Many of us woke up to seeing the horrific images of bodies surrounded by armoured police officers at the gates of the Spanish enclave of Melilla. It’s believed that 27 migrants have been killed, although the number could be as high as 90, with many more injured. This is a massacre. The only response so far from the president of the Spanish state Pedro Sanchez, who leads a supposedly left-wing coalition currently in power, has been to congratulate the police involved in this horrible act for “stopping this violent assault”. Such rhetoric would be expected of the far-right, but we all know than when it comes to borders and immigration in European countries, all pretensions of progressive tendencies are abandoned. After all, this is very much the intended consequence of Fortress Europe: to intimidate migrants and asylum seekers from primarily the Middle East and Africa, and to paint every refugee as a violent invader.
Others have defended the Spanish state by claiming that they only penned the migrants in, and it was the Moroccan border guards who did the physical act of killing. This is not only a misunderstanding of how borders work, but a disgusting attempt to dismiss the whole incident as merely “non western cruelty” and nothing to do with Europeans despite the export of this violence away from mainland Spain to Morocco is itself a colonial act, not, as many would like to paint it as, regular global south violence that slips naturally to excess.
This situation, far from being an isolated incident, is becoming the norm all over Europe, such as with the push-backs in the Greek and Polish-Belarusian border, the Rwanda deportations in the UK and many other examples.
In this way, today borders are being used to continue and expand the white-supremacist and colonialist agendas of the European states. And with the ever-increasing economic, social and ecological crises making their internal situations even more unstable, we can only expect them to continue expanding these genocidal border regimes to distract and isolate themselves from the consequences of these catastrophes of their own creation. At the same time, with the governments pushing anti-immigration rhetoric, we can see the extra-parliamentary far-right and fascists try to capitalise on it to grow and push for even stronger border policies; as well as taking matters into their own hands through direct violence against immigrants and their supporters. In this way, governments and the far-right will feed on each other in a downwards spiral towards brutal ethno-nationalist border violence. Already the far right has celebrated the massacre and called for it to go further in public and internal spaces.
This is why in LAFA we condemn the massacre in Melilla and lay blame directly on the hand of the governments of Spain, Morocco and all other European countries that for years have knowingly and intentionally created the conditions for this and many other atrocities to occur. But at the same time, we cannot see this as the fault of a particular government or another, but rather as the direct result of the logic of borders and nation-states that divides, dehumanises and kills people based on arbitrary lines on a map. This logic is not only implemented in the physical borders of a country, but on many levels of society, with unequal access to healthcare, housing, education and employment, criminalisation and persecution by the authorities and the spread of anti-immigrant rhetoric that turns everyone into a potential border guard. A border is an act of violence. A border guard is an agent of violence. We must not allow ourselves to become mobilised as auxiliaries in a genocide.
In order to stop this, we must undermine borders at every level of society: helping people arriving in the coast to reach shore safely, stopping deportation flights, providing migrants services where the state won’t, intervening in immigration-raids, welcoming anyone demonised by border regimes into our communities, pushing back against anti-immigrant rhetoric and fighting the far-right everywhere they organise and by any means necessary.
All of these things are already happening, but it’s not enough. Anti-fascists, pro-immigration activists, police abolitionists and everyone else horrified by these atrocities must work together until every border is abolished. Immigration is a fundamental fact of all life. So we all have to choose: Either we fight on the side of life, or we allow death to reign.