Archive for december, 2017

december 16, 2017

Working on the Balkan Route: “I Can Still Here Croatian Cops Screaming ‘One line!’ in #Opatovac”

States and borders are dividing people. Dividing in them and us. When do we finally get rid of these tools of suffering and oppression? On December 17 I will travel to Lesvos, Greece, again and will stay there for almost a month. It seems a long time ago that I started working with refugees on the Balkan route, but actually its not. A little more than two years have past after I drove to Slovenia. A good friend wrote me in September 2015 about the situation on the Croatian/Slovenian border and asked me to come and support. A lot has happened since then…

Video by the author of this aricle, Riot Turtle, about the next campaign on Lesvos.

Published by Enough is Enough. Written by Riot Turtle.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Riot Turtle About Border Closures: “The EU Member States Don’t Want to be Confronted With Their Deadly Policies”

States and borders are dividing people. Dividing in “them and us”. When do we finally get rid of these tools  of oppression? On December 17 I will travel to Lesvos, Greece, again and will stay there for almost a month. It seems a long time ago that I started working with refugees on the Balkan route, but actually its not. A little more than two years have past after I drove to Slovenia. A good friend wrote me in September 2015 about the situation on the Croatian/Slovenian border and asked me to come and support. A lot has happened since then…

breganaslowenien.jpg

Image: Slovenian/Croatian border in Bregana, Slovenia on September 19, 2015. Image by @RiotTurtle65

I didn’t think long when Luka (name changed), a Slovenian comrade and good friend, wrote me in September 2015. I was planning to drive to the Netherlands for a few days but I immediately changed my plans and drove to Slovenia the next morning. I first met Luka and we discussed the situation. Luka proposed to document it all and spread it through our independent media channels.

I drove to Bregana at the Slovenian/Croation border and the first thing I saw was a lot of riot cops and military. Helicopters in the air, armoured vehicles, shields, helmets and batons. The full program. A group of people was sitting on the ground on the so-called no man’s land, a small territory between the Slovenian and Croatian border posts. I started to talk with people and asked if I could take some pictures. They agreed and so I started to document the disgusting scenery. A totally militarized border to stop people from seeking refuge.

During the night that followed people again and again asked to let a sick child pass the border. On the Slovenian side of the border was the nearest hospital. But the cops refused to let her pass and in the early morning hours the child died. I wiped a few tears, and got sad and angry at the same time. Borders kill!

The Slovenian ruling class didn’t mind to let these people suffer and refused the necessary treatment of the sick child, but they seemed to be stressed about possible bad publicity after the child died. The image of their state could suffer. A few hours later suddenly coaches parked at the border and Syrian families with children were allowed to pass the border to get into the coaches. All refugees protested, including the ones who were allowed to get to the coaches. The solidarity between all people on this tiny piece of land was inspiring.

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Image: One of the coaches on the Slovenian/Croatian border in September 2015. Image by @RiotTurtle65

Nobody knew where the coaches were bringing these people and together with some other people I decided to follow the coaches. We discussed who would stay at the border  with the people who were still there, to make sure that enough people would stay.

In the beginning it looked like the coaches were only accompanied by one police car, but soon the first of our cars was stopped by state security in a civil cars. Soon the second car was stopped and I decided to take a bit more distance. I managed to follow them a long time but a few kilometers before Maribor I lost them. I circled around but didn’t find the coaches again. A little bit later I heard that the coaches had left Slovenia and crossed a small border post. The coaches were in Austria now and I decided to drive to Austria.

I drove to Heiligenkreuz at the Austrian/Hungarian border and met a few comrades. Thousands of people arrived here and it was a pretty chaotic scene because the Austrian army and cops had surrounded them on a small piece of land. But little by little people were transported to different Austrian cities and to Germany.

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Image: The scenery in Heiligenkreuz, Austria in Septemeber 2015. Image by @RiotTurtle65

During my stay in Heiligenkreuz we (me and some comrades) heard that Hungarian cops started to chase and arrest refugees on the Hungarian side of the border. We mobilized more people and drove to the Hungarian side of the border. We saw that the information that we received was correct and started to act. The Hungarian cops tried to arrest as many refugees as they could. It was the implemenation of a new law of the fascist Orban regime, which allowed the Hungarian state to detain people up to 3 years for illegally entering Hungary. For obvious reasons I can’t write about what kind of actions took place during that night but somehow many people arrived in Austria and were save for the Hungarian cops.

I was able to sleep a bit in the car and a few hours later I drove to Salzburg, Austria. Around the main train station I saw soldiers patrolling with machine guns in their hands. Many people were sitting on the ground at the main train station. Waiting for things to come. All trains to Germany were cancelled. A few kilometers from the main train station German riot cops closed the Austrian/German border, only letting in a certain amount of people per day.

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Image: Monitor at the main train station in Salzburg, Austria in September 2015. All trains to Germany were cancelled. Image by @RiotTurtle65

I drove back home after that, with a head full of images. But soon I was back on the Balkan route. We organized a convoy to Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia about 1 month after I returned to Germany. The Cars of Hope collective was born. The misery on the Balkan route was getting bigger and bigger. More and more European states were sealing-off their borders with military, cops and fences.

The scenery in state-run camps like Opatovac (Croatia), Šentilj and Dobova (Both Slovenia, video below) was similar. People were treated more than just inhuman. They were subject to police violence and terrorized. I can still here Croatian cops screaming “One line!” in Opatovac. Even mother and children were only allowed to walk behind each other in a line. “One Line!” I decided that I was not going to support the scum that created these camps by working there. I documented (which was forbidden) the situation in Opatovac and left again. I drove to Serbia and started to work there on a rest area along the highway from Sid to Belgrade. There we were able to work self-organized. People were allowed to move and we build-up a mobile charging station for smartphones. Smartphones were crucial for many people as they often lost friends or family on their long journey… For me it was important not to get exploited for the goals of state rulers, but to work in a self-organized structure and on eye-level with people. Also when it comes to decsion making.

After that I went many times on the Balkan route with the cars of Hope collective. We worked with Soul Food kitchen for people who were sleeping in the streets and parks of Thessaloniki (Greece), with Soul Welders in Belgrade (Serbia), with No Border Kitchen Lesvos (Greece) and many others.  We also worked a lot in Idomeni (Greece) and organized appartments for many people after the “wild” Idomeni camp was evicted. But we also did a lot of presentations in many German cities to create awareness about the situation of refugees on the Balkan route. Many activists of Cars of Hope also fight deportations in Germany and are involved in demonstrations and other actions for the freedom of movement.

The EU/Turkey deal from March 2016 is a disgusting deal which caused more deaths and  legalized trade with humans. The European Union and its member states are paying the Turkish state billions to keep refugees out of Europe and if people do manage to reach the European Union, the EU member states can deport them back to Turkey. But Erdogan’s authoritarian Turkish state wasn’t enough for many EU member states. An even more down-and-dirty deal was made with Libya. A country where people are put in camps that are even worse than in Europe. The European Union is doing business with a country where refugees are being sold as slaves.

The year 2017 is coming to an end I will travel on the Balkan route again. This time to Lesvos and Athens, this time for almost a month. We still have states and borders, we still have people dying at sea and at inner European borders. I will continue to fight for peoples rights like the freedom of movement and also support people who are seeking refuge as much and as good as I can. It makes no sense that people like me are priviliged and can travel wherever they want to just because I was born in northern Europe. I absolutely didn’t do anything that justifies this kind of privilage in comparison to people that were born somewhere elso on this planet. All people have the right to the freedom of movement.

The continent that colonized large parts of the world, that is making money by selling arms to war zones, that is crushing out peoples basic existence with trade deals that destroy local economies around the globe, has closed its borders. We have to overcome this kind of policies, we have to overcome states and borders. We have to get rid of an economical and political system that is dividing us and that destroys our planet.

On Lesvos we (the Cars of Hope collective) will support the Open The Islands campaign, just like we did in the Vohwinkel district and the university of Wuppertal, Germany. For me personally thats not enough, but its a first step towards a real freedom of movement.

Many people support the work of the Cars of Hope collective on the Balkan route. If you also want to support the work with refugees we do you can join our crowdfunding campaign at (scroll down for English) https://www.leetchi.com/c/soziales-von-cars-of-hope or donate directly by PayPal: carsofhopewtal@gmail.com

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december 15, 2017

Transnational mobilization for the rights of migrants and against fascism – Humanity Welcome

restiamo umani

HUMANITY WELCOME

Gorizia – Saturday December 16th, 3pm, Casa Rossa/Rusa hiša
Transnational mobilization for the rights of migrants and against fascism.

trasagorica

Originally published by Rete Solidale Pordenone.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

 

HUMANITY WELCOME

Gorizia – Saturday December 16th, 3pm, Casa Rossa/Rusa hiša
Transnational mobilization for the rights of migrants and against fascism.

Gorizia is by its nature a crossing point in the centre of a common territory, which was always, and is nowadays more than ever, transnational, multilingual and multicultural. It is not a coincidence that diverse nations in this city stood together to stop the rise of Nazi after the fall of the Fascism in September 1943. For the same reasons, Gorizia is also under constant pressure of nationalisms, of racism and fascism. A hundred years ago in its surrounding area there used to be the most bloody battles of the First World War, which left hatred and false divisions behind.

In the past weeks this contrast was evident as never before: we could witness the civil war of institutions against the migrants who found shelter in the Bombi gallery – the gallery that years ago used to be a shelter for people during Second World War bombardments. This gallery is a symbol and a proof of the past and actual Fascism. A proof that can be summed up in one word: INHUMANITY.

IT IS INHUMAN:
neglecting the hygienic minimum and even water to whom has no place to go to,
forcing hundreds of people to sleep in makeshift shelters;
in the depths of winter preventing an access to a few shelters, which protect from rain and snow;
transforming the person who comes from somewhere else into an object of miserable political campaigns, stirring up xenophobia and intolerance.

This inhumanity has already many faces and too many responsibilities. On the one hand, we can notice an obvious inhumanity, claimed by the mayors of Gorizia and Pordenone and their councils – among the members of the councils there are persons who have no problem sharing the table with whom openly praises Fascism. On the other hand it is also true that the tragic situation of the migrants in Italy, Europe and African countries facing the Mediterranean, is a result of precise choices.

IT IS INHUMAN:
externalizing the control of migration flows and national borders as the European Union does;
the Italian Government’s deals with Libyan criminal militia, that practices slavery;
the exploitation of migrants and the idea that someone can migrate only if he/she sacrifices his/her personal freedom and life itself;
the criminalization of those who offer first aid to migrants, on the sea and land;
the Dublin agreement and the pervert bureaucratic mechanisms asylum seekers are bound to;
the false welcome actions, based on the principles of security, and the permission to application of them to private institutions that follow profits, or to volunteers, that are taking the risk of becoming instrument of control and blackmail;
the use of administrative detention and imprisonment for those who don’t have personal identification documents;
the exploitation and the denial of migrant labor rights as a feature of European labor policies;
the economic exploitation by the European Union countries of the territories from which the migrants come;
the military interventions and sale of weapons by the European Union countries, which perpetuate a state of permanent war in the countries from which migrants are forced to escape.

From Gorizia we can and we want to start renewing the idea of humanity, reconstruct the concepts of hospitality, mutualism, mutual recognition and universal equality.

FOR US IS HUMAN:
rejecting and fighting any kind of war between the poor, and the inhuman idea that the poorest and weakest are the ones to pay the cost of a crazy development system;
guaranteeing a suitable welcome, that is not only guaranteeing secure and easily accessible places, but also places integrated with the territory, which allow real mutual awareness and the approach of autonomy, identity and individual integrity of everyone;
opposing ourselves to the opening of detention centres and fighting for the closure of the existing ones;
unveiling that there is no “immigration emergency”, and that migrations are a structural phenomenon of human history, very extended in an irreversibly globalised world;
understanding that this phenomenon can only be tackled by involving and including migrants in the decisions and routes that are related to them;
learning to change through mutual recognition, all of us, HUMAN BEINGS, BORN EQUAL ON THE ONE AND UNIQUE PLANET.

To reaffirm these principles of universal humanity, in Gorizia we are starting a common transnational fight with common mobilization, which starts on the border crossing Casa Rossa/Rožna dolina, on Saturday, 16 December at 15 h.

december 12, 2017

Statement of AKC Metelkova city, Ljubljana: Let’s Stand up Against the Attack on Metelkova/Zoperstavimo se napadu na Metelkovo

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(slo below)

Municipality of Ljubljana has decided to sell a plot of land on which currently hostel Celica stands. This decision represents a radical shift in its relation towards the entire Metelkova area. This move introduces an authoritarian element into the relationship between the municipality and Autonomous Cultural Centre Metelkova mesto, an internationally renowned example of successful cultural, urbanistic and social practice, while truth be told the said relationship has never been a simple one. The latest intentions of the municipality however oblige us, the users of ACC Metelkova mesto, to publicly and unequivocally make our position clear: Capital and Municipality – take your hands off Metelkova!

We recognize in this attempt to fragment and sell the area of Metelkova a symptom of a wider problem of an intentional transformation of the city centre according to the tastes of tourist and real-estate capital. Ljubljana is currently in a period of transition to a second phase of gentrification that coincides nicely with a new investment cycle in the country that has began to pick up speed, which was itself ultimately enabled by taxpayers’ funded bail out of the banks. The profits derived from this process will in turn end up in private pockets. Inner city centre of Ljubljana is now reduced to polished scenery for tourist consumption, local bars without local people and endless array of (small) hotels and AirBnB businesses. By now construction sites, themselves a material expression of the blind desire to “beautify”, have moved to Tabor neighbourhood and touched the very doorstep of Metelkova.

As a part of this process more than a year ago the municipality attacked the Autonomous factory Rog, first by private security contractors and heavy construction machinery and later through still ongoing court procedures against the people involved in the activities of the factory. ACC Metelkova mesta has been however dealt with differently throughout its 24 years of existence. On the one hand, the state never really gave up on visits of various inspection officials and police harrasment as its go-to forms of pressure. On the other hand a policy of recuperation has emerged through which the municipality promotes Metelkova as a tourist product par excellence, leaning heavily on its “alternative image” and quality forms of sociality that are being developed in its midst. Recuperation happens under the false pretense of support and tolerance while the visions of the very people that are creating Metelkova on a daily basis are brushed aside. The fact that the municipality had integrated Metelkova into the Ljubljana brand was misinterpreted by many as a discrete statement of intent that we should no longer fear any hostile moves on its part. Today, with the declaration of the beginning of parcellation and subsequent sale of Metelkova it finally became clearly evident that such interpretations do not stand up to scrutiny.

It has been many years since corrosive effects of commercial activity on the edges of the autonomous area gave birth to the to the same appetites that are now fueling the current sale to the highest bidder. If we are to realistically assess the situation, which we are obliged to, we have to conclude that it was in fact Celica ho(s)tel through its specific trajectory and its relation to autonomy in Metelkova the decisive contributor to the very process that has now reached a point where the same people that presided over Celica are now at risk to be pushed out in the name of even higher profit. Let’s be absolutely sincere: Celica grew out of the fertile soil of Metelkova’s creativity. It was built by enthusiasm, ideas and labour of Metelkova artists and architects. Yet, before the ho(s)tel was even fully established the paths separated. In unclear circumstances the management of the building was given to the partnership of corruptive capital of Student organization of University of Ljubljana and the municipality. Ever since Celica functioned as a profit making venture and a gentrifying force of the entire city, not only of Metelkova. It was due to the apparent and always uneasy acommodation with the community and space of the autonomous centre and to the fact that it was just next door from the latter that Celica managed to break into many tourist guidebooks from around the world as Ljubljana’s main attraction. In the past tourists might feel intimidated just by venturing through the gates of the autonomous space, but today growing masses roll through it every day, photographing the individual natives at their work and thus creating a certain discomfort. Despite the fact that Celica was to a large extent created by people that justifiably claim an intimate connection with Metelkova, its current goals, mode of production and values are very different from those of the ACC Metelkova mesto.

ACC Metelkova mesto regards the announced sale of the plot of Metelkova’s land as the beginning of the hostile takeover of the entire area including of the spaces and activities of the autonomous cultural centre. We have nothing in common with the battle between the current and possible future manager of Celica. As far as we are concerned the municipality is opening wide open the gates of destruction of the autonomous centre, since there can be no doubt that the investors’ apettite will not be satisfied with one building and one plot of land only. To the municipal authorities the sale of Celica will serve as a model for eviction for all the other buildings in Metelkova which are also owned by the municipality. The ongoing sale of Celica can serve as a lesson from which we can learn that processes by which the autonomy of Metelkova is being undermined find support also among those that otherwise situate themselves within a wide field of Metelkova, despite their entirely truthful claims about their clean intentions and motivation. Yet, few moves down the line one of the most significant social and cultural centres in the region, which is a source of pride and pleasure for countless musicians, cultural workers, supporters, critical voices, artists, alternative crowd and even travelers, will be destroyed. This can happen much faster than many are able to even imagine.

Despite the many levels and factors involved the underlining truth is very simple: by parcellation and sale of Metelkova the municipality of Ljubljana is giving up on the principles of public, communal and socially-owned space, replacing it with the rule of terror of the private property owners and their security contractors. We cannot, we must not and we will not let this happen. Not in Metelkova, not in Rog, not in Tabor neighbourhood and not in the city in general. We demand therefore that the premises of Celica are given back to the community, back into the hands of thos that many years ago have successfully defended it against destructive lust of those who then were in power, back into the hands of those that have continuously proved through many years of work that they are guided by longterm interests of the community and not by shortsighted profit-making agenda.

Autonomous Cultural Centre Metelkova
6th December 2017

 

—SLO—

Mestna občina Ljubljana (MOL) se je odločila za prodajo zemljišča, na katerem trenutno stoji Hostel Celica. S tem so se odločili tudi za radikalno spremembo svojega razmerja do celotnega območja Metelkove. Ta poteza v sicer nikoli enostavno razmerje med MOL in AKC Metelkova mesto – slednji je svetovno priznan kulturni, urbanistični in socialni primer dobre prakse – vnaša oblastniški diktat. Zadnje namere MOL uporabnike in uporabnice AKC Metelkova mesto obvezujejo, da javno in jasno sporočimo: kapital in MOL, roke stran od Metelkove!

Poskus razbijanja in odprodaje območja Metelkove je zgolj simptom širšega problema načrtnega preurejanja mestnega središča po okusu turističnega in nepremičninskega kapitala. Ljubljana je trenutno sredi prehoda v drugo fazo gentrifikacije mesta. Ta sovpada z razmahom novega investicijskega cikla v državi, ki ga je omogočilo reševanje bank z denarjem davkoplačevalcev, profiti tega procesa pa bodo romali v zasebne žepe. Gradbišča so se iz ožjega središča mesta, kjer so ostale le še zloščene kulise za turiste, lokali brez lokalcev ter nepregledna goščava hotel(čk)ov in AirBnB obratov, premaknila v sosesko Tabor in se s slepo željo po »olepšavi« dotaknila tudi Metelkove.

MOL se je lani v sklopu tega procesa spravil nad Avtonomno tovarno Rog, najprej z varnostniki in gradbeno mehanizacijo, nato pa tudi s sodnimi procesi proti tamkajšnjim uporabnikom in uporabnicam, ki še vedno trajajo. Avtonomne kulturne cone Metelkova mesto se lokalne oblasti skozi vseh 24 let njenega obstoja lotevajo drugače. Na eni strani se država pritisku v obliki inšpekcij in policijskih napadov nikoli ni zares odpovedala. Na drugi strani pa že dolgo poteka lokalna politika rekuperacije, ki je pod pretvezo podpore in tolerance Metelkovo zaradi njene “alter podobe” in kvalitetnih oblik družbenosti, ki jih razvija, promovirala kot turistični produkt par excellence, pri čemer vizije uporabnikov in uporabnic niso imele prav nobene veljave. Mnogi so dejstvo, da je MOL Metelkovo vgradil v blagovno znamko Ljubljana, napačno razumeli kot diskretno napoved, da se od MOL ne rabimo več bati sovražnih potez. Danes je z napovedanim drobljenjem in začetkom odprodaje Metelkove dokončno postalo jasno, da zadeva ni takšna.

Zajedanje komercialne dejavnosti na obronke avtonomnega prostora je že pred leti ustvarilo apetite, ki poganjajo današnjo prodajo najboljšemu ponudniku. Z vso treznostjo moramo ugotoviti, da je ravno Celica s svojo specifično trajektorijo in odnosom do avtonomije na Metelkovi tisti dejavnik, ki je odločilno prispeval k procesu, spričo katerega njenim ustvarjalcem sedaj grozi, da bodo v imenu še višjega profita izrinjeni. Iskreno zato priznajmo: Hostel Celica je dejansko zrasel iz bogatih metelkovskih kreativnih tal, s svojim entuziazmom, idejami in delom so jo zgradili Metelkovke in Metelkovci. Toda že pred vzpostavitvijo hostla so se poti razšle, stavba je bila v nejasnih okoliščinah predana v upravljanje koruptivnega kapitala Študentske organizacije Univerze v Ljubljani – v navezi z MOL – in vse odtlej je Celica delovala kot profitni obrat in agent gentrifikacije mesta, ne samo Metelkove. Na račun navidezne in vedno nelagodne akomodacije s skupnostjo in prostorom AKC Metelkova mesto ter na račun sosedstva se je hostel vpisal v svetovne turistične vodnike kot ključna ljubljanska atrakcija. Vse večje trume turistov, ki si še pred nekaj leti niso upale niti pokukati čez prag avtonomne cone, se zdaj dnevno valijo čeznjo in množično fotografirajo primerke domačinov med njihovim vsakodnevnim ustvarjanjem ter vnašajo nemir v skupnost. Četudi so jo v mnogočem naredili ljudje, ki so (bili) Metelkovci, je današnja Celica po cilju, načinu delovanja in vrednotah daleč od AKC Metelkova mesto.

AKC Metelkova mesto razume napovedano prodajo kosa zemljišča na Metelkovi kot začetek sovražnega prevzema celotnega območja, vključno s prostori in dejavnostmi avtonomnega kulturnega centra. Nič skupnega nimamo z bitko med obstoječim upravljavcem in morebitnim bodočim. Kar se nas tiče, MOL z velikim zamahom odpira vrata uničenju avtonomnega centra, saj se investitorski apetiti zagotovo ne bodo končali pri eni zgradbi in eni parceli. Prodaja Celice bo kot model evikcije mestnim oblastem prišel nadvse prav tudi pri vseh drugih zgradbah na Metelkovi, ki jih ima prav tako v lasti MOL. V tej luči se iz poskusa prodaje zemljišča Celice lahko naučimo tudi to, da imajo lahko preko svoje prakse ne glede na izpričane namene in motivacije podporno vlogo v procesih spodkopavanja metelkovske avtonomije tudi tisti, ki se sicer umeščajo znotraj njenega širokega polja. V nekaj potezah, ki se lahko zgodijo precej hitreje, kakor si to marsikdo misli, bo uničen eden najpomembnejših socialnih in kulturnih centrov v regiji, ki je v ponos in užitek nepredstavljivi množici glasbenikov, kulturnikov, somišljenikov, drugače mislečih, umetnikov, alternativcev in nenazadnje tudi popotnikov.

Ne glede na vse ravni in akterje, je osnovna resnica situacije jasna: Mestna občina Ljubljana se z drobljenjem in odprodajo območja Metelkove odpoveduje principom javnega, skupnostnega in družbenega prostora ter jih nadomešča s strahovlado zasebne lastnine in njenih varnostnih služb. Tega ne moremo, ne smemo in ne nameravamo dopustiti tako na Metelkovi kot v Rogu, širše v četrti Tabor in v mestu nasploh. Zato terjamo prostore Celice nazaj v skupnostno upravljanje, nazaj v roke tistih, ki so jo pred davnimi leti obranili pred uničevalno slo tedanjih oblastnikov, nazaj v roke tistih, ki so s svojim dolgoletnim angažmajem dokazali, da jih pri delovanju vodi dolgoročen interes skupnosti, ne pa kratkoročne profitne agende.

AKC Metelkova mesto, 6. december 2017