In June 2015 the French government decided to close its borders with Italy. In response to this closure, between Menton and Ventimiglia, some of us chose to resist on the rocks near the border, showing the will not to stop, claiming freedom of movement and demanding the opening of the border.
Many people from all over Europe joined our struggle and in this way the Presidio No Border was born, a space where migrants and activists live together and resist the violence of the border. Since June the struggle keeps on going, every week the Presidio demonstrates at the border against the violent practice of denial of entry to France.
Frequent controls, stopping and detention of people are now every day practice at the italian-french border. Every day in the train station of Menton Garavan many people coming from Italy are being stopped and forced to leave the train according to their colour of skin and are deported to border police station. Here they could wait for hours without access to food and water and without being given any further information. Randomly the police chooses either to release those people into France, or to push them back to Italy, creating an absurd human ping pong game.
We escaped from the repression in our own countries to go to Europe, looking for freedom which is denied to us once more. What happens at the French border is just one step of a troubled path which starts at the Mediteranean coast. Here on this coast we experience very soon that the myth of Europe as a "land of human right and freedom" shows its hypocrite and repressive side.
Where is the freedom that Europe is so proud of, when actually it is constructing fences of iron and indifference? What happened to the human rights if the only answer to the asylum seekers is the refusal of their demands?
We escaped from refugee camps in our home countries where we were denied freedom of movement in order to reach Europe which, now, treats us in the same way that we were treated at home.
Many of us escaped from Sudan, where the civil war is still going on, where corrupt dictators have fed ethnic conflicts, have separated the population and go on abusing us. There is only one political party in Sudan which is reigning the country for 26 years; education and access to health care are available to only a small percentage of the population. Each form of opposition is brutally repressed, but also our daily life is full of terror: kidnapping, random jail sentences, torture and rape are tools that our government uses to control and repress us. Education is available only to those who are friend with the government and corruption is so strongly rooted in daily life that even for accessing the health care system you have to pay bribes.
In Eritrea people live in common fear of armed government forces. Military service in Eritrea is compulsory for both, women and men, at the age of 14. Our experience is shared by many other people, Africans and non-Africans, who are seeing in Europe a save shelter and a guarantee of a decent life. Opposing to this, Europe is contributing to the situation in our home countries by staying silent and in this way supporting our corrupt government and in the same time closing its doors for those who want to escape from these regimes.
To this Europe we are demanding from the No Borders camp in Ventimigla:
- the opening of the French-Italian border and freedom of movement within Europe for everyone, both Europeans and non-European citizens. Why can Europeans easily come to our countries when in the same time we find our limits even at the inner-european borders?
- We are appealing to the public opinion of Europena countries - which have colonized Africa, making it a battlefield full of internal struggle, fed by corrupt leaders - to pressure their governments in order to stop the silence and the support of our governments by arms and weapons.
- We are demanding the revision of Dublin III to dislink the process of asylum seekers with their first country of arrival in the EU. In the country of arrival we are often forced to give our fingerprints, which ties our asylum seeking process to this country. Many of us have parents, family and friends in other European countries and we can not reach them according to this treaty.
- The treaty of Geneva will be respected and the guarantee of human rights that Europe is so proud of.
- We are asking to European governments since they are always talking about legality: is the violent and repressive behaviour of the border police legal? Are forced identification, mistreatment, blackmail, physical violence legal? Is the ongoing criminalization of us, that we encounter since we are in Europe, legal?
- We ask journalists to report our stories without stereotypes, to report the unhuman condition that we are forced to travel whithin Europe, and to report the brutal practices at the inner-european borders.
The welcoming that we expected from Europe we can only find in individuals, but not in governments. Together with the brothers and sisters of the No Border camp we claim freedom of movement and the opening of all the borders.
We are not going back!
Migrants of the No Border camp in Ventimiglia.
I Migranti del Presidio No Borders Ventimiglia.
Article published first on 22. Sep 2015 in :: noborders20miglia.noblogs.org