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nobordercamp bulgaria 2011 – expectations and arrival

Now it is time for me to write some articles about the recent nobordercamp in siva reka in the very east of bulgaria from 25th to 29th of august 2011. In this first article i want to share some impressions befor the camp and at the arrival. i plan to write two or three more articles about the actions and discussions at the camp as well.

First i want to apologize if my english is sometimes maybe misunderstandable, i did not study any social or political studies or if people feel attacked because of critics i write in a way. I think it is necessary to have discussions not only on plenaries or small personal groups but try to learn ongoing. I was not involved in the planning and organising of the camp and i respect the work of all the people very much. I was pretty shure i would like to participate, as my plan was to travel in ex-yugoslavia in that periode of the year. Some 6 years ago i was involved a bit in the planning of a noborder camp in bulgaria and greece and situation changed a lot in some way. (see: http://istanbul.indymedia.org/news/2005/07/37204.php for details about that camp, the former webpage is no longer available)

On the one hand, we made a small mobilisation in 2005 and only few western european people came. The structures of local organisers were very limited and we had mainly actions taking part on the greek part of the camp as there were much more people involved in the preperation there than in bulgaria. This year the nobordercamp was very present in germany especially, as local antiracist initiatives focussed and mobilised a lot. Lots of matierials were produced and available in germany but not in the region, so that i was critical about the project in the beginning as it seems to me very problematic when groups and individuals from another part of europe plan a “big thing” in another region, where very few people are involved. As far as i heard in the mobilisation to the camp, there were no people from ukraine  f.e. interested to join eventhough there had been a nobordercamp recently. Also for activists in ex-yugoslavia whom i met this spring, nobody talked about joining a nobordercamp in bulgaria. I do not want to judge bulgarian preperation group for that but it is important to state i think to work on that. There had been information mobilisation meetings in different cities in germany and austria and this is very nice that people get more interest in balkan topics. But still i expected to have a quite strong domination of german speaking activists on the camp and was not very motivated to join for such a project where the regional outcome compared to the effords to put in all the infrastructural and organisational work was not to be expected strong.

At the arrival my first reaction was: “look, i was right with my expectations.” Most of the around 300 people were german speaking, only very few locals living in bulgaria and even less or none people living and acting in neighbouring countries like greece, romania, makediona, serbia and turkey. It is just a difference if you act continiousely in a regional context or if you are a guest for few days.

Nontheless i met a lot of friends and comrades in the first hours at the campsite and began to think more about the reasons why the picture was looking at it was. Goals of the camp were named as:

” to inform on past, current and future trends concerning migration, its causes and controlling mechanisms, in Europe and beyond; to popularize the migrants’ struggles and strengthen  their mean of resistance; to create new spaces for discussion and exchange of activist experience and approaches in the name of the migrants; to develop common protest strategies and tactics” (see: http://noborderbulgaria.org/en/node/5)

None of the people initiating the camp were living in the border-region. It is not a solution to not take action in such area just because there are no people active in antiracist struggle. So to approach goals like rising attention to migration struggles, you need bigger amounds of people to be visible especially in media. If these people are mainly from germany and austria, it does not necessary mean it is to be taken less seriouse as it is a european and global issue we are struggeling for. Some years ago we were complaining that there was such a limited connection between anarchists / emancipative struggles between former east block and west block and now as people get more open minded and willing to visit eastern european realities it is to be named that this is a sucess. Still the question remains, how to strengthen regional antiracist struggle so that situation might change and not to be in the need of stronger structures from “outside” (of couse i know this term is very problematic but i do not find a better word to describe) all in all i got less disappointed from day to day as people present made a lot out of the problematic setting. And lots of improvising like the kitchen and water supply went great as people were interested in being helpful. Of course people get in touch for a small periode and have to discuss for long about “basics” which is exhausting (shall we buy bottled water or better take it for free from local source? what about limits and communication of actions? …) and also the language was often problematic as people sticked to their groups and there was a mediation group which seemed to be busy and necessary. I was not in the mood to join lots of plenaries as i found it very exhausting and preferred to support infrastructure on the camp.

The next article is going to be about the actions in svilengrad at the first day of the camp and another one about the action at the detention centre in lyubimetz.

Posted in balkan region, english language.

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