Some news from No Border Camp Bulgaria

4 Sep

The No Border camp set-up began a week before the opening, with lots of preparation work like digging trenches for water supply, and building infrastructure.

One of the aims of the camp was raising the issue of the border locally, and supporting and extending local solidarity work.

Film screenings and discussions took place in local villages in the run up to the camp, where there were really interesting conversations with local people on the frontline of the border regime, who told stories of meeting people crossing the border in search of safety and security.

x

Detention Centre in Lyubimetz

Other people discussed government and media propaganda on the new detention and reception centres, and were keen to see what they were like in reality.

The Camp was visited by lots of people from nearby Siva Reka and Svilengrad, including at a dinner for the local community and at the party at the end of the camp, and good relations were built up in the local area.

At the border...

Throughout the week, workshops and discussions took place including on the situation in Greece, the Welcome to Europe project, privilege and racism, People of Colour self-organisation and empowerment, sharing experiences of supporting people who are migrating, No Border camps – experiences and expectations, Theatre of the Oppressed, and loads more…

There were also demonstrations, street theatre and other events.

Demonstration at Lyubimetz

On 26th August a march took place in Svilengrad, 27 August saw events at the Bulgaria-Greece and Bulgaria-Turkey border, and on 29th August a demonstration was held at the detention centre in Lyubimetz, more info in press releases below.

Camp press releases

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

No Border Camp 2011 – Demonstration in front of the detention center in city of Lyubimetz

Photos

Protest in Svilengrad – http://bulgaria.indymedia.org/article/38011

Border protest – http://bulgaria.indymedia.org/article/38012

Detention centre demonstration – http://bulgaria.indymedia.org/article/38020

No-Border-Cats in Svilengrad – http://bulgaria.indymedia.org/article/38015

Policing the border during protests

Blogs

http://a3yo.noblogs.org/post/2011/09/02/nobordercamp-bulgaria-2011-expectations-and-arrival/

http://a3yo.noblogs.org/post/2011/09/02/nobordercamp-bulgaria-2011-actions-in-svilengrad/

Other news articles

http://no-racism.net/article/3888/ (in German)

http://no-racism.net/article/3892/ (in German)

Camp news page

http://www.noborderbulgaria.org/en/node/49

Borders of Bulgaria in the news

http://www.noborderbulgaria.org/en/node/12

'Die-in' on the road at the Bulgarian border

Lyubimetz demonstration

Advertisements

Siva Reka & the border region (noborders Bulgaria)

4 Sep

Siva Reka, site of the No Border Bulgaria camp, is a small village in the border region close to the border with Greece and Turkey. It is a region without much work which seems to have resulted in many people moving away to work (to other cities and countries). And with a lot of EU money invested in ‘security’ – jobs with the border authorities are one of the few opportunities. Many people have relatives and friends who work in these jobs.

The region has been affected by the border in various ways at different times. During the Balkan Wars, population exchange programmes took place, while during the Cold War period the Bulgarian-Turkish border was one of the most heavily fortified in Europe. Today, the region is one of both inward and outward migration.

The border is now being fortified, as Bulgaria tries to join the Schengen Agreement area  – in which EU states have reduced border controls within the EU  (for EU nationals), and at the same time a strengthened external border, sometimes described as ‘Fortress Europe’.

Detention Centre in Lyubimetz

In Lyubimetz, 20km from the No Border camp, a new 350 capacity detention centre has been built, funded with 80% European funding, and in Pastrogor, a few more km away, a 350 capacity fast-track ‘transit centre’ is about to open. Other centres have opened in Sofia, Busmantzi and Banya. The border itself is being fortified, with increased controls, extending the quantity and quality of border surveillance and monitoring equipment, new migrant and visa legislation, as well as other measures. Bulgaria has spent 160 million euros during the last three years for “strengthening its borders”, 80% financed by the European Union. The EU is increasing its allocation of funds for the implementation of border management to Bulgaria in 2012 through the External Borders Fund. More info on Bulgaria and Schengen at http://noborderbulgaria.org/en/node/33

Svilengrad (noborders Bulgaria)

28 Aug

Svilengrad is a small town in the border region where alot of inward and outward migration takes place but without much active opposition to the nationalistic Bulgarian state attitude on migration and miltarisation of the borders. On Friday (26th August) hundreds of people from the No Borders camp organised actions in the town to demonstrate against Frontex who have a regional office in the town centre, to commemorate that hundreds of people have died trying to arrive in the region without official status and to discuss migration issues with people who live in the area.

Info displays in Svilengrad

Street displays A large world map was presented in different locations along the main street and people invited to draw onto it with pens their histories of migration. People who lived in the area often initially responded that they’d lived in the town all their lives, but it turned out to be more indirect than that. People from the No Borders camp got going discussions about why people move and why States try to stop people from free movement. There were lots of positive conversations and people taking part.

Demonstration outside the Border Agency, Svilengrad. Picture from http://a3yo.noblogs.org/

Demonstration against Frontex (more info about Frontex here). Hundreds of people gave out flyers with information about a detention centre recently built in the region and walked to the office of the Border Agency, who carry out joint operations with Frontex. Shoes were laid and candles lit to symbolically draw attention to the inhumane cruelty of Frontex’ s work. These actions made the front page of a local newspaper,with a photo and caption: “hundreds of young people from EU countries demonstrated yesterday for rights for migrants and refugees”. It ignored the political angle of border control systems and just went for a humanitarian focus, but is pretty good for a generally very very nationalistic country. Another newspaper reported that the young demonstrators broke windows, attacked people and were naked, which was definitely not true, but shows how much reporters can twist things! The possibility of suing the newspaper is being investigated by people at the Camp.

Photos at http://bulgaria.indymedia.org/article/38011

Dale Farm Solidarity

19 Aug

The Dale Farm estate is a former scrapyard bought by Traveller families and has existed since the 1970s. Basildon Council has targeting half the community for destruction, and has failed to provide alternative sites for families to move to. Families have been given until midnight on August 31st 2011 to abandon their homes or have them bulldozed. Basildon have voted to spend a third of its budget — £8 million demolishing the estate and turning people out onto the road. The policing of what could be a three-week operation has an additional price tag of £10 million, of which £6 million is being provided by the Home Office.

There will be activity weekends at Dale Farm, every Saturday until the opening of Camp Constant,  a mass gathering of national and international supporters of the Dale Farm community  on the Saturday, 27th, 11 am which is the final weekend before Travellers have been told they must abandon their homes or face the bulldozers. Residents of Dale Farm have invited supporters down for a long weekend of skill sharing and cultural celebration. Join them for:

* Training for legal observers and human rights monitors
* Practical eviction resistance workshops
* Acoustic music on Saturday night
* Media training, including photography, film making, reportage
* Traveller history & celebration

From September 1st onwards, a constant presence at Dale Farm is needed in case of eviction. You can sign up to spend a night at Dale Farm: https://smsalerts.tachanka.org/dalefarm/

Demonstrate on Saturday Sept 10 against the £18 million eviction of 90 Traveller families from their homes and Eric Pickles’s Localism bill, which removes the requirement of local council’s to provide alternative sites.

Dale Farm Solidarity has called a demonstration starting at 1pm on Saturday Sept 10th. Meet at Wickford Train Station, 30 minutes by train from London Liverpool Street Station. The march will then proceed to Dale Farm and Camp Constant, a base for human rights monitors and those who will engage in civil disobedience to stop the bulldozing.

For more information, updates, and to check the dates of activity days see: http://dalefarm.wordpress.com/activity and https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_124229427082

No Border Camp Bulgaria 2011

19 Aug

Following the eastward expansion of the EU, countries like Bulgaria and Romania are progressively cracking down on those that try to cross their borders and rampantly working against freedom of movement.

The Bulgarian government’s current target date for joining the Schengen zone is 2012. To be able to join, Bulgaria would have to increase restrictions on people migrating, as well as increase the militarization of the border. Already, detention centres are being built. Following the participation of Bulgarian border police in FRONTEX operations along the Greek-Turkish border, there is talk of extending the agency’s operations to the border between Bulgaria and Turkey. These developments, together with the deterioration of the migrants’ situation in neighboring Greece, are the two immediate reasons for organizing a No Border camp at the border between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey this month. The NoBorder camp Bulgaria will take place between the 25th and the 29th of August, 2011.

The topics that will be addressed include: The militarization of the borders; Deterioration of freedom of movement across the Balkan borders The criminalization of the situation of migrants and refugees in Bulgaria The neo-liberal politics that support and enhance these problems How to organize in ways that will better the human, social, legal, and economic condition of migrants and refugees in Bulgaria and around Europe plus more… More info at www.noborderbulgaria.org/

Human Rights/ ‘British’ Rights

10 Aug

Governments declare to hold human rights at their core but what are the realities? Obligation to international law and the European Court of Human Rights have been avoided continuously. This undermines rights everywhere, for everyone, without borders.

It is a principle of international maritime law that all vessels answer and assist vessels and persons in distress at sea.1 ‘All vessels’ includes military vessels. Yet in March this year a boat carrying 72 people including children sent out a distress signal and ‘Despite alarms being raised with the Italian coastguard and the boat making contact with a military helicopter and a Nato warship, no rescue effort was attempted.’ 2 Father Moses Zerai one of the last people to contact the boat: “There was an abdication of responsibility which led to the deaths of over 60 people, including children,” he claimed. “That constitutes a crime, and that crime cannot go unpunished just because the victims were African migrants and not tourists on a cruise liner.” 2

This news arrives along with reports from Greece; ‘witnessed the Frontex boats effectively turning over migrant boats in the water by going towards them, turning quickly and creating the waves that turn the boats over. Then rescuing some people. Returning the boats without its oars to turkey and leaving vulnerable people in the water including pregnant women. ’ 3 Both cases go against EU and international regulation. What’s more there is something that people might hope exists beyond law, beyond regulation- not to leave others to die.

Whilst responsible vessels and governments are evading their duties in the Sea- MPs on land in the UK have ruled that prisoners will not have the right to vote. A move which the European Commission of Human Rights found was a breach of their human rights. 4 It is interesting, therefore, that Home Secretary Theresa May should declare one of the fundamental and universal ‘core ‘British’ values’ to be ‘Human Rights’ 5, and the UK government’s revised anti-terrorism strategy should define “Extremism is vocal or active opposition to fundamental ‘British’ values’’6. 

By their own words and actions the governments define themselves as extremist and as illegal. By failing to answer to distress signals or rescue vulnerable people from the water they have acted illegally. By voicing opposition to self-described fundamental ‘British’ value of human rights they have acted ‘extremist’.

Perhaps trying to avoid this obvious hypocrisy, the government has set up a commission to research creating a ‘UK’ bill of rights 7, different from the Universal declaration of human rights.  How will it be different? It will not be universal in probably more ways than one.The opening UDHR article stated:  ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’. 8 From the actions of governments, the companies they fund and certain politicians – It’s questionable that they have read this article.

These actions undermine the rights of everybody. BUT they are the actions of certain law makers and enforcers. They are the laws of law enforcers and law makers.

If you know that you do not need a law for you to answer someone in distress. If you believe all humans ARE born free and equal, whether or not it is a human right- then there is hope for the rights of all of us.

—————————————————————-

1(Article 98 of UNCLOS)

SOLAS regulation V/7

Reference: http://www.imo.org/OurWork/Safety/Navigation/Pages/PlacesOfRefuge.aspx


2guardian report http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/08/nato-ship-libyan-migrants

3(Ann Singleton) / (http://www.radio4all.net/files/radiokebele@riseup.net/4178-1-ann_singleton.ogg)

 

4 http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/12/prisoners-vote-government-loses-appeal

 

5 http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_commons/newsid_9506000/9506818.stm (address to parliment 07-06-11)

 

6 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/counter-terrorism/prevent/prevent-strategy/prevent-strategy-review?view=Binary

 

7(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14426001)

7. http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/cbr/index.htm

 

8 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

Invitation: Anti-Frontex Days of Action Warsaw

3 May

No Borders, No Nations

Anti – FRONTEX DAYS / 16 – 23 MAY – WARSAW

Throughout the week starting on May 16th there will be films, street games, workshops and meetings with European noborder groups, concluding on May 23rd with a demonstration in front of the Frontex offices in Warsaw.

 Ending oppression in Europe requires radical solidarity; this entails realising that our liberation is co-dependent. Migrants and non-alike, our freedom is bound together, and thus so must be our struggle.

http://www.anti-frontex.noborder.org.pl/

http://www.solidarnizmaksem.bzzz.net/

http://no-racism.net/article/3761/

More on Frontex:

Frontex is the European border agency, founded in 2004 and operational since 2005. The agency has their seat in Warsaw, Poland, from where it directs its activities. Frontex is a coordinating mechanism of the European Union organizing the cooperation of the border police bodies of the member states of the EU. In this respect, Frontex is like a meta border police: it is both above and behind the everyday practices of border guards.

To this end, Frontex combines a lot of tasks and activities in one body that in the traditional nation state have been kept separate. There is an intelligence service component: Frontex actively monitors and pools data about all that is going on at the external borders of the EU, so that predictions to movements of migration can be made. Frontex refers to this as risk analysis, a whole department at the headquarters in Warsaw is busy with this and well connected to its national counterparts in Europe. There is also a research division, which – in cooperation with military industries and universities – pushes for the high-tech-sci-fi border of the 21st century. Current plans include real-time surveillance of the border on all levels, including live satellite imagery, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV aka drones, usually deployed in war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq) for close-ups, and all other tools at the disposal of a border guard: radar, cameras, etc. Another project is the introduction of biometric identity checks at all border crossings.

The main focus of Frontex, however, is the coordination of cooperation at the actual border, as they refer to it. Since the agency became operational, Frontex has organized so called “joint operations”, in which EU member states invite other EU member states to send border guard personal and equipment for a joint policing of the borders.

Recently, Frontex has also been more involved in the organization and financing of mass deportations, where a whole plane is chartered and refugees from all over Europe are collectively deported to their assumed countries of origin. In 2009, Frontex did more than 30 such flights, removing more than 1.500 people from European territory.

from http://no-racism.net/article/3761/

Support the Hunger Strikers

2 May

Six Iranians have been on hunger strike in London and Croydon since 05/04/2011 after being refused political asylum in Britain, having escaped imprisonment, torture, and threat of death in Iran. Though their lives will be in danger should they return to Iran, they have been ignored, dismissed and let down by UK authorities since they sought refuge in this country last year.

Facing deportation, they decided to take drastic action: four of them have sewn their mouths together in protest; by Friday all will have gone 32 days without food. They have been camping outside the UK Border Agency (UKBA) headquarters in Croydon, and Amnesty International in Clerkenwell.

Their case highlights the rotten state of the UK asylum system. Rather than support refugees, the UK Border Agency operates a systematic policy of disbelief: ignore, confuse, use every legal loophole to refuse asylum claims and keep the numbers down.

Demo in solidarity with the hunger strikers! The hunger strikers will be attending in wheelchairs. Bring banners, drums, music, and passion.

This demo is called by the hunger strikers and by supporters including members of:
No Border Network
Stop Deportations Network
SOAS Detainee Support
Cambridge Migrant Solidarity Group

The march begins 2pm at Parliament Square, followed by protest outside the Home Office (2 Marsham Street SW1, London) 3-5pm

If you can’t make the demo:

– Publicise the online petition

– Contact the Home Secretary (see petition for full names and details of their cases)

Rt. Hon Theresa May, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office,
2 Marsham St
London SW1 4DF
Fax: 020 7035 4745
Emails:
mayt@parliament.uk
Emails:  Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk

– Contact the media

– Share it on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-the-Iranian-Hunger-Strikers/206206719410578

– Ask Amnesty to take on their case

More info:

http://iranianhungerstrikers.blogspot.com/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/21/iranian-hunger-stikers-sew-lips-uk-deportation

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/04/28/uk.iran.hunger.strike/

No Cuts to ESOL, No Cuts at All!

22 Mar

Demonstration 24 March

Government cuts in ESOL funding could devastate language provision for people who don’t speak English as their first language.

This is the latest in a series of attacks to the already limited services that migrants and asylum seekers can access, and part of the wider attack on education, jobs and public services.

As the Government proposes cuts to English classes, ESOL teachers and students have declared 24th March to be a Day of Action
to protest against the Government’s policies on ESOL. There will rallies, marches and events all over England.

In Newcastle, a march, co-ordinated by Tyneside Community Action Against Racism,  will take place at 4.30pm on Thursday 24th March, beginning at the Centre for Life, near central station, city centre, and ending with a rally at the Monument. The march is on the same day as strikes by college and University lecturers in protest at education cuts.

All welcome!

More information about the cuts;

Currently, ESOL classes are free to students in receipt of a range of
benefits, including Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax
Credits, Housing Benefit, or Council Tax Benefit.  But from September
2011, only those getting JSA and some receiving the new Employment Support Allowance, will be entitled to free classes.

National surveys show that over 50% of students and in some areas as many
as over 70% currently studying on free courses will be expected to pay
because they will not fall within the new rules.  This includes people in
low waged employment, spouses of people receiving benefit and asylum
seekers.

Funding for ESOL programmes has been cut by 50% over the last three years.
The cost of classes is expected to rise to around £900 a year.
Campaigners warn that this will price many students out of learning
English.

Campaigners have argued that these new measures discriminate in particular
against women, who make up over half of current ESOL students. They argue
further that it will make it more difficult for those who don’t speak
English as their first language to find sustainable employment, access
services, support their children in schools or to participate in society.
They point out that migrants bring important skills and experience to
the UK and are keen to contribute to society.

info from:

https://network23.org/bristolnoborders/

http://actionforesol.org/

 

Next meeting Thurs 17 March

15 Mar

6.30pm

The King’s Manor pub

132-140 Newbridge Street

Newcastle Upon Tyne

(near Manors metro station)

Following on from the successful Films Without Borders film season, we’d like to invite people with an interest in the No Borders network or ideas, or anyone who’d like to find out more about the group or get involved, to come to a meeting. We’d also invite anyone who came to the film season to share their thoughts and feelings about some of the moving films and performances that we watched.

All welcome – the meeting will be fairly short, and will provide information about the No Borders network as well as the No Borders North East group. There will be ideas about how to get involved for those who think they might want to.

We’re a friendly group and look forward to meeting you.

The agenda of the meeting is:

1. introductions
2. history of the No Borders network and overview of the No Borders perspective
3. the local group – history and what we’ve done
4. the film season – what we thought of the films/talks, what they made us think about, how they made us feel
5. ideas/plans about what to do next – English Language Conversation Group fundraiser, English Language Conversation Group  weekly sessions, seminar series, supporting other local NB groups to do film seasons, action against ESOL cuts, reading group, plus more
6. How to get involved

7. Any Other Business
8. End and date for next meeting

Norooz fundraiser this Sunday!

14 Mar

This Sunday at The Jazz Cafe

Food!     Music!      Dancing!     Conversation!     FUN!     & more!

8pm

£5 recommended entry fee (all proceeds go to the English Language Conversation Group)

Live Swing-Folk- Balkan-Soul-New Orleans R&B-Calypso music from the talented:

ROB HERRON and THE TEA PAD ORCHESTRA!

Check them out!

See you there. 🙂


 

 

 

Films without borders, crossing Arizona.

14 Mar

During the film season we screened Crossing Arizona, as the second night of the films without borders season. The discussion which followed the film brought up many issues and points which people might like to explore further.
Here is a list of things which came up in discussion and links to further information:
The journey people take before they reach the US (with many border points before the US and Mexico border). Here is a report by Amnesty International on abuse of migrants travelling through Mexico. There is also a book called Enriques Journey which follows the journey of someone travelling from Honduras to the US , which talks about communities providing food to help people ridinf the trains north.
-What happens to people once they have crossed the border? Here is a CNN report on a former border point worker English version
Spanish version
The current situation in Arizona:
Here is a link to the NoMoreDeaths group who are constantly working here and updating their site with news and reports.

Wider issues/struggles glimpsed in the film. Here is a link to the filmaker’s site which has more info than the film could cover including recommended reading, news stories, cross-border alliances.

Parallel situations throughout Europe : “According to the following press review at least 14,921 people have died since 1988 along the european borders.” Fortress Europe‘s website.

A site dedicated to the situation in Greece.  This site is frequently updated too.

Someone mentioned this is a good film to watch about the Spanish border with Africa called 14 kilometers.

And more close to the UK, is Calais.