Freedom of movement, movement of freedom: Transgressing borders with migrants

Those who cross national borders “illegally” are anti-Statists in action, if not in thought, for they rebel against the violence of sovereignty.

Those who transgress frontiers without authorisation are anti-capitalists, for capitalism cannot function without an imposed division of labour mapped across geographies of violence.

The criminals who feed upon this movement, from mafias of human trafficking to State police, from “legal” businesses to “humanitarian” NGOs, are but the instruments of State-Capital for its domestication and exploitation.  Unrestrained freedom of movement would destroy both.

The european union’s negotiation with turkey (an exercise of mutual threats and bribes) to keep its millions of refugees is not hypocritical, somehow a violation of the eu’s adherence to “human rights”; they are rights which europe respects little, anywhere.  More importantly, the “humanism” of human rights’ politics ends in the depoliticisation of those who are its object, in this instance, the refugees (or as they are called in the accord with turkey, “irregular migrants”)  from “european wars”.  Their further victimisation as people in need of aid is the very condition necessary to render them subject-less, devoid of desire and thought, stripped of political autonomy, susceptible to inter-state negotiation above their heads, placed in camps (“hot spots”), deported, exchanged, in a humanitarian accounting.

That they may come to seek this aid as a step towards “peace” and “well being” in no way diminishes  the radical possibilities that harbour in their desire; possibilities made real in corresponding gestures of disobedience against the borders by those in the receiving countries.

Active solidarity across and through the lines that define and divide us nationally, and in so many other parallel ways, in rebellion against all of the authorities that seek to divide, is an act of radical dissidence against the power of State-Capital and that of its many parasitic agents and fascist-xenophobic hangers-on.  It forces open cracks  in the ultimately impossible management of the mass dislocation of populations caused by the very powers who must then and who can only then respond as “humanitarians”.  The alternative is murder, but that is left to the savagery of the Others.

The examples of such solidarity proliferate: tent camps/squats of fortune and politicised no-border camps (e.g. no border camps Ventimiglia, Lesbos, Berlin, etc., all under threat by authorities or often closed) and no-border kitchens (e.g. El Che-f, Athens),  anarchist okupations to house and support migrants in Athens and Thessaloniki (many of these no-border and anarchist initiatives have been the target of State repression and are now directly threatened by the agreement reached between the eu and turkey), no-border solidarity activists sabotaging police interventions against migrants, rebel markets organised by a union of illegal migrants in Barcelona, and so on.

The map of europe is changing, but how it changes depends very much on the extent to which the “refugee crisis” can be understood and politicised within broader movements against, and that create alternatives to, capitalism.

For anarchists, the condition of statelessness is the political ideal.  The statelessness of migrants can coalesce with this ideal if it is transformed from passive suffering to the active creation of ways of life beyond State-Capital.

If there are true refugees today, then they are perhaps to be found among “the privileged whites, the europeans with freedom of movement and the right to well-being guaranteed.  It is the others, who flee dispossession, exploitation, violence and colonial domination, who are the normal persons of this world.” (Carlos Delclós, Periodico Diagonal, 16/03/2016) Or more profoundly, we are all refugees within societies-politics that reduce human life to the permanent possibility of excess, superfluousness, death; the privileged are only fleetingly not so.

Be profitable or die is the motto of our time; our rebellion/revolution then lies in giving and forming ways of life around our very precariousness.

___________________

We share below a text about the greek anarchist solidarity with “refugee-migrants” …

Where refugee solidarity & the alternative economy converge: the anarchist refugee centres of Athens

Posted on March 6, 2016, undercoverinfo

Beyond the bureaucracy of the Eurocrats, or the catastrophic mismanagement by the EU of the refugee ‘crisis’, or the xenophobic rants of the tabloid press, there is another Europe – the real Europe – a continent of Europeans who are compassionate and for whom social justice is not a political slogan but something that is practised every day and every week. We need look no further than the economic beleaguered Athens to find an example of this unassuming goodwill. The Greeks are well practised in the art of the alternative (or ‘parallel’) economy, having been ruled over decades by successive governments that have wrecked their national economy and seen Greece turn a vassal state of the EU. And alongside this self-managed economy is another specialism of the Greeks: direct democracy – where people manage their own lives without reference to government. Last year a group of anarchists, who were active in helping newly-arrived refugees on the Greek islands opposite Turkey, decided to squat a large, empty building – ‘Notaro26’ – in the centre of Athens to provide accommodation and support to the refugees arriving in large numbers via Piraeus. The centre – which is still flourishing – is run on the principles of participatory democracy and mutual support, where everyone – Greeks, refugees, volunteers from elsewhere, have an equal say, via the centre’s assembly, in daily affairs.

(Currently there are at least 30,000 refugees in Greece – many still trying to get to northern Europe. More than 12,000 are stuck at the Ideomeni crossing point at the Greece-FYROM (Macedonia) border, since the closure of that border and other borders northwards to Austria. In just over two week’s time, protesters are planning to converge en-mass to the border bottlenecks, to provide solidarity to refugees and enable free movement again.)

The centre known as Notara26 is located on 26 Notara Street in Athens and offers solidarity to refugees to cover their immediate needs (shelter, food, medical assistance). The centre provides temporary accommodation, basic medical treatment, clothing and information for up to 130 refugees each day. More than 1,700 refugees and migrants stopped over in Notara between September 25 and December 1 last year alone. The centre continues to act as a focal point for refugees who arrive in Athens and need somewhere to stay for a while.

According to one of those who help organise the centre, “We are anti-authoritarians. We reject the assistance of the state, NGOs, charities and businesses. There is a difference between philanthropy and solidarity. We understand that we are on the same level as refugees.”

Statement by Notara26:

Day by day thousands of people struggle to cross the borders , having to confront the rough sea conditions , the Evros fence, the smugglers, Coastguard and Frontex. Chased by the weapons of totalitarian regimes, western military operations and the horror of religious fundamentalism. Humans trying to escape from extreme poverty.

Those who manage to enter Fortress Europe come face to face with states who profit from the migrant-refugee flow and the emergence of cheap labour, paying no interest to human life and dignity. They are confronted with xenophobia and racism, institutional or not. 

In this suffocating context, we are squatting an empty public building in Athens, 26 Notara Str., in order to territorialize our solidarity towards refugees/immigrants to cover their immediate needs (shelter, food, medical help). This project doesn’t stand for philanthropy, statal or pivate, but rather for a self-organized solidarity project, wherein locals and refugees-immigrants decide together. The decisive body is the squat’s open assembly where everyone is welcome to participate with no exclusions.

Totally aware of the difficulty of our effort, we call every collective and individual not only to participate and support, but also to expand and create new projects for the same cause. We want to coordinate and interact with the numerous individual and collective initiatives throughout Greece and abroad to strengthen our solidarity to refugees and immigrants; we want to build our common future together.

Let’s make the refugee’s Odyssey of survival, a journey of humanity towards freedom!

No Borders- Freedom of movement
Against Fortress Europe
Legalise immigrants – Grant asylum to refugees
Against racism and xenophobia
Against all detention centers
Against the war- No deaths for their profits

To the refugees who arrive at Notara26:

As comrades in solidarity (Greeks and non-Greeks), we understand the immigration and refugee crisis, empathize with the difficulties and hardships that you have gone through until you arrived here and we seriously value your needs. We criticize and resist against the inhumane and unjust anti-immigration policies – practices of both Greece and the EU. For that matter, we have taken the initiative to occupy this public building on Notara 26 and create an open, self- organized and supportive housing facility with no interest neither to replace state responsibilities nor emerge as “goodwill” philanthropists. Instead, our aim is to show the indifference and hypocrisy of both the Greek and European authorities by standing by your side and actively expressing our solidarity through the operation of this housing squat, even if places are still limited.

This squat serves as a temporary housing space hosting refugees and migrants regardless of race, origin, religion, gender and sexuality. As it is a self-organized housing space, its right operation is based on the participation of its guests: in other words ‘you’. Everyone of you depending on your abilities, could and should participate in the management and maintenance of this space.

We welcome you in this space that belongs both to you as refugees and to us as your comrades in solidarity. This place has neither ties with NGOs nor funding by the Greek state and the EU. Instead, it is built upon the contribution and participation of all of us. Even with our very few resources, we aim to cover as much as we can all your immediate needs. In solidarity with each other and all together by collectively deciding and acting, we will try to turn this space into a different housing experience from all others you have lived in so far in your journey as refugees: we will make this space more welcoming, more open and safer for you all.

Below is a letter from anarchists sent earlier this year to a Greek independent news website about what is happening at another squatted centre for refugees and migrants in Athens….

On the evening of Sunday, January 10th 2016, we occupied the empty building on Themistokleous St. 58, in Exarchia, Athens. The intention is to open up a place where migrants, who are blocked here in Greece because of the European migration policies, can live and self-organize free from state control. We are a group of individuals from different places and of different contexts, connected through the fight against States, nations, borders, lager, prisons, capitalism; eventually against every part of this rotten system of domination that oppresses us. We are open to anyone who agrees with our basic principles and wants to participate in the project without a hidden political agenda.

This squat isn’t meant to be a public service. We aren’t “volunteers” and we don’t see migrants as victims. One of the challenges of this project will be to overcome in practice the separation imposed on us by borders and citizenship. This house seeks to become a place where people organize themselves and learn from one another mutually, regardless of their origins.

This is an act against the system and the migration policies. It is not our intention to assist the humanitarian aid provided by the State. The integrated and/or assimilated, non-critical humanitarian aid is in fact helping the State to focus on repressive measures in order to persecute and control migration. We strongly refuse to cooperate not only with the State and political parties, but also with NGOs and other organizations or formations that do so (officially or unofficially). All of these scumbags take advantage of the situation of migrants either to profit, protect their interests, gain political power, or to build a social profile.

The control of migration is a tool in the hands of those in power. Right now the Greek State uses the situation of migrants stranded here to put pressure during negotiations for better conditions enabling the implementation of the third memorandum. At the same time, European States regulate migrant flows according their need for cheap labor force, and the rest of migrants are murdered (in land and maritime borders and the streets of European cities), incarcerated or deported. The European Union upgrades its repressive border policies and negotiates deals with States at the inner and outer European borders to continue and intensify the war against migration by more effective means. Those in power hope to secure their property and privileges from those who are being exploited by the capitalist system and suffer their wars. Private and public corporations try to make as much profit of this situation as possible. NGOs represent the interests of their employers, mainly the State, and are well paid for their job.

Because of property rights, people are sleeping in the streets while thousands of houses remain empty. There are enough goods for everyone. We just have to take what we need ourselves.

We declare our solidarity and support to all forms of action that attack borders, nations, prisons, the critical infrastructure that reproduce the existent, and all those who directly or indirectly defend the status quo!

No racism
No sexism
No homophobia
No discrimination
No exploitation
No oppression
No hierarchy
No authority
No patriotism

NOT welcome are:
Journalists/media
Politicians
Cops
All organizations that cooperate with the State

We welcome people willing to self-organize, regardless if they have papers or not, and regardless if they have a refugee status or not. Priority in housing is given to those who have no chance to stay somewhere else.

___________________

Video of No border kitchen, Lesbos …

This is an impression from No Border Kitchen Lesbos, made in January 2016, with the participation of some of the people who make this space together. The song is ‘Didi’ by Cheb Khaled, and is a pop-hit heard daily on mobile phones in the kitchen.

Excerpt from No Border Kitchen Lesbos Manifesto:

“No Border Kitchen Lesbos is a non-hierarchical/horizontal self-organized group of cooking activists from all over the world that share the aim of supporting people on their journey to Europe. The Greek island of Lesbos is a place of transit for the majority of the people overcoming the European border regime.

Since 14th November No Border Kitchen is cooking at Tsamakia beach, which is close to the port of Mytilene. It was squatted by people seeking refuge as a place to shelter for a few nights and supported by the No Border Kitchen in terms of food and infrastructure, and by local groups and individuals in Mytiline. This is how NBK evolved into a self-organised camp where we support people seeking refuge, irrespective of their backgrounds and adapting to the current situations.

We create this space together and invite all people present to create it with us. Our resources are limited, but we try our best to support the different needs we have. NBK is not only about providing food for people seeking refuge, but crucially also about respecting each other as individuals. Each traveler has their own unique aspirations, desires and sets of circumstances that brought them to undertake their journey. In our self-organised camp all people regardless of gender, nation and religion are welcome. We hold regular general assemblies, translated into different languages, in which we explain the general idea of No Border Kitchen and how the space works, and also spread independent travel and border information to help people on their journeys. We hope that through the relations formed here we can offer each other the mental strength to ride the storms and challenges of what is fast emerging as a distinctly brutal historical era, with dignity and courage.

We, the No-Border-Kitchen-crew understand that what we are doing is a small attempt in the face of the enormity of destructive forces at work in the world today. But it is a real commitment of real individuals, it is one concrete effort among many, it is one piece of the puzzle of another possible world. We believe that all these efforts do make a difference and that they should be developed and expanded further.

Our broader desire is to build relationships of solidarity and form new collectivities in struggle. Therefore we also connect with the local activist structures, with whom we share common struggles and hopes and who we support. We believe that by establishing networks in our common struggle, we can fight powerfully as a united movement and rise together against fortress Europe.

United we stand, divided we fall.

FIGHT FORTRESS EUROPE!
NO BORDER, NO NATION!
FOR THE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT FOR EVERYBODY AND EVERYWHERE

 

From Reel News, a video of the work of activists with the “refugees-migrants” in Lesbos …

… and from Ross Domoney,

On the significance of “hot spots” for the construction of a new political regime in europe, a text by Ross Domoney and Antonis Vradis, posted on Roarmag

It is only too easy to be caught into the hustle and bustle of updates on the unfolding crisis: to be dragged into closely following minute-by-minute trackers from one “crucial summit” after another, in reading into a country’s swagging around, into demands raised and dropped, interim agreements reached and breached: heck, to even be caught into trying to understand what the lunch menu of attendants might have to do with this all.

It is only too easy, in other words, to read this crisis and its management as an endlessly consecutive, theater-like play of political actors entering the spotlight to decide the fate of those people dismissed as “flows”. Yet while this is all unfolding, and keeping well away from the spotlight for now, a crucial process plays out: the process of establishing and rendering operative the so-called ‘hot spots’ – including in the Greek island of Lesbos, which is where this brief video was filmed.

Long gone are the early, chaotic days of this crisis: up until late summer 2015, the images from the registration and accommodation centers in Lesbos resembled much of the informal, slum-like housing to be found in so many other parts of this world. And today? The “hot spot” concept has kicked in with force. Sure, a “hot spot” means money pouring in and with this come major improvements: immaculate benches, paved streets, well-constructed containers, electricity and — ironically — internet hot spots for everyone passing through. The entire humanitarian plexus has come out in full force, the outpouring of emergency funds is in full play: this is the visible, the material and physical construction of the “hot spot”. But there is another, much more crucial, cognitive side to it all.

More than the sum of all barbed wire, sleeping containers, NGO tents and info-stalls, the “hot spot” is a concept, it is an idea: the idea that any EU area, territory, segment or whole, can be declared as such — so long as this comes in response to any perceived “crisis” or “emergency”. And here again, it would be tempting and only too easy to speak of an Agamben-like introduction of a “state of emergency”, a dystopian state of exception that annihilates the conventions, the social contracts and the civil rights of the past in favor of a claustrophobic, totalitarian imposition of sovereign power, an endless state force. But the “hot spot” is not that, either.

The “hot spot” is a social laboratory: a territory previously grounded in an EU member state that now cognitively shifts into the direct jurisdiction of all those EU institutional and administrative mechanisms that may come to constitute the future European super-state: policing (who is allowed to come in), judiciary (who is allowed to stay), and welfare (under what conditions) are all tested out here. The hot spot is a historical first, the founding stone in the establishment of European Union territory.

___________________

For on-going critical analyses of the “refugee crisis”, see the Transcapes Collective research project:   “Transcapes is a collective research project using the introduction of hotspots in Greece in order to understand wider transformations in the geopolitical body of Europe itself. Situating ourselves in the island of Lesbos, we examine the key actors on the island – humanitarian, social, political – and their relationship to the Moria hotspot. Broadening our scope, we also look at hot spots introduced across Greece; we read the country a vector of its own contradictions and as the object of political decisions which will inevitably compromise its already weak position within the EU. In the third and largest of our cognitive concentric circles (Lesbos, Greece, the EU), we try to understand the crisis of Europe’s own decision-making and executing mechanisms as a whole.”

See also the websites: cladestina: migration and struggle in greeceSans papiers ni frontiers, Calais Migrant Solidarity, Open Border.

Aljazeera news service (in english) ran two articles on the anarchist solidarity effrots in Athens: Greek anarchists cook in solidarity for refugeesA refugee New Year in a Greek anarchist shelter.

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