On Tuesday morning Greece officially repealed the Geneva Convention. The presidents of the European Council Charles Michel, of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and of the European Parliament David Sasoli are already in Evros supporting the military “defense” mechanism. The aim is to “seal the borders at all costs“.
And yet the first offensive was not fought against the refugees themselves, but against the solidarity of interests with the refugees. Refugees have become “migrants” on television and in newspapers all over Europe, even though 90% of them arrive fleeing political violence and war. Not that the sealing of borders would be less brutal, inhuman and absurd if they were migrants, but such demagoguery is a way of preventing us from seeing refugees as human beings by obscuring why they are at the border.
However, the first battle came on Sunday. In Lesbos, a group of local militants from an far right party, with police present but passive despite these militants being rebuked by groups of neighbors, prevented refugees from disembarking, threw a German photojournalist into the water and burned an abandoned migrant shelter that the town hall was planning to reopen to deal with the new wave. The same media that rendered invisible the uprising, strike and mass mobilization on the islands in order to end the internment camps and send the refugees to the mainland, suddenly turned the exalted tiny right winger group into “the islanders” without even stopping to think about how surprising the inaction of a police force that had been acting all week as a brutal occupying force was.
What we saw in Lesbos on Sunday was not “the islanders”. What we saw was the fractal version, on a smaller scale, of the conditions which led to the emergence of fascism. Just as in Italy in 1920 and in Germany in the second half of the 1920s, a part of the petty bourgeoisie that had joined the movement, as the latter stagnated – Syriza and the Greek left had already managed to cause this stagnation – broke with the movement to destroy the attempts at self-organization – the strike assemblies – and opted for controlling the movement from outside using terrorist methods. All of this was done with the indulgence of the security forces and under the cover of a governmental discourse that was happy to overcome the previous dangerous -for them- situation.
It is precisely the “neutralization” of the movements of Lesbos and Chios, discursively handing them over to the far right, which allowed the move on Monday from militaristic boasts to murderous action with the blessing of all the other EU states. We are not exaggerating. These are images released yesterday by a Turkish news agency: a Greek coast guard repeatedly tries to sink an inflatable boat with refugees by tipping it over first and then poking it.
Hypocrisy and media control will do the rest. Macron, with his usual Goebbelsian cheekiness, published a tweet saying that “to avoid a humanitarian and migratory crisis” France “is ready to contribute to European efforts to provide rapid assistance and protect the borders”, of course in “total solidarity with Greece and Bulgaria”. In other words, in total solidarity with the suspension of basic human rights –the right not to be killed by a patrol boat, for example. France supports the total closure of the border, which has suddenly become a “security threat”, as if refugees were not refugees but a zombie army. And of course, in “total solidarity” with the official conversion of the Evros border and the Aegean border waters into a shooting range. Thus, if shooting “at will” causes deaths, as the Turkish authorities claim it already has, it will be covered up as accidents of evil migrants who got into a military exercise camp… a camp in which they were actually the targets.
Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas proclaims to anyone who wants to listen that this is “asymmetrical warfare” with Turkey. The Austrian premier, the racist Kurz rushes first to the chorus. The rest of the EU follows. This time the media approach will not allow the death of children to spoil the militaristic party and the “epic” of “defending the common borders”. Europe is at war… against refugees, migrants… against all of us.