The current crisis, looked upon from further east
This summer we stopped back in Latvia on our way to Russia.
During the week as we were waiting for visas, I overheard a lot of things along the lines of “they have completely broken away from the collective and become remote from their people.” But the main shock for me was a one-off attempt at reading the latest Russian-language press. The quotas of refugees for Latvia were being discussed just then, along with the great reluctance to take in these same refugees.
I scanned several newspapers. They all wrote about the “nightmare brewing in Europe” in a tone of aggressive and malicious ignorance that I found quite unfamiliar. I really had the feeling I had opened a neo-Nazi website. The only difference was the gloating at the Latvians, who had discriminated against “us,” the good guys, and now were going to end up with “them,” those awful people.
At first, I decided something had changed over the years, and then I realized it was I who had changed. I tried to remember how things had been before and realized these newspapers had always written in a similar tone. I just used to think this was normal. I had even considered the Russian-language press internationalistically minded in comparison with the already quite right-wing Latvian press.
“The EU fortress has proven itself to be a heavily fortified yet ideologically empty construct, and the far-right hordes are cheerfully taking up the opportunity to fill the charmless vacuum that the bureaucrats of Brussels have created around themselves.”
Nearly six years ago, at Keleti pu, Budapest’s largest train station, a group of people got on an early morning train headed for Vienna so that my South Korean partner and I could get married in a small town in Burgenland. We had more or less randomly chosen the location because the wedding halls in Vienna had been all booked up. And as I was still living and studying in Budapest during those times, the venue to choose had to be close enough for us to take the train back and forth across the Hungarian border in one day. So Burgenland it would be.
Source: Calais Migrant Solidarity blog, an invaluable resource. Please visit them.
26/30 July 2015
One recent death here in Calais was that of a young Eritrean woman hit by a car on the A16 while trying to cross the road. While this is being reported in the news as a terrible accident, information we have been getting from those who witnessed the tragedy shows otherwise. Witnesses say that immediately before this young woman lost her life she had been in contact with the police. They say that she, along with a group of five other people, had been caught by police and then sprayed in their faces with CS gas. Afterward the people then fled across the highway, one by one. However, because the gassing had irritated her eyes so much, the young woman could not see when she went to cross the highway. She did not see and could not avoid the car speeding towards her, which hit her.
While in this case the police’s actions directly led to one woman losing her life, every day they are putting people in extremely dangerous situations.
I am waiting in the Zurich main station; my train is coming in ten minutes. Now a familiar sight: two police officers are walking directly towards me. After checking my ID, they start with the standard questions: “What are you doing in Switzerland? What do you want here? Why don’t you go back home?”
I answer that I have a permit, and a lawyer.
Transcribed from the 9 May 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:
“We see abstract numbers in the news; we hear about thousands of people at our borders. We very rarely listen to their stories and understand what they’ve gone through, how they are thinking, what calculations they are making. Often they are very brave people. Always, actually.”
Chuck Mertz: Europe has created a living hell on the high seas of the Mediterranean that has claimed the lives of people who are desperately fleeing misery for the slim chance at a better life. That is, if they survive the trip. Here to tell us how we got to this hell, anthropologist Ruben Andersson is author of Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe.
AntiNote: We encountered this testimony via our comrades at Refugee Strike Berlin, whose blog publishes all manner of material related to the wide range of struggles around the issue of migration and migrants in Germany, with a center of gravity at the briefly occupied Ohlauer School in Berlin and the many initiatives which began there and still continue.
One of those initiatives is the International Women’s Space Berlin, which fosters the self-organization of migrant women into campaigns against their isolation and invisibility. A principal aspect of their public work has been to share these women’s stories in a continuing series on their website.
“I risked everything. I wanted freedom, a place to feel safe. But, for me, this is hell.”
On life as a woman in Saudi Arabia and seeking asylum in Germany
May 27, 2015
I wake up every day and see a wall. The building I see through my window is a wall. I always keep my important things packed. When I go to Aldi, I look at goods I may need, but I don’t buy them. I think I won’t be able to take many things with me when they deport me.
Der letzte Feuerbrief, eines freien Syrier’s, ertrunken im Mittelmeer
Mutter entschuldige, weil das Schiff gesunken wurde und ich dort nicht ankommen konnte und ich das Geld nicht verdienen werde, um die Schulden für diese Reise zu begleichen.
Oh Mutter sei nicht traurig falls sie meinen Körper nicht finden. Wozu wäre das auch gut? Es gäbe zu hohe Ausgaben um meine Leiche zu verschiffen, Beerdigung und Beileidsbekundungen.
El último mensaje de un Sirio Libre ahogándose en el Mediterráneo
Perdóname mamá, porque el barco ha sido hundido y no pude llegar, y no voy a poder ganar el dinero para saldar las deudas que hemos hecho para pagar este viaje.
Oh mamá, no estés triste si no encuentran mi cuerpo, ¿cuál sería el beneficio? El transporte de mi cadáver, el entierro y las condolencias significarían demasiados gastos.
Perdóname mamá, porque la guerra ha acontecido y tuve que vivir como los demás, aunque mis sueños, como sabes, no eran tan grandes como los de los demás. Mis sueños fueron del tamaño de la caja de medicamentos para el colon y del precio del cuidado de tus dientes en el dentista.
A propósito, el color de mis dientes es verde, porque se le han pegado musgos, aunque siguen siendo más bellos que los dientes del dictador.