When you come in, close the door behind you?

On the issue of anti-immigration sentiments in the Belarusian opposition

This text was published by the Belarusian anarchist/leftwing collective Pramen, here: https://t.me/pramenby/4600

The latest events around refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries of the Middle East cannot but leave indifferent. The Belarusian regime is trying to put pressure on the EU with the help of refugees, and in response, Lithuania and many other European countries put the refugee issue on Lukashenka, and not on the situation in the Middle East. Some liberal authors support the position of the European Union on this score. The last straw for our team was the jubilation on social networks after the “export” of Iraqis from Belarus. Many of us are migrants ourselves, and we condemn attempts to promote anti-immigration sentiments within the Belarusian society.

The EU

The liberal European Union is not a certain zone of ultimatum moral law. Many decisions that are made within the EU countries contradict basic human rights. For example, the declared assistance to refugees from Syria very quickly provoked the so-called pushbacks, when migrants at the border are simply returned back to the country from which they came. Refugees have the right to apply for asylum right at the border, but countries such as Greece, Croatia, Poland, Hungary are simply pushing people back to border countries in violation of international law.

In addition, the EU actively cooperates with authoritarian regimes, including to combat refugee flows. In this regard, a good example is the Sisi dictatorship in Egypt, which has become a reliable partner of European countries in the North African region, including in the fight against so-called illegal migration. We consider this approach not only immoral, but place partial responsibility for the preservation of authoritarian regimes on European liberals. Just as Russian money supports Lukashenko, European money supports various cannibalistic regimes in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Turkey and other countries.

For many years, obtaining refugee status for Belarusians was extremely difficult in the EU countries, contrary to the promises of diplomats. Belarusian Roma, who fled from the cops’ pogroms, were poisoned back to Lukashenka’s Belarus without any special questions. Some local activists in the regions, faced with pressure, tried to obtain asylum in European countries without much success. And even now Poland, despite the loud words, provides asylum to an insignificant part of Belarusian migrants, and the rest are applying for so-called “temporary protection”.

It should be understood that the support of Belarusians for the right-wing regimes in Poland and Lithuania is not a moral, but a political issue. Today, the issuance of humanitarian visas for Lukashenka’s opponents bears political points. But nothing lasts forever. And sooner or later the same story will happen with the Belarusians as with the Syrian refugees, some of whom took an active part in the armed struggle against the Assad regime. Today, millions of Syrian refugees are stuck in Turkey, which prevents them from moving further westward as part of the EU-dictator Erdogan’s cooperation program. The European Union will already pay several billion dollars to the Turkish regime to protect its borders. In the spring, a scandal erupted in the EU over an attempt by the Danish authorities to deport Syrian refugees back to Syria after Damascus was declared a safe region. And this is one of dozens of examples where liberal and conservative politicians stop supporting refugees for lack of political gain.

And let’s not forget that barbed wire fences on the border with Lithuania stop people regardless of their nationality and skin color. The absence of these fences a few months ago allowed some activists of the anti-Lukashenka movement to escape.

For anarchists, the EU, although it is a much more progressive region, still remains a place where social movements struggle with authoritarian, conservative and capitalist forces. And we consider it necessary to criticize not only Putin’s imperialism, but also European policy, which has done enough to destroy freedoms in various regions of our planet.

Belarusian opposition and Lukashenko

This is not the first time Lukashenka has tried to use the issue of migration for political pressure on the EU. Recall that in 2014, when the regime was still under European sanctions, the Belarusian authorities received financial assistance to protect European borders. At that time, liberal politicians from the West were not embarrassed by the fact that there were political prisoners in the country.

Several years later, Lukashenko tried to play on the theme of accepting Syrian refugees within the framework of the UN program. Then the conservative oppositionists from the Belarusian Popular Front opposed the admission of migrants, as they could “poison” the Belarusian culture. On Belsat, a whole show was released on this subject, in which our comrades Nikolai Dedok, Igor Bogachek and Valeria Khotina took part. And although Lukashenka clearly tried to use international migration laws in his economic interests, we consider it unacceptable to stir up anti-immigration sentiments.

In 2017, the EU approved a $ 7 million project for the construction of refugee camps (https://udf.name/news/main_news/151206-chto-nuzhno-znat-o-namerenii-es-razmestit-bezhencev-v-belarusi. html), which were to be used primarily for the maintenance of migrants detained in the EU and who entered the region through the Republic of Belarus. It is clear that no one built the camps, and the money most likely ended up in the pockets of Lukashenka and his entourage.

The line of fighting refugees and protecting the external European borders remained one of the key in European projects to provide financial assistance to the regime until August 2020. Unsurprisingly, Lukashenka is exploiting the issue of migration in his own interests. EU money has shown where they fear strikes most.

The rise on the shield by many media outlets, the stories of Lukashenka’s hybrid war against the West look ridiculous in this light. It is enough for the regime to stop guarding the borders and a crisis begins in the EU, since once again a moral versus political dilemma is raised. At the moment, liberal Western politicians are not ready to massively accept refugees from conflict zones or environmental disasters. But this fact is not particularly well sold to the liberal electorate, so cooperation with authoritarian regimes is now key for the survival of a part of liberal political systems.

There is no hybrid war. There are a huge number of political and social problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, forcing people to flee in search of a safe life. And we have no right to include judges who will decide who is a good refugee and who is bad. Afghanistan is now on fire with the return of the Taliban and it is difficult for us to imagine what the local population is going through under the control of this fascist-religious sect. The rhetoric of many liberal journalists is very similar to the story of other migrants who, after moving, closed the door behind them and began to actively support anti-immigration sentiments. For many Belarusians, migration is the only way to stay safe. We need to do everything possible to keep the borders open not only for ourselves and our environment, but for everyone who needs this security.

We believe that politicians in Brussels should take responsibility for providing asylum on themselves, and not try to create refugee camps in bordering countries and from these countries choose refugees with higher education for themselves to develop the economic potential of the so-called first world. Belarusians, regardless of the political regime in the region, should not become defenders of the European borders from climatic, economic and political refugees, many of whom are forced to leave their homes because of the policies of these very European countries. We condemn any attempts by the liberal opposition to support the right-conservative agenda in the fight against refugees in the EU and consider any joyful posts about “exporting” Iraqis from Belarus unacceptable. After all, Belarusian refugees are politically and socially much closer to Syrian refugees than citizens of Poland or Germany.

Solidarity is our weapon that knows no boundaries! ✊