For months about 800 refugees have been living in abandoned barracks behind the central station of Belgrad. Most of them are not planning to stay in town for a long time, they are just waiting for the next possibility to go further west to Germany and other countries. But now they are stuck in Serbia because the EU has closed their borders. After the Commissariat and Police evicted the Parks around the bus station most people came to the barracks to build a basic home here and to organize their lives together.
A few days ago, the Commissariat of Refugees in collaboration with the Serbian police and the Serbian military took people away from the barracks. They forced them to register and sent them to different official camps in Serbia. Although the barracks seem terrible for living, a lot of people prefer living here that living in an official camp. To be registered and to live in official camps can be dangerous, because there have been illegal deportations from camps during the night in the past. Camps are often far away from the cities, there is a lack of social contact with local people. Often there is also a lack of infrastructure so they depend on the camp and have no autonomy.
The camps are controlled by the Commissariat for Refugees and monitored by the military through registration and closing times in the evening. The decision not to live in a camp is not a matter of luxury or being selective, it is rather the only way to stay visible, to live an independent life and to lower the psychological pressure of horrible thoughts running in circles because of boredom and thoughts about the family and experiences in the past.
The evictions in the last days are not in people’s but in capital interests. Investors from Saudi Arabia are planning to build office buildings and hotels, the ‘Belgrade Waterfront’ on the barracks’ plot. Because of this huge neo-liberal project the government forced all people to move to official camps. The money is again more important than the fact that around 800 people lose their home. Some of the refugees live in the barracks already since last summer because they are stuck in between. There is no possibility to go forward nor backwards, because of the closing of the so-called Balkan-route. The strengthening of the borders of Fortress Europe follow the same interests as Belgrade Waterfront. They protect the capital inside the EU and its expanding. The people who suffer from these interests will never have the chance to have the same freedom and security the capital has.
As noticed again these days, the state is using violence against the refugees. For three days they came in to the barracks, took people outside randomly, registered them and send them to different camps like Krnjaca, Sombor and Obrenovac. The people had no possibility to chose the camp. Yesterday was the last morning, when they took all the people out, put them into buses and brought them to different camps. When the Commissariat came into the barracks early in the morning, they started spraying insecticide. (1)
The Commissariat said that they warned people before, but there were still a lot of people inside the building and they didn’t have a chance to take out their stuff like tents and sleeping bags. Now there are only a few refugees left in Belgrade, but they have to take care because the police is is searching for the last refugees to bring them to camps.
The state is treating refugees as objects, without their own will. They register everyone and bring them randomly to camps without taking care of where they want to go themselves or bring friends or family together. Refugees are not treated only as objects, but as dangerous objects which should be controlled. Being under the general suspicion by the state as illegal persons, thus the state installs their justification to rule over the people and take away their own decisions. All under the conviction to know what’s best for the people.
Another shocking fact is the way foreign voluntary groups, who were working in the barracks for the last months are reacting to the situation. Info Park stressed the good way they were working together with the state: ´Today’s action was another fine example of good collaboration between independent organizations and state institutions. BelgrAID and Evangelist volunteers provided lunch packets for every refugee on the bus, Info Park arranged a bus and detailed info kits for the travelers´ (2). Volunteers are rather helping the Commissariat, than to show resistance andsolidarity with the refugees. ´They are even working together with the Commersariat to help them to convince people to go to camps´ one friend told us.
Other groups are fortunately taking another position, like No Border Serbia and Are You Syrious (3). But still there is no real resistance in Belgrade and nobody is protesting or showing solidarity with the people who just lost their home.
We want to call out to all the people in Belgrade and around the world to show solidarity with the refugees. People should be free in where they want to move, and humans should be worth more than capital.
Fight Belgrade Waterfront, fight capital interests!
Solidarity with refugees!
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