Trois textes en guise de bilan du camp No Border à Lesbos

Publié le par la Rédaction

lesvos.jpgShut down Pagani! Azadi!
Eine Bilanz des Nobordercamps Ende August auf Lesbos

Noch nie haben wir ein Nobordercamp an den Außengrenzen der EU erlebt, in dem politische Proteste und soziale Kämpfe um Bewegungsfreiheit derart verschränkt waren wie auf Lesbos. Hinzu kamen eine beachtliche internationale Berichterstattung rund um das Internierungslager Pagani sowie neue Impulse für die transnationale Vernetzung. Auch wenn die Vollversammlungen streckenweise von starken Differenzen bestimmt waren, fällt unsere Bilanz zu Lesbos überwiegend positiv aus.

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„Morgen, wenn wir weiter ziehen, werden wir wieder Flüchtlinge sein, doch heute Nacht sind wir bis zur letzten Minute einfach Menschen, Freunde die zusammen feiern. Wer hätte gedacht, dass wir uns auf dieser Insel nicht im Wald verstecken müssten, sondern dass uns eine Nacht in Freiheit unter Freunden geschenkt würde!“ Die Sätze des afghanischen jungen Mannes am letzten Abend im Noborder-Camp sprechen Bände. Zu Recht, hat sich doch in den Tagen zuvor Eindrucksvolles ereignet, insbesondere rund um den Infopoint, welcher gleich zu Beginn des (etwas außerhalb gelegenen) Noborder-Camps in der Inselhauptstadt Mytilini direkt an der Hafenpromenade eröffnet wurde. Hier konnten sich TouristInnen über die Flüchtlingssituation auf Lesbos informieren, zudem brachten (stille) UnterstützerInnen von der Insel Decken und Essen, einige berichteten auch von ihren eigenen Erfahrungen mit Flüchtlingen. Am wichtigsten dürfte jedoch gewesen sein, dass sich innerhalb weniger Tage ein selbstorganisiertes „Welcome Center“ herausgebildet hat, ein Treffpunkt von (papierlosen) Neuankömmlingen und Haftentlassenen, ein Ort zum Rasten, zum Austausch von Informationen und zum gemeinsamen Handeln [Zum Infopunkt wird in den nächsten Monaten eine eigenständige Broschüre erscheinen].

Lesbos präsentierte sich wie erwartet als Brennpunkt des EU-Grenzregimes, Zeitpunkt und Ort des Noborder-Camps waren ein „Volltreffer“: Jede Nacht landeten neue Flüchtlingsboote, das Internierungslager Pagani war seit Wochen  überfüllt, griechische Borderguards und Frontex im Dauereinsatz [Vgl ak 539: In Pagani werden die Fingerabdrücke der Flüchtlinge genommen, anschließend werden sie solange inhaftiert (zwischen 2 Wochen und 2 Monaten), bis sie ein „weißes Papier“ ausgehändigt bekommen, welches besagt, dass sie Griechenland innerhalb von 30 Tagen verlassen müssen]. Rund 600 AktivistInnen waren zur Protestwoche angereist, neben der griechischen Fraktion mehrheitlich aus Deutschland, aber auch aus vielen anderen Ländern. Die Dynamik für noborder09 begann noch in der Aufbauphase, als fünf Tage vor Campbeginn 150 in Pagani internierte Jugendliche in einen Hungerstreik für ihre Freilassung traten. Erste Solidaritätsaktionen starteten, und dabei entstanden auch jene Bilder, welche in den kommenden Wochen international für Furore sorgen sollten: Mit einer in den Knast geschmuggelten Kamera dokumentierten die Flüchtlinge selber die unmenschlichen Zustände in ihren Zellen und produzierten damit Filmsequenzen [Dieses und andere Videos können hier angeguckt werden], die es mit etwas Verzögerung sogar bis in CNN schafften. Auch in deutschen Medien wurden die Bilder aufgegriffen, doch die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit in Griechenland wie auch international hätte weit effektiver sein können, wäre der Kontakt zu Mainstream-Medien nicht bis zuletzt ein äußerst umstrittenes Feld gewesen [Vor dem Camp gab es eine Entscheidung der lokalen Gruppe, als Nobordercamp keinerlei Mainstream-Medien-Arbeit zu machen].

Zum ersten Streitpunkt in den Camptagen geriet, was aus deutschen Debatten allzu bekannt erscheint: 40 Flüchtlinge hatten sich mittels Hungerstreik aus Pagani freigekämpft und warteten obdach- und mittellos am Hafen auf die Überfahrt nach Athen. Die Fährplätze waren für Tage ausgebucht, also wurden sie aufs Camp eingeladen. Doch dort kam sofort die Frage auf, wie ein Camp politisch handlungsfähig bleiben könne, wenn womöglich Hunderte von Flüchtlingen zu versorgen wären. Viele — nicht zuletzt lokale AktivistInnen — befürchteten, sich in Einzelfallhilfe zu verlieren und darin staatlicherseits gar instrumentalisiert zu werden. Inwiefern sich praktische Solidarität und politische Ansprüche verknüpfen lassen, oder mehr noch: inwiefern Widerstand gerade durch die Überlappung von sozialen (Überlebens-)Kämpfen und politischen Initiativen Dynamik entfalten könnte, ließ sich in den Vollversammlungen allenfalls theoretisch erörtern. Das aber war der Grund, weshalb sich die Einrichtung des Infopoints als geradezu salomonischer Kompromiss entpuppte.

Denn dort trafen Noborder-AktivistInnen, welche das Grenzregime politisch bekämpfen wollten, mit denjenigen zusammen, die es durch ihre Reise nach Europa praktisch in Frage stellten. Am Infopunkt gelang die Kommunikation über alle Sprachgrenzen hinweg — vom gegenseitigen Unterstützen bis hin zum gemeinsamen (politischen!) Handeln. Die Volksküche brachte Essen, zudem boten CampaktivistInnen medizinische Erstversorgung, juristischen Rat und praktische Hilfe zur (Weiter-)Reise. Erfahrenere MigrantInnen übersetzten und vermittelten ihre Erlebnisse, die Ausgeschlafenen halfen den erschöpften Neuankömmlingen. Gerade erst Angelandete beteiligten sich an einer Farewell-Parade für diejenigen, die mit der Fähre Richtung Athen losfuhren. Mit einer afghanischen Grossfamilie konnte die Registrierung ohne Internierung erstritten werden, ein Präzendenzfall! Und für den Frontex-Aktionstag wurde am Infopoint ein riesiges, vielsprachiges Freedom of Movement-Transparent gemalt, unter Beteiligung ganz verschiedener Flüchtlinge. Das Verhältnis von Fürsorge und Aktivismus, zwischen Verhandlungen und Strassenaktionen war nicht leicht auszubalancieren, und brachte die Involvierten immer wieder an emotionale und physische Grenzen. Doch genau dieser Prozess erscheint uns als eine der stärksten Seiten des Camps.

Spätestens mit dem Hungerstreik kurz vor Campbeginn zeichnete sich ab, dass das Internierungslager zum Kristallisationspunkt für noborder09 werden würde. Pagani war mit zeitweise 1000 eingesperrten Männern, Frauen und Kindern total überfüllt, die Versorgung mit Nahrungsmitteln und Wasser völlig unzureichend und die hygienischen Bedingungen katastrophal. Fast jeden Tag fanden größere und kleinere Aktionen statt, mit „Freedom! Azadi!“-Rufen als gemeinsamer Parole von drinnen und draußen. Am Tor des Knastes wurde mehrfach heftig gerüttelt, der Innenhof belagert und zum Abschluss das Dach von Pagani besetzt. Ob und wie ein von außen forcierter Massenausbruch die Schließung des Knastes hätte erreichen können, darum wurde lange und oft erbittert gerungen. Wäre es nicht die einzig adäquate Antwort gewesen (und zudem technisch einfach möglich)? Am Ende war jedoch das von innen klar artikulierte Interesse, nicht wie „Kriminelle“ ausbrechen, sondern schlicht entlassen werden zu wollen, ausschlaggebender (einschließlich der Befürchtung, dass sich der Fährhafen als leicht kontrollierbares Nadelöhr entpuppen würde). In diesem Sinne schälte sich — jedenfalls für die Zeit des Camps — als Strategie die Losung heraus, von innen wie außen für stetigen Druck zu sorgen, um als erstes die Internierungszeiten zu verkürzen und sodann den Knast in ein tatsächlich offenes Zentrum umzuwandeln.

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Diese Debatte war untrennbar verbunden mit Fragen möglicher Aktionsformen — wobei sich in den Vollversammlungen und Arbeitsgruppen die unterschiedlichen Ebenen ständig vermischten. Erstens gab es bereits im Vorfeld des Camps heftige innergriechische Konflikte: So sollen anarchistische Zusammenhänge vor allem deshalb nicht am Camp teilgenommen haben, weil aus ihrer Sicht eine Zusammenarbeit mit dem an der Vorbereitung beteiligten „Netzwerk für politische und soziale Rechte“ („Diktio“) nicht möglich wäre. Zweitens erwarteten autonome und anarchistische Gruppen aus anderen Ländern mehr direkte Aktionen und fühlten sich mit entsprechenden Vorschlägen immer wieder ausgebremst. In der Tat wurden bisweilen Aktionsideen blockiert, etwa weil kein Vertrauen in eine verantwortliche Umsetzung bestand oder weil eigene (zum Teil fragwürdig erscheinende) Verhandlungstaktiken gefährdet erschienen. Hinzu kamen drittens massive Kommunikationsprobleme, die auch mit unterschiedlichen Protestkulturen sowie (häufig intransparenten) Entscheidungsfindungsprozessen zusammenhingen. Viertens hat die aus Athen eingeschiffte Riot-Police die Aktionsplanungen alles andere als vereinfacht. Denn mehrfach demonstrierten die Cops mit völlig unvermittelten Knüppeleinsätzen, dass von ihnen ziviler Umgang mit zivilem Ungehorsam kaum zu erwarten wäre. Fünftens spielten auch unterschiedliche Einschätzungen eine zentrale Rolle — insbesondere hinsichtlich des richtigen Fingerspitzengefühls für die aktuelle Situation: Zu nennen wäre beispielhaft der (durch andere CampteilnehmerInnen verhinderte) Versuch eines kleineren Trupps, aus einer gemeinsamen Demo im innerstädtischen Hafenbereich zu einer militanten Unternehmung aufzubrechen — entgegen klarer Absprachen in der durchaus heterogen zusammengesetzten Vorbereitungs-AG der Demo vielfach artikulierter Bitten seitens lokaler AktivistInnen. Bedauerlich bleibt insofern (und das ist an die Adresse aller formuliert), dass es im Laufe der Campwoche nicht gelungen ist, in eigenständigen und gut vorbereiteten Aktionen die Infrastuktur von Frontex, Küstenwache & Co. direkt anzugehen!

Für reichlich Furore sorgte am Frontex-Aktionstag die Aktion, mit 50 kleinen Schlauchbooten ins Hafenbecken zu springen und auf den Stützpunkt der Küstenwache zuzupaddeln. Auch deshalb, weil die Einsatzboote der griechischen Coast-Guards „freundlicherweise“ demonstrierten, wie sie durch schnelle Rotationen künstliche Wellen erzeugen, um so auf hoher See Flüchtlingsboote zurückzudrängen. Gleichzeitig zog die Demo gegen Frontex los, angeführt unter anderem von AktivistInnen aus Mali und Mauretanien, die in Westafrika ebenfalls mit Operationen der EU-Grenzagentur konfrontiert sind. Die transnationale Vernetzung mit ihnen sowie AktivistInnen aus Osteuropa und der Türkei konnte in Workshops vertieft werden, gegen Frontex und die illegalen Abschiebungen (Refoulement) an den EU-Außengrenzen sind weitere gemeinsame Initiativen geplant. Mehr Nachhaltigkeit denn je hat noborder09 auch auf lokaler Ebene hinterlassen. Die lokale Unterstützungsgruppe ging merklich gestärkt aus der Woche hervor, die Skandalisierung der Zustände in Pagani hielt an, nicht zuletzt weil die neuen InsassInnen weiter rebellier(t)en. Offensichtlich ermutigt von der Noborder-Phase kam es in den Wochen danach zu Protesten, die mittlerweile zur Wiedereröffnung eines offenen Lagers führten. Neuankommende Familien sollen nun direkt dort registriert werden, ohne Internierung, was eine kleine aber handfeste Verschiebung in der bisherigen Abschreckungspraxis bedeuten würde. Zudem haben die „Voices from Pagani“ die Dublin-Rückschiebungen weiter erschwert, und vor dem Hintergrund eines erfolgreichen Eilantrages beim Bundesverfassungsgericht schimpfte Schäuble unlängst nicht zufällig, dass mit Griechenland das ganze Dublin-System in Gefahr gerate.

Mit geschätzten 200 Sans Papiers kam noborder09 über das Infopunkt-Zirkuszelt in Berührung, das System der Registrierung und Internierung konnte in den Camptagen vielfach unterlaufen werden. Kontakte blieben über Athen hinaus bestehen und die schnellsten meldeten sich bereits aus den Zielländern zurück! Der Infopoint hat für einige Augenblicke ahnen lassen, wie ein selbstorganisiertes „Welcome-Center“ aussehen könnte — daran hat auch eine junge Frau aus Somalia keinen Zweifel gelassen: „Am dankbarsten bin ich darüber gelernt zu haben, dass es mehr als nur eine Reise gibt. Als ich Somalia verließ, ging ich los, um einen sicheren und besseren Ort zum Leben zu finden und weil ich meine Familie unterstützen wollte. Ich kann nun klarer sehen, wie Europa im Augenblick ist und dass es nicht der sichere Ort ist, den ich zu erreichen hoffte. Wir werden in grauenhafte Gefängnisse geworfen und Europa sendet seine Truppen, um uns auf dem Meer zu bekämpfen. Ich habe nie so viel gelernt in solch kurzer Zeit. Es war ein harter Lernprozess, aber ich lernte noch mehr. Ich habe meine zweite Reise hier begonnen. Denn wir begannen all die anderen zu sehen, die in denselben kleinen Booten sitzen und ums Überleben und Weiterkommen kämpfen. In den letzten Tagen mit Euch gemeinsam hier in diesem Zelt in Mytilini habe ich erahnen können, wie es sein könnte, wenn wir alle gemeinsam auf die Reise gingen. Vielleicht an einen anderen Ort, der in der Zukunft existieren wird.“

transact!, 7. Oktober 2009.


Shut down Pagani! Azadi!
An evaluation of the no border camp in Lesvos

Never before have we experienced a noborder camp on the outer borders of the EU at which political protests and social struggles for the freedom of movement were as intertwined as they were in Lesvos. International press coverage about the detention centre at Pagani was considerable and we return with many new impulses for transnational networking. Even if meetings were characterised by strong disagreements, our evaluation of Lesvos is overwhelmingly positive.

“Tomorrow when we continue our journey, we will be refugees again. But till the last minute we will be just people here tonight, friends celebrating together. Who would’ve thought that on this island we wouldn’t have to hide in the woods and that we would get the gift of a night of freedom amongst friends!”

These words speak volumes. They are the words of a young Afghani man on the last night of the noborder camp that took place near Mytilini, the capital of the island of Lesvos. True words they are, given the impressive events of those days, in particular at the Infopoint which was set up along the harbour right from the start. There tourists could get information about the situation of refugees, whilst (silent) supporters from the island brought blankets and food. Some of the locals also shared the experiences they had had with refugees. Within a few days, this self-organised “Welcome Centre” became the central meeting point for (paperless) newcomers and released detainees; a space to rest, a space to exchange information and a space for collective action [A separate brochure about the Infopoint will be published in the coming months].

As we expected, both time and place of the noborder camp were well-selected. Lesvos is key site in the external border regime of the EU: each night new refugee boats arrived and the detention centre at Pagani had been suffering from overcrowding for weeks. Greek border guards and Frontex were on patrol around the clock [In Pagani refugees’ fingerprints are taken and subsequently they are detained (between 2 weeks and 2 months) until they receive a ‘white paper’ stating that they have to leave Greece within 30 days]. Around 600 activists from many different countries had travelled to Lesvos for the week of protests. Aside from the Greek activists, most of them were from Germany, but also from many different countries. Five days before the noborder camp began, 150 young people detained in Pagani went on hunger strike to demand their release. This set the tone and of what was about to unfold. The first solidarity actions began then, producing the kinds of images that would cause stirs in the international media in the weeks to come: refugees smuggled a camera into the prison to document the inhumane conditions forced on them inside [This and other videos can be viewed here]. With a slight delay, these even made it onto CNN and some of this material was also broadcast in the German media. However, both press work within Greece as well as on an international level could have been even more effective if engagement with mainstream media hadn’t been such a controversial issue [Before the noborder camp there was a decision taken by the local group that the noborder camp as a whole shouldn’t engage in any mainstream media work].

The first contentious issue that emerged was a familiar one to activists in Germany: 40 hunger strikers had fought their way out of Pagani and were waiting for the crossing to Athens with nowhere to stay and without any resources. The places on the ferries were all booked up and they couldn’t leave, so they were invited to join the camp. Immediately people began to worry how to continue to do political actions when hundreds of refugees needed to be cared for. Many — especially local activists — feared getting lost in individual support work and being instrumentalised by the state in the process. What was at stake here was the possibility of connecting practical solidarity with political demands. Unfortunately though, it remained a theoretical debate in meetings as to how dynamic resistance could unfold through joining together social (survival) struggles and political initiatives. This was why the Infopoint was such an astute compromise.

At the Infopoint, noborder activists wanting to confront the border regime politically could come together with those whose journey to Europe was a practical challenge to those borders. Through this process, refugees and activists were able to break through language barriers and organise mutual support as well as collective (political!) action. The kitchen collectives brought food and noborder activists offered medical assistance, legal advice and practical help for people continuing their journey. Experienced migrants translated and shared what they had learned along the way, those who were more rested helped the exhausted newcomers. New arrivals participated in farewell parades for those embarking on their journey towards Athens. Setting a precedence, an Afghani family fought and won the ability to register without detention! For the Frontex action day, refugees and activists painted a huge multi-language “Freedom of Movement” banner and hung it up at the Infopoint. It’s not always easy to get the balance between care and activism or negotiations and street actions right, and so everyone’s emotional and physical boundaries were constantly being pushed to their limits. Yet it was precisely this process that appeared to us to be one of the most powerful aspects of the noborder camp.

From the moment the hunger strikes happened shortly before noborder09 began, it was clear that the detention centre would become a main focal point. Pagani was completely overcrowded with at times 1000 men, women and children locked away in appalling conditions lacking in hygiene as well as access to food and water. Nearly every day, larger and smaller actions took place with calls of “Freedom! Azadi!” [“Azadi” is Farci for “Freedom”] resounding from inside and out. Protesters shook the gates of the prison, occupied the courtyard and in the end also the roof. A source of long and bitter debates was whether and how to have forced a mass break-out and close down the prison. Wouldn’t that have been the only appropriate action (and technically possible)? However, people inside were clear that they didn’t want to break out like “criminals”, they wanted to be released (people also feared still having to encounter the authorities at the ferry port, a chokepoint if you want to go further). And so — at least for the duration of the noborder camp — the strategy was to put continued pressure on the authorities from inside and out, to shorten the time refugees were physically detained and to transform the prison into open centre.

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This debate led straight into inextricably linked discussions about action repertoires, repeatedly surfacing in all meetings and working groups. Already in advance, intense conflicts had ensued within the Greek networks: anarchist groups weren’t participating because they couldn’t work with the “network for political and social rights” (“Diktio”). Autonomous and anarchist groups from other countries expected more direct actions and consistently felt like they were being restricted when they made concrete proposals for actions. It’s true that many ideas for actions were blocked, either because of fears that these wouldn’t be carried out responsibly, or because these might endanger other (in some cases actually also questionable) negotiation tactics. Additionally, huge communication problems existed that had to do with different protest cultures as well as (often non-transparent) decision-making processes. Also, the riot cops brought in from Athens did anything but make any of the actions easier. Completely out of the blue they would use their batons to demonstrate that civil disobedience wouldn’t be met with any kind of civil response. Another difficulty were conflicts around different sensitivities in given situations. A good example here was the attempt (thwarted by other activists) by a few small groups to break out of the demonstration in the inner-city harbour area to do a militant action — against clear agreements within the incredibly heterogeneous preparatory group that had organised the demo, along with repeated pleas by local activists. Overall, lamentably (and this is directed at everyone), we weren’t successful at carrying out self-organised and well-prepared actions that directly confronted the infrastructure of Frontex, Coastguard & Co.

There was quite a buzz on the Frontex-action day when activists in 50 paddle boats attempted to surround the Coastguard. Of course the Greek coast guards were “nice enough” to display their finesse in making waves that push back refugee boats at high sea. At the same time as this was going on, the demo against Frontex started, led — amongst others — by activists from Mali and Mauritius, who in West Africa are also faced with EU border agency operations. In workshops it was possible to strengthen transnational networking with them as well as activists from Eastern Europe and Turkey, meaning that more joint initiatives against Frontex and illegal deportations (“refoulements”) along the EU’s outer borders are planned for the future. More than ever before, noborder09 left behind sustainable structures on a local level. The week of protests invigorated and strengthened the local support group which continues to raise public awareness of the scandalous conditions in Pagani, not least because new detainees continue to rebel. Clearly motivated by noborder09 events, the following weeks saw more protests which have now led to the re-instatement of an open centre. Newly arrived families should be registered there without being detained, a small but real shift from the existing practice of deterrence. Additionally, the “Voices of Pagani” have made Dublin-refoulements more difficult, and against the backdrop of the successful fast-track appeal at the German Constitutional Court, it’s no coincidence that Schaeuble has complained at Greece endangering the whole Dublin-System [In September 2009 the Constitutional Court stopped a deportation of a refugee from Irak in a summary proceeding. The man should have been deported to Greece which was the country of his first entry to European Union. Schäuble (Germany’s Interior Minister since elections in September) is one of the hardest opponents to any kind of reform on Dublin2-convention.].

Via the Infopoint, noborder09 came into contact with an estimated 200 Sans Papiers and was able to undermine the existing registration and internment system during the days of the noborder camp. The contacts established have been maintained beyond Athens and refugees who have made it to where they wanted to go have already been in touch! For a few moments, the Infopoint allowed us gain a glimpse of what a self-organised “Welcome-Centre” could look like. The words of a young woman from Somalia leave no doubt at all: “I am most thankful to have learned that there is more than one journey. When I left Somalia, I started my journey to find a safer and better place to live, because I wanted to support my family. I can now see more clearly what Europe looks like and how it isn’t the safe place I hoped to reach. We are thrown into terrible prisons and Europe sends its troops to fight us at sea. I have never learned so much in such a short time. It was difficult to learn, but I learnt even more. I began my second journey here, seeing all the others who sit in the same little boats and fight for survival and to get further. In the last days together with you here in this tent in Mytilini I have been able to see what it would be like if we all go on the journey together. Maybe to another place that might exist somewhere in the future.”

transact!, October 7th, 2009.

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Report about No Border Lesbos

How we see the No Border Camp – A reporting from autonomous participants from different cities in Germany

There is a lot of talking about success in the reports bout the No Border in Lesbos 2009. We don’t agree completely with that.

First, the story about the development, the idea and the following preparation was somehow puzzling for us. We at least see now — after the Camp — some things more clear. That’s how we see it now: In Germany parts of the antiracist movement invited for the No Border and the activists from different political scenes started to prepare for travelling. In Greece the Dictio (network for global social rights) was part of the preparation but only mobilised their people. Greek anarchists didn’t know about the preparation till December, though the greek anarchists are an important part of the political movement about migration and the work with immigrants. Only a few anarchists knew about the upcoming camp, mostly because german autonomous friends told them about the idea.

In December the locals from Mitilini (Lesbos) were invited. There a only a few anarchists in Mitilini and they weren’t sure about taking part in the preparation of the No Border. Some saw a chance in taking part to support the political actions about migration on the island, others objected totally because they (like other anarchists in Greece) don’t wanted to work together with Dictio. Also the anarchists groups in Thessaloniki and Athens refused to take part because of their political differences with Dictio. They didn’t want to work together with them. That was not surprising at all, because normally they don’t work together. There a just a few exceptions from this decision, only when the starting point is the same, then sometimes it worked out, but never, if one of the groups is just informing the others after preparing something. So there weren’t any political anarchists groups from Greece taking part, only a few individuals.

But only a few internationals knew about that political decision of the anarchists not being part of the No Border. The preparation teams from Germany and Greece didn’t communicate this openly. For that reason the internationals expected that they will meet — like in other No Border Camps in Germany — a lot of activists from different political scenes. Their expectation were only partly delivered. There were a lot of anarchists and autonomous activists and groups from different countries but not from Greece. That was a confusing situation. In our opinion a presentation about the history of protest at the beginning of the Camp should have made the situation more clear but unfortunately this didn’t happen. At the same time and for the some reason we missed a presentation about the preparation team. That would have made the situation more clear for the internationals.

Some activists from Germany were aware of the point that the anarchists groups wouldn’t take part in the No Border, but nevertheless decided to go to Mitilini. This was a political decision, because on camps like this there is always a „camp-own“ dynamic, so that it’s possible to develop and to permute radical left topics and actions.

Unfortunately it wasn’t like that. During the week the participants had more and more the feeling to be exploited and controlled by the preparation team. Direct actions and own ideas were blocked and dismissed with always the same reasons:
a) The former political work of the locals is is danger, if there are any confrontations on the island, because till then there were some first successes trough NGO-delegations and negotiations with the local authorities;
b) Direct action will harm the migrants, because they only want to get the paper to come to Athens;
c) Direct actions in Lesbos can't be mediated to the local people;
and above all this reasons there seemed to be a more or less open fear or „hazard analysis“ that the „black bloc“ is going to destroy Mitilini completely…

The possibility that human rights policy and direct actions can be combined and complement one another wasn’t seen in this discussions.

Before the No Border started officially it was clear that a lot of anarchists and autonomous activists are going to take part. According to this, there were — beside of the important direct support of the migrants in the camp and at the infopoint in Mitilini — a lot of activists, who wanted to develop responsible political actions. But already in the first action-plenaries there was shown this immense fear for direct actions that somehow also attack. So it was more and more clear that the political views about what should happen on this camp diverge completely. To sharpen it: at the end there was mostly a humanitarian human rights policy with all its facets like dealing with the authorities and play their games. Against this background we see the „fear“ of some local activists. They were afraid to loose their „power“ if there were some direct actions from anarchists and autonomous activists without them controlling it.

In this situation day for day more and more internationals were dissatisfied. Most of them came with positive experiences from other international camps and were really disappointed about the strict denial of every civil disobedience or just a tiny paint-ball.

For to make clear and transparent for the people that weren’t in Militini how ideas were objected and decisions were made, we would like to go more in detail about an idea for an action at Pagani detention-centre:

After people have seen the detention-centre, there were just shocked and angry. A former store-house, where 1000 migrants are caged in a few rooms each with about 180 migrants. (Originally there were plans to put 280 people at all in Pagani.) The unacceptable circumstances in Pagani are documented on a video.


The first impulse was: “We have to shut this hole thing down”. But that’s unfortunately not that easy. After talking to the people inside, it was clear that most of them didn’t want to break out. Some of them for sure would have chosen the way to live illegally in Greece, but that was not common sense between them. Most of the people inside are waiting for a paper to leave the island. With this paper they are allowed to travel to athens, at the same moment the paper is an order to leave Greece within 30 days. This paper is the only legal way to leave the island. Because of the „Third Country Regulation“ of the EU the migrants are not allowed to seek for asylum in other european countries than Greece. With this paper they only can go to seek for asylum in Athens (0,1 percent allowance of claims) or to live illegally in Europe. In Pagani regularly migrants are released with this paper, sometimes more than a dozen a day, mostly because the cops arrest daily new people and take them to Pagani.

Besides there was for good reason the fear, that in case of a riot in front of the jail they cops could use tear-gas (the greek cops love it) and that could cause a uncontrollable and dangerous panic inside Pagani. Because of this reason we decided to look for a clever action to minimise the danger.

With some people we developed an action and presented it. Our idea was to rededicate the detention-centre into an open transit without cells and fences. While the people are waiting for their paper there is no need to have a jail, they can wait everywhere in Lesbos for that. To make this action in a responsible way it must have been sure that there are as less cops as possible at Pagani (only the six securities working there). Another action in the city of Mitilini, at the same time — the occupation of the prefecture — should cause enough work for the cops. Meanwhile a „technic-team“ could open everything at Pagani. Leaflets should inform the local society and the tourists about the „new transit-centre“ and about our general political demands. This action should have taken place a day before the official Pagani action day.

This proposal was presented at a delegation-meeting, where also sat some people of the preparation-team. There was a long discussion about it and finally it was blocked (specially from people in the preparation-team) for the same reason we wrote about in the beginning of this text. Instead of that it was decided that the official demonstration should take place at the day it was already planned and the prefecture should be occupied by „surprise“. With this decision it was accepted that the local police and the riot cops from Athens will be at Pagani, who didn’t have something against an escalating situation in front of the detention-centre.

During the discussion about our proposal we more and more got the feeling, that there was no confidence that we as international anarchist/autonomous activists could handle the situation responsible. Rather it went out that some people just wanted to control whatever is going to happen. For some of the organisation-team their human rights policy was at the foreground, the ideas and the dynamic of the participants in the camp was completely negated and direct actions were objected and finally blocked, instead of having different actions at the same time side by side respecting each other. For us neither the release nor a riot was in the focus of our action, the only idea was to rededicate the detention-centre because the only reasons for this inhuman way treating migrants are harassment and determent. Also it was not the idea to „release“ people if they want to wait for their paper, if somebody would chose to get out of the situation, ok, everyone can chose for him or herself.

From our proposal only the occupation of the prefecture remained. This action was not openly announced but failed because of our bad preparation. On the spontaneous delegation-meeting afterwards it wasn’t even possible to decide for a spontaneous demonstration, because this „couldn’t be communicated and mediated“ to the local society and the fear that the autonomous/anarchist activists are going to destroy everything stood in the foreground.

This is only one example that just should make it more transparent how ideas of direct actions were blocked on this camp. Again and again ideas were discussed so long that nothing came out of it and it needed a lot of time to figure out what kind of power games were played and by whom. For sure this kind of discussion were also part in other action-camps, but most of us had the impression that this time it was worse and that some really had a special interest in controlling everything.

The structure of power inside the camp was in-transparent, we all stayed to long in this kind of discussions instead of organising ourselves. For this situation there is also a critique on the local anarchists who partly also prepared the camp. There wasn’t a clear position and some of them were also part of the blocking people. Later we understood that most of them didn’t expect so many autonomous/anarchists activists with other ideas than the human rights fraction. But for them as well it was complicated to find out who is who and who wants what.

Only at the end of the camp we had a common sense that we would have needed a autonomous/anarchists plenary beside. For that there was also a proposal at the beginning, but at that time most of us thought that there will be an own camp dynamic depending on the participants and we didn’t expect this blocking behaviour.

Some german antira-activists also had their hands in some of the „bottom situations“ of the week. After a demonstration in Mitilini some activists had prepared paint-balls for one office of the border police and Frontex. The demonstration ended about 100 metres before, but one group tried to mobilise people to go further in the direction of the office. One from the preparation-team for the No Border stopped them in a confrontative way and threatened them even with beating if they continue. He argued with a so called „consensus against confrontation“ of the camp that never had existed. Fascinating was also the estimation of the greek anarchists that even with some paint-balls the situation with the riot cops from Athens would escalate and we as internationals couldn’t stand such a situation. Therefore they also objected this action.

To top this the greek anarchists who for political reasons didn’t take part in the No Border appeared fully covered and armed out of nowhere in the demonstration with banners and greek slogans at the same time. They planned their own action without communicating their aim. About 300 activists followed them without knowing where they were going and for what. After a long while passing the dark tiny streets of Mitilini it turned out that we are on the way to a traditional greek concert where some people wanted to put some banners with political demands and held a speech on the stage about the greek migration policy. Not a bad action at all but this also shows that there was no communication at all.

What else happened?

Important and eminent was the Info-point in Mitilini. It was not planned before but spontaneous build up and it has shown the fatal migration policy in the middle of the city. First sceptical eyed by the locals day for day more locals showed up, bringing food and other needed things. There were leaflets and the migrants could get support and juridical information. A positive example was the support for a family from Afghanistan. They were not send to Pagani but to an open camp-side near the airport where they could wait for their papers. With tips and tricks some migrants were supported and with this political pressure the writings of the papers sometime went quicker. But for a lot of people their activism ended at the Info-point — of course also because they were exhausted and overstrained. Their energy and dynamic all went into the direct support and there was neither energy nor time for something else.

Also at the camp there was a dynamic that in our opinion was fatal. Trough the cooperation with local social workers at Pagani, the NGOs and Human Rights Organisations (Lawyers) the part of the human right issues were more and more the main parts. At the same time political demands or contexts between different issues were more and more unattended. Because of that the „paper“ and the released people were pointed out as the only political and most important issues. There where news about „success“ daily without saying that there are also released people normally and without scandalising that the paper for the 140 released migrants were written on the 21. August — one week before their release from Pagani. Which consequences this kind of political work has, that only wants to deal and only looks for juridical solutions, was shown on Saturday in front of and inside of Pagani. Here the proposals of the people inside itself were blocked.

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In the morning the people inside rebelled and the gates were opened because of their demands. Some people from the camp got there to have a look what’s going on there. Because of the action against Frontex in the harbour only the usual securities and a few cops were there. So the situation was good to support the migrants but more people were needed. This was prevented by some people from the camp who communicated trough the infopoint at the camp that „everything is ok and there are enough people to support“. Probably there was the same fear that the situation could get out of control. So most of the people decided to join the great action in the harbour.

At Pagani the situation meanwhile went somehow bizzare. One woman who works at Pagani (we don’t know if she is a lawyer or NGO or whatever) called the people to go inside in their cells, because she wanted to read the rest of the 140 names of the people who should be released. (The papers that already were one week old.) When people of us asked why they couldn’t do that while the people stayed outside, she argued that the situation is to confused to read the names and inside the situation is more under control. The protests of the few activists outside couldn’t do anything against it and the people went under this pressure „voluntarily“ inside the overcrowded cells. Meanwhile some more activists arrived because it had turned out that the migrants very well wanted support.

One hour later about 50 activists got inside because of a lucky break. Some sat down, other started to talk to the people inside and also others tried to make the open gate unusable. The security and the cops were overstrained with the situation and their colleagues from Athens had enough work at the harbour … really a good situation … till, well, till the human rights activists again destroyed the situation and the possibilities. One of them made a deal — without someone has asked for that — with the police that we are going to leave and therefore the cops are not going to attack us. To make more pressure on the activists he also pointed out that the rest of the woman and children wouldn’t be released if we stayed. He acted like a cop to sabotage this action. To make it short: the cooperation between NGO’s, social workers and parts of the camp preparation scotched every action. In the opposite every — partly planned — release was pointed out as a political success of the camp.

Also in other issues it was impossible to figure out a context between contents. After a short spontaneous blockade of a military parade that takes place in Mitilini every Sunday there were a lot of critique for this action. In Greece there is unfortunately also for the radical left just a small discussion about the military. In the rest of the society there is less to no discussion. The military parade on the next Sunday was not only companied by riot cops but also by nationalists and some fascists who attacked verbally the info point. Also the military action of the greek army (in Afghanistan) is no point of discussion in Greece. Contexts like war and reasons for migration are ignored. So this action as well was criticised because of the confrontative character. Here again we missed the chance to dispute politically. Instead of that, the camp only pointed at the illegal detention and tried to encourage the dealing position of the local social workers.

In spite of all our fundamental critique there also where some good pointed actions like the boat-action in the harbour or the occupation of the roof in Pagani. There is a good documentation about all this so we don’t want to stress more on this. Everyone can watch the videos. We made this report mainly because of all the „success news“ coming from Lesbos and we really disagree with that point of view. We really don’t want to play our role as „small sheriffs“ to enforce the Geneva Convention or to be the cue ball of the local social workers. We criticise emphatically the politic of power of some of the preparation team to blockade the dynamic of the camp and the idea of having direct actions. And of course we would like to have a discussion about our critiques in Solidarity.

At the end we send solidarity greeting to the comrades in Rotterdam, keep at it!

Indymedia Deutschland, 19. September.

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Aux portes de la citadelle :
les exilés de Patras - le camp No Border à Lesvos


Alors que les Afghans de Calais viennent de se faire dégager, il me semblait important de partager ce que j’ai vu à l’autre bout de l’Europe, en Grèce, pour contribuer à ce que chacun méprise autant que moi les politiques d’immigration actuelles et qu’on s’investisse tous dans une lutte acharnée contre ce régime xénophobe.

Les exilés de Patras

En remontant les rues qui longent le port de Patras, on ne manque pas de remarquer, alignés derrière les grilles des terminaux ferry, les silhouettes en attente des passagers clandestins pour l’Europe. À partir de midi et jusqu’à la nuit tombante, ils sont plusieurs dizaines sur les quais de la gare ferroviaire, scrutant le port en quête d’une opportunité de passage. Quand l’occasion se présente, quand les gardes-côtes regardent ailleurs, ils agrippent les barreaux des grilles et se hissent à travers les barbelés pour se laisser glisser à l’intérieur. En quelques minutes, ils choisissent leur camion et se faufilent sous la remorque pour se cacher sur les essieux ou dans la cargaison. Mais rares sont ceux qui réussissent.

J’ai passé dix jours avec ces hommes, qui viennent pour la plupart du Maghreb, mais aussi d’Afghanistan, du Soudan ou d’Érythrée. Ce sont d’abord des Marocains que j’ai rencontrés. Ils dorment dans le parc, à même le sol. Ils sont un petit groupe, de tous âges et tous très chaleureux. Ils n’essayent que rarement de prendre les camions et passent leur journée à boire du vin, fatigués et désabusés. Ils sont là depuis un an, obligés de dormir dans la rue et de se nourrir dans les poubelles. Ils n’y croient plus du tout, mais continuent de rêver d’Europe, car pour eux «la Grèce, c’est pas l’Europe». Très vite, j'ai rencontré un Tunisien qui m’a accompagné jusqu’à la fin de mon séjour. C’est un garçon plein d’humour, très intelligent et loquace, qui sait où dégotter les bons plans pour se nourrir, jouant de la charité bien ordonnée de certains commerçants. Il vient de Tunis où il a laissé sa famille. Il est à Patras depuis deux ans. Il me disait chaque jour que «les Grecs sont des animaux», généralisant l’hostilité de certains à l’ensemble de la population locale pour qui il nourrit une forte aversion, bien qu’il ait appris leur langue. Comme la plupart des migrants de Patras, il dénonce l’indifférence de tous ces gens qui détournent le regard et ne donnent rien. Il est vrai qu’en plus de l’hostilité avérée de la population, aucune organisation ne prend en charge un minimum d’aide aux exilés : pas de nourriture, pas de vêtements, pas de soins, rien. On le croira si on veut, mais de ce point de vue, Patras est pire que Calais !

Au fur et à mesure, j’ai rencontré des Algériens qui m’ont montré les remorques de camions dans lesquelles ils dorment, au bord des quais, ainsi que les squats qu’ils ont aménagé dans des immeubles abandonnés de la ville haute. Ils ne parlent pas tous français mais répètent sans cesse qu’ils «aiment la France». Des mots qui font mal quand on pense à Calais, aux sans-papiers, à nos centres de rétention et à nos banlieues, à toute cette violence institutionnalisée qui règne dans nos villes et qui est devenue presque banale. Ces Algériens m’ont invité, m’ont fait des plats avec les légumes qu’ils ont volé et m’ont montré les faux papiers qu’ils ont achetés aux passeurs. Pour 50 euros, on se procure une carte d’identité française, pour 250 euros un passeport allemand ou belge. Les cartes d’identité sont de mauvaise qualité, mal imprimées et pliées, détectables au premier regard. Ils le savent, mais essayent quand même. Qu’ont-ils à perdre ? Certains ont déjà passé trois mois en prison à Athènes et trois mois en Turquie. D’autres en Égypte ou en Lybie. Alors ils se jettent dans la gueule du loup, tendent leurs faux papiers aux douaniers qui les soumettent à leur boîte magique bardée de scanners. J’ai vu ainsi un vieux Tunisien se faire dégager, après que le bidasse qui effectuait les contrôles ait déchiré avec satisfaction les faux papiers qu’il s’était procuré avec peine. Implacable.

Dans le port, les chiens de garde font leur ronde jour et nuit. Habillés d’uniformes militaires, ils fouillent chaque camion qui passe, mettent leur nez sous la carlingue et grimpent avec leur matraque à l’arrière des remorques. Ils sont en scooter ou en jeep et quand ils trouvent des clandestins, ils les pourchassent à toute blinde, les frappent sous les yeux éberlués des touristes qui ne comprennent rien et se taisent. Si quelqu’un ouvre sa gueule, ils l’insultent, comme ça m’est arrivé à trois reprises. L’un d’eux éructait quand il a vu que je le filmais, m’intimant l’ordre, à travers les grilles du port, de donner ma caméra et ma carte d’identité. Il vaut mieux se barrer en courant, ce que j’ai fait, car les derniers qui se sont laissés prendre, se sont fait péter leur appareil photo, comme ce fut le cas pour le photographe suisse Jean Revillard. Et régulièrement, ces brutes arrêtent des migrants. Ils les collent alors dans un container qu’on voit de la rue, un container de 20 m² sans fenêtre, où ils les laissent moisir parfois deux semaines, entassés à vingt ou trente. Pas de couchettes, pas de chiottes, un repas une fois par jour, ignoble mitard puant dans lequel les gardiens pénètrent avec des masques d’hygiène. Pour ceux qui doutent, j’ai fait un film :


Un soir, je suis allé voir les Soudanais. D’abord, j’avais trouvé les matelas de leurs camarades Érythréens posés sur le bord de la mer, puis je me suis lavé au même tuyau qu’eux et enfin je les ai regardé courrir après les camions qui s’arrêtaient au feu pour tenter de grimper dedans, alors ils ont fini par me montrer leur planque principale. Ils occupent les wagons rouillés d’un vieux train à l’arrêt, squattent dedans et dessous. Ils ont même donné des adresses à leurs wagons. Ils sont une vingtaine, dont certains ont l’asile. Ils m’ont montré le fameux papier rose, pour lequel les humanitaires se battent avec acharnement et candeur comme s’il s’agissait d’une clé pour le bonheur éternel. Le papier posé sur la table, ils m’ont raconté qu’ils ont obtenu le statut, mais que rien n’a changé : ils dorment dans la rue, n’ont pas de travail, ne reçoivent pas toujours le pécule qui leur est dû et continuent de bouffer dans les bennes à ordure…

Qu’on se le dise : l’Europe se torche les fesses avec la convention de Genève !

Camp No Border à Lesvos

Après avoir assisté, impuissant et inutile, à la déchéance de nos jeunes frères sur les quais du port de Patras, j’ai rejoins des camarades au camp No Border de Lesvos, une île près des côtes turques. Nous étions un demi millier de divers pays d’Europe à nous rendre là-bas pour coller une raclée aux brigades Frontex, qui choppent (ou coulent) les zodiacs remplis de migrants pénétrant dans les eaux grecques. Ce n’est qu’une fois sur place que nous avons compris le traquenard : les anars grecs avaient boycotté le camp parce qu’il était organisé par des sociaux-démocrates, les mêmes qui se battent pour que les migrants obtiennent le fameux papier rose. Du coup, les perspectives d’actions directes et radicales contre Frontex étaient quasi inexistantes, car nous étions trop peu et insuffisament informés des possibilités locales. Dans les assemblées plénières du camp, une excitée faisait le «one (wo)man show», recevait des applaudissements pour sa prestation et répétait sans cesse combien il serait sympa de passer à la caisse : le prix libre était sacrifié sans cesse à la nécessité de rembourser les frais du camp à hauteur de 5 euros par jour par personne. Un consensus fictif avait décidé dès le début du camp que l’action directe spontanée n’était pas bienvenue, ainsi que les manifestants masqués. Les actions se devaient de rester symboliques et une partie du budget du camp a servi à acheter une quarantaine de bateaux gonflables pour aller parader dans le port le samedi de la «grande manif», sans bien sûr toucher les bateaux de la coast guard !

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Et lorsque nous nous sommes trouvés devant l’innommable prison pour étrangers de Pagani, toute action a été compromise par une délégation négociant la libération de 7 personnes (femmes enceintes) sur mille détenus. Les sociaux démocrates du camp se réjouissaient chaque jour d’obtenir la libération de prisonniers avec la remise d’une obligation à quitter le territoire, sachant pertinement qu’autant de migrants iraient dans un délai d’une semaine remplacer tous ceux qui étaient libérés. Le plus insupportable a été sans doute l’opération «adieu aux migrants» organisée dans le port, effrayante mascarade consistant à saluer avec des petits mouchoirs les migrants libérés embarqués sur le ferry, comme s’ils n’allaient pas subir par la suite une succession de souffrances sans nom, à Athènes, Patras, en Italie, à Calais ou n’importe où ailleurs dans l’espace Schengen. Beaucoup étaient là à verser des larmes de joie, comme s’il s’agissait pour ces migrants de quitter l’enfer pour le paradis. Je suis resté sans voix.

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Mais parlons de Pagani, avant de terminer cet article. Cette prison est une infamie : entassés à plus de 800 dans des cellules de 30 à 160 personnes, alimentés de façon aléatoire et bafoués dans leurs droits les plus élémentaires, les migrants y sont maintenus dans des conditions lamentables. Nous nous sommes rendus à plusieurs reprises auprès d’eux, écoutant impuissants leurs doléances, constatant leur jeune âge (beaucoup sont mineurs) et reprenant avec eux leur slogans hurlés de l’intérieur «Freedom ! Freedom !», jusqu’à ce que les MAT, policiers anti émeute grecs, nous tombent dessus, véritable déferlement de sauvagerie virile. Insultés et frappés avec une violence à laquelle même nos braves CRS ne nous avaient pas habitués, nous avons dû nous replier très rapidement sans pouvoir réagir, pour certains couverts d’hématomes. Nous voulions marquer le coup, faire une démonstration de notre colère et briser les grilles de ce camp de concentration moderne, mais encore une fois, rien n’a pu être entrepris, la majorité des participants au camp préférant jouer dans les eaux du port avec des bateaux gonflables… Désespérant.

Quel bilan tirer de cet étrange séjour aux portes de l’Europe citadelle ? On ne peut que faire le constat, encore une fois, de toute la brutalité froide du système d’immigration européen et de son absurdité. On ne peut que revenir empli de colère, blessé dans son être et déterminé à lutter chaque jour avec plus de force et de conviction contre le système, sa machine, ce talon de fer qui nous écrase lentement et nous ramène vers les délires nationalistes du siècle passé.

Eunous - Indymedia Lille, 23 septembre.

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