gangs of smugglers in order to be exploited here.

Nguyen says: "Here, the image of children is too much focused on emotions." This criticism is "articulated by all associations that meet in the Vietnam working group". These are clubs in the eastern part of Berlin. Former boat refugees from Vietnam, with whom the taz also spoke, do not share the criticism.

If the police, as happened this month, put an end to a gang that is forcing women newly arrived in Berlin into prostitution, then, according to Nguyen, “we naturally condemn these acts in the strongest possible way”. Criminologists clearly speak of human trafficking when people are forced into exploitative conditions.

But is that typical of Vietnamese migration to Europe? The question is also controversial among police experts. In a film by RBB authors Adrian Bartocha and Jan Wiese broadcast in January about Vietnamese children who are brought to Europe, detained on the way and forced to work, the federal police, but also the police in Poland and Great Britain, speak of human trafficking because of the victims end up in exploitative employment relationships.

The Berlin State Criminal Police Office rejects this and only assumes exploitative employment relationships in exceptional cases, usually illegal migration and undeclared work. The question is important because victims of human trafficking can benefit from government protection. The Interior Committee of the House of Representatives will soon be deliberating on this.

Two points of criticism

Nguyen's criticism can be summarized in two points: First, he claims that almost all people from Vietnam come to Europe voluntarily and actively and even pay a lot of money for it. In media reports and by police officers, however, the impression is given that they are only coming to Europe because smugglers give them false hopes for a better life and want to press them into exploitative working conditions.

Nguyen: “Anyone who makes their way to Europe knows what to expect. As far as we know, the newcomers to Berlin are looking for illegal work themselves. When the media and police suggest that entire industries are exploiting children as slaves without providing evidence, they are bringing these industries into disrepute. "

His second point of criticism: Often those who pretend to be children have long since grown up. “They hope it will take advantage of them when they make themselves younger. But there can be no question of child labor. ”The RBB says:“ Our reports, information and testimony have been carefully researched and checked. In the meantime, the Federal Criminal Police Office has confirmed the research. ”The Association of Vietnamese and other associations from the eastern part of the city are currently working on a questionnaire that they want to send to the police. "We want to collect facts against the media image from which we suffer."

The vehemence with which Vietnamese clubs criticize the media and the police is surprising. Some association employees do not even accept it when the word "human trafficking" is used in specialist committees at all. Where does this emotionality come from?

Comparison with Vietnam

There is a “German” and a “Vietnamese” point of view. If a nail salon, for example, employs a woman who has just arrived from Vietnam for 500 or 800 euros a month around the clock, from a German perspective this is an exploitative employment relationship. Vietnamese, on the other hand, compare the income in Vietnam and accept this payment. The nail salon owner does not see herself as an exploiter, but as a benefactress who gives a poor woman from the desperately poor central Vietnam work and a livelihood.

People working in many Vietnamese businesses and families who do not appear in any German statistics and who often only accidentally get into a police check after years. Many Vietnamese teenagers have been raised for years by black nannies who have good relationships with them and do not see their parents as exploiters. In the corona crisis, poor meals are organized for these people in the shadows and you are encouraged in Facebook groups to let them continue to live free of charge.

Anyone who does something like this does not see himself as an exploiter - especially since many of these illegal employers came to Germany illegally years ago and worked their way up. They also trust the newcomers to have such success stories.

Annotation: In an earlier version it was mentioned that the Reistrommel association also took part in the questionnaire for the police. It is not so. Please excuse the mistake.