AYS Special 2019/2020: A Year of Violence — Monitoring Pushbacks on the Balkan Route
In 2019, The Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) shared the voices of thousands of people pushed back from borders on the Balkan Route. Each tells their own tale of illegal, and regularly violent, police actions. Each represents a person denied their fundamental rights, eyewitnesses to EU led reborderization. This article shares just some of the more startling trends which define border management on the eve of 2020, such as the denial of asylum rights, systemic firearms use, water immersion, and dog attacks.
With a shared database of 648 reports, BVMN is a collaborative project of organisations with the common goal of challenging the illegal pushback regime and holding relevant institutions to account.
“Pushback” describes the unlegislated expulsion of groups or individuals from one national territory to another, and lies outside the legal framework of “deportations”. On a daily basis, people-on-the-move are subject to these unlawful removals; a violent process championed by EU member states along the Balkan Route. In 2019, BVMN continued to shine a spotlight on these actions, perpetrated in the main part by states such as Croatia, Hungary, and Greece. Supporting actors also included Slovenia and Italy, and non-member states with the aid of Frontex which has seen its remit and funding widened heading into 2020.
Volunteers and activists worked across the route in 2019 to listen to the voice of people facing these violations, taking interviews in the field and amplifying their calls for justice. Just some of the regular abuses that constitute pushbacks are listed below.
Guns and Firearm Abuse
The highest volume of BVMN reported pushbacks were from Croatia, a state which has been acting as a fulcrum of the EU’s external border policy in the West Balkans. It’s approximately 1300 kilometer long border with the non-member…