Farewell Parade

fromlesvosintothefuture In the last week over 250 migrants were released from the Pagani detention centre. They have been given 30 days to proceed with their journey. They can contact their relatives, search out possible travel connections and maybe, if they find the time, earn some money. They hope to avoid a repetition of the humiliating, dehumanising experience they had in Pagani. But its not certain. They are continuing to move into unknown territories, in which they still do not necessarily have rights.


We want to wish them a safe journey, to wish them all the best, maybe to exchange phone numbers and email addresses so to better the chance that we might meet again one day. Because today is a good day. They are moving further in the direction of where they want to be. And this is the best step towards fulfilling the promise that every migrant dreams of. And you, you can come with us. Come with us on our parade, come with us and wish those leaving goodye, goodluck and a safe and successful journey.

We here document a speech held on the farewell parade: I think we’ll need a bigger boat – The right to hope.

To many, the borders seem like the gateways to paradise. Before the borders, is a flaming moat which needs to be conquered, Europe is the castle surrounded by the castle moat. The first contact with those that have managed to get there always reveals the same story: they tell us that this is paradise. We all want to see this paradise. We insist on our right to be allowed to see this, on our right to have a chance.

We belong to the first generation to witness the disappearence of boomgates in the European Union. The first generation for who it has become everyday – everything but normal or self evident – to grow up in multinational, postcolonial, ghettoised, multilinguistic milieus facing discrimination. We have seen that the desire for free movement can tear down iron curtains. We have grown up with globalisation, with the internet and computers, with mobile phones, with interrail, with journeys home over the Autoput and human compassion that spans across borders. We have come of age with the wars in the Balkans, with the wars in Somalia, Rwanda and in the Sudan, in Afgahnistan, and the Iraq wars. We have also grown up with those wars that we repress in our everyday lives. We have come up against new borders that run through our cities and countries. The presence of terror as justification for control, for the retraction of civil rights, for detention and internment, and intervention is the mantra of our times. Our life is the change and the transformation: the death of the old social order, the uprising of Precarity, and the enormous question mark known as the future.

We are all victims of the lies and promises of television. We believe in these success stories. When thousands of people fail to migrate successfully, but one person does – we dont look at the stories of the thousands, we look at the story of one. The question is never raised of what s-he does over there, if s-he collects garbage or sells drugs. You only see what s-he has, when s-he returns: a car, branded clothing, a real life. The people smugglers profit from this, they promise you what you want to hear. We call them the sellers of dreams

Tarifa, a small town, that was only ever known by fans of kite surfing and tuna fishing. Ceuta and Melilla, footnotes of Spain’s history of colonisation. The Canaries, Europe’s tanning salon. The little known Lampedusa. Lesvos, a small tourist island, a exemplary observation point for the playing out of European population policies. Today everyone of these places constitutes breaking news in the European media. The hotspots for the detention of Europes arriving migrants. Places that tally? Places where the bodies of those arrive who have died crossing the seas. Places of detention and places of transit. Small towns with 10-20 000 residents, that are militarised by camps and border police. Small towns onto which the social problems and implications of a European migration politics get pushed. Places that are far too small to deal with the consequences and problems that are handed over to them. The externalisation of the camp, of deportation, finds its continuation here. On the negotiation tables of Europe’s metropolitan cities agreements such as the Dublin II are decided which legalise these barbarities. Here on Lesvos, the detention centre of Pagani embodies the misery and abject reality of these agreements. Shut down Pagani. Without compromise without question. Disarm the ships and helicopters of Frontex. Without compromise without question. Issue the release papers. Release the children, the women and the men. Without compromise without question.

Our whole continent is searching for hope. The hope to escape from misery through migration, this hope is the air that we breathe, a music that is always there, a whole culture. The idea of migration was born in us while we were still young. All over the world children dream. When you ask a child here ‘what would you like to be when you grow up – doctor, professor or pilot’, then the child answers: ‘i will become a migrant.’. Someone who has left the country is worth more than everyone else.

Many of us see the desiring gazes focused on the red passports of the European Union. We are aware of Schengens blessing of us and Schengens curse on others. Do you believe that we are not enraged by these conditions, that we position ourselves as the profiteers of this system? And you, yes you, do you think that we dont see how your insidious border regimes made traffickers and smugglers necessary in the first place? Do you really believe that the coming citizens of Europe, in the most truthful sense of the word, do not use their hands to work, do not use their understanding to think, do not use their masses to assemble, just because you illegalise immigration? Everybody knows that this work, this exploitation and this mobility is the basis that allows for the functioning of our European constitution. You cram detentions centres with thousands of people. You sink their sea craft. You tread on one of the most ancient of rights – to help those at sea in danger. You produce a complete catastrophe. Do you really believe that you will be able to see this through, that it will always be this way and that the fall of Rome will not come? Did you really believe this? Unbelievable. You got it wrong. We’ve had enough.

That end now? In africa nothing is changing actually. So our families sent us on the journey, which changed us so much that we are not able to go back. I came here by accident. And it is the best journey ever. The track has been the best experience of my life.

What we want is simple. We want the right to be left in peace to unpack our suitcase and settle ourselves after we arrive. Thank you for your attention and participation.

The cat hunts the mouse but the mouse is always faster. And so are we, always. migration existed since ever, since the beginning of human existence and why should that end now? In africa nothing is changing actually. So our families sent us on the journey, which changed us so much that we are not able to go back. I came here by accident. And it is the best journey ever. The track has been the best experience of my life.

Except the last quotes all are taken from an interview with Tarek, a transit migrant. The last quote is taken fom an interview with Jean-Marie, a transit migrant.

About w2eu

This is the blog of the antiracist network Welcome to Europe. It was formerly known as lesvos09.antira.info.


The name Welcome to Europe expresses the discontent and anger we feel when looking at the fatal realities of the European external border: the long documented deaths and suffering have continued for years, and no end is in sight. We stand for a grassroots movement that embraces migration and wants to create a Europe of hospitality.


We maintain our focus on the European external border in Greece, but will not limit ourselves to that geographical area. The right of freely roaming the globe has to be fought for everywhere. Join us!


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Voices from the Inside of Pagani (2009)

Watch the video