First summary of the 2008 Transnational Chain of Actions
21.Sep.08 - In February the chain of actions started as an attempt to create a new form of transnational cooperation and communication within the migration-related network. Since February there have been actions in 10 different European and African cities. The transnational Chain of actions will come to an end in October in Ceuta and see a first evaluation is currently taking place during the ESF that is being held in Malmö Swenden. This article gives a first overview of the different activities. More detailed reports and photos can also be found at noborder.org/chain08.
From the call: All over the world capitalist exploitation is unimaginable without the global differences, constructed through filters and zones, the hierarchies and inequality, and through external as well as internal borders. Illegalisation and deportations on one hand, selective inclusion and recruitment of a migrant workforce on the other, are two sides of the same coin: migration management for a global apartheid regime, whose most precarious conditions of exploitation are based on the production of hierarchies in terms of rights and on racist discrimination. (...) The increasing movements and daily fights of refugees and migrants challenge the external borders of Europe as well as the social and legal borders within Europe itself. The manifold struggles undermine, crisscross and attack the brutal and murderous system of migration control and racist exploitation. This transnational chain of actions is a step towards the linking of these struggles, an attempt to build communication and organisation across the borders, knowing that the demands for freedom of movement and the right to stay aim directly at the “heart of the monster“, which migrants everyday and everywhere are fighting against.
Station No. 1: Amsterdam
The first stop of the Transnational Chain of Actions was on February 2nd 2008. Labour organizers, theorists, media and migrant activists from the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK came together to discuss and share best practices in the fight against precarity and insecure labour conditions. The event "Migrant / Media / Metropolis: New labour struggles in the global city" attempted to challenge traditional labour practices, inspire and bring together a sharper network of social activists, academics, media makers and artists to join contemporary urban labour struggles like the "Cleaners for A Better Future Campaign" and the domestic workers' struggle. In March this year the Dutch cleaners won a breakthrough contract which improved their wages to 10 euros an hour and increased their benefits with the active support of social movements, artists and academics.
Station No. 2: Sevilla
In September 2006 more than 100 migrant associations, social movements and social organisations made an important step creating the Spanish network for immigrants rights (REDI in spanish).The goals of this network are to coordinate the different organisations, to exchange information and news and to launch campaigns and mobilisations against existing migratory policies and for immigrant rights in Spain. As part of this process, two weeks before the general elections, REDI called for a common day of action on February 23rd with the slogan "Against precarity and for social and labour rights for all". More than 10.000 people took the streets in Sevilla, Valencia, Burgos, Madrid, Barcelona, Pamplona and Tenerife. In Sevilla, 2.000 people marched demanding a new regularisation process and the closure of detention centers. After this succesfull day the process of coordination continued with actions and demonstrations on June 2st against the European directive and a national demonstration was held in Madrid on September 14th as part of the World Social Forum on Migration. Report and pictures of the February 23rd demonstartion are available at estrecho.indymedia.org and a report and pictures of the June 21st actions are available here.
Station No. 3: Turin
Many groups of migrants and antiracists from cities in northern Italy met to discuss the relationship between migration, the management of the borders and the precarisation of contemporary labour. The perspective of migrant labour has been regarded as crucial for understanding the instability of contemporary capitalism, the local and metropolitan proliferation of borders as instruments of selective inclusion and exploitation of migrants. The meeting was an important step towards the organisation of the first EuroMayDay which focused on the political centrality of migrant labour.
Station No. 4: Bamako
Some 200 hundred people came together during the two open days in Bamako/Mali on March 15th and 16th, organised by the Association Malienne des Expulsés. Discussions took place on the repression against and the resistance for the undocumented in Europe, but also on the deportations from Northern African countries to Mali. These deportations are undertaken on the basis of readmissions treaties with European countries. The Call of Bamako, adopted at the end of the meeting, was a direct attack on the externalisation of European border controls. It called to an end to cooperation with Frontex and with the International Centre for Migration Management, a new EU-job centre in Bamako for circular migration as an answer to so-called “irregular” migration. More info is availbel here.
Station No. 5: London
In London on March 29th 2008, over 200 people attended the Trade Union and Community Groups Conference Against Immigration Controls. The conference was hosted by the Finsbury Park local branch of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT). Many of the people attending were there as delegates of local trade union branches, migrant community groups or political organisations. Speakers included migrant rights activists, asylum seekers and undocumented migrant workers. Following the conference, regular co-ordination meetings of the various groups involved have continued. This has been the basis for organising a series of community based workshops on workers rights and dealing with workplace checks and raids on migrant workers. The coalition formed through the conference, now known as the Campaign Against Immigration Controls (CAIC) which has also been involved in supporting anti-detention centre protests, and has been active in supporting a strike by migrant cleaners on the London Underground. The bosses used the irregular status of workers involved in this struggle to try and intimidate them, and CAIC has been able to provide practical help and support to resist this.
Station No. 6: Athens
In April in Greece an action day was organised as part of the transnational chain of actions. There were several actions in different Greek cities under the slogan "open borders and asylum for refugees", as the Greek policies on asylum and border control are getting worse every day. In Athens a demostration was organised, which, despite the rain, was quite succesful. More than 300 refugees participated, mainly forn Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan. Actions and discussions were also organised in Thessalonica, Patra, Volos, Mytilene, Samos and Chania where many people participated.
Station No. 7: Milan, Euro MayDay.
With the slogan “No borders-no precarity”, migrants coming from many Italian cities opened a parade composed of 80.000 precarious workers. The message was clear: the threat of illegality, the link between labour contracts and residence permits, detention centers, all are fundamental levers of a process of precarisation which is a general concern. Beyond the communication with the EuroMayDay in Aachen, the parade of Milan made the link to the struggles of migrant workers in the United States, who were demonstrating for the mass legalisation of all undocumented migrants.
Station No. 8: Warsaw
June 6th lead us to Warsaw, Poland, where the headquarters of Frontex, the infamous European Union migrant hunting agency, is based. The evening before there was an info event, while June 6th saw a press conference in the morning and a demonstration in the afternoon, right in front of Frontex' offices, which are located on the 22nd floor of a shiny new skyscraper in the heart of Warsaw. Around 50 people come together, some from abroad, most from Warsaw. Our banners and shouting did attract some attention, and in the end, even the executive director of Frontex came down to have a closer look. He invited some of us to come up and have a talk (typical EU style: "we can talk about anything..."), which we did, but only after the demonstration had moved on to the presidential palace to protest deportations to Vietnam. Altogether, it was good that we did the action in Warsaw, it is a starting point for an image pollution campaign against Frontex. An edited recording of the upstairs talk is available here and more infos about frontex can be found at frontex.antira.info.
Station No. 9: Hamburg
More than 1000 people took part in a one week action camp against racism and deportations, which happened in cooperation with the first climate camp in Germany. “Reclaim the market” was the title of a blockade that took place in and outside a supermarket to criticise the exploitation of migrant workers in the agricultural sector and to demand “bio-products and papers for all”. Another protest was directed against a Frontex training academy in Luebeck. The most spectacular final action took place in and around the Hamburg Airport: A “warning strike from outside against the charter of shame”. About 1500 people participated in this demonstration and took part in simultaneous activities inside the airport and blockades of the streets outside. During the whole day one of the terminals was completely turned into a protest zone against deportations. More information is availbel at camp08.antira.info.
Station No. 10: Malmö
During the European Social Forum from 17 - 21 September 2008 in Malmö there will be a first evaluation of the chain of actions in the context of the workshop “Transnationalisation now!” (Migrationrelated Networking) on Friday the 19th of September from 1530 to 1700h. In addition there will be a seminar about freedom of movement against the EU-border regime on Friday the 19th of September from 1800h to 2100h and an Assembly of the Migration Network of ESF on Saturday the 20th of September from 0930h to 1230h. More information on the ESF can be found at esf2008.org.