Invitation to No Border camp - Imatra, Finland

August 5th-11th 2002

09.May.02 - The freedom of movement and settlement is the right of every human being. It is a right which should not depend on citizenship or wealth. It is a right that belongs similarly to those who have fled from their home country because of their opinions, religion or ethnicity and those who have left to search for better living conditions somewhere else.

During the recent years we have unfortunately observed the tightening of European refugee and foreigner policy, despite the politicians' speeches praising globalization. Simultaneously as the borders inside the European Union are opened for its citizens, the control in the outer borders of the European Union is tightened in a way that it is more and more difficult for people coming from the outside to get an asylum, permission of residence or citizenship. Every year hundreds of people trying to enter Europe die by suffocating in containers, by drowning in the Mediterranean and by being shot by border guards. In addition to this, thousands of people are being kept in nearly concentration-camp-like conditions in detention centers waiting for deportation or asylum decision. In many countries the immigrants that have entered illegally without getting caught at the border live without rights under constant fear of getting caught and being returned to their country of departure. There are from 3 to 4,5 million people like this in Europe.

The No Border network consists of different groups that criticize the current immigration and refugee policy of the European Union. The central demand of the network is the freedom of movement and settlement for every human being. This demand is expressed by different means of direct action including demonstrations, stoppings of deportations, support of illegal immigrants etc. One of the most important forms of action are the border camps that have been organized by the network in the borders of e.g. Germany and Poland, Poland and Belarus and Spain and Morocco. Their goal is to bring together active people from different countries and also to create contacts to the population in the border area.

The Finnish No Border group will organize a border camp in Imatra, in the border of Finland and Russia, in the eastern border of the European Union, which maintains the second largest difference in the standard of living in the world. Commodities and money are circulated over the border but the movement of people is strictly controlled.

After thousands refugees from Somalia came to Vainikkala during a short period of time in 1990, the Finnish officials have with the help of unofficial agreements succeeded in getting the Russian border officials to examine that no one enters into Finland without Finnish visa. The paranoid machinery built by the Soviet Union has therefore been harnessed for the use of racist refugee policy of the European Union. The co-operation is important for the officials because according to the international refugee agreements any refugee at the Finnish border has a right to apply for an asylum so it is necessary to take care that no refugee can get out of Russia. During the recent years Finland has systematically refused to allow visas for Chechens or any other Caucasians. This is against the spirit of Geneve refugee agreement; no one should be prevented from entering a country on the basis that there is a possibility of this person applying for an asylum.

In the camp there will be workshops about e.g. immigration, racism, detention centers, deportations and borders. There will also be practical work with the inhabitants of the city in order to have an effect on the attitudes concerning the border, e.g. by the means of music and other cultural activity. The camp will offer a possibility to build co-operation, activity and understanding and it is even as such a demonstration against all borders.

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