Février 2019 :
Fortress Europe continues to take lives. This week, a young man’s body was found in #Istria (▻https://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/u-gustoj-sumi-kod-istre-pronadjen-mrtvi-migrant/2062081.aspx), in the inaccessible forest area of #Vodni_dol. It was determined that he died due to freezing (▻http://hr.n1info.com/Vijesti/a368976/Mladi-migrant-smrznuo-se-do-smrti-na-Cicariji.html). The search went off after the police in Žejane met an individual of Sudanese origin who pointed to the man in need of help. The Sudanese got charged for the offense of illegal border crossing, but it is not known whether he was granted access to asylum. In #Velika_Kladuša, a 33-year-old Algerian (▻http://www.federalna.ba/bhs/vijest/264429 was killed in a car crash. According to the testimonies of a friend who was with him, the driver left the car and escaped. What is further concerning, according to his claim, is that the Miral staff did not want to call for help and potentially save the life of an injured man.
Message reçu par email, le 11.02.2019.
En fait, des quelques recherches effectuées, le premier décès a eu lieu en Istrie... or, des informations reçues, je n’arrive pas à comprendre dans quel pays : Croatie ? Slovénie ?
Message de la personne auprès de qui j’ai reçu l’information :
As for the humans, whose lives were lost, you were right. The first man was found in Istria, the region of Croatia. And the second one was killed in Velika Kladusa in Bosnia.
Border Violence Monitoring reported that a young Algerian man died in the Croatian forest. Two weeks ago, specifically on 31 March, Oussama died during “the game” in Croatia, while the rest of the group he was travelling with was detained for nearly two weeks. They have been then pushed back on 11 April. Croatian Mountain Rescue Service published the news on 31 March (▻http://www.gss.hr/novosti/iz-70-metara-duboke-jame-izvuceno-bezivotno-tijelo-muskarca), but from their text, it wasn’t specified or known that the body found was actually from a person on the move. A day later, Croatian media (▻https://www.tportal.hr/vijesti/clanak/poginuli-muskarac-iz-kraske-jame-kod-vrhovina-najvjerojatnije-alzirac-201904) reported on it, without putting the tragic death in any context: in fact, as you can read from the testimony published by BVM (▻https://www.borderviolence.eu/violence-reports/march-30-2019-0000-20km-east-from-otocac-at-the-north-west-end-of-the), “At 3 am in the night, the group saw a light and assumed that it was the police. They ran away and suddenly heard Oussama screaming when he fell into the hole where he died. After that, 2 of the group walked around 14 km to the next village, where they explained their situation to a Croatian woman around 12 am. She called the police that arrived 20 minutes later. As an excuse, the police told them that they had to wait for a train to pass at an intersection. The Police also ordered a forest-guide to come. The group witnessed the forest-guide taking preparations to recover the dead body (9 hours after death)”. After witnessing the horrible death of their companion on the road, they experienced limitation of freedom of movement, deprivation of personal goods like mobile phones, humiliation, denial of access to the asylum procedure, even if clearly expressed their will to seek asylum in the country. Moreover, they had to sign papers in the local language, thus not being able to understand it nor the presence of a translator or lawyer have been provided.
Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodošli, le 24.04.2019
Vu sur Twitter :
M.Potte-Bonneville @pottebonneville a retweeté Catherine Boitard
Vous vous souvenez ? Elle avait sauvé ses compagnons en tirant l’embarcation à la nage pendant trois heures : Sarah Mardini, nageuse olympique et réfugiée syrienne, est arrêtée pour aide à l’immigration irrégulière.
Les olympiades de la honte 2018 promettent de beaux records
M.Potte-Bonneville @pottebonneville a retweeté Catherine Boitard @catboitard :
Avec sa soeur Yusra, nageuse olympique et distinguée par l’ONU, elle avait sauvé 18 réfugiés de la noyade à leur arrivée en Grèce. La réfugiée syrienne Sarah Mardini, boursière à Berlin et volontaire de l’ONG ERCI, a été arrêtée à Lesbos pour aide à immigration irrégulière
GRÈCE : LA POLICE ARRÊTE 30 MEMBRES D’UNE ONG D’AIDE AUX RÉFUGIÉS
La police a arrêté, mardi 28 août, 30 membres de l’ONG grecque #ERCI, dont les soeurs syriennes Yusra et Sarah Mardini, qui avaient sauvé la vie à 18 personnes en 2015. Les militant.e.s sont accusés d’avoir aidé des migrants à entrer illégalement sur le territoire grec via l’île de Lesbos. Ils déclarent avoir agi dans le cadre de l’assistance à personnes en danger.
Par Marina Rafenberg
L’ONG grecque Emergency response centre international (ERCY) était présente sur l’île de Lesbos depuis 2015 pour venir en aide aux réfugiés. Depuis mardi 28 août, ses 30 membres sont poursuivis pour avoir « facilité l’entrée illégale d’étrangers sur le territoire grec » en vue de gains financiers, selon le communiqué de la police grecque.
L’enquête a commencé en février 2018, rapporte le site d’information protagon.gr, lorsqu’une Jeep portant une fausse plaque d’immatriculation de l’armée grecque a été découverte par la police sur une plage, attendant l’arrivée d’une barque pleine de réfugiés en provenance de Turquie. Les membres de l’ONG, six Grecs et 24 ressortissants étrangers, sont accusés d’avoir été informés à l’avance par des personnes présentes du côté turc des heures et des lieux d’arrivée des barques de migrants, d’avoir organisé l’accueil de ces réfugiés sans en informer les autorités locales et d’avoir surveillé illégalement les communications radio entre les autorités grecques et étrangères, dont Frontex, l’agence européenne des gardes-cotes et gardes-frontières. Les crimes pour lesquels ils sont inculpés – participation à une organisation criminelle, violation de secrets d’État et recel – sont passibles de la réclusion à perpétuité.
Parmi les membres de l’ONG grecque arrêtés se trouve Yusra et Sarah Mardini, deux sœurs nageuses et réfugiées syrienne qui avaient sauvé 18 personnes de la noyade lors de leur traversée de la mer Égée en août 2015. Depuis Yusra a participé aux Jeux Olympiques de Rio, est devenue ambassadrice de l’ONU et a écrit un livre, Butterfly. Sarah avait quant à elle décidé d’aider à son tour les réfugiés qui traversaient dangereusement la mer Égée sur des bateaux de fortune et s’était engagée comme bénévole dans l’ONG ERCI durant l’été 2016.
Sarah a été arrêtée le 21 août à l’aéroport de Lesbos alors qu’elle devait rejoindre Berlin où elle vit avec sa famille. Le 3 septembre, elle devait commencer son année universitaire au collège Bard en sciences sociales. La jeune Syrienne de 23 ans a été transférée à la prison de Korydallos, à Athènes, dans l’attente de son procès. Son avocat a demandé mercredi sa remise en liberté.
Ce n’est pas la première fois que des ONG basées à Lesbos ont des soucis avec la justice grecque. Des membres de l’ONG espagnole Proem-Aid avaient aussi été accusés d’avoir participé à l’entrée illégale de réfugiés sur l’île. Ils ont été relaxés en mai dernier. D’après le ministère de la Marine, 114 ONG ont été enregistrées sur l’île, dont les activités souvent difficilement contrôlables inquiètent le gouvernement grec et ses partenaires européens.
Arrest of Syrian ’hero swimmer’ puts Lesbos refugees back in spotlight
Sara Mardini’s case adds to fears that rescue work is being criminalised and raises questions about NGO.
Greece’s high-security #Korydallos prison acknowledges that #Sara_Mardini is one of its rarer inmates. For a week, the Syrian refugee, a hero among human rights defenders, has been detained in its women’s wing on charges so serious they have elicited baffled dismay.
The 23-year-old, who saved 18 refugees in 2015 by swimming their waterlogged dingy to the shores of Lesbos with her Olympian sister, is accused of people smuggling, espionage and membership of a criminal organisation – crimes allegedly committed since returning to work with an NGO on the island. Under Greek law, Mardini can be held in custody pending trial for up to 18 months.
“She is in a state of disbelief,” said her lawyer, Haris Petsalnikos, who has petitioned for her release. “The accusations are more about criminalising humanitarian action. Sara wasn’t even here when these alleged crimes took place but as charges they are serious, perhaps the most serious any aid worker has ever faced.”
Mardini’s arrival to Europe might have gone unnoticed had it not been for the extraordinary courage she and younger sister, Yusra, exhibited guiding their boat to safety after the engine failed during the treacherous crossing from Turkey. Both were elite swimmers, with Yusra going on to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The sisters, whose story is the basis of a forthcoming film by the British director Stephen Daldry, were credited with saving the lives of their fellow passengers. In Germany, their adopted homeland, the pair has since been accorded star status.
It was because of her inspiring story that Mardini was approached by Emergency Response Centre International, ERCI, on Lesbos. “After risking her own life to save 18 people … not only has she come back to ground zero, but she is here to ensure that no more lives get lost on this perilous journey,” it said after Mardini agreed to join its ranks in 2016.
After her first stint with ERCI, she again returned to Lesbos last December to volunteer with the aid group. And until 21 August there was nothing to suggest her second spell had not gone well. But as Mardini waited at Mytilini airport to head back to Germany, and a scholarship at Bard College in Berlin, she was arrested. Soon after that, police also arrested ERCI’s field director, Nassos Karakitsos, a former Greek naval force officer, and Sean Binder, a German volunteer who lives in Ireland. All three have protested their innocence.
The arrests come as signs of a global clampdown on solidarity networks mount. From Russia to Spain, European human rights workers have been targeted in what campaigners call an increasingly sinister attempt to silence civil society in the name of security.
“There is the concern that this is another example of civil society being closed down by the state,” said Jonathan Cooper, an international human rights lawyer in London. “What we are really seeing is Greek authorities using Sara to send a very worrying message that if you volunteer for refugee work you do so at your peril.”
But amid concerns about heavy-handed tactics humanitarians face, Greek police say there are others who see a murky side to the story, one ofpeople trafficking and young volunteers being duped into participating in a criminal network unwittingly. In that scenario,the Mardini sisters would make prime targets.
Greek authorities spent six months investigating the affair. Agents were flown into Lesbos from Athens and Thessaloniki. In an unusually long and detailed statement, last week, Mytilini police said that while posing as a non-profit organisation, ERCI had acted with the sole purpose of profiteering by bringing people illegally into Greece via the north-eastern Aegean islands.
Members had intercepted Greek and European coastguard radio transmissions to gain advance notification of the location of smugglers’ boats, police said, and that 30, mostly foreign nationals, were lined up to be questioned in connection with the alleged activities. Other “similar organisations” had also collaborated in what was described as “an informal plan to confront emergency situations”, they added.
Suspicions were first raised, police said, when Mardini and Binder were stopped in February driving a former military 4X4 with false number plates. ERCI remained unnamed until the release of the charge sheets for the pair and that of Karakitsos.
Lesbos has long been on the frontline of the refugee crisis, attracting idealists and charity workers. Until a dramatic decline in migration numbers via the eastern Mediterranean in March 2016, when a landmark deal was signed between the EU and Turkey, the island was the main entry point to Europe.
An estimated 114 NGOs and 7,356 volunteers are based on Lesbos, according to Greek authorities. Local officials talk of “an industry”, and with more than 10,000 refugees there and the mood at boiling point, accusations of NGOs acting as a “pull factor” are rife.
“Sara’s motive for going back this year was purely humanitarian,” said Oceanne Fry, a fellow student who in June worked alongside her at a day clinic in the refugee reception centre.
“At no point was there any indication of illegal activity by the group … but I can attest to the fact that, other than our intake meeting, none of the volunteers ever met, or interacted, with its leadership.”
The mayor of Lesbos, Spyros Galinos, said he has seen “good and bad” in the humanitarian movement since the start of the refugee crisis.
“Everything is possible,. There is no doubt that some NGOs have exploited the situation. The police announcement was uncommonly harsh. For a long time I have been saying that we just don’t need all these NGOs. When the crisis erupted, yes, the state was woefully unprepared but now that isn’t the case.”
Attempts to contact ERCI were unsuccessful. Neither a telephone number nor an office address – in a scruffy downtown building listed by the aid group on social media – appeared to have any relation to it.
In a statement released more than a week after Mardini’s arrest, ERCI denied the allegations, saying it had fallen victim to “unfounded claims, accusations and charges”. But it failed to make any mention of Mardini.
“It makes no sense at all,” said Amed Khan, a New York financier turned philanthropist who has donated boats for ERCI’s search and rescue operations. To accuse any of them of human trafficking is crazy.
“In today’s fortress Europe you have to wonder whether Brussels isn’t behind it, whether this isn’t a concerted effort to put a chill on civil society volunteers who are just trying to help. After all, we’re talking about grassroots organisations with global values that stepped up into the space left by authorities failing to do their bit.”
The volunteers facing jail for rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean
The risk of refugees and migrants drowning in the Mediterranean has increased dramatically over the past few years.
As the European Union pursued a policy of externalisation, voluntary groups stepped in to save the thousands of people making the dangerous crossing. One by one, they are now criminalised.
The arrest of Sarah Mardini, one of two Syrian sisters who saved a number of refugees in 2015 by pulling their sinking dinghy to Greece, has brought the issue to international attention.
There aren’t chairs enough for the people gathered in Mytilíni Court. Salam Aldeen sits front row to the right. He has a nervous smile on his face, mouth half open, the tongue playing over his lips.
Noise emanates from the queue forming in the hallway as spectators struggle for a peak through the door’s windows. The morning heat is already thick and moist – not helped by the two unplugged fans hovering motionless in dead air.
Police officers with uneasy looks, 15 of them, lean up against the cooling walls of the court. From over the judge, a golden Jesus icon looks down on the assembly. For the sunny holiday town on Lesbos, Greece, this is not a normal court proceeding.
Outside the court, international media has unpacked their cameras and unloaded their equipment. They’ve come from the New York Times, Deutsche Welle, Danish, Greek and Spanish media along with two separate documentary teams.
There is no way of knowing when the trial will end. Maybe in a couple of days, some of the journalists say, others point to the unpredictability of the Greek judicial system. If the authorities decide to make a principle out of the case, this could take months.
Salam Aldeen, in a dark blue jacket, white shirt and tie, knows this. He is charged with human smuggling and faces life in jail.
More than 16,000 people have drowned in less than five years trying to cross the Mediterranean. That’s an average of ten people dying every day outside Europe’s southern border – more than the Russia-Ukraine conflict over the same period.
In 2015, when more than one million refugees crossed the Mediterranean, the official death toll was around 3,700. A year later, the number of migrants dropped by two thirds – but the death toll increased to more than 5,000. With still fewer migrants crossing during 2017 and the first half of 2018, one would expect the rate of surviving to pick up.
The numbers, however, tell a different story. For a refugee setting out to cross the Mediterranean today, the risk of drowning has significantly increased.
The deaths of thousands of people don’t happen in a vacuum. And it would be impossible to explain the increased risks of crossing without considering recent changes in EU-policies towards migration in the Mediterranean.
The criminalisation of a Danish NGO-worker on the tiny Greek island of Lesbos might help us understand the deeper layers of EU immigration policy.
The deterrence effect
On 27 March 2011, 72 migrants flee Tripoli and squeeze into a 12m long rubber dinghy with a max capacity of 25 people. They start the outboard engine and set out in the Mediterranean night, bound for the Italian island of Lampedusa. In the morning, they are registered by a French aircraft flying over. The migrants stay on course. But 18 hours into their voyage, they send out a distress-call from a satellite phone. The signal is picked up by the rescue centre in Rome who alerts other vessels in the area.
Two hours later, a military helicopter flies over the boat. At this point, the migrants accidentally drop their satellite phone in the sea. In the hours to follow, the migrants encounter several fishing boats – but their call of distress is ignored. As day turns into night, a second helicopter appears and drops rations of water and biscuits before leaving.
And then, the following morning on 28 March – the migrants run out of fuel. Left at the mercy of wind and oceanic currents, the migrants embark on a hopeless journey. They drift south; exactly where they came from.
They don’t see any ships the following day. Nor the next; a whole week goes by without contact to the outside world. But then, somewhere between 3 and 5 April, a military vessel appears on the horizon. It moves in on the migrants and circle their boat.
The migrants, exhausted and on the brink of despair, wave and signal distress. But as suddenly as it arrived, the military vessel turns around and disappears. And all hope with it.
On April 10, almost a week later, the migrant vessel lands on a beach south of Tripoli. Of the 72 passengers who left 2 weeks ago, only 11 make it back alive. Two die shortly hereafter.
Lorenzo Pezzani, lecturer at Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths University of London, was stunned when he read about the case. In 2011, he was still a PhD student developing new spatial and aesthetic visual tools to document human rights violations. Concerned with the rising number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, Lorenzo Pezzani and his colleague Charles Heller founded Forensic Oceanography, an affiliated group to Forensic Architecture. Their first project was to uncover the events and policies leading to a vessel left adrift in full knowledge by international rescue operations.
It was the public outrage fuelled by the 2013 Lampedusa shipwreck which eventually led to the deployment of Operation Mare Nostrum. At this point, the largest migration of people since the Second World War, the Syrian exodus, could no longer be contained within Syria’s neighbouring countries. At the same time, a relative stability in Libya after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011 descended into civil war; waves of migrants started to cross the Mediterranean.
From October 2013, Mare Nostrum broke with the reigning EU-policy of non-interference and deployed Italian naval vessels, planes and helicopters at a monthly cost of €9.5 million. The scale was unprecedented; saving lives became the political priority over policing and border control. In terms of lives saved, the operation was an undisputed success. Its own life, however, would be short.
A critical narrative formed on the political right and was amplified by sections of the media: Mare Nostrum was accused of emboldening Libyan smugglers who – knowing rescue ships were waiting – would send out more migrants. In this understanding, Mare Nostrum constituted a so-called “pull factor” on migrants from North African countries. A year after its inception, Mare Nostrum was terminated.
In late 2014, Mare Nostrum was replaced by Operation Triton led by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, with an initial budget of €2.4 million per month. Triton refocused on border control instead of sea rescues in an area much closer to Italian shores. This was a return to the pre-Mare Nostrum policy of non-assistance to deter migrants from crossing. But not only did the change of policy fail to act as a deterrence against the thousands of migrants still crossing the Mediterranean, it also left a huge gap between the amount of boats in distress and operational rescue vessels. A gap increasingly filled by merchant vessels.
Merchant vessels, however, do not have the equipment or training to handle rescues of this volume. On 31 March 2015, the shipping community made a call to EU-politicians warning of a “terrible risk of further catastrophic loss of life as ever-more desperate people attempt this deadly sea crossing”. Between 1 January and 20 May 2015, merchant ships rescued 12.000 people – 30 per cent of the total number rescued in the Mediterranean.
As the shipping community had already foreseen, the new policy of non-assistance as deterrence led to several horrific incidents. These culminated in two catastrophic shipwrecks on 12 and 18 April 2015 and the death of 1,200 people. In both cases, merchant vessels were right next to the overcrowded migrant boats when chaotic rescue attempts caused the migrant boats to take in water and eventually sink. The crew of the merchant vessels could only watch as hundreds of people disappeared in the ocean.
Back in 1990, the Dublin Convention declared that the first EU-country an asylum seeker enters is responsible for accepting or rejecting the claim. No one in 1990 had expected the Syrian exodus of 2015 – nor the gigantic pressure it would put on just a handful of member states. No other EU-member felt the ineptitudes and total unpreparedness of the immigration system than a country already knee-deep in a harrowing economic crisis. That country was Greece.
In September 2015, when the world saw the picture of a three-year old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a beach in Turkey, Europe was already months into what was readily called a “refugee crisis”. Greece was overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Syrian war. During the following month alone, a staggering 200.000 migrants crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to reach Europe. With a minimum of institutional support, it was volunteers like Salam Aldeen who helped reduce the overall number of casualties.
The peak of migrants entered Greece that autumn but huge numbers kept arriving throughout the winter – in worsening sea conditions. Salam Aldeen recalls one December morning on Lesbos.
The EU-Turkey deal
And then, from one day to the next, the EU-Turkey deal changed everything. There was a virtual stop of people crossing from Turkey to Greece. From a perspective of deterrence, the agreement was an instant success. In all its simplicity, Turkey had agreed to contain and prevent refugees from reaching the EU – by land or by sea. For this, Turkey would be given a monetary compensation.
But opponents of the deal included major human rights organisations. Simply paying Turkey a formidable sum of money (€6 billion to this date) to prevent migrants from reaching EU-borders was feared to be a symptom of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude pervasive among EU decision makers. Moreover, just like Libya in 2015 threatened to flood Europe with migrants, the Turkish President Erdogan would suddenly have a powerful geopolitical card on his hands. A concern that would later be confirmed by EU’s vague response to Erdogan’s crackdown on Turkish opposition.
As immigration dwindled in Greece, the flow of migrants and refugees continued and increased in the Central Mediterranean during the summer of 2016. At the same time, disorganised Libyan militias were now running the smuggling business and exploited people more ruthlessly than ever before. Migrant boats without satellite phones or enough provision or fuel became increasingly common. Due to safety concerns, merchant vessels were more reluctant to assist in rescue operations. The death toll increased.
Frustrated with the perceived apathy of EU states, Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) responded to the situation. At its peak, 12 search and rescue NGO vessels were operating in the Mediterranean and while the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) paused many of its operations during the fall and winter of 2016, the remaining NGO vessels did the bulk of the work. Under increasingly dangerous weather conditions, 47 per cent of all November rescues were carried out by NGOs.
Around this time, the first accusations were launched against rescue NGOs from ‘alt-right’ groups. Accusations, it should be noted, conspicuously like the ones sounded against Mare Nostrum. Just like in 2014, Frontex and EU-politicians followed up and accused NGOs of posing a “pull factor”. The now Italian vice-prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, went even further and denounced NGOs as “taxis for migrants”. Just like in 2014, no consideration was given to the conditions in Libya.
Moreover, NGOs were falsely accused of collusion with Libyan smugglers. Meanwhile Italian agents had infiltrated the crew of a Save the Children rescue vessel to uncover alleged secret evidence of collusion. The German Jugendrettet NGO-vessel, Iuventa, was impounded and – echoing Salam Aldeen’s case in Greece – the captain accused of collusion with smugglers by Italian authorities.
The attacks to delegitimise NGOs’ rescue efforts have had a clear effect: many of the NGOs have now effectively stopped their operations in the Mediterranean. Lorenzo Pezzani and Charles Heller, in their report, Mare Clausum, argued that the wave of delegitimisation of humanitarian work was just one part of a two-legged strategy – designed by the EU – to regain control over the Mediterranean.
Migrants’ rights aren’t human rights
Libya long ago descended into a precarious state of lawlessness. In the maelstrom of poverty, war and despair, migrants and refugees have become an exploitable resource for rivalling militias in a country where two separate governments compete for power.
In November 2017, a CNN investigation exposed an entire industry involving slave auctions, rape and people being worked to death.
Chief spokesman of the UN Migration Agency, Leonard Doyle, describes Libya as a “torture archipelago” where migrants transiting have no idea that they are turned into commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value.
Migrants intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) are routinely brought back to the hellish detention centres for indefinite captivity. Despite EU-leaders’ moral outcry following the exposure of the conditions in Libya, the EU continues to be instrumental in the capacity building of the LCG.
Libya hadn’t had a functioning coast guard since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011. But starting in late 2016, the LCG received increasing funding from Italy and the EU in the form of patrol boats, training and financial support.
Seeing the effect of the EU-Turkey deal in deterring refugees crossing the Aegean Sea, Italy and the EU have done all in their power to create a similar approach in Libya.
The EU Summit
Forty-two thousand undocumented migrants have so far arrived at Europe’s shores this year. That’s a fraction of the more than one million who arrived in 2015. But when EU leaders met at an “emergency summit” in Brussels in late June, the issue of migration was described by Chancellor Merkel as a “make or break” for the Union. How does this align with the dwindling numbers of refugees and migrants?
Data released in June 2018 showed that Europeans are more concerned about immigration than any other social challenge. More than half want a ban on migration from Muslim countries. Europe, it seems, lives in two different, incompatible realities as summit after summit tries to untie the Gordian knot of the migration issue.
Inside the courthouse in Mytilini, Salam Aldeen is questioned by the district prosecutor. The tropical temperature induces an echoing silence from the crowded spectators. The district prosecutor looks at him, open mouth, chin resting on her fist.
She seems impatient with the translator and the process of going from Greek to English and back. Her eyes search the room. She questions him in detail about the night of arrest. He answers patiently. She wants Salam Aldeen and the four crew members to be found guilty of human smuggling.
Salam Aldeen’s lawyer, Mr Fragkiskos Ragkousis, an elderly white-haired man, rises before the court for his final statement. An ancient statuette with his glasses in one hand. Salam’s parents sit with scared faces, they haven’t slept for two days; the father’s comforting arm covers the mother’s shoulder. Then, like a once dormant volcano, the lawyer erupts in a torrent of pathos and logos.
“Political interests changed the truth and created this wicked situation, playing with the defendant’s freedom and honour.”
He talks to the judge as well as the public. A tragedy, a drama unfolds. The prosecutor looks remorseful, like a small child in her large chair, almost apologetic. Defeated. He’s singing now, Ragkousis. Index finger hits the air much like thunder breaks the night sounding the roar of something eternal. He then sits and the room quiets.
It was “without a doubt” that the judge acquitted Salam Aldeen and his four colleagues on all charges. The prosecutor both had to determine the defendants’ intention to commit the crime – and that the criminal action had been initialised. She failed at both. The case, as the Italian case against the Iuventa, was baseless.
But EU’s policy of externalisation continues. On 17 March 2018, the ProActiva rescue vessel, Open Arms, was seized by Italian authorities after it had brought back 217 people to safety.
Then again in June, the decline by Malta and Italy’s new right-wing government to let the Aquarious rescue-vessel dock with 629 rescued people on board sparked a fierce debate in international media.
In July, Sea Watch’s Moonbird, a small aircraft used to search for migrant boats, was prevented from flying any more operations by Maltese authorities; the vessel Sea Watch III was blocked from leaving harbour and the captain of a vessel from the NGO Mission Lifeline was taken to court over “registration irregularities“.
Regardless of Europe’s future political currents, geopolitical developments are only likely to continue to produce refugees worldwide. Will the EU alter its course as the crisis mutates and persists? Or are the deaths of thousands the only possible outcome?
Banu Cennetoğlu: ’As long as I have resources, I will make The List more visible’ | World news | The Guardian
he artist Banu Cennetoğlu can remember precisely the moment she was overwhelmed by the List, a catalogue, made by volunteers, of those who had died in their attempt to make a new life in Europe. It was 2002. She was based at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, studying photography. Researching the architecture of border posts for a project, she stumbled across it on the website of United for Intercultural Action, a network of NGOs supporting migrants and refugees. Back then, it was a document of 15 pages and 6,000 names; now it has over 30,000. “I started to read, and that was it,” she says. It was the start of a relationship that still continues in all its original fervour. “I know,” she adds, “that as long as I have resources as an artist I will continue to make this list more visible.”
Cennetoğlu, an intense, warm woman in her mid-40s, immediately realised that she wanted – needed – people to encounter the List, in all its terrible rawness and cumulative power. She printed it out and pressed it on to people she met, left copies in cafes, made stickers and stuck them on ATMs around the city. It didn’t seem enough. She liked the idea of hiring billboards – not enormous hoardings but the kind of eye-level, poster-size advertising sites that were dotted around Amsterdam. The question was where to get the money, though that seemed easy enough – the Netherlands, at the time, had plenty of money for artists. “But then there were five years of constant attempts and they all failed,” she says. The conversations with potential funders played out repetitively. “People would ask me, ‘Is it an artwork?’ I would reply that it wasn’t. And they would say, ‘Well, if it’s not art, we cannot give you the money.’”
The Guardian publishes the full UNITED List of 34,361 Refugee Deaths on 20 June International Refugee Day
In recognition of World Refugee day, The Guardian, in collaboration with artist Banu Cennetoglu, Chisenhale Gallery and Liverpool Biennial is distributing the full UNITED ’List of Deaths’ in its print and online edition.
Since 1993, UNITED for Intercultural Action has recorded the reported names, origins and causes of death for more than 34,000 refugees and migrants who have died whilst trying to get into Europe due to the restrictive policies of “Fortress Europe”. The List, which currently contains 56 pages of names, will be included in full in print and available to download on The Guardian’s as well as the UNITED website.
In a 64-page print supplement, The List is accompanied by thought pieces covering how the shape of the refugee crisis has changed over the years. There are also case studies taking a deeper look behind some of the names of those listed and an interview with artist Banu Cennetoglu, who since 2007, facilitates distribution of the List around the world.
Free of charge copies of the newspaper with the 64-page supplement will be available at Chisenhale Gallery (28 June-26 August 2018) and Liverpool Biennial (14 July-28 October 2018).
UNITED Campaign “Fatal Policies of Fortress Europe”: No More Deaths - Time for Change!
Fortress Europe is nearly impenetrable. Several deals made over the last years, such as the EU-Turkey deal or the more recent Italy-Libya deal, as well as the continued construction of walls and fences increasingly close routes to a life in safety. As a last chance, many are forced to choose a journey of life and death crossing the Mediterranean. However, most Lifeseekers don’t get to the other side of the Mediterranean. Refugees die suffocated in trucks, crossing rivers and mountains or are shot by guards. They die due to the inhumane conditions of detention centers or lack of medical assistance, commit suicide out of despair, or are killed after being deported to their country. They are denied both protection of our authorities and recourse to justice. Rescue boats are stranded on the Mediterranean for weeks while their passengers try to survive under inhumane conditions until an EU member state agrees to accept them at their port, such as in the recent case of the Aquarius. As diverse as they may seem, all of these deaths are direct results of EU border militarization, asylum laws, detention policies and deportations.
Many national governments throughout Europe have shifted to the right and changes in asylum legislation follow suit. Afghanistan today is categorised as a safe country of origin to deport people to, whereas European citizens are not advised to travel there claiming the country is one of the most dangerous in the world. Such explicit double standards are persistent and established in migration legislation throughout the European Union. Italy’s recent deal with Libya has resulted in severe human rights violations by the Libyan coast guards and increased the risk of [refugees to be subject to] human trafficking.
Every human has the right to look for a safe place to live, and the EU needs to establish secure access and humane treatment for those seeking refuge in Europe. We demand that death by policy ends and all member states provide safety and dignity for all as a minimum standard of human rights.
Mark Rice-Oxley, special projects editor, Guardian News & Media, said:
“This List of Deaths is a startling and heroic piece of work by UNITED for Intercultural Action. It exposes a terrifying truth of mounting human misery, of utterly preventable death stretching back more than 25 years - and of a failure of imagination by the world’s biggest bloc of liberal democracies. That is why The Guardian is publishing it in full on 20 June.”
Banu Cennetoglu, artist, said:
“I believe the power of printed material and its possible impact especially in the case of this List. I hope the dissemination and the contextualisation through The Guardian and its editors will remind people of the capacity they do have in order to interfere with those fatal policies and their makers.”
Geert Ates, UNITED, said:
“Since 1993, we have recorded the names and incidents of refugee deaths to draw public attention to the deadly consequences of the building of a Fortress Europe. The dissemination of our full list by the world’s leading newspaper, The Guardian, on World Refugee Day, will help UNITED enormously to find wider support for the necessary change of policies: No More Deaths! Time for Change!”
For more information, please contact:
Geert Ates (UNITED)
Safeguarding borders for an open Europe
Freedom of movement is a right enshrined in the European Union’s area of freedom, security and justice. But it is only by protecting the EU’s external borders that this freedom can continue to exist, writes Fabrice Leggeri.
At the same time, returning to the old system of checking passports and customs papers at every border within the EU would not only damage mutual trust but could do irreparable harm to our economies.
But even though a recent study by the European Parliament found that the indefinite suspension of the Schengen Area could cost up to €230 billion over a period of 10 years, the concept of the area of freedom, security and justice has taken a series of hard knocks over the last few years.
This was due in part to the influx of refugees that began with the deterioration of the situation in Syria. Then there were the terror attacks that have taken place on European soil with horrifying frequency have aroused fears for security, a topic that surveys show is high on the list of priorities of EU citizens.
In seeking remedies, we must not frame migration as a security problem. Indeed, conflating these issues would play into the hands of the very extremists we are struggling to defeat. However, we need stable borders, and for this, we need new and innovative European solutions.
The recent transformation of Frontex into the European Border and Coast Guard Agency is just such a solution. It allows us to move beyond our former focus on migration and migratory flows to safeguarding the security of the EU’s external borders, including the crucial fight against organised crime.
It is a tough task. But our increased budget and expanded mandate give us invaluable tools to assess weaknesses in the border control capabilities of member states and address them by making specific recommendations, such as modernising equipment, deploying additional officers to particular sections of the border, providing training to frontline practitioners, or in some places improving the reception and registration facilities for newly arrived migrants.
With a coastline of almost 66,000 km and land borders of more than 13,000 km, Europe is only as secure as its external borders. And on the basis of our own findings and analysis, we know there are indeed many dangers lurking, from the human traffickers through to the many tonnes of hard drugs and weapons seized with our help on their way into the EU.
That is why we now have more than 1,700 officers deployed at the EU’s external borders to assist member states. The new mandate has also allowed us to establish a large pool of officers committed by national authorities, who can be rapidly deployed in case of proven threats.
So Frontex is increasingly moving from a supporting role to coordinating and complementing the work of our partners in the member states, and this trend will strengthen further over the next decade.
However, we will still remain only one piece of the puzzle. Our colleagues in the European Commission and Parliament are another. And the many remaining pieces are made up of the national border and coast guards, the frontline workers at the EU’s borders and their brave colleagues out on the high seas. It is together with them, and only together, that Frontex forms the European border and coast guard.
Since its inception in 2004, Frontex has found itself the brunt of criticism, either that the agency is trying to create ‘Fortress Europe’, ignoring the needs of those fleeing war and persecution; or conversely, that it is not being tough enough on protecting the EU’s external borders.
Of concern to me is not so much that the errors at the root of this critique indicate a lack of understanding of our work, but – far more importantly – of the issues at stake.
For border security is not a matter of encouraging unfounded suspicions, or indiscriminately excluding those who need our help. In fact, it is quite the reverse.
By improving our risk analysis, intelligence sharing, and surveillance techniques, we ensure that the needs of people seeking international protection from war or persecution are met, while those who could endanger our security are detected and dealt with appropriately.
And strengthening our borders is not just about irregular migrants. Since March 2017, everybody crossing the EU’s external borders legally has been checked. And the EU is at an advanced stage of establishing a system similar to the one used in the US, to check that visitors from countries exempt from visa requirements do not pose a threat of any kind during their stay.
As Frontex continues to expand, there is nonetheless one thing that will not change. Rescuing people in danger is an essential part of our mandate wherever Frontex is active at the EU’s maritime borders.
Indeed, I would go so far as to say that respect for fundamental rights is an integral component of effective border management. The agency is bound by the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, and Frontex has advanced mechanisms for recording potential or alleged violations.
Finally, I must make the point that border management is not the answer to all Europe’s challenges, just as it is not an ersatz for migration policy. If we want to put an end to the drowning in the Mediterranean and the deaths in the Sahel, we need to work harder and cooperate more closely to eliminate the root causes of migration, from armed conflict through to famine.
At the same time (and as reiterated by the European Commission on numerous occasions), we need to offer those in need of international protection legal paths to enter the EU. This would not only save lives but also cut off financing for the criminal smuggling rings currently making a fortune out of the misery of their fellow humans.
So we are speaking here not just about migration or borders, but about the EU and our own future. Some people took the events of 2015 and the ongoing crisis to claim that the EU has failed as a project and belongs on the rubbish heap of history. I believe the opposite.
With the creation of the European Border and Coast Guard, the EU has embarked on a new stage of its journey. There is no single country that can safeguard its citizens from internationally organised crime, and at the same time meet its humanitarian obligations to assist those fleeing persecution.
If protecting our external borders and safeguarding free movement really matters to us, then it is time to speak out for Europe, and for the additional resources needed at the regional and national level to avoid a repeat of 2015. This would serve the interests not just of a few, but of everyone in the EU.
#frontières_extérieures #ouverture_des_frontières #fermeture_des_frontières #liberté_de_mouvement (mais que à l’intérieur de l’Europe c’est une bonne chose, nous suggère #Leggeri)
Je me suis permise de corriger son titre, sur twitter :
Un commentaire sur FB, de Yasha Maccanico :
Perfect comment, Cristina! ... Frontex should have been disbanded in 2014 because in 10 years since its creation it had undermined everything that is worthwhile about Europe, including freedom of movement, and betrayed the EU to promote the corporate plunder of its resources by security and technology firms. It is currently the agency for the institutionalisation of racism and discrimination, for the systematic violation of human rights, for the funding of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes to entrap their citizens and promote racism against foreigners who may be making their way towards Europe, for the subordination of humanity to procedures to enable its control technologies to function and mistreat human beings who disobey. Its role alongside the Commission in the European Agenda on Migration has been subversive and has successfully pushed Italy and other states towards intolerance and in a nationalist-fascist direction for the purpose of fighting so-called irregular migration. What it terms safeguarding borders means mass murder, the mass detention and abuse of people and the violation of every existing right and legal safeguard to disempower its targets. Leggeri and Avramopoulos need to be held to account for this... every penny (or cent) spent on Frontex and on fighting so-called irregular immigration works against Europe and the EU, degrading both. The economic and ethical cost of what they are doing is enormous...
Border fences and internal border controls in Europe
The EU has built #1000_km of border walls since fall of Berlin Wall
European Union states have built over 1,000km of border walls since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a new study into Fortress Europe has found.
Migration researchers have quantified the continent’s anti-immigrant infrastructure and found that the EU has gone from just two walls in the 1990s to 15 by 2017.
Ten out of 28 member states stretching from Spain to Latvia have now built such border walls, with a sharp increase during the 2015 migration panic, when seven new barriers were erected.
Despite celebrations this year that the Berlin Wall had now been down for longer than it was ever up, Europe has now completed the equivalent length of six Berlin walls during the same period. The barriers are mostly focused on keeping out undocumented migrants and would-be refugees.
The erection of the barriers has also coincided with the rise of xenophobic parties across the continent, with 10 out of 28 seeing such parties win more than half a million votes in elections since 2010.
“Europe’s own history shows that building walls to resolve political or social issues comes at an unacceptable cost for liberty and human rights,” Nick Buxton, researcher at the Transnational Institute and editor of the report said.
“Ultimately it will also harm those who build them as it creates a fortress that no one wants to live in. Rather than building walls, Europe should be investing in stopping the wars and poverty that fuels migration.”
Tens of thousands of people have died trying to migrate into Europe, with one estimate from June this year putting the figure at over 34,000 since the EU’s foundation in 1993. A total of 3,915 fatalities were recorded in 2017.
The report also looked at eight EU maritime rescue operations launched by the bloc, seven of which were carried out specifically by the EU’s border agency Frontex.
The researchers found that none of the operations, all conducted in the Mediterranean, had the rescue of people as their principal goal – with all of them focused on “eliminating criminality in border areas and slowing down the arrival of displaced peoples”.
Just one, Operation Mare Nostrum, which was carried out by the Italian government, included humanitarian organisations in its fleets. It has since been scrapped and replaced by Frontex’s Operation Triton, which has a smaller budget.
“These measures lead to refugees and displaced peoples being treated like criminals,” Ainhoa Ruiz Benedicto, researcher for Delàs Center and co-author of the report said.
At the June European Council, EU leaders were accused by NGOs of “deliberately condemning vulnerable people to be trapped in Libya, or die at sea”, after they backed the stance of Italy’s populist government and condemned rescue boats operating in the sea.
Building walls. Fear and securitization in the European Union
This report reveals that member states of the European Union and Schengen Area have constructed almost 1000 km of walls, the equivalent of more than six times the total length of the Berlin Walls, since the nineties to prevent displaced people migrating into Europe. These physical walls are accompanied by even longer ‘maritime walls’, naval operations patrolling the Mediterranean, as well as ‘virtual walls’, border control systems that seek to stop people entering or even traveling within Europe, and control movement of population.
Ainhoa Ruiz Benedicto, Pere Brunet
In collaboration with
Stop Wapenhandel, Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau
War & Pacification
On November 9th 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, marking what many hoped would be a new era of cooperation and openness across borders. German President Horst Koehler celebrating its demise some years later spoke of an ‘edifice of fear’ replaced by a ‘place of joy’, opening up the possibility of a ‘cooperative global governance which benefits everyone’. 30 years later, the opposite seems to have happened. Edifices of fear, both real and imaginary, are being constructed everywhere fuelling a rise in xenophobia and creating a far more dangerous walled world for refugees fleeing for safety.
This report reveals that member states of the European Union and Schengen Area have constructed almost 1000 km of walls, the equivalent of more than six times the total length of the Berlin Walls, since the nineties to prevent displaced people migrating into Europe. These physical walls are accompanied by even longer ‘maritime walls’, naval operations patrolling the Mediterranean, as well as ‘virtual walls’, border control systems that seek to stop people entering or even traveling within Europe, and control movement of population. Europe has turned itself in the process into a fortress excluding those outside– and in the process also increased its use of surveillance and militarised technologies that has implications for its citizens within the walls.https://www.tni.org/files/styles/content_full_width/public/building_walls_infographic_-_english_-_small.jpg?itok=2L57rUSp#.jpg
This report seeks to study and analyse the scope of the fortification of Europe as well as the ideas and narratives upon which it is built. This report examines the walls of fear stoked by xenophobic parties that have grown in popularity and exercise an undue influence on European policy. It also examines how the European response has been shaped in the context of post-9/11 by an expanded security paradigm, based on the securitization of social issues. This has transformed Europe’s policies from a more social agenda to one centred on security, in which migrations and the movements of people are considered as threats to state security. As a consequence, they are approached with the traditional security tools: militarism, control, and surveillance.
Europe’s response is unfortunately not an isolated one. States around the world are answering the biggest global security problems through walls, militarisation, and isolation from other states and the rest of the world. This has created an increasingly hostile world for people fleeing from war and political prosecution.
The foundations of “Fortress Europe” go back to the Schengen Agreement in 1985, that while establishing freedom of movement within EU borders, demanded more control of its external borders. This model established the idea of a safe interior and an unsafe exterior.
Successive European security strategies after 2003, based on America’s “Homeland Security” model, turned the border into an element that connects local and global security. As a result, the European Union Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) became increasingly militarised, and migration was increasingly viewed as a threat.
Fortress Europe was further expanded with policy of externalization of the border management to third countries in which agreements have been signed with neighbouring countries to boost border control and accept deported migrants. The border has thus been transformed into a bigger and wider geographical concept.
The walls and barriers to movement
The investigation estimates that the member states of the European Union and the Schengen area have constructed almost 1000 km of walls on their borders since nineties, to prevent the entrance of displaced people and migration into their territory.
The practice of building walls has grown immensely, from 2 walls in the decade of the 1990s to 15 in 2017. 2015 saw the largest increase, the number of walls grew from 5 to 12.
Ten out of 28 member states (Spain, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Austria, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania) have built walls on their borders to prevent immigration, all of them belonging to the Schengen area except for Bulgaria and the United Kingdom.
One country that is not a member of the European Union but belongs to the Schengen area has built a wall to prevent migration (Norway). Another (Slovakia) has built internal walls for racial segregation. A total of 13 walls have been built on EU borders or inside the Schengen area.
Two countries, both members of the European Union and the Schengen area, (Spain and Hungary) have built two walls on their borders for controlling migration. Another two (Austria and the United Kingdom) have built walls on their shared borders with Schengen countries (Slovenia and France respectively). A country outside of the European Union, but part of of the so-called Balkan route (Macedonia), has built a wall to prevent migration.
Internal controls of the Schengen area, regulated and normalized by the Schengen Borders Code of 2006, have been gone from being an exception to be the political norm, justified on the grounds of migration control and political events (such as political summit, large demonstrations or high profile visitors to a country). From only 3 internal controls in 2006, there were 20 in 2017, which indicates the expansion in restrictions and monitoring of peoples’ movements.
The maritime environment, particularly the Mediterranean, provides more barriers. The analysis shows that of the 8 main EU maritime operations (Mare Nostrum, Poseidon, Hera, Andale, Minerva, Hermes, Triton and Sophia) none have an exclusive mandate of rescuing people. All of them have had, or have, the general objective of fighting crime in border areas. Only one of them (Mare Nostrum) included humanitarian organisations in its fleet, but was replaced by Frontex’s “Triton” Operation (2013-2015) which had an increased focus on prosecuting border-related crimes. Another operation (Sophia) included direct collaboration with a military organisation (NATO) with a mandate focused on the persecution of persons that transport people on migratory routes. Analysis of these operations show that their treatment of crimes is sometimes similar to their treatment of refugees, framed as issues of security and treating refugees as threats.
There are also growing numbers of ‘virtual walls’ which seek to control, monitor and surveil people’s movements. This has resulted in the expansion, especially since 2013, of various programs to restrict people’s movement (VIS, SIS II, RTP, ETIAS, SLTD and I-Checkit) and collect biometric data. The collected data of these systems are stored in the EURODAC database, which allows analysis to establish guidelines and patterns on our movements. EUROSUR is deployed as the surveillance system for border areas.
Frontex: the walls’ borderguards
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) plays an important role in this whole process of fortress expansion and also acts and establishes coordination with third countries by its joint operation Coordination Points. Its budgets have soared in this period, growing from 6.2 million in 2005 to 302 million in 2017.
An analysis of Frontex budget data shows a growing involvement in deportation operations, whose budgets have grown from 80,000 euros in 2005 to 53 million euros in 2017.
The European Agency for the Border and Coast Guard (Frontex) deportations often violate the rights of asylum-seeking persons. Through Frontex’s agreements with third countries, asylum-seekers end up in states that violate human rights, have weak democracies, or score badly in terms of human development (HDI).
Walls of fear and the influence of the far-right
The far-right have manipulated public opinion to create irrational fears of refugees. This xenophobia sets up mental walls in people, who then demand physical walls. The analysed data shows a worrying rise in racist opinions in recent years, which has increased the percentage of votes to European parties with a xenophobic ideology, and facilitated their growing political influence.
In 28 EU member states, there are 39 political parties classified as extreme right populists that at some point of their history have had at least one parliamentary seat (in the national Parliament or in the European Parliament). At the completion of this report (July 2018), 10 member states (Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Sweden) have xenophobic parties with a strong presence, which have obtained more than half a million votes in elections since 2010. With the exception of Finland, these parties have increased their representation. In some cases, like those in Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden, there has been an alarming increase, such as Alternative for Germany (AfD) winning 94 seats in the 2017 elections (a party that did not have parliamentary representation in the 2013 elections), the Law and Justice party (PiS) in Poland winning 235 seats after the 2015 elections (an increase of 49%), and Lega Nord’s (LN) strong growth in Italy, which went from 18 seats in 2013 to 124 seats in 2018.
Our study concludes that, in 9 of these 10 states, extreme right-wing parties have a high degree of influence on the government’s migration policies, even when they are a minority party. In 4 of them (Austria, Finland, Italy and Poland) these parties have ministers in the government. In 5 of the remaining 6 countries (Germany, Denmark, Holland, Hungary, and Sweden), there has been an increase of xenophobic discourse and influence. Even centrist parties seem happy to deploy the discourse of xenophobic parties to capture a sector of their voters rather than confront their ideology and advance an alternative discourse based on people’s rights. In this way, the positions of the most radical and racist parties are amplified with hardly any effort. In short, our study confirms the rise and influence of the extreme-right in European migration policy which has resulted in the securitization and criminalization of migration and the movements of people.
The mental walls of fear are inextricably connected to the physical walls. Racism and xenophobia legitimise violence in the border area Europe. These ideas reinforce the collective imagination of a safe “interior” and an insecure “outside”, going back to the medieval concept of the fortress. They also strengthen territorial power dynamics, where the origin of a person, among other factors, determines her freedom of movement.
In this way, in Europe, structures and discourses of violence have been built up, diverting us from policies that defend human rights, coexistence and equality, or more equal relationships between territories.
Pour télécharger le rapport:
No pool, no minibar, no room service, and nonetheless:
THE BEST HOTEL IN EUROPE
The City Plaza is a hotel located in the heart of Athens. It was a symbol of the Greek crisis. For years it was closed because the owner could no longer pay out wages. Today, City Plaza is open again and fully occupied. The new guests come from around the world: from Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. These current occupants of the hotel came with no belongings and do not need to pay. They all fled from their homes, and many belong to those 50,000 desperate individuals who are currently stranded in Greece, in no-man’s-land and disastrous camps, because fenced-off Europe has shut them out.
At City Plaza, refugees find a place that allows for privacy, in an atmosphere of security and dignity. This is true for all 400 guests of the hotel, but in particular for the 185 children among them. The hotel was occupied in April by an activist group. Together with the refugees many people in solidarity now manage the hotel. There is no support from the state. But there are good food, clean hallways, a pharmacy, a hairdresser, as well as language courses, a library and legal support. Everything is maintained on a voluntary basis and supported through donations. And all decisions are made collectively.
“We live together – solidarity will win” is the motto of the City Plaza Hotel. The hotel demonstrates every day anew that even in a situation of crisis and poverty it is possible to welcome people with open arms and to create dignified living conditions for all. To that end, the collectively run hotel requires further support: for 1000 meals a day, for electricity and water, medicine, clean laundry, school materials and many other things.
And, first and foremost, in order to be and remain a political example: The City Plaza Hotel is a place of equality and solidarity, the lived antithesis to Fortress Europe and its borders of shame. It is a symbol of hope. Or simply: City Plaza is the best hotel in Europe.
This is why we support the hotel with our signatures and donations and reserve a place here.
Chai pas si ça fait #toctoc ça...
Lesvos has become the unofficial ’gate’ for refugees trying to cross into Fortress Europe over the past year. Lesvos is perhaps the largest ’island’ on the archipelago of exception along the migrant corridor, along which physical and social space are set under constant negotiation. The rugged, mountainous landscape of the north is perforated by synthetic piles of survival, ones that challenge its legitimacy over the land. Curved is also the social terrain, with displaced people, locals and volunteers renegotiating social space in the island.
Lesvos island, where land meets sea.
3D Scanned with ScanLab @ UCL (scanlabprojects.co.uk)
Sounds by Helm (PAN 63), spoken word from field_of_vision
The human and financial costs of Fortress Europe
How much do we pay for Fortress Europe? The Migrant Files and 30 other journalists investigated. Since September 1, 2015, at least 848 refugees and migrants died or went missing. Border guards counted 900,000 irregular crossings into Europe by way of sea or land, but “a large number of the people who were counted when […]
ANA DANA BEROŠ /// From the Balkans to Lampedusa: Fortress Europe, Migrants, and Refugees
International solidarity! let’s break all these borders together!
After the brutal police attack on the Hungarian border (more details soon), most of the migrants yesterday from Horgoš (SRB-HUN border) continued towards Croatia (mostly Šid and Bezdan border crossing points). All kind of support is needed now on the borders! People are exhausted, they were struggling for their right to move, resisting repression days and nights without a rest. Now they have to face the same difficulties on the croatian border as well. Croatia closed today 7 border crossing places ( Tovarnik, Ilok, Ilok 2, Principovac, Principovac 2, Batina and Erdut). People try to enter in smaller groups bypassing the blockades. We call all people in the border zones to show solidarity and support people.
Till today morning around 14 000 people entered Croatia.The authorities transport people to refugee camps, but people want to continue and move on! Some groups already arrived to the slovenian border, they face repression from the slovenian border police.
Spread the idea of DIRECT SOLIDARITY with the people who are traveling/struggling.
Slovenia is trying to close it ‘s borders. Right now it seems to be closed but mass protests on the borders can create pressure! We should not forget that the people on the move now are very powerful, many of them survived the repression/violence in fascist Hungary and today in Tovarnik where for some time police held people in a guarded are to hold them back (they were waiting for 14 hours to continue) and the crowd of children, men and women was just destroyed
part of the fence or jumped the police chains after a while as a mass protest.
Updates from Slovenia
Latest info from activists who are on the cro- slo border ( 18.09. 1 AM): “They stopped international train to Munich and send back to croatia around 100 people, and others are send further in slovenia but we dont know where. all train traffic is stopped until morning.”
“Train from zagreb to austria with approx 150 migrants is
held in train station Dobova from 19:00.A lot of police (riot police and
dogs)is here,we are not allowed to talk with migrants. situation is calm
, we are all waiting.”
“Please tell everybody, especially to refugees to stick together, to go the
border in big big numbers, let us organize a camp on the border, bigger
one. Let ua make pressure to open the borders!
Small groups are taken by police and deported or detained in closed
150 people that managed to enter Slovenia were brought to the
detention center in Postojna.
The international trains serbia- croatia-slovenia are stopped.
The slovenian police is present in Dubove with many special police
forces and dogs. In the village „Harmica“ at the croatian side of the border small groups
of migrants are arriving. Now there around 200 but it is hard to guess,
because they are not all in one place. People started to go towords and
along the river (Sutla river) that marks the border of cro/slov there,
up north. Croatian police there is only a few and very calm. Slovenian side seems
to be more of a problem for the people
“There will be a protest today at 18h on the Cro-Slo border (Rigonce crossing place), where people were stopped by force. Let’s make pressure from both sides of the border! “
Une #caravane_solidaire se met en place, voici le groupe facebook:
Treffpunkt für die Abfahrt der Karawane: Laxenburgerstr. 2A bei der Shelltankstelle (vom Gürtel kommend die erste Tankstelle auf der rechten Seite/ gleich nach Unterführung)
Am Sa., 19.9 um 8.30 PÜNKTLICH!!!!!!
Vorraussichtlicher Zielort: Slowenisch/ Kroatische Grenze bei Dobovar
In Dobovar wird aktuell dringend Vokü - Equipment (große Töpfe, Gasflaschen,..), Essen, Decken und Zelte gebraucht!!
Die Meldung kam grad rein. Wenn das jemand bis morgen früh auftreiben kann wäre sehr geholfen.
Es gäbe auch die Möglichkeit, wenn ihr nicht mitfahrt die benötigten Dingen um 8.30 (pünktlich!) zur Shelltankestelle bei Laxenburgerstr, 2a zu bringen!
in Slovenia we are considering an option to organize caravan for open
borders which aim would be to prevent the closure of border with
Croatia. For this reason we are looking for contacts with activists and
organizations in Croatia, Austria and Italy. Hereby I am sending an
appeal made by Antiracist front that organized manifestation for open
borders last week.
Dear friends,Hungary just sealed the border with Serbia and started to
build the fence on the border with Romania. We have just recieved
information that a bigger group of refugees is on its way to the north
through Croatia and that they will soon attempt to cross the border with
Slovenia. There is a real possiblity that Slovene authorities will try
to close the border with Croatia, following the example of Hungary and
lately Germany. We believe that we must do whatever is in our power to
revert this possibility and keep the border open for refugees, migrants
and european citizens. For this reason we have decided to consider the
possiblity to organize transnational caravane for open borders. Our idea
is to mobilise as many people as possible to enable refugees to cross
the border and by this make a grassroots pressure on authorities not to
close the border. We believe this is one of the most crucial actions to
take NOW and we would like to discuss the possiblity to coordinate
efforts with organisations, collectives, individuals in Austria, Croatia
and Italy.Let’s connect and discuss this issue as soon as possible. We
would like to ask you to share this CALL to those who might be
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Syrische Flüchtlinge wollen raus aus der Türkei und protestieren für die Öffnung der Grenze zu Griechenland
Dans le titre, je ne comprends qu’un mot... Konvoj... et du coup je sais de quoi il s’agit, plus ou moins au moins...
« POZIVAMO sve demokratske i solidarne snage da se okupe na graničnom prelazu Rigonce (Dobova) danas u 18 sati. Dajmo vladi Republike Slovenije jasnu poruku da će Slovenija pokazati solidarnost i da nikada nećemo postati granična diktatura », stoji u pozivu Protivrasistične fronte brez meja gdje se Slovenci pozivaju na prosvjed.
#OpenBorderCaravan : 24.9. bis 27.9. Internationale Karawane und Fluchthilfekonvoi
Leipzig and Vienna showed us how to do it – in Berlin we want to follow their example. Together with many international friends, comrades and other people we will help refugees to cross the borders. Instead of only watching, we want to practically support the refugee struggles on the European borders by organizing shuttle service.
While still talking of welcoming culture, the closure of the border was already being prepared. The armed federal police closed the border in Bavaria while the humanitarian catastrophe in the border areas of Serbia and Croatia, in the camps of Hungary and along the transit routes intensified. This closed border policy inside the Fortress Europe will not stop anyone from fleeing, but will lead to even more misery, fear and death. In this moment, it becomes obvious that the warm words of welcome of these last days were of little value. Therefore, our answer can only be practical help to cross the borders!
Let us join this uprising against the Dublin system. The last weeks have shown that the border regime can shake if challenged by the the power of the masses. The closure of the German borders has unleashed a domino effect reaching the European periphery. So let us create a domino effect of border crossing, civil disobedience and humanity.
Convoys from Vienna and Leipzig have already supported hundreds of people on their flight. #OpenBorderCaravan will depart from Berlin this weekend. We will depart and arrive in coordination with supporters and comrades from Italy and hopefully many other places. It will be a convoy, a caravan, carrying things that the people in the border areas of Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and along the transit routes need most urgently - and carrying the will to to practically facilitate their flight.
We will be on the road heading from Berlin towards South-East Europe from Thursday evening (22:00) until Sunday night/ Monday morning (24.9. – 27.9.). The convoy needs you, your energy and your solidarity. If you can join us or provide a car, please contact us. We also need donations: especially blankets, tents, warm clothes and shoes. email@example.com
Meeting point and other information will be provided as soon as possible.
A preparation meeting takes place this Wednesday, 23.9., 19:30 at Vierte Welt, Zentrum Kreuzberg | Galerie 1. OG | Kottbusser Tor
Juncker talks of welcoming refugees, while turning Europe into a fortress | Apostolis Fotiadis | Comment is free | The Guardian
On the podium officials may bare their bleeding hearts, yet in the background they silently continue to build up a security apparatus that will provide oversight and total control over population influxes towards and from the external borders of the union. Commentators have taken to describing the lack of a coordinated mechanism for processing refugees as “a failure” on behalf the EC and the EU member states. This is missing the point. The refugee crisis is not a failure, but entirely consistent with the commission’s strategic priorities on immigration and border control policies.
Instead of questioning the priorities of the commission, local media repeated the mantra that €475m had been made available to help Greece deal with immigration. But what exactly is the money for?
The British whistleblower Statewatch gave us an answer when it uploaded the Internal Security Fund’s spending programme for Greece, greenlighted by the commission last July. The document is nothing short of an arms race wishlist, including the purchase of coastal patrol vessels, drones, patrolling vehicles carrying infrared cameras, large scale equipment appropriate for joining Frontex’s operation as well as hi-tech surveillance, data and biometric equipment to enhance the super-surveillance systems the commission is gradually establishing at Europe’s borders. The procurement of security goodies amounts to €187m: as much as two-fifths of the money Avramopoulos has promised. This year’s other main beneficiaries of the fund, amounting to a total of €3.7bn until 2020, are Italy, Spain, Malta and France.
Hungary using unemployed to build anti-immigration fence
Almost 500 people on job seeker’s allowance told to report for duty or face having their dole money stopped as Hungary races to complete fence by end of the month
Fortress Europe: Hungary builds fence to stop migrants crossing into the EU [Photo report]
Hungarian soldiers have started building a controversial fence along its border with Serbia, in an effort to stop the rising flow of migrants trying to enter the European Union. Work on the fence is being carried out at several locations at once along the 175km (109m) border, with about 900 soldiers helping to construct the four-metre high fence, which the government wants to finish by 31 August. Some elements of the fence, including the razor wire to be placed on top of the barrier, is being prepared by inmates at Hungarian prisons.
E l’Ungheria ha già alzato il suo muro: “Mai più un profugo nei nostri confini”
Il filo d’acciaio annunciato a giugno da Orban per respingere i migranti in arrivo dai Balcani è quasi pronto in tempi record. Duecento chilometri costruiti dall’esercito e dai disoccupati
To mark International Refugee Day, UNITED is publishing an updated edition of its List of Deaths, a new website and an interactive map. We call on civil society to protest against the fatal policies of Fortress Europe that lead to the deaths of desperate people looking for safe refuge.
Aesthetics of Migration | Ibraaz
The news and images of migrants drowning on flimsy boats on the Mediterranean or washing up along its shores – dead or alive – is becoming a recurring representation in the archive of clandestine migration into Fortress Europe. Clandestine migration has been on the rise since 1995, when several European Union nations implemented the Schengen Agreement to erode internal EU borders and fortify external ones. Beyond the distant images of washed-up bodies on the shore or a packed craft stranded at sea is the everyday theatre of migrant detentions and expulsions from the towns bordering the Mediterranean.
Ukraine Receives EU Funds to Block Asylum Seekers from Reaching Europe - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Brussels is doing all it can to prevent refugees from reaching Fortress Europe, with initiatives like funding the construction of internment centers in Ukraine. Asylum seekers who have spent time there report miserable conditions and abuse.
Un très long #reportage... mais très bien fait...
Fortress Europe. Syrian refugees’ difficult road to peace
A death toll of 150,000, including 50,000 civilians and 8,000 children. Over 26,000 people gone missing, or taken hostage. Torture, beheadings, cluster bombs on residential areas, lifeless children and elderly people dug up from the rubble every single day. There is no end to the horrors of the Syrian civil war. The outside world has slowly gotten used to the cold statistics of yet more victims. At the end of this year the total number of dead may well reach 200,000. By then, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expects, four million Syrians will have left their country.
Millions of Syrians are fleeing the brutality of the three-year war. They want to leave the country where political and religious extremists are killing each other, and where the dividing line between safety and lethal danger has long ceased to exist. In Syria, respect for human life is severely lacking.
From Africa to Kent: following in the footsteps of migrants
The guardians of Fortress Europe are fighting a lost battle: poor migrants will always try to find a better life for themselves, or die in the attempt. Daniel Trilling traces their steps, from the Middle East and Africa to the Kent countryside.
#Amnesty : EU migration policies put lives and rights at risk
In a revealing indicator of relative priorities, the EU gave Greece nearly €207m to protect its external borders between 2007 and 2013, but only €22m on improving the situation for asylum-seekers and refugees over the same period
Sur le #rapport :
Fortress Europe : Human rights violations against migrants and refugees at Europe’s borders
# MAPS /// The Mediterranean Abyss: South Wall of Fortress Europe and Cemetery of the Poors | The Funambulist
The map presented above is an artwork by Sabine Réthoré. It consists in a map of the Mediterranean Sea and its coastal regions that was subjected to two simple operations:
– A 90-degree tilt compared to the implicit imperial convention of placing the North on top.
– A withdrawal of all national borders.
That is how this map appears to us as simultaneously familiar and peculiar. Through it we recognize a space we know well – North Africans, Middle Easterns and South Europeans do at least – but our perception of it evolves thanks to the way it is represented. The “Borderless Mediterranean Sea” represents territories that seem optically closer to each other than when considered on a geopolitical map. The sea almost appears as a calm lake, where people on one bank would not feel fundamentally different from their neighbors on the opposite one. We can no longer see three continents struggling to exist but, rather, the sea as gathering lands around it. The names of the cities are worth reading out loud. Their sounds reveal more regional identities blending into each other, than strictly differentiated national belongings.
Contractor for Israel’s apartheid wall wins US border contract
One of the two lead contractors for Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, Elbit Systems, has won a $145 million contract from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide similar systems on the Mexico-US border.
How Israel’s wall helps construct the new Fortress Europe.
Israel’s policies against Palestinians and the political doctrine of ‘Fortress Europe’bear surprising resemblances. The military and security technologies involved share several producers. Israeli companies involved in the enforcement of European exclusion policies provide equipment developed for Israel’s surveillance and control regime over the Palestinian population.
Fortress Europe: have border controls worked? An interactive guide
In 2005, Frontex, the EU’s external border control agency, was launched, and with it ’Fortress Europe’ was born. Eight years on, it has transformed the continent’s land and sea borders, co-ordinating an enormous growth in border control measures. It has pioneered the use of ’remote borders’, pushing the responsibility for migration control into Africa and Asia. But have the millions spent on constructing these walls around Europe deterred migrants or simply pushed the most vulnerable into ever more dangerous situations?
signalé par @carine
The refugee challenge: can you break into Fortress Europe? - interactive
As EU governments have made it harder to seek refuge in Europe, the flow of refugees fleeing the world’s most desperate conflicts is increasing. We invite you to make the choices real refugees have to make and find out what it’s really like to look for safety in Fortress Europe
Syria: a crisis at Fortress Europe’s gates – #vidéo
Since the war began in Syria, thousands of refugees have made the precarious journey through Turkey into Europe in search of safety. We follow the lives of two refugee families as they encounter people-smugglers, border guards and shocking conditions. They find themselves torn apart – not by the war back home – but by a new enemy: ’Fortress Europe’
Extraits tirés du film:
Commissioner Hristo Stefanov, Border Control Center, Bulgaria:
Obviously we can’t live without borders. Mankind hasn’t reached that point yet. Borders divide different worlds, different countries, sometimes enemies. Borders secure the place"
“Either you make it, you get caught, you get beaten up, or you die. It seems we have left one war to enter another”
On smugglers, the Syrian refugee:
“You are forced to deal with them, and all they care about is money. They don’t care wheather you can cope and will make it, or wheather you die”
A Syrian smuggler interviewed by the journalist by phone (a Syrian national):
“We’re not doing it for money. But because those people who get out are the same who will return and rebuild their country”
A Bulgarian journalist (min. 9’28):
“I believe at the border they have super-modern technologies. They can see 14 km into Turkey, they have helicopters, and all sort of things. They’ve spent loads of money and yet they can’t even spare a joke sum of a million Lev (425’000 pounds) to build a decent camp? They have not travelled 2000 or 3000 km to get here to set up businesses or for their leisure. I saw mothers, children, elderly people with basic, ripped clothing, small amount of luggage, and I realized that they are desperate”
Commissioner Hristo Stefanov (min. 12’28):
“Now to the numbers, officially, there are more than 600’000 illegal migrants in Turkey. Unofficially around 1,2 mio. These people don’t move alone, they move with smugglers. People-smuggling in Turkey is actually an industry. It’s not just a business, but a whole industry. So our main opponents are the ringleaders of this people-smuggling, not just the people who physically smuggle them”
“The situation really deteriorated in Syria. We were comfortably off. I was a housewife and my husband had work, thanks God. We moved to the village, because the villages were safe. And then the war came to the villages. [Tahira wonder if staying in Turkey would have been better] Is there a way back? I would go if there was. I feel like a criminal here. We are imprisoned, we can’t get out”
Commissioner Hristo Stefanov (min. 17’58):
“I do feel sorry for the ones who are really escaping war, but not all fall into that category. I can feel only pride to serve at the Bulgarian-Turkey border, one of the most difficult. We are at the frontline of securing our country”
“Wheather they like it or not I will keep trying. I don’t care about their precious borders and national pride”
No e-fortress Europe! Stop the creation of an electronic fortress Europe!
Under the pretty-sounding title of “smart borders”, the European Union is constructing an electronic fortress. The EU Commission and the member states are pushing for the creation of an enormous database that will include all third country citizens travelling to the EU. The profiling of travellers is also intended. If this were not enough, drones and other surveillance technologies are envisaged for sealing off the EU external borders against refugees and migrants. This is unacceptable! We are against the creation of an e-fortress Europe!
EUobserver.com / Fortress Europe / Fortress Europe : a Greek wall close up
Signalé par Irène Bonnaud
Nea Vyssa, Greece - A 12.5-km-long fence rolled with barbwire runs across plots of garlic and asparagus on the Greek-Turkish border.
For the small farming community at Nea Vyssa, the presence of Greek military and police is a welcome relief from the mass of irregular migrants crossing from Turkey on a daily basis before the summer.
“Sometimes a hundred or so would arrive in one day and wait for the train to come,” one local villager said.
Le mur est terminé alors que la migration a déjà changé de route... Depuis septembre 2012, en effet, les migrants ont recommancé à passer surtout par les îles de la Mer Egée.
Voici le message reçu par une personne de contact dans la région de l’Evros :
Only during the months of August and September 2012 there is a decline of almost 75% comparing to last year’s numbers. The “wall” and the new plan"Dias" from the Greek police are considered to be effective....The case is that we have an almost 700% (!) rise of illegal immigration through the Aegean Sea and and the sea borders.