Hundreds of groups and organizations worldwide sign multilingual statement to join forces and react together to the escalation of recent events taking place on the Greece-Turkey border. This joint statement that we signed is the first step of the cross-border initiative formed by those who unite in the transnational anti-racist struggle for the rights and freedoms of migrants.
Five years after the so-called “refugee crisis” and almost four years after the EU-Turkey deal, we are once again witnessing the violence caused by security-centred migration policies. Since last Thursday (27.02.2020), thousands of people have been moving towards the Turkey-Greece border following the announcement that migrants wanting to reach Europe will no longer be stopped on the Turkish side. The announcement from Turkish government officials came after the death of 33 Turkish soldiers in the Idlib area, where conflict escalation has seen the civilian death toll rapidly increase by the day, with basic infrastructure and health facilities being blatantly fired at. Turkish government keeps its borders with Syria closed while seeing no harm in pushing thousands of migrants towards the doors of Europe, into a limbo.
Migrants and asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and several African countries have been reaching the border-crossing areas of Edirne, Çanakkale, and İzmir; some were brought there by buses of municipalities, some arrived by private taxis, or walking. In the Edirne area, they have been allowed to proceed to the border zone by the Turkish authorities, but Greek police forces prevented them from passing with gas and sound-lighting bombs. At the same time, Turkish authorities restricted the access of journalists and reporters. Those stuck in the grey zone between the two states under heavy rain and with scant food supplies have been shouting for the opening of the borders. Some of those who reach the land border were told by the authorities to cross by sea despite hazardous weather conditions.
In Greece, the scenario is also worsening. The government has recently passed a new stricter and even more inhumane law on asylum entailing detention upon arrival to the Greek territory for all new asylum seekers. In the past days, local communities on the islands of Chios and Lesbos have been clashing with riot-police in opposition to the establishment of new detention facilities. Under the burden of the so-called “refugee crisis” since the EU-Turkey deal, they have been protesting against the deterioration of their own living conditions and of the living conditions of those seeking asylum there. However, xenophobia and racism have never stopped infesting the public discourse. In reaction to the latest events, Greek government officials have been fuelling hatred and fear by spreading the myth of an invasion by “illegals” at the behest of its neighbouring country.
Xenophobia, racism and their normalisation must be opposed everywhere they surface, be it in Turkey, Greece and anywhere else. The instrumentalization of the lives of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees reduced to a threat and a bargaining chip must end, both in domestic electoral campaigns and in the relations between the Turkish government and the EU. The security policies that push thousands of already displaced people into a limbo and the border regimes that cause the endless cycle of violence against them must cease. What we demand are peace, fundamental rights and freedoms of every person on the move.
Borders are killing, open the borders!
Stop the war on refugees & migrants!
Transnational solidarity against racism and war!
For a free world without borders, exploitation, and exile.
For the list of signatories, see here: https://crossbordersolidarity.com/.