New evictions in north-west Bosnia-Herzegovina

A bulldozer is destroying structures built by People on the Move (PoM). Source: Anonymous PoM

This morning, the news about new evictions in Velika Kladuša reached us: “They destroy everything and tear down the tents” a Person on the Move (PoM) texted activists. In the small city in north-west Bosnia-Herzegovina, PoM built up a self-organized camp. Today, the Bosnian special police destroyed the structures with bulldozers. They forced the people into busses, which brought the PoM to camps – single men to Miral Camp in Velika Kladuša and families to Borici Camp in Bihac and a camp in Sarajevo, since Borici is getting too full, as PoM reported to us.

This is not the first eviction in this place. In September, the police already evicted the same camp in a joint action with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). During the previous weeks, the police and IOM was present at the self-organized camp almost every day. Independent activities and support structures faced increased pressure form the police. In that sense, the question was not whether new evictions will take place, but rather when.

Freedom of movement

Many PoM decide to live in this self-organized structure and make-shift camps, or even came back after the last evictions. This choice against the supposed benefits of a camp – access to food, health care, housing – not only roots in the often miserable situation in camps. Most peoples’ main goal is crossing the border to the European Union (EU). Living in self-organized spaces allows them to go to the border without being limited by the rules of the camps.

It is a decision for a limited freedom of movement, which this morning was again taken. “They break the pillars of the tent” one impacted Person on the Move described. Destroying tents is an easy task for the police to take away this mobility.

The self-organized space after the evictions took place. Source: Anonymous PoM

Police funding and externalized borders

This violence follows a larger intention of restricting migration into the EU. The Union pushes Bosnian authorities towards these actions. EU funds directly flow into the police and their equipment. For the EU, this has two benefits: The violence is enacted by a non-EU countries, therefore the EU can hardly be held legally accountable. In addition, the restriction of movement ahead of the official border line does not legally constitute an illegal pushback, prohibited under International Law, even though it de facto has the same outcome. Scholars call this the “externalization of borders”, meaning that the restriction of movement along the border is geographically outsourced.

EU money and EU responsibility

But this should not make us think that this violence is merely happening outside of the EU. As it is the Unions’ money and political pressure, the EU needs to be held accountable for this violence. Citizens inside the EU, whose tax money is funding this violence, have a responsibility to challenge these inhumane practices from within the EU. The border starts inside the EU. That’s why we need to fight it also from within!

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