The same “divide and conquer”-rhetoric which is repeated all the time all over Europe and the World – blaming migrants for all the problems that are in fact caused by the neoliberal, capitalist, class divided society- recently got an intensified attention in Serbia too. In the past weeks, it seems the government has no other concern but “the migrants”, people who are stuck in Serbia because of the the intensified border-control politics of EU. The “security” of the nation state has become one of the main topics now. As usually, this discourse is used to mask the real, bad situation in the region and to shift the focus of the local population. Apart from general apathy and the lack of dignified life for most of the population, protests against gentrification and the absurd promises of politicians increased the mistrust in state and government structures. Here is where “the other” has to be blamed , this kind of arguments should cover the misery that the government and their business partners keep on creating. The prime minister of the provisional government of Serbia Vučić stated that “ the country won’t be a parking place for those who the EU does not accept” , and that sans papiers wont be tolerated.
Eviction of the parks in Belgrade
Right after the announcement of the cooperation between the army and the police to militarize the border with Macedonia and Bulgaria, increased repression can be noticed in the whole country. For months now, between 200 and 600 people stay in the parks of the capital city. People don’t want to go to isolated, overcrowded places, they say the conditions are better in the parks then in the camps.
In a case when a young Afghan boy was hit by a police officer on his head last week in the park next to the train station, all the present NGO-workers ignored it.This incident shows that there is in fact constant police violence, direct one apart from the usual structural, systematic violence .
Just like it happened last year, the authorities use indirect ways to remove people from public spaces and make them invisible. One of the parks was “ cleaned” and barricades were put on, so “ people can’t damage the green areas”, actually this way they were forced to leave the park. Today (25.07.) the same operation started in the so called “Afghan park” too. Random police controls, checking of documents have increased.
Self-organized march towards the Hungarian border
On the 22.07 few hundred people started marching from Belgrade towards Horgoš border crossing, demanding the end of the violence of the border regime and free movement. The march came as a form of protest of people who got stuck in Serbia for longer time, many of them experienced police brutality, violent attacks and push backs from Hungary but also increased repression in Serbia. They were very badly equipped for the march and walked almost without any support.
As it was expected the police and their closest partner, the High Commissariat for refugees used all possible ways to divide the people and make the march appear as something that was prepossessed from the outside. They tried to convinced people to go back to the camps or to take a train and go forward in smaller groups. According to the information we got (not confirmed yet), some people were brought back to the Macedonia border – while thinking the buses would bring them to camps – and they might be pushed back.
Yesterday night ( 24.07) about 130 people arrived to Horgoš and went on hunger strike, demanding the end of police violence against them and free movement. Now the number of hunger strikers grew to 141 people, including people from many different countries of origin. They are located 500m from the other 600 people who are waiting to enter the transit zone. Police forces and commissariat staff is “securing” the hunger strike. There is contact with the protesting people over the phone. They urgently need independent (!) medical assistance, charging for phones, water, and forms of direct solidarity for their cause.