• The lessons of Chile’s struggle against Big Tech

    Salvador Allende’s greatest legacy is his attempt to democratise technology.


    By Evgeny Morozov

    On 1 August 1973, a seemingly mundane diplomatic summit took place in Lima, Peru. But there was nothing remotely mundane about the summit’s revolutionary agenda. The attendees – mostly high-ranking diplomats from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – aspired to create a more just technological world order. A world order that may have prevented the rise of Silicon Valley – and of Big Tech along with it.

    A good first step, they thought, was to join forces and explore ways to curb the growing influence of multinational corporations. This was particularly pressing in the realm of advanced technologies, the majority of which originated from the US and western Europe. ...


  • More than 1,000 unmarked graves discovered along EU migration routes

    Bodies also piling up in morgues across continent as countries accused of failing to meet human rights obligations.

    Refugees and migrants are being buried in unmarked graves across the European Union at a scale that is unprecedented outside of war.

    The Guardian can reveal that at least 1,015 men, women and children who died at the borders of Europe in the past decade were buried before they were identified.

    They lie in stark, often blank graves along the borders – rough white stones overgrown with weeds in Sidiro cemetery in Greece; crude wooden crosses on Lampedusa in Italy; in northern France faceless slabs marked simply “Monsieur X”; in Poland and Croatia plaques reading “NN” for name unknown.

    On the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, one grave states: “Migrant boat number 4. 25/09/2022.”

    The European parliament passed a resolution in 2021 that called for people who die on migration routes to be identified and recognised the need for a coordinated database to collect details of the bodies.

    But across European countries the issue remains a legislative void, with no centralised data, nor any uniform process for dealing with the bodies.

    Working with forensic scientists from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other researchers, NGOs and pathologists, the Guardian and a consortium of reporters pieced together for the first time the number of migrants and refugees who died in the past decade along the EU’s borders whose names remain unknown. At least 2,162 bodies have still not been identified.

    Some of these bodies are piling up in morgues, funeral parlours and even shipping containers across the continent. Visiting 24 cemeteries and working with researchers, the team found more than 1,000 nameless graves.

    These, however, are the tip of the iceberg. More than 29,000 people died on European migration routes in this period, the majority of whom remain missing.


    What is the border graves project?

    About the investigation

    The Guardian teamed up with Süddeutsche Zeitung and eight reporters from the Border Graves Investigation who received funding from Investigative Journalism for Europe and Journalismfund Europe.

    We worked with researchers at the International Committee of the Red Cross who shared exclusively their most up-to-date findings on migrant and refugee deaths registered in Spain, Malta, Greece and Italy between 2014 and 2021.

    Other partners included Marijana Hameršak of the European Irregularized Migration Regime at the Periphery of the EU (ERIM) project in Croatia, Grupa Granica and Podlaskie Humanitarian Emergency Service (POPH) in Poland and Sienos Grupė in Lithuania. The journalist Maël Galisson provided data for France.

    Reporters and researchers also checked death registers, interviewed prosecutors and spoke to local authorities and morgue directors, as well as visiting two dozen cemeteries to track the number of unidentified migrants and refugees who have died trying to cross into the EU in the past decade and find their graves.


    The problem is “utterly neglected”, according to Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatović, who has said EU countries are failing in their obligations under international human rights law.

    “The tools are there. We have the agencies and the forensic experts, but they need to be engaged [by governments],” she said. The rise of the hard right and a lack of political will were likely to further impede the development of a proper system to address “the tragedy of missing migrants”, she added.

    Instead, pockets of work happen at a local level. Pathologists, for example, collect DNA samples and the few personal items found on the bodies. The clues to lives lost are meagre: loose change in foreign currency, prayer beads, a Manchester United souvenir badge.

    The lack of coordination leaves bewildered families struggling to navigate localised, often foreign bureaucracy in the search for lost relatives.

    Supporting them falls to aid organisations such as the ICRC, which has recorded 16,500 requests since 2013 for information to its programme for restoring family links from people looking for relatives who went missing en route to Europe. The largest number of requests have come from Afghans, Iraqis, Somalians, Guineans and people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea and Syria. Only 285 successful matches have been achieved.

    And now even some of this support is about to disappear. As governments cut their aid budgets, the ICRC has been forced to refocus its reduced resources. National Red Cross agencies will continue the family links programme but much of the ICRC’s work training police and local authorities is being cut.
    A race against time

    The mini set of scissors and comb worn on a chain were unique to 24-year-old Oussama Tayeb, a small talisman that reflected his job as a barber. For his cousin Abdallah, they were the hope that he had been found.

    Tayeb set sail last year from the north-west of Algeria just before 8pm on Christmas Day. Onboard with him were 22 neighbours who had clubbed together to pay for the boat they had hoped would take them to Spain.

    His family has been searching for him since. Abdallah, who lives in France, fears it is a race against time.

    Spanish police introduced a database in 2007 in which data and genetic samples from unidentified remains are meant to be logged. In practice, the system breaks down when it comes to families searching for missing relatives, who have no clear information about how to access it.

    The family had provided a DNA sample soon after Tayeb’s disappearance. With no news by February, they travelled to southern Spain for a second time to search for him. At the morgue in Almería, a forensic doctor reacted to Tayeb’s photo, saying he looked familiar. She recalled a necklace, but said the man she was thinking of was believed to have died in a jet ski accident.

    “It was a really intense moment because we knew that Oussama was wearing a jet ski lifejacket,” Abdallah said.

    Even with the knowledge that Tayeb’s body may have been found, his cousin was unable to see the corpse lying in the morgue without a police officer. Abdallah remembered the shocking callousness with which he was greeted at one of the many police stations he tried. “One policeman told us that if ‘they don’t want to disappear, they shouldn’t have taken a boat to Spain’.”

    Looming over Abdallah’s continuing search is a practical pressure mentioned by the Spanish pathologist: bodies in the morgue are usually kept for a year and then buried, whether identified or not. “We only want an answer. If we see the chain, this would be like a death certificate. It’s so heartbreaking. It’s like we’re leaving Oussama in the fridge and we can’t do anything about it,” he said.
    ‘Here lies a brother who lost his life’

    The local authorities that receive the most bodies are often on small islands and are increasingly saying they cannot cope.

    They warn that an already inadequate system is going backwards. Spain’s Canary Islands have reported a record 35,410 men, women and children reaching the archipelago by boat this year. In recent months, most of these vessels have sought to land on the tiny, remote island of El Hierro. In the past six weeks alone, seven unidentified people were buried on the island.

    The burial vaults of 15 unidentified people who were found dead on a rickety wooden vessel in 2020, in the town of Agüimes on Gran Canaria, bear identical plaques that read simply: “Here lies a brother who lost his life trying to reach our shores.”

    In the Muslim section of Lanzarote’s Teguise cemetery, the graves of children are marked with circles of stones. They include the grave of a baby believed to have been stillborn on a deadly crossing from Morocco in 2020. Alhassane Bangoura’s body was separated from his mother during the rescue and was buried in an unmarked grave. His name is only recorded informally, engraved on a bowl by locals moved by his plight.

    It is the same story in the other countries at the edge of the EU; unmarked graves dotted along their frontiers standing testament to the crisis. Along the land borders, in Croatia, Poland, Lithuania, the numbers of unmarked graves are fewer but still they are there, blank stones or sometimes an NN marked on plaques.

    In France, the anonymous inscription “X” stands out in cemeteries in Calais. The numbers seem low compared with those found along the southern coastal borders: 35 out of 242 migrants and refugees who died on the Franco-British border since 2014 remain unidentified. The high proportion of the dead identified reflects the fact that people spend time waiting before attempting the Channel crossing so there are often contacts still in France able to name those who die.
    Fragments of hope

    Leaked footage of Polish border guards laughing at a young man hanging upside down, trapped by his foot, stuck in the razor wire on the top of the 180km (110-mile) steel border fence separating Belarus from Poland caused a brief social media storm.

    But the moment he is caught in the searchlights, his frightened face briefly frozen, has haunted 50-year-old Kafya Rachid for the past year. She is sure the man is her missing child, Mohammed Sabah, who was 22 when she last saw him alive.

    Sabah had flown from his home in Iraqi Kurdistan in the autumn of 2021 to Belarus, for which he had a visa. He was successfully taken across the EU border by smugglers but was detained about 50km (30 miles) into Poland and deported back to Belarus.

    Waiting to cross again, his messages suddenly stopped. The family had been coming to terms with the fact he was probably dead. Then the video surfaced. With little else to go on, fragments such as this give families hope.

    Sabah’s parents, as so often happens, were unable to get visas to travel to the EU. Instead, Rekaut Rachid, an uncle of Sabah who has lived in London since 1999, has made three trips to Poland to try to find him.

    Rachid believes the Polish authorities lied to him when they told him the man in the video was Egyptian, and this keeps him searching. “They are hiding something. Five per cent of me thinks maybe he died. But 95% of me thinks he is in prison somewhere in Poland,” he said, adding: “My sister calls every day to ask if I think he is still alive. I don’t know how to answer.”
    Shipping container morgues

    In a corner of the hospital car park in the Greek city of Alexandroupolis, two battered refrigerated shipping containers stand next to some rubbish bins. Inside are the bodies of 40 people.

    The border from Turkey into Greece over the Evros River nearby is only a 10- to 20-minute crossing, but people cross at night when their small rubber boats can easily hit a tree and capsize. Corpses decompose quickly in the riverbed mud, so that facial characteristics, clothing and any documents that might help identify them are rapidly destroyed.

    Twenty of the corpses in the containers are the charred remains of migrants who died in wildfires that consumed this part of Greece during the summer’s heatwave. Identification has proved exceptionally difficult, with only four of the dead named to date.

    Prof Pavlos Pavlidis, the forensic pathologist for the area, works to determine the cause of death, to collect DNA samples and to catalogue any personal effects that might help relatives identify their loved ones at a later date.

    The temporary container morgues in Alexandroupolis are on loan from the ICRC. The humanitarian agency has loaned another container to the island of Lesbos, another migration hotspot, for the same purpose.

    Lampedusa does not have that luxury. “There are no morgues and no refrigerated units,” said Salvatore Vella, the Sicilian head prosecutor who leads investigations into shipwrecks off its coast. “Once placed in body bags, the bodies of migrants are transferred to Sicily. Burial is managed by individual towns. It has happened that migrants have sometimes been buried in sort of mass graves within cemeteries.”

    The scale of the problem was becoming so acute, said Filippo Furri, an anthropologist and an associate researcher at Mecmi, a group that examines deaths during migration, that “there have been cases of coffins abandoned in cemetery warehouses due to lack of space, or bodies that remain in hospital morgues”.
    ‘It’s not only a technical difficulty but also a political one’

    “If you count the relatives of those who are missing, hundreds of thousands of people are impacted. They don’t know where their loved ones are. Were they well treated, were they respected when they were buried? That’s what preys on families’ minds,” said Laurel Clegg, the ICRC forensic coordinator for migration in Europe. “We have an obligation to provide the dead with a dignified burial; and [to address] the other side, providing answers to families through identification of the dead.”

    She said keeping track of the dead relied on lots of parts working well together: a legal framework that protected the unidentified dead, consistent postmortems, morgues, registries, dignified transport and cemeteries.

    The systems are inadequate, however, despite the EU parliament resolution. There are still no common rules about what information should be collected, nor a centralised place to store this information. The political focus is on catching the smugglers rather than finding out who their victims are.

    A spokesperson for the European Commission said the rights and dignity of refugees and migrants had to be addressed alongside tackling people smuggling. They said each member state was responsible individually for how it dealt with those who died on its borders, but that the commission was working to improve coordination and protocols and “regrets the loss of every human life” .

    In Italy, significant efforts have been made to identify the dead from a couple of well-reported, large-scale disasters. Cristina Cattaneo, the head of the laboratory of forensic anthropology and odontology (Labanof) at the University of Milan, has spent years working to identify the dead from a shipwreck in 2015 in which more than 1,000 people lost their lives.

    Raising the wreck to retrieve the bodies has cost €9.5m (£8.1m) already. Organising the 30,000 mixed bones into identifiable remains of 528 bodies has been a herculean task. Only six victims have so far been issued official death certificates.

    As political positions on irregular migration have hardened, experts are finding official enthusiasm for their complex work has diminished. “It’s not only a technical difficulty but also a political one,” Cattaneo said.

    In Sicily, Vella has been investigating a fishing boat that sank in October 2019. It was carrying 49 people, mostly from Tunisia. Just a few miles off shore, a group onboard filmed themselves celebrating their imminent arrival in Europe before the boat ran out of fuel and capsized. The Italian coastguard rescued 22 people but 27 others lost their lives.

    Coastguard divers, using robots, captured images of bodies floating near the vessel, but were unable to recover all of them. The footage circulated around the world. A group of Tunisian women who had been searching for their sons contacted the Italian authorities and were given permits to travel to meet the prosecutor, who showed them more footage.

    One mother, Zakia Hamidi, recognised her 18-year-old son, Fheker. It was a searing experience for both her and Vella: “At that moment, I realised the difference between a mother, torn apart by grief, but who at least will return home with her child’s body, and those mothers who will not have a body to mourn. It is something heartbreaking.”
    The torture of not knowing

    The grief that people feel when they have no certainty about the fate of their missing relatives has a very particular intensity.

    Dr Pauline Boss, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota in the US, was the first to describe this “ambiguous loss”. “You are stuck, immobilised, you feel guilty if you begin again because that would mean accepting the person is dead. Grieving is frozen, your decision-making is frozen, you can’t work out the facts, can’t answer the questions,” she said.

    Not knowing often has severe practical consequences too. Spouses may not be able to exercise their parental rights, inherit assets or claim welfare support or pensions without a death certificate. Orphans cannot be adopted by extended family without one either.

    Sometimes relatives are left in the dark for years. A decade on from a shipwreck disaster in 2013, bereaved families continue to gather in Lampedusa every year, still searching for answers. Among them this year was a Syrian woman, Sabah al-Joury, whose son Abdulqader was on the boat. She said that not knowing where he ended up was like having “an open wound”.

    Sabah’s family said the torture of not being able to find out what happened to him was “like dying everyday”. Abdallah thinks he must make another trip from Paris to southern Spain before the end of the year. “What is difficult is not to have the body, not to be able to bury him,” he said.

    Rituals around death were indicative of a deep human need, said Boss. “The most important thing is for the name to be marked somewhere, so the family can visit, and the missing can be remembered. A name means you were on this Earth, not forgotten.”


    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #tombes #fosses_communes #Europe #morts_aux_frontières #enterrement #cimetières #morgues #chiffres

    • The Border Graves Investigation

      More than 1,000 migrants who died trying to enter Europe lie buried in nameless graves. EU migration policy has failed the dead and the living.

      A cross-border team of eight journalists has confirmed the existence of 1,015 unmarked graves of migrants buried in 65 cemeteries over the past decade across Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Poland, Lithuania, France, and Croatia. The reporters visited more than half of them.

      Unidentified migrants lay to rest in cemeteries in olive groves, on hilltops, in dense forests, and along remote highways. Each unmarked grave represents a person who lost their life en route to Europe, and a fate that will remain forever unknown to their loved ones.

      This months-long investigation underlines that Europe’s migration policies have failed more than a thousand people who have died in transit and the families who survive them.

      In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution recognsing the need for a “coordinated European approach” for “prompt and effective identification processes” for bodies found on EU borders. Yet in 2022, the Council of Europe called this area a “legislative void”.

      These failures mean that the responsibility of memorialising unidentified victims often ends up falling to individual municipalities, cemetery keepers and local good Samaritans, with many victims buried without any attempt at identification.


      In the absence of official data from European and national governments, the Border Graves Investigation collaborated with The Guardian and Suddeutsche Zeitung to count 2,162 unidentified deaths of migrants across eight countries in Europe between 2014 and 2023.

      The cross-border team conducted over 60 interviews in six languages. They spoke with families of the missing and deceased, whose loved ones left for Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Algeria and Sri Lanka.

      They revealed the institutional and bureaucratic hurdles of searching for bodies and burying the remains of those that are found. One mother compared her unresolved grief to an “open wound,” and an uncle said it was like “dying every day”.

      To understand the complex legal, medical and political landscape of death in each country, the journalists spoke with coroners, grave keepers, forensic doctors, international and local humanitarian groups, government officials, a European MEP and the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner.

      The in-depth investigation reveals that the European Union is violating migrants’ last rights. The stories below show how.
      The team

      The Border Graves Investigation team consists of Barbara Matejčić, Daphne Tolis, Danai Maragoudaki, Eoghan Gilmartin, Gabriela Ramirez, Gabriele Cruciata, Leah Pattem, and is coordinated by Tina Xu. The project was supported by the IJ4EU fund and JournalismFund Europe.

      Gabriele Cruciata is a Rome-based award-winning journalist specialising in podcasts and investigative and narrative journalism. He also works as a fixer, producer, journalism consultant, and trainer.

      Gabriele Cruciata IG @gab_cruciata

      Leah Pattem is a Spain-based journalist and photographer specialising in politics, migration and community stories. Leah is also the founder and editor of the popular local media platform Madrid No Frills.

      X @leahpattem
      IG @madridnofrills

      Eoghan Gilmartin is a Spain-based freelance journalist specialising in news, politics and migration. His work has appeared in Jacobin Magazine, The Guardian, Tribune and Open Democracy.

      X @EoghanGilmartin
      Muck Rack: Eoghan Gilmartin

      Gabriela Ramirez is an award-winning multimedia journalist specialising in migration, human rights, ocean conservation, and climate issues, always through a gender-focused lens. Currently serving as the Multimedia & Engagement Editor at Unbias The News.

      X @higabyramirez
      Linkedin Gabriela Ramirez
      Instagram @higabyramirez

      Barbara Matejčić is a Croatian award-winning freelance journalist, non-fiction writer and audio producer focused on social affairs and human rights

      Website: http://barbaramatejcic.com
      FB: https://www.facebook.com/barbara.matejcic.1
      Instagram: @barbaramatejcic

      Danai Maragoudaki is a Greek journalist based in Athens. She works for independent media outlet Solomon and is a member of their investigative team. Her reporting focuses on transparency, finance, and digital threats.

      FB: https://www.facebook.com/danai.maragoudaki
      X: @d_maragoudaki
      IG: @danai_maragoudaki

      Daphne Tolis is an award-winning documentary producer/filmmaker and multimedia journalist based in Athens. She has produced and hosted timely documentaries for VICE Greece and has directed TV documentaries for the EBU and documentaries for the MSF and IFRC. Since 2014 she has been working as a freelance producer and journalist in Greece for the BBC, Newsnight, VICE News Tonight, ABC News, PBS Newshour, SRF, NPR, Channel 4, The New York Times Magazine, ARTE, DW, ZDF, SVT, VPRO and others. She has reported live for DW News, BBC News, CBC News, ABC Australia, and has been a guest contributor on various BBC radio programs, Times Radio, Morning Ireland, RTE, NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’, and others.

      X: https://twitter.com/daphnetoli
      Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daphne_tolis/?hl=en
      Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/daphne-tolis

      Tina Xu is a multimedia journalist and filmmaker working at the intersection of migration, mental health, socially engaged arts, and civil society. Her stories often interrogate the three-way street between people, policy, and power. She received the Excellence in Environmental Reporting Award from Society of Publishers in Asia in 2021, was a laureate of the European Press Prize Innovation Award in 2021 and 2022, and shortlisted for the One World Media Refugee Reporting Award in 2022.

      X: @tinayingxu
      IG: @tinayingxu


    • 1000 Lives, 0 Names: The Border Graves Investigation. How the EU is failing migrants’ last rights

      What happens to those who die in their attempts to reach the European Union? How are their lives marked, how can their families honor them? How do governments recognize their existence and their basic rights as human beings?

      Our cross-border team confirmed 1,015 unmarked graves of migrants in 65 cemeteries buried over the last 10 years across Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Poland, Lithuania, France, and Croatia. We visited over half of them.

      Each unmarked grave represents a person who lost their life en route to Europe, and a fate that remains painfully unknown to their loved ones.

      In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution recognizing the need for a “coordinated European approach” for “prompt and effective identification processes” for bodies found on EU borders. Yet last year, the Council of Europe called this area a “legislative void.”

      In the absence of official data from European and national governments, the Border Graves Investigation counted 2,162 unidentified deaths of migrants across eight countries in Europe from 2014-2023.

      Our cross-border team conducted over 60 interviews in six languages. We spoke with families of the missing and deceased, whose loved ones left for Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Algeria, and Sri Lanka. They spoke about the institutional and bureaucratic hurdles of searching for, and if found, burying a body.

      One mother compared the unresolved grief to an “open wound,” and an uncle said it was like “dying every day.”
      Here is how Europe violates the “last rights” of migrants.


    • Widowed by Europe’s borders

      “No water, I think I’ll die, I love you.” This is the last text Sanooja received from her husband, who disappeared after a pushback into the dense forest that stretches between Belarus, Lithuania, and Poland. For families searching for missing loved ones, the EU inflicts a second death of identity and acknowledgment.

      Samrin and Sanooja were high school classmates. Both born in 1990, they grew up together in Kalpitiya, a town of 80,000 on the tip of a small peninsula in Sri Lanka. When Samrin first asked Sanooja out in the ninth grade, she said no. But years later, when her roommates snuck through her diary, they asked about the boy in all her stories.

      When they turned 20, Sanooja was studying to be a teacher, while Samrin left town for work. After six years of video calls and heart emoji-laden selfies, Samrin returned home in 2017 and they got married, her in a white headscarf and indigo-sleeved dress, him in a matching indigo suit. Their son Haashim was born a year later. They called each other “thangam,” or gold.

      She hoped the birth of their son meant that Samrin would stay close by from now on. They took their son to the beach, to the zoo. Then the 2019 economic crisis hit, the worst since the country’s independence in 1948. There were daily blackouts, a shortage of fuel, and runaway inflation. In 2022, protests rocked the country, and the government claimed bankruptcy.

      Samrin was a difficult person to fall in love with, says Sanooja, because he was so ambitious. Sanooja smiles bitterly over a video call from her home in Kalpitiya. The sun filters through the mango tree in the yard, where the two often sat together and made plans for their future.

      But part of loving him, she explains, meant supporting him even in his hardest decisions. One of these decisions was to take a plane to Moscow, then to travel to Europe and send money home. “He went to keep us happy, to make us good.”

      Their last day together, Sanooja surprised him with a cake: Sky blue icing, an airplane made of fondant, ascending from an earth made of chocolate sprinkles. In big letters: “Love you and will miss you. Have a safe journey, Thangam.” In their last photos together, Haashim sits laughing on Samrin’s lap as he cuts the cake. That night, Samrin squeezed his son and wept. The next day he put on a pair of blue Converse All-Stars, packed a black backpack, and set out. It was June 26, 2022. He had just turned 32 years old.

      Things did not go according to plan. He boarded a bus from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, but the fake Schengen visa they paid so much for was rejected at the Finnish border. Sanooja told him he could always come home. But in order to finance the journey, they had sold a plot of Samrin’s land and Sanooja’s jewelry, and borrowed money from friends. Samrin decided there was no turning back. He pivoted to plan B: He could go to Belarus, where he didn’t need a visa, and cross the border to Lithuania, in the Schengen zone.

      When Samrin checked into the Old Town Trio Hotel in Vilnius on August 16, 2022, the first thing he did was call home: He had survived the forest. Sanooja was relieved to hear his voice. He told her about the eight days crossing the forest between Belarus and Lithuania, the mud up to his knees. Days without food, drinking dirty water. He told her especially about the pains in his stomach as he walked in the forest, due to his recent surgery to remove kidney stones. Sometimes he would urinate blood.

      But he was in the European Union. He bought a plane ticket for a departure to Paris in four days, the city where he hoped to make his new life. What happened next is unclear. This is what Sanooja knows:

      On the third day, Samrin walked into the hotel lobby, and the manager called security. Plainclothes officers shuttled him into a car and whisked him 50 kilometers back once more to the Belarusian border. In less than 72 hours, Samrin found himself trapped again in the forest he had fought to escape.

      It was already dark when Samrin was left alone in the woods. He had no backpack, sleeping bag, or food. His phone was running out of battery. The next morning, Samrin came online briefly to send Sanooja a final message on WhatsApp: “No water, I think I’ll die. Trangam, I love you.”

      That was the beginning of a deafening silence that stretched four and a half months. When she gets to this part of the story, Sanooja, ever talkative and articulate, apologizes that she simply cannot describe it. Her eyes glaze and flit upward.

      The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović asserts that families have a “right to truth” surrounding the fates of their loved ones who disappear en route to Europe. In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for “prompt and effective identification processes” to connect the bodies of those who perished to those searching for them. Two years on, Mijatović tells us not much has been done, and the issue is a “legislative void.”

      As part of the Border Graves Investigation, conducted with a cross-border team of eight freelance journalists across Europe in collaboration with Unbias the News, The Guardian and Sueddeutche Zeitung, we followed the stories of those who have disappeared in the forest that covers the borders in Eastern Europe, between Belarus and the EU (Lithuania, Poland, Latvia).

      We spoke with their families, as well as over a dozen humanitarian workers, lawyers, and policymakers from organizations in Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus, to piece together the question of what happens after something goes fatally wrong on Europe’s eastern border—and who is responsible.
      Who counts the dead?

      The forest along the Belarussian border is a dense landscape of underbrush, moss and swamps, and encompasses one of the largest ancient forest areas left in Europe.

      Spanning hundreds of square kilometers across the borders with Lithuania and Poland, the forest became an unexpected hotspot when Belarus began issuing visas and opening direct flights to Minsk in the summer of 2021. This power play between Belarussian President Lukashenko and his EU neighbors has been called a “political game” in which migrants are the pawns.

      Since 2021, thousands of people, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, have sought to enter the EU from Belarus via its borders in Poland and Lithuania. Hundreds of people have been caught in a one-kilometer no man’s land between Belarusian territory and the EU border fence, chased back and forth by border guards on both sides under threat of violence. Belarusian guards reportedly threatened to release dogs, and photographs emerged of bite wounds.

      Since 2021, Poland and Lithuania have ramped up on “pushbacks,” in which border guards deport people immediately without the opportunity to ask for asylum, a process that is growing in popularity across Europe despite violating international law. Poland reports having conducted 78,010 pushbacks since the start of the crisis, and Lithuania 21,857. Samrin was apparently one of these cases.

      While these two countries publish precise daily statistics for pushbacks, they do not publish data for deaths at the border, nor people reported missing.

      “National states want to do this job secretly,” explains Tomas Tomilinas, a member of the Lithuanian Parliament. “We are on the margins of the law and constitution here, any government pushing people back is trying to avoid publicity on this topic.”

      Official data is an intentional void. Both the Polish and Lithuanian Border Guards declined to share any numbers with us. However, there are organizations striving to keep count: Humanitarian groups in Poland, including Grupa Granica (“Border Group” in Polish) and Podlaskie Humanitarian Emergency Service (POPH), have documented 52 deaths on the Poland-Belarus border since 2021, and are tracking 16 unidentified bodies.

      In Lithuania, the humanitarian group Sienos Grupė (“Border Group” in Lithuanian) has documented 10 deaths, including three minors who died while in detention centers, and three others who died in car accidents when chased by local authorities after crossing the border region. In Belarus, the NGO Human Constanta reports that 33 have died according to government data shared with them, but it was not recorded whether these bodies have been identified, and whether or where they are buried.

      On the borders between Poland, Lithuania and Belarus, humanitarian groups have compiled a list of more than 300 people reported missing. The organizations emphasize that their numbers are incomplete, as they have neither the access nor the capacity to monitor the full extent of the problem.

      Where to turn?

      It was already past midnight in Sri Lanka when Samrin stopped responding to messages. From 8,000 km away, Sanooja tried to call for help. She found his last known coordinates on Find My iPhone, a blue dot in Trokenikskiy, Grodno region, just across the Belarus side of the border, and tried to report him missing.

      The Lithuanian and Belarussian border guards picked up the phone. She begged them to find him, even if it meant arresting or deporting him. They responded that he had to call himself. It was baffling: How can a missing person call to report themselves?

      She called the migrant detention camps, where people are often detained without access to a phone for months. Maybe he was locked up somewhere. As soon as she said “hello,” they responded, “no English,” and hung up. She emailed them instead, no response. She emailed UNHCR and the Red Cross Society. Both institutions said they had no information about the case. She emailed the police, who responded a week later that they had no information.

      Sanooja had run into the rude reality that there is no authority responsible for nor prepared to respond to such inquiries. Even organizations dedicated to working with migrants, such as the migrant detention camp staff, would or could not respond to basic queries in English.

      International humanitarian organizations, too, are almost absent in the region. Compared to the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy, and Greece, which have had a decade to organize to respond to mass deaths on their border, the presence of formal aid in Eastern Europe is much smaller.

      Weeks passed, and in the terrible silence, every possibility behind her husband’s disappearance invaded Sanooja’s mind. Four-year-old Haashim began to cry out for his father every night, who used to wake him up with kisses. When they lost contact, Haashim often wet the bed and refused to go to school. “He must have had some intuition about his father,” said Sanooja.

      Then Sanooja began to wonder if he could be in another country in the region: Latvia? Poland? She broadened her search to all four countries. There was no Sri Lankan Embassy in Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, or Latvia, so she emailed the closest one in Sweden. Then, she went on Facebook. That’s how she found the account of Sienos Grupė, and sent them a message.

      Like many local humanitarian groups across the region, Sienos Grupė is a small team of four part-time staff and around 30 volunteers. The group banded together in 2021 to respond to calls for help through WhatsApp and Facebook and drop off vital supplies in the forest, such as food, water, power banks, and dry clothes.
      “There is a body, please go”

      Local volunteer groups were doing their best to aid the living, but it wasn’t long before they were being contacted to find the missing or the dead.

      On the Polish border, everyone has heard of Piotr Czaban. A local journalist and activist, his contact is shared among migrants attempting to cross the border. He is known as the man who can help find the bodies of people left behind in the woods, a reputation he has lived up to many times. The demands of the work have led him to leave his full-time job.

      He sits on the edge of a weathered log in a forest near Sokolka, a city near the Poland-Belarus border region where he lives. Navigating the thick undergrowth with ease in jeans and trekking boots, he recounts the first search he coordinated back in February 2022. He received a message on Facebook from a Syrian man in Belarus: “There is a body in the forest, here is the place, please go.”

      Piotr was taken off guard. He asked his friends in the police what to do, and they told him the best way was to go himself, take photos, and then call the police. However, the border guards had closed the border region to all non-residents, including journalists and humanitarian workers, so he couldn’t pass the police checkpoints for the area where the body lay.

      So Piotr made another call. This time to Rafal Kowalczyk, the 53-year-old director of the Mammal Research Institute, who has worked in the Bialowieza Forest for three decades. (“In my previous TV job, I interviewed him about bison, and thought he was a good man,” said Piotr by way of introduction).

      Rafal was up for the task. As a wildlife expert, he had access to the restricted forest area, and now he ventured into the woods not to track bison, but to follow the clues sent by a despairing Syrian man.

      In the swamp, Rafal found 26-year-old Ahmed Al-Shawafi from Yemen, barefoot and half-submerged in the water, one shoe in the mud nearby.

      It was difficult for Rafal to point his camera at the face of a dead man, but he did, and this image still haunts him. Piotr forwarded the photos Rafal had taken to the police, with a straightforward message: “We know there’s a body there. Now you have to go.”

      But what if Ahmed could have been found earlier, even alive?

      “The police have no competence”

      Until there is a photo of a dead body, police and border guards have often declined to search for missing or dead migrants.

      Ahmed’s traveling companions, including the man who contacted Piotr, had personally begged Polish border guards for emergency medical aid for Ahmed. They had left Ahmed by the river in the throes of hypothermia to ask for help. Instead of calling paramedics, or searching for Ahmed at all, the border guards pushed the group back to Belarus, leaving Ahmed to die alone in the forest.

      In our investigation, we heard of at least three other deaths that are eerily similar to Ahmed’s: Ethiopian woman Mahlet Kassa, 28; Syrian man Mohammed Yasim, 32; and Yemeni man Dr. Ibrahim Jaber Ahmed Dihiya, 33. In all three cases, traveling companions approached Polish officers for emergency medical attention, but instead got pushed back themselves. Help never arrived.

      Each time the activists receive a report of a missing or dead person, they first share this information with the police. Piotr says he has received responses from the police, including, “We’re busy,” or “Not our problem.”

      After police were provided with the photos and exact GPS location of Ahmed’s body, they called back to say they still couldn’t find him. When Rafal turned his car around to personally lead the police to his body, he found out why: The police had ventured into the swamp without waterproof boots or even a GPS to navigate in a forest where there is often no cell connection.

      “The police are unequipped,” said Rafal, full of disbelief. Two years on from the crisis, the police still do not have the proper basic equipment nor training to conduct searches for people missing or dead in the forest. He recounts that in one trip to retrieve a body with police, they could only walk 300 meters in one hour, and one officer had lost the sole of his shoes in the mud.

      The Polish police responded to our email, “The police is not a force with the competence to deal with persons illegally crossing borders.” As a result, eight of 22 bodies found this year on the Polish side of the border were discovered by volunteers like Piotr and Rafal.

      On the Lithuanian side, Sienos Grupė says there are no such searches. “We are afraid there are many bodies in Lithuanian forests and the area between the fence and Belarus, but we are not allowed there,” says Aušrinė, a 23-year-old medicine student and Sienos Grupė volunteer in Lithuania. “Nobody is looking for them.”
      “In two weeks, there is nothing there”

      Rafal sits down in a wooden lodge on the edge of the forest and orders tea for himself while his two young children play on a tablet. It was his turn with the kids, he explains in a deep voice. His wife came home at four in the morning, after spending the whole night volunteering with POPH on a search for a man with diabetes in the forest.

      He feared that time was running out. We met with Rafal on Thursday evening. The man was found on Saturday morning, already dead. He is the 51st death recorded in Poland this year.

      In the forest, each search is a race against both time and wild animals.

      The winter may preserve a body for two months, but in the summer, the time frame is much shorter. A few times, Rafal has come across mere skeletons. He explains, “When there is a smell, the scavengers go immediately. When you’ve got summer and flies, probably in two weeks, it’s done, there’s nothing there.”

      In such advanced stages of decomposition, the body is exponentially more difficult to identify. However, DNA can be collected from bone fragments, in case families come searching. If they’re lucky, there are objects found close by: glasses, clothes, or jewelry. In one case, a family portrait found near the body was the key to identification.

      However, the Suwałki Prosecutor’s Office in Poland explained to us that the Prosecutor’s Offices keep no central register of data on deceased migrants, such as DNA, personal belongings, or photographs.
      “As a wife, I know his eyes”

      Four and a half months after Samrin disappeared, Sanooja’s phone rang. It was January 5, 2023. She will never forget the voice of the man that spoke. He was calling from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka, and informed her that her husband’s DNA had been matched to a body found in the Lithuanian forest. Interpol had drawn Samrin’s biometric data from the UK.

      She considers it fate that the dots came together this way. When they were 20 years old, Samrin’s father passed away, and Samrin left for London on a student visa. Instead of studying, he washed dishes at McDonald’s and KFC, and stocked shelves at Aldi, Lidl, and Iceland. When his visa expired, he lived a clandestine existence, evading the authorities. At age 26, the Home Office arrested him, took his DNA, and deported him. This infraction turned out to be an unexpected lifeline for his identification.

      “Getting the message that my husband was no more, that was nothing compared to those four and a half months,” said Sanooja. She had begun to fear that she would have to live with “lifelong doubt” around Samrin’s fate. Now she knew that four days after Samrin sent his goodbye message, his body was pulled from a river on the Lithuanian side of the border.

      Sanooja has read the police report countless times now: On August 21, 2022, witness Saulius Zakarevičius went for a morning swim in the Neris River. After bathing, he saw something floating. Through binoculars, he was able to decipher human clothes. The river bank is covered with tall grass. At the end of the patch there was a male corpse lying face down. The surface of the skin was swollen, pale, chaotically covered with pink lines, resembling the surface of marble. The skin was peeling from the palms of the corpse…

      She was asked to identify the corpse.

      “As a wife, I know him. I know his eyes. To see them on a dead body, that was terrible.”

      In photos of his personal items, she instantly recognized Samrin’s shoes: a muddy pair of blue Converse All-Stars, with the laces looped just the way he always did.

      To be able to transport a dead body from Europe to any other part of the world, families must face the financial challenge of costs up to 10,000 euros. But the decision was not only about money for Sanooja. It was about time and dreams.

      For one, she believed that he had suffered enough. “As Muslims, we believe that even dead bodies can feel pain,” she says softly. “I felt broken that he was in the mortuary, feeling the cold for four and a half months.”

      And perhaps most of all, she recites what Samrin had told her before he left: “If I go, this time I’m not coming back.” In the end, Sanooja relied on her husband’s last will. “His dream was to be in Europe. So, at least his body will rest in Europe.”
      “Graves without a plate”

      Samrin’s death was the first border death publicly recognized by the Lithuanian government. Despite being the first, he did not receive any distinctive attention, and his resting place remained an unmarked mound of earth for more than eight months.

      On a hot summer day in July, co-founder of Sienos Grupė, Mantautas Šulskus brings a green watering can and measuring tape to our visit to the Vilnius cemetery where Samrin was buried in February. Green grass is sprouting all over Samrin’s grave. But it is not the only one.

      There are three smaller graves lined in a row. Among them, an eleven-year-old, a five-year-old, and a newborn baby rest side by side, their lives cut short in 2021. “These are three minors who died in detention centers in Lithuania,” Mantautas points out somberly.

      These cases have not been officially acknowledged by Lithuanian authorities, and none of the graves of the minors bear a name, even though their identities were also known to authorities. This lack of recognition paints a haunting picture, suggesting a second, silent death—a death of identity and acknowledgment.

      Bodies are sent to municipal or village governments to bury, and if they do not receive explicit instructions to create a plate, they often opt not to. As a result, the nameless graves of migrants are scattered across cemeteries in the region.

      Yet Mantautas is here in the scorching heat to measure a stone plate nearby in the Muslim corner of the cemetery. Sanooja saw it during a video call with Sienos Grupė volunteers, so that she could pray virtually at her husband’s grave. She asked for a plate with Samrin’s name on it—“just exactly like that one there,” she pointed.

      After some months, Sienos Grupė crowdfunded around 1,500 euros to buy and place stone plates for all four graves. The graves of Samrin and the three children now have names: Yusof Ibrahim Ali, Asma Jawadi, and Fatima Manazarova.

      Resting at the feet of the grave is a plate made of stone bearing the inscription “M.S.M.M. Samrin, 1990-2022, Sri Lanka,” precisely as Sanooja has requested. She explains that, according to Islamic beliefs, this will ensure that her husband will rise when the last days come.

      Hidden graves, unknown bodies

      The chilling thing, Mantautas explains, is nobody knows how many graves of migrants there might be, except for the government, which buries them quietly, often in remote villages.

      Organizations like Sienos Grupė find themselves grasping in the dark for leads. Last month, volunteers came across the grave of Lakshmisundar Sukumaran, an Indian man reported dead in April “quite by accident,” says Mantautas. The revelation came on the Eve of All Saint’s Day, when activists preparing for a control ran into a local returning from a visit to his mother’s grave: “There is a migrant buried in town.”

      Indeed, Sukumaran’s grave stands alone in an isolated corner of a small cemetery in Rameikos, a village of 25 people on the Lithuanian-Belarus border. Set apart from crosses of various sizes, a vertical piece of wood bears the inscription: “Lakshmisundar Sukumaran 1983.06.05 – 2023.04.04.” The border fence is visible from his grave. The earth is decorated by the colorful leaves of Lithuanian autumn.

      Sienos Grupė maintains a list of at least 40 people reported missing on the Lithuania-Belarus border, information the government does not record. When bodies are found, they strive to connect the dots: Location, gender, age, ethnicity, possessions, birthmarks, anything. But if authorities do not report when a body is found, the chances of locating anybody on this list are small.

      Emiljia Śvobaitė, a lawyer and volunteer from Sienos Grupė, explains that the Lithuanian government will only confirm whether something they already know is correct. “It seems like they are hiding these kinds of stories and information unless somebody exposes it. They would only confirm the deaths after activists have said something about it.”
      “No political will”

      The Lithuanian Parliament building, known as the Seimas Palace, is an imposing glass-and-concrete building in downtown Vilnius. It is where the Lithuanians declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. From an office with a view over the square, Member of Parliament Tomas Tomilinas wryly explains that their government has legalized pushbacks essentially because Europe has not established that it’s illegal.

      “I would say Europe has no political will to make pushbacks illegal. If there were a European law, the European Commission would put a ban on it. It would put a fine on Lithuania. But nobody’s doing that.”
      Member of Lithuanian Parliament, Tomas Tomilinas

      The Polish parliament legalized pushbacks in October 2021, and the Lithuanian parliament followed suit by legalizing pushbacks in April this year.

      Emiljia raises concerns about the violence of pushbacks her clients have seen. “The government keeps telling us they do everything really nicely. They give people food, and even wave goodbye to them, in the daytime. But when we look at specific cases, where people end up without their limbs on them, those pushbacks are performed at night.”

      She also raises concerns about legalized pushbacks in Lithuania, and whether border guards should be given the right to assess and deny asylum claims on the spot. “It’s funny because border guards should decide right away on the border whether a person is running from persecution, meaning a border guard should identify the conflict in the country of origin, and do all the work that the migration department is doing.”

      “It’s naive to believe that the system would work.”
      Fighting back in court

      With the help of Sienos Grupė’s support for legal expenses, Sanooja took the case to court. If the Lithuanian officials wouldn’t speak with her, perhaps they would speak to lawyers.

      Yet last month, Sanooja’s case was closed for the final time by the Vilnius Regional Prosecutor’s Office after seven appeals. The case never made it to trial.

      The Vilnius court claims there is no basis for a criminal investigation. Emiljia, who was on the team representing Sanooja in the case, responds that the pre-trial investigation didn’t investigate the cause of death properly, nor how the acts of the border police might have caused or contributed to the death of the applicant’s husband.

      Rytis Satkauskas, law professor, managing partner of ReLex law firm, and the lead attorney on Sanooja’s case, questions whether the Lithuanian courts are trying to hide something greater: he points to a series of inconsistencies in Samrin’s autopsy report.

      Autopsies should be conducted immediately to determine the cause of death. However, Samrin’s autopsy report claims that the cause of death cannot be established because the body was in an advanced state of decomposition of up to five months.

      Five months after Samrin’s death is the same time around which Sanooja got in touch to pursue the truth of the matter. Satkauskas does not think this is a coincidence: “I believe they left the body in the repository, then when they established the identity of the person, they had to do this autopsy.”

      The autopsy report explains the advanced state of decomposition by referencing the marshy area in which it was found, claiming the heat of the marsh had accelerated decomposition by up to five months within a matter of days.

      Satkauskas asks further: If Samrin simply drowned, then why do other measurements not add up? He references a table of measurements in the autopsy report, in which the weight and algae content of the lungs are normal. However, Satkauskas says, in cases of drowning, both weight and algae content should be much higher. “I’m convinced they have invented all those measurements,” Satkauskas puts simply.

      As Sanooja’s case has exhausted all legal avenues in Lithuania, it is now eligible for appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

      Emilija points to a promising parallel: in Alhowais v. Hungary, the European Court of Human Rights ruled this February that a Hungarian border guard’s violent pushback ending in the drowning of a Syrian man violated Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which protects the “right to life” and against “torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

      The decision came in February this year, seven years after the death of the defendant’s brother. Yet for Sanooja and her team, the case provides hope that there is a growing legal precedent for victims of pushbacks.

      A battle in court for Sanooja could be a long and expensive one. The case in Vilnius courts had cost 600 euros for each of the seven appeals, and after Sanooja ran out of funds after the first case, Sienos Grupė stepped in to shoulder the costs of the appeals.

      For the ECHR, it will cost 1500 euros to submit the proposal. Sanooja is exploring the possibility of raising money through NGOs or other means to continue the long quest for truth.

      The window of eligibility to appeal will close in February 2024.
      “Wherever I go, I have memories”

      Day by day, Sanooja’s son grows to look more like Samrin.

      She has tried not to cry in front of him. “It makes him upset. I am the only person now for my son, so I should be strong enough to face these things,” says the 32-year-old widow. “But wherever I go, I have memories. And everything my son does reminds me of him.”

      Before Samrin’s body was found, she told her son “false stories,” but with his body now interred, she has opened up to her son about her father’s death. He understands it the way a child might—he runs around telling neighbors his father is in heaven, and it’s a great place. It will be years before he can point to where Lithuania is on a map.

      Thanks to the cooperation of the Sri Lankan embassy in Sweden, Sanooja is one of the few families who have been able to receive a death certificate. She notes this will be crucial when her son enrolls for school and if they decide to sell or expand their property. However, to correct the misspelling on the document, she needs to travel to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, which takes ten hours and nearly 10,000 rupees.

      Meanwhile, Samrin’s death has ruptured the family into those who can accept the reality of his death, and those who cannot. Sanooja’s mother-in-law has ceased contact with her, unable to wrap her head around the fact that her boy is gone. When Samrin had left, he promised his mother to send money so that she would no longer have to wake up early to make pastries to sell in the morning. On the day of Samrin’s funeral, she told the family, “That is not my son.”

      “What difference does it make, finding the body and burying it?” asks Pauline Boss, the Psychology Professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota who coined the term “ambiguous loss,” which encompasses the unique stress of not knowing whether someone you love is alive or dead.

      Professor Boss states that burying someone is a distinct human need—not just for the dead, but for the living. “In all cases, a human being has to see their loved one transform from breathing to not breathing, and have the power and control to deal with the remains in their particular cultural way. It’s a human need, and it has been for eons.”

      Yet few families are able to attend the funerals of their loved ones in Europe, for the same reason their loved ones tried to travel to Europe on such a dangerous road in the first place: inability to obtain a visa, or lack of funds.

      “I hope one day I will visit, and I will show our son his father’s grave,” Sanooja declares.

      When Samrin was interred into the snow-covered February earth of Liepynės cemetery in Vilnius on Valentine’s Day this year, a volunteer present at the burial offered to video call Sanooja through FaceTime.

      In the grainy constellation of pixels of the phone screen in her palm, from 8,000 kilometers away, she watched her husband disappear forever into the cold European soil.


      #Lituanie #Biélorussie #forêt #Pologne #Bialowieza

    • Missing data, missing souls in Italy

      How Italy’s failing system makes it almost impossible for families to identify their relatives who passed away while reaching the EU.

      Before the Syrian civil war erupted, Refaat Hazima was a barber in Damascus. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had also been barbers. Thanks to his craftsmanship, flair, and a reputation built over four generations, Refaat was a wealthy man. Together with his wife – a doctor for the national service – he could afford to have his three children study instead of sending them to work at a young age.

      “They were always the top of the class,” he recalls in a nostalgic voice as he sits alone in a seaside restaurant on Lampedusa, a small Sicilian island halfway between Malta and the eastern coast of Tunisia. The rocky shores along which he now slowly enjoys eggplant served with fresh tuna were the scene of the most traumatic episode of his life.

      “President Bashar al-Assad had centralized all power in his hands, and our daily life in Syria had become complicated.” Refaat was also temporarily imprisoned for political reasons. But the point of no return for him and his wife was the outbreak of civil war in 2011. It became clear that not only their children’s educational future was in jeopardy, but even the survival of their entire family.

      So they decided to leave.

      The couple paid smugglers more than fifty thousand dollars to attempt to reach Germany, where their children could continue their education. But amid rejections, hurdles, and hesitations that forced the family into months-long stages in different countries, Refaat and his family had to wait until 2013 to finally set sail to the European shores of Lampedusa.

      Although it was autumn, the sea was calm that night. Initial concerns related to the sea conditions and the wooden boat that was all too heavily laden with humans now dissipated. In the darkness of the night sea, the shorelines and the flickering lights of street lamps and restaurants were in sight. But suddenly the boat in which they were traveling capsized.

      “Everyone was screaming as we ended up in the sea,” Rafaat recalls. “I grabbed one of my children, my wife grabbed another child. But in the commotion and screaming of the nighttime shipwreck, two of my children disappeared.”

      The couple were rescued by Italian authorities and brought to the mainland along with one of their children. The other two, however, disappeared. “One of them told me Dad, give me a kiss on the forehead, and then I never saw him ever again.”

      From 2013 to the present, Refaat has searched everywhere for their children. For 10 years he has been traveling, asking, and searching. He has even appeared on TV hoping one day to be reunited with them. But to this day he still does not know if his children were saved or if they are two of the 268 victims of the October 11, 2013 shipwreck, one of the worst Mediterranean disasters in the last three decades.

      Uncertain and partial numbers

      For more than two decades, Italy has been one of the main gateways for migrants wanting to reach the European Union. Between thirty and forty thousand people have died trying to reach Italy since 2000. But despite this strategic location, authorities have never created a comprehensive register to census the dead returned from the sea, and thus sources are confusing and approximate.

      In any case, the figure of bodies found is only a percentage of the people who lost their lives while attempting to cross over to Europe. In fact, the bodies of those who die at sea are rarely recovered. When this happens, they are even more rarely identified by Italian authorities.

      A study conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross tried to map the anonymous graves of migrants in various European countries and count the number of deaths recovered at sea. According to the report, between 2014 and 2019, 964 bodies of people – presumed migrants – were found in Italy, of which only 27 percent were identified. In most of the cases analyzed, identification occurred through immediate visual recognition by their fellow travelers, while those traveling without friends or relatives almost always remained anonymous.

      Overall, 73 percent of the bodies recovered in Italy between 2014 and 2019 remain unknown.

      A DNA test for everyone

      “The vast majority of bodies end up at the bottom of the sea and are never recovered, becoming fish food,” explains Tareke Bhrane, founder of the October 3 Committee, an NGO established to protect the rights of those who die trying to reach Europe. “The Committee was born in the aftermath of the two disastrous shipwrecks on October 3 and 11, 2013 to make Italy understand that even those who die have dignity and that respecting that dignity is important not only for those who die, but also for those who survive,” Bhrane recounts.

      On October 3, 2023, the Committee organized a large event on the island of Lampedusa to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the shipwreck. Dozens of families of people who died or disappeared gathered on the island, traveling from many European and Middle Eastern countries.

      On the island were also forensic geneticists from Labanof, a leading forensic medicine laboratory at the University of Milan that has been working with prosecutors and law enforcement agencies for decades now to solve cases and identify unnamed bodies. Relatives of missing persons were thus able to undergo a free DNA test to find out more about their loved ones.

      One of the committee’s main activities in recent years has been to lobby Sicilian municipalities for better management of anonymous graves. Thanks in part to the NGO, today almost all Sicilian provinces now house some victims of migration, often anonymous, in their cemeteries.

      “Among the essential points of our mission,” Bhrane explains, “is to create a European DNA database for the recognition of victims, so that anyone who wants to can take a DNA test anywhere in Europe and find out if a loved one has lost their life trying to get here.”
      Resigned and hopeful


      While Refaat has not yet resigned himself to the idea that his children may have died at sea, other relatives have become more aware and would like to know where Italy buried their loved ones. But this is often impossible because the graves are anonymous and there is a lack of national records that they can consult to find their loved ones.

      This is the case for Asmeret Amanuel and Desbele Asfaha, two Eritrean nationals who are respectively the nephew and brother of one of the people aboard the boat that capsized in 2013.

      “We heard from the radio that the boat he was traveling on had sunk. We never heard from him again,” Asmeret says. The two traveled all the way to Lampedusa to undergo DNA testing, hoping to match their loved one’s name for the first time with one of the many acronyms that have appeared on migrants’ anonymous graves and find out where he rests.

      “I remember as children we used to play together,” says Desbele. “And instead today I don’t even know where to mourn him. Yet it would take so little.”

      An organizational failure

      Many Italian cemeteries hold anonymous graves of people who died while migrating, especially in the South. It is difficult to map them all and provide an exact number, just as it is nearly impossible to quantify the number of anonymous graves. Again, there is no centralized, national database, and even at the municipal level information is scarce and partial.

      But thanks to an international investigation project called the “The Border Graves Investigation” and promoted by IJ4EU and Journalism Fund of which Unbias the News is one of the partners, it is now possible to shed light on what resembles a large European mass grave.

      From the Italian side of the investigation, large gaps emerge on Italy’s part in the construction of a national cemetery archive. According to protocol, data on anonymous graves are supposed to be sent every three months from individual cemeteries and work their way up a long bureaucratic chain until they reach the desk of the government’s Special Commissioner for Missing Persons, an office created by the Italian government in 2007 precisely to create a single national database.

      But sources from the Special Commissioner told the Border Graves Investigation team that unidentified bodies are not within their jurisdiction because in cases where there is an alleged crime (e.g., illegal immigration) the jurisdiction passes to the local magistrate. Thus, the source confirmed that no office systematically collects this data and that figures areeverything is scattered in individual prosecutors’ offices.

      However, the documentary traces of migrants’ anonymous graves are often already lost in the records of the cemeteries themselves or municipal records, that is, at the first step in the chain. For example, in Agrigento, it is possible to visit the graves of men and women who died at sea marked by numbers, but in the paper registers consulted by our team of journalists there is no trace of them.

      Yet the records are deposited a few meters from the graves themselves.

      In Sciacca, Agrigento province, the municipal administration moved some anonymous graves of migrants inside a mass grave to make room for new burials. However, it did not follow the prescribed regulations and did not notify the relatives of the few victims who had been identified and whose names were listed on the grave. The matter was discovered at the time when a woman went to the cemetery to pray at her sister’s grave and did not find her in her usual place.

      In other cases, anonymous graves have been moved from one cemetery to another due to the need for space, but without alerting the population.
      The bureaucratic snag

      Finding out the fate of a loved one is so complicated for several reasons. First, the identification of the body, which the Italian authorities do not generally consider a priority. Then there is the difficulty of recognition itself, especially when relatives are abroad or have difficulty contacting Italian authorities.

      In addition, there is the problem of traceability of the bodies, which often remain on the seabed and, in the few cases where they are found, enter a bureaucratic machine in which it is arduous to recover their traces. Researcher and anthropologist Giorgia Mirto explained this to our investigative team: “The corpses should be registered in the registrar’s office where the body is found. But then the body is often moved within the same cemetery, from one cemetery to another or from one municipality to another, and so there is documentation that travels along with the body. Moves that are difficult to track.”

      “Moreover,” Mirto adds, “adding to the difficulty is the absence of unified procedures. “With the Human Cost of Border Control project, we have seen that the only way to count these people and their graves is to do a blanket search of all the municipalities, all the cemetery offices, all the registrars’ offices and all the cemeteries, possibly adding the funeral homes as well.”

      Thus, there is a problem with centralization and transparency of data that is often also linked to the huge austerity cuts that have forced municipalities to work understaffed. Emblematic is the Commissioner’s Office for Missing Persons, which would be responsible for compiling a list of unidentified bodies found on Italian soil, but has been left without a portfolio.

      “As anthropologist Didier Fassin says,” the researcher concludes, “missing data is not the result of carelessness but is an administrative and political choice. It should be understood how much this choice is conscious and how much is the result of disinterest in the good work of municipal archives (an essential resource for historical memory and for the peace of victims’ families) or in understanding the cost of borders in terms of human lives.”

      EU responsibilities

      Forensic scientist Cristina Cattaneo – a professor at the University of Milan and director of the Labanof forensic laboratory – explained to our team that from a forensic point of view, the most important procedure for identifying a body is to collect both post-mortem (from tattoos to DNA, through cadaveric inspections and autopsies) and antemortem medical forensic information, that is, that which comes from family members regarding the missing person.

      However, in many countries, including Italy, no law makes this procedure mandatory. In the case of people who die while migrating, this is done only in egregious cases, such as large shipwrecks that become news. “These cases have shown that a broad and widespread effort to identify the bodies of those who die at sea is possible,” says Cattaneo. “However, most people lose their lives in very small shipwrecks that don’t make too much news. And because there is no protocol to make data collection systematic, many family members are left in doubt as to whether their loved ones are alive or dead.”

      All this happens despite the great efforts made over the years by the government’s Extraordinary Commissioner for Missing Persons, which, despite being the only national institution of its kind at the European level, has to manage a huge amount of data from all Italian municipalities. Data that are often disorganized, reported late, and collected without adhering to common and strict procedures.

      This is why Cattaneo is among the signatories of an appeal calling for the enactment of a European law that would once and for all oblige member states to identify the bodies of migrants.

      “Yet a European solution would exist and from a technical point of view it is already feasible,” Cattaneo adds. It involves data exchange systems such as Interpol, which at the European level already collects, organizes, and can share information and organically to member countries.

      “It would be enough to expand the analysis to include missing migrants and thus make it possible to search and identify them on a European scale. But this is not being done because of a lack of political will on the part of Brussels,” Cattaneo concludes.
      “The art of patience”


      Identifying the bodies of people who lose their lives coming to Europe is an important issue on several levels.

      First and foremost, international humanitarian law protects the right to identity for both those who are alive and those who have died. But identifying is also an essential issue for those who remain alive. Indeed, without a death certificate, it is almost impossible for a spouse to marry again or to access survivor’s pensions, just as it is impossible for a minor relative to leave their country with an adult without running into a blockade by the authorities, who cannot rule out the possibility of child abduction.

      Then there is the issue of suspended grief, namely the condition of those who do not know whether to search for a loved one or mourn his or her death.

      This is the case for Asmeret and Desbele, but also for many relatives interviewed by our team.

      Sabah and Ahmed, for example, are a Syrian couple. One of their sons disappeared in 2013 after a shipwreck in Italian waters. For 10 years, Ahmed retraced the same land and sea route followed by his son, hoping to find his body or at least get more information. But the efforts were in vain and to this day the family still does not know what happened to him.

      “His children are still with us and often ask, ‘where is Dad? Where is Dad?’ but without a grave and a body, we still don’t know what to answer.”

      Both Sabah and Ahmed are very religious and today rely on Allah to give them the comfort they have not found in the work of institutions. “The greatest gift from Allah,” they recount, “was the patience with which to be able to move forward in the face of such unnatural grief for a parent.”

      A similar lesson was learned by Refaat, who like Ahmed and Sabah has been living in ignorance for ten years. Today he has opened a barber store in Hamburg and realized his dream of having his surviving son study in Germany.

      “I have been searching for my children for ten years, and Allah knows I will search for them until the end of my days, should I find their dead bodies, or should I find them alive who knows where in the world. But I want to die knowing that I did everything I could to find them.”
      Refaat Hazima

      Sometimes his voice trembles. “I often talk to them in my sleep, I feel that they are still alive. But even if I were to find out they are dead, in all these years I would still have learned how to deal with frustration and pain, how to live with emptiness. And most importantly,” he concludes, “I would have learned the art of patience.”


      #Italie #Tareke_Brhane #comitato_3_ottobre #3_octobre_2013 #Lampedusa

    • Unmarked monuments of EU’s shame in Croatia and Bosnia

      Amid pushbacks and torture, many of the victims of the treacherous Balkan route are laid to an anonymous final resting place in Croatian and Bosnian cemetaries.

      In the village of Siče in eastern Croatia, there are more inhabitants in the cemetery than among the living. The village has 230 living residents, and 250 dead. To be more precise, the cemetery is home to 247 locals and three unknown persons. There would be more people six feet under if Siče hadn’t gotten its own cemetery only in the 1970s. There would also be even more of the living if they hadn’t, like many from that region, gone to bigger cities in search of a better life. Abroad as well, mainly to Germany.

      The graves of Siče’s inhabitants briefly tell the visitor who these people were, where they belong, and whether their loved ones care for them. That’s the thing with graves, they summarise the basic information of our life.

      If the grave bears only the inscription “NN”, that summarises a tragedy.

      Who are these three people whose names are unknown? How come their last resting place is a plain grave in Siče?

      Even if you didn’t know, it’s clear that those three people don’t belong there.

      They have been buried completely separated from the rest of the cemetery. Three wooden crosses with NN inscriptions, stuck in the ground at the edge of the cemetery. NN, an abbreviation of the Latin nomen nescio, literally means, “I do not know the name.” The official explanation from the public burial ground operator is that space has been left for more possible burials of those whose names are not known. However, the explanation that springs to mind when you get there is that they were buried separately so they wouldn’t mix with the locals. Or as the mayor of another town, where NN migrants have also been buried at the edge of the cemetery, let slip in a telephone conversation, “So that they’re not in the way.”

      At the cemetery in Siče, these are the only three graves that no one takes care of. In about five years, all trace of them could disappear. The public burial ground operator is obliged to bury unidentified bodies, but not to maintain graves unless the grave belongs to a person of “special historical and social significance.”

      NN1, NN2 and NN3 are of special significance only to their loved ones, who probably don’t even know where they are. Maybe they are waiting to finally hear from them from Western Europe. Maybe they’re looking for them. Maybe they mourn them.

      Identities known but buried as unknown

      If you do dig a little deeper, you will learn a thing or two about those who rest here nameless.

      In the early, cold morning of December 23, 2022, the police found two bodies on the banks of the Sava, the river that separates Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina. It separates the European Union from the rest of Europe. According to the police report, they also found a group of twenty foreign citizens who illegally entered Croatia via the river. The group was missing one more person. After an extensive search, a third body was found in the afternoon. The pathologist of the General Hospital in the town of Nova Gradiška established the time of death for all three people as 2:45 A.M. Two died of hypothermia, one drowned.

      Identity cards from a refugee camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina were found on them. We learned that, according to their IDs, all three were from Afghanistan: Ahmedi Abozari was 17 years old, Basir Naseri was 21 years old and Shakir Atoin was 25 years old. NN1, NN2 and NN3.

      Other migrants from the group also confirmed the identity of two of them, as the Brodsko-Posavska County police administration told us. Then why were they buried as NN? If it was known that they were from Afghanistan, why were they buried under crosses? If families are looking for them, how will they find them?

      The cemetery management was kind and said that they perform burials according to what is written in the burial permit signed by the pathologist – and it said NN.

      The pathologist said that he enters the data based on the information he receives from the police.

      The competent police department told us that the person is buried according to the rules of the local municipality.

      Siče cemetery belongs to the municipality of Nova Kapela, whose mayor, Ivan Šmit, discontentedly listed all the costs that his municipality incurred for those burials and said that whoever is willing to pay for it can change the NN inscription into names.

      We came across a series of similar administrative ambiguities while investigating how authorities deal with the deceased people they recover at EU borders as a part of the Border Graves Investigation carried out by a team of eight freelancers from across Europe together with Unbias the News, The Guardian and Süddeutsche Zeitung.

      There is no centralised European database on the number of migrants’ graves in Europe.

      But the team managed to confirm the existence of at least 1,931 migrants’ graves in Greece, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Malta, Poland and France, dating from 2014 to 2023. Of these, 1,015 were unidentified. More than half of the unidentified graves are in Greece, 551, in Italy 248, and in Spain 109. The data were obtained based on the databases of international organizations, non-governmental organizations, scientists, local authorities and cemeteries, and field visits.

      The team visited 24 cemeteries in Greece, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland and Lithuania, where there are a total of 555 graves of unidentified migrants in the last decade, from 2014 to 2023.

      These are only those whose bodies have been found. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimates that more than 93% of those who go missing on Europe’s borders are never found.
      Families lost in bureaucracy

      December 2022, when the three young Afghans died, was rainier than usual and the Sava River swelled. It is big and fast to begin with.

      In that area, just three days earlier, five Turkish citizens went missing after their boat overturned on the Sava. Among them were a two-year-old girl, a twelve-year-old boy and their parents. The brother of the missing father came from Germany to Croatia to find out what happened to the family. From the documentation, which we have in our possession, it is evident that with the help of translator Nina Rajković, he tried to get information about his missing relatives from several police stations. Even months later, he hasn’t received any updates.

      The two had wanted to file a missing person’s report, but the police told them that there was no point in doing so if the person had not previously been registered in the territory of Croatia or Bosnia and Herzegovina.

      We encountered a number of similar examples. A young man had come to Croatia and reported to the police in both Croatia and Slovenia that his brother had drowned in the Kupa River that separates the two countries. However, his brother’s disappearance was not recorded in the Croatian national database of missing persons, which is publicly available. The police did not contact him after several unidentified bodies were found in the Kupa in the following days.

      In another example, an Afghan man waited six months for the body of his brother, who drowned when they tried to cross the Sava together, also in December 2022, to be transferred from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina so that he could bury him. Although he had confirmed that it was his brother, the identification process was lengthy and complicated.

      There are numerous families who tried from afar to track down their loved ones who had disappeared in the territory of Croatia, only to finally give up in discouragement.

      There are many questions and few clear answers when it comes to the issue of missing and dead migrants on the so-called Balkan Route, of which Croatia is a part. There are no clear protocols and procedures defining to whom and how to report a missing person. It is not known whether missing migrants are actively searched for, as tourists are when they disappear in the summer. It is not clear how much and which information is needed for identification.

      “The circulation of information between institutions and individual departments seems almost non-existent to me."

      “In one case, it took me more than two months and dozens of phone calls and emails to different addresses, police stations, police departments, hospitals, and the state attorney’s office, just to prompt the initiation of identification, which to this day, more than a year later, has not been completed,” says Marijana Hameršak, activist and head of the project “European Regime of Irregular Migration on the Periphery of the EU” of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research in Zagreb, which collects knowledge and data on missing and dead migrants.

      Searches for missing migrants and attempts to identify the dead in Croatia, as well as in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, most often rely on the efforts of volunteers and activists, who, like Marijana, untiringly search for information in the chaotic administration because families who do not know the language find this task practically insurmountable.
      “Die or make your dream come true”

      The Facebook group “Dead and Missing in the Balkans” became the central place to exchange photos and information about the missing and the dead between families and activists.

      The competent Ministry of the Interior does not have a website in English with an address where one can write from Afghanistan or Syria and inquire about the fate of loved ones, leave information about them, and report them missing. There is also no regional database on missing and dead migrants on which the police administrations would cooperate, not even the ones from the countries where the most crossings are recorded – from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia.

      In an interview with our team, Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasised that the creation of a centralised European database of missing and dead migrants is extremely important. If such a database combined ante-mortem and post-mortem data on the deceased, the chances of identification would greatly increase.

      “Families have a right to know the truth about the fate of their loved ones.”
      Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

      Yet, police cooperation in keeping the EU’s external border impervious is effective.

      Previously, people attempting to migrate did not try to cross the Sava so often. They knew it was too dangerous. They share information with each other and do not venture across such a river in children’s inflatable boats or inner tubes. Unless they are utterly desperate. With pushbacks and the use of force, which many organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been warning about for years, the Croatian police made it difficult to cross at other, less dangerous points along the Croatian border, which is the longest external land border in the European Union. As a young Moroccan in Bosnia and Herzegovina who tried to cross the border to Croatia 11 times but was pushed back by the Croatian police each time told us, “You have two choices: die or make your dream come true.”

      It is difficult to determine how many died on the Balkan Route in an attempt to fulfil their dream. The most comprehensive data for ex-Yugoslav countries is collected by the researchers of the “European Regime of Irregular Migration on the Periphery of the EU (ERIM)” project. It records 346 victims from 2014 to 2023 in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, North Macedonia and Kosovo. Each entry in ERIM’s database is individual and contains as much data as the researchers managed to collect, and they use all available sources – media reports, witnesses, official statistics, activist channels. But the figure is certainly significantly higher. Some who went missing were never even registered anywhere.

      Many bodies were never found. For example, another common border crossing, the Stara Planina mountain range between Bulgaria and Serbia, is a rough and inaccessible terrain. Only those who have been driven to this route by the same fate will come across the bodies, and they will not risk encountering authorities to report it.

      If people die in the minefields remaining from the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, there will not be much left of their bodies. Most bodies were found drowned in rivers, but there is no estimate of how many who drowned were never reported missing, or were never found.

      The Croatian Ministry of the Interior provided us with data on migrants who have died in Croatia since 2015, when records began to be kept, until the end of November 2023: according to the data, a total of 87 migrants died on the territory of the Republic of Croatia. To put it more precisely: that’s how many bodies were found in Croatia. Not a single official body in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia keeps records of migrants buried in that territory.

      However, we managed to obtain data for Croatia, thanks to inquiries sent to over 500 addresses of cities, municipalities and municipal companies that manage cemeteries. According to the data obtained, there are 59 graves of migrants in 32 cemeteries in Croatia who were buried in the last decade, namely from 2014 until September 2023. Of these, 45 have not been identified. The Ministry of the Interior says that since 2001, DNA samples have been taken from all unidentified bodies. We asked the Ministry to allow us to talk with experts who work on the identification of migrants, but we were not approved.

      Some of the buried were exhumed and returned to their families in their country of origin, although this is a demanding and extremely expensive process for the families.
      The burden of not knowing

      Among the NN graves is a stillborn baby from Syria buried in 2015 in the town of Slavonski Brod. A five-year-old girl who drowned in the Danube was buried in Dalje in 2021. Last summer, a young man died of exhaustion in the highlands in the Dubrovnik area. Some were hit by a train. Many died of hypothermia. Some die because they were not provided medical help early enough. Some don’t believe anything can help them, so they committed suicide.

      According to the law, they are buried closest to the place of death, which are mostly small cemeteries, such as the one in Siče. Often, just like in that village, their graves are separated from the rest of the cemetery. In some places, like in Otok, one of the tender-hearted local women has given herself the task of taking care of the NN grave. In others, like the cemetery in Prilišće, the NN wooden cross from 2019 has already rotted.

      Each of these NN graves leaves behind loved ones who bear the burden of not knowing what happened. In psychology, this is called ambiguous loss, which means that as long as relatives do not have confirmation that their loved ones are dead, and as long as they do not know where their bodies are, they cannot mourn them.

      If they go on with their lives, they feel guilty. And so they remain frozen in a state between despair and hope. American psychologist Dr. Pauline Boss is the author of the concept and theory of “ambiguous loss.”

      “A grave is so important because it helps to say goodbye,“ she said in an interview for our investigation.

      There are also practical consequences of this frozen state: succession rights cannot be carried out, bank accounts cannot be accessed, family pensions cannot be obtained, the partner cannot remarry, and custody of children is complicated.

      Many families in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina know ambiguous loss very well. Both countries went through war in the 1990s that left thousands of people missing.

      Both countries have special laws on the missing in those wars and well-developed mechanisms of search, identification, data storage and mutual cooperation. But this does not apply to migrants who vanish and die among the thousands who are on the move along the Balkan Route.
      Croatia responsible for death of a child

      Croatia became an important point of entry into the European Union after Hungary closed its borders in September 2015. From then until March 2016, it is estimated that around 660,000 refugees passed through the Croatian section of the Balkan corridor – the interstate, organised route. This corridor allowed them to get from Greece to Western Europe in two or three days. Most importantly, their journey was safe.

      Of these hundreds of thousands of people on the move, the Croatian Ministry of the Interior did not record a single death in 2015 and 2016.

      The corridor was established to prevent casualties after a large number of refugees died on the railway in Macedonia in the spring of 2015. However, with the conclusion of the EU-Turkey refugee agreement in March 2016, the corridor closed. The EU committed to generously funding Turkey to keep refugees on its territory, so that they do not come to the European Union. And so the perilous, informal Balkan Route remained the only option. Many take it. In the first ten months of 2023 alone, the Croatian police recorded 62,452 actions related to illegal border crossings.

      Both the Croatian Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter and Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović warn of the same thing: border and migration policies have a clear impact on the risk of migrants going missing or die. It is necessary to establish legal and safe migration routes in the EU.

      However, the EU expects Croatia to protect its external border, and Croatia is doing so wholeheartedly. Croatian Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović calls such practices “techniques of discouragement” and says they are fully in line with the EU Schengen Border Code.

      The result of such practices is, for example, the death of Madina Hussiny. The six-year-old girl from Afghanistan was struck by a train and killed after Croatian police “discouraged” her and her family away from the Croatian border and told them to follow train tracks back to Serbia in the middle of the night in 2017. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in November 2021 that Croatia was responsible for Madina’s death.

      In a typical “discouragement,” Croatian police transport people to points along the border and order them to cross. In the testimonies we heard, as well as in many reports of non-governmental organisations, people described having to wade or swim across rivers, climb over rocks or make their way through dense forest. They often cross at night, sometimes stripped naked, and without knowing the way because the police usually take away their mobile phones.

      Up to 80% of all pushbacks by Croatian police may be impacted by one or more forms of torture, indicates data collected by Border Violence Monitoring Network in 2019. That means that thousands were victims of border torture.

      According to data collected by the Danish Refugee Council, in the two-year period from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2022, at least 30,000 people were pushed back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
      “While trying to reach Europe”


      Among them is Arat Semiullah from Afghanistan. In November 2022, he intended to cross the Sava River and enter Croatia from Bosnia. He was 20 years old. He drowned and was buried at the Orthodox cemetery in Banja Luka. His family in Afghanistan did not know what happened to him. He had sent his mom a selfie with a fresh haircut for entering the European Union and then he stopped answering.

      The mother begged her nephew Payman Sediqi, who lives in Germany, to try to find him. Payman got in touch with the activist Nihad Suljić, who voluntarily helps families find out what happened to their loved ones in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They spent weeks trying to get information. Payman travelled to Bosnia and managed to find his relative thanks to the helpfulness of a policewoman who showed him forensic photographs. Arat’s mom confirmed by phone that it was her son.

      Arat’s obituary published in Bosnia and Herzegovina said that “Croatian police sank the boat using firearms, and he tragically drowned.” With the help of the Muslim community, and at the request of the family, his body was transferred to the Muslim cemetery in the village of Kamičani. The family wanted to bury him in Afghanistan, but it was too expensive and bureaucratically complicated.

      In September 2023, we met with Nihad and Payman when a large tombstone was erected for Arat. It says, “Drowned in the Sava River while trying to reach Europe.” Payman told us that Arat was crossing the Sava with a group of others trying to enter Europe. Some of them managed to cross over to the Croatian side, but then the Croatian police shot at the rubber boat Arat was in. The boat sank and Arat drowned. That’s what a survivor who crossed over to the Croatian bank of the Sava told Payman. Payman says that Arat’s family is in great pain, but at least they know where their son is and that he was buried according to their religious customs. It is important to Payman that his relative’s grave says he died as a migrant.

      “People die every day in Europe, fleeing countries where there is no life for them. Their dreams are buried in Europe. No one cares about them, not even when European policemen shoot at them,” Payman says.

      Payman knows what kind of dreams he’s talking about. He himself came to Germany illegally at the age of 16. He says he was lucky.

      Nihad advocates that other graves of migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina also be permanently marked as such. He takes us to the cemetery in the town of Zvornik, where 17 NN migrants are buried. Nihad says he was informed that some of them had their passport on them when they were found. From the cemetery, you can see the river Drina, which separates Serbia from Bosnia and where many lives have been lost during crossing attempts. About 30 bodies were found in the Drina this year alone. Nihad says that they are lucky if they wash up on the Bosnian riverbanks, because in Serbia the authorities often do not perform autopsies nor take DNA samples. This was confirmed to us by activists from Serbia. In those cases, they are forever and completely lost to their families.

      The earthen NN graves in Zvornik are overgrown and not demarcated, so you wouldn’t know if you are stepping on them. Nihad managed to convince the Town of Zvornik to replace the wooden signs with black stone. It is important to him that they are buried with dignity, but he also finds it important that they stand there as a memorial.

      “My wish is that even 100 years from now these graves stand as monuments of the EU’s shame. Because it was not the river that killed these people, but the EU border regime,” Nihad says.


      #Bosnie #Croatie #Zvornik #Madina_Hussiny

    • Counting the invisible victims of Spain’s EU borders

      Investigation finds hundreds of victims of migration to the EU lie in unmarked graves along Spain’s borders, with government taking no coordinated action to guarantee “last rights.”

      In January 2020, Alhassane Bangoura was buried in an unmarked grave in the Muslim area of Teguise municipal cemetery in Lanzarote as city officials and members of the local Muslim community watched on. He had been born only a couple of weeks earlier onboard a cramped patera migrant boat on which his mother, who is from Guinea, and 42 others were trying to reach the Spanish Canary Islands. Their boat was adrift on the Atlantic ocean after its motor had failed two days earlier, and Alhassane’s mother had gone into labour at sea. Her child only lived for a few hours before dying just off the coast of Lanzarote.

      Alhassane’s case shocked the island and made national news. Yet as mourners paid their respects, his mother was 200 kilometres away in a migrant reception centre on the neighbouring island of Gran Canaria, having been unable to get permission from authorities to remain on Lanzarote for the funeral.

      “She’d been allowed to see the body of her son one more time before being transferred, and I accompanied her to the funeral home,” says Mamadou Sy, a representative of the local Muslim community. “It was very emotional as she was leaving. All we could do was promise her that her son would not be alone; that like any Muslim, he’d be brought to the Mosque where his body would be washed by other mothers; that we would pray for him and that afterwards we’d send her a video of the burial.”

      Nearly four years later, Alhassane’s final resting place remains without a formal headstone. It lies next to more than three dozen graves of unidentified migrants – whose names are completely unknown but who, like Alhassane, are also victims of Europe’s brutal border regime.

      Border Graves

      Such a scene is no anomaly along Spain’s vast coastline. Border graves like these can be found in cemeteries stretching from Alicante on the country’s eastern Mediterranean coast to Cádiz on the Atlantic seaboard and south to the Canaries. Some have names but, more often than not, the inscription reads some variation of “unidentified migrant,” “unknown Moroccan,” or “victim of the Strait [of Gibraltar],” or there is simply a hand-painted cross.

      In Barbate cemetery in Cádiz, where the deceased are sealed into niches in traditional brick-walled stacks around two metres in height, groundskeeper Germán points out over 30 different migrant graves, the earliest of which date from 2002 and the most recent are from a shipwreck in 2019.

      "No one ever comes to visit, but on days when there are funerals here and flowers are about to be thrown out, I place them on the tombs containing the unknown migrants,” he explains. “In some of the older graves, you have the remains of up to five or six migrants together, each placed in separate sacks within the same niche to save space.”

      Along the coast, in Tarifa, Spain’s earliest mass grave of unidentified migrants, containing 11 victims from a 1988 shipwreck, overlooks the northern reaches of the African continent, which can be seen on a clear day. Meanwhile, around 400 kilometres west of the African coast, on the remote Canarian island of El Hierro, seven unidentified migrants have been buried in the last two months, along with the remains of 30-year old Mamadou Marea. “Locals joined us to accompany the remains of each of these people to their last resting place,” explains Amado Carballo, a councillor on El Hierro. “What upset all of us was not being able to put a name on the tombstone and simply having to leave the person identified by a police code.”

      Such concern was less evident in Arrecife, Lanzarote where two unidentified graves from February this year have been left sealed with a covering that still bears a corporate logo.

      There is no comprehensive data on how many identified and unidentified migrant graves exist in Spain, and the country’s Interior Ministry has never released figures for the total number of bodies recovered across the various maritime migration routes. But in exclusive data from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Unbias The News can reveal that the bodies of an estimated 530 people who died at Spain’s borders were recovered between 2014 and 2021 – of which 292 remain unidentified.

      In the six month Europe-wide Border Graves Investigation, undertaken in conjunction with Unbias the News, The Guardian and Süddeutsche Zeitung, 109 unidentified migrant graves from 2014-21 were confirmed in Spain across 18 locations. According to a study by the University of Amsterdam, a further 434 unidentified graves stem from 2000-2013 in at least 65 cemeteries.

      These graves are symbols of a much wider humanitarian tragedy. The ICRC estimates that just 6.89% of those who go missing on Europe’s borders are found, while the Spanish NGO Walking Borders gives an even lower figure for the West African Atlantic route to the Canaries, estimating that only 4.2 percent of the bodies of those who die are ever recovered.

      Guaranteeing “last rights”

      The unvisited and anonymous graves are also a reflection of the fact that the rights to both identification and a dignified burial for those who have died on migration routes have been consistently neglected by national authorities in Spain. As in other European countries, successive Spanish governments have failed to develop legal mechanisms and state protocols to guarantee these “last rights” of victims, as well as their families’ corresponding “right to know” and to mourn their loved ones.

      The problem is “utterly neglected,” says Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, who insists that EU countries are failing in their obligations under international human rights law to secure families’ “right to truth”. In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for “prompt and effective identification processes” to inform families about the fate of their loved ones. Yet last year, the Council of Europe called the area a “legislative void.”

      “People are always calling the office and asking us how to search for a family member, but you have to be honest and say there’s no clear official channel they can turn to,” explains Juan Carlos Lorenzo, director of the Spanish Refugee Council (CEAR) on the Canary Islands. “You can put them in touch with the Red Cross, but there’s no government-led programme of identification. Nor is there the type of dedicated office needed to coordinate with families and centralise information and data on missing migrants.”

      This year alone we are working with over 600 families whose loved ones have disappeared. These families, who are from Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Guinea and as far afield as Sri Lanka are very much alone and are poorly protected by public administrations. In turn, this means that there are criminal networks and fraudsters seeking to extract money from them.”
      Helena Maleno, director of Walking Borders

      Even in the case of a victim’s identification, a recent report from the Human Rights Association of Andalucia lays out the legal and financial barriers families face in terms of repatriating their loved ones. In 2020/21, ICRC figures show that 284 bodies were recovered but that, of the 116 identified, only 53 were repatriated. The Andalusian Association for Human Rights (APDHA) report also notes, with respect to border graves, that “many people end up buried in a manner contrary to their beliefs.” Just half of Spain’s 50 provinces have Muslim cemeteries, not all of which are on the Spanish coast.

      For Maleno, these state failures are no accident: “Spain and other European states have a policy of making the victims, as well as the border itself, invisible. You have policies of denying the number of dead and of concealing data, but for the families this means obstacles in terms of accessing information and burial rights, as well as endless bureaucratic hurdles.”
      “I dream of Oussama”

      Abdallah Tayeb has gained first-hand experience of the dysfunctionality of the Spanish system in his attempts to confirm whether a body recovered almost a year ago is that of his cousin Oussama, a young barber from Algeria who dreamed of joining Tayeb in France.

      The unnamed corpse, which Tayeb strongly believes is his cousin, is currently in a morgue in Almería and looks set to be buried in an unmarked grave in the new year – unless he can achieve a last minute breakthrough.

      “The feeling is one of powerlessness,” he admits. “Nothing is transparent.”

      Abdallah Tayeb was born in Paris to Algerian parents but spends every summer in Algeria with his family. “As Oussama and I were pretty much the same age, we were really close. He was obsessed with the idea of coming to Europe, as two of his brothers were already living in France. But I didn’t know he had actually arranged to leave on a patera last December.”

      Oussama was among 23 people (including seven children) who vanished after setting out from Mostaganem, Algeria, on a motor boat on Christmas Day 2022. Soon after the patera went missing, his brother Sofiane travelled from France to Cartagena in southern Spain – the destination the vessel had hoped to reach. With the help of the Red Cross, Sofiane was able to file a missing persons report with the Spanish authorities and submit a DNA sample, which he hopes will result in a match with a body held in a morgue. However, so far, he has been unable to piece together any concrete information regarding his brother’s fate.

      A second trip to Spain in February did lead to a breakthrough, however. After driving down the Mediterranean coast together, Tayeb and his cousin Sofiane managed to speak to a forensic pathologist working in the Almería morgue, who seemed to recognise a photo of Oussama. “She kept saying ‘This face looks familiar’ and also mentioned a necklace – something he’d been wearing when he left.” According to the pathologist, there was a potential match with an unidentified body recovered by the coastguard on 27 December 2022.

      Feeling that they were finally close to getting some answers, they were informed at the police headquarters in Almería that, in order to view the body for a visual identification, they would need permission from the police station where the corpse had initially been registered. “This was when the real nightmare began,” Tayeb remembers. Handed a list of five police stations from across the wider region where the corpse could have been registered, they spent the next two days driving from station to station along the Murcian coast.

      “The first police station we visited wouldn’t even let us in the door when we told them we were asking about a missing migrant, and after that it was always the same script: this is not the right place; we don’t have a body; you have to go there instead.” When the pair returned to the first station in Huércal de Almeria after being repeatedly told it was the right place to ask, impatient officers refused to engage, citing privacy laws, and even told them to warn other families searching for missing migrants not to keep coming to inquire.

      “In the end,” Tayeb explains, “we came to the reality that they will never let us have any information. It was very heartbreaking, especially going back to France. It felt like we were leaving him [there] in the fridge.”

      As the subsequent months passed, the frustration and anxiety built for the family. “In May we were told that the DNA sample we gave five months earlier had only just arrived in Madrid and had still not been processed and sent to the database.” No further information has been forthcoming, and Spanish authorities have a policy of only getting in touch with families when there is a positive match and not if the test comes back negative.

      Tayeb is contemplating one final visit to Spain to try and retrieve his cousin Oussama, partly to be certain for his own sake that he’s done everything in his power to find him, but he’s worried that the journey could reopen his trauma of ambiguous loss. “The effort of going is not painful, but what is painful is coming back with nothing,” he says. “This lack of information is the worst thing.”

      “All the people on board were from the same neighbourhood in Mostaganem. I have had a chance to talk to many of their families, and they are destroyed. There is such grief but also no answers. There are only rumours, and some of the mothers believe their sons are in prisons in Morocco and Spain. We all have dreams [about the missing]. In the end, you trust what you will see in your dreams, like cosmic reality telling you he is coming. I dream of Oussama.”

      Dr Pauline Boss, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota, USA, explains the concept of ambiguous loss: “It looks like complicated grief, intrusive thoughts,” she says. “There’s nothing else on your mind but the fact that your loved one is missing. You can’t grieve because that would mean the person is dead, and you don’t know for sure.”
      A defective system

      Of all the families of those who went missing on Oussama’s patera, only Tayeb and four other families have been able to file a missing persons report with the Spanish authorities, and only two have been able to give a DNA sample. According to a 2021 study from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), one of the major complications families face in their searches is that in order to register someone as a missing person in Spain, you have to file a report with police in the country itself, which for many families is “a virtually impossible feat” as there are no visas to travel for this purpose.

      The IOM report also notes that, while many families file missing person reports in their home countries, they are “aware of the almost symbolic nature of their efforts” and that “it will never result in any kind of investigation being launched in Spain.”

      Along with the IOM, there have been efforts by domestic NGOs, including APDHA and more than a hundred grassroots organisations, to call out Spain’s failure to adapt existing missing person procedures to the transnational challenges of cases of people who disappeared while migrating. These organisations have repeatedly argued that the country’s legal framework regarding missing persons must be adapted to ensure families can file missing person cases from abroad.

      They have also pushed for the development of specific protocols for police handling cases of disappeared migrants, as well as the creation of a missing-migrant database so as to centralise information and allow it to be exchanged with authorities in other countries. The latter would include a full range of both post-mortem data (from tattoos to DNA, through cadaveric inspections and autopsies) and antemortem medical forensic information, that is, that which comes from family members regarding the missing person.

      “The reality is that the situation across Europe is consistently poor,” explains Julia Black, an analyst with IOM’s Missing Migrant Project. “Despite our research showing these pressing needs of families, neither Spain nor any other European country has significantly changed policy or practice to help this neglected group [in recent years]. Support for families is available only on a very ad hoc basis, mostly in response to mass casualty events that are in the public eye, which leaves many thousands of people without meaningful support.”

      Non-state actors such as the Red Cross and Walking Borders, as well as a network of independent activists, try to fill this void. “It’s a terrible job that we shouldn’t be doing, because states should be responding to families and guaranteeing the rights of victims across borders,” Maleno explains. In the case of the Mostaganem patera, Walking Borders is now planning to visit Algeria next year to take DNA samples from family members and bring them back to Spain. But Maleno also acknowledges that her NGO often has to then “apply a lot of pressure” to get authorities to accept these samples.

      This is something left-wing MP Jon Iñarritu from the Basque EH Bildu party also confirms: “As I sit on the Spanish parliament’s Interior Committee, I’ve had to intervene on a number of occasions to help families seeking to register DNA samples, talking with the foreign ministry or the interior ministry to get them to accept the samples. But it shouldn’t require action from an MP to get this to happen. The whole process needs to be standardised with clear and automatic protocols [for submission]. Right now, there’s no one clear way to do it.”

      Even when IOM recommendations have become the subject of parliamentary debate in Spain, they have tended not to translate into government action. In 2021, for example, a resolution was passed by the Spanish Congress calling on the government to establish a dedicated state office for the families of disappeared migrants. “It’s clear we need to ease the administrative and bureaucratic ordeal for families by offering them a single point of contact [with state authorities],” explains Iñarritu, who sponsored the motion.

      Yet while even government parties voted in favour of the resolution, the countries’ current centre-left administration has failed to act on it in the 18 months since. “From my point of view, the government has no intention of implementing the proposal,” Iñarritu argues. “They were only offering symbolic support.”

      When the above points were put to Spain’s Interior ministry, the reply was that: “The treatment of unidentified corpses arriving on the Spanish coast is identical to that of any other corpse. In Spain, for the identification of corpses, the law enforcement agencies apply the INTERPOL Disaster Victim Identification Guide. Although this guide is especially indicated for events with multiple victims, it is also used as a reference for the identification of an isolated corpse.”

      NGOs and campaigners insist, however, that the application of the INTERPOL guide is no substitute for a specific protocol tailored to the demands of missing migrant cases or for the creation of particular mechanisms to allow for the exchange of information with families and authorities in other jurisdictions.

      Close connections with the people they have helped compensate for strained social interactions and online hate. “They call me brother, sister, and even father,” Rybak shares.
      Burial rights

      APDHA migration director Carlos Arce argues that, within a European framework that views irregular migration predominantly “through the prism of serious crime and border security, […] not even death or disappearance puts an end to the repeated assault on the dignity of migrant people.” Iñarritu also points to the EU’s wider border regime: “Many issues that don’t fit into this dominant policy framework, such as the right to identification, are simply left unmanaged on a day-to-day basis. They are simply not a priority.”

      This is also clear with respect to the Spanish government’s inaction on guaranteeing a dignified burial to those whose bodies are recovered. As noted by a 2023 report from APDHA, “while repatriation is the most desired option for families […,] the cost is very high (thousands of euros) and very few of their [home countries’] embassies help [to cover it].” The NGO recommends that Spain establish repatriation agreements with the countries where migrants come from so as to create “mortuary safe passages” guaranteeing their return at a reduced cost.

      Furthermore, Spain’s central government has also failed to put in place mechanisms to ensure the right of unidentified migrants to a dignified burial within the country, instead maintaining that local councils are responsible for all charitable burials. This has meant that very specific municipalities where coastguard rescue boats are stationed are left legally responsible for the bulk of the interments – and most of these municipalities lack local cemeteries able to cater for traditional Muslim burials.

      The potential for this issue to become a flashpoint for anti-immigration sentiment was made clear this September when the mayor of Mogán in Gran Canaria, Onalia Bueno, insisted that her municipality would no longer pay for such burials, as she did not want to “detract the costs from the taxes of my neighbours.”

      CEAR’s Juan Carlos Lorenzo condemns such “divisive language, which frames the issue in terms of wasting my ‘neighbours’ money’ on someone who is not a neighbour,” and points instead to the actions of municipalities in El Hierro as a positive counterexample.

      Carballo notes that “over 10,000 people have arrived in El Hierro since September, the same as the island’s population. These are quite long trips, between six and nine days at sea, and right now people are arriving in a terrible state of health. With those who have died in recent months, we’ve tried to offer them a dignified burial within the means at our disposal. We’ve had an imam present, with Islamic prayers said before the remains were laid to rest.”

      Currently, the responsibility of memorialising unidentified victims comes down to individual municipalities and even cemetery keepers. Like Gérman at the cemetery in Barbate, who tries to dignify the unmarked tombs by placing flowers on top of them, the cemetery of Motril has adorned tombs with poems. In Teguise, the council has an initiative encouraging locals to leave flowers on the migrant graves when they come to visit the remains of their own families.

      In another memorial, a collection of around 50 discarded fishing boats has become a distinctive feature of Barbate port. These small wooden boats with Arabic script on their hulls were used by migrants attempting to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. Instead of the boats’ being scrapped, APDHA was able to convert the scrapyard into a memorial site and to place plaques on boats stating how many migrants were travelling on them and where and when they were found.

      In the case of little Alhassane Bangoura, residents routinely come to leave fresh flowers and tokens of affection, among which is a small granite bowl with his first name inscribed on it. But many victims are buried without any attempt at identification – and as countless NGOs, politicians and activists demand, it should not be simply left to good-willed residents, grave keepers or local councillors to ensure the last rights of the victims of Fortress Europe.


      #Espagne #Lanzarote #îles_Canaries #route_Atlantique #Teguise #Barbate #Cádiz #Tarifa #Arrecife

    • The unidentified: Unmarked refugee graves on the Greek borders

      Graves marked only with a stick, graves covered with weeds: a cross-border investigation documents official indifference surrounding the dignified burial of refugees who lose their lives at the Greek border.

      The phone rang on a morning in October 2022 at work, in Finland, where 35-year-old Mohamed Samim has been living for the last ten years or so.

      His nephew did not have good news: his brother Samim, Tarin Mohamad, along with his son and two daughters, was on a boat that sank near a Greek island, having sailed from the Turkish coast to Italy.

      When Samim arrived in Kythera the next day, he learned that – although weak after not eating for three days – his brother had managed to save his family before a wave took him away. He immediately went to the site of the wreck. In the water he saw bodies floating – he couldn’t see his brother’s face, but he recognized his back.

      The Coast Guard said that the bad weather had to pass before they could pull the dead from the sea. The first day passed, the second day passed, until on the third day it was finally possible. The coastguard confirmed that 8 Beaufort winds and the morphology of the area made it impossible to retrieve the bodies. Samim will never forget the sight of his brother at sea.

      In Kalamata, it took four days of shifting responsibility between the hospital and the Coast Guard, and the help of a local lawyer who “came and yelled at them” to allow him to follow the identification process of his brother.

      He was warned that it would be a soul-crushing procedure, and that he would have to wear a triple mask because of the smell. Samim says that due to a lack of space in the morgue’s refrigerators, some of the wreck victims were kept in the chamber outside the refrigerator.

      “The stress and the smell. Our knees were shaking”, recalls Samim when we meet him in Kythera a year later.

      They started showing him decomposing bodies. First the ones outside the refrigerator. He didn’t recognize him among them. They went out and changed the masks they wore, returned, opened the refrigerators in turn, reaching the last one.

      “He was lying there, calm. The man you love. We were kind of happy that, after days, we could see him,” Samim said.

      Unclaimed dead

      The number of people dying at Europe’s borders is growing. In addition to the difficulty of recording the deaths, there is also the challenge of identifying the bodies, a traumatic process for the relatives. In some cases, however, there are bodies that remain unidentified, hundreds of men, women and children buried in unidentified graves.

      In July 2023, the European Parliament adopted a resolution recognising the right to identification of people who lose their lives trying to reach Europe, but to date there is no centralised registration system at a pan-European level. Nor is there a single procedure for the handling of bodies that end up in mortuaries, funeral homes – even refrigerated containers.

      The problem is “utterly neglected”, European Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic told Solomon, and added that EU countries are failing in their obligations under international human rights law”. The tragedy of the missing migrants has reached horrifying proportions. The issue requires immediate action,” she added.

      The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants platform, which acknowledges that its data is not a comprehensive record, reports more than 1,090 missing refugees and migrants in Europe since 2014.

      As part of the Border Graves investigation, eight European journalists, together with Unbias the News, the Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Solomon, have spent seven months investigating what happens to the thousands of unidentified bodies of those who die at European borders, and for the first time they have recorded almost double that number: according to the data collected, more than 2,162 people died between 2014 and 2023.

      We studied documents and interviewed state coroners, prosecutors and funeral home workers; residents and relatives of the deceased and missing; and gained exclusive access to unpublished data from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

      In 65 cemeteries along the European border - Greece, Spain, Italy, Malta, Poland, Lithuania, France, Spain, Italy, Malta, Lithuania, France and Croatia - we have recorded more than 1,000 unidentified graves from the last decade.

      The investigation documents how state indifference to the dignified burial of people who die at the border is pervasive in European countries.

      In Greece, we recorded more than 540 unidentified refugee graves, 54% of the total recorded by the European survey. We travelled to the Aegean islands and Evros, and found graves in fields sometimes covered by weeds, and marble slabs with dates of death erased, while in other cases a piece of wood with a number is the only marking.

      The data from our survey, combined with the data from the International Committee of the Red Cross, is not an exhaustive account of the issue. However, they do capture for the first time the gaps and difficulties of a system that leads to thousands of families not knowing where their relatives are buried.

      Lesvos: 167 unidentified refugee graves

      A long dirt road surrounded by olive trees leads to the gate of the cemetery of Kato Tritos, which is usually locked with a padlock.

      The “graveyard of refugees,” as they call it on the island, is located about 15 kilometers west of Mytilene. It is the only burial site exclusively for refugees and migrants in Greece.

      During one of our visits, the funeral of four children was taking place. They lost their lives on August 28, 2023, when the boat they were on with 18 other people sank southeast of Lesvos.

      The grieving mother and several women, including family members, sat under a tree, while the men prayed near the shed used for the burial process, according to Islamic tradition.

      In Kato Tritos and Agios Panteleimonas, the cemetery on Mytilene where people who died while migrating had been buried until then, we counted a total of 167 unidentified graves from between 2014-2023.

      Local journalist and former member of the North Aegean Regional Council Nikos Manavis explains that the cemetery was created in 2015 in an olive grove belonging to the municipality of Mytilene due to an emergency: a deadly shipwreck in the north of the island on October 28 of that year resulted in at least 60 dead, for whom the island’s cemeteries were not sufficient.

      Many shipwreck victims remain buried in unidentified graves. Gravestones are marked with the estimated age of the deceased and the date of burial, sometimes only a number. Other times, a piece of wood and surrounding stones mark the grave.

      “What we see is a field, not a graveyard. It shows no respect for the people who were buried here.”
      Nikos Manavis

      This lack of respect for the Lower Third Cemetery mobilized the Earth Medicine organization. As Dimitris Patounis, a member of the NGO, explains, in January 2022 they made a proposal to the municipality of Mytilene for the restoration of the cemetery. Their plan is to create a place of rest with respect and dignity, where refugees and asylum seekers can satisfy the most sacred human need, mourning for their loved ones.

      Although the city council approved the proposal in the spring of 2023, the October municipal elections delayed the project. Patounis says he is positive that the graves will soon be inventoried and the area fenced.

      Christos Mavrachilis, an undertaker at the Agios Panteleimon cemetery, recalls that in 2015 Muslim refugees were buried in a specific area of the cemetery.

      “If someone was unidentified, I would write ‘Unknown’ on their grave,” he says. If there were no relatives who could cover the cost, Mavrachilis would cut a marble himself and write as much information as he could on the death certificate. “They were people too,” he says, “I did what I could.”

      For his part, Thomas Vanavakis, a former owner of a funeral parlour that offered services in Lesvos until 2020, also says that they often had to cover burials without receiving payment. “Do you know how many times we went into the sea and paid workers out of our own pockets to pull out the bodies and didn’t get a penny?” he says.

      Efi Latsoudi, who lives in Lesvos and works for Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), says that in 2015 there were burials that the municipality of Mytilene could not cover, and sometimes “the people who participated in the ceremony paid for them. We were trying to give a dignity to the process. But it was not enough,” she says.

      Latsoudi recalls something a refugee had mentioned to her in 2015: ’The worst thing that can happen to us is to die somewhere far away and have no one at our funeral’.

      The municipality of Mytilene did not answer our questions regarding the dignified burial of refugees in the cemeteries under its responsibility.

      Chios and Samos: graves covered by weeds

      According to Greek legislation, the local government (and in case of its inability, the region) covers the cost of the burial of both unidentified people who die at the border and those who are in financial difficulty.

      For its part, the Municipal Authority of Chios stated that funding is provided for the relevant costs, and that “within the framework of its responsibilities for the cemeteries, it maintains and cares for all the sites, without discrimination and with the required respect for all the dead.”

      But during our visit in August to the cemetery in Mersinidi, a few kilometers north of Chios town, where refugees are buried next to the graves of the locals, it was not difficult to spot the separation: the five unidentified graves of refugees were marked simply by a marble, usually covered by vegetation.

      Natasha Strachini, an RSA lawyer living in Chios, has taken part in several funerals of refugees both in Chios and Lesvos. For her, the importance of the local community and presence at such a difficult human moment is very important.

      Regarding burials, he explains that “only a good registration system could help relatives to locate the grave of a person they have lost, as usually in cemeteries after three to five years exhumations take place.” He says that sometimes a grave remains unidentified even though the body has been identified, either because the identification process was delayed or because the relatives could not afford to change the grave.

      In Heraion of Samos, next to the municipal cemetery, on a plot of land owned by the Metropolis and used as a burial site for refugees, we recorded dozens of graves dating between 2014-2023. The plaques – some broken – placed on the ground, hidden by branches, pine needles and pine cones, simply inscribe a number and the date of burial.

      Lawyer Dimitris Choulis, who lives in Samos and handles cases related to the refugee issue, commented: ‘It is a shameful image to see such graves. It is unjustifiable for a modern society like Greece.”
      Searching for data

      The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of the few international organisations working to identify the dead refugees. Among other things, they have conducted several training sessions in Greece for members of the Coast Guard and the Greek Police.

      “We have an obligation to provide the dead with a dignified burial; and the other side, providing answers to families through identification of the dead. If you count the relatives of those who are missing, hundreds of thousands of people are impacted. They don’t know where their loved ones are. Were they well treated, were they respected when they were buried? That’s what preys on families’ minds,” says Laurel Clegg, ICRC forensic Coordinator for Migration to Europe.

      She explains that keeping track of the dead “consists of lots of parts working well together – a legal framework that protects the unidentified dead, consistent post-mortems, morgues, registries, dignified transport, cemeteries”

      However, countries’ “medical and legal systems are proving inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem,” she says.

      Since 2013, as part of its programme to restore family links, the Red Cross has registered 16,500 requests in Europe from people looking for their missing relatives. According to the international organisation, only 285 successful matches (1.7%) have been made.

      These matches are made by the local forensic experts.

      “We always collect DNA samples from unidentified bodies. It is standard practice and may be the only feasible means of identification,” says Panagiotis Kotretsos, a forensic pathologist in Rhodes. The samples are sent to the DNA laboratory of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Greek Police, according to an INTERPOL protocol.

      According to the Red Cross, difficulties usually arise when families are outside the EU, and are due to a number of factors, such as differences in the legal framework or medical systems of the countries. For example, some EU countries cannot ‘open’ a case and take DNA samples from families without a mandate from the authorities of the country where the body of the relative being sought has been recovered.

      The most difficult part of the DNA identification process is that there needs to be a second sample to be compared with the one collected by the forensic experts, which has to be sent by the families of the missing persons. “For a refugee who started his journey from a country in central Africa, travelled for months, and died in Greece, there will be genetic material in the morgue. But it will remain unmatched until a first-degree relative sends a DNA sample,” says Kotretsos.

      He explains that this is not always possible. “We have received calls from relatives who were in Syria, looking for missing family members, and could not send samples precisely because they were in Syria.”

      Outside the university hospital of Alexandroupolis, two refrigerated containers provided by the Red Cross as temporary mortuaries house the bodies of 40 refugees.

      Pavlos Pavlidis, Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Democritus University of Thrace, has since 2000 performed autopsies on at least 800 bodies of people on the move, with the main causes of death being drowning in the waters of Evros and hypothermia.

      The forensic scientist goes beyond the necessary DNA collection: he or she records data such as birthmarks or tattoos and objects (like wallets, rings, glasses), which could be the missing link for a relative looking for a loved one.

      He says a total of 313 bodies found in Evros since 2014 remain unidentified. Those that cannot be identified are buried in a special cemetery in Sidiro, which is managed by the municipality of Soufli, while 15-20 unidentified bodies were buried in Orestiada while the Sidiro cemetery was being expanded.

      The bodies of Muslim refugees who are identified are buried in the Muslim cemetery in Messouni Komotini or repatriated when relatives can cover the cost of repatriation.

      “This is not decent”

      In response to questions, the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum said that the issue of identification and burial procedures for refugees does not fall within its competence. A Commission spokesman said that no funds were foreseen for Greece, but that such expenditure “could be supported under the National Programme of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund”, which is managed by the Migration Ministry.

      Theodoros Nousias is the chief forensic pathologist of the North Aegean Forensic Service, responsible for the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Lemnos. According to the coroner, the DNA identification procedure has improved a lot compared to a few years ago.

      Nusias says he was always available when asked to identify someone. “You have to serve people, that’s why you’re there. To serve people so they can find their family,” he adds.

      The coroner lives in Lesvos, but says he has never been to the cemetery in Kato Tritos. “I don’t want to go. It will be difficult for me because most of these people have passed through my hands.”

      In October 2022, 32-year-old Suja Ahmadi and his sister Marina also travelled to Kythera and then to Kalamata to identify the body of their father, Abdul Ghasi.

      The 65-year-old had started the journey to Italy with his wife Hatige – she survived. The two brothers visited the hospital, where they were shown all eight bodies, male and female, although they had explained from the start that the man they were looking for was a man.

      Their father’s body was among those outside the freezer.

      “My sister was crying and screaming at them to get our father out of the refrigerator container because he smelled,” Suja recalls. “It was not a decent place for a man.”


      #Grèce #Chios #Evros #Samos #Alexandroupolis #Lesbos #Kato_Tritos #Sidiro #Mersinidi #Mersinidi #Pavlos_Pavlidis

    • Enterrar a más de mil personas sin nombre: las trabas de la UE y España para identificar los cuerpos de migrantes

      Cientos de personas fallecidas en la última década yacen en tumbas sin nombre en España, sin que el Gobierno tome medidas coordinadas para garantizar su identificación

      En enero de 2020, Alhassane Bangoura fue enterrado en una tumba sin nombre en la zona musulmana del cementerio municipal de Teguise, en Lanzarote, ante la presencia de funcionarios municipales y miembros de la comunidad musulmana local. El pequeño había nacido apenas un par de semanas antes a bordo de una patera abarrotada en la que su madre, originaria de Guinea, y otras 42 personas intentaban llegar a las Islas Canarias. La embarcación llevaba dos días a la deriva en el océano Atlántico, tras averiarse el motor, y la madre de Alhassane se puso de parto en el mar. Su hijo sólo alcanzó a vivir unas pocas horas antes de morir frente a la costa de Lanzarote.

      El caso de Alhassane conmocionó a la isla y saltó a las noticias de todo el país. Sin embargo, mientras los asistentes al entierro ofrecían sus condolencias, la madre del bebé fallecido se encontraba a 200 kilómetros de distancia, en un centro de acogida de migrantes de la vecina isla de Gran Canaria, al no haber podido obtener permiso de las autoridades para permanecer en Lanzarote durante el funeral.

      “Le habían permitido ver el cuerpo de su hijo una vez más antes de ser trasladada, y yo la acompañé a la funeraria”, cuenta Mamadou Sy, representante de la comunidad musulmana local. “Fue muy emotivo cuando se tuvo que marchar. Lo único que pudimos hacer fue prometerle que su hijo no estaría solo; que, como cualquier musulmán, sería llevado a la mezquita, donde su cuerpo sería lavado por otras madres; que rezaríamos por él y que después le enviaríamos un vídeo del entierro”.

      Casi cuatro años después, el lugar donde reposan los restos de Alhassane sigue sin tener una lápida formal. La tumba se encuentra junto a los restos de más de tres docenas de personas migrantes no identificadas, cuyos nombres se desconocen por completo pero que, como Alhassane, también son víctimas del brutal régimen fronterizo de Europa.
      Las tumbas de la frontera

      A lo largo de las fronteras de la Unión Europea, miles de personas están siendo enterradas de forma precipitada en tumbas sin nombre. El equipo de investigación de Border Graves (Las Tumbas de la Frontera) ha contabilizado que, en los últimos 10 años, al menos 2.162 cadáveres de migrantes han sido encontrados en las fronteras europeas sin identificar.

      El equipo de investigación también ha confirmado la existencia de 1.015 tumbas de inmigrantes sin identificar entre 2014 y 2021 en 103 cementerios, todas ellas pertenecientes a personas que intentaban emigrar a Europa.

      El problema está “absolutamente abandonado”, afirma Dunja Mijatović, Comisaria de Derechos Humanos del Consejo de Europa, que insiste en que los países de la UE incumplen sus obligaciones en virtud de la legislación internacional sobre derechos humanos. “La tragedia de los migrantes desaparecidos ha alcanzado una magnitud espantosa. El asunto exige una actuación inmediata”.

      Las condiciones de sepultura de estos migrantes varían en todo el continente. En la última década, en la isla griega de Lesbos, un olivar se ha convertido en un cementerio informal para refugiados. Al menos 147 tumbas sin identificar se pueden encontrar en el pequeño pueblo de Kato Tritos, que según explica el periodista Nikos Manavis brotaron tras la gran oleada de refugiados de 2015. “Los otros cementerios de la isla eran inapropiados y no podían cubrir el número de muertos que había que enterrar en Lesbos”, afirma. “Pero no es un cementerio. Es sólo un campo. No se muestra ningún respeto por la gente enterrada aquí”.

      En Siče, una población al este de Croacia, se hallan las tumbas de tres refugiados afganos al borde del cementerio del pueblo, separadas de las de los residentes locales. Los tres hombres no identificados, que se ahogaron intentando cruzar el río Sava desde Bosnia a Croacia, están enterrados bajo sencillas cruces de madera en las que se lee “NN” (desconocido).

      En la frontera entre Lituania y Bielorrusia, un pequeño cementerio de la tranquila localidad de Rameikos alberga la tumba de un emigrante indio. El lugar está marcado por un trozo de madera vertical, a pocos metros de la valla fronteriza. En el cementerio de Piano Gatta, en Agrigento (Sicilia), están enterrados decenas de cadáveres sin identificar del naufragio de Lampedusa en 2013, en el que perdieron la vida 368 personas de Eritrea y Somalia al hundirse el pesquero en el que viajaban.

      En cuanto a la extensa costa española, pueden encontrarse tumbas de inmigrantes desde Alicante hasta Cádiz, y hacia el sur hasta las Canarias. Algunas tienen nombre, pero lo más frecuente es que las inscripciones sean del estilo de “inmigrante no identificado”, “marroquí desconocido” o “víctima del Estrecho [de Gibraltar]”. O, simplemente, una cruz pintada a mano.

      En el cementerio de Barbate, en Cádiz, donde los difuntos están sepultados en nichos, el jardinero Germán señala más de 30 tumbas de inmigrantes: las más antiguas datan de 2002 y las más recientes son de un naufragio de 2019. “Nunca viene nadie a visitarlos, pero los días que hay funerales aquí y se van a tirar las flores antiguas, las coloco en las tumbas de los migrantes desconocidos”, explica. “En algunas de las más antiguas hay restos de hasta cinco o seis emigrantes juntos, cada uno colocado en bolsas separadas dentro del mismo nicho para ahorrar espacio”.

      Tal preocupación era menos evidente en Arrecife, Lanzarote, donde dos tumbas no identificadas de febrero de este año se han dejado selladas con una cubierta que aún lleva el logotipo de una empresa.

      No existen datos exhaustivos sobre cuántas fosas de inmigrantes identificadas y no identificadas existen en España, y el Ministerio del Interior nunca ha dado a conocer cifras sobre el número total de cadáveres recuperados en las distintas rutas migratorias marítimas. Pero los datos del Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja (CICR) revelan que entre 2014 y 2021 se recuperaron los cuerpos de alrededor de 530 personas fallecidas en las fronteras españolas, de las cuales 292 permanecen sin identificar.

      En los diez meses que ha durado la investigación europea Border Graves, llevada a cabo de manera conjunta entre un grupo de periodistas independientes y los medios Unbias the News, The Guardian y Süddeutsche Zeitung y publicada en exclusiva en España por elDiario.es, se ha confirmado la existencia de 109 tumbas de migrantes no identificados entre 2014 y 2021 en 18 lugares de España. Según un estudio de la Universidad de Ámsterdam, otras 434 tumbas sin identificar se remontan al periodo 2000-2013 en al menos 65 cementerios del territorio nacional.

      Estas tumbas son símbolos de una tragedia humanitaria mucho mayor. El CICR calcula que sólo el 6,89% de los restos mortales de las personas que desaparecen a lo largo de las fronteras europeas son recuperados, mientras que la ONG española Caminando Fronteras da una cifra aún más baja para la ruta atlántica de África Occidental a Canarias, estimando que sólo se recupera el 4,2% de los cuerpos de los fallecidos.
      Garantizar los “últimos derechos”

      Las tumbas anónimas y sin visitar reflejan también el hecho de que el derecho a la identificación y a un entierro digno de los fallecidos en las rutas migratorias ha sido sistemáticamente desatendido por las autoridades nacionales españolas. En 2021, el Parlamento Europeo aprobó una resolución que reconoce el derecho a la identificación de los fallecidos en las rutas migratorias, y la necesidad de una base de datos coordinada que recoja los datos de la frontera. Pero, al igual que en otros países europeos, los sucesivos gobiernos han sido incapaces de desarrollar mecanismos legales y protocolos estatales para garantizar estos “últimos derechos” de las víctimas, así como el “derecho a saber” y a llorar a sus seres queridos que corresponde a las familias.

      “La gente siempre llama a la oficina y nos pregunta cómo buscar a un familiar, pero hay que ser sincero y decir que no hay un canal oficial claro al que puedan dirigirse”, explica Juan Carlos Lorenzo, coordinador del Consejo Español para los Refugiados (CEAR) en Canarias. “Se les puede poner en contacto con la Cruz Roja, pero no hay un programa de identificación liderado por el Gobierno. Tampoco existe el tipo de recurso especializado necesario para coordinarse con las familias y centralizar la información y los datos sobre los migrantes desaparecidos”.

      Helena Maleno, directora de Caminando Fronteras, afirma: “Sólo este año estamos trabajando con más de 600 familias cuyos seres queridos han desaparecido. Estas familias, procedentes de Marruecos, Argelia, Senegal, Guinea y países tan lejanos como Sri Lanka, están muy solas y poco protegidas por las administraciones públicas. A su vez, esto significa que hay redes criminales y estafadores que buscan sacarles dinero”.

      Incluso en el caso de la identificación de una víctima, un reciente informe de la Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA) expone las barreras legales y financieras a las que se enfrentan las familias para repatriar a sus seres queridos. En 2020/21, las cifras del CICR muestran que se recuperaron 284 cuerpos pero que, de los 116 identificados, sólo 53 fueron repatriados. El informe de la APDHA también señala, respecto a las tumbas fronterizas, que “muchas personas acaban enterradas de manera contraria a sus creencias”. Apenas la mitad de las 50 provincias españolas cuentan con cementerios musulmanes, y no todos están en la costa española.

      Para Maleno, estos fallos del Estado no son casualidad: “España y otros Estados europeos mantienen una política de invisibilización de las víctimas y de la propia frontera. Tienen políticas de negación del número de muertos y de ocultación de datos, pero para las familias esto significa obstáculos en cuanto al acceso a la información y a los derechos de sepultura, así como interminables trabas burocráticas”.
      “Sueño con Oussama”

      Abdallah Tayeb ha sufrido en primera persona las deficiencias del sistema español en sus intentos por confirmar si un cadáver recuperado en diciembre de 2022 es el de su primo Oussama, un joven barbero argelino que soñaba con reunirse con Tayeb en Francia.

      Tayeb está convencido de que el cuerpo sin identificar, que se cree que está en un depósito de cadáveres de Almería, es el de su primo. Está previsto que los restos sean enterrados a comienzos del próximo año en una tumba sin nombre, a menos que se consiga algún avance de última hora. “La sensación es de impotencia”, admite. “No hay nada de transparencia”.

      Tayeb nació en París, de padres argelinos, pero pasa todos los veranos en Argelia con su familia. “Como Oussama y yo teníamos más o menos la misma edad, estábamos muy unidos. Le obsesionaba la idea de venir a Europa, pues dos de sus hermanos ya vivían en Francia. Pero yo no sabía que en realidad ya había organizado su viaje en una patera a finales del año pasado”.

      Oussama formaba parte de un grupo de 23 personas (entre ellas siete niños) que desaparecieron tras zarpar de Mostaganem, Argelia, en una lancha motora el día de Navidad de 2022. Poco después de la desaparición de la patera, su hermano Sofiane viajó de Francia a Cartagena, el destino al que esperaba llegar la embarcación. Con la ayuda de la Cruz Roja, Sofiane pudo presentar una denuncia por desaparición y dar una muestra de ADN, pero no pudo reunir ninguna información concreta sobre la suerte de su hermano.

      Sin embargo, un segundo viaje a España en febrero condujo a un gran avance. Tras recorrer juntos la costa mediterránea, Tayeb y su primo Sofiane consiguieron hablar con una patóloga forense que trabaja en la morgue de Almería, quien pareció reconocer una foto de Oussama. “No paraba de decir ’esta cara me suena’ y también mencionó un collar, algo que llevaba cuando se fue”. Según la forense, había una posible coincidencia con un cuerpo sin identificar recuperado por los guardacostas el 27 de diciembre de 2022.
      El laberinto burocrático

      Con la sensación de que por fin estaban cerca de obtener alguna respuesta, en la comisaría de Almería les informaron de que, para poder ver el cadáver –o incluso las pertenencias– y proceder a su identificación visual, necesitarían el permiso de la comisaría donde se había registrado inicialmente el cadáver. “Fue entonces cuando empezó la verdadera pesadilla”, recuerda Tayeb. Les entregaron una lista de cinco comisarías de toda la región en las que se podría haber registrado el cadáver, y se pasaron los dos días siguientes conduciendo de comisaría en comisaría a lo largo de la costa murciana.

      “En la primera comisaría que visitamos ni siquiera nos dejaron entrar cuando les dijimos que estábamos buscando a un inmigrante desaparecido, y después siempre fue la misma consigna: éste no es el lugar adecuado; no tenemos ningún cadáver; tenéis que ir a este otro lugar…”, continúa. Cuando ambos regresaron a la primera comisaría de Huércal de Almería, después de que les dijeran repetidamente que era el lugar adecuado para preguntar, los agentes, impacientes, se negaron a atenderlos, alegando leyes de protección de la intimidad, e incluso les dijeron que advirtieran a otras familias que buscaban a migrantes desaparecidos que no siguieran viniendo a preguntar.

      “Al final”, explica Tayeb, “nos dimos cuenta de que nunca nos darían ninguna información. Fue muy desgarrador, sobre todo volver a Francia. Fue como si le dejáramos [allí] en la nevera”.

      A medida que pasaban los meses, la frustración y la ansiedad aumentaban para la familia. “En mayo nos dijeron que la muestra de ADN que habíamos dado cinco meses antes acababa de llegar a Madrid y aún no había sido procesada ni enviada a la base de datos”. No se les ha facilitado más información, y las autoridades españolas tienen la política de ponerse en contacto con las familias sólo cuando hay una coincidencia positiva, pero no si la prueba da negativo.

      Tayeb se plantea una última visita a España para intentar recuperar a su primo Oussama, en parte para estar seguro de que ha hecho todo lo posible por encontrarlo, pero le preocupa que el viaje pueda reabrir su trauma de “pérdida ambigua”. “El esfuerzo de ir no es doloroso, lo doloroso es volver sin nada”, dice. “Esta falta de información es lo peor”.

      La Dra. Pauline Boss, catedrática emérita de Psicología de la Universidad de Minnesota (EE.UU.), explica el concepto de pérdida ambigua: “Se parece a un duelo complejo, con pensamientos intrusivos”, dice. “No tienes otra cosa en la cabeza más que el hecho de que tu ser querido ha desaparecido. No puedes afrontar el duelo, porque eso significaría que la persona está muerta, y no lo sabes con certeza”.

      Tayeb lo explica con sus propias palabras: “Todas las personas que iban a bordo eran del mismo barrio de Mostaganem. He podido hablar con muchas de sus familias y están destrozadas. Hay mucho dolor, pero tampoco hay respuestas. Sólo hay rumores, y algunas de las madres creen que sus hijos están en cárceles de Marruecos y España. Todos tenemos sueños [sobre los desaparecidos]. Al final, confías en lo que ves en tus sueños, como si la realidad cósmica te dijera que va a venir. Sueño con Oussama”.
      Un sistema defectuoso

      De todas las familias de los desaparecidos en la patera de Oussama, sólo Tayeb y otras tres familias han podido presentar denuncias de desaparición ante las autoridades españolas, y únicamente en dos casos se han podido entregar muestras de ADN. Según un informe de 2021 de la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM), una de las mayores complicaciones a las que se enfrentan las familias en sus búsquedas es que, para registrar a alguien como desaparecido en España, hay que presentar una denuncia ante la policía del propio país, lo que para muchas familias es “una hazaña prácticamente imposible”, ya que no existen visados para viajar con este fin.

      El informe de la OIM también señala que, aunque muchas familias presentan denuncias de personas desaparecidas en sus países de origen, son “conscientes del carácter casi simbólico de sus esfuerzos” y de que “nunca darán lugar a que se inicie ningún tipo de investigación en España.”

      Junto con la OIM, algunas ONG nacionales, como la APDHA y más de un centenar de organizaciones comunitarias, han denunciado la incapacidad de España para adaptar los procedimientos vigentes en materia de personas desaparecidas a los retos transnacionales que plantean los casos de migrantes desaparecidos. Estas organizaciones han defendido en repetidas ocasiones que el marco jurídico del país en materia de personas desaparecidas debe adaptarse para garantizar que las familias puedan presentar denuncias desde el extranjero por casos de personas desaparecidas.

      También han presionado para que se elaboren protocolos específicos para la policía al tratar casos de migrantes desaparecidos, así como para que se cree una base de datos de migrantes desaparecidos que permita centralizar la información y haga posible el intercambio con autoridades de otros países. Esta incluiría todos los datos disponibles post mortem (desde tatuajes hasta ADN, pasando por inspecciones de cadáveres y autopsias) como de información médica forense ante mortem, es decir, la que procede de los familiares en relación con la persona desaparecida.

      “La realidad es que la situación en toda Europa es sistemáticamente deficiente”, explica Julia Black, analista del Proyecto Migrantes Desaparecidos de la OIM. “A pesar de que nuestras investigaciones muestran estas necesidades acuciantes de las familias, ni España ni ningún otro país europeo ha cambiado [en los últimos años] de forma significativa sus políticas, ni tampoco han mejorado las prácticas para ayudar a este grupo desatendido. El apoyo a las familias sólo está disponible de forma muy puntual, sobre todo en respuesta a sucesos con víctimas masivas que están en el punto de mira de la opinión pública, lo que deja a muchos miles de personas sin un apoyo adecuado”.

      Actores no estatales como la Cruz Roja y Caminando Fronteras, así como una red de activistas independientes, intentan llenar este vacío. “Es un trabajo terrible que no deberíamos estar haciendo, porque los Estados deberían responder a las familias y garantizar los derechos de las víctimas más allá de las fronteras”, explica Maleno. En el caso de la patera de Mostaganem, Caminando Fronteras tiene previsto viajar a Argelia el año que viene para tomar muestras de ADN de los familiares y traerlas a España. Pero Maleno también reconoce que su ONG a menudo tiene que “ejercer mucha presión” para que las autoridades acepten estas muestras.

      Es algo que también confirma Jon Iñarritu, diputado de EH Bildu: “Como miembro de la Comisión de Interior del Congreso de los Diputados, he tenido que intervenir en varias ocasiones para ayudar a las familias que querían registrar muestras de ADN, hablando con el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores o con el Ministerio del Interior para que aceptaran las muestras. Pero no debería ser necesaria la intervención de un diputado para conseguirlo. Es necesario normalizar todo el proceso con protocolos claros y automáticos [para la presentación de las muestras]. Ahora mismo, no hay una forma clara de hacerlo”.

      Incluso cuando las recomendaciones de la OIM han sido objeto de debate parlamentario en España, no han tendido a traducirse en medidas gubernamentales. En 2021, por ejemplo, el Congreso de los Diputados aprobó una Proposición no de Ley en la que se instaba al Gobierno a crear una oficina estatal específica para las familias de migrantes desaparecidos. “Está claro que necesitamos aliviar el calvario administrativo y burocrático para las familias ofreciéndoles un único punto de contacto [con las autoridades estatales]”, explica Iñárritu, impulsor de la moción.

      Sin embargo, aunque los partidos en el gobierno votaron a favor de la resolución, no se ha tomado ninguna medida al respecto en los 18 meses transcurridos desde la aprobación de la resolución. “Desde mi punto de vista, el Gobierno no tiene ninguna intención de aplicar la propuesta”, argumenta Iñárritu. “Sólo ofrecían un apoyo simbólico”.

      Cuando se expusieron las cuestiones anteriores al Ministerio del Interior, la respuesta fue la siguiente: “El tratamiento de los cadáveres sin identificar que llegan a las costas de España es idéntico al hallazgo de cualquier otro cadáver. En España, para la identificación de cadáveres, las Fuerzas y Cuerpos de Seguridad del Estado aplican la Guía de INTERPOL para la Identificación de Víctimas de Catástrofes. Esta Guía, aunque está especialmente indicada para los sucesos con víctimas múltiples, también es aplicada como referencia para la identificación de un cadáver aislado”.
      Derechos de sepultura

      El director de migraciones de APDHA, Carlos Arce, escribe que, en un marco europeo que contempla la migración irregular predominantemente a través del prisma de la criminalidad grave y la seguridad fronteriza, “ni siquiera la muerte o desaparición de las personas migrantes pone freno a la concatenación de ataques a su dignidad”. Por su parte, Iñárritu también apunta al régimen fronterizo más amplio de la UE: “Muchas cuestiones que no encajan en este marco político dominante, como el derecho de identificación, simplemente se dejan sin gestionar en el día a día. Sencillamente, no son una prioridad”.

      Esto también queda claro en lo que respecta a la inacción del gobierno español a la hora de garantizar un entierro digno a las personas cuyos cuerpos son recuperados. Como señala un informe de 2023 de APDHA, “aunque la repatriación es la opción más deseada por las familias [...] el coste es muy elevado (miles de euros) y muy pocas de sus embajadas ayudan [a sufragarlo]”. La ONG recomienda a España que establezca acuerdos de repatriación con los países de procedencia de los inmigrantes para crear “salvoconductos mortuorios” que garanticen su retorno a un coste reducido.

      A esto se suma que el gobierno central tampoco ha establecido mecanismos para garantizar el derecho de los inmigrantes no identificados a un entierro digno dentro del territorio español, sino que sostiene que los ayuntamientos son responsables de todos los entierros de carácter benéfico. Esto ha supuesto que municipios muy concretos, en los que están estacionadas las embarcaciones de salvamento marítimo, sean legalmente responsables de la mayor parte de los entierros, y la mayoría de estos municipios carecen de cementerios locales capaces de acoger entierros musulmanes tradicionales.

      La posibilidad de que este asunto se convierta en un caldo de cultivo para el rechazo a la inmigración quedó patente el pasado mes de septiembre, cuando la alcaldesa de Mogán (Gran Canaria), Onalia Bueno, insistió en que su municipio dejaría de sufragar estos entierros, ya que no quería “detraer los costes de los impuestos de mis vecinos”. Juan Carlos Lorenzo, de CEAR, condena ese “lenguaje divisivo, que enmarca la cuestión en términos de malgastar el dinero de mis ’vecinos’ en alguien que no es un vecino”, y señala en cambio la actuación de los municipios de El Hierro como contraejemplo positivo.

      En esta isla poco poblada, en los últimos dos meses han sido enterrados siete inmigrantes no identificados, junto con los restos de Mamadou Marea, de 30 años. “Los habitantes de la isla se unieron a nosotros para acompañar los restos de cada una de estas personas hasta su lugar de descanso”, explica Amado Carballo, concejal de El Hierro. “Lo que nos entristeció a todos fue no poder poner un nombre en la lápida y simplemente tener que dejar a las personas identificadas con un código policial”.

      Carballo señala que “más de 10.000 personas han llegado a El Hierro desde septiembre, lo mismo que la población de la isla. Son viajes muy largos, de entre seis y nueve días en el mar, y ahora mismo la gente llega en un pésimo estado de salud. A los que han muerto en los últimos meses hemos intentado ofrecerles un entierro digno dentro de los medios de que disponemos. Hemos contado con la presencia de un imán, que ha rezado oraciones del Islam antes de depositar los restos”.

      En la actualidad, la responsabilidad de conmemorar a las víctimas no identificadas recae en los municipios e incluso en los responsables de los cementerios. Al igual que Germán en el cementerio de Barbate, que intenta dignificar las tumbas sin nombre colocando flores sobre ellas, el cementerio de Motril ha adornado las tumbas con poemas. En Teguise, el Ayuntamiento ha puesto en marcha una iniciativa que anima a los vecinos a dejar flores en las tumbas de los inmigrantes cuando vienen a visitar los restos de sus familiares.

      En otro gesto conmemorativo, una colección de unas 50 barcas de pesca desechadas se ha convertido en un rasgo distintivo del puerto de Barbate. Estas pequeñas embarcaciones de madera con escritura árabe en el casco eran utilizadas por los emigrantes que intentaban cruzar el Estrecho de Gibraltar. En lugar de ser desguazadas, APDHA pudo convertir el astillero en un lugar conmemorativo y colocar placas en las embarcaciones en las que se indicaba cuántas personas viajaban en ellas y dónde y cuándo fueron encontradas.

      En el caso del pequeño Alhassane Bangoura, los vecinos acuden habitualmente a dejar flores frescas y otras muestras de afecto, entre ellas un pequeño cuenco de granito con su nombre de pila inscrito. Pero muchas víctimas son enterradas sin ningún intento de identificación y, tal y como exigen innumerables ONG, políticos y activistas, no debería dejarse en manos de la buena voluntad de residentes, trabajadores de cementerios o concejales el garantizar los últimos derechos de las víctimas de la Fortaleza Europa.


    • « Αγνώστων στοιχείων » : Πάνω από 1.000 αταυτοποίητοι τάφοι στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα

      Τάφοι με μόνη σήμανση ένα ξύλο, μνήματα που καλύπτονται από αγριόχορτα : μια διασυνοριακή έρευνα οκτώ δημοσιογράφων σε συνεργασία με Solomon, Guardian και Süddeutsche Zeitung καταγράφει την αδιαφορία γύρω από την αξιοπρεπή ταφή των προσφύγων που χάνουν τη ζωή τους στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα.

      Το τηλέφωνο χτύπησε ένα πρωινό του Οκτωβρίου 2022 στη δουλειά, στη Φινλανδία όπου ο 35χρονος Μοχάμεντ Σαμίμ ζει τα τελευταία δέκα περίπου χρόνια.

      Ο ανιψιός του δεν είχε καλά νέα : ο αδερφός του Σαμίμ, Ταρίν Μοχαμάντ, μαζί με τον γιο και τις δύο κόρες του, βρισκόταν σε ένα σκάφος που βυθίστηκε κοντά σε ένα ελληνικό νησί, έχοντας αποπλεύσει από τα τουρκικά παράλια για την Ιταλία.

      Όταν ο Σαμίμ έφτασε την επομένη στα Κύθηρα, έμαθε πως —παρότι αδύναμος αφού δεν είχε φάει επί τρεις μέρες— ο αδερφός του είχε καταφέρει να σώσει την οικογένειά του πριν ένα κύμα τον πάρει μακριά. Πήγε αμέσως στο σημείο του ναυαγίου. Μέσα στο νερό είδε σώματα να επιπλέουν — δεν μπορούσε να δει το πρόσωπο του αδερφού του, αλλά αναγνώρισε την πλάτη του.

      Το Λιμενικό είπε πως έπρεπε να περάσει η κακοκαιρία για να μπορέσουν να βγάλουν τους νεκρούς από τη θάλασσα. Πέρασε η πρώτη μέρα, πέρασε και δεύτερη, ώσπου την τρίτη ημέρα κατέστη τελικά δυνατό. Το Λιμενικό επιβεβαίωσε στο Solomon πως άνεμοι έντασης 8 μποφόρ και η μορφολογία της περιοχής καθιστούσαν την ανάσυρση των σορών αδύνατη. Ο Σαμίμ δεν θα ξεχάσει ποτέ την εικόνα του αδερφού του στη θάλασσα.

      Στην Καλαμάτα, χρειάστηκε να περάσουν τέσσερις ημέρες μετακύλισης της ευθύνης μεταξύ νοσοκομείου και Λιμενικού, και η βοήθεια μιας ντόπιας δικηγόρου που « ήρθε και τους έβαλε τις φωνές », προκειμένου να του επιτραπεί να ακολουθήσει τη διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης του αδερφού του.

      Τον προειδοποίησαν πως θα ήταν μια ψυχοφθόρα διαδικασία, και πως θα έπρεπε να φορέσει τριπλή μάσκα λόγω της μυρωδιάς. Ο Σαμίμ λέει πως, λόγω έλλειψης χώρου στα ψυγεία του νεκροτομείου, ορισμένα από τα θύματα του ναυαγίου βρίσκονταν στον θάλαμο εκτός ψυγείου.

      « Το άγχος και η μυρωδιά. Τα γόνατά μας έτρεμαν », θυμάται ο Σαμίμ όταν τον συναντάμε στα Κύθηρα ένα χρόνο μετά.

      Ξεκίνησαν να του δείχνουν σώματα σε αποσύνθεση. Πρώτα αυτά εκτός ψυγείου. Δεν τον αναγνώρισε ανάμεσά τους. Βγήκαν έξω και άλλαξαν τις μάσκες που φορούσαν, επέστρεψαν, άνοιξαν με τη σειρά τα ψυγεία φτάνοντας στο τελευταίο.

      « Βρισκόταν εκεί, ήρεμος. Ο άνθρωπος που αγαπάς. Ήμασταν κάπως χαρούμενοι που, μετά από μέρες, μπορούσαμε να τον δούμε », είπε ο Σαμίμ.
      Νεκροί πρόσφυγες στα αζήτητα

      Ο αριθμός των προσφύγων που πεθαίνουν στα σύνορα της Ευρώπης ολοένα και μεγαλώνει. Πέρα από τη δυσκολία καταγραφής των θανάτων, υπάρχει και η πρόκληση της ταυτοποίησης των σορών, μια διαδικασία ψυχοφθόρα για τους συγγενείς. Σε κάποιες περιπτώσεις, ωστόσο, υπάρχουν σοροί που μένουν αταυτοποίητες, εκατοντάδες άνδρες, γυναίκες και παιδιά που θάβονται σε τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων.

      Τον Ιούλιο του 2023, το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο υιοθέτησε ψήφισμα που αναγνωρίζει το δικαίωμα στην ταυτοποίηση των ανθρώπων που χάνουν τη ζωή τους στην προσπάθεια να φτάσουν στην Ευρώπη, έως σήμερα ωστόσο δεν υπάρχει κεντρικό σύστημα καταγραφής σε πανευρωπαϊκό επίπεδο. Ούτε ενιαία διαδικασία για τη διαχείριση των σορών που καταλήγουν σε νεκροτομεία, γραφεία κηδειών — ακόμη και κοντέινερ ψύξης.

      Το πρόβλημα είναι « εντελώς παραμελημένο », είπε στο Solomon η Ευρωπαία Επίτροπος Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων, Dunja Mijatović, η οποία αναφέρει ότι οι χώρες της ΕΕ δεν εκπληρώνουν τις υποχρεώσεις τους βάσει του διεθνούς δικαίου των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων. « Η τραγωδία των αγνοούμενων μεταναστών έχει λάβει τρομακτικές διαστάσεις. Το ζήτημα απαιτεί άμεση δράση », πρόσθεσε.

      Η πλατφόρμα Missing Migrants του Διεθνούς Οργανισμού Μετανάστευσης (ΔΟΜ), που αναγνωρίζει πως τα στοιχεία της δεν αποτελούν ολοκληρωμένη καταγραφή, κάνει λόγο για πάνω από 1.090 αγνοούμενους πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες στην Ευρώπη από το 2014.

      Στο πλαίσιο της έρευνας Border Graves, οκτώ Ευρωπαίοι δημοσιογράφοι, από κοινού με την βρετανική εφημερίδα Guardian, την γερμανική εφημερίδα Süddeutsche Zeitung, και το Solomon για την Ελλάδα, ερεύνησαν επί επτά μήνες τι συμβαίνει με τις χιλιάδες αταυτοποίητες σορούς όσων χάνουν τη ζωή τους στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα, και καταγράφουν για πρώτη φορά έναν σχεδόν διπλάσιο αριθμό : σύμφωνα με τα στοιχεία που συγκεντρώθηκαν, περισσότεροι από 2.162 άνθρωποι πέθαναν την περίοδο 2014-2023.

      Μελετήσαμε έγγραφα και πήραμε συνεντεύξεις από κρατικούς ιατροδικαστές, εισαγγελείς και εργαζομένους σε γραφεία τελετών· από κατοίκους και συγγενείς θανόντων και αγνοουμένων· και αποκτήσαμε αποκλειστική πρόσβαση σε αδημοσίευτα στοιχεία της Διεθνούς Επιτροπής του Ερυθρού Σταυρού.

      Σε 65 νεκροταφεία κατά μήκος των ευρωπαϊκών συνόρων –Ελλάδα, Ισπανία, Ιταλία, Μάλτα, Πολωνία, Λιθουανία, Γαλλία και Κροατία– καταγράψαμε περισσότερους από 1.000 τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων κατά την τελευταία δεκαετία.

      Η έρευνα καταγράφει τον τρόπο με τον οποίο η κρατική αδιαφορία γύρω από την αξιοπρεπή ταφή των ανθρώπων που χάνουν τη ζωή τους στα σύνορα διαπερνά τις ευρωπαϊκές χώρες. Στην Ιταλία, συναντήσαμε ξύλινους σταυρούς. Στην Κροατία και τη Βοσνία, συναντήσαμε δεκάδες τάφους με την ένδειξη « ΝΝ » (αγνώστων στοιχείων), στη Γαλλία απλώς με ένα « Χ ».

      Στα ισπανικά Γκραν Κανάρια, εντοπίσαμε πλάκες που δεν αναφέρουν την ταυτότητα των θανόντων, αλλά σε ποιο ναυάγιο πέθαναν : « Βάρκα μεταναστών νούμερο 4. 25/09/2022 ».

      Στην Ελλάδα, καταγράψαμε περισσότερους από 540 αταυτοποίητους τάφους προσφύγων, το 54% όσων συνολικά κατέγραψε η ευρωπαϊκή έρευνα. Ταξιδέψαμε στα νησιά του Αιγαίου και τον Έβρο, και εντοπίσαμε τάφους σε χωράφια που ενίοτε καλύπτονται από αγριόχορτα, και μαρμάρινες πλάκες με ημερομηνίες θανάτου που έχουν σβηστεί, ενώ σε άλλες περιπτώσεις ένα κομμάτι ξύλο μαζί με έναν αριθμό αποτελεί τη μόνη σήμανσή τους.

      Τα στοιχεία της έρευνάς μας, σε συνδυασμό με τα στοιχεία της Διεθνούς Επιτροπής του Ερυθρού Σταυρού, δεν αποτελούν εξαντλητική καταγραφή του ζητήματος. Ωστόσο, αποτυπώνουν για πρώτη φορά τα κενά και τις δυσκολίες ενός συστήματος, που οδηγεί χιλιάδες οικογένειες να μην γνωρίζουν πού είναι θαμμένοι οι συγγενείς τους.

      Λέσβος : 167 αταυτοποίητοι τάφοι προσφύγων

      Ένας μακρύς χωματόδρομος, που τριγυρίζεται από ελαιόδεντρα, οδηγεί στην πύλη του νεκροταφείου του Κάτω Τρίτου, που συνήθως παραμένει κλειδωμένη με λουκέτο.

      Το « νεκροταφείο των προσφύγων », όπως το αποκαλούν στο νησί, βρίσκεται περίπου 15χλμ δυτικά της Μυτιλήνης. Αποτελεί τον μοναδικό χώρο ταφής αποκλειστικά για πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες στην Ελλάδα.

      Κατά τη διάρκεια μίας από τις επισκέψεις μας, λάμβανε χώρα η κηδεία τεσσάρων παιδιών. Έχασαν τη ζωή τους στις 28 Αυγούστου 2023, όταν η βάρκα στην οποία επέβαιναν μαζί με 18 ακόμη ανθρώπους βυθίστηκε νοτιοανατολικά της Λέσβου.

      Η πενθούσα μητέρα και αρκετές γυναίκες, μεταξύ των οποίων μέλη της οικογένειας, κάθονταν κάτω από ένα δέντρο, ενώ οι άνδρες προσεύχονταν κοντά στο υπόστεγο που χρησιμοποιείται για τη διαδικασία της ταφής σύμφωνα με την ισλαμική παράδοση.

      Στον Κάτω Τρίτο και τον Άγιο Παντελεήμονα, το νεκροταφείο της Μυτιλήνης όπου θάβονταν οι πρόσφυγες έως τότε, μετρήσαμε συνολικά 167 τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων μεταξύ 2014-2023.

      Ο τοπικός δημοσιογράφος, και πρώην μέλος του Περιφερειακού Συμβουλίου Βορείου Αιγαίου Νίκος Μανάβης, εξηγεί πως το νεκροταφείο δημιουργήθηκε το 2015 σε έναν ελαιώνα που ανήκει στο δήμο Μυτιλήνης λόγω ανάγκης : ένα πολύνεκρο ναυάγιο στα βόρεια του νησιού, στις 28 Οκτωβρίου του έτους, είχε ως αποτέλεσμα τουλάχιστον 60 νεκρούς, για τους οποίους τα νεκροταφεία του νησιού δεν επαρκούσαν.

      Πολλά θύματα ναυαγίων παραμένουν θαμμένα σε τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων. Στις ταφόπλακες αναγράφεται η εκτιμώμενη ηλικία των θανόντων και η ημερομηνία ταφής, ενίοτε μόνο ένας αριθμός. Άλλες φορές, ένα κομμάτι ξύλο και περιμετρικά τοποθετημένες πέτρες σηματοδοτούν τον τάφο.

      « Αυτό που βλέπουμε είναι ένα χωράφι, όχι ένα νεκροταφείο. Δεν δείχνει σεβασμό στους ανθρώπους που τάφηκαν εδώ », λέει ο Μανάβης.

      Αυτή η έλλειψη σεβασμού στο νεκροταφείο του Κάτω Τρίτου κινητοποίησε την οργάνωση Earth Medicine. Όπως εξηγεί ο Δημήτρης Πατούνης, μέλος της ΜΚΟ, τον Ιανουάριο του 2022 έκαναν πρόταση στο δήμο Μυτιλήνης για την αποκατάσταση του νεκροταφείου. Το σχέδιό τους είναι να δημιουργήσουν ένα χώρο ανάπαυσης με σεβασμό και αξιοπρέπεια, όπου οι πρόσφυγες και οι αιτούντες άσυλο θα μπορούν να ικανοποιήσουν την πιο ιερή ανθρώπινη ανάγκη, το πένθος για τους αγαπημένους τους.

      Παρόλο που το δημοτικό συμβούλιο ενέκρινε την πρόταση την άνοιξη του 2023, οι δημοτικές εκλογές του Οκτωβρίου καθυστέρησαν το έργο. Ο Πατούνης δηλώνει θετικός ότι σύντομα θα γίνει καταγραφή των τάφων και περίφραξη της περιοχής.

      Ο Χρήστος Μαυραχείλης, νεκροθάφτης στο νεκροταφείο του Αγίου Παντελεήμονα, θυμάται ότι το 2015 οι μουσουλμάνοι πρόσφυγες θάβονταν σε συγκεκριμένη περιοχή του νεκροταφείου.

      « Αν κάποιος ήταν αγνώστου ταυτότητας έγραφα στον τάφο του “Άγνωστος” », λέει. Εάν δεν υπήρχαν συγγενείς, που θα μπορούσαν να καλύψουν το κόστος, ο Μαυραχείλης έκοβε ο ίδιος ένα μάρμαρο και έγραφε όσα στοιχεία μπορούσε από το πιστοποιητικό θανάτου. « Άνθρωποι ήταν κι αυτοί », λέει, « έκανα ό,τι μπορούσα ».

      Από την πλευρά του, ο Θωμάς Βαναβάκης, πρώην ιδιοκτήτης γραφείου τελετών που πρόσφερε υπηρεσίες στη Λέσβο έως το 2020, λέει επίσης πως συχνά χρειάστηκε να καλύψουν ταφές δίχως να λάβουν αμοιβή. « Ξέρετε πόσες φορές μπήκαμε στη θάλασσα και πληρώσαμε εργάτες από την τσέπη μας για να τραβήξουμε τα πτώματα και δεν παίρναμε φράγκο ; », λέει.

      « Το να βλέπεις τόσα μωρά, να τα μαζεύεις και να τα πετάς σε ένα κουτί… Πώς μπορείς να πας σπίτι και να κοιμηθείς μετά από αυτό ; », λέει ο Βαναβάκης.

      Η Έφη Λατσούδη, που ζει στη Λέσβο και εργάζεται στην οργάνωση Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), λέει πως το 2015 υπήρχαν ταφές που δεν μπορούσε να καλύψει ο δήμος Μυτιλήνης, και ορισμένες φορές τις « πληρώναν οι άνθρωποι που συμμετείχαν στην τελετή. Προσπαθούσαμε να δώσουμε μια αξιοπρέπεια στη διαδικασία. Αλλά δεν ήταν αρκετό », λέει.

      Η Λατσούδη θυμάται κάτι που της είχε αναφέρει μια προσφύγισσα το 2015 : « Το χειρότερο που μπορεί να μας συμβεί είναι να πεθάνουμε κάπου μακριά και να μην είναι κανείς στην κηδεία μας ».

      Ο δήμος Μυτιλήνης δεν απάντησε στα ερωτήματά μας σχετικά με την αξιοπρεπή ταφή των προσφύγων στα νεκροταφεία ευθύνης του.
      Χίος και Σάμος : τάφοι καλύπτονται από αγριόχορτα

      Σύμφωνα με την ελληνική νομοθεσία, η τοπική αυτοδιοίκηση (και σε περίπτωση αδυναμίας της η περιφέρεια) καλύπτει το κόστος για την ταφή τόσο των αταυτοποίητων προσφύγων που πεθαίνουν στα σύνορα, όσο και εκείνων που βρίσκονται σε οικονομική αδυναμία.

      Από πλευράς της, η δημοτική Αρχή Χίου δήλωσε πως προβλέπεται χρηματοδότηση για τις σχετικές δαπάνες, καθώς και ότι « στο πλαίσιο των αρμοδιοτήτων της για τα νεκροταφεία, συντηρεί και φροντίζει όλους τους χώρους, χωρίς διακρίσεις και με τον απαιτούμενο σεβασμό, για όλους τους νεκρούς ».

      Αλλά κατά την επίσκεψή μας τον Αύγουστο στο νεκροταφείο του Μερσινιδίου, λίγα χιλιόμετρα βόρεια της πόλης της Χίου, όπου πρόσφυγες βρίσκονται θαμμένοι πλάι στα μνήματα των ντόπιων, δεν ήταν δύσκολο να εντοπίσει κανείς τον διαχωρισμό : οι πέντε τάφοι αταυτοποίητων προσφύγων σηματοδοτούνταν απλώς από ένα μάρμαρο, το οποίο έτεινε να υπερκαλύψει η βλάστηση.

      Η Νατάσα Στραχίνη, δικηγόρος του RSA που ζει στη Χίο, έχει λάβει μέρος σε αρκετές κηδείες προσφύγων τόσο στη Χίο όσο και στη Λέσβο. Για εκείνη, είναι πολύ μεγάλη η σημασία της τοπικής κοινότητας και η παρουσία σε μια τόσο δύσκολη ανθρώπινη στιγμή.

      Σχετικά με τις ταφές, εξηγεί πως « μόνο ένα καλό σύστημα καταγραφής θα μπορούσε να βοηθήσει τους συγγενείς να εντοπίσουν τον τάφο ενός ανθρώπου που έχασαν, καθώς συνήθως στα νεκροταφεία μετά από 3-5 χρόνια γίνονται εκταφές ». Αναφέρει πως ενίοτε ένας τάφος παραμένει αγνώστων στοιχείων παρότι η σορός έχει ταυτοποιηθεί, είτε γιατί καθυστέρησε η διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης, είτε γιατί οι συγγενείς δεν είχαν την οικονομική δυνατότητα να αλλάξουν το μνήμα.

      Στο Ηραίο Σάμου, δίπλα στο δημοτικό νεκροταφείο, σε ένα οικόπεδο που ανήκει στη Μητρόπολη και χρησιμοποιείται ως χώρος ταφής προσφύγων, καταγράψαμε δεκάδες μνήματα που χρονολογούνται μεταξύ 2014-2023. Οι πλάκες –ορισμένες σπασμένες– που έχουν τοποθετηθεί στο έδαφος, « κρυμμένες » από κλαδιά, πευκοβελόνες και κουκουνάρια, αναγράφουν απλώς έναν αριθμό και τη χρονολογία της ταφής.

      Ο δικηγόρος Δημήτρης Χούλης, που ζει στη Σάμο και χειρίζεται υποθέσεις γύρω από το προσφυγικό, σχολίασε σχετικά : « Είναι ντροπιαστική εικόνα να βλέπεις τέτοιους τάφους. Είναι αδικαιολόγητο για μια σύγχρονη κοινωνία όπως η Ελλάδα ».

      Αναζητώντας στοιχεία

      Η Διεθνής Επιτροπή του Ερυθρού Σταυρού είναι από τις λίγες διεθνείς οργανώσεις που εργάζονται για την ταυτοποίηση των νεκρών πρσοφύγων. Μεταξύ άλλων, και στην Ελλάδα έχουν πραγματοποιήσει αρκετές σχετικές εκπαιδεύσεις σε στελέχη του Λιμενικού και της Ελληνικής Αστυνομίας.

      « Είναι υποχρέωσή μας να παρέχουμε στους νεκρούς μια αξιοπρεπή ταφή. Παράλληλα, οφείλουμε να δίνουμε απαντήσεις στις οικογένειες μέσω της ταυτοποίησης των νεκρών. Αν υπολογίσουμε τους συγγενείς των αγνοουμένων, αυτή η διαδικασία επηρεάζει εκατοντάδες χιλιάδες ανθρώπους. Δεν γνωρίζουν πού βρίσκονται οι αγαπημένοι τους. Τους φέρθηκαν καλά ; Τους σεβάστηκαν όταν τους έθαψαν ; », αναφέρει η Laurel Clegg, συντονίστρια ιατροδικαστής για τη μετανάστευση στην Ευρώπη.

      Εξηγεί πως η καταγραφή των νεκρών αποτελεί διαδικασία που « απαιτεί την καλή συνεργασία μεταξύ πολλών μερών : ένα νομικό πλαίσιο που να προστατεύει τους αταυτοποίητους νεκρούς, συστηματικές νεκροψίες (consistent post-mortems), νεκροτομεία, ληξιαρχεία, αξιοπρεπή μεταφορά, νεκροταφεία ».

      Ωστόσο, τα ιατρικά και νομικά συστήματα των χωρών αποδεικνύονται ανεπαρκή για να αντιμετωπίσουν τη διάσταση του προβλήματος, προσθέτει.

      Από το 2013, στο πλαίσιο του προγράμματος για την αποκατάσταση οικογενειακών δεσμών, ο Ερυθρός Σταυρός έχει καταγράψει στην Ευρώπη 16.500 αιτήματα από ανθρώπους που αναζητούν αγνοούμενους συγγενείς τους. Σύμφωνα με τον διεθνή οργανισμό έχουν επιτευχθεί μόλις 285 επιτυχείς αντιστοιχίσεις (1,7%).

      Τις αντιστοιχίσεις αυτές αναλαμβάνουν οι κατά τόπους ιατροδικαστές.

      « Συλλέγουμε πάντα δείγματα DNA από τις σορούς αγνώστων στοιχείων. Είναι συνήθης πρακτική και μπορεί να είναι το μόνο εφικτό μέσο ταυτοποίησης », αναφέρει ο Παναγιώτης Κοτρέτσος, ιατροδικαστής στη Ρόδο. Τα δείγματα αποστέλλονται στο εργαστήριο DNA της Διεύθυνσης Εγκληματολογικών Ερευνών της Ελληνικής Αστυνομίας, σύμφωνα με πρωτόκολλο της INTERPOL.

      Σύμφωνα με τον Ερυθρό Σταυρό, οι δυσκολίες συνήθως προκύπτουν όταν οι οικογένειες βρίσκονται εκτός ΕΕ, και οφείλονται σε διάφορους παράγοντες, όπως τυχόν διαφορές στο νομικό πλαίσιο ή στα ιατρικά συστήματα των χωρών. Για παράδειγμα, ορισμένες χώρες της ΕΕ δεν μπορούν να « ανοίξουν » υπόθεση και να πάρουν δείγματα DNA από οικογένειες, χωρίς εντολή από τις Aρχές της χώρας στην οποία έχει ανασυρθεί η σορός του συγγενή που αναζητάται.

      Το πιο δύσκολο μέρος στη διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης μέσω DNA είναι ότι χρειάζεται να υπάρχει κι ένα δεύτερο δείγμα που θα συγκριθεί με εκείνο που συνέλεξαν οι ιατροδικαστές, το οποίο πρέπει να σταλεί από τις οικογένειες των αγνοουμένων. « Για έναν πρόσφυγα που ξεκίνησε το ταξίδι του από μια χώρα της κεντρικής Αφρικής, ταξίδεψε για μήνες, και πέθανε στην Ελλάδα, θα υπάρχει το γενετικό υλικό στο νεκροτομείο. Αλλά θα παραμείνει αταίριαστο μέχρι κάποιος συγγενής πρώτου βαθμού να στείλει δείγμα DNA », λέει ο Κοτρέτσος.

      Εξηγεί πως αυτό δεν είναι πάντα εφικτό. « Έχουμε δεχτεί τηλεφωνήματα από συγγενείς που βρίσκονταν στη στη Συρία, και αναζητούσαν αγνοούμενα μέλη της οικογένειάς τους, και δεν μπορούσαν να στείλουν δείγματα ακριβώς επειδή βρίσκονταν στη Συρία ».

      Έξω από το πανεπιστημιακό νοσοκομείο της Αλεξανδρούπολης, δύο κοντέινερ ψυγεία που έχουν παραχωρηθεί από τον Ερυθρό Σταυρό ως προσωρινοί νεκροθάλαμοι φιλοξενούν τα σώματα 40 προσφύγων.

      Ο καθηγητής Ιατροδικαστικής στο Δημοκρίτειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θράκης, Παύλος Παυλίδης, έχει από το 2000 πραγματοποιήσει αυτοψίες σε τουλάχιστον 800 σώματα ανθρώπων σε κίνηση, με βασικές αιτίες θανάτου τον πνιγμό στα νερά του Έβρου και την υποθερμία.

      Ο ιατροδικαστής δεν αρκείται στην απαραίτητη συλλογή DNA : καταγράφει δεδομένα όπως σημάδια γέννησης ή τατουάζ και αντικείμενα (π.χ. πορτοφόλια, δαχτυλίδια, γυαλιά), τα οποία θα μπορούσαν να αποτελέσουν τον συνδετικό κρίκο για έναν συγγενή που αναζητά το αγαπημένο του πρόσωπο.

      Λέει πως συνολικά 313 σοροί που βρέθηκαν στον Έβρο από το 2014 παραμένουν αγνώστων στοιχείων. Όσες δεν μπορούν να ταυτοποιηθούν θάβονται σε ειδικό νεκροταφείο στο Σιδηρώ, το οποίο διαχειρίζεται ο δήμος Σουφλίου, ενώ 15-20 αταυτοποίητες σοροί τάφηκαν στην Ορεστιάδα όσο γινόταν η επέκταση του νεκροταφείου Σιδηρού.

      Οι σοροί των μουσουλμάνων προσφύγων που ταυτοποιούνται ενταφιάζονται στο μουσουλμανικό νεκροταφείο στη Μεσσούνη Κομοτηνής ή επαναπατρίζονται, όταν οι συγγενείς μπορούν να καλύψουν το κόστος επαναπατρισμού.

      « Αυτό δεν είναι αξιοπρεπές »

      Απαντώντας σε σχετικά ερωτήματα, το υπουργείο Μετανάστευσης και Ασύλου είπε πως το ζήτημα των διαδικασιών ταυτοποίησης και ταφής προσφύγων δεν εμπίπτει στις αρμοδιότητές του. Εκπρόσωπος της Κομισιόν δήλωσε πως σχετικά κονδύλια προς την Ελλάδα δεν προβλέπονται, ωστόσο εν λόγω δαπάνες « θα μπορούσαν να υποστηριχθούν στο πλαίσιο του Εθνικού Προγράμματος του Ταμείου Ασύλου, Μετανάστευσης και Ένταξης », το οποίο διαχειρίζεται το υπουργείο Μετανάστευσης.

      Ο Θεόδωρος Νούσιας είναι επικεφαλής ιατροδικαστής της Ιατροδικαστικής Υπηρεσίας Βορείου Αιγαίου, δηλαδή υπεύθυνος για τα νησιά Λέσβο, Σάμο, Χίο, και Λήμνο. Σύμφωνα με τον ιατροδικαστή, η διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης μέσω DNA έχει βελτιωθεί πολύ σε σχέση με πριν από μερικά χρόνια.

      Ο Νούσιας λέει ότι πάντα ήταν διαθέσιμος, όταν του ζητήθηκε να αναγνωρίσει κάποιον. « Πρέπει να εξυπηρετείς τους ανθρώπους, γι’ αυτό βρίσκεσαι εκεί. Να εξυπηρετείς τους ανθρώπους για να μπορούν να βρουν την οικογένειά τους », προσθέτει.

      Ο ιατροδικαστής ζει στη Λέσβο, αλλά λέει πως δεν έχει πάει ποτέ στο νεκροταφείο στον Κάτω Τρίτο. « Δεν θέλω να πάω. Θα είναι δύσκολο για μένα γιατί οι περισσότεροι από αυτούς τους ανθρώπους έχουν περάσει από τα χέρια μου ».

      Τον Οκτώβριο του 2022, ο 32χρονος Σουτζά Αχμαντί και η αδελφή του Μαρίνα ταξίδεψαν επίσης στα Κύθηρα και, στη συνέχεια, στην Καλαμάτα προκειμένου να αναγνωρίσουν τη σορό του πατέρα τους, Αμπντούλ Γασί.

      Ο 65χρονος είχε ξεκινήσει το ταξίδι για την Ιταλία μαζί με τη γυναίκα του Χατίτζε — εκείνη επέζησε. Τα δύο αδέλφια επισκέφθηκαν το νοσοκομείο, όπου τους έδειξαν και τα οκτώ πτώματα, άνδρες και γυναίκες, παρότι είχαν εξαρχής εξηγήσει πως ο άνθρωπος που αναζητούσαν ήταν άνδρας.

      Το σώμα του πατέρα τους ήταν μεταξύ εκείνων που βρίσκονταν εκτός ψυγείου.

      « Η αδελφή μου έκλαιγε και τους φώναζε να πάρουν τον πατέρα μας από το κοντέινερ ψυγείο γιατί μύριζε », θυμάται ο Σουτζά. « Δεν ήταν αξιοπρεπές μέρος για έναν άνθρωπο ».

      Για την έρευνα συνεργάστηκαν οι : Gabriele Cruciata, Eoghan Gilmartin, Danai Maragoudaki, Barbara Matejčić, Leah Pattem, Gabriela Ramírez, Daphne Tolis and Tina Xu (συντονίστρια).

      Η έρευνα υποστηρίχθηκε από το Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) και Journalismfund Europe.


    • U Hrvatskoj pronađeno 45 neimenovanih grobova migranata, među njima je bila i 5-godišnja curica: ‘Policija ih često tjera u rijeku’

      Telegram ekskluzivno donosi veliku priču Barbare Matejčić koja je, kao jedina novinarka iz Hrvatske, sudjelovala u međunarodnoj novinarskoj istrazi s kolegama iz uglednih medija poput britanskog Guardiana i njemačkog Süddeutsche Zeitunga. Otkrili su kako završavaju tijela onih koji su stradali pokušavajući ući u Europsku uniju

      U selu Siče u istočnoj Hrvatskoj više je Sičana na groblju nego među živima: živih je 230, a umrlih 250. Točnije, na groblju je 247 Sičana i tri nepoznate osobe. Bilo bi ih još više pod zemljom da Siče svoje groblje nema tek od 1970-ih. Bilo bi još više i živih da nisu, kao mnogi iz tog kraja, odlazili u veće gradove ili u inozemstvo u potrazi za boljim životom. Grobovi Sičana, ukratko, posjetitelju kažu tko su ti ljudi bili, gdje pripadaju i posjećuju li ih bližnji. Tako to biva s grobovima, sažimaju osnovne informacije naših života. Ako na grobu stoji samo NN, to sažima tragediju.

      Tko su te tri osobe kojima se ne zna ime? Kako im je posljednja adresa skromni humak u Siču? Migranti, utopili su se u obližnjoj rijeci, reći će vam mještani. Malo je mjesto, malo je groblje, sve se zna. I da ne znate ništa, jasno vam je da te tri osobe tu ne pripadaju. Ukopani su sasvim izdvojeno od ostatka groblja. Tri drvena križa s NN natpisima, zabodena u zemlju na rubu groblja. NN, kao skraćenica od latinskog nomen nescio, doslovno znači: ne znam ime.


      Službeno objašnjenje komunalnog poduzeća koje upravlja grobljem je da je ostavljeno mjesta za još mogućih ukopa onih kojima se ne zna ime. A objašnjenje na koje pomislite kad tamo dođete jest da su ukopani izdvojeno kako se ne bi miješali s mještanima. Ili, kako nam se u telefonskom razgovoru izlanuo načelnik jednog drugog mjesta gdje su također na margini groblja NN migrantski grobovi: “Da nam ne smetaju.”

      Afganistanci pod križem

      Na groblju u Sičama to su jedina tri groba o kojima nitko ne vodi računa. Za nekih pet godina mogao bi im nestati svaki trag. Komunalna poduzeća su dužna ukopati neidentificirana tijela, ali ne i održavati grobove osim ako grob nije od “osobe od posebnog povijesnog i društvenog značaja”, kako zakon nalaže. NN1, NN2 i NN3 su od posebnog značaja samo svojim bližnjima, koji vjerojatno ni ne znaju gdje su. Možda čekaju da im se konačno jave iz zapadne Europe. Možda ih traže. Možda ih oplakuju. No, ako zakopate malo dublje, saznat ćete ponešto o onima koji tu počivaju bez imena.

      U rano i hladno jutro 23. prosinca 2022. policija je pronašla dva tijela na obali Save, koja je u tom području odvaja Hrvatsku od Bosne i Hercegovine. Odvaja Europsku uniju od ostatka Europe. Prema policijskom izvještaju, pronašli su i skupinu od dvadeset stranih državljana koji su tim putem nezakonito ušli u Hrvatsku. Skupini je nedostajala još jedna osoba. Nakon opsežne potrage u popodnevnim satima je pronađeno i treće tijelo. Patolog Opće bolnice u Novoj Gradiški ustanovio je da je smrt za sve troje nastupila u 2.45 u noći. Dvojica su umrla od pothlađenosti, jedan se utopio.

      Kod njih su pronađene iskaznice iz izbjegličkog kampa u Bosni i Hercegovini. Saznali smo da su, prema iskaznicama, sva trojica bila iz Afganistana: Ahmedi Abozari imao je 17 godina, Basir Naseri imao je 21 godinu i Shakir Atoin je imao 25 godina. NN1, NN2 i NN3. Za dvojicu od njih su i drugi iz skupine migranata potvrdili identitet, rekli su nam iz Policijske uprave brodsko-posavske. Zašto su onda pokopani kao NN? Ako se znalo da su iz Afganistana, zašto su pokopani pod križem? Ako ih traže obitelji, kako će ih naći?
      ‘Neka plate za ime na grobu’

      U upravi groblja su bili ljubazni i rekli da pokapaju prema tome kako stoji u dozvoli za ukop koju potpisuje patolog. A stajalo je NN. Patolog je rekao da podatke ispisuje na temelju informacija dobivenih od policije i mrtvozornika. Iz nadležne policije su nam rekli da se osoba sahranjuje po pravilima lokalne uprave. Groblje Siče pripada Općini Nova Kapela, čiji nam je načelnik Ivan Šmit nezadovoljno nabrojao sve troškove koje je njegova općina snosila za te ukope i poručio da ako će netko za to platiti, onda može promijeniti oznaku NN u imena.

      Na niz smo takvih administrativnih nejasnoća naišli istražujući kako nadležna tijela postupaju s tijelima onih koji su stradali pokušavajući ući u Europsku uniju, kao dio Border Graves Investigation koje je proveo tim od osam slobodnih novinara u zemljama na migrantskim rutama, zajedno s britanskim Guardianom i njemačkim Süddeutsche Zeitungom.

      Nema jedinstvene europske baze podataka o broju migranata koji su pokopani u Europi. No tim je uspio potvrditi najmanje 1.931 takav grob u Grčkoj, Italiji, Španjolskoj, Hrvatskoj, Malti, Poljskoj i Francuskoj u zadnjem desetljeću, dakle od 2014. do 2023. Od toga je 1.015 NN grobova. Više od polovice neidentificiranih grobova je, očekivano, u Grčkoj – 551, u Italiji 248 i u Španjolskoj 109. U Hrvatskoj smo utvrdili 59 grobova migranata koji su ukopani posljednjeg desetljeća, od čega ih 45 nije identificirano. Podaci su temeljeni na različitim bazama podataka koje u pojedinačnim zemljama prikupljaju međunarodne organizacije, nevladine udruge, znanstvenici i istraživači, kao i od lokalnih vlasti te terenskim radom.

      Tim novinara je posjetio 24 groblja u Grčkoj, Italiji, Španjolskoj, Hrvatskoj, Poljskoj i Litvi, gdje je ukupno 555 grobova neidentificiranih migranata od 2014. do 2023. To su oni čija su tijela pronađena i pokopana. Međunarodni odbor Crvenog križa procjenjuje da se 87 posto onih koji nestanu na europskim južnim granicama nikad ne pronađe. Za kopnene migrantske rute nema procjena.
      Traže li migrante kao što traže turiste?

      Prosinac 2022. kad su umrla trojica mladih Afganistanaca je bio kišniji nego inače i Sava je nabujala. No ionako je velika i brza. Na tom je području samo tri dana ranije nestalo petero turskih državljana nakon što im se na Savi prevrnuo čamac. Među njima su bili dvogodišnja curica, dvanaestogodišnji dečko i njihovi roditelji. Brat nestalog oca je došao iz Njemačke u Hrvatsku kako bi saznao što se dogodilo s obitelji. Iz dokumentacije koju posjedujemo, vidljivo je da je uz pomoć turkologinje Nine Rajković pokušavao od više policijskih postaja doći do informacija u vezi nestalih. Nije ih dobio ni mjesecima kasnije. Htjeli su prijaviti nestanak, no u policiji im je rečeno da prijavu nema smisla pisati ako osobe nisu prethodno registrirane na području Hrvatske ili Bosne i Hercegovine.

      Na niz smo sličnih primjera naišli baveći se ovom temom. Mladić je došao u Hrvatsku i prijavio policiji i u Hrvatskoj i u Sloveniji da mu se brat utopio u Kupi. No njegov nestanak nije evidentiran u hrvatskoj nacionalnoj bazi nestalih osoba koja je javno dostupna. Policija brata nije kontaktirala nakon što je u narednim danima u Kupi nađeno više neidentificiranih tijela. Afganistanac je šest mjeseci čekao da se tijelo njegova brata, koji se utopio kad su zajedno pokušali prijeći Savu također u prosincu 2022., prebaci iz Hrvatske u Bosnu i Hercegovinu da ga može pokopati. Iako je potvrdio da je riječ o njegovu bratu, proces identifikacije je bio spor i kompliciran.

      Naišli smo i na primjere obitelji koje nemaju nekoga u Europi tko može doputovati i uporno tragati za informacijama, već izdaleka pokušavaju ući u trag bližnjima koji se gube na području Hrvatske i na kraju su obeshrabreno odustali. Puno je pitanja i malo jasnih odgovora na temu nestalih i umrlih migranata na tzv. Balkanskoj ruti, čiji je Hrvatska dio. Ne postoje jasni protokoli i procedure oko toga kome i kako se prijavljuje nestanak. Ne zna se traži li se nestale migrante aktivno, kao što se ljeti traži nestale turiste. Nije jasno koliko je informacija, i kojih, potrebno za identifikaciju.
      Obitelji se nemaju kome javiti

      “Kruženje informacije između institucija i pojedinih odjela mi se čini gotovo nepostojeća. U jednom slučaju mi je trebalo više od dva mjeseca i deseci telefonskih poziva i mailova upućenih na različite adrese, policijske postaje, policijske uprave, bolnice, državno odvjetništvo, samo da potaknem pokretanje identifikacije koja do danas, više od godinu dana kasnije, još nije završena”, kaže Marijana Hameršak s Instituta za etnologiju i folkloristiku u Zagrebu. Ona vodi znanstveni projekt “Europski režim iregulariziranih migracija na periferiji EU” u kojem se prikuplja znanje i podaci o nestalim i umrlim migrantima. Na kraju sve ovisi o susretljivim i posvećenim pojedincima u institucijama, kaže Hamrešak, no oni ne mogu nositi cijeli teret disfunkcionalnog sustava.

      Potrage za nestalim i pokušaji identifikacije umrlih migranata u Hrvatskoj, kao i susjednoj Bosni i Hercegovini, najčešće počivaju na trudu volontera i aktivista, koji poput Marijane tragaju za informacijama u kaotičnoj administraciji jer je obiteljima koje ne poznaju jezik taj zadatak praktički nesavladiv. Tako je Facebook grupa Dead and Missing in the Balkans postala glavno mjesto razmjene fotografija i podataka o nestalima i umrlima između obitelji i aktivista. Ne postoj internetska stranica na engleskom nadležnog Ministarstva unutarnjih poslova na koju se mogu javiti iz Afganistana ili Sirije i raspitati se za sudbinu svojih bližnjih, ostaviti podatke o njima i prijaviti nestanak.


      Nema ni regionalne baze podataka o nestalim i umrlim migrantima na kojoj bi surađivale policije makar iz zemalja među kojima se bilježi najviše prelazaka – iz Bosne i Hercegovine u Hrvatsku. Povjerenica Vijeća Europe za ljudska prava Dunja Mijatović je u razgovoru s našim timom naglasila da je iznimno važno uspostaviti centraliziranu europsku bazu podataka o nestalim i umrlim migrantima. Kad bi takva baza podataka objedinjavala ante-mortem (podaci o osobi koji se prikupljaju od rodbine i poznanika, poput fizičkih karakteristika i opisa odjeće koju je nosila posljednji put, koje je predmete imala uz sebe itd.) i post-mortem (kao DNK uzorak i fotografije) podatke o umrlima, uvelike bi se povećale šanse za identifikaciju.
      Poginuti ili ostvariti san

      “Obitelji imaju pravo znati istinu o tome što se dogodilo njihovim najbližima”, kaže Mijatović. No suradnja policija susjednih zemalja u održavanju vanjske granice EU nepropusnom je učinkovita. Ranije migranti nisu tako često pokušavali prijeći Savu. Znali su da je previše opasna. Dijele informacije jedni s drugima i ne upuštaju se u prelazak takve rijeke u dječjim čamcima na napuhavanje ili u zračnicama kotača. Ako nisu sasvim očajni.

      Hrvatska policija je push-backovima i upotrebom sile – na što već godinama upozoravaju Amnesty International i Human Rights Watch – otežala prelazak drugim, manje opasnim prijelazima duž zelene granice s Bosnom i Hercegovinom. Kako nam je rekao mladi Marokanac u Bosni i Hercegovini, koji je 11 puta pokušao preći u Hrvatsku ali ga je hrvatska policija svaki put vratila: “Imaš dva izbora: poginuti ili ostvariti san.” Koliko ih je poginulo na Balkanskoj ruti u pokušaju ostvarenja sna, teško je utvrditi. Najsveobuhvatniji podaci za zemlje bivše Jugoslavije su oni koje prikupljaju istraživači projekta “Europski režim iregulariziranih migracija na periferiji EU”, i broje 346 stradalih od 2014. do 2023. u Hrvatskoj, Bosni i Hercegovini, Srbiji, Sloveniji, Sjevernoj Makedoniji i na Kosovu.

      ERIM-ova baza pojedinačno navodi svakog stradalog i sadrži onoliko podataka koliko su istraživači mogli prikupiti iz raznih izvora – medija, svjedoka stradanja, od institucija, iz aktivističkih kanala. No brojka je zasigurno bitno veća. Nestanak nekih nije ni evidentiran. Tijela mnogih nikad nisu pronađena. Stara planina između Bugarske i Srbije težak je i nedostupan teren. Tu će na preminule naići samo oni koji su istom sudbinom nagnani na taj put i neće riskirati prijavu. Ako stradaju u minskim poljima zaostalim iza ratova u Hrvatskoj i Bosni i Hercegovini, od tijela im neće ostati mnogo. Najviše je pronađeno tijela utopljenih u rijekama, no nema procjena koliko utopljenih nije nikad pronađeno.
      U Hrvatskoj 45 neidentificiranih

      Hrvatsko Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova nam je dostavilo podatke o stradalim migrantima od 2015., otkad vode evidenciju, do kraja studenog 2023.: ukupno 87 stradalih migranata na području Republike Hrvatske. Ni jedno službeno tijelo u Hrvatskoj, Bosni i Hercegovini i Srbiji ne vodi evidenciju o pokopanim migrantima na tom teritoriju. No za Hrvatsku smo uspjeli doći do podataka, zahvaljujući upitima poslanima na preko 500 adresa gradova, općina i komunalnih poduzeća koja upravljaju grobljima. Prema dobivenim podacima, u Hrvatskoj se na 32 groblja nalazi 59 grobova migranata, koji su ukopani posljednjeg desetljeća, dakle od 2014. do danas. Od toga ih 45 nije identificirano.

      Neki pokopani migranti su ekshumirani i vraćeni obiteljima u zemlju porijekla, premda je to za obitelji zahtjevan i iznimno skup proces. U MUP-u navode da se od 2001. DNK uzorci uzimaju od svih neidentificiranih tijela, a obradu provodi Centar za forenzična ispitivanja, istraživanja i vještačenja Ivan Vučetić. Tražili smo od MUP-a razgovor sa stručnjacima koji rade na identifikaciji migranata, ali nam nije udovoljeno.

      Među NN grobovima u Hrvatskoj je mrtvorođena beba iz Sirije pokopana 2015. u Slavonskom Brodu. Petogodišnja djevojčica koja se utopila u Dunavu i pokopana je 2021. u Dalju. Prošlo ljeto je mladić u brdovitom predjelu na dubrovačkom području umro od iscrpljenosti. Neke je udario vlak. Mnogi su umrli od pothlađenosti. Neki umru jer im nije na vrijeme pružena pomoć. Neki ne vjeruju da im išta više može pomoći pa se ubiju.
      Nerazriješeni gubitak

      Prema zakonu, sahranjuju se najbliže mjestu stradavanja tako da su uglavnom na malim grobljima poput onog u Sičama. Često su, baš kao tamo, njihovi grobovi izdvojeni od ostatka groblja. Ponegdje je, kao u Otoku, netko od mještanki mekog srca dao sebi u zadatak da brine o NN grobu. Negdje je, kao na groblju u Prilišću, NN drveni križ iz 2019. već istrunuo.

      Iza svakog tog NN groba ostaju bližnji koji se nose s teretom neznanja što se dogodilo. Psiholozi to zovu nerazriješenim gubitkom, jer toliko dugo koliko bližnji nemaju potvrdu da su njihovi voljeni mrtvi i ne znaju gdje su im tijela, ne mogu žalovati za njima. Ako nastave sa životom, osjećaju krivnju. I tako su zamrznuti u stanju između očaja i nade. Američka psihologinja dr. Pauline Boss autorica je termina i teorije o nerazriješenom gubitku. “Znati gdje je grob bližnje osobe je jako važno jer pomaže da se oprostite”, rekla je dr. Boss u razgovoru za naš tim.

      Postoji i praktična strana te zamrznutosti: ako osoba nije proglašena mrtvom, ne može se provesti nasljeđivanje, ne može se pristupiti bankovnom računu, ne može se dobiti obiteljska mirovina, partner ili partnerica se ne mogu ponovno vjenčati, komplicira se skrbništvo nad djecom. Mnoge obitelj i u Hrvatskoj i u Bosni i Hercegovini dobro poznaju nerazriješeni gubitak; ratovi u devedesetima ostavili su tisuće nestalih. Obje zemlje imaju posebne zakone o nestalima u tim ratovima i dobro razrađene mehanizme potrage, identifikacije, pohranjivanja podataka i međusobne suradnje. No to se ne primjenjuje na migrante koji se gube i pogibaju među tisućama koji se kreću Balkanskom rutom.
      Uređeni koridor – nula mrtvih

      Hrvatska je postala važna točka ulaska u Europsku uniju nakon što je Mađarska zatvorila granice u rujnu 2015. Od tada pa do ožujka 2016. preko hrvatske dionice Balkanskog koridora – dakle, međudržavnog, organiziranog puta – prema procjenama, prošlo je oko 660.000 izbjeglica. Taj koridor im je omogućio da od Grčke pa do zapadne Europe dođu u dva ili tri dana. I dolazili su sigurno. Od tih stotina tisuća ljudi u pokretu, hrvatski MUP ne bilježi niti jednu smrt 2015. i 2016. Koridor je i uspostavljen da bi se spriječila stradavanja nakon što je veći broj izbjeglica u proljeće 2015. poginuo na željezničkoj pruzi u Makedoniji.

      No sa sklapanjem europsko-turskog sporazuma o izbjeglicama u ožujku 2016. godine, koridor je zatvoren. EU se obavezala izdašno financirati Tursku da izbjeglice drži na svom teritoriju kako ne bi dolazili u Europsku uniju. I tako je migrantima ostala pogibeljna Balkanska ruta. Mnogi njom idu. Samo u deset mjeseci 2023. hrvatska je policija evidentirala 62.452 postupanja vezano za nezakonite prelaske granice.

      I Ured pučke pravobraniteljice u Hrvatskoj i povjerenica Vijeća Europe za ljudska prava upozoravaju na isto: granične i migracijske politike utječu na povećanje rizika od nestajanja migranata. I da je potrebno da se u EU uspostave legalni i sigurni putevi migracija. No, EU očekuje od Hrvatske da štiti zajedničku vanjsku granicu. I Hrvatska to zdušno radi. Takvu praksu ministar Davor Božinović naziva “obeshrabrivanjem” migranata da uđu u Hrvatsku.
      ‘Obeshrabreni’ pod vlak

      Rezultat takve prakse je, primjerice, smrt Madine Hussiny. Šestogodišnju afganistansku djevojčicu je ubio vlak nakon što je njenu obitelj hrvatska policija “obeshrabrila” i usred noći 2017. potjerala nazad u Srbiju uz uputu da prate tračnice. Europski sud za ljudska prava u studenom 2021. je presudio da je Hrvatska odgovorna za Madininu smrt. U svjedočanstvima koja smo čuli, kao i u mnogim izvještajima nevladinih organizacija, migranti opisuju da im je hrvatska policija na granici naredila da pregaze ili preplivaju rijeku kako bi se vratili u Bosnu ili Srbiju, da se penju preko stijena, idu kroz šumu, nekad i svučeni dogola i ne znajući put jer im policija u pravilu oduzme mobitele.

      Prema podacima koje prikuplja Dansko vijeće za izbjeglice, od početka 2020. do kraja 2022. najmanje je 30.000 ljudi prisilno vraćeno iz Hrvatske u Bosnu i Hercegovinu. Među njima je bio i Afganistanac Arat Semiullah. U studenom 2022. je namjeravao prijeći Savu i ući iz Bosne u Hrvatsku. Utopio se. Imao je 20 godina. Pokopan je na pravoslavnom groblju u Banja Luci. Njegova obitelj u Afganistanu nije znala što mu se dogodilo. Dan ranije je poslao mami fotografiju na kojoj je svježe ošišan za ulazak u Europsku uniju. I onda se prestao javljati.


      Majka je molila nećaka Paymana Sediqija, koji živi u Njemačkoj, da ga pokuša pronaći. Payman je stupio u kontakt s aktivistom Nihadom Suljićem, koji u Bosni i Hercegovini samostalno pomaže obiteljima da doznaju što je s njihovim bližnjima. Tjednima su pokušavali doći do informacija. Payman je otputovao u Bosnu i uspio pronaći tijelo rođaka zahvaljujući susretljivosti policajke koja mu je pokazala forenzičke fotografije. Aratova mama je telefonski potvrdila da je to njezin sin.
      U Europi sahranili snove

      Na Aratovoj osmrtnici objavljenoj u Bosni i Hercegovini piše da je “hrvatska policija vatrenim oružjem potopila čamac te se on tragično utopio”. Uz pomoć muslimanske zajednice, a na želju obitelji, uspjeli su tijelo prebaciti iz Banja Luke na muslimansko groblje u Kamičanima. Htjeli su ga pokopati u Afganistanu, ali im je bilo previše skupo i birokratski komplicirano. U rujnu 2023. susreli smo se s Nihadom i Paymanom kad je Aratu postavljen velik kameni nadgrobni spomenik. Na njemu piše: “U pokušaju dolaska do Europe utopio se u rijeci Savi.”

      Payman nam je ispričao da je Arat prelazio Savu u skupini migranata. Dio njih je uspio doći do hrvatske obale, no onda je hrvatska policija pucala u gumeni čamac u kojem je bio Arat. Čamac se potopio i Arat se utopio. Tako je Paymanu ispričao preživjeli koji je prešao na hrvatsku obalu Save. Payman kaže da je Aratova obitelj u velikoj boli, ali da makar znaju gdje im je sin i da je pokopan po religijskim običajima. Paymanu je važno da na grobu piše da je Arat stradao kao migrant.

      “Svakodnevno u Europi umiru ljudi koji bježe iz zemalja u kojima im nema života. U Europi se sahranjuju njihovi snovi. Nikoga nije briga za njih, čak ni kad europski policajci pucaju na njih”, kaže Payman. Zna o kakvim snovima govori; i sam je ilegalno došao u Njemačku sa 16 godina. Kaže da je imao sreće. Nihad se zalaže da se i drugi grobovi migranata u Bosni i Hercegovini trajno obilježe. Vodi nas na groblje u Zvorniku gdje je pokopano 17 NN migranata. Kaže kako za neke od njih ima informaciju da su imali pasoš sa sobom kad su pronađeni.
      ‘Ove ljude nije ubila rijeka’

      S groblja se vidi Drina, koja dijeli Srbiju od Bosne i u kojoj mnogi izgube život pokušavajući je preći. Samo je ove godine u Drini pronađeno tridesetak tijela. Nihad kaže da imaju sreće ako ih rijeka izbaci na bosansku stranu jer se u Srbiji često ne radi ni obdukcija niti uzimaju DNK uzorci. To su nam potvrdili i aktivisti iz Srbije. U tom slučaju su i u smrti sasvim izgubljeni za svoje obitelji. Zemljani NN grobovi u Zvorniku su zarasli i nisu omeđeni, tako da ne znate gazite li po njima.

      Nihad je uspio uvjeriti Grad Zvornik da drvena obilježja zamijene crnim kamenom. Važno mu je da su pokopani dostojanstveno, ali mu je još važnije da ostanu svjedočiti. “Želja mi je da i za sto godina ovi grobovi budu spomenici srama EU. Jer, nije ove ljude ubila rijeka, nego granični režim EU”, kaže Nihad.



    • An obscure island grave: fate of deadly EU migration route’s youngest victim

      Case of #Alhassane_Bangoura in #Lanzarote highlights Europe-wide failure as authorities struggle to cope with scale of deaths

      Stretching less than a metre in length and covered in the ochre-coloured soil that dots the Canary island of Lanzarote, large stones encircle the tiny mound. There is no tombstone or plaque; nothing official to signal that this is the final resting site of the infant believed to be the youngest victim of one of the world’s deadliest migration routes.

      Instead, two bouquets of plastic daisies adorn the grave, along with a granite bowl engraved with his name, Alhassane Bangoura, hinting at the impact his story had on many across the island.

      His mother, originally from Guinea, was among three pregnant women who joined 40 others in an inflatable raft that left Morocco in early January 2020. After running out of fuel, the flimsy raft was left to the mercy of Atlantic currents for three days.

      “They were driven by desperation,” said Mamadou Sy, a municipal councillor for the Socialist party in Lanzarote. “Nobody would get into one of these vessels if they had even a little bit of hope in their own country. Nobody would do it.”

      So far this year, a record 35,410 migrants and refugees have arrived on the shores of the Canary Islands – a 135% increase over last year. More than 11,000 of them landed at the tiny island of El Hierro, home to just 9,000 people.

      The surge in those risking the perilous route has transformed the archipelago into a microcosm of the wider strain playing out across the EU as authorities struggle to deal with the bodies of those that die on their way. A Guardian investigation in collaboration with a consortium of reporters has found that refugees and migrants are being buried in unmarked graves across the EU at a scale that is unprecedented outside of war.

      In September, the mayor of Mogán, a municipality on the island of Gran Canaria, gave voice to the tensions that have at times surfaced as officials across the EU confront this issue, announcing she would no longer use her budget to cover the cost of burying refugees and migrants who are found along the shores that buttress the municipality.

      “When they die on the high seas, it is the responsibility of the state,” Onalia Bueno told reporters, in rejection of a Spanish law that requires municipalities to foot the bills for people who die within their jurisdiction and who are either unidentified or whose families cannot cover the costs.

      At the Teguise municipal cemetery on the island of Lanzarote, more than 25 unmarked graves sit among a plot containing about 60 graves in total. It was here that baby Alhassane was buried. His mother had delivered him as the rickety vessel pitched against the fierce Atlantic swells; those onboard later told media they never heard the baby cry.

      His body was cold when the vessel was rescued, an emergency services spokesperson said. He was taken to the nearest hospital but was declared dead on arrival. His body was taken to judicial authorities as is the standard practice in Spain for migrants and refugees who perish at sea or on arrival.

      Alhassane’s mother, who was unconscious when she was rescued, was later sent to Gran Canaria, about 200km (125 miles) away, where an NGO had agreed to take her into its care. But the Spanish judicial system had yet to release her son’s body – a process that can take up to eight months in Lanzarote.

      The funeral took place on 25 January. “She wasn’t able to attend the funeral,” said Laetitia Marthe, who was among those who unsuccessfully battled for Alhassane’s mother to be allowed to attend. “Basically they’re treated like numbers.”

      Instead, Marthe was among the handful of people who attended the funeral in her name.

      Judicial officials had liaised with the mother to check the baby’s name, said Eugenio Robayna Díaz, the municipal councillor responsible for cemeteries in the city of Teguise. But he did not know why the name had not made it on to the grave.

      Julie Campagne, an anthropologist based in Lanzarote, called for the baby’s grave to be marked with a plaque. “We’re witnessing the process of forgetting in real time. And this loss of memory comes with a shirking of our responsibility for what is happening.”

      Generally speaking, all over the world, there is always a small fraction of people who die and are never identified, she added. “But that is not what is happening here. This is happening for specific reasons. This is happening because of the policy decisions of our governments.”

      While Alhassane’s mother was not able to attend the funeral, what did eventually make it to his gravesite was a smooth stone, painted by her in yellow and red and brought there by those travelling from Gran Canaria shortly after the burial. Written on the stone was a message for her son.

      More than three years of rain has washed away much of what was there but Marthe copied down the message, hoping to one day add it to a formal marker of the site. “I will miss you a lot my baby,” it reads. “I love you.”



  • Haaretz : les généraux israéliens ont tenu une réunion urgente la veille de l’attaque du 7 octobre – Site de la chaîne AlManar-Liban

    On savait un peu tout cela mais la compilation est utile. Du coup, on voit bien que l’hypothèse d’un délit d’initié sur des titres israéliens (évoquée ici https://seenthis.net/messages/1030140) peut sans doute mettre en cause le Hamas (ou encore le Qatar), comme cela est plus que suggéré dans nombre d’articles, mais aussi, et plus probablement à mon sens, de hauts responsables israéliens, dont la corruption est notoire...

    Les médias israéliens ont révélé plus de détails sur les discussions qui ont eu lieu au sein de l’armée israélienne au cours des derniers mois, jours et heures avant l’attaque du Hamas du 7 octobre.

    Citant des responsables israéliens, le journal israélien Haaretz a rapporté que « les hauts commandants de l’armée avaient tenu des consultations urgentes la nuit précédant l’opération Déluhe Al-Aqsa, concernant une éventuelle attaque du Hamas ».

    Le journal a ajouté que « l’armée n’a pas évacué le Nova Music Festival malgré les avertissements des services de renseignement concernant une éventuelle attaque ».

    Le journal a souligné que « les participants à la réunion au ministère de la Défense ont conclu que le Hamas menait un entraînement à la frontière de Gaza et ne se préparait pas à une attaque ».

    Il y a quelques jours, le journal israélien Yedioth Ahronoth a révélé de nouveaux détails sur l’échec de la sécurité israélienne qui s’est révelé par le déluge d’Al-Aqsa, confirmant un lamentable échec des estimations de sécurité selon lesquelles le Hamas n’a aucune intention d’escalade ».

    Le journal a révélé dans un rapport de son analyste des affaires militaires, Yossi Yehoshua, que « de hauts responsables israéliens, dont le commandant de l’armée de l’air israélienne, Aluf Tomer Bar, le chef de la division du renseignement militaire Aman , Aharon Haliva, et le chef de la Brigade de Recherche de l’Armée, ont été exclus de la séance. Des consultations de haut niveau ont eu lieu la dernière nuit avant l’attaque de la résistance palestinienne contre les colonies d’occupation dans la zone de l’enveloppe de Gaza ».

    De son côté, le journal britannique The Guardian a rapporté que l’armée d’occupation avait conclu que « le Hamas avait planifié depuis des années et dressé des cartes détaillées avec l’aide d’espions présents dans les territoires occupés pour mener à bien l’attaque du 7 octobre ».

    La semaine dernière, le New York Times a rapporté que » les responsables israéliens ont vu un plan détaillé de 40 pages pour une attaque du Hamas, mais celui-ci a été exclu parce qu’il a été jugé trop difficile à mettre en œuvre pour le Hamas ».

    Les responsables israéliens continuent de se lancer les accusations, tenant Netanyahu pour responsable de l’échec qui a conduit au succès de Déluge d’Al-Aqsa. Cela survient alors que les factions de la résistance palestinienne continuent de cibler les concentrations militaires des forces israéliennes.

    • Sous-estimer l’adversaire, l’un des Sept péchés capitaux du chef militaire !

      Gilles Haberey et Hugues Pérot : Les 7 péchés capitaux du chef militaire ; Pierre de Taillac, 2017 ; 258 pages | Cairn.info

      Il y a quelques années, le colonel Gilles Haberey et le lieutenant- colonel Hugues Pérot nous avaient gratifiés d’un premier manuel de tactique appliquée avec L’art de conduire une bataille (Pierre de Taillac, 2016, 330 p.) qui avait été fort apprécié et pas uniquement au sein de la communauté militaire. Dans le même style, et toujours en s’appuyant sur les grandes batailles de l’histoire, les auteurs s’intéressent cette fois-ci aux sept péchés capitaux du chef militaire.

      2 Quels sont-ils donc ces « péchés » que le chef militaire ne doit pas commettre s’il ne veut pas risquer une lourde défaite ? Les auteurs classent ces fautes de commandement impardonnables en sept catégories, qui constituent autant de parties du livre : s’engager sans renseignement ; se laisser imposer le terrain ; subir le rythme de l’adversaire ; sous-estimer son ennemi ; s’obstiner inutilement ; céder à la panique.

      3 Chaque « péché capital » est illustré par la description et l’analyse tactique de deux ou trois grandes batailles, anciennes ou modernes, selon le même plan : situation générale, forces en présence et intention, déroulement de la bataille, enseignements tactiques. L’évolution de chaque affrontement est bien rendue à travers trois ou quatre cartes, claires et agréables, qui en retracent le contexte (pour la première carte), puis les différents moments (pour les suivantes). On y retrouvera avec intérêt un exposé clair et synthétique de la guerre russo-finlandaise, de la défaite italienne de Caporetto ou de la malheureuse affaire de la RC4, pour ne citer que quelques exemples.

      4 Quels sont les enseignements à tirer de ce livre ? Les auteurs sont partis du postulat que « la défaite militaire est avant tout le fruit de l’inadaptation d’une armée ou de son chef à la confrontation avec son adversaire. » Pour eux, les causes de la défaite relèvent de trois grandes familles, souvent liées : l’absence de connaissance ou de maîtrise de « l’art militaire », car celui-ci est tout sauf intuitif et répond à des « principes », comme les trois principes de Foch par exemple (concentration des efforts, liberté d’action, économie des moyens) ; des « déficiences en matière de capacités et d’organisation » (le rapport de force ne doit pas être trop inégal ; l’organisation doit être agile et pouvoir se reconfigurer rapidement en cas d’imprévu) ; une « perversion humaine dans la perception de la réalité » (« vanité et orgueil sont les pires ennemis du soldat »).

      5 Ainsi que l’avait déjà vu Clausewitz, l’acte guerrier est complexe car il intègre des don- nées multiples. Pour Haberey et Pérot, « cette complexité impose donc de sélectionner des chefs stables et vifs d’esprit, dont les qualités sont complétées par une formation large et multidisciplinaire ». Ces chefs devront en effet « disposer d’une aptitude naturelle à discerner l’essentiel de l’accessoire dans la masse d’informations » à intégrer. Là réside, somme toute, le véritable enseignement de ce livre, qui peut, comme le précédent, se lire à plusieurs niveaux et nous inviter à méditer la conclusion de ses auteurs : « Toute la difficulté d’une nation est de bien identifier, dès le temps de paix, les élites militaires et politiques qui permettront de surmonter les temps de crise ».

      Les 7 péchés capitaux du chef militaire
      Éditions Pierre de Taillac

      Une lecture indispensable pour tous ceux qui commandent des hommes.

    • mais aussi :

      La position coloniale incline à sous-estimer l’adversaire. Les militaires français appelaient Giap « le petit professeur d’histoire ».

      entrevu derrière le #paywall de cet article de l’Huma (28/01/2022)

      Éric Vuillard : « La colonisation est un ensemble de crimes » - L’Humanité

      Dans Une sortie honorable Éric Vuillard, Goncourt 2017, revient avec force sur la guerre d’Indochine qui ouvrit la porte aux États-Unis dans leur guerre du Vietnam. Deux défaites méritées qu’il dissèque à l’aide de documents interprétés avec une verve imparable.

  • Recherche : à l’université, les spécialistes de la Palestine dénoncent une pression inédite - L’Humanité

    Depuis le massacre perpétré en Israël par le Hamas, le 7 octobre, les chercheurs et universitaires spécialistes de la Palestine et du monde arabe ont toutes les peines du monde à porter leurs connaissances dans le débat public. Selon une vingtaine d’entre eux interrogés par l’Humanité, le gouvernement est pour beaucoup dans ce climat délétère.

    Ce sont des thésards à qui une bonne âme conseille de changer de sujet de recherche : la Palestine, ce serait gênant, quand même. C’est une chercheuse médaillée du CNRS que des éditocrates somment d’abjurer et de lancer avec le chœur que « le Hamas, c’est Daech » !

    C’est un juriste, professeur à HEC, qui se voit, pour avoir parlé d’apartheid en #Palestine, ciblé par une pétition signée par des centaines d’anciens élèves exigeant des « mesures disciplinaires » à son encontre. Ce sont des associations étudiantes qui doivent soumettre leurs communiqués à l’administration, avant publication. Ou un syndicat qui, dans une université, est tout bonnement privé d’accès aux listes de diffusion au personnel pour avoir apporté son soutien aux Gazaouis sous les bombes.

    Malveillance, dénonciation, insultes et calomnies à tous les étages

    Ce sont aussi des soirées-débats privées de salles, des colloques repoussés, un symposium international sur la Cour pénale internationale reporté… Ce sont des demandes d’autorisation qui, échappées du cadre académique, finissent sur le bureau des préfets. Ou encore des publications semi-publiques qui, même très éphémères, sont prélevées et signalées comme illicites sur la plateforme Pharos.

    C’est aussi de la malveillance, de la dénonciation, des insultes et des calomnies à tous les étages. Ce sont ensuite des sanctions possibles, de la mise en retrait à la suspension temporaire. Derrière ces signaux plus ou moins faibles, ou quasi inexistants selon le ministère, le climat général vire à la #censure et, à tout le moins, à l’#autocensure. Et ça, pour beaucoup, ça reste du jamais-vu.

    Jusque-là, à l’#université et dans la #recherche, la muraille avait tenu bon an, mal an. En novembre 2007, sur fond de révoltes à Villiers-le-Bel (Val-d’Oise), Nicolas Sarkozy avait grondé à la télévision : « Quand on veut expliquer l’inexplicable, c’est qu’on s’apprête à excuser l’inexcusable. » Tout le monde, ou presque, avait haussé les épaules. En janvier 2016, le premier ministre Manuel Valls s’était glissé dans ses bottes. « Expliquer, c’est déjà un peu vouloir excuser », avait-il sermonné, et là, les sociologues avaient protesté plus vigoureusement.

    Recherche : dans un contexte de censure et de délation, le gouvernement nie toute atteinte aux libertés académiques

    Au ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, on récuse toute idée de porter atteinte aux libertés académiques. Même si, dans certains cas, les consignes réservées au signalement des délits ont pu être appliquées de manière très extensive.


  • Le #village_sous_la_forêt, de #Heidi_GRUNEBAUM et #Mark_KAPLAN

    En #1948, #Lubya a été violemment détruit et vidé de ses habitants par les forces militaires israéliennes. 343 villages palestiniens ont subi le même sort. Aujourd’hui, de #Lubya, il ne reste plus que des vestiges, à peine visibles, recouverts d’une #forêt majestueuse nommée « Afrique du Sud ». Les vestiges ne restent pas silencieux pour autant.

    La chercheuse juive sud-africaine, #Heidi_Grunebaum se souvient qu’étant enfant elle versait de l’argent destiné officiellement à planter des arbres pour « reverdir le désert ».

    Elle interroge les acteurs et les victimes de cette tragédie, et révèle une politique d’effacement délibérée du #Fonds_national_Juif.

    « Le Fonds National Juif a planté 86 parcs et forêts de pins par-dessus les décombres des villages détruits. Beaucoup de ces forêts portent le nom des pays, ou des personnalités célèbres qui les ont financés. Ainsi il y a par exemple la Forêt Suisse, le Parc Canada, le Parc britannique, la Forêt d’Afrique du Sud et la Forêt Correta King ».


    Trailer :


    #israel #palestine #carte #Israël #afrique_du_sud #forêt #documentaire

    #film #documentaire #film_documentaire

    (copier-coller de ce post de 2014 : https://seenthis.net/messages/317236)

    • Documentary Space, Place, and Landscape

      In documentaries of the occupied West Bank, erasure is imaged in the wall that sunders families and communities, in the spaces filled with blackened tree stumps of former olive groves, now missing to ensure “security,” and in the cactus that still grows, demarcating cultivated land whose owners have been expelled.

      This materiality of the landscape becomes figural, such that Shehadeh writes, “[w]hen you are exiled from your land … you begin, like a pornographer, to think about it in symbols. You articulate your love for your land in its absence, and in the process transform it into something else.’’[x] The symbolization reifies and, in this process, something is lost, namely, a potential for thinking differently. But in these Palestinian films we encounter a documenting of the now of everyday living that unfixes such reification. This is a storytelling of vignettes, moments, digressions, stories within stories, and postponed endings. These are stories of interaction, of something happening, in a documenting of a being and doing now, while awaiting a future yet to be known, and at the same time asserting a past history to be remembered through these images and sounds. Through this there arises the accenting of these films, to draw on Hamid Naficy’s term, namely a specific tone of a past—the Nakba or catastrophe—as a continuing present, insofar as the conflict does not allow Palestinians to imagine themselves in a determinate future of place and landscape they can call their own, namely a state.[xi]

      In Hanna Musleh’s I’m a Little Angel (2000), we follow the children of families, both Muslim and Christian, in the area of Bethlehem affected by the 2000 Israeli armed forces attacks and occupation.[xii] One small boy, Nicola, suffered the loss of an arm when he was hit by a shell when walking to church with his mother. His kite, seen flying high in the sky, brings delighted shrieks from Nicola as he plays on the family terrace from which the town and its surrounding hills are visible in the distance. But the contrast between the freedom of the kite in this unlimited vista and his reduced capacity is palpable as he struggles to control it with his remaining hand. The containment of both Nicola and his community is figured in opposition to a possible freedom. What is also required of us is to think not of freedom from the constraints of disability, but of freedom with disability, in a future to be made after. The constraints introduced upon the landscape by the occupation, however, make the future of such living indeterminate and uncertain. Here is the “cinema of the lived,”[xiii] of multiple times of past and present, of possible and imagined future time, and the actualized present, each of which is encountered in the movement in a singular space of Nicola and his kite.

      #cactus #paysage

    • Memory of the Cactus

      A 42 minute documentary film that combines the cactus and the memories it stands for. The film addresses the story of the destruction of the Palestinian villages of Latroun in the Occupied West Bank and the forcible transfer of their civilian population in 1967. Over 40 years later, the Israeli occupation continues, and villagers remain displaced. The film follows two separate but parallel journeys. Aisha Um Najeh takes us down the painful road that Palestinians have been forcefully pushed down, separating them in time and place from the land they nurtured; while Israelis walk freely through that land, enjoying its fruits. The stems of the cactus, however, take a few of them to discover the reality of the crime committed.


    • Aujourd’hui, j’ai re-regardé le film « Le village sous la forêt », car je vais le projeter à mes étudiant·es dans le cadre du cours de #géographie_culturelle la semaine prochaine.

      Voici donc quelques citations tirées du film :

      Sur une des boîtes de récolte d’argent pour planter des arbres en Palestine, c’est noté « make wilderness bloom » :

      Voici les panneaux de quelques parcs et forêts créés grâce aux fonds de la #diaspora_juive :

      Projet : « We will make it green, like a modern European country » (ce qui est en étroit lien avec un certaine idée de #développement, liée au #progrès).

      Témoignage d’une femme palestinienne :

      « Ils ont planté des arbres partout qui cachaient tout »

      Ilan Pappé, historien israëlien, Université d’Exter :

      « ça leur a pris entre 6 et 9 mois poru s’emparer de 80% de la Palestine, expulser la plupart des personnes qui y vivaient et reconstruire sur les villes et villages de ces personnes un nouvel Etat, une nouvelle #identité »


      Témoignage d’un palestinien qui continue à retourner régulièrement à Lubya :

      « Si je n’aimais pas cet endroit, est-ce que je continuerais à revenir ici tout le temps sur mon tracteur ? Ils l’ont transformé en forêt afin d’affirmer qu’il n’y a pas eu de village ici. Mais on peut voir les #cactus qui prouvent que des arabes vivaient ici »

      Ilan Pappé :

      « Ces villages éaient arabes, tout comme le paysage alentour. C’était un message qui ne passait pas auprès du mouvement sioniste. Des personnes du mouvement ont écrit à ce propos, ils ont dit qu’ils n’aimaient vraiment pas, comme Ben Gurion l’a dit, que le pays ait toujours l’air arabe. (...) Même si les Arabes n’y vivent plus, ça a toujours l’air arabe. En ce qui concerne les zones rurales, il a été clair : les villages devaient être dévastés pour qu’il n’y ait pas de #souvenirs possibles. Ils ont commencé à les dévaster dès le mois d’août 1948. Ils ont rasé les maisons, la terre. Plus rien ne restait. Il y avait deux moyens pour eux d’en nier l’existence : le premier était de planter des forêts de pins européens sur les villages. Dans la plupart des cas, lorsque les villages étaient étendus et les terres assez vastes, on voit que les deux stratégies ont été mises en oeuvre : il y a un nouveau quartier juif et, juste à côté, une forêt. En effet, la deuxième méthode était de créer un quartier juif qui possédait presque le même nom que l’ancien village arabe, mais dans sa version en hébreu. L’objectif était double : il s’agissait d’abord de montrer que le lieu était originellement juif et revenait ainsi à son propriétaire. Ensuite, l’idée était de faire passer un message sinistre aux Palestiniens sur ce qui avait eu lieu ici. Le principal acteur de cette politique a été le FNJ. »


      Heidi Grunebaum, la réalisatrice :

      « J’ai grandi au moment où le FNJ cultivait l’idée de créer une patrie juive grâce à la plantation d’arbres. Dans les 100 dernières années, 260 millions d’arbres ont été plantés. Je me rends compte à présent que la petite carte du grand Israël sur les boîtes bleues n’était pas juste un symbole. Etait ainsi affirmé que toutes ces terres étaient juives. Les #cartes ont été redessinées. Les noms arabes des lieux ont sombré dans l’oubli à cause du #Comité_de_Dénomination créé par le FNJ. 86 forêts du FNJ ont détruit des villages. Des villages comme Lubya ont cessé d’exister. Lubya est devenu Lavie. Une nouvelle histoire a été écrite, celle que j’ai apprise. »

      Le #Canada_park :

      Canada Park (Hebrew: פארק קנדה‎, Arabic: كندا حديقة‎, also Ayalon Park,) is an Israeli national park stretching over 7,000 dunams (700 hectares), and extending from No man’s land into the West Bank.
      The park is North of Highway 1 (Tel Aviv-Jerusalem), between the Latrun Interchange and Sha’ar HaGai, and contains a Hasmonean fort, Crusader fort, other archaeological remains and the ruins of 3 Palestinian villages razed by Israel in 1967 after their inhabitants were expelled. In addition it has picnic areas, springs and panoramic hilltop views, and is a popular Israeli tourist destination, drawing some 300,000 visitors annually.


      Heidi Grunebaum :

      « Chaque pièce de monnaie est devenue un arbre dans une forêt, chaque arbre, dont les racines étaient plantées dans la terre était pour nous, la diaspora. Les pièces changées en arbres devenaient des faits ancrés dans le sol. Le nouveau paysage arrangé par le FNJ à travers la plantation de forêts et les accords politiques est celui des #parcs_de_loisirs, des routes, des barrages et des infrastructures »

      Témoignage d’un Palestinien :

      « Celui qui ne possède de #pays_natal ne possède rien »

      Heidi Grunebaum :

      « Si personne ne demeure, la mémoire est oblitérée. Cependant, de génération en génération, le souvenir qu’ont les Palestiniens d’un endroit qui un jour fut le leur, persiste. »

      Témoignage d’un Palestinien :

      "Dès qu’on mange quelque chose chez nous, on dit qu’on mangeait ce plat à Lubya. Quelles que soient nos activités, on dit que nous avions les mêmes à Lubya. Lubya est constamment mentionnées, et avec un peu d’amertume.

      Témoignage d’un Palestinien :

      Lubya est ma fille précieuse que j’abriterai toujours dans les profondeurs de mon âme. Par les histoires racontées par mon père, mon grand-père, mes oncles et ma grande-mère, j’ai le sentiment de connaître très bien Lubya.

      Avi Shlaim, Université de Oxford :

      « Le mur dans la partie Ouest ne relève pas d’une mesure de sécurité, comme il a été dit. C’est un outil de #ségrégation des deux communautés et un moyen de s’approprier de larges portions de terres palestiniennes. C’est un moyen de poursuivre la politique d’#expansion_territoriale et d’avoir le plus grand Etat juif possible avec le moins de population d’arabes à l’intérieur. »


      Heidi Grunebaum :

      « Les petites pièces de la diaspora n’ont pas seulement planté des arbres juifs et déraciné des arbres palestiniens, elles ont aussi créé une forêt d’un autre type. Une vaste forêt bureaucratique où la force de la loi est une arme. La règlementation règne, les procédures, permis, actions commandées par les lois, tout régulé le moindre espace de la vie quotidienne des Palestiniens qui sont petit à petit étouffés, repoussés aux marges de leurs terres. Entassés dans des ghettos, sans autorisation de construire, les Palestiniens n’ont plus qu’à regarder leurs maisons démolies »

      #Lubya #paysage #ruines #architecture_forensique #Afrique_du_Sud #profanation #cactus #South_african_forest #Galilée #Jewish_national_fund (#fonds_national_juif) #arbres #Palestine #Organisation_des_femmes_sionistes #Keren_Kayemeth #apartheid #résistance #occupation #Armée_de_libération_arabe #Hagana #nakba #exil #réfugiés_palestiniens #expulsion #identité #present_absentees #IDPs #déplacés_internes #Caesarea #oubli #déni #historicisation #diaspora #murs #barrières_frontalières #dépossession #privatisation_des_terres #terres #mémoire #commémoration #poésie #Canada_park

    • The Carmel wildfire is burning all illusions in Israel

      “When I look out my window today and see a tree standing there, that tree gives me a greater sense of beauty and personal delight than all the vast forests I have seen in Switzerland or Scandinavia. Because every tree here was planted by us.”

      – David Ben Gurion, Memoirs

      “Why are there so many Arabs here? Why didn’t you chase them away?”

      – David Ben Gurion during a visit to Nazareth, July 1948


      signalé par @sinehebdo que je remercie

    • Vu dans ce rapport, signalé par @palestine___________ , que je remercie (https://seenthis.net/messages/723321) :

      A method of enforcing the eradication of unrecognized Palestinian villages is to ensure their misrepresentation on maps. As part of this policy, these villages do not appear at all on Israeli maps, with the exception of army and hiking maps. Likewise, they do not appear on first sight on Google Maps or at all on Israeli maps, with the exception of army and hiking maps. They are labelled on NGO maps designed to increase their visibility. On Google Maps, the Bedouin villages are marked – in contrast to cities and other villages – under their Bedouin tribe and clan names (Bimkom) rather than with their village names and are only visible when zooming in very closely, but otherwise appear to be non-existent. This means that when looking at Google Maps, these villages appear to be not there, only when zooming on to a very high degree, do they appear with their tribe or clan names. At first (and second and third) sight, therefore, these villages are simply not there. Despite their small size, Israeli villages are displayed even when zoomed-out, while unrecognized Palestinian Bedouin villages, regardless of their size are only visible when zooming in very closely.

      Pour télécharger le rapport :

    • signalé par @kassem :

      Israel lifted its military rule over the state’s Arab community in 1966 only after ascertaining that its members could not return to the villages they had fled or been expelled from, according to newly declassified archival documents.

      The documents both reveal the considerations behind the creation of the military government 18 years earlier, and the reasons for dismantling it and revoking the severe restrictions it imposed on Arab citizens in the north, the Negev and the so-called Triangle of Locales in central Israel.

      These records were made public as a result of a campaign launched against the state archives by the Akevot Institute, which researches the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

      After the War of Independence in 1948, the state imposed military rule over Arabs living around the country, which applied to an estimated 85 percent of that community at the time, say researchers at the NGO. The Arabs in question were subject to the authority of a military commander who could limit their freedom of movement, declare areas to be closed zones, or demand that the inhabitants leave and enter certain locales only with his written permission.

      The newly revealed documents describe the ways Israel prevented Arabs from returning to villages they had left in 1948, even after the restrictions on them had been lifted. The main method: dense planting of trees within and surrounding these towns.

      At a meeting held in November 1965 at the office of Shmuel Toledano, the prime minister’s adviser on Arab affairs, there was a discussion about villages that had been left behind and that Israel did not want to be repopulated, according to one document. To ensure that, the state had the Jewish National Fund plant trees around and in them.

      Among other things, the document states that “the lands belonging to the above-mentioned villages were given to the custodian for absentee properties” and that “most were leased for work (cultivation of field crops and olive groves) by Jewish households.” Some of the properties, it adds, were subleased.

      In the meeting in Toledano’s office, it was explained that these lands had been declared closed military zones, and that once the structures on them had been razed, and the land had been parceled out, forested and subject to proper supervision – their definition as closed military zones could be lifted.

      On April 3, 1966, another discussion was held on the same subject, this time at the office of the defense minister, Levi Eshkol, who was also the serving prime minister; the minutes of this meeting were classified as top secret. Its participants included: Toledano; Isser Harel, in his capacity as special adviser to the prime minister; the military advocate general – Meir Shamgar, who would later become president of the Supreme Court; and representatives of the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police.

      The newly publicized record of that meeting shows that the Shin Bet was already prepared at that point to lift the military rule over the Arabs and that the police and army could do so within a short time.

      Regarding northern Israel, it was agreed that “all the areas declared at the time to be closed [military] zones... other than Sha’ab [east of Acre] would be opened after the usual conditions were fulfilled – razing of the buildings in the abandoned villages, forestation, establishment of nature reserves, fencing and guarding.” The dates of the reopening these areas would be determined by Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Shamir, the minutes said. Regarding Sha’ab, Harel and Toledano were to discuss that subject with Shamir.

      However, as to Arab locales in central Israel and the Negev, it was agreed that the closed military zones would remain in effect for the time being, with a few exceptions.

      Even after military rule was lifted, some top IDF officers, including Chief of Staff Tzvi Tzur and Shamgar, opposed the move. In March 1963, Shamgar, then military advocate general, wrote a pamphlet about the legal basis of the military administration; only 30 copies were printed. (He signed it using his previous, un-Hebraized name, Sternberg.) Its purpose was to explain why Israel was imposing its military might over hundreds of thousands of citizens.

      Among other things, Shamgar wrote in the pamphlet that Regulation 125, allowing certain areas to be closed off, is intended “to prevent the entry and settlement of minorities in border areas,” and that “border areas populated by minorities serve as a natural, convenient point of departure for hostile elements beyond the border.” The fact that citizens must have permits in order to travel about helps to thwart infiltration into the rest of Israel, he wrote.

      Regulation 124, he noted, states that “it is essential to enable nighttime ambushes in populated areas when necessary, against infiltrators.” Blockage of roads to traffic is explained as being crucial for the purposes of “training, tests or maneuvers.” Moreover, censorship is a “crucial means for counter-intelligence.”

      Despite Shamgar’s opinion, later that year, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol canceled the requirement for personal travel permits as a general obligation. Two weeks after that decision, in November 1963, Chief of Staff Tzur wrote a top-secret letter about implementation of the new policy to the officers heading the various IDF commands and other top brass, including the head of Military Intelligence. Tzur ordered them to carry it out in nearly all Arab villages, with a few exceptions – among them Barta’a and Muqeible, in northern Israel.

      In December 1965, Haim Israeli, an adviser to Defense Minister Eshkol, reported to Eshkol’s other aides, Isser Harel and Aviad Yaffeh, and to the head of the Shin Bet, that then-Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin opposed legislation that would cancel military rule over the Arab villages. Rabin explained his position in a discussion with Eshkol, at which an effort to “soften” the bill was discussed. Rabin was advised that Harel would be making his own recommendations on this matter.

      At a meeting held on February 27, 1966, Harel issued orders to the IDF, the Shin Bet and the police concerning the prime minister’s decision to cancel military rule. The minutes of the discussion were top secret, and began with: “The mechanism of the military regime will be canceled. The IDF will ensure the necessary conditions for establishment of military rule during times of national emergency and war.” However, it was decided that the regulations governing Israel’s defense in general would remain in force, and at the behest of the prime minister and with his input, the justice minister would look into amending the relevant statutes in Israeli law, or replacing them.

      The historical documents cited here have only made public after a two-year campaign by the Akevot institute against the national archives, which preferred that they remain confidential, Akevot director Lior Yavne told Haaretz. The documents contain no information of a sensitive nature vis-a-vis Israel’s security, Yavne added, and even though they are now in the public domain, the archives has yet to upload them to its website to enable widespread access.

      “Hundreds of thousands of files which are crucial to understanding the recent history of the state and society in Israel remain closed in the government archive,” he said. “Akevot continues to fight to expand public access to archival documents – documents that are property of the public.”

    • Israel is turning an ancient Palestinian village into a national park for settlers

      The unbelievable story of a village outside Jerusalem: from its destruction in 1948 to the ticket issued last week by a parks ranger to a descendent of its refugees, who had the gall to harvest the fruits of his labor on his own land.

      Thus read the ticket issued last Wednesday, during the Sukkot holiday, by ranger Dayan Somekh of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority – Investigations Division, 3 Am Ve’olamo Street, Jerusalem, to farmer Nidal Abed Rabo, a resident of the Jerusalem-area village of Walaja, who had gone to harvest olives on his private land: “In accordance with Section 228 of the criminal code, to: Nidal Abed Rabo. Description of the facts constituting the offense: ‘picking, chopping and destroying an olive tree.’ Suspect’s response: ‘I just came to pick olives. I pick them and put them in a bucket.’ Fine prescribed by law: 730 shekels [$207].” And an accompanying document that reads: “I hereby confirm that I apprehended from Nidal Abed Rabo the following things: 1. A black bucket; 2. A burlap sack. Name of the apprehending officer: Dayan Somekh.”

      Ostensibly, an amusing parody about the occupation. An inspector fines a person for harvesting the fruits of his own labor on his own private land and then fills out a report about confiscating a bucket, because order must be preserved, after all. But no one actually found this report amusing – not the inspector who apparently wrote it in utter seriousness, nor the farmer who must now pay the fine.

      Indeed, the story of Walaja, where this absurdity took place, contains everything – except humor: the flight from and evacuation of the village in 1948; refugee-hood and the establishment of a new village adjacent to the original one; the bisection of the village between annexed Jerusalem and the occupied territories in 1967; the authorities’ refusal to issue blue Israeli IDs to residents, even though their homes are in Jerusalem; the demolition of many structures built without a permit in a locale that has no master construction plan; the appropriation of much of its land to build the Gilo neighborhood and the Har Gilo settlement; the construction of the separation barrier that turned the village into an enclave enclosed on all sides; the decision to turn villagers’ remaining lands into a national park for the benefit of Gilo’s residents and others in the area; and all the way to the ridiculous fine issued by Inspector Somekh.

      This week, a number of villagers again snuck onto their lands to try to pick their olives, in what looks like it could be their final harvest. As it was a holiday, they hoped the Border Police and the parks authority inspectors would leave them alone. By next year, they probably won’t be able to reach their groves at all, as the checkpoint will have been moved even closer to their property.

      Then there was also this incident, on Monday, the Jewish holiday of Simhat Torah. Three adults, a teenager and a horse arrived at the neglected groves on the mountainside below their village of Walaja. They had to take a long and circuitous route; they say the horse walked 25 kilometers to reach the olive trees that are right under their noses, beneath their homes. A dense barbed-wire fence and the separation barrier stand between these people and their lands. When the national park is built here and the checkpoint is moved further south – so that only Jews will be able to dip undisturbed in Ein Hanya, as Nir Hasson reported (“Jerusalem reopens natural spring, but not to Palestinians,” Oct. 15) – it will mean the end of Walaja’s olive orchards, which are planted on terraced land.

      The remaining 1,200 dunams (300 acres) belonging to the village, after most of its property was lost over the years, will also be disconnected from their owners, who probably won’t be able to access them again. An ancient Palestinian village, which numbered 100 registered households in 1596, in a spectacular part of the country, will continue its slow death, until it finally expires for good.

      Steep slopes and a deep green valley lie between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, filled with oak and pine trees, along with largely abandoned olive groves. “New” Walaja overlooks this expanse from the south, the Gilo neighborhood from the northeast, and the Cremisan Monastery from the east. To the west is where the original village was situated, between the moshavim of Aminadav and Ora, both constructed after the villagers fled – frightened off by the massacre in nearby Deir Yassin and in fear of bombardment.

      Aviv Tatarsky, a longtime political activist on behalf of Walaja and a researcher for the Ir Amim nonprofit organization, says the designated national park is supposed to ensure territorial contiguity between the Etzion Bloc and Jerusalem. “Since we are in the territory of Jerusalem, and building another settler neighborhood could cause a stir, they are building a national park, which will serve the same purpose,” he says. “The national park will Judaize the area once and for all. Gilo is five minutes away. If you live there, you will have a park right next door and feel like it’s yours.”

      As Tatarsky describes the blows suffered by the village over the years, brothers Walid and Mohammed al-‘Araj stand on a ladder below in the valley, in the shade of the olive trees, engrossed in the harvest.

      Walid, 52, and Mohammed, 58, both live in Walaja. Walid may be there legally, but his brother is there illegally, on land bequeathed to them by their uncle – thanks to yet another absurdity courtesy of the occupation. In 1995, Walid married a woman from Shoafat in East Jerusalem, and thus was able to obtain a blue Israeli ID card, so perhaps he is entitled to be on his land. His brother, who lives next door, however, is an illegal resident on his land: He has an orange ID, as a resident of the territories.

      A sewage line that comes out of Beit Jala and is under the responsibility of Jerusalem’s Gihon water company overflows every winter and floods the men’s olive grove with industrial waste that has seriously damaged their crop. And that’s in addition, of course, to the fact that most of the family is unable to go work the land. The whole area looks quite derelict, overgrown with weeds and brambles that could easily catch fire. In previous years, the farmers would receive an entry permit allowing them to harvest the olives for a period of just a few days; this year, even that permit has not yet been forthcoming.

      The olives are black and small; it’s been a bad year for them and for their owners.

      “We come here like thieves to our own land,” says Mohammed, the older brother, explaining that three days beforehand, a Border Police jeep had showed up and chased them away. “I told him: It’s my land. They said okay and left. Then a few minutes later, another Border Police jeep came and the officer said: Today there’s a general closure because of the holiday. I told him: Okay, just let me take my equipment. I’m on my land. He said: Don’t take anything. I left. And today I came back.”

      You’re not afraid? “No, I’m not afraid. I’m on my land. It’s registered in my name. I can’t be afraid on my land.”

      Walid says that a month ago the Border Police arrived and told him he wasn’t allowed to drive on the road that leads to the grove, because it’s a “security road.” He was forced to turn around and go home, despite the fact that he has a blue ID and it is not a security road. Right next to it, there is a residential building where a Palestinian family still lives.

      Some of Walaja’s residents gave up on their olive orchards long ago and no longer attempt to reach their lands. When the checkpoint is moved southward, in order to block access by Palestinians to the Ein Hanya spring, the situation will be even worse: The checkpoint will be closer to the orchards, meaning that the Palestinians won’t be permitted to visit them.

      “This place will be a park for people to visit,” says Walid, up on his ladder. “That’s it; that will be the end of our land. But we won’t give up our land, no matter what.” Earlier this month, one local farmer was detained for several hours and 10 olive trees were uprooted, on the grounds that he was prohibited from being here.

      Meanwhile, Walid and Mohammed are collecting their meager crop in a plastic bucket printed with a Hebrew ad for a paint company. The olives from this area, near Beit Jala, are highly prized; during a good year the oil made from them can fetch a price of 100 shekels per liter.

      A few hundred meters to the east are a father, a son and a horse. Khaled al-‘Araj, 51, and his son, Abed, 19, a business student. They too are taking advantage of the Jewish holiday to sneak onto their land. They have another horse, an original Arabian named Fatma, but this horse is nameless. It stands in the shade of the olive tree, resting from the long trek here. If a Border Police force shows up, it could confiscate the horse, as has happened to them before.

      Father and son are both Walaja residents, but do not have blue IDs. The father works in Jerusalem with a permit, but it does not allow him to access his land.

      “On Sunday,” says Khaled, “I picked olives here with my son. A Border Police officer arrived and asked: What are you doing here? He took pictures of our IDs. He asked: Whose land is this? I said: Mine. Where are the papers? At home. I have papers from my grandfather’s time; everything is in order. But he said: No, go to DCO [the Israeli District Coordination Office] and get a permit. At first I didn’t know what he meant. I have a son and a horse and they’ll make problems for me. So I left.”

      He continues: “We used to plow the land. Now look at the state it’s in. We have apricot and almond trees here, too. But I’m an illegal person on my own land. That is our situation. Today is the last day of your holiday, that’s why I came here. Maybe there won’t be any Border Police.”

      “Kumi Ori, ki ba orekh,” says a makeshift monument in memory of Ori Ansbacher, a young woman murdered here in February by a man from Hebron. Qasem Abed Rabo, a brother of Nidal, who received the fine from the park ranger for harvesting his olives, asks activist Tatarsky if he can find out whether the house he owns is considered to be located in Jerusalem or in the territories. He still doesn’t know.

      “Welcome to Nahal Refaim National Park,” says a sign next to the current Walaja checkpoint. Its successor is already being built but work on it was stopped for unknown reasons. If and when it is completed, Ein Hanya will become a spring for Jews only and the groves on the mountainside below the village of Walaja will be cut off from their owners for good. Making this year’s harvest Walaja’s last.


    • Sans mémoire des lieux ni lieux de mémoire. La Palestine invisible sous les forêts israéliennes

      Depuis la création de l’État d’Israël en 1948, près de 240 millions d’arbres ont été plantés sur l’ensemble du territoire israélien. Dans l’objectif de « faire fleurir le désert », les acteurs de l’afforestation en Israël se situent au cœur de nombreux enjeux du territoire, non seulement environnementaux mais également identitaires et culturels. La forêt en Israël représente en effet un espace de concurrence mémorielle, incarnant à la fois l’enracinement de l’identité israélienne mais également le rappel de l’exil et de l’impossible retour du peuple palestinien. Tandis que 86 villages palestiniens détruits en 1948 sont aujourd’hui recouverts par une forêt, les circuits touristiques et historiques officiels proposés dans les forêts israéliennes ne font jamais mention de cette présence palestinienne passée. Comment l’afforestation en Israël a-t-elle contribué à l’effacement du paysage et de la mémoire palestiniens ? Quelles initiatives existent en Israël et en Palestine pour lutter contre cet effacement spatial et mémoriel ?


    • Septembre 2021, un feu de forêt ravage Jérusalem et dévoile les terrassements agricoles que les Palestinien·nes avaient construit...
      Voici une image :

      « La nature a parlé » : un feu de forêt attise les rêves de retour des Palestiniens

      Un gigantesque incendie près de Jérusalem a détruit les #pins_européens plantés par les sionistes, exposant ainsi les anciennes terrasses palestiniennes qu’ils avaient tenté de dissimuler.

      Au cours de la deuxième semaine d’août, quelque 20 000 dounams (m²) de terre ont été engloutis par les flammes dans les #montagnes de Jérusalem.

      C’est une véritable catastrophe naturelle. Cependant, personne n’aurait pu s’attendre à la vision qui est apparue après l’extinction de ces incendies. Ou plutôt, personne n’avait imaginé que les incendies dévoileraient ce qui allait suivre.

      Une fois les flammes éteintes, le #paysage était terrible pour l’œil humain en général, et pour l’œil palestinien en particulier. Car les incendies ont révélé les #vestiges d’anciens villages et terrasses agricoles palestiniens ; des terrasses construites par leurs ancêtres, décédés il y a longtemps, pour cultiver la terre et planter des oliviers et des vignes sur les #pentes des montagnes.

      À travers ces montagnes, qui constituent l’environnement naturel à l’ouest de Jérusalem, passait la route Jaffa-Jérusalem, qui reliait le port historique à la ville sainte. Cette route ondulant à travers les montagnes était utilisée par les pèlerins d’Europe et d’Afrique du Nord pour visiter les lieux saints chrétiens. Ils n’avaient d’autre choix que d’emprunter la route Jaffa-Jérusalem, à travers les vallées et les ravins, jusqu’au sommet des montagnes. Au fil des siècles, elle sera foulée par des centaines de milliers de pèlerins, de soldats, d’envahisseurs et de touristes.

      Les terrasses agricoles – ou #plates-formes – que les agriculteurs palestiniens ont construites ont un avantage : leur durabilité. Selon les estimations des archéologues, elles auraient jusqu’à 600 ans. Je crois pour ma part qu’elles sont encore plus vieilles que cela.

      Travailler en harmonie avec la nature

      Le travail acharné du fermier palestinien est clairement visible à la surface de la terre. De nombreuses études ont prouvé que les agriculteurs palestiniens avaient toujours investi dans la terre quelle que soit sa forme ; y compris les terres montagneuses, très difficiles à cultiver.

      Des photographies prises avant la Nakba (« catastrophe ») de 1948, lorsque les Palestiniens ont été expulsés par les milices juives, et même pendant la seconde moitié du XIXe siècle montrent que les oliviers et les vignes étaient les deux types de plantation les plus courants dans ces régions.

      Ces végétaux maintiennent l’humidité du sol et assurent la subsistance des populations locales. Les #oliviers, en particulier, aident à prévenir l’érosion des sols. Les oliviers et les #vignes peuvent également créer une barrière naturelle contre le feu car ils constituent une végétation feuillue qui retient l’humidité et est peu gourmande en eau. Dans le sud de la France, certaines routes forestières sont bordées de vignes pour faire office de #coupe-feu.

      Les agriculteurs palestiniens qui les ont plantés savaient travailler en harmonie avec la nature, la traiter avec sensibilité et respect. Cette relation s’était formée au cours des siècles.

      Or qu’a fait l’occupation sioniste ? Après la Nakba et l’expulsion forcée d’une grande partie de la population – notamment le nettoyage ethnique de chaque village et ville se trouvant sur l’itinéraire de la route Jaffa-Jérusalem –, les sionistes ont commencé à planter des #pins_européens particulièrement inflammables sur de vastes portions de ces montagnes pour couvrir et effacer ce que les mains des agriculteurs palestiniens avaient créé.

      Dans la région montagneuse de Jérusalem, en particulier, tout ce qui est palestinien – riche de 10 000 ans d’histoire – a été effacé au profit de tout ce qui évoque le #sionisme et la #judéité du lieu. Conformément à la mentalité coloniale européenne, le « milieu » européen a été transféré en Palestine, afin que les colons puissent se souvenir de ce qu’ils avaient laissé derrière eux.

      Le processus de dissimulation visait à nier l’existence des villages palestiniens. Et le processus d’effacement de leurs particularités visait à éliminer leur existence de l’histoire.

      Il convient de noter que les habitants des villages qui ont façonné la vie humaine dans les montagnes de Jérusalem, et qui ont été expulsés par l’armée israélienne, vivent désormais dans des camps et communautés proches de Jérusalem, comme les camps de réfugiés de Qalandiya et Shuafat.

      On trouve de telles forêts de pins ailleurs encore, dissimulant des villages et fermes palestiniens détruits par Israël en 1948. Des institutions internationales israéliennes et sionistes ont également planté des pins européens sur les terres des villages de #Maaloul, près de Nazareth, #Sohmata, près de la frontière palestino-libanaise, #Faridiya, #Kafr_Anan et #al-Samoui sur la route Akka-Safad, entre autres. Ils sont maintenant cachés et ne peuvent être vus à l’œil nu.

      Une importance considérable

      Même les #noms des villages n’ont pas été épargnés. Par exemple, le village de Suba est devenu « #Tsuba », tandis que #Beit_Mahsir est devenu « #Beit_Meir », #Kasla est devenu « #Ksalon », #Saris est devenu « #Shoresh », etc.

      Si les Palestiniens n’ont pas encore pu résoudre leur conflit avec l’occupant, la nature, elle, s’est désormais exprimée de la manière qu’elle jugeait opportune. Les incendies ont révélé un aspect flagrant des composantes bien planifiées et exécutées du projet sioniste.

      Pour les Palestiniens, la découverte de ces terrasses confirme leur version des faits : il y avait de la vie sur cette terre, le Palestinien était le plus actif dans cette vie, et l’Israélien l’a expulsé pour prendre sa place.

      Ne serait-ce que pour cette raison, ces terrasses revêtent une importance considérable. Elles affirment que la cause palestinienne n’est pas morte, que la terre attend le retour de ses enfants ; des personnes qui sauront la traiter correctement.



      An Israeli Forest to Erase the Ruins of Palestinian Agricultural Terraces

      “Our forest is growing over, well, over a ruined village,” A.B. Yehoshua wrote in his novella “Facing the Forests.” The massive wildfire in the Jerusalem Hills last week exposed the underpinning of the view through the trees. The agricultural terraces were revealed in their full glory, and also revealed a historic record that Israel has always sought to obscure and erase – traces of Palestinian life on this land.

      On my trips to the West Bank and the occupied territories, when I passed by the expansive areas of Palestinian farmland, I was always awed by the sight of the long chain of terraces, mustabat or mudrajat in Arabic. I thrilled at their grandeur and the precision of the work that attests to the connection between the Palestinian fellah and his land. I would wonder – Why doesn’t the same “phenomenon” exist in the hills of the Galilee?

      When I grew up, I learned a little in school about Israeli history. I didn’t learn that Israel erased Palestinian agriculture in the Galilee and that the Jewish National Fund buried it once and for all, but I did learn that “The Jews brought trees with them” and planted them in the Land of Israel. How sterile and green. Greta Thunberg would be proud of you.

      The Zionist movement knew that in the war for this land it was not enough to conquer the land and expel its inhabitants, you also had to build up a story and an ethos and a narrative, something that will fit with the myth of “a people without a land for a land without a people.” Therefore, after the conquest of the land and the expulsion, all trace of the people who once lived here had to be destroyed. This included trees that grew without human intervention and those that were planted by fellahin, who know this land as they do their children and as they do the terraces they built in the hills.

      This is how white foreigners who never in their lives were fellahin or worked the land for a living came up with the national forestation project on the ruins of Arab villages, which David Ben-Gurion decided to flatten, such as Ma’alul and Suhmata. The forestation project including the importation of cypress and pine trees that were alien to this land and belong to colder climes, so that the new inhabitants would feel more at home and less as if they were in somebody else’s home.

      The planting of combustible cypresses and pines, which are not suited to the weather in this land, is not just an act of national erasure of the Palestinian natives, but also an act of arrogance and patronage, characteristics typical of colonialist movements throughout the world. All because they did not understand the nature, in both senses of the word, of the countries they conquered.

      Forgive me, but a biblical-historical connection is not sufficient. Throughout the history of colonialism, the new settlers – whether they ultimately left or stayed – were unable to impose their imported identity on the new place and to completely erase the place’s native identity. It’s a little like the forests surrounding Jerusalem: When the fire comes and burns them, one small truth is revealed, after so much effort went into concealing it.


      et ici :

    • Planter un arbre en Israël : une forêt rédemptrice et mémorielle

      Tout au long du projet sioniste, le végétal a joué un rôle de médiateur entre la terre rêvée et la terre foulée, entre le texte biblique et la réalité. Le réinvestissement national s’est opéré à travers des plantes connues depuis la diaspora, réorganisées en scènes signifiantes pour la mémoire et l’histoire juive. Ce lien de filiation entre texte sacré et paysage débouche sur une pratique de plantation considérée comme un acte mystique de régénération du monde.


  • Europe’s Nameless Dead

    As more people try to reach Western Europe through the Balkans, taking increasingly dangerous routes to evade border police, many are dying without a trace

    When hundreds of thousands of refugees crossed through the Balkans in 2015, border controls were limited and there were few fences or walls. The route was largely open.

    After several years of lull, the number of people making this journey recently increased again. Last year saw the highest number of crossings since 2015, predominantly due to ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and hostile treatment of refugees in Turkey.

    But the Balkan route has changed in the last eight years. With the help of funding from both the EU and the UK, countries in the Balkans have erected fences and built walls. When border police catch people seeking asylum, they often force them back over the border.

    Subsequently, those making the journey often take longer and more dangerous routes in order to evade the police – and the consequences can be deadly; people are freezing to death in forests, drowning in rivers or dying from sheer exhaustion.

    There is no official data on the number of dead and missing migrants in the Balkans. Efforts that have been made to collect data – for example the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project – are based mostly on media reports and are likely to be significantly underestimated.

    With RFE/RL, Der Spiegel, ARD, the i newspaper, Solomon and academics from Aston, Liverpool and Nottingham Universities, we sought to measure the scale of migrant deaths at the borders of a commonly trodden route spanning Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia. Crucially, we sought to find out what subsequently happens to the bodies of these people and what their families go through trying to find them.

    We found that the hostility people face at the borders of Europe in life continues into death. State authorities make little to no effort to identify dead migrants or inform their families, while individual doctors, NGO workers and activists do what they can to fill in the gaps. Unidentified bodies end up piled in morgues or buried without a trace.

    It was clear from the outset that it would be impossible to get comprehensive numbers on migrant deaths, given some bodies will never be found, particularly when people have drowned in rivers or died deep in forests.

    In Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, we requested data from police departments, prosecutors’ offices, courts and morgues on how many unidentified bodies they had recorded in recent years. While some provided information, most failed to respond or declined to disclose the data.

    But through this process we managed to obtain data on the number of bodies known or presumed to be migrants received by six morgues near the borders along the Bulgaria-Serbia-Bosnia route. We found 155 such cases across the six facilities since the start of 2022 – the majority (92) dying this year alone.

    By speaking with forensic pathologists in Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, we found that in each of the three countries, the legal protocol is that an autopsy must be performed on all unidentified bodies – but what happens next is less clear. Information on the deceased is fragmented and held across different institutions, with no unified system which proactively seeks to connect them with families looking for them.

    Through interviews with more than a dozen people whose family members had gone missing or died along the route, we learnt that they are left with no idea where to look or who to ask. We found WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages connecting networks of concerned families, desperately sharing photos and information about their lost loved ones. Some NGOs in Bulgaria and Serbia said they are contacted about such cases every day.

    In some cases when families approached Burgas morgue in south-eastern Bulgaria – where we recorded the highest number of migrant bodies – they were told by staff that they could only check the bodies if they paid them cash bribes. This was confirmed by multiple testimonies and NGOs operating in the area.

    RFE/RL followed the case of one Syrian father’s search for his son. Husam Adin Bibars, a refugee in Denmark, travelled to Bulgaria after his son, Majd Addin Bibars, went missing there while trying to reach Western Europe.

    After a day and a half of asking different institutions, Bibars was directed to a local police station near the Turkish border – where he was shown a photo of Majd’s lifeless body. He was told he had died of thirst, exhaustion and cold – and that he had been buried four days after his body was found.

    In an interview with ARD, the prosecutor in Yambol, a Bulgarian city close to the Turkish border, near where Majd was buried, said his body was buried after four days in keeping with their procedure of carrying out burials of unidentified migrants “fast” to free up space in the morgue.

    Some 900 kilometres away in Bosnia, iNews spoke to Dr Vidak Simić, a forensic pathologist responsible for performing autopsies on bodies found in the Drina River, which runs along the Serbian border. He said that in 2023 alone, he had examined 28 bodies presumed to be migrants, compared with five last year. The vast majority remain unidentified and are now buried in graves marked ‘NN’ – an abbreviation for a Latin term for a person with no name.

    The doctor is now working with local activist Nihad Suljić to try to help families find their missing loved ones, by checking his autopsy files to see if any unidentified bodies match the description of missing people. But he says a proper system needs to be put in place for this. “[Families] enter a painstaking process, through embassies, burial organisations, to obtain a bone sample, so that they can compare it with one of their family members,” he says.


    #mourir_aux_frontières #frontières #morts_aux_frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #décès #morts #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #visualisation #cartographie

    ping @reka

    • Sie erfrieren in Wäldern, ertrinken in Flüssen

      Europas namenlose Tote: Viele Flüchtende, die auf der Balkanroute sterben, werden nie identifiziert. Angehörige suchen verzweifelt nach Gewissheit – manche müssen sich den Zugang zu Leichenhallen erkaufen. Der SPIEGEL-Report.



    • Namenloser Tod in Bulgarien

      An der türkisch-bulgarischen Grenze endet der Versuch von Migranten, in die EU zu kommen, oft in tödlicher Erschöpfung. Die Behörden begraben die Leichen schnell - ohne Identifizierung. Für die Angehörigen ist das ein weiteres Trauma.

      Das Porträt hängt zwischen den Fenstern im ansonsten schmucklosen Wohnzimmer. Wenn Hussam Adin Bibars es von der Wand nimmt, um es zu zeigen, wirkt es, als würde er eine Bürde tragen.

      Der gut aussehende junge Mann mit den blauen Augen und dem akkurat gestutzten, schwarzen Bart auf dem Foto ist sein Sohn. Das letzte Lebenszeichen von ihm kam im Herbst. Majid hatte sich auf den Weg gemacht, um zu seiner Familie zu ziehen. Sein Vater war bereits im Jahr 2015 aus Syrien geflohen und lebt heute in Dänemark.

      Um seinen Plan in die Tat umzusetzen, musste Majid über die berüchtigte Balkanroute, die in den vergangenen Jahren immer gefährlicher geworden ist. Die Außengrenzen werden strenger bewacht, Geflüchtete und ihre Schleuser wählen längere und gefährlichere Routen, um ein Aufeinandertreffen mit der Polizei zu vermeiden.

      Verloren im „Dreieck des Todes“

      Der Weg führt an der türkisch-bulgarischen Grenze durch dichte, endlose Wälder. „Dreieck des Todes“ nennen sie das Gebiet hier, weil dort besonders viele tote Körper gefunden wurden. Immer wieder verirren sich Flüchtlinge, sterben an Dehydrierung und Erschöpfung.

      Oft sind es Mitarbeiter von NGOs wie Diana Dimova, die die Toten finden. Vergangenes Jahr hätten sie zehn bis zwölf Notrufe erreicht, erzählt sie, dieses Jahr habe sie schon nicht mehr zählen können, es seien aber auf jeden Fall mehr als 70 gewesen.

      Nach Recherchen des ARD-Studios Wien in Kooperation mit Lighthouse Reports, dem Spiegel, RFE/RL, Solomon und inews starben allein in den vergangenen zwei Jahren mindestens 93 Menschen auf ihrem Weg durch Bulgarien.

      Dem Rechercheteam liegen zahlreiche Videos und Fotos Geflüchteter vor. Sie stehen neben ihren sterbenden Weggefährten, betten sie auf Jacken, versuchen sie zuzudecken und müssen sie schließlich auf dem Waldboden zurücklassen, der starre Blick eingefangen auf einem wackeligen Handyvideo.

      Wer zu schwach ist, wird zurückgelassen

      Hussam Adin Bibars erfährt, dass auch Majid nicht genug zu trinken hat. Er wird immer schwächer, berichtet von Bauchkrämpfen und kann nicht mehr weiterlaufen. Sein Vater macht sich Sorgen, versucht, mit dem Schleuser in Kontakt zu kommen.

      Der Schmuggler sagte, dass sich der Gesundheitszustand von Majid verschlechtert habe. Sie hätten ihn im Wald zurückgelassen. Ich habe versucht, ihm zu erklären, dass Majid ein Mensch ist und man ihn in so einem Zustand nicht einfach im Wald zurücklassen kann. Ich habe den Schmuggler gebeten, Majid an die nächstmögliche Behörde zu übergeben.

      Verzweifelte Suche in Bulgarien

      Als der Kontakt abbricht, macht Hussam sich auf eigene Faust auf die Suche. Er reist nach Bulgarien, klappert Krankenhäuser ab, schließlich auch Leichenhallen.

      In der Gerichtsmedizin in Yambol, einer Stadt im Südosten des Landes, findet er eine erste Spur, die ihn zu seinem Sohn führen könnte. Ein Körper, der zu seiner Beschreibung passt, sei dort gewesen, erzählt man ihm.

      Auf der Polizeistation zeigt man ihm schließlich Fotos, man habe den Leichnam auf einem Feld gefunden.

      Was bleibt: eine Grabnummer

      Hussam will seinen Sohn sehen und identifizieren, doch der Leichnam ist bereits weg. Die Polizei hat nur noch die Nummer eines Grabes für ihn. Für den Vater ist diese Nachricht kaum zu ertragen:

      Ich wünschte, ich hätte wenigstens die Chance, Majid ein letztes Mal zu sehen, aber bis heute bin ich mir über seinen Tod absolut unsicher. Ich habe zwar Fotos von ihm gesehen und sein Telefon erhalten, aber ich habe ihn nicht mit eigenen Augen gesehen, so dass mein Verstand immer noch nicht glauben kann, dass die Person in diesem Grab mein Sohn ist.

      Die Begründung der Staatsanwaltschaft

      Bevor der Körper überhaupt identifiziert werden konnte, hatte der Staatsanwalt ihn bereits zur Beerdigung freigegeben. Nach nur vier Tagen. Milen Bozidarov, einer der zuständigen Staatsanwälte für die Region verweist im Interview mit der ARD auf hygienische Gründe.

      Die Leichenhallen seien voll, jeder sei zur Eile angehalten. Wenn man davon ausgehen könne, die tote Person sei ein Migrant und die Angehörigen weit weg, dann gebe es keine sinnvollen Gründe, den Körper weiterhin aufzubewahren.

      Doch Majids Vater wollte seinen Sohn finden, die weite Anreise aus Dänemark hinderte ihn nicht an der Suche. 22 Tage nach seinem Tod war er in Bulgarien vor Ort. Da war es jedoch längst zu spät.

      Das einzige, was er noch besuchen konnte, war ein Erdhaufen auf einem Friedhof inmitten anderer namenloser Gräber.

      „Man will keine Aufmerksamkeit“

      Scharfe Kritik an dieser Praxis des schnellen Begrabens kommt von Anwalt Dragomir Oshavkov aus Burgas. Eigentlich dürfe es keinen Unterschied machen, ob der Tote ein Bulgare oder ein Migrant sei.

      Die Behörden hätten bei Migranten jedoch kein Interesse daran, die wahre Todesursache und die Identität herauszufinden, erzählt er. Man wolle den Prozess einfach schnell und möglichst bequem abschließen.

      Ein Verhalten, das für die EU unwürdig ist. So sieht es Erik Marquardt, der für die Grünen im Europaparlament sitzt und die Migrationspolitik der letzten Jahre genau verfolgt.

      Wenn man nach wenigen Tagen, ohne die Todesursache genau zu ermitteln, Menschen einfach verscharrt und sich nicht um die Angehörigen kümmert, dann will man offenbar nicht, dass die Aufmerksamkeit auf diese Fälle kommt.

      Marquardt bringt die Einführung einer EU-Datenbank ins Spiel und eine Verpflichtung der Mitgliedstaaten, bei der Auffindung von Verwandten mitzuwirken.

      Ein Kind ohne Vater

      Für viele Menschen ist der Weg über die Balkanroute inzwischen tödlich - und endet in einem namenlosen Grab. Auch für Majid.

      Wenige Tage nach seinem Tod kommt Majids Tochter zur Welt. Hussam, der Großvater, zeigt ein Video, auf dem die Kleine unter einer weiß-blauen Samtmütze hervor blinzelt. Sie wird bei ihrer Mutter aufwachsen.

      Wo und wie ihr Vater genau gestorben ist, wird sie niemals erfahren.



      #Bulgarie #Turquie

    • "Ничии тела". Как стотици хора загинаха в бягството си през България

      През България минава път, който не е на картата и е все по-смъртоносен. По него вървят мигрантите, тръгнали за Западна Европа. Някои умират по пътя. После близките им ги търсят сред хаос и корупция. Разследване на Свободна Европа, Lighthouse Reports, The I Newspaper, Solomon, Der Spiegel и ARD.

      “Това е синът ми!”, възкликва със стегнат в гърлото глас 53-годишният сириец от Алепо Хусам Ал-Дийн Бибарс. Дежурният полицай в Елхово му показва снимка на очевидно мъртъв млад мъж със сиво-черни дрехи. На снимката той лежи в пръстта в землището на село Мелница, Ямболска област.

      Само ден по-рано бащата е пристигнал в България от Дания, където живее, с надеждата да открие безследно изчезналия си син Мажд, на 27 години. Екипът ни съпровожда бащата в това търсене.

      Още 22 дни по-рано Мажд е преминал нелегално българо-турската граница с група, водена от трафиканти. Платил е 7000 евро на каналджиите, за да достигне до заветната дестинация - Германия, където мечтае да се установи с жена си и малката си дъщеря.

      Хусам е чул сина си за последен път ден преди началото на фаталното пътуване. “Как си татко, добре ли си със здравето?” - пита Мажд.
      Хусам и снимката

      “На първата снимка не беше той. На втората обаче беше. Когато го видях, се сринах на земята”, каза бащата. От полицията му обясняват, че синът му е починал от преумора и че по тялото му няма следи от насилие.

      Първоначалната мисъл на Хусам Бибарс е да вземе тялото на Мажд и да го погребе у дома, в Сирия или в Турция, при семейството му. Тази надежда бързо бива попарена. Разбираме, че младият мъж вече е погребан служебно в безименен гроб в Елхово с постановление на окръжен прокурор от Ямбол. Документът е издаден едва 4 дни след като тракторист случайно е намерил тялото му и звъни в полицията.

      “Слушаме, че Европа е земя на свобода, демокрация и човешки права. Но къде са човешките права в това да не мога да видя сина си преди да бъде погребан? Видях единствено гроба му, снимките и телефона му. Това е всичко, което имам от него”, казва бащата.
      Един от стотици загинали

      Мажд Бибарс е един от стотиците бежанци от Близкия изток, изгубили живота си в последните години, докато минават по т.нар. Балкански маршрут в опит да намерят закрила в Европа.

      По данни на европейската гранична агенция Frontex, през 2022 г. броят на опитите за преминаване на европейските граници достига до пиковите равнища от 2016 г., като почти половината от тях, или 145 000 души, са минали именно през Югоизточна Европа.

      Обикновено смъртта по европейските граници се свързва с трагичните корабокрушения по бреговете на Средиземно море. Но различни доклади, като проекта Missing Migrants на Международната организация по миграция показват, че сухопътният маршрут през Балканите става все по-опасен.

      В продължение на повече от седем месеца екип от журналисти на Lighthouse reports, Der Spiegel, ARD, Свободна Европа и Inews проследи и документира десетки случаи на мигранти, безследно изчезнали или изгубили живота си в опит да преминат през три държави от т.нар. Балкански маршрут - България, Сърбия и Босна и Херцеговина.

      За семействата им процесът по издирване се оказва истински кошмар. Ако се окаже, че мигрантът е загинал, те трябва да идентифицират и евентуално да репатрират тялото му, или да го погребат в България.

      Само че на национално и на международно ниво няма нито единен, нито адекватен отговор на техните въпроси. Независимо от разрастващия се мащаб на проблема, роднините на загинали и изчезнали мигранти се сблъскват с липса на информация, незаинтересованост и тромави административни процедури. А ако действието се развива в България - и с корупция в бургаската морга, където се озовава най-големият брой от телата за загиналите.
      “Лавинообразен” ръст на изчезналите и загиналите

      “Често се случва да получа обаждане в полунощ от човек (...), който, на развален английски директно ме пита: Можете ли да намерите брат ми?”, разказва Калинка Янкова от Службата за възстановяване на семейни връзки към Българския червен кръст.

      “Най-много ни мотивира това да намираме хората живи. Но напоследък рядко имаме този късмет”, допълва тя.

      Янкова и екипът й разполагат с 631 сигнала за предполагаемо загинали през тази година и още стотици молби за издирване на изчезнали мигранти, подадени от роднините им. Към момента имат установени около 20 смъртни случая, в които са съдействали на семействата за идентифициране на починалите им близки. Сред тях има и деца.

      “Всичко започна през септември миналата година и оттогава случаите нараснаха лавинообразно”, казва Янкова.

      Думите й се потвърждават и от данните на правозащитната организация Фондация “Достъп до права”, или ФАР, която само за месеците септември и октомври 2023 г. е получила на своя спешен телефон 70 сигнала за изчезнали на територията на страната мигранти. За трима от тях по-късно разбират, че са починали в горите около град Средец.

      “В около 95 процента от случаите това са роднини, които се свързват с нас, посочвайки България, като държава, в която те за последен път са се чули с лицето”, казаха от ФАР.

      В останалите около 5 процента лично трафикантите подават сигнали за бедстващи хора, но това се случва часове след като човекът е бил изоставен, за да се избегне рискът от това служители на гранична полиция да задържат групата или да я върнат в Турция - практика, за която ви разказахме в последните ни разследвания. Основните места, където се намират лицата, са в горите около Средец и планината “Странджа” - район, печално известен още от времето на комунистическите гранични войски като“триъгълника на смъртта”.

      Но реално черната статистика е доста по-голяма. Само за периода 2022-2023 г. в моргата към УМБАЛ Бургас, която е и най-натоварената заради близостта си до турската граница, са съхранявани общо 54 тела на мигранти. 31 от тях са намерени от началото на тази година. Проверките ни в граничните райони до Турция и Сърбия установиха поне 93 смъртни случаи с мигранти на територията на страната за последните две години.

      Екипът ни документира други 62 случая от Сърбия и Босна и Херцеговина за същия период, с което трагичните инциденти по тази част от Балканския маршрут, установени само в рамките на това разследване, достигнаха 155.

      В местните медии темата е сведена до сензационни заглавия от типа на “Моргата в Бургас се препълни” или “Странджа е осеяна с трупове”. Ние решихме да проследим историите зад числата, причините за големия брой трагични инциденти и начините, по които институциите се справят с тях.
      В търсене на изчезналите роднини

      Мохамад Мудасир Арианпур е гордостта на семейството си. Служи в афганистанската армия, докато талибаните не вземат отново властта през 2021 г. Това прави живота му у дома невъзможен.

      На 21 септември 2022 г. Мохамад прекосява турско-българската граница с група от 26 други мигранти, водени от двама трафиканти. На 25 септември младият мъж губи сили и не може да продължи пътя през горите на Странджа. Негови приятели виждат, че се намират близо до село и му оставят две бутилки с вода с надеждата, че скоро ще бъде намерен и предаден на българските власти.

      Оттогава никой няма връзка с него.

      В следващите месеци негови роднини, живеещи в Западна Европа, посещават България няколко пъти, обикалят полицейски управления, бежански центрове, болници и морги, но опитите им да го открият не се увенчават с успех.

      Отчаяното търсене ги среща и с други семейства, сполетени от същата съдба. Сестра му Фатме Арианпур решава да създаде Whatsapp група, в която всички си помагат и обменят информация.

      “Намерихме се в различни групи във Фейсбук и разбрахме, че сме толкова много хора в една и съща ситуация”, разказва Фатме. “Надявам се, че като говорим за тези неща, ще успеем да променим нещо. Независимо дали са живи или мъртви, хората имат права”, допълва тя.

      Именно в създадената от нея група, както и в други подобни срещнахме основния герой на историята ни - Хусам Бибарс, както и други семейства, с които разговаряхме.

      Поне четирима от интервюираните ни казаха, че при посещенията си в моргата в УМБАЛ Бургас са плащали на служители на лечебното заведение, за да видят дали близките им не са сред съхраняваните там тела.

      Сумите, за които чухме, варираха между 50 лева и 200 евро на посещение.

      “В крайна сметка всички просто искат пари”, обобщи опита си Али, афганистански бежанец. Той прекарва месеци в България, опитвайки се да погребе 16-годишния си брат, като общо разходите му възлизат на над 8000 евро.
      50 лева

      Оплакванията от корупционни практики с тела на мигранти в моргата в Бургас не са нищо ново за работещите в правозащитния сектор.

      “Получавали сме информация и сигнали, че от семейства, открили мъртъв човек там, са били искани големи суми за потвърждение, че тялото е там, и за освобождаването му. Оплакват се, че са им били искани пари на всяка стъпка от процеса”, казва Георги Войнов, адвокат в бежанско-мигрантската служба на Българския хелзинкски комитет.

      За Калинка Янкова от БЧК новината за подобни форми на изнудване идва от близки на загинал афганистанец, които й споделят, че са платили над 100 евро, за да видят тялото на своя близък.

      “Бях извън себе си от възмущение.(...) Когато споделих с един колега, той ми каза: добре дошла в клуба”, добавя тя.

      Аудиофайл, с който екипът ни разполага, е и първото категорично потвърждение на тези твърдения. В него ясно се чува как служител на моргата в Бургас иска общо 100 лева от семейство, търсещо свой близък, заради това, че му е показал тела на починали мигранти в камерата.

      “Две по 50. Двама човека сме. Още едно 50”, инструктира той роднините, преди да ги насочи към процедура по разпознаване чрез ДНК.

      От УМБАЛ Бургас обясниха, че в лечебното заведение не е постъпвал нито един сигнал или жалба за подобни практики и обясниха, че идентификацията на телата се извършва само и единствено в присъствието на разследващ полицай и съдебен лекар.

      “Огромна част от телата са в състояние на напреднало разложение и е невъзможно да бъдат разпознати без ДНК експертиза, дори и да бъдат показани”, уточниха от болницата.

      “Апелираме подобни сигнали и оплаквания, да бъдат адресирани по официалния ред към нас и към разследващите органи. Ако се установи, че има подобни практики, служителите ще понесат съответната отговорност”, посочи още управлението на МБАЛ Бургас.
      “Ничии тела”

      В българския НПК процедурите по идентифициране на случайно намерени тела са едни и същи, независимо дали казусът засяга български или чужд гражданин. В подобни случаи прокуратурата започва досъдебно производство, което има две цели: да идентифицира лицето и да установи причината за смъртта. На жертвите се взема ДНК, което се съхранява, ако евентуално в бъдеще се появят близки, които искат да извършат разпознаване.

      Съвпадението на ДНК е задължително за освобождаване на тела от моргите или за евентуална ексхумация, което отнема около 3 месеца и допълнително усложнява процеса по репатриране на починалите. Към момента Хусам Бибарс вече над месец очаква резултатите от ДНК тест, за да може да получи важни документи за семейството на починалия си син.

      В случай, че самоличността на лицето не може да бъде установена и няма данни за насилствено причинена смърт, наблюдаващият прокурор може да издаде постановление за извършване на служебно погребение, което е в правомощията на съответната община.

      Чрез запитвания по Закона за достъп до обществена информация разбрахме, че през последните 4 години общините Бургас, Средец и Ямбол са извършили общо 14 служебни погребения, като основната част - 10, са били в Бургас.

      Тези данни се отнасят за всички неидентифицирани тела, но посещения на гробищните паркове ни дават основание да смятаме, че в болшинството от случаите става дума за мигранти. За сравнение, от най-голямата община в страната, столичната, в същия период не е извършено нито едно служебно погребение, разпоредено от прокурор.

      Остава отворен и въпросът защо от моргата в Бургас редовно идват оплаквания, че е препълнена с тела на неидентифицирани мигранти, някои от които престояват там с години, а случаи като този на Мажд Бибарс биват приключени за четири дни, повдигайки сериозни съмнения, че изобщо са били правени опити тялото да бъде идентифицирано.

      В отговор на наше запитване от Главната прокуратура ни увериха, че на централно ниво няма решение за по-бързо освобождаване на тела и това “не е възможно, тъй като наблюдаващите прокурори следва стриктно да спазват нормите на НПК”.

      “Ако близките не пожелаят да получат тялото и изрично заявят това, тогава се пристъпва към служебно погребение. Същото се налага да се извърши и когато не бъде установена самоличността на починалия – при обективно положени изчерпателни усилия за това или при случаи, когато се изясни, че починалият няма близки и роднини”, посочват прокурорите. Те подчертават, че при случаите с български граждани се действа по същия начин.

      Но Милен Божидаров, който е прокурор в Ямболската районна прокуратура, признава, че стремежът в неговия район е случаите да се приключват бързо.

      “Това е въпрос на организация на процеса, всички ние целим бързина”, заяви той.

      По думите на прокурора, при “обичайни обстоятелства” роднините на загинали се търсят и обикновено се установяват още в деня на смъртта.

      Но очевидно случаите с телата на мигранти не попадат в обичайната хипотеза.

      “Когато ние имаме неидентифициран труп, за който няма обяснение [за самоличността], освен, че е [ясно, че е] бежанец, и се предполага, че роднините му са някъде по света и не са се свързали с нас в този, предходния или по-предходния ден, няма обективни причини, които да налагат съхранението на този труп”, обясни той.

      “Представете си, че този баща не се беше появил - ние така или иначе нямаше да стигнем до някакъв резултат и трупът не може да стои безкрайно в камера в някое от здравните заведения”, допълни прокурорът.

      Но според адвокат Драгомир Ошавков, който работи с фондация ФАР в Бургас, в огромния процент от случаите с мигранти органите на досъдебното производство и прокуратурата просто нямат интерес от това да вършат подробни изследвания и да установяват реално причините за смъртта и самоличността.

      “Те бързат да приключат по най-бързия и удобен за тях начин това досъдебно производство”, категочен е той.

      “Това са едни ничии хора, ничии тела. Мигранти, които не представляват голям обществен интерес. Те не са желани в България, не са желани вероятно и в Западна Европа. Вероятно затова те са считани по-скоро като тежест за системата, вместо като случаи, които трябва да бъдат разрешени”, смята юристът.


    • Νεκροί πρόσφυγες στα Βαλκάνια : « Λάδωσε » για να βρεις τον άνθρωπό σου

      Στη βαλκανική οδό πεθαίνουν περισσότεροι αιτούντες άσυλο ακόμα και από το 2015. Ενώ οι συγγενείς καλούνται να αντιμετωπίσουν την κρατική αδιαφορία για την ταυτοποίηση των ανθρώπων τους, αναγκάζονται και να πληρώσουν εκατοντάδες ευρώ απλώς για να τους αναζητήσουν.

      Ήλπιζε πως θα έβρισκε τον γιο του σε κάποιον προσφυγικό καταυλισμό. Και αφού είχε περάσει τρεις εβδομάδες αναζητώντας τον, είχε προετοιμαστεί για το ενδεχόμενο να τον εντοπίσει σε κάποιο νοσοκομείο.

      Αλλά δεν περίμενε να τον βρει στο νεκροταφείο.

      Όταν ο αστυνομικός με το βουλγαρικό εθνόσημο του έδειξε τη φωτογραφία του γιου του, να κείτεται δίχως ζωή στο γρασίδι, έχασε τη γη κάτω απ’ τα πόδια του. « Εύχομαι τουλάχιστον να είχα τη δυνατότητα να δω τον Μαχίντ μια τελευταία φορά. Το μυαλό μου ακόμη και σήμερα δεν μπορεί να πιστέψει πως ο άνθρωπος σε αυτόν τον τάφο είναι ο γιος μου », λέει ο Χουσάμ Αντίν Μπίμπαρς.

      Ο 56χρονος Σύριος πρόσφυγας, πατέρας πέντε ακόμη παιδιών, είχε συμπληρώσει 22 ημέρες αναζητώντας από απόσταση τον γιο του, όταν αποφάσισε να ξοδέψει τα λιγοστά του χρήματα για να ταξιδέψει από τη Δανία στη Βουλγαρία και να ψάξει για εκείνον — αλλά ήταν πια αργά.

      Στη Βουλγαρία, έμαθε πως το σώμα του 27χρονου Μαχίντ είχε ταφεί μέσα σε μόλις τέσσερις ημέρες από τον εντοπισμό του. Ο Μαχίντ είχε ταφεί ως αγνώστων στοιχείων, τίποτα δεν ενημέρωνε πως κάτω από εκείνον τον σωρό με χώμα που αργότερα επισκέφθηκε βρισκόταν ο γιος του.

      « Ακούμε πως η Ευρώπη είναι η γη της ελευθερίας, της δημοκρατίας, και των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων », λέει νηφάλια ο Χουσάμ Αντίν Μπίμπαρς. « Που είναι τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, εάν δεν έχω τη δυνατότητα να δω τον γιο μου πριν την ταφή του ; ».

      Νεκροί δίχως ταυτότητα

      Ο Μαχίντ είχε περάσει από την Τουρκία στη Βουλγαρία με ένα γκρουπ περίπου 20 ακόμη ατόμων, ελπίζοντας να συναντήσει και πάλι τους γονείς και τα αδέρφια του στην Ευρώπη. Αφού έφτανε εκείνος, η έγκυος γυναίκα του και η κόρη τους, Χάνα, θα μπορούσαν να ακολουθήσουν.

      Προς τα τέλη Σεπτεμβρίου, σταμάτησε να απαντάει σε κλήσεις και μηνύματα. Ο διακινητής είπε στον Μπίμπαρς ότι ο Μαχίντ είχε αρρωστήσει και είχε χρειαστεί να τον αφήσουν πίσω. Οι Αρχές είπαν ότι ο γιος του πέθανε από τη δείψα, την εξάντληση, και το κρύο.

      Τα τελευταία χρόνια, με κοινοτικά χρήματα και αυξημένη συμμετοχή του ευρωπαϊκού οργανισμού συνοριοφυλακής Frontex, οι βαλκανικές χώρες εντείνουν ολοένα τους συνοριακούς ελέγχους, αναπτύσσοντας φράχτες, drones, και μηχανισμούς επιτήρησης. Αλλά αυτό δεν αποτρέπει τους αιτούντες άσυλο — τους οδηγεί σε μεγαλύτερες και περισσότερο επικίνδυνες διόδους για να αποφύγουν τις Αρχές.

      Μια έρευνα του Solomon σε συνεργασία με την ερευνητική ομάδα Lighthouse Reports, το γερμανικό περιοδικό Der Spiegel, τη γερμανική δημόσια τηλεόραση ARD, τη βρετανική εφημίδα i, το Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, και ακαδημαϊκούς από τα πανεπιστήμια Aston, Liverpool, και Nottingham, αποτυπώνει πως η εχθρότητα που αντιμετωπίζουν στα σύνορα της Ευρώπης οι άνθρωποι σε κίνηση όσο ζουν συνεχίζεται και στο θάνατο.

      Διαπιστώσαμε πως, από τις αρχές του 2022 έως σήμερα, τα άψυχα σώματα 155 ανθρώπων που πιθανολογείται ότι ήταν αιτούντες άσυλο κατέληξαν σε νεκροτομεία κοντά στα σύνορα κατά μήκος μιας διαδρομής που εκτείνεται ανάμεσα στη Βουλγαρία, τη Σερβία, και τη Βοσνία.

      Από την εξέταση των στοιχείων, για το 2023 προκύπτει ήδη μια αύξηση των θανάτων κατά 46% σε σύγκριση με ολόκληρο το 2022.

      Στα Βαλκάνια, οι αιτούντες άσυλο καλούνται να αντιμετωπίσουν τις δύσκολες καιρικές συνθήκες, αλλά και τις επαναπροωθήσεις, την αυξημένη βιαιότητα συνοριοφυλάκων και διακινητών, την καταλήστευση από συνοριακές δυνάμεις — έως και την κράτησή τους σε μυστικές « φυλακές ».

      Οι οικογένειες των ανθρώπων που πεθαίνουν, ή καθίστανται αγνοούμενοι στην περιοχή, αναζητούν τους δικούς τους σε νεκροτομεία, νοσοκομεία, και ειδικά γκρουπ σε Facebook και WhatsApp. Καλούνται να ανταπεξέλθουν σε μια εξίσου ψυχοφθόρα προσπάθεια, και να αντιμετωπίσουν την αδιαφορία των Αρχών.

      Στη Βουλγαρία, όπως τεκμηριώνει η παρούσα έρευνα, συχνά χρειάζεται και να « λαδώσουν » στην ελπίδα να μάθουν περισσότερα για τους δικούς τους.
      Τα 10 βασικά ευρήματα της έρευνας :

      1. Ο αριθμός όσων ταξίδεψαν παράτυπα μέσω Βαλκανίων για τη δυτική Ευρώπη το 2022 έφτασε στο ανώτατο σημείο από το 2015, με την Frontex να καταγράφει 144.118 παράτυπες διελεύσεις συνόρων.

      2. Ο αντίστοιχος αριθμός για το 2023 είναι μικρότερος (79.609 έως τον Σεπτέμβριο), αλλά παραμένει πολλαπλάσιος σε σχέση με το 2019 (15.127) και το 2018 (5.844).

      3. Η βαλκανική οδός είναι πιο επικίνδυνη από ποτέ : ελλείψει ενός κεντρικού σχετικού συστήματος καταγραφής, η πλατφόρμα Missing Migrants του Διεθνούς Οργανισμού Μετανάστευσης (ΔΟΜ) υποδεικνύει ότι το 2022 έχασαν τη ζωή τους ή κατέστησαν αγνοούμενοι περισσότεροι άνθρωποι ακόμη και από το 2015.

      4. Σύμφωνα με στοιχεία που συγκεντρώσαμε, τουλάχιστον 155 αταυτοποίητα πτώματα κατέληξαν σε έξι νεκροτομεία ενός τμήματος της βαλκανικής οδού, που περιλαμβάνει Βουλγαρία, Σερβία, και Βοσνία. Η πλειοψηφία των πτωμάτων (92) εντοπίστηκαν φέτος.

      5. Για το 2023, ο αριθμός εμφανίζει ήδη αύξηση κατά 46% σε σχέση με το 2022, και εκτοξεύεται σε ορισμένα νεκροτομεία.

      6. Κάποια νεκροτομεία της Βουλγαρίας (Μπουργκάς, Γιάμπολ) δυσκολεύονται να βρουν χώρο για τα σώματα των προσφύγων. Άλλα στη Σερβία (Λόζνιτσα) δεν διαθέτουν καθόλου χώρο.

      7. Η έλλειψη χώρου οδηγεί στην ταφή αταυτοποίητων σωμάτων εντός ημερών, σε τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων. Αυτό σημαίνει πως καθίσταται πρακτικά αδύνατο για τις οικογένειες να μπορέσουν να ταυτοποιήσουν τους δικούς τους.

      8. Στη Βουλγαρία, οικογένειες μας είπαν πως αναγκάστηκαν να « λαδώσουν » εργαζομένους σε νοσοκομεία και νεκροτομεία, αλλά και συνοριοφύλακες, αναζητώντας τους ανθρώπους τους. Πηγές στο πεδίο επιβεβαιώνουν την πρακτική, η οποία καταγράφεται και σε ηχητικό αρχείο στην κατοχή μας.

      9. Στη Βοσνία, 28 άνθρωποι που εκτιμάται πως ήταν αιτούντες άσυλο έχουν ήδη χάσει τη ζωή τους στον ποταμό Ντρίνα φέτος, σε σύγκριση με μόλις πέντε το 2022 και τρεις το 2021.

      10. Γραφειοκρατία και έλλειψη κρατικού ενδιαφέροντος καταγράφεται πως δυσχεραίνουν τις προσπάθειες ταυτοποίησης νεκρών αιτούντων άσυλο.

      Νεκρός αλλά δεν ξέρει γιατί

      Τι κάνεις όταν ο μικρός σου αδερφός σου αγνοείται, και το δικό σου καθεστώς απαγορεύει να βρεθείς στο πεδίο για να τον αναζητήσεις ;

      Ο 29χρονος Ασματουλά Σεντίκι βρισκόταν στη δομή φιλοξενίας στο Γουόρινγκτον του Ηνωμένου Βασιλείου, όπου έχει αιτηθεί άσυλο, όταν συνταξιδιώτες του αδερφού του τον ενημέρωσαν πως ο 22χρονος Ραχματουλά πιθανόν να ήταν νεκρός.

      Λόγω του καθεστώτους του ως αιτούντα άσυλο, το Home Office δεν επέτρεψε στον Ασματουλά να επιστρέψει στη Βουλγαρία, την οποία είχε διασχίσει και ο ίδιος κατά το δικό του ταξίδι, για να αναζητήσει τον αδερφό του.

      Όταν ένας φίλος κατέστη δυνατό να πάει για λογαριασμό του, η βουλγαρική αστυνομία αρνήθηκε να δώσει οποιαδήποτε πληροφορία. Και το προσωπικό του νεκροτομείου ζήτησε 300 ευρώ για τον αφήσει να δει ορισμένα πτώματα, είπε ο Σεντίκι στα πλαίσια της παρούσας έρευνας.

      « Σε μια τέτοια κατάσταση, ο άνθρωπος πρέπει να βοηθάει τον άνθρωπο », πρόσθεσε. « Ξέρουν μόνο τα χρήματα. Δεν τους ενδιαφέρει η ανθρώπινη ζωή ».

      Κατάφερε να δανειστεί το ποσό που του ζήτησαν. Τον Ιούλιο του 2022, 55 ημέρες μετά την εξαφάνισή του αδερφού του, το νοσοκομείο του Μπουργκάς επιβεβαίωσε ότι ένα από τα σώματα στο νεκροτομείο ανήκε σε κείνον. Με ακόμη 3.000 ευρώ που δανείστηκε, μπόρεσε να επαναπατρίσει τον αδελφό του στους γονείς τους στο Αφγανιστάν.

      Αλλά έως και σήμερα, τον Ασματουλά κατατρώει μια σκέψη : δεν γνωρίζει πώς, δεν τον έχει ενημερώσει κανείς γιατί, πέθανε ο αδερφός του.

      Οι βουλγαρικές Αρχές δεν του έχουν δώσει τα αποτελέσματα της νεκροψίας, επειδή δεν έχει βίζα για να ταξιδέψει εκεί, λέει. « Είμαι σίγουρος ότι, όταν η αστυνομία τον βρήκε στο δάσος, θα τράβηξε κάποιες φωτογραφίες. Θέλω να δω πώς έμοιαζε τότε το σώμα του ».
      « Ούτε μια καταγγελία »

      Στα πλαίσια της παρούσας έρευνας των Solomon, Lighthouse Reports, RFE/RL, inews, ARD, και Der Spiegel, αρκετοί συγγενείς μας είπαν πως είχαν επίσης αναγκαστεί να « λαδώσουν » εργαζομένους στο νεκροτομείο του Μπουργκάς, προκειμένου να μπορέσουν να διαπιστώσουν εάν ανάμεσα στα νεκρά σώματα στους ψύκτες βρίσκονταν οι δικοί τους.

      Όταν ρωτήσαμε τη διοίκηση του νοσοκομείου εάν τέτοιου είδους πρακτικές ήταν σε γνώση της, η επικεφαλής του τμήματος ιατροδικαστικής του νοσοκομείου Μπουργκάς, Γκαλίνα Μίλεβα, είπε πως δεν έχει λάβει « ούτε μία αναφορά ή καταγγελία για κάποια τέτοια περίπτωση ».

      « Η ταυτοποίηση των πτωμάτων πραγματοποιείται αποκλειστικά και μόνο παρουσία αστυνομικού που διεξάγει την έρευνα και ιατροδικαστή », υποστήριξε. Απαντώντας σε σχετική ερώτηση, συμπλήρωσε πως δεν υπάρχει καμία νομική πρόβλεψη, με βάση την οποία εργαζόμενοι στο νεκροτομείο θα μπορούσαν να ζητήσουν χρήματα από τους συγγενείς γι’ αυτή τη διαδικασία.

      « Απευθύνουμε έκκληση αυτές οι καταγγελίες να απευθύνονται μέσω της επίσημης οδού σε εμάς και στις ανακριτικές αρχές. Εάν διαπιστωθεί η ύπαρξη τέτοιων πρακτικών, οι εργαζόμενοι θα λογοδοτήσουν », είπε.
      « Ζητούνται χρήματα σε κάθε βήμα της διαδικασίας »

      Άλλος συγγενής, η οικογένεια του οποίου στα τέλη του 2022 χρειάστηκε επίσης να μεταβεί στη Βουλγαρία για να αναζητήσει μέλος της, μας είπε πως αφού έδωσαν δίχως επιτυχία 300 ευρώ σε κάποιον στο νεκροτομείο για να τους επιτραπεί να κοιτάξουν τα νεκρά σώματα, χρειάστηκε να πληρώσουν και συνοριοφύλακες.

      Ήταν ο μόνος τρόπος να τους πάρουν στα σοβαρά, εξήγησε.

      Όταν ζήτησαν από τους συνοριοφύλακες να τους δείξουν φωτογραφίες ανθρώπων σε κίνηση που είχαν εντοπιστεί νεκροί, εκείνοι τους είπαν πως δεν είχαν χρόνο — όταν δέχθηκαν να τους δώσουν 20 ευρώ για κάθε φωτογραφία που θα τους έδειχναν, ο χρόνος βρέθηκε.

      Ο Γκεόργκι Βόινοφ, δικηγόρος του προγράμματος για πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες της Βουλγαρικής Επιτροπής του Ελσίνκι, επιβεβαίωσε πως οικογένειες θανόντων έχουν απευθυνθεί στην οργάνωση για περιπτώσεις στις οποίες νοσοκομεία ζήτησαν μεγάλα ποσά για να επιβεβαιώσουν πως τα σώματα των δικών τους βρίσκονταν εκεί.

      « Καταγγέλλουν ότι τους ζητούνται χρήματα σε κάθε βήμα της διαδικασίας », είπε.

      Πηγές από διεθνείς οργανισμούς, μεταξύ αυτών και από τον Ερυθρό Σταυρό Βουλγαρίας, επιβεβαίωσαν πως είχαν συναφή εμπειρία από συγγενείς τους οποίους είχαν υποστηρίξει, και οι οποίοι είχαν επίσης αναγκαστεί να καταβάλουν χρήματα σε νεκροτομεία και νοσοκομεία.

      « Καταλαβαίνουμε ότι αυτοί οι άνθρωποι είναι πολύ καταβεβλημένοι και πρέπει να πληρώνονται επιπλέον για όλη αυτή την επιπλέον δουλειά που κάνουν », σχολίασε στέλεχος του Ερυθρού Σταυρού Βουλγαρίας που μίλησε στην έρευνα υπό τον όρο ανωνυμίας.

      « Αλλά ας συμβαίνει αυτό με νόμιμο τρόπο ».

      * Στην έρευνα, που πραγματοποιήθηκε σε συντονισμό του Lighthouse Reports, συμμετείχαν οι Σταύρος Μαλιχούδης, Jack Sapoch, May Bulman, Maria Cheresheva, Steffen Ludke, Ivana Milanovic Djukic, Nicole Voegele, Jelena Obradović-Wochnik, Thom Davies, Arshad Isakjee, Doraid al Hafid, Anna Tillack, Oliver Soos, Klaas van Dijken, Aleksandar Milanovic, Camelia Ivanova, Pat Rubio Bertran.



    • Surge in refugee deaths in Balkans region where UK provides border force training

      InvestigationAlmost 100 people presumed to be migrants have died along one section of the route this year - a 46 per cent increase on the whole of 2022

      When he saw the photograph of his dead son, Hussam Adin Bibars collapsed to the floor. After three weeks of searching, he had found him – and his worst fears had been realised.

      The image, handed to him by a Bulgarian police officer, showed 27-year-old Majd Addin Bibars lying pale and lifeless on a patch of grass. “I fell down when I saw it,” Mr Bibars, 53, recalls. “I recognised him immediately … It was my son.”

      The Syrian father of five, who has refugee status and lives in Denmark, wanted to see Majd’s body for himself – but was told it had already been buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery several miles away, four days after it was found.

      Majd had been travelling through Bulgaria from Turkey in the hope of reaching Germany, where he would be closer to his parents and hoped to later bring his pregnant wife and young daughter, Hanaa, to join him.

      He had been with a group of around 20 others embarking on the same, dangerous journey – but he stopped responding to texts and calls at the end of September. The smuggler leading the group informed Mr Bibars that Majd had fallen sick and the group had left him, the grieving father says.

      After 22 days searching for Majd from afar, Mr Bibars decided to spend the little money he had to travel to Bulgaria.

      After speaking to a staff member at a hospital near the Turkish border – with the help of a translator – he was directed to the local police station, where he was shown the photo of Majd’s lifeless body. He was told his son had died of thirst, exhaustion and cold – and that he had been buried.

      “We hear that Europe is the land of freedom, democracy and human rights – where are human rights if I can’t see my son before his funeral?” asks Mr Bibars. “All I saw was a grave, photos and his phone. That’s all I have of him.”

      Majd was one of many people who have died while travelling through the Balkans to reach Western Europe – and whose families are forced to undergo a painstaking process to find out what happened.

      Many making these fatal journeys had hoped to claim asylum in EU countries such as Germany and France, while others planned to try their luck on a small boat towards the UK, often due to existing family ties in the country. So far this year, Britain has received the fifth-highest number of asylum applications across Europe.

      There is no official data on the number of deaths, but an investigation by i, in collaboration with investigative bureau Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, Solomon, ARD and RFE/RL Sofia, has found that the bodies of 92 people presumed to be migrants have been received across six morgues in border areas along one section of the route – spanning Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia – this year, a 46 per cent increase on the whole of 2022.

      Border security in these countries has been tightened in recent years, helped by funding from the EU and the UK. Britain has provided training and equipment to Bulgarian border police since 2020, and Rishi Sunak announced in October that his Government would form bilateral initiatives with Bulgaria and Serbia aimed at tackling organised crime linked to illegal migration.

      Migration experts have criticised these agreements, highlighting the risks attached to such cooperation given that border guards in these countries are known to have been involved in violations of international law, including pushbacks and other violence against people on the move.

      Use of violence by border police in the Balkans has increased, with officers in some areas – notably Bulgarian police operating near the Turkish border and Serbian police in northern Serbia – documented using violence against people trying to cross, and sometimes illegally forcing them back across borders.

      Instead of deterring people from making the journeys, it has led them to take longer and more dangerous routes to evade security forces – leading to more deaths.

      At the same time, the number of people being resettled under safe and legal routes in Europe has declined, with 79 per cent fewer relocated under UNHCR resettlement schemes in the UK last year than in 2019, and 17 per cent fewer across the EU.

      This investigation has found that many migrants have been buried in anonymous graves, sometimes within days – like Majd – due to lack of space in morgues, making it almost impossible for their families to locate them.

      Milen Bozhidarov, the prosecutor in Yambol, a Bulgarian city close to the Turkish border, said Majd’s funeral took place after four days in keeping with their procedure of carrying out burials of unidentified migrants “fast” to free up space in the morgue.

      “When we have unidentified body that was found in a place that gives us no other explanation except that the person is a migrant, and the suggestion is that the relatives are somewhere in the world and no one is getting in touch with us that day or on the next day, then there are no objective reasons why the body should be kept,” he added.

      Some family members have been forced to pay bribes to morgue staff to find out whether their loved ones’ bodies are held. i has heard testimony from several families saying they paid sums of cash ranging from €50 to €300 to staff at the morgue in Burgas, a Bulgarian city near the Turkish border, to see the bodies.

      The head of the Burgas morgue, Galina Mileva, said it had not received any complaints about such incidents and encouraged people to report such cases to the morgue’s management.

      The countries where these deaths occur, and Europe as a whole, are under growing pressure from politicians, NGOs and forensic experts to create a mechanism to help families searching for missing loved ones who have died on these journeys.

      Families face additional hurdles when they can’t travel due to their status or nationality. Asmatullah Sediqi, an Afghan asylum seeker in the UK, was prevented by UK Home Office rules from travelling to Bulgaria, where his 22-year-old brother Rahmatullah had gone missing presumed dead after crossing from Turkey.

      A friend went on his behalf, but Bulgarian police refused to provide any information, and morgue staff said he would need to pay them €300 to see any bodies, Mr Sediqi said.

      “They just know money. They don’t care about a human life,” he added.

      Mr Sediqi, 29, who lives in asylum accommodation in Warrington, borrowed money to pay the bribe. His friend established that one of the bodies in the morgue was Rahmatullah.

      By borrowing another €3,000 – putting him into heavy debt – Mr Sediqi paid a company to repatriate his brother’s body to his parents in Afghanistan. But he has had no information by the Bulgarian authorities on how Rahmatullah died.

      “They didn’t give us the results of the autopsy because I don’t have a visa to go there,” he says. “It’s very painful not knowing what happened to my brother.”

      Dr Vidak Simić, a pathologist in Bosnia who carries out autopsies on bodies found in the Drina River on the Serbian border, said the number of unidentified migrant bodies being brought to him for autopsy has surged in the past year.

      In 2023, he has examined the bodies of 28, compared with five last year and three in 2021. The vast majority remain unidentified and are buried in graves marked “NN” – an abbreviation for a Latin term for a person with no name.

      The doctor is working with a local activist to try to help families find missing loved ones, checking his autopsy files to see if any unidentified bodies match the description of missing people – but says a proper system is needed.

      “[Families] enter a painstaking process, through embassies, burial organisations, to obtain a bone sample, so that they can compare it with one of their family members,” he says. “Nobody is doing the work to connect families with those who have drowned.”

      EU human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatović described “inaction” among European countries to facilitate DNA matching and create a data collection procedure on migrant disappearances and deaths.

      Erik Marquardt, Green Party politician in the European Parliament, said the fact that countries such as Bulgaria are burying unidentified bodies within days suggested they “don’t want attention brought to these cases”.

      “We have to think about whether we can set up a database at an EU level that would oblige member states to clarify: who is this person’s child, who are the parents, how can they be reached? This is very important,” he added.

      Until then, the bodies of those who die escaping conflict will continue to pile up in morgues or be buried without a trace, leaving more families to endure an agonising process to find out they have died – or left in a perpetual state of uncertainty.

      A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK and Bulgaria have a close law enforcement partnership. By working together we are able to bolster Bulgaria’s border security, tackle serious organised crime and immigration crime threats, and disrupt the business model of these criminal groups.

      “Individuals awaiting the outcome of their asylum claims in the UK are not permitted to travel abroad, but are provided with a range of support by the government.”


    • Almost 100 refugees died on their way through Bulgaria within the last two years

      According to a research by the ARD studio (https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/europa/bulgarien-migranten-todesfaelle-100.html) in Vienna in cooperation with Lighthouse Reports (https://www.lighthousereports.com/investigation/europes-nameless-dead), Der Spiegel (https://www.spiegel.de/ausland/vermisste-fluechtlinge-auf-der-balkanroute-europas-namenlose-tote-a-5d0b55a7), RFE/RL (https://www.svobodnaevropa.bg/a/migranti-zaginali-bejanci/32708468.html), Solomon (https://wearesolomon.com/el/mag/thematikh/metanasteush/dead-refugees-balkans) and inews (https://inews.co.uk/news/world/surge-refugee-deaths-balkans-uk-training-border-forces-2785043) – which was published in the beginning of December 2023 – at least 93 people died on their way through Bulgaria in the last two years alone.

      The research team spoke with forensic pathologists in Bulgaria and people whose family members had gone missing or died on the route. The people on the run are usually dying because of exhaustion and cold on their route, which leads through mountains, bushes and the countryside. The last case was reported on the 27th of November 2023 by the Bulgarian authorities (https://orf.at/stories/3341237). Additionally there is a fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border which was constructed already in 2013 and replaced and modified in the following years with a bigger one (https://bordermonitoring.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/bm.eu-2020-bulgaria_web.pdf). Additionally to this numerous car accidents are happening regularly. Some of them are fatal (https://bulgaria.bordermonitoring.eu/2023/03/20/another-refugee-dies-on-the-streets-of-bulgaria).

      But not only the dangerous way is the problem for the people on the run, there is also the Bulgarian border police, which is accused of brutal Push-Backs. According to the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee only in 2022 almost 90.000 people where affected by #push-backs (https://ecre.org/2022-update-aida-country-report-on-bulgaria). Also young people with their families and unaccompanied minors are at risk to be push-backed, as the NGOs “Center for legal aid – Voice in Bulgaria“ and “Mission Wings“ found out, while conducting interviews in Turkey (https://www.tdh.de/fileadmin/user_upload/inhalte/04_Was_wir_tun/Themen/Weitere_Themen/Fluechtlingskinder/tdh_Bericht_Kinderrechtsverletzungen-an-EU-Aussengrenzen.pdf). For 2023 Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov stated that that app 165,000 ‚illegal entry attempts‘ at the Bulgarian-Turkish were prevented (https://www.novinite.com/articles/222633/October+Sees+41+Decrease+in+Illegal+Migrants+in+Bulgaria).

      With regard to Bulgaria, the fundamental rights officer of the EU border protection authority Frontex became active in a total of seven internally reported cases regarding possible violations of fundamental rights, the authority said in response to a request from ORF (https://orf.at/stories/3341237). In the beginning of December 2023. All cases concern pushback allegations from Bulgaria to Turkey, a Frontex spokeswoman said. At least 232 Frontex officers were deployed in Bulgaria in 2023 (https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/51259/exclusive-why-are-migrant-pushbacks-from-bulgaria-to-turkey-soaring).


  • La Saur de Dussopt suspendu à une règle de 3 ? | Mediapart | 28.11.23


    Dans une note juridique présentée en défense au tribunal, les avocats de la Saur, du puissant cabinet Bredin Prat, ont soutenu que même si le critère de prix n’avait pas été abaissé après cette intervention d’Olivier Dussopt (passant de 60 % à 50 %), la Saur aurait de toute façon remporté le marché. Comment a été faite cette simulation, questionne Bénédicte de Perthuis ? « Une simple règle de trois », balaye un des avocats de la Saur.

    Un représentant du Parquet national financier intervient alors : « On a refait tous vos calculs. Ils sont faux. » Panique sur les bancs de la défense. Discussions, messages, calculatrices... « Il y a manifestement une erreur de calcul », reconnaît un des avocats, avant de promettre de transmettre un nouveau calcul – vérifié, celui-là – pour le lendemain, dernier jour du procès, qui verra se succéder réquisitoire et plaidoiries.
    Sur le banc des prévenus, le ministre du travail Olivier Dussopt, qui a, lui, fait le choix de rester en poste quoi qu’il en coûte, ne bronche pas.

  • Henry Laurens : La décolonisation est la solution - L’Orient-Le Jour

    La solution à deux Etats semblant de plus en plus complexe à mettre en oeuvre à mesure que les positions des deux parties se cristallisent, le professeur au Collège de France évoque la décolonisation.

    les extraits, fournis par l’auteur de l’interview, qu’il est possible de lire sur X donnent envie…

  • War-related sexual and gender-based violence in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia: a community-based study

    Introduction. #Sexual_and_gender-based_violence (#SGBV) during armed conflicts has serious ramifications with women and girls disproportionally affected. The impact of the conflict that erupted in November 2020 in Tigray on SGBV is not well documented. This study is aimed at assessing war-related SGBV in war-affected Tigray, Ethiopia.

    Methods: A community-based survey was conducted in 52 (out of 84) districts of Tigray, excluding its western zone and some districts bordering Eritrea due to security reasons. Using a two-stage multistage cluster sampling technique, a total of 5171 women of reproductive age (15-49 years) were randomly selected and included in the study. Analysis used weighted descriptive statistics, regression modelling and tests of associations.

    Results: Overall, 43.3% (2241/5171) of women experienced at least one type of gender-based violence. The incidents of sexual, physical and psychological violence, and rape among women of reproductive age were found to be 9.7% (500/5171), 28.6% (1480/5171), 40.4% (2090/5171) and 7.9% (411/5171), respectively. Of the sexual violence survivors, rape accounted for 82.2% (411/500) cases, of which 68.4% (247) reported being gang raped. Young women (aged 15-24 years) were the most affected by sexual violence, 29.2% (146/500). Commonly reported SGBV-related issues were physical trauma, 23.8% (533/2241), sexually transmitted infections, 16.5% (68/411), HIV infection, 2.7% (11/411), unwanted pregnancy, 9.5% (39/411) and depression 19.2% (431/2241). Most survivors (89.7%) did not receive any postviolence medical or psychological support.

    Conclusions: Systemic war-related SGBV was prevalent in Tigray, with gang-rape as the most common form of sexual violence. Immediate medical and psychological care, and long-term rehabilitation and community support for survivors are urgently needed and recommended.

    Keywords: community-based survey; health policy; injury; public health.


    #viols #viol_de_guere #Tigray #Ethiopie #guerre #conflit_armé #femmes #filles #genre #article_scientifique #statistiques #chiffres

    Un article du Washington Post sur ce sujet (#paywall):

  • Israël, année zéro - AOC media par Elad Lapidot

    L’objectif de Buber fut de mettre fin à la violence et aux meurtres. Il considérait les Arabes comme un « toi » et non comme un « cela », et il pensait que le mouvement national palestinien devait être reconnu. Sion ne pouvait être que juste, ne pouvait que créer la paix, c’est-à-dire qu’elle ne pouvait exister d’après Buber que comme coopération judéo-arabe, comme alliance de paix. Il imaginait une relation positive avec les Arabes dans de différents domaines, plaidait pour une solidarité économique au lieu de la politique dominante du « travail hébreu » et pour le devoir d’apprendre la culture et la langue des Arabes et leur Islam, contrairement aux sentiments anti-arabes omniprésents, souvent racistes, chez les colons juifs. Au lieu d’un État juif, Buber prônait l’idée d’un État binational qui œuvrerait au bénéfice de l’ensemble de la population du pays et qui s’intégrerait dans une fédération régionale d’États du Proche-Orient.

    Cette vision semble aujourd’hui illusoire. La violence terrible des massacres perpétrés le 7 octobre par le Hamas nous a profondément choqués, nous les Juifs israéliens. Notre choc ne nous a pas empêchés de faire des comparaisons. Au contraire, la prise de conscience que nos enfants sont la cible d’une telle haine a réactivé notre traumatisme collectif le plus profond. Beaucoup donnent un sens à ces atrocités en les comparant aux meurtres de masse des Juifs pendant la Shoah et dans les pogroms. Ils contextualisent la haine palestinienne comme une nouvelle éruption d’antisémitisme – pas seulement barbare, mais le mal pur.

    Cette vision dicte la réponse militaire d’Israël. La violence extrême et indiscriminée des attaques israéliennes sur la bande de Gaza depuis le 7 octobre vise à éradiquer le mal, à sauver les Juifs d’Auschwitz. Le Premier ministre Netanyahou a déclaré à ses soldats : « C’est une guerre des fils de la lumière contre les fils des ténèbres. »

    Dans cette atmosphère, quiconque propose une contextualisation alternative des massacres, une contextualisation qui met l’accent sur le conflit israélo-palestinien et non pas sur l’éternelle haine des Juifs, quiconque suggère que les actions d’Israël à Gaza ne sont peut-être pas la solution mais font partie du problème, est souvent taxé de justifier le mal. Ceux qui pensent différemment sont traités comme des traîtres.

    Pensons à Buber. Sa vision semble aujourd’hui illusoire, comme elle l’était pour la plupart des sionistes à l’heure zéro du conflit et tout au long de son histoire. Même Brit Shalom n’a été que de courte durée. Mais Buber est resté ferme. Avec quelques-uns, un trop petit nombre, il a continué à défendre l’impératif de la coopération contre la stratégie de domination qui a déterminé la politique juive en Palestine et, plus tard, dans l’État d’Israël. La violence actuelle, persistante et excessive, jette une ombre sur les perspectives d’un avenir binational. Cependant, si nous voulons éviter un génocide ou un suicide, une variante de la vision de Brit Shalom est le seul avenir possible. Pour une grande partie, cela dépend de notre capacité de trouver aujourd’hui la force de déclarer, en tant que Juifs, en tant qu’Israéliens : « C’est notre volonté que les condamnations à mort prononcées à cause de nous, à cause des méfaits commis à notre encontre, ne soient pas exécutées. »

  • At Tesla’s Giant Texas Factory, Injuries and Safety Lapses Mount

    An explosion in the castings department. A worker pinned by a robot. Elon Musk’s gargantuan car factory in Austin is critical to Tesla’s plans to sell 20 million vehicles a year. But there’s a pattern of risky incidents at the plant, current and former workers say.

    In 2021, an engineer was programming the software that controls manufacturing robots at Tesla’s Austin, Texas, factory when something went wrong.

    Two of the robots, which cut car parts from freshly cast pieces of aluminum, were disabled so the engineer and his teammates could safely work on the machines. A third one, which grabbed and moved the car parts, was inadvertently left operational, according to two people who watched it happen. As that robot ran through its normal motions, it pinned the engineer against a surface, pushing its claws into his body and drawing blood from his back and his arm, the two people said.

    After another worker hit an emergency stop button, the engineer maneuvered his way out of the robot’s grasp, falling a couple of feet down a chute designed to collect scrap aluminum and leaving a trail of blood behind him, one of the witnesses said.

    #paywall #USA #travail #accident #exploitation #robotique

  • Transition énergétique : pour Agnès Pannier-Runacher, « la transformation à engager est d’une ampleur comparable à celle de la première révolution industrielle »

    Transition énergétique : pour Agnès Pannier-Runacher, « la transformation à engager est d’une ampleur comparable à celle de la première révolution industrielle »

    Pour qui voulait encore en douter, une preuve supplémentaire que le capitalisme est à la recherche de sa sauvegarde à travers la "transition énergétique" (qui succède bien entendu au "développement durable" en attendant la prochaine trouvaille des élites dirigeantes). Où est la prochaine source d’accumulation, viiiiite !

    Pannier-Runacher, si parfait exemple de la déconnexion des hauts fonctionnaires avec le monde réel.

    #capitalisme #accumulation #panique (on la sent un peu quand même)
    #paywall (mais en fait à ce stade je crois bien que je m’en fous)

    • Ah mais non, pas question : tu vas boire le calice jusqu’à la lie. Et pouvoir t’endormir en rêvant de voitures électriques (qui consommeront moins de carburant) pilotées par Agnès Pannier-Nulle-à-chier qui fera rien qu’à demander gentiment à Patrick Pouyanné d’éviter de produire davantage d’hydrocarbures à l’horizon 2030.
      On ne saurait trop conseiller à la ministre (de la trahison énergétique) de se déguiser en éolienne : cela lui donnera un prétexte pour pouvoir continuer à brasser du vent.


      Ah mais tiens, ça me revient : on lui dit aussi de rapatrier les avoirs qu’elle détient dans des établissements financiers de Guernesey, de Hong Kong et de l’état américain du Delaware et de nous raconter une belle histoire de décarbonation ?


      ♫♪ Perenco, raconte-nous histoire. Perenco, raconte-nous une histoire ...♪♫

  • En Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, le fiasco de la distribution des fonds européens aux agriculteurs : « Vous êtes nuls, des incompétents »


    A l’origine du conflit, l’instruction des dossiers de demande de dotation pour une installation de jeune agriculteur ou d’aide à l’investissement, dont les régions ont obtenu le pilotage depuis le 1er janvier 2023. Celles-ci en assumaient déjà la responsabilité, mais elles en déléguaient la gestion technique à l’Etat et à ses directions départementales des territoires (DDT). Au 1er janvier, 44 % des paiements de la séquence précédente avaient été effectués par l’Etat en Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Les 56 % de reliquat, soit 6 500 dossiers pour un montant de 80 millions d’euros, ont aussitôt été livrés au conseil régional. « On a vu arriver des camions de déménagement pleins de papiers et de cartons à traiter en plus des nouvelles demandes », raconte un agent sous couvert d’anonymat.

    L’Etat avait prévu pour cela des transferts de personnels au conseil régional ou des compensations financières, soit l’équivalent de trente-cinq temps plein. La plupart des agents des DDT, répartis dans les départements, ont refusé de déménager à Besançon et Dijon où la collectivité a concentré le dispositif. Des recrutements ont été lancés, sans guère de succès et dix-sept postes ne sont toujours pas pourvus. Sans relais de terrain, avec de surcroît un changement d’outil informatique à maîtriser, le conseil régional n’a pu faire face. Seuls 300 dossiers d’aides ont été traités sur les 3 500 en retard de paiement.

  • La confirmation de l’annulation de l’agrément d’Anticor, « une décision révoltante qui ébranle le combat contre la corruption », pour l’avocat de l’association

    Contre toute attente, pas étonnée du tout ! #macronie et #paywall

    Contre toute attente, l’association anticorruption a encaissé un nouveau revers judiciaire, jeudi 16 novembre, devant la Cour administrative d’appel de Paris.

    • Cet autre article dévoile le torpillage de l’association par trois de ses membres :

      Et si la chute d’Anticor n’était pas seulement l’histoire d’un simple camouflet judiciaire ? Ces trois dernières années, l’association a été mêlée à un drôle d’imbroglio. Le scénario qui s’est déroulé a des airs de polar politique, avec son lot de surprises et de zones d’ombre, pimenté par une brochette de personnages truculents.
      Deux obscurs retraités, du genre opiniâtre et rancunier partis en guerre contre Anticor : l’un, Yves Sassiaut, friand de questions aux accents complotistes, selon un adhérent qui l’a bien connu ; l’autre, Claude Bigel, passionné de comptabilité, de handball et adepte des rapports de force. Mais aussi un ténor du barreau parisien et proche de la Macronie, Me Frédéric Thiriez, devenu leur allié de circonstance. Un climat de tensions et de défiance, entre un pouvoir politique agacé et une association minée par d’interminables querelles internes. Et, comme dans les séries américaines à rebondissements, un coup de billard à trois bandes découvert sur le tard. Avec un épilogue en forme d’interrogation : le retrait de l’agrément d’Anticor serait-il le crime parfait ?


  • Des centaines d’ados sans-papiers mis à la rue après avoir refusé le chantage des pouvoirs publics | StreetPress

    Des centaines d’ados étrangers ont été expulsés de centres d’hébergement, quelques jours seulement après avoir été mis à l’abri. Le motif : ils ont rejeté une procédure destinée à des personnes majeures.

    Ibrahim (1) a 16 ans et un débit de parole rapide, comme s’il avait eu besoin de parler depuis trop longtemps. Le jeune Guinéen fait partie des 430 mineurs non accompagnés (#MNA) remis à la rue ou menacés de l’être ces derniers jours à Paris, en pleine trêve hivernale. Tous avaient pourtant été pris en charge dans une grande opération de mise à l’abri organisée par la préfecture de la région Île-de-France, le 19 octobre dernier. Lui a été logé porte de la Villette, dans l’un des centres d’accueil et d’examen des situations (CAES), des hébergements destinés aux demandeurs d’asile où ont été répartis les mineurs isolés de la capitale. Deux semaines plus tard, Ibrahim est prié de quitter les lieux sous 48 heures.

    #paywall #douce_France #Paris #migrants

    • J’en peux plus du traitement fait aux MNA, aux mineurs en danger, aux personnes malades, détenus, personnes âgées, pauvres, racisées ...j’en peux plus de ce pays . J’ai lu des horreurs concernant tous ces sujets. J’en peux plus de l’ED, de la gauche , du centre... Cet hiver est une horreur pour les pauvres ...

  • Conflit Israël-Hamas : des ambassadeurs au Moyen-Orient manifestent leur inquiétude

    RÉCIT - Via une note commune, plusieurs ambassadeurs de France au Moyen-Orient regrettent la position de Paris dans le conflit israélo-palestinien.

    C’est un geste inédit dans l’histoire récente de la #diplomatie_française dans le #monde_arabe. Plusieurs ambassadeurs de France au Moyen-Orient et dans certains pays du Maghreb - une dizaine, selon nos informations - ont collectivement rédigé et signé une note, regrettant le virage pro-israélien pris par Emmanuel Macron dans la guerre entre l’État hébreu et le Hamas.

    Cette note commune a été adressée au Quai d’Orsay, avec des destinataires à l’Élysée, précise un diplomate à Paris, qui l’a lue. « Ce n’est pas un brûlot, ajoute ce diplomate, mais dans la note que l’on pourrait tout de même qualifier de note de dissidence, ces ambassadeurs affirment que notre position en faveur d’#Israël au début de la crise est incomprise au Moyen-Orient et qu’elle est en rupture avec notre position traditionnellement équilibrée entre Israéliens et #Palestiniens. » La note est à la fois claire sur le constat et relativement feutrée dans les termes utilisés. Selon ce diplomate, « elle établit une perte de crédibilité…


    • https://archive.ph/HuNR6

      Cette note commune a été adressée au Quai d’Orsay, avec des destinataires à l’Élysée, précise un diplomate à Paris, qui l’a lue. « Ce n’est pas un brûlot, ajoute ce diplomate, mais dans la note que l’on pourrait tout de même qualifier de note de dissidence, ces ambassadeurs affirment que notre position en faveur d’Israël au début de la crise est incomprise au Moyen-Orient et qu’elle est en rupture avec notre position traditionnellement équilibrée entre Israéliens et Palestiniens. » La note est à la fois claire sur le constat et relativement feutrée dans les termes utilisés. Selon ce diplomate, « elle établit une perte de crédibilité et d’influence de la France, et constate la mauvaise image de notre pays dans le monde arabe. Ensuite, sous une forme assez diplomatique, elle laisse entendre que tout cela est le résultat des positions prises par le président de la République ».

      Sollicités par Le Figaro, trois anciens diplomates chevronnés nous ont confirmé qu’il s’agissait « d’une démarche collective, sans précédent de la part d’ambassadeurs de France au Moyen-Orient », rappellent Denis Bauchard, Charles-Henri d’Aragon et Yves Aubin de la Messuzière, ex-ambassadeurs au Maghreb et au Moyen-Orient. Les auteurs de la note se sont collectivement engagés à rester discrets. Un autre diplomate, en poste au Quai d’Orsay et proche des contestataires, explique qu’« ils ont pris leurs responsabilités, ils sont solidaires et dans leur esprit, il s’agit d’une première étape ».
      Sollicités par Le Figaro, l’Élysée puis le Quai d’Orsay minimisent la portée de cette bronca feutrée et font chorus, répondant qu’ils n’ont « pas à commenter de la correspondance diplomatique qui est, par définition, confidentielle ». « Cette contribution, ajoutent-ils, est une contribution parmi de très nombreuses autres. À la fin, ce sont les autorités politiques élues par les Français, le président de la République et son gouvernement, en l’espèce sa ministre (Catherine Colonna, NDLR), qui décident de la politique étrangère de la France ».

      Crise de confiance
      La référence à Mme Colonna surprend au Quai d’Orsay, où le sentiment d’être marginalisé par l’Élysée est largement répandu. Ce fut le cas notamment - et cela alimenta la rancœur des « dissidents » - lorsque Emmanuel Macron a proposé, lors de sa rencontre à Tel-Aviv avec Benyamin Netanyahou, l’extension de la coalition internationale anti-Daech au Hamas. Une idée difficilement opérationnelle, qui a suscité l’incompréhension au Moyen-Orient, avant d’être abandonnée.

      Les auteurs de la note regrettent que dans plusieurs pays du Moyen-Orient et du Maghreb, les critiques les plus sévères soient adressées, certes aux États-Unis et à la Grande-Bretagne, mais aussi à la France, comme l’ont montré des manifestations devant leurs ambassades. « Nous sommes parfois accusés de complicité de génocide », confie sous le sceau du secret un jeune diplomate en poste au Moyen-Orient, qui reprend un grief de ses aînés.

      Depuis le début de la guerre, certains ambassadeurs de France n’ont plus accès à certains cercles décisionnaires des pays où ils sont en poste. Un ambassadeur a également reçu des menaces de mort par des radicaux, furieux des positions prises par Paris.

      Si la direction Afrique du Nord - Moyen-Orient - dont dépendent les frondeurs - n’a pas été mise dans la boucle en amont, le diagnostic dressé dans la note est largement partagé par les diplomates qui depuis Paris couvrent le monde arabe. En sous-main, au Quai d’Orsay, de nombreux diplomates soutiendraient leur initiative.

      La défiance vis-à-vis de nous est profonde et risque d’être durable. Nos interlocuteurs (...) estiment que notre discours basé sur l’humanisme est en contradiction avec notre nouvelle approche
      Un diplomate

      La crise de confiance entre la France et le Moyen-Orient est « grave » et risque d’être « durable », avertissent les auteurs de la note. « On a connu dans le passé des crises avec les caricatures du prophète Mahomet, mais nous sommes parvenus à les désamorcer assez rapidement », rappelle le diplomate, qui a lu la note. « Cette fois-ci, ajoute-t-il en écho à la mise en garde des contestataires, la défiance vis-à-vis de nous est profonde et risque d’être durable. Nos interlocuteurs trouvent que l’on se trahit nous-mêmes, ils estiment que notre discours basé sur l’humanisme est en contradiction avec notre nouvelle approche. Pour eux, la France avec sa parole alternative n’existe plus. »
      Toutefois, les frondeurs se félicitent du récent entretien d’Emmanuel Macron à la BBC dans lequel il critique sévèrement les frappes israéliennes contre les civils palestiniens de Gaza, « peut-être le signe qu’il a compris que sa position devait évoluer ».

    • Juste pour rire : essayez de citer de mémoire, là vite fait, le nom de notre ministre des Affaires étrangères. C’est tellement pas évident qu’ils ont été obligés de préciser dans une NDLR :

      « Cette contribution, ajoutent-ils, est une contribution parmi de très nombreuses autres. À la fin, ce sont les autorités politiques élues par les Français, le président de la République et son gouvernement, en l’espèce sa ministre (Catherine Colonna, NDLR), qui décident de la politique étrangère de la France ».

    • Aux Etats-Unis, la ligne pro-israélienne de Biden est contestée au sein même de l’Etat fédéral

      Des notes internes, émanant notamment de diplomates du département d’Etat, appellent le président américain à demander un cessez-le-feu à Gaza et à se montrer plus critique envers Israël.


      #France #USA

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDAFNBkFWpg&feature=youtu.be

      14 nov. 2023, LCI, 30 minutes

      « Ce qui se passe à l’heure actuelle en Cisjordanie est absolument scandaleux. En réalité, ce que les colons sont en train de faire, c’est un nettoyage ethnique », Gérard Araud, ancien ambassadeur de France en Israël était l’invité de Un œil sur le monde


      En mars 2017, il prend position contre Marine Le Pen, à la suite de Thierry Dana, ambassadeur à Tokyo. Il devient le conseiller diplomatique d’Emmanuel Macron pendant sa campagne présidentielle de 2017 et, à ce titre, l’un des trente proches les plus influents du candidat selon Les Décodeurs du Monde.

      Lors de son départ à la retraite, alors qu’il est ambassadeur aux États-Unis, il qualifie Israël « d’État d’apartheid ».

      Après son départ à la retraite en avril 2019, il devient conseiller de l’entreprise israélienne de sécurité informatique NSO Group, éditrice du logiciel espion Pegasus et rejoint également la société de communication Richard Attias & Associates, détenue pour moitié par un fonds souverain saoudien. L’ancien ambassadeur fait l’objet, en 2021, « d’importantes vérifications » de la part de la Haute Autorité pour la transparence de la vie publique, et d’un signalement pour « intelligence avec une puissance étrangère » auprès de la procureure de Paris,. Pour ses activités avec NSO Group, il subit une retenue de 5 000 euros sur sa retraite de haut fonctionnaire en tant que ministre plénipotentiaire hors classe ayant fait valoir ses droits à la retraite.

  • Le scandale de la disparition de 7 milliards d’euros de l’association patronale de garantie des salaires embarrasse l’#Unédic

    Le scandale de la disparition de 7 milliards d’euros de l’association patronale de garantie des salaires embarrasse l’Unédic

    Des milliards évaporés sans que personne ne s’inquiète. Des salariés qui portent plainte après avoir découvert qu’une partie de l’argent du fonds de garantie patronal ne leur est pas parvenue. Les révélations de l’ex-directrice du régime de garantie des salaires ont conduit à l’ouverture d’une enquête. Mais tout est fait pour décrédibiliser Houria Aouimeur-Milano.
    Raphaël Stainville


    • C’était dans Le Monde il y a une semaine, mais, en effet, pratiquement pas repris dans le reste des médias…

      L’ex-directrice du régime de garantie des salaires n’obtient pas le statut de lanceuse d’alerte

      Le conseil de prud’hommes de Paris a rejeté, mardi 7 novembre, la demande d’Houria Aouimeur, qui affirmait avoir révélé au grand jour un détournement de fonds de plusieurs milliards d’euros, au détriment du dispositif permettant de payer les travailleurs employés dans des entreprises en difficulté.

      C’est un coup dur pour celle qui affirmait avoir révélé le scandale des entreprises en difficulté. Mardi 7 novembre, Houria Aouimeur, l’ancienne directrice nationale du régime de garantie des salaires AGS, a été déboutée de toutes ses demandes par le conseil de prud’hommes de Paris. Elle réclamait, en particulier, le statut de lanceuse d’alerte dans une affaire de détournement de fonds, mais les juges, saisis en référé, ont refusé de lui donner gain de cause.

    • L’affaire prend une nouvelle dimension, à l’automne 2022, lorsque l’Unédic – l’employeur des personnels du régime AGS, donc de Mme Aouimeur – s’intéresse aux « frais de mission, de réception et de déplacement » de la directrice nationale et de ses proches collaborateurs. Une première « évaluation » met en évidence des dépenses très élevées : notes de restaurants, courses en taxi… Une autre expertise – du cabinet PwC – parvient à des constats similaires tout en pointant du doigt des contrats et des marchés passés avec des prestataires dans des conditions irrégulières. Du fait de tous ces « manquements », l’Unédic – qui est le patron de Mme Aouimeur – décide de la licencier, en février, pour « faute lourde ».

      Mme Aouimeur réfute les accusations portées contre elle, tout en soutenant que la rupture de son contrat de travail est une mesure de représailles destinée à la faire taire, après avoir mis au grand jour des détournements de fonds colossaux. Elle a engagé plusieurs procédures, dont l’une vise à obtenir l’annulation de son licenciement et la réintégration à son poste, en invoquant le fait qu’elle a été une lanceuse d’alerte.

      Mais le conseil de prud’hommes de Paris, statuant en « départage » (c’est-à-dire à l’issue d’une audience présidée par un magistrat professionnel), considère que Mme Aouimeur « ne peut revendiquer [ce] statut ». Dans son ordonnance rendue mardi, que Le Monde a pu consulter, il fait notamment valoir qu’elle avait été recrutée « avec pour mission spécifique d’engager un audit » sur des « anomalies » détectées dans le régime AGS au cours des semaines précédant son embauche. Elle en « a rendu compte à la direction de l’Unédic, dans le cadre de l’exécution de son contrat de travail », ce qui a conduit cette dernière à déposer plainte. Autrement dit, Mme Aouimeur a rempli la tâche qui lui était dévolue – ni plus ni moins.
      « C’est une décision importante car elle protège les vrais lanceurs d’alerte de ceux et celles qui se prévalent de ce statut, de mauvaise foi, à des fins personnelles, pour masquer leurs propres turpitudes », réagit Me Frédéric Benoist, l’avocat de l’Unédic. De son côté, Me Stéphanie Lamy, l’avocate de Mme Aouimeur, exprime sa déception : « C’est un message décourageant envoyé aux lanceurs d’alerte. » Le dossier n’est pas clos pour autant. L’ex-responsable du régime AGS a l’intention de faire appel de l’ordonnance prononcée mardi. Par ailleurs, elle a saisi les prud’hommes pour contester, sur le fond, la rupture de son contrat de travail. L’audience aura lieu le 28 mars 2024.

    • Oui, tout le monde sait que le JDD est passé à l’extrême droite. Mais il reste peut-être quelques journalistes de qualité à qui on avait promis un papier …

  • 5 graphiques pour prendre la mesure de l’évitement fiscal | Alternatives Economiques

    Le « Global Tax Evasion Report 2024 », publié ce 23 octobre, offre des statistiques détaillées sur la lutte contre les paradis fiscaux et l’évitement fiscal. Nous en avons sélectionné 5 graphiques pour mieux saisir le phénomène.

  • Il privilegio del passaporto

    Quanto vale la libertà?

    I termini “migrazioni” e “migranti” sono quelli utilizzati soprattutto per parlare delle persone che provengono, principalmente, dal Sud America, dall’Africa, dal Medio Oriente e dal Sud dell’Asia.

    Per indicare invece lo spostamento delle persone che provengono dagli Stati Uniti, dal Giappone o dai Paesi dell’Unione Europea, i termini utilizzati sono principalmente “viaggio”, “expat”, “fuga di cervelli”.

    Questa asimmetria linguistica utilizzata per descrivere la mobilità umana ci suggerisce che esiste una disparità non solo dettata dalla percezione che si ha delle persone che “si spostano” ma anche, evidentemente, dal privilegio della nazionalità del Paese di provenienza. Tale privilegio dipende non solo dalla ricchezza del Paese in cui si nasce – al netto di tutte le disparità sociali che troviamo anche all’interno dei Paesi ricchi -, ma dal passaporto.
    Tutti i passaporti sono uguali ma alcuni sono più uguali di altri

    Nonostante la definizione di passaporto sia generalmente nota, difficilmente ci si sofferma a riflettere sulla potenza di un documento simile e sul suo significato. Il passaporto viene utilizzato per viaggiare da un Paese all’altro, è il lasciapassare, per l’appunto, per poter superare i confini e raggiungere la destinazione desiderata.

    Tuttavia, il passaporto è un’invenzione piuttosto recente. Nell’inchiesta Passaporti d’oro (o The man Who knows no boundaries), scritta dal giornalista Hannes Grassegger su Das Magazin e tradotta da Internazionale, si legge: “solo nella metà del ‘900 si è imposto l’obbligo del visto e quindi anche di dimostrare la cittadinanza. Storicamente, il passaporto […] è l’evoluzione dell’antico salvacondotto che garantiva una protezione ai nobili o ai loro emissari”. E ancora, “la ricercatrice Ayelet Schachar – giurista, Università di Toronto – parla di una lotteria dei passaporti in cui il paese di nascita condanna la maggioranza dell’umanità a stare tra i perdenti”.

    In effetti, se si osserva la classifica aggiornata del Global Passport Power Rank 2023, si noterà che tra i primi sette spiccano principalmente i Paesi nord occidentali – l’Italia è tra i passaporti che si trovano al secondo posto.

    L’unica eccezione sono gli Emirati Arabi Uniti (EAU) che si trovano al primo posto della classifica, infatti: “gli EAU hanno battuto paesi del calibro di Germania, Svezia, Finlandia e Lussemburgo nell’ultima classifica, anche se questi paesi sono tutti tra i primi cinque”, riporta la giornalista Natasha Turak sulla testata CNBC. In sostanza, se si è titolari di un passaporto degli EAU, è possibile viaggiare in un numero enorme di paesi senza visto e in molti altri è possibile ottenere un visto direttamente al proprio arrivo: la popolazione espatriata ammonta a circa l’88,52%, ovvero 9,0 milioni, mentre i cittadini emiratini ammontano solo all’11,48%, ovvero 1,17 milioni, secondo le statistiche del Global Media Insight.

    A differenza di persone di nazionalità siriana, nigeriana, sudanese o pakistana, ad esempio, una persona di nazionalità emiratina può entrare nell’area Schengen senza dover chiedere il visto e ciò dipende principalmente dalle relazioni economico-diplomatiche tra gli EAU e l’Unione Europea (UE), costituiti da accordi bilaterali per l’approvvigionamento di energia e il commercio – chiudendo, tuttavia, un occhio sulle violazioni dei diritti umani che si consumano quotidianamente nel ricco Paese del Golfo.

    L’assenza di vie legali effettivamente percorribili per entrare nei Paesi UE, l’impossibilità di ottenere visti di viaggio presso le ambasciate dei Paesi europei stanno alla base della creazione di un doppio binario: uno è quello percorso dalle persone costrette, ad esempio, a dover attraversare la pericolosa rotta del Mediterraneo, oppure cercare di oltrepassare i confini dalle rotte balcaniche (affrontando respingimenti violenti e illegali da parte delle autorità di frontiera). L’altro è il binario di prima classe e a cui i Paesi europei aprono le porte, ed è percorso da coloro che possono permettersi di acquistare i cosiddetti visti o passaporti d’oro.

    Passaporti e visti d’oro

    Come anticipato, se per la maggior parte delle persone provenienti dai Paesi del Sud Globale viaggiare in Europa legalmente risulta essere una corsa a ostacoli impossibile da superare, le procedure per ottenere visti e passaporti sono molto più semplici per alcune categorie di persone. Tali operazioni sono possibili per via di determinati schemi dell’area Schengen, come viene spiegato nel sito ufficiale della stessa: il Golden Visa è un programma di immigrazione che garantisce a persone facoltose un permesso di soggiorno in un paese straniero in cambio di un importante investimento. Il Golden Passport, invece, è un programma che garantisce [l’acquisizione] della cittadinanza e del passaporto del paese in cui si investe. In entrambi i casi, solitamente, all’investitore/trice non è richiesto di vivere a tempo pieno nel paese in cui ha investito.

    Per poter beneficiare di un visto d’oro o di un passaporto d’oro in Europa, l’investimento dovrebbe essere piuttosto elevato: si tratta di una somma che varia dai centinaia di migliaia ai milioni di dollari. A questo proposito, nel 2018, la coalizione Transparency International, ha pubblicato un rapporto dal titolo European Getaway 1 in cui è stato analizzato l’elevato rischio di corruzione generato dagli schemi Golden Visa e Golden Passport. Innanzitutto, si legge nel rapporto, almeno dal 2008 al 2018, nell’UE, 6 mila cittadini stranieri hanno ottenuto la cittadinanza e quasi 100 mila hanno ottenuto la residenza UE attraverso visti e passaporti d’oro. “Spagna, Ungheria, Lettonia, Portogallo e Regno Unito (prima della Brexit, l’uscita di quest’ultimo dall’Ue) hanno concesso il maggior numero di visti d’oro – oltre 10.000 ciascuno – agli investitori e alle loro famiglie. Seguono Grecia, Cipro e Malta”. I programmi dei visti d’oro, sempre nel medesimo arco di tempo, hanno attirato circa 25 miliardi di euro in investimenti diretti esteri.

    Tuttavia, come riporta la Transparency International, sebbene tali schemi siano legali, il rischio di corruzione deriva dalla scarsa trasparenza degli Stati UE (ad esempio, si legge nel rapporto, nessuno dei Paesi UE ha reso pubblica la lista degli investitori tranne Austria e Malta), sia perché – analizzando in modo particolare i casi di Cipro, Malta e Portogallo – è stata riscontrata una grave carenza sui dovuti controlli nei confronti di chi richiede tali documenti.

    Sia perché, come viene spiegato nel rapporto, gli schemi per l’ottenimento dei visti d’oro sono altamente desiderabili per chiunque abbia a che fare con la corruzione, in quanto offrono l’accesso a un rifugio sicuro – “e non soltanto in termini di stile di vita di lusso, quanto ad esempio in campo bancario, dove un cliente munito di passaporto UE si troverà in una posizione agevolata rispetto a chi proviene da un Paese considerato a rischio o sottoposto a sanzioni”, come ha spiegato il giornalista Duccio Facchini su Altreconomia.

    Dell’alto rischio di vendere visti e passaporti d’oro a ricchi investitori senza i dovuti controlli, ha molto parlato il Guardian che ad esempio, nel 2017, nell’articolo Corrupt Brazilian tycoon among applicants for Portugal’s golden visas ha riportato diversi casi di imprenditori brasiliani condannati, o accusati di corruzione, che hanno acquistato proprietà in Portogallo con il fine di ottenere visti d’oro. Di seguito alcuni esempi (tra i tanti): Otavio Azevedo, un ricco imprenditore brasiliano condannato a 18 anni di carcere per corruzione. Due anni prima del suo arresto, Azevedo aveva acquistato una proprietà da 1,4 milioni di euro a Lisbona e successivamente aveva chiesto un visto d’oro nel 2014; Pedro Novis, ex presidente e amministratore delegato di Odebrecht, la più grande impresa di costruzioni del Sud America, ha acquistato nel 2013 una proprietà da 1,7 milioni di euro a Lisbona. Questo acquisto è stato la base per la sua richiesta di visto d’oro presentata alla fine del 2013. La società è stata accusata di molteplici reati di corruzione in tutta l’America Latina; Carlos Pires Oliveira Dias, vicepresidente del gruppo edile Camargo Correa, ha investito 1,5 milioni di euro in Portogallo nell’ambito del programma Golden Resident nel 2014 – il gruppo Camargo Correa è stato anche collegato allo scandalo Car Wash (operazione della polizia federale brasiliana su gravi reati legati alla corruzione). Oliveira Dias ha confermato di aver ottenuto il visto d’oro.
    L’UE “corre ai ripari“

    Nel 2020 la Commissione Europea ha dato avvio a due procedimenti di infrazione rispettivamente contro Cipro e Malta ritenendo che la concessione della cittadinanza UE in cambio di pagamenti o investimenti predeterminati, senza alcun legame reale con lo Stato membro interessato, fosse in violazione del diritto dell’UE – in particolare dell’articolo 4(3) del Trattato sul Funzionamento dell’Unione Europea.

    La stretta sulla vendita dei passaporti d’oro si è ulteriormente intensificata in seguito allo scoppio della guerra in Ucraina, per impedire agli oligarchi russi – che già prima usufruivano dei programmi Golden Visa e Golden Passport, in particolare attraverso i programmi di Cipro – di entrare in UE. Nell’inchiesta “Passaporti d’Oro” del giornalista Grassagger, viene spiegato che all’inizio della guerra, molti cittadini russi benestanti hanno quindi acquistato il passaporto turco: “non uno falso, si badi”, spiega Grassager, “ma quello che si ottiene legalmente in cambio di denaro. La questione in Turchia è regolata dall’articolo 12 della legge n. 5901 sulla cittadinanza, in base alla quale, per diventare turchi, bisogna dimostrare di aver comprato immobili in Turchia per un valore minimo di 400 mila dollari oppure di aver creato cinquanta posti di lavoro o di aver portato in Turchia mezzo milione di dollari investendo in imprese turche per un minimo di tre anni”.

    Nel 2022, riporta il Middle East Monitor, 5 mila cittadini russi hanno acquistato la cittadinanza turca allo scoppio della guerra in Ucraina, specie a seguito delle pesanti sanzioni imposte dai Paesi occidentali. Nell’inchiesta Cyprus Papers (2020) della testata Al Jazeera, è stato rivelato che 2.500 cittadini milionari, inclusi criminali già condannati, hanno ottenuto la cittadinanza cipriota tramite investimento.

    Diversi Paesi europei hanno successivamente deciso di porre restrizioni sui programmi Golden Visa o Golden Passport, come riporta Euronews: nel febbraio 2023, l’Irlanda ha eliminato il suo programma di visti d’oro – l’Immigrant Investor Program – che offriva la residenza irlandese in cambio di una donazione di 500 mila euro o di un investimento triennale annuale di 1 milione di euro nel paese; nello stesso mese il primo ministro portoghese António Costa ha annunciato l’intenzione di porre fine al programma di residenza per contrastare la speculazione sui prezzi immobiliari e sugli affitti.

    Nel mese di settembre 2023, il Portogallo ha definitivamente chiuso il programma Golden Visa, pur concedendo il rinnovo dei visti d’oro già acquisiti.

    Anche l’Italia ha il suo programma Golden Visa (o Visto per Investitori). I beneficiari devono investire almeno 500 mila euro (250 mila euro se si tratta di start-up innovative) in una società per azioni italiana, un contributo di beneficenza di 1 milione di euro a favore di un ente impegnato in un settore specifico come quello dei beni culturali o paesaggistici, o in titoli di Stato per un importo di almeno 2 milioni di euro.

    Benché per l’ottenimento della cittadinanza sia necessario comunque aver maturato i 10 anni di residenza, se si è cittadini extra-UE, e si possiede il denaro necessario, è possibile ottenere un visto di durata biennale (con possibile rinnovo di altri tre anni). L’Italia ha inoltre sospeso i visti d’oro per coloro che sono di cittadinanza russa o bielorussa con un anno di ritardo rispetto ai provvedimenti UE.
    Conclusione: un mercato che si espande mentre le disuguaglianze aumentano

    Henley & Partners, Arton Capital, Cs global partners, PwC sono solo alcune delle aziende di consulenza che agiscono da intermediarie tra cittadini stranieri milionari e i Paesi con programmi Golden Visa o Golden Passport desiderabili. “Secondo le stime di Kristin Surak, sociologa della London School of Economics”, scrive Grasseger nella sua inchiesta, “ogni anno nel mondo si ottengono circa 25 mila cittadinanze in cambio di denaro”.

    E mentre le persone ricche continuano a godere del diritto alla libertà di movimento, tutte le altre non hanno diritto di avere diritti: dall’ennesimo rigetto di visto dalle ambasciate dei Paesi UE fino ai respingimenti sistematici alle frontiere, dalla criminalizzazione strutturale che le conduce nei centri di detenzione fino alla stipulazione di accordi bilaterali con Libia e Tunisia (nonostante le gravi violazioni dei diritti umani di queste ultime ai danni delle persone migranti).

    Non si potrà mai parlare del rispetto dei diritti fondamentali di ogni cittadino/a finché l’accesso a questi ultimi viene garantito solo a chi può permetterselo.


    #passeport #privilège #migrations #visa #visas #business #passeports #Golden_Visa #citoyenneté #Golden_Passport #Chypre #Malte


    ajouté à la métaliste sur la #vente de #passeports et de la #citoyenneté de la part de pays européens/occidentaux à des riches citoyen·nes non-EU :

  • Barbares et civilisés, par Alain Gresh (Le Monde diplomatique, novembre 2023)

    (...) Et pourtant… Nous sommes le 4 septembre 1997, rue Ben-Yéhouda, en plein centre de Jérusalem. Trois kamikazes du Hamas se font exploser, tuant cinq personnes, dont une jeune fille de 14 ans prénommée Smadar, sortie de chez elle pour acheter un livre. Elle porte un nom prestigieux en Israël. Son grand-père, le général Mattityahou Peler, a été l’un des artisans de la victoire de juin 1967, avant de devenir une « colombe » et l’un des protagonistes de ce que l’on a appelé les « conversations de Paris », premières rencontres secrètes entre des responsables de l’Organisation de libération de la Palestine (OLP) et des Israéliens « sionistes ». En cette année 1997, M. Benyamin Netanyahou était déjà premier ministre et avait promis de détruire l’accord d’Oslo signé en 1993, ce qu’il réussira à faire. Il connaît aussi la mère de Smadar, Nourit, une camarade d’école et une amie de jeunesse. Quand il l’appelle pour lui présenter ses condoléances, elle lui rétorque : « Bibi qu’as-tu fait ? », le tenant pour responsable de la mort de sa fille (1). (...)

  • Ecriture inclusive : ce qu’en dit la #science

    Loin de se résumer à l’usage du #point_médian, l’usage de l’écriture inclusive a effectivement un impact sur les #représentations_mentales du lecteur, concluent de récents travaux français. Plus important encore, cet #impact varie en fonction du type d’écriture inclusive utilisée.

    « Péril mortel » de la langue française pour l’#Académie_Française ou « outil essentiel » d’après l’investigation Elles Font La Culture (https://ellesfontla.culture.gouv.fr/conseils_articles/42__;!!Orpbtkc!7gg4iKTPdMkm6FWuHya6vu_vrzDkrr_63AXwMlNYHRXM) portée par le ministère de la Culture, l’écriture inclusive divise. « Notre objectif est de remettre un peu de science dans ce débat qui évolue parfois en #polémique incontrôlée », pointe le psycholinguiste au CNRS Léo Varnet. Loin de se résumer à l’usage du point médian, l’usage de l’écriture inclusive a effectivement un impact sur les représentations mentales du lecteur, concluent de récents travaux français publiés dans la revue Frontiers in Psychology (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1256779/full#h3). Plus important encore, cet impact varie en fonction du type d’écriture inclusive utilisée.



  • #Chartreuse : un #marquis privatise la #montagne, les randonneurs s’insurgent

    Des centaines de personnes ont manifesté dans le massif de la Chartreuse contre un marquis qui interdit de traverser ses terres. Elles réclament un véritable #droit_d’accès à la nature.

    « Entends nos voix, #marquis_de_Quinsonas… » Malgré la fraîcheur de cette matinée de dimanche, ils étaient plusieurs centaines, jeunes et vieux, à être venus pousser la chansonnette au #col_de_Marcieu (#Isère), aux pieds des falaises du massif de la Chartreuse. L’objet de leur chanson et de leur colère ? #Bruno_de_Quinsonas-Oudinot, marquis et propriétaire d’une zone de 750 hectares au cœur de la #Réserve_naturelle_des_Hauts_de_Chartreuse, et sa décision, il y a quelques semaines, d’en fermer l’accès aux randonneurs.

    C’est fort d’une loi du 2 février 2023, qui sanctionne le fait de pénétrer sans autorisation dans une « propriété privée rurale et forestière » [1] que le marquis a fait poser pendant l’été des panneaux « #Propriété_privée » aux abords de son terrain. Et si ces panneaux changent la donne, c’est parce qu’ils sont désormais suffisants pour verbaliser le randonneur qui voudrait entrer ici, chamboulant ainsi des siècles de culture de partage des montagnes.

    Immédiatement après la découverte de ces panneaux, une #pétition rédigée par le #collectif_Chartreuse a été publiée en ligne, réclamant « la liberté d’accès à tout-e-s à la Réserve naturelle des Hauts de Chartreuse » et récoltant plus de 35 000 signatures en quelques semaines (https://www.change.org/p/pour-la-libert%C3%A9-d-acc%C3%A8s-%C3%A0-tout-e-s-%C3%A0-la-r%C3%A9serve-nat). Ciblant le « cas » de la Chartreuse, elle s’oppose « plus globalement à l’accaparement du milieu naturel par quelques personnes pour des objectifs financiers, au détriment du reste de la population », souligne le collectif.

    Car c’est aussi ce qui cristallise la grogne des manifestants en Chartreuse. Tout en fermant l’#accès de son terrain aux #randonneurs et autres usagers de la montagne, le marquis de Quinsonas y autorise des parties de #chasse_privée au chamois, autorisées par le règlement de la #réserve_naturelle, que paient de fortunés clients étrangers.

    « C’est complètement hypocrite »

    « C’est complètement hypocrite », disent Stan et Chloé, deux grenoblois âgés d’une trentaine d’années, alors que le marquis avait justifié sa décision par la nécessité de protéger la faune et la flore de son terrain des dommages causés par le passage des randonneurs.

    « On n’a rien contre les chasseurs, et les #conflits_d’usage ont toujours existé. Mais on dénonce le fait qu’il y a deux poids, deux mesures », explique Adrien Vassard, président du comité Isère de la Fédération française des clubs alpins et de montagne (FFCAM), venu « déguisé » en marquis pour mieux moquer le propriétaire des lieux.

    Beaucoup de manifestants craignent que l’initiative du marquis ne fasse des émules parmi les propriétaires privés d’espaces naturels, alors que 75 % de la forêt française est privée. « On n’est pas là pour remettre en cause la propriété privée, mais un propriétaire ne peut s’octroyer le droit d’accès à toute une montagne, il faut laisser un #droit_de_circulation », martèle Denis Simonin, habitant du massif et bénévole du collectif Chartreuse.

    Propriété privée contre liberté d’accéder à la nature, faudra-t-il choisir ? Les députés Les Écologistes de l’Isère Jérémie Iordanoff et de la Vienne Lisa Belluco ont en tout cas annoncé leur volonté de déposer un projet de loi pour abroger la contravention instaurée par la loi de février 2023, pour ensuite engager « un travail commun vers un vrai droit d’accès à la nature ». Rejoignant les revendications des manifestants, toujours en chanson : « Sache que les gueux ne s’arrêt’ront pas là, notre droit d’accès, oui on l’obtiendra ! »

    #privatisation #résistance

    • Dans le massif de la Chartreuse, #mobilisation contre la « privatisation » de la montagne

      Fort d’une nouvelle législation, le propriétaire d’une zone de 750 hectares dans une réserve naturelle de la Chartreuse a décidé d’en restreindre l’accès aux randonneurs. Partisans d’un libre accès à la nature et défenseurs de la propriété privée s’affrontent.

      « Chemin privé – Passage interdit. » Tous les 500 mètres, le rouge vif des petits panneaux tranche sur le vert des arbres ou le gris de la roche. Les indications parsèment le chemin qui mène jusqu’à la tour Percée, une immense arche rocheuse émergeant à environ 1 800 mètres d’altitude, au cœur de la réserve naturelle des Hauts de Chartreuse, à quelques kilomètres de Grenoble (Isère). Ces panneaux, tout récemment posés, cristallisent depuis quelques semaines un conflit entre les différents usagers de la montagne… et ses propriétaires.


    • .... « Chemin privé – Passage interdit. » Tous les 500 mètres, le rouge vif des petits panneaux tranche sur le vert des arbres ou le gris de la roche. Les indications parsèment le chemin qui mène jusqu’à la tour Percée, une immense arche rocheuse émergeant à environ 1 800 mètres d’altitude, au cœur de la réserve naturelle des Hauts de Chartreuse, à quelques kilomètres de Grenoble (Isère).
      ... Théoriquement, un randonneur qui se rendrait à la tour Percée pourrait donc désormais recevoir une amende allant jusqu’à 750 euros.
      ... le conflit en Chartreuse est devenu « le cas d’école d’une situation qui va se développer sur tout le territoire ». « L’intention affichée du texte, de limiter l’engrillagement pour permettre la circulation de la faune sauvage, était bonne », souligne Jérémie Iordanoff. Mais, quand 75 % de la forêt est privée, ce n’est pas acceptable de dire aux gens qu’ils ne peuvent se promener que sur 25 % du territoire. »
      ... Dans les faits, l’application de la loi du 2 février et de la contravention qu’elle instaure s’avère complexe. Selon les textes, seuls les gendarmes et les gardes privés, agréés par la préfecture puis assermentés par le tribunal judiciaire, peuvent verbaliser les randonneurs au titre de la violation de la propriété privée rurale et forestière. Un sujet qui a pu faire naître des tensions autour de la tour Percée, des chasseurs ayant reçu la mission – informelle – de surveiller la propriété. Selon les informations du Monde, à l’heure actuelle, aucun garde privé n’a été dûment habilité pour contrôler le terrain du marquis.

      La tour Percée est une double arche de 30 mètres de haut, située sur la parcelle du marquis de Quinsonas-Oudinot, à 1 800 mètres d’altitude. Le 8 octobre 2023. SOPHIE RODRIGUEZ POUR « LE MONDE »

      avec une série de photos


      #forêts #propriété_foncière

  • Des policiers falsifient des documents pour expulser des ados #sans-papiers

    Le ministère de l’Intérieur affirme qu’Ibrahim a 22 ans. Il en a pourtant six de moins. Pour pouvoir expulser des étrangers, des policiers font grandir des mineurs non accompagnés d’un simple coup de crayon. Une pratique illégale.


    #falsification #âge #expulsion #France #asile #migrations #réfugiés #adolescents #jeunes #majeurs #mineurs #faux_en_écriture_publique

    ping @karine4 @isskein

    signalé par @colporteur ici:

  • Nucléaire : la création de nouveaux réacteurs pourrait être simplifiée jusqu’à 20 km autour de ceux en service

    Un projet de décret propose d’alléger la création de réacteurs construits à moins de 500 m (en zone littorale) ou 5 km (hors zone littorale) d’une installation nucléaire en service. Cette distance pourrait être étendue à 20 km sous certaines conditions.

    Le projet de décret en consultation :
    Avant pour exprimer la proximité il y avait l’expression « à un jet de pierre », du coup pour la proximité à distance de 20 km on dit « à un nuage contaminé » ?