The Middle East is in great turmoil. It is plagued with war fought by factions of varied political, ethnic and religious tendencies. Some are fighting for liberation, some for nationalism, and others for religious fundamentalism. Whilst the carnage continues, two things have become certain: First, these wars are the result of decades (arguably centuries) of military interventions by multiple nation-states trying to pillage the region for economic gain. Second, the invading nation-states refuse to acknowledge their role in the bloodbath. They’ve made this blatantly obvious with their refusal to open their borders for Syrian refugees.
On September 19, Guardian reported that Central European countries such as Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenia are closing off their borders to Syrians who are trying to escape their country’s civil war. The refugees have been met by policemen, armored-vehicles and pepper spray while being shuffled back and forth between multiple countries. The Guardian also stated that this herding of refugees has “[prompted] quasi-military [maneuvers]” between Croatia and Hungary.
As reported at the Huffington Post, “The resistance [to acccepting refugees] has been heard loudest in Central Europe, although Western Europe has not exactly thrown open its doors either.” Many of the countries involved are imposing quotas which permit only a tiny fraction of the total refugees seeking asylum. As is the case in the United States, immigrants, whether refugees or not, are despised and seen as potential threats to national well-being. For these refugees to be met with xenophobia adds insult to injury. They are stripped of their homes, their way of life, their humanity, and denied any possibility of freedom. National borders stand as one more impediment to their escape from these horrors.
We cannot let the tyranny of borders continue. It is apparent, especially with the current mass migration of Syrian refugees without shelter or safety in Europe or elsewhere, that borders are inhumane and need to be abolished. Nation-states and their borders help perpetuate the “othering” of entire classes of people simply because they live on the wrong side of imaginary, political boundary lines. Oppression is made all the more possible by political borders, both within and outside them. Borders create feelings of animosity that cause people to turn their backs on fellow humans simply because they come from a different region and don’t share their customs. Borders also give politicians and their armies rationale to commit brutal acts against “the others,” whether humiliation, detainment or outright slaughter.
As anarchists, we need to do what we can to help refugees of all stripes. Whether it is through promoting border dissolution, raising awareness of the toils and roots of war, or simply giving a helping hand to the refugees, we should empower them to start anew if returning home is unfeasible. There are efforts already being made by anarchists to assist the refugees (see here and here) and they deserve our support as we push for a world free of borders and nation-states. Any contribution, no matter how small, may help a refugee find safety in these troubling times. If we want to halt the refugee crisis and prevent further turmoil, we should consider the tremendous harm that borders have done and will continue to do.