10.Jul.01 - At 11:00am on Tuesday approximately thirty-five people gathered in front of the Siska Detention Center in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to protest the inhumane conditions faced by those denied the freedom of migration. The demonstrators were demanding the closure of all such facilities and an end to the system of borders which imprisons human beings, while allowing the free movement of capital. Many of the activists are participants in the Publixtheater-Caravan, which is travelling Europe this summer as part of the "No-Borders Network". Siska Detention Center is a bleak grey building, ironically situated next to an imposing McDonalds -- complete with a leering statue of Ronald the Clown. The first floor features bars across its dirty windows. The center houses approximately three hundred refugees (though estimates vary); the site contains both asylum seekers and people awaiting deportation. Overcrowding and shortages of food are both well documented. Two police officers from the center, along with representatives from the mainstream media, observed as protesters, some clad in hard-hats and bright orange worksuits, unrolled colorful banners and built a tower of tires in the parking lot facing the building. Signs featured "No-Borders" slogans in a variety of languages, testimony to the diversity of those present. Several participants proudly waved red and black anarchist flags. Accompanied by one megaphone, the crowd chanted loudly, alternating between English, Slovenian, German, Slovakian, French, and Spanish. While the majority of the group congregated in front of the building, a few people displayed banners along the busy street, drawing supportive honks from passing traffic and attracting a crowd of curious onlookers. Three media activists entered the center, but were denied the opportunity to meet with any of the prisoners. Siska detainees peered through windows, enthusiatically chanting in numerous native languages. They began to throw down crumpled pieces of paper, scrawled notes expressing their appreciation and detailing conditions inside the center. "Please come to our rescue. We are dying," read one; another stated in "Hayasizliktan Kalbibiz Sikisiyor- Help our body. No food. Nothing. Only Prison." A beautifully rendered drawing of the Statue of Liberty in shackles and chains floated down among the messages. From one window, a crowd of prisoners dangled a white sheet hastily scrawled with "Freiheit" (Freedom). Pillows and blankets were also liberated onto the grass below. Four more guards emerged from inside the building, joined moments later by several police vehicles. The officers cordoned off the parking lot with white and blue "Policija Stop" tape, and attempted to move back the demonstrators. When this tactic proved unsuccessful, authorities lined up a few feet in front of the building, blocking the entrance and preventing physical contact with the detainees. Several demonstrators tried to propel the tire structure past the guards, and a brief shoving match ensued. Not surprisingly, the authorities denied entrance to the rubber tower- a symbolical representation of "the only alien present". A shortime later, prisoners unleashed a shower of oragami paper birds and confetti, and a strand of black beads. Police grudgingly allowed demonstrators to gather the items. Activists and corporate media filmed the growing collection of notes and artwork, a moving testimony to the situation inside Siska. A protester retrieved the red sheet tossed down by a detainee, decorated it with "Free All Prisoners" and a black star, and returned it to be hung from a first floor window. Police cornered one man who attempted to pass out cigarettes to the residents and demanded to see his documents. Once his "citizenship" was established, though; they allowed him to re-enter the crowd. The demonstration ended around 12:30 pm. The majority of participants returned to Metelkova, the local autonomous site for alternative culture. After several minutes, a lone police car pulled into the dusty parking lot. The three officers announced that they intended to accompany the Caravan to the Slovenian border. They questioned the activists about their destination and time of departure. Caravan participants readily supplied the information, explaining that all their plans are public knowledge. When the people questioned the officers about their perspective on the detention center, one cop asserted that the detainees are "different than war refugees." When asked to elaborate upon this statement, he announced, "Enough discussion. I'm not paid to discuss." "What are you paid to do?" "Guard you!" he growled, walking away. However, the police left the premises a short time later. The Publixtheatre-Caravan, along with other individual participants in the day's action, had convened in Lendava, Slovenia during the past weekend for a No-Borders Camp. The camp was uniquely situated at the Slovenian borders with Croatia, Hungary, and Austria to call attention to the local problems associated with the designation of national borders. This gathering was part of an ongoing mobilization across the continent, organized to contest the present world order in which social and environment well-being are perpetually sacrificed to neoliberal or nationalistic agendas. Yesterday's press release has been sent before.
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