Socialist Worker

Migrants across Europe defy cops and racist rules as rebellious mood spreads

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2470

Hundreds of refugees and migrants took to the road in Budapest last week and marched to Austria

Hundreds of refugees and migrants took to the road in Budapest last week and marched to Austria (Pic: International Federation of Red Cross / Flickr)


The refugees shut out to die by Fortress Europe have refused to go quietly. Borders were temporarily opened last week as anti-migrant governments tried and failed to hold them back.

And the refugees have inspired a wave of solidarity, as working class Europeans defied their rulers’ racism to give support and welcome them.

Hundreds and then thousands of people—many of them fleeing the Syrian civil war—walked down the motorway from Budapest in Hungary to Vienna in Austria on Friday of last week.

Around 8,000 have now arrived in Germany, whose government has said it will accept 800,000 Syrian asylum seekers.

The Hungarian government has been among the most vicious in its persecution of refugees. But it had to let them through to avoid traffic accidents.

Previously it had halted trains out of Budapest to trap refugees in the Keleti train station.

Kasem, a Palestinian living in Budapest, told Socialist Worker, “The situation here is very difficult, with many families waiting to travel on, mainly to Germany. There are children, old people, disabled people, tired, under-nourished.

Cold

“They sleep on the floor, they can’t take a bath, there is only cold water and very few toilets. The migrants aren’t given any information.”

Hundreds were put on a train they were told was heading to Austria—but was actually diverted to a camp in Hungary. But they broke out and joined the exodus to Austria.

Many of these were the same people who broke through the Greek-Macedonian border last month. 

Some of them were part of a revolution in Syria before it was drowned in blood by dictator Bashar al Assad—and clearly some of its spirit of defiance lives on.

On the Austrian side, a convoy of hundreds of cars and buses travelled into Hungary to pick up refugees last Sunday—defying laws on “trafficking” that could see them jailed.

Train stations across Germany and Austria have been rocked by celebrations as people turn out to welcome refugees.

In Vienna Syrians led a musical celebration. In Munich the crowd sang, “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here.”

David Albrich, a leading member of Austrian socialist organisation Neue Linkswende, told Socialist Worker, “For weeks working class people have been substituting for the government to support the refugees. And they are blaming the government and its racist policies for the crisis.

“The government tried and failed to divert all the blame onto the traffickers.

Laws

“It has been criminalising people who support the refugees—for example by using fly-tipping laws against people who take food to the camps. 

“But now there is a very rebellious mood, and some of the biggest anti-racist protests we have seen in years.”

Far right groups have attacked refugees in parts of Hungary and Germany.

And politicians are determined to limit their concessions to a one-off. They are trying to stop the solidarity with Syrians encompassing other refugees and migrants too.

They want to close the borders behind the refugees they have had to let in.

Police on the Greek island of Lesvos beat one refugee unconscious on Sunday of last week as the government sent in troops. More than 10,000 have now been brought by ferry to the Greek mainland. But those who remain are protesting to make sure they are not left behind.

News that Czech police were dragging refugees off trains and writing numbers on their arms horrified the world with its echoes of the Holocaust.

Despite the European Union’s rhetoric of international solidarity, the refugee crisis has exposed its true face. It has built walls around Europe’s borders to keep desperate migrants out.

Real solidarity means standing alongside the refugees who take on its racist rules.


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