* Freedom, not Frontex. There cannot be democracy without global freedom of movement

Bremen, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Rhein-Main, 8th of March 2011

Dear friends,

the impressive movements of revolt in the Arab world and the downfall of 
the dictators in North Africa produced a problem for the externalised EU 
border regime: they now lack their watchdogs. The question of an 
increased repressive migration control through the European border 
agency Frontex has been discussed in politics and media for the last 
days. In this vein, we believe it urgent to press for the demand of 
freedom of movement, made by refugees and migrants, and position 
ourselves against the dying and suffering at the external borders.

The three anti-racist networks afrique-europe-interact, welcome to 
europe and network of critical migration and border regime research have 
agreed to pusblish this joint statement under the titel „freedom not 

We would like to spread this statement as fast and as wide as possible, 
so we ask if your networks, organisations and initiatives as well as 
individuals want to sign. Please send a short message to fsf@antira.info.

The statement and the signatures will be published on the websites of 
our networks. We will also inform you about further steps.



Freedom, not Frontex
There cannot be democracy without global freedom of movement

The dynamic of the Arab spring is emanating into the entire world. The 
movements of revolt in the Maghreb encourage and give hope, not only 
because despotic regimes that have been believed invincible were chased 
away. Although the direction of further developments remain open it is 
obvious that the domino effect of the Tunisian jasmine revolution 
swiftly brought back the old insight that history is driven from below. 
The struggles are directed against the day-to-day poverty as well as 
against general oppression, they are as much about better living 
conditions as they are about dignity, in short: “bread and roses”.

The incredible days of Midan Al-Tahrir, the Liberation Square in Kairo 
signify the quest for new forms of self organisation and grassroots 
democracy. The desire for equal rights, autonomy and a share of the 
economic wealth is also mirrored in the boats crossing the Mediterranean 
towards Europe: today casting off from Tunisia while during the last 
years from North and West Africa . “Exit” – to claim one's freedom of 
movement and to migrate in order to find a different, better life, and 
“Voice” – to raise one's voice and struggle locally, are not 
contradictory, they are rather mutually intertwined.

This was even more obvious during the upheavals of 1989. The vote of the 
feet catalysed the protest movements against the oppressive regime of 
real socialism. The wall fell because the people enforced their freedom 
of movement. This makes the rhetoric of freedom by western politicians 
appear even more dishonest, as it is exactly these politicians who 
employ the threatening scenario of a flood to characterise the movements 
of migration from and across Northern Africa and to the end of 
legitimising the deployment of Frontex, the European border agency.

The governments of the EU have courted and supported the North African 
rulers, and showed a hesitant and slowing position towards the movements 
of revolt during the last weeks. This policy is not only driven by 
strong economic interests, but also due to the grown collaboration in 
the control of migration. The more effective a despot functioned as a 
watchdog for the externalised EU border regime, the more he became an 
important “partner”. Movements of migration from Africa were to be 
stemmed by any means necessary.

Thousandfold death and suffering, not only at sea, but also in the 
deserts and in the detention camps were and are the consequences of this 
nefarious complicity. The sub-Saharan migrants, who today are victims of 
pogrom-like persecution in Libya, have been systematically 
disenfranchised by the regime of Gaddafi and were subject to arbitrary 
abuse and maltreatment. The EU paid millions to the Libyan dictator and 
delivered surveillance technology. A similar cooperation exists with the 
Moroccan ruler, and until recently with the Tunisian regime. The Arab 
revolutions mark a potential collapse of the EU's brutal project of 
exclusion in the Mediterranean.

Through a media campaign spreading fears about the collapse of migration 
control, the increased aggravation and militarisation of the EU border 
regime -- symbolised by Frontex -- is being legitimised. The European 
border agency adds to and extends the national control systems, which 
have aimed at the deterrence and the criminalisation of movements of 
migration for many decades. Frontex will be deployed vis-a-vis the North 
African coast, as it is already the case at the West African coast and 
at the Greek-Turkish border.

The fact that Italy is given overall control for "Operation Hermes“ is 
consequent and shockingly honest: as a result of the collaboration 
between Berlusconi and Gaddafi in recent years, countless acts of 
unlawful push backs were carried out in the Mediterranean. Italy 
performed a master piece in breaking all refugees’ conventions. And it 
is not by chance that those who save the lives of the boat people are 
being criminalized, as the cases of Cap Anamur and the Tunisian 
fishermen whose trials are still ongoing, show.

Migrants are seeking protection or a better life in Europe. They move 
against a gap of wealth and prosperity, rooted in Europe’s neocolonial 
relations of dominance and exploitation towards Africa. Therefore 
Europe’s universal claim of freedom and democracy must be measured 
against its tratment of those who demand equal rights by migrating. 
Frontex stands for the expansion of a deadly border regime – there is no 
place for it in a free world. Death at the external borders could be 
history by tomorrow. However politically there is no will to do so. 
Instead the EU authorities are waging an outright war at the external 

Within the EU disenfranchisement and deportation are part of a racist 
daily life. "Integration" is used as a means of pressure to enforce 
assimilation while exploitation in the low wage sector persists. However 
resistance and insistence thwart the selective manner in handling 
migration and challenges a system containing inequality and the lack of 
liberties. It is not by coincidence that in these turbulent times 300 
Maghreb migrants went on hunger strike in Greece demanding their 
legalisation. Struggles for the right to stay as well as migrant strikes 
are flaring across Europe, since 15 years ago Sans Papiers in Paris – 
especially those from Africa – went public with the demand “Papers for 

The departures occuring in Northern Africa demonstrate what is possible. 
They refer to a new Arab World, a new Africa, a possible new Europe. 
They refer to new spaces of freedom and equality, to be created in 
transnational struggles: in Tunis, Kairo or Bengazi as well as in Europe 
and in the movements of migration, crisscrossing both continents.

8th of March 2011
Welcome to Europe
Network Critical Migration and Border Regime Research


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