Tranzit Zone

“It feels as if it was yesterday, but it’s a long time. It’s like a nightmare, and I will wake up soon and he is here. I cannot believe that he is dead. I know my father is in the grave, but I cannot believe that it’s true. (…) Since five years that we are here now, he always got up at 6:30, made coffee and breakfast. Now you see his bed is empty.” – “And your mother, how is she handling this situation?” – “My mum is the one who is making the breakfast now. Often she is talking to him, talking about all what’s going on here. If you write this all down, it will be a book. But nobody is interested in our situation!”

Gabriela Mogos is sitting on her metal bed in front of the barred window and is staring at the runway behind it. She talks silently about her father Marin Mogos, who committed suicide on the 17th of March 2007 hanging himself from the bars of such a window.

Since five years the family Mogos lives in the Transit Zone of the Otopeni Airport in Bucharest/ Romania. Guarded by some Border-Policemen they are held in two rooms of this prison-like building far away from the international terminal. Every morning at 7:00 they can see the Lufthansa-plane landing from Germany. Five years ago they also came to Bucharest by this flight, but not for business or holiday – they came in handcuffs as deportees.

The times before…
Until summer 1990 Marin and Anisoara Mogos used to live in Romania together with their five children. During communist times Marin was persecuted by the secret service (Securitate), being imprisoned and tortured. Anisoara was also brutally beaten by police while she was pregnant and lost the child.

Traumatised by the political chaos in post-revolutionary Romania in 1990 – when police together with union miners bloodily ended the protest of oppositional students and furthermore, attacked Roma communities in Bucharest while people in different regions of the country started pogroms against their Roma neighbours – Marin and Anisoara, both Roma, decided to leave Romania forever.

As refugees in Germany, like thousands of other immigrants, they gave up their Romanian citizenship and lived as stateless people in the western part of the country. They were initially placed in an asylum camp, and later settled down near Wiesbaden starting to build up their new life. The children Gabriela, Gheorghe and Dorina went to school; Emil and Simona got married.

The parents tried hard to get a status as legal refugees and waited 11 years for a decision of the so-called foreigners office (Ausländerbehörde).
In the end, the authorities turned down their application for asylum, as well as following revision and application on exceptional leave to remain in Germany, because Romania is considered as a “safe country” in the eyes of German/EU deportation policy . The fact, that their life and identity was now completely focused on Wiesbaden, meaning friends, school, jobs, language etc., did not count anything.

The life as quasi-illegal refugee in the German society means not only daily and future insecurity, but also bureaucratic sanctions, the permanent force of excuse, racist police controls, education restrictions or limited mobility. Gabriela Mogos: “We were only allowed to move around Hessen (county in central Germany). Believe me, I had such a fear when I went from Frankfurt to Mainz, what means only crossing a bridge, because than you are in Rheinland-Pfalz (the river Main is the border between both counties and cities). (…) Why do I have to do what they want me to do? Why do they command me? Every human being has rights. You have the right to go wherever you want!” Utopia and reality.

…the deportation
At 4 AM on the 7th of March 2002, 14 policemen entered the flat of family Mogos, separated the father and two children from the mother and Gabriela and sent them in handcuffs to the airports Munich and Frankfurt. After physical inspection and racist comments like “we don’t need dirty gypsies” they were deported to Bucharest. In such cases the pilot has the right to say NO to forced deportations, but he didn’t use this right, even though the family and other deportees asked him to do it. At that time Gabriela was 15 years old and lived 10 years in the house near Wiesbaden. She leaves her married sister and brother behind with their partners in Germany.


In the so-called ‘homeland’ the border police is no better than in Germany. In Romania, racism against Roma is a very common daily reality, while political resistance is not. A lot of stateless deportees refused the Romanian papers, especially the Romanian citizenship. The only place they can stay is the transit zone, the no-man’s-land. Also the family Mogos chose the chance to fight for the right to go back to the place where they were living for more than a decade. This fight already took seven years of their life and still goes on. A lot of others gave up as a consequence of the pressure and attacks from the Romanian border police; family Mogos and one other person lived all this time in the transit zone of Otopeni Airport.


According to Human Rights Convention  the state where you gave up your citizenship is responsible for you and in the case of family Mogos it was Germany. So normally the Romanian state would send such “cases” back to Germany. But in 1998 both states signed a “taking-back-agreement” which got in use starting February 1999. In fact this contract is not valid for people who came earlier to Germany, but the German authorities refer to the additional arrangement from spring 2001.
In a ‘bizarre’ meeting of the ministers of internal affairs, under German pressure connected to joining NATO/EU, the Romanian side agreed to take back also the earlier refugees. For some richer refugees it was possible to bribe the Romanian authorities in order to be removed from a list made for these deportations. Hundreds of others were not able to make such deals.

“Shocking news reached me this morning. Marin Mogos, stateless like us, was found dead this morning in Otopeni. (…) He is a victim of illegal deportations, as an effect of agreements of two Ministries of the interior; in fact  it is trafficking human beings seen as a collateral damage in the entry-process of Romania to the EU – the same EU that asks for the Rule of Law, for transparency and Human Rights.” This is part of the electronic comment of Gabriela Codreanu, also member of a stateless family who mostly had the same story like the family Mogos.

Constantin and Carmen Codreanu together with their children Gabriela and Andrei also left  Romania in 1990, settled down in Germany and were deported in 2003 to Bucharest Otopeni. They refused to stay in the transit zone and lived direct in the international terminal on the basement. After two years they were put out by airport police and since that time the family is  living without documents in the streets of Bucharest ignored by police and dependent on the support of friends in Germany and Romania. Gabriela Codreanu started studying Law in Germany and after her deportation, organized a campaign for her family’s right to go back.


Both families started trials in the European Commission of Human Rights: the Codreanu family against the Romanian state referring to the illegitimate agreements with German authorities, the family Mogos against the German state because of illegal deportation and for the right of asylum. Both failed all their applications but are not willing to give up.
Both reached to get public interest from Human Right Organizations, Antiracist Groups and Mass Media in Germany as well as Romania. Some supported them, but mostly the media is interested in scandals like the expulsion of the Codreanus from Otopeni or the suicide of Marin Mogos.The question of the illegitimate contracts between Germany and Romania is only peripherally mentioned. In fact they are confronted with the nationalist accusation of betraying their homeland. To discuss the freedom of movement or the concept of home, not as a geographical or ethnical question, but as a question of your own will in a transnational reality is not very popular in our societies.


The silence around their cases let Marin Mogos take the last scream of resistance. His daughter described the place of the transit zone like a madhouse made out of white walls far away from real life. Both families need your support to find a way back in a normal life, especially because authorities don’t give a shit on their existence.




Article published in Abolishing The Borders From Below

This article was posted in Airports and tagged .

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