What is going on at Europe’s borders? – Stories of fl ight and violence…
Generally we can observe throughout the whole of Europe that state and EU policies are becoming increasingly repressive towards people on the move, their supporters and any alternative structures to state migration control developed by civil society. This policy of isolation forces people to take dangerous routes, such as across the Frontex surveilled Mediterranean Sea. In 2018 alone over 2000 people died. In addition, the borders between the European states are strictly controlled and highly militarized. Refugees are tracked down by the police and military using the latest technology, prevented from crossing the border by force and imprisoned without any legal grounds. At the Bulgarian-Turkish border Refugees have already been fatally shot in 2015. Despite all this, many people are taking on new, dangerous paths. As another form of violent repression towards those seeking safety, many of them are imprisoned under inhumane conditions in so-called “hotspots” such as the Greek islands of Chios, Lesbos and Samos. These places have become prisons for refugees since the EU-Turkey deal. Other examples for spots where people are stuck at the borders are Velika Kladusa (Bosnian-Croatian border) or in Ventimiglia (Italian-French border). Here people are often stuck in stagnation, living on the streets or are illegally deported back.
…of resistance and repression
People fight against their imprisonment, for open borders and for their rights: they are resisting this deadly policy and the EU border regime. There was a refugee and migrant protest camp at Velika Kladusa in autumn 2018, and countless people protested in camps on the Greek islands and across European borders and cities. Mostly these protests are violently ended, the protesters deported or imprisoned, as in the cases of Ahmed H. in Hungary, the people in Moria on Lesbos, as well as PetrouRalli8 in Athens and Harmanli21 in Bulgaria. Self-organized housing in squats is violently evicted, as happened in Thessaloniki in the summer of 2016. In addition, also solidarity activists are confronted by new laws with high prison sentences for “people smuggling/human traff icking” like in autumn 2016 in Croatia. At the same time, the EU is criminalising solidarity sea rescue workers such as “Jugend rettet” or “Sea Watch”, who are not allowed to dock their ships with rescued persons in European ports.
Ahmed H. and the Röszke11, Hungary
In September 2015, eleven people were arbitrarily arrested from among the crowd in protests against the closure by the Hungarian side of the Hungarian-Serbian border near Röszke and charged, among other things, with terrorism and illegal border crossing. In November 2016, one of them, Ahmed H., was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. Through solidarity work and protests, this sentence could be overturned in the next judicial procedures and reduced to 5 years. His release was exspected for the beginning of 2019, but as Cyprus refuses to let him return he stays in detention in Hungary.
The cases of Moria 35 and Moria 8, Greece
The case Moria 35 has been closed since autumn 2018. It involved 35 people who were randomly and brutally arrested by the police in June 2017 after a peaceful sit-in at Camp Moria on Lesbos (Greece). All 35 people were released, some of them deported. This is a procedure that was repeated in a similar way in the current case of Moria 8: In March 2018, people once again protested for their rights in Camp Moria. The subsequent lawsuit against the “perpetrators” was based on the most vague testimony of identifying one alleged protest leader who was verifiable not present when the protest started.
Repressions against solidarity along escape routes
Repression and criminalization against solidarity movements along escape routes has increased massively in recent years. The criminalization of people trying to build self-organized alternatives to repressive asylum policies can be observed repeatedly: Squatted houses in Belgrade as shelter from the extrem cold were repeatedly evicted; protest actions in Hungary in the fight against the racist show trial of Ahmed H. were prosecuted; self-organized sea rescue operations were attacked; the simple basic supply of refugees in Ventimiglia or the accommodation of fugitives in private homes in Brussels was criminalized.
You can’t evict a movement…
Despite state repression there still is self-organized resistance and there is a broad network of solidarity structures. Places and structures outside of state control, surveillance and repression exist and are necessary. In many cities, for example, there are social centers and squats where free language courses, medical care, legal advice on repression and asylum procedures, food and clothing, but also theater, music and cinema are organized. Countless common struggles of diff erent forms and faces take place permanently: by people along the EU borders, in the camps, in (deportation) prisons and on the streets; against the inhuman conditions and the EU border regime and for free spaces and freedom of movement of people – some more visible than others.
…you can’t evict solidarity!
The anti-repression campaign “You can’t evict solidarity” initially was launched in the summer of 2016 as a reaction to the evictions of solidarity squats in Thessaloniki. The accused people were acquitted in September 2018. The campaign though continues to support people who are aff ected by state repression after. Be it for acts of resistance in anti-racist fights or struggles to self-determination on the EU borders or already within the fortress of Europe. Since 2016, several thousand euros in donations have been collected and passed on to those aff ected to pay lawyers and court costs. In addition, court cases are accompanied and monitored by activists on the ground, in the courts or from afar, but always with solidarity and publicity work to raise awareness on cases otherwise silenced. The network does public presentations on current situations along the Balkan route. Transnational networking and cooperation with those aff ected and local initiatives are established. Some acquittals were obtained and people were released from prisons