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AYS News Digest 21/11/22 : Fifth anniversary of little Madina’s death, who died after an illegal pushback

Five years ago little Madina Hussiny lost her life at the Croatian border after being pushbacked // 227 people were deported back to Afghanistan from Turkey // People of colour do not feel safe in Malta where protests were held // A 16-year-old refugee found hypothermic at the Polish-Belarusian border // A man died in Manston detention centre in Kent, UK // An increase of Europe’s barbed wire fences

Message from Madina Hussiny during the World Refugee Day campaign in 2016. Photographer unknown, via e-erim

Five years ago little Madina Hussiny lost her life at the Croatian border after being pushbacked

Systematic pushbacks at European borders endanger the lives of people seeking international protection. The death of six year old Madina, from Afghanistan, is proof of this, and just one of many. Read more here about Madina.

On the anniversary of her death, in 2018, we wrote:

“Her name was Madina Hussiny. In the cold November night in 2017, she entered Croatia with her family, asking for asylum. Following orders they had, Croatian police officers forced the family to follow train tracks back to Serbian territory. No asylum for you, they’ve probably said, like so many times before. Madina was hit by a train and died minutes after the push-back. Today, State’s Attorney Office of the Republic of Croatia decided no one is responsible for the death of little Madina. Yesterday, Croatian police officers shot two refugee children, both 12 years old. It seems that no one will be charged for this misdeed as well. How many children have to be killed or wounded before someone is held accountable for violence on Croatian borders?”

First anniversary of Madina Hussiny’s death. Zagreb, 2018 Photo: Initiative for the Madina Hussiny Square, via e-erim

On 18th November 2021 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on the killing of a six-year old Afghan girl during a pushback from Croatia to Serbia, confirming that Croatia illegally expels people.

The ECHR issued findings that the Republic of Croatia violated Madina’s right to life, treated children inhumanely by keeping them in detention, illegally deprived the whole family of their liberty, collectively expelled part of the family from Croatia, and ultimately prevented them from accessing their lawyer. So it was in the context of an illegal pushback that Madina lost her life, with a violation of Article 4 (prohibition of collective expulsion) of Protocol N.4 to the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR ruling of 18 November confirms the use of illegal expulsions already since 2017. The ECHR also places the violation of Article 4 alongside the violation of Article 2: the right to life. The right that Croatia denied Madina. Death is not an unwanted effect of borders. It is the consequence of their planned dangerousness, the result of specific border management. The militarisation of borders, which has characterised the Balkan Route since 2015, does not decrease the arrival of asylum seekers, but puts their lives more at risk. Sophisticated technologies and securitisation policies add to the violence of refoulement.

Here the press release after ECHR ruling:

Included in this press release is AYS’ statement:

“This verdict must not be limited to the Republic of Croatia paying 40,000 euros in non-pecuniary damage to Madina’s family from the state budget. For all the victims in our borders, for the people who died there, as well as for all the activists who have been intimidated to keep quiet about it, it is time to bring to justice those who enable and cover up this violence”

Despite this, our AYS activist Dragan Umičević was convicted of providing support in his asylum application to the family of little Madina. The case is still ongoing and the criminalisation of our work proves that Croatia didn’t accept ECHR ruling.

Read here more:

Until there is a proper and thorough investigation put in place, and until those responsible for violent pushbacks that resulted in her and other children’s deaths are sanctioned, there is no peace nor giving up on the fight for justice for Madina and for people’s rights.

In our thread we have recollected some of our reports from recent years about Madina’s death.

227 people were deported to Afghanistan from Turkey

227 people from Afghanistan were deported to Kabul. Credit: Erzurum News

The 227 people deported were brought to Erzurum Airport from the Askale Removal Center and then returned to Kabul.

According to the information received from the Directorate of Migration Management officials, as of January 1, 2022 7,672 people on the move seeking safety, were sent from the Aşkale Removal Center to their countries. This includes 4,688 people from Afghanistan and 2,196 from Pakistan. Those numbers are found in this article.

Iraqi refugees and Syrians in Roj Camp condemn the Turkish attack in Syria

Iraqi and Syrian refugees demanded to impose a no-fly zone on the north east of Syria: in fact, after the Istanbul attack Turkey bombed northern Syria in an area near Roj Camp, where they stay.

“We, the residents of Rojava camps in general and Roj Camp in particular, condemn and denounce the indiscriminate attacks by the Turkish state on civilians, including women and children, without exception, with its heinous acts. We also strongly condemn the international silence on these attacks, especially on the north east of Syria”

The statment is reported in this article

Dozens of Palestinian refugees found in Mediterranean sea

At least 26 refugees from Palestine were found by the Libyan coastguard and held in a detention centre in Libya.

36 people adrift in the central Mediterranean for two days

They waited with a broken engine and water entering the boat until they were eventually rescued in Maltese waters.

500 people rescued south east of Sicily

Abuse, exploitation and violence: people of colour do not feel safe in Malta

Last Saturday’s protest. Via: Newsbook

Many gathered in Valletta on Saturday evening to protest against ongoing and regular incidents of racial violence and abuse of power against people of colour in Malta. The protest was organised by Maltese Black Lives Matter (BLM). The group stated:

Thanks to two decades of racialised discourse, abusive policies, and human rights violations, racism has become institutionalised, bullying and violence have become normalised, and a sense of impunity festers and prevails. As a result, black and brown people in Malta do not feel safe. Enough is enough!”

You can read more here and here

NGOs denounce that the new model of refugee centre on Greek islands is inhumane

Located in a valley on the Greek island of Samos, a few kilometres from the town of Vathy, sits a facility that the European Union has touted as a model for future refugee camps.

Opened in September 2021, it is the first Closed Controlled Access Center (CCAC) for asylum seekers. Funded by the EU at a cost of 43 million euros, the camp is surrounded by multiple barbed-wire fences and equipped with a security system that includes CCTV cameras, magnetic gates and X-ray technology. Entry and exit are controlled and a curfew is imposed at night

Read more about the article here:

The Border Violence Monitoring Network’s visual analysis shows respondents were illegally denied their right to asylum

With the coming winter, InfoKolpa needs donations for the warehouse

Via InfoKolpa

A teenage refugee found with hypothermia at the Polish-Belarusian border

Early on Saturday morning, the Polish NGO Ocalenie Foundation found a 16-year-old refugee boy with hypothermia. He came from Sudan and he was in the forest near Sokółka, on the Polish-Belarusian border. With the winter coming the border is getting more and more dangerous while pushbacks to Belarus are still a systematic practice.

Find more here and also at the following link:

People locked up in migration centres in Latvia

A closed migration centre in Latvia. Credit: Msf sea

People seeking safety in Latvia live with uncertainty about their future, while adults can’t go anywhere and children are allowed to play outside only 15 minutes per day. MSF denounced the situation here

The Austrian Minister of the Interior announces that he opposes the entry of Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia into the Schengen zone

He affirmed his opposition after European Home Affairs Commissioner said this week that the three countries should join the Schengen free zone.

Minister Karner sees the current increase in arrivals from the Balkan Route as a demonstration of the need to keep the borders controlled and secured.

Read more here

And more here about the current situation along the Balkan Route.

Stronger collaboration between the Italian government and the Libyan coastguard

Italian Minister Tajani expressed his intention to provide police patrol boats to the Libyan coastguard

Protests in December in Geneva in solidarity with refugees stuck in Libya

Via Unfair Agency

Participating in society is hard for asylum seekers and refugees in the Netherlands because of long waiting times for BSN

Dutch Council for Refugees warns of the increasing waiting times for obtaining a citizen service number (BSN): asylum seekers and refugees are not allowed to work and moving to a home became longer process. The integration of people arriving in the Netherlands is obstructed, showing the political aspect of bureaucratic problems

Over the past two months Pilotes Volontaire rescued 1900 people in distress in the sea. Now they are in need of donations to keep going with their work.

Here is the link to donate

Vigil for the victims drowned in the Channel

Next Thursday an event will be held to remember the anniversary of the day when many people trying to cross the Channel died last year: British and French authorities ignored desperate calls for help as the boat began to capsize.

Via Care4Calais

Man dies at Manston detention centre

For weeks, the poor conditions have been denounced at the Manston detention centre in Kent, which endanger the health of the people confined there. In fact, a man died there on 19th November.

Read more here:

People in Manston even talked of weeks spent sleeping on the floor with hundreds of other people as Humans for Rights Network reported here. Other groups shared their condolences, see Safe Passage here.

Read more below about the situation in Manston and criticism about it:

Increase of barbed wire fences at Europe’s borders

Barbed wire fences are being erected across Europe’s eastern borders, as is the case of the Polish-Belarus border.

In total, approximately PLN 1.6 billion has been allocated for the construction of the fence on the border with Belarus. Of this, PLN 300 million was allocated to the electronic firewall (…) that includes system of cameras and motion sensors

It is reported in this article. Find out more here about the electronic firewall.

  • A short film on the irregular expulsion of people on the move from Algeria to Niger. Watch it here
  • In this podcast there are many answers to the questions about migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees:
  • A release on Netflix, Nov 23rd: The Swimmers — chronicles the perilous journey of two Syrian sisters across Europe in 2015:
  • Also on Netflix a documentary about the controversial trial against the Spanish State in the European Court of Human Rights for the returns in Melilla, which established jurisprudence with its ruling in 2020:

Find daily updates and special reports on our Medium page.

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Are You Syrious?

News digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and people on the move, but also for journalists, decision makers and other parties.