Last week during a police raid in Serbia 200 people were taken from Ŝid, a village close to the Croatian border, to Preševo, a closed camp near Macedonia. Waiting for the next chance to cross the Croatian border from where they have been pushed back to Serbia several times, these people have been sleeping in official camps, others in barracks or the forest near the Croatian border. On Tuesday morning they were taken to the police station by buses and then brought to the closed camp in Preševo.
What are Closed Camps?
Closed camps are state-run camps by the police. They have controlled fences, the people are not allowed to get out or move freely within the space of the camp. Furthermore, they don’t have any contact with the outside world. Only the police, the Commissariat and some NGO´s are allowed to get inside. That means closed camps are like prisons. Often people are imprisoned in closed camps over months. The only way to get out is to escape or to be illegally deported. During the last months people were repeatedly deported from Preševo to Macedonia after NGO´s had left the camp in the night.
Criminalising refugees and locking them up in closed camps behind fences is common all over Europe. Invisible imprisonment is a tactic to keep the refugee situation out of the public discourse. At the same time, it is a way for the government to deport people secretly.
Refugees should not be constraint in their movements, or locked up in prisons. Freedom of movement for everyone! Stop illegal deportations! No criminalisation of refugees!