Some months ago Bulgarian anarchists and anti-racists began an ambitious plan to hold a No Borders Bulgaria event close to an immigration detention centre on the border of Bulgaria, Greece & Turkey – on the very edge of the European Union. The camp that took place 25-29 August 2011 was supported by people from Greece and elsewhere in the Balkans and from Western Europe, coming together to oppose a system that sees thousands of people imprisoned in detention centres.
A participant in the No Border camp wrote to Resistance, “The camp was GREAT!!!!!! I have rarely experienced such a solidarity, organizational cooperation and purposeful political work at the same place in the same time [including] discussions around the newly militarized Bulgarian-Turkish-Greek border region starting 4 days before the camp itself, the workshops in the camp, the communication with the village community where the camp took place, the plenaries….to the big demonstrations in front of the headquarters of the border police in Svilengrad, at the two borders and along and in front of the detention center in Lyubimetz! Keeping in mind the small dimension of activism in Bulgaria […] everything exceeded my expectation and even hopes!”
Whilst the media focuses on Europe’s economic woes, the militarisation of the EU’s borders has continued. During the battle for control of Libya over the summer, it is perhaps conveniently forgotten that the Italian state, through an agreement struck with the regime back in 2004, transported over 1,500 migrants and refugees to Libya who had previously been detained in Italy. Libyan immigration detention centres in Al Kufrah and Gharyan (close to Tripoli) and Sebha (in South West Libya) are paid for by the Italian state.
Meanwhile, many people trying to escape repression in Sub-Saharan and East Africa are now in extreme danger, and some have been deported back to these countries from Libya. Others have continued to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in small boats. Thousands have died. This is not to mention the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have fled during the conflict, now either trying to get back to their country of origin or seeking safety elsewhere. In Italy and Tunisia, refugees and asylum seekers have been confined in camps and transit centres for indefinite periods of time, their freedom of movement severely limited.
This makes the work of groups like No Borders Bulgaria all the more important. The EU’s member states are completely tied in with a system that treats people as a problem to be contained, even if this means paying a dictator to lock them up. Bulgarian and Greek anarchists have taken an important step in countering detention on the borders of Europe.
Article originally published in Resistance, bulletin of the Anarchist Federation, issue 135, October 2011: