[ 28. Aug 2011 ]

No Border Camp 2011 - first demos at the border crossings with Greece and Turkey

Cutting the borders

Some 300 international activists staged various actions on 27 August 2011 in protest against the militarisation of the EU's borders and the oppressive behind-the-scenes work of FRONTEX.


The No Border Camp continues (see the :: programme for more details on planned events).
Activists protested in the border area shared by Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey and distributed 'global passports' as part of a long weekend of action. A group of about 300 activists from around the world gathered under the banner of No Borders to demonstrate for freedom of movement, against deportations and racism. They set up a camp near the border-town of Svilengrad from 25 to 29 August from which to launch actions, hold workshops and interact with the local population on migration issues.

The demonstrations, which targeted one of the European Union's southernmost borders, aimed at drawing attention to the human rights abuses against migrants and their ongoing criminalisation.

Friday 26 August Svilengrad was the stage for the first protest with music and chants supporting freedom of movement and decrying the brutality of the European border regime enforced primarily by coordinating EU border control agency FRONTEX. It culminated in the symbolic placing of worn shoes at the entrance of the Bulgarian border police station in recognition of the migrants who have died on their way to the European Union.

The next day demonstrators focused their attention on the borders themselves. Symbolic global passports were distributed in Svilengrad and rejected at the border. Other actions ranged from street theatre presenting border police brutality and a collective die-in to a minute of silence thinking of all those facing struggles because of the European borders and racist politics.

"Racism is everywhere, it is a mainstream problem and it even affects our camp, as there are only few People of Color who were able to come here" said one Woman of Color attending the camp.

The demonstrations, which were all non-violent, were met by a strong police presence, which made the situation edgy at times though no arrests were made and everyone got back to the camp peacefully.

"Segregation politics are also present in the country I live in, where people are being deported or have to live in isolated refugee camps. Racism is enshrined in national laws, for example in dramatically limiting freedom of movement for refugees", said activist Nora Bird.

Actions continue until Monday when the activists plan to demonstrate in front of the migrant detention centre in nearby Lyubimec to show solidarity with those locked up in these 'prisons'. Humanitarian organisations are continually condemning conditions at these establishments where people can be detained for months before a possible deportation, leading to suicides and hunger strikes across Europe.

In order to join the Schengen area in 2012 Bulgaria had to meet certain conditions like strenghtening the border and building detention centers. FRONTEX has extended it's activities in Greece and Bulgaria along this southeastern EU frontier.

Press release of the Noborder Camp in Siva Reka, 28. Aug 2011.