Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Brussels No Border Camp

From 25th September to 3rd October migrants, sans-papiers, and activists from all over the world will hold an international No Border camp in Brussels.

The No Border camp will take place principally at "Tour et Taxi" (a deserted open space in the centre of Brussels) -- but diverse decentralised activities will occur across the city.

The Tour et Taxis site is an ideal location for the camp: in the heart of the city of Brussels, not far from the headquarters of capital and Euro-bureaucracy; and in an old industrial centre surrounded by working class immigrant neighbourhoods. Other locations for talks, workshops and film showings will include the squatted Gesu monastery and the Cinema Nova. Three activist kitchens will be cooking tasty vegan food.

The camp is a space of meeting and reflection, but also of actions with common objectives: ending the system of borders which divide us all; defending freedom of movement and settlement; and opposing the capitalist systems and authorities which cause forced exile, war and misery. The camp also coincides with two days of action against Ecofin and the "austerity" measures being introduced in Belgium and across Europe by capital in reaction to the economic crisis.

People don't migrate without a reason. The distinction made between political refugees and economic migrants is nonsensical. For example, when a Senegalese fisherman emigrates because he cannot support his family, underlying this is the politics of the abandonment of the Senegalese coast for Chinese businesses, a politics which operates within a capitalist system that allocates resources for profit. The same principles apply for refugees from war and from climate change.

The No Border network was set up in 1999 to demand freedom of movement and settlement for all. Since that time, numerous camps have been organised at the borders of the European Union in Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Germany, Sicily, Spain, Calais and finally Lesbos in 2009 (www.noborder.org/camps).

This year's No Border camp will be located not at the periphery but at the heart of Fortress Europe, in Brussels. Belgium assumes the Presidency of the EU from 1st July to 31st December 2010. As capital of the EU, Brussels symbolises the (anti-)migratory politics which the NoBorder movement opposes.

Since the start of the 1980s Europe has turned inwards, putting up walls at its borders, deploying policies which are costly, ineffective and deadly, in the pursuit of the myth of Fortress Europe. A further step was taken in 2003 with the creation of a centralised European agency for external borders, named FRONTEX. This is an administration but also an actual armed border force, which has acquired helicopters and ships, and the agency is not limited to controlling European borders but has externalised to Asia and Africa. In effect, Europe pays various countries to "preventatively" intercept, imprison and deport migrants passing through their territory attempting to reach Europe. Sub-contracting its dirty work to governments which have little regard for human rights seems a priority for Frontex in recent years.

Migration policies currently imprison and deport thousands of people. Thousands of people die at borders every year. For these reasons we demand the abolition of borders, and freedom of movement and settlement for all.

The No Border camp will end on Saturday 2nd October with a mass demonstration in Brussels starting at 1pm.

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