BY: Marinella Matejčić
On Dec. 19, 2015 a unique protest occurred against barbed wire on the border of Croatia and Slovenia. To highlight the historic togetherness of the people on both sides of the border in Istria, Croatia, citizens organized a symbolic volleyball match – over the fence.
Since the beginning of the so-called “Refugees Crisis” in September, more than half a million refugees passed through the “Balkan route” that stretches from Greece, Macedonia, over Serbia and Croatia, to Western Europe.
Slovenia is the first country that protects the open-border, “Schengen zone,” but in November after European Union President, Donald Tusk, warned that Schengen was on the brink of collapse as a result of fallout from the migration crisis, the country used that as an excuse to erect the barbed wire.
Now, the barbed wire stretches along approx. 150 kilometres of the Croatian-Slovenian border and they’re planning to install it on the entire 650-kilometre long frontier.
The wire is blocking the passages for the wild animals and is restricting the lives of the people who live near the border. Historically, Slovenia and Croatia cooperated, and those people from the border live on both sides: either having land that stretches itself over the border or just living in one country and working in the other.
Revolted citizens, respected sportsmen and sportswomen, academics, and people from public communities of both countries, gathered on Dec. 19 to show their anger and disappointment towards the acts carried out by the Government of Slovenia. “This wire is a sole proof of the lack of basic freedoms, an indicator of fear and everything that are not my values nor the values of the people that came here today,” stated Natalija Grgorinic, the organizer of the rally.
Both friends and strangers shake hands across the border to display the peace between their communities.
Problems behind the fence are much more vicious than it seems. This area is one of the most preserved forest areas in Europe. Wild animals that roam around don’t understand the concept of this man-made barrier, and dozens of them get stuck in it and die, everyday. One of the most endangered animals that live in this area is lynx; there are only about 40 of them in Croatia and about 30 in Slovenia. This act divided their territory, and it’s only a matter of time before the huntsmen find them entangled in the wire.
A group of anarchists from Slovenia joined the protest as well, shouting out slogans like: “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here!” and “No nations, no borders, stop deportation!” This occurred while holding a big banner that read: “Death to fascism, freedom to the people!”
Citizens carry banners reading “no wars, no wires” by the fence and throughout the city in protest.
The basic excuse made by the Slovenian Government for erecting the fence is that it stops the refugees from entering the country undetected. But, the refugees from the Middle East never used this route; they are transported daily by organized trains from the Serbian-Croatian border directly to the Center for Refugees, and then to the Croatian-Slovenian border, to where they need to be transported further within Western Europe.
It’s pretty easy to “bypass” the wire as well: a person can either lift it from the ground and go under it or throw a blanket on it and wriggle through it. It’s not even hard to cut it and remove. The erection of this barbed wire is a sign of segregation and promotion of politics that ought to be left in the 1940s. Certainly, the Government of Slovenia can hardly argue that erecting a barbed wire fence is something positive and in accordance with long promoted common European values.
Besides the protest that occurred, citizens are invited to participate in the initiative, “I cut the wire,” for self-organized removal of the fences on the border that divides people and kills animals.