Röszke 11

Flipping through my newsletters today and came across this.

Well documented and well written – a good sign (and a nice change) for the movement!

Introduction from Free the Röszke 11 Zine (March 2017).

Europe, September 2015: People who are protesting at a border fence demanding to pass freely – as before, thousands have been able to do – are being brutally attacked by the police. Eleven of them are arrested and end up in custody. Ten of them are then charged with “illegal border crossing within a mass riot”, one is charged with “terrorism”. These are the Röszke 11, named after the Serbian-Hungarian border crossing where the events took their course.

The Röszke 11 cases are remarkable in various ways. They enunciate the first backlash after the victory migration movements had achieved: the opening of the Balkan corridor. It was the first attempt by an EU member state to re-establish control over the migration movement across and within its territories.

Hungary has long-since been at the forefront of right wing authoritarianism. It curbed up its anti-immigration rhetoric in 2015 and was the first country on the Balkan route to unilaterally build a border fence and stop people from moving through its territory. Hungary displays itself as the guardian of the EU outer border, similar to Bulgaria. The EU does not complain, although these measures are implemented with brutal violence against refugees. (In this Zine, you will thus also find a distressing testimony of a refugee’s experience at the Serbo-Hungarian border in Winter 2016/2017). As a matter of facts, Hungary seems to simply be leading the way towards border fences and criminalisation of migration for the EU to follow. Such tendencies can be observed widely across Europe.The EU Schengen-internal borders – such as for example the Italian borders to France and Switzerland, Ventimiglia and Como – embody a similar tendency including police brutality, arbitrary push-backs and the deprivation of rights.

Another deeply troubling aspect of the Röszke trails is the suspension of the rule of law. The convicted have not received a fair trial at all. No evidence was needed in order to find them guilty. The trials are nothing but show trials. When people who identify as Arab or Muslim are under general suspicion and a pilgrimage to Mecca is proof enough for someone to be linked with radical Islamism and terrorism – as in the case of Ahmed H. – the rule of law is abandoned.

In the use of racist discourse, more or less merging refugees with terrorists, the rest of the EU is not far behind Hungary, with right-wing populists gaining power across Europe. And yet, the use of terrorism laws in Europe as in Ahmed H.’s case is highly worrying and a threat to everyone, not only to minorities. Where today, such a radical injustice might seem unlikely to happen elsewhere than at the interface of migration, exceptional lawless authoritarianism and precarious right statuses, sooner than we think it might endanger our very own precious freedoms. It appears that mainly radicals are concerned with the criminalisation and rightlessness that many migrants face today. However, everyone who believes in the upholding of individual/human rights should devote themselves to this topic. We have to embrace the famous quote by Lilla Watson and understand that our liberations are bound up with each other.

Besides, the Röszke cases are far from being the only ones where refugees are criminalised for protesting for their rights. Stories of similar cases from Greece and Luxembourg are covered in this brochure. Also, you will find texts about borderless solidarity written by different solidarity groups such as No Border Serbia or Migszol Budapest. Further you will find Interviews with the some of the Röszke 11, reports from the court hearings, and indepth analysis about the European context in which these developments take course: The European Migration Process, the interconnection of “security” and “terrorism”, the use of so-called “voluntary returns”, and so on. For a bit of Utopia, you will find a screenplay for “The People against Hungary”, a court procedure against the state, conducted by the united people, in a square in Budapest.

Please enjoy reading!

Your editorial team, March 2017

Image: Zine Cover, “Free the Röszke 11 – Imprisonment of Migrants and Repression against Movements in Hungary and Beyond”. By: Free the Röszke 11. Date: 12 Apr 2017. URL: http://freetheroszke11.weebly.com/. Last viewed: 21 Apr 2017.

Text: Einleitung, “Free the Röszke 11 – Imprisonment of Migrants and Repression against Movements in Hungary and Beyond” Zine Cover. By: Free the Röszke 11. Date: 12 Apr 2017. URL: http://freetheroszke11.weebly.com/. Last viewed: 21 Apr 2017.