The Leftist Movement “Solidarnost” strongly condemns the recent decision by states along the Balkan route to use citizenship as the only criteria for allowing passage and access to the right to seek asylum. In a global economic and political system, which produces different forms of exploitation, arbitrary decisions that limit the right to apply for asylum create new injustices and inequalities.
Currently, only refuge-seekers from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are allowed to cross the borders and gain access to the asylum system. Other people from countries such as Morocco, Pakistan, Eritrea, and Somalia are not allowed to cross the Macedonian border in transit to the EU. Access is restricted simply on the basis of their citizenship, on the spot.
In response to this decision, those stranded on the Macedonian-Greek border have been protesting since last week. Our activists report about the lack of basic living conditions on the border and cases of attempted suicides. Those left stranded resort to burning garbage out of desperation for lack of heating. Forgotten, at the edge of border fences, some have sewed their lips shut in hunger strikes. Their basic demand is entry into Macedonia and transit to the European Union.
The Leftist Movement “Solidarnost” stands in solidarity with all those forgotten and unwanted in the ongoing segregation and discrimination that mark the regional EU asylum policy. We emphasize the obligation by states to examine each and every case separately to determine whether a person should be granted asylum. This must NOT be done on the basis of nationality. This must NOT be done impromptu at the borders by policemen. Such practice is in direct violation of the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees, to which Macedonia is a party and according to which any person fleeing persecution in their country should be able to enjoy the right to seek asylum if and when:
” [O]wing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” [author’s emphasis]
We call on the Macedonian citizens to show solidarity with the refugees and migrants forgotten on the borders, reminding them their fleeing is a consequence of the global economic system, which is also the reason why so many of our own citizens have left our country. Macedonia is also a victim of peripheralization and neo-colonial practices. The Macedonian citizens who themselves are forced to migrate due to the socio-economic and political conditions in the country, to a large extent share similar destinies as the people from the Middle East and Africa who are left stranded on our borders.
Let us remember the ongoing dispossession in occupied Western Sahara that the Moroccan government is undertaking to clear up space for foreign investors, flocking in from Europe. Let us remember the history of Italian and British colonial rule in Eritrea that persists through new forms of repression and state control favored by foreign trade deals that tolerate forced labor in companies run by Canadian firms! Let us remember the US-backed drone campaigns in Pakistan since 2004 and Somalia since 2007 that have killed civilians and devastated infrastructure making lives unimaginable in these places. A large number of those protesting on the border come from exactly these countries.
Solidarity with those on the borders is a part of the fight against political and economic injustice which in the current global economic system affects the workers, the farmers, the students, and all those who run away from different forms of violence and exploitation. In a global economic and political system, which produces different forms of exploitation, arbitrary decisions that limit the right to apply for asylum create new injustices and inequalities.
Everyone has the right to seek asylum! We call for international solidarity which doesn’t discriminate over national, ethnic and religions lines.
Written by: Solidarity for Mobility (working group), Leftist Movement “Solidarnost”, Macedonia