Some facts to get the events of Monday the 14th of March straight, when around 2000 refugees marched to Macedonia/FYROM from Idomeni camp, Greece.
As reported correctly by several media outlets such as Balkan Newsbeat and the telegraf.mk on the morning of the 14th, at around 6:45 AM three people were reported dead at the police station in Gevgelija. They died of drowning, in the Suva Reka river southern Macedonia. 23 other people were rescued.
These deaths occurred in the night before the march took place. They were reported in the morning before the march had set off.
The route of the march did not follow the itinerary indicated on the flyer, which was allegedly distributed in the camp before the march set off.
The flyer we saw in the press after the march contained several false allegations and misleading information. It was stated for example that the probability of Idomeni camp being evacuated was high and that refugees would be deported back to Turkey. This has nowhere been officially announced nor confirmed.
We denounce the media’s total lack of consideration for the chronology of the events as well as their erroneous reporting. Furthermore, we condemn the allegedly distributed flyer for being fear-mongering and misleading.
We would like to add that it is insulting to those who took their destiny into their own hands and took the decision to march together, to think that a flyer could be the sole cause of their decision-making. The violence of the border closure in Idomeni as well as the squalid living conditions people have been subjected to are themselves good enough reasons to decide to take collective action. What is more, people have been walking together and defying border regimes for months now as it was the case in Serbia in October and Hungary in the summer of 2015. We urge the media to focus on the fact that over 2000 people took collective action to find their own way to central Europe. And crucially, that Macedonia/FYROM violently and illegally pushed them back to Greece, without giving them the possibility to ask for international protection.
On the 18th of November 2015, Slovenia closed its borders for refugees who are not from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq. Just a little later, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia also adopted this practice of segregation. There is little doubt about that this policy was pushed by the European Union as a starting point for slowing down or even stopping the flow over the Balkan route. Thousands of refugees were stuck in Eidomeni, Greece, and started to protest. The Moving Europe Bus was on the spot and reported live from the 22nd of November to the 11th of December 2015 – when the camp had been evicted. On the 5th of February 2016, we decided to restart our live-ticker as the new year has already seen several attempts from the European Union to slow down the migration movement towards Europe. Macedonia seems to become a key player in this strategy. For several weeks the Macedonian border authorities have slowed down the transit process. The predictable effect of this, given the high arrival numbers to the Greek islands, is that thousands are becoming stuck in Greece. On the 3th of February the Macedonian government announced its plans to strengthen border controls which will further reduce the speed of the transit process. In the meantime, the Greek authorities have established a new buffer zone near to Eidomeni. Since the camp at the border has already become highly overcrowded, there are fears that the violent scenes of last December in Eidomeni will be repeated. Therefore the authorities have decided that people should be kept at bay, at a gas station on the highway that is 20 km far away from the border (at Polykastro). For weeks migrants have had to stay there for hours under miserable conditions. Since the end of January the situation at the Greek border zone has escalated once more. There is only a trickle of people being let through to Macedonia and now people at the gas station have to wait for days before their buses finally leave towards the border. On the 3rd of February 2016 thousands of them decided not to wait any longer at the petrol station and started to walk towards the Macedonian border (#marchofhope 2). Further protests and tensions are to be expected. The Moving Europe Bus is on the spot since the 2nd of February and reports live from Polykastro and Eidomeni.