The customs authorities shot warning shots in the air, but when the driver did not stop, they shot at the car. The young woman, a passenger in the car, was hit in her back, and an ambulance had to be called. She was brought to the Dunajská Streda-hospital for surgery. A bullet was removed from her back, and we are relieved to hear that now her situation is stable. All the people who were being smuggled have been handed over to the Slovak Ministry of the Interior. According to our sources, they are now in Slovakia, where they are held at the detention centre in Medvedov near the Hungarian border.
Ironically, May 9th is also the so-called “Europe Day”, as designated by the EU. The EU, however, seems very divided: For a very long time it has been easy for those of us who live in Europe to ignore the mass grave that the Mediterranean sea has become. It has been easy to blame the Greeks for “not protecting their borders.” In the same vein, it is easy to blame Eastern Europeans for having less solidarity towards refugees. And all the while, the deadly effects of vicious policies planned in Brussels by politicians and policymakers from all corners of Europe are slowly creeping from the sea to the land, as we also witnessed in the summer when 71 people suffocated in a lorry in Austria. Now, in the middle of the European Union, member states blaming each other for policy failures. Yet, there is something that unites them all: the death that non-EU citizens face at the borders, and inside, the EU space.
By introducing tight border controls, on EU external borders as well as within the Schengen zone, member states are creating wonderful business opportunities for smugglers, as travelling with them becomes the only possibility to move across the militarized borders. In a way, then, the EU is creating the very problem of “greedy smugglers” it is trying to solve. Additionally, by blaming only the smugglers, blame is easily shifted away from the EU. The young woman, together with the others, was in all likelihood heading through Slovakia because the Austrian-Hungarian border is closely monitored, and Austria is introducing a brutal legislation for those entering the country through Hungary. In the meanwhile, nobody blinked an eye when the Bulgarian government designated Turkey a safe third country, and plans to return people there from June 1st onwards.
On this Europe Day, we would suggest the following: first, instead of celebrating the EU, let’s spend a minute mourning the lives that EU border policies have claimed, on sea and on land alike. Second, let’s remember that the EU asylum policy, although far from harmonious, is something that is still crafted together by policymakers from all EU member states. No member state, be that Hungary, Greece, Italy or Croatia, acts in a vacuum. Therefore, we can also stop blaming the Greeks, the Hungarians, and so on, but rather see how the regimes work together to build up the deadly borders of Europe. Finally, let’s celebrate Europe Day by showing our politicians, who are supposedly representing us, that this is not the kind of EU we wish to live in. You may find the full list of Members of the European Parliament in here.