As several friends from Idomeni have told us, since yesterday there have been talks about a big collective action to cross the border into Macedonia and travel on to central Europe. Around 10am the first protesters gathered on the train tracks. As more people joined the protest a delegation of five people went to the fence and tried to negotiate with the Macedonian/FYROM army. The army reportedly ended the talk with statement that “decisions are taken on an EU level, not here.”
Nonetheless, the protestors, taking decisions into their own hands, tried to forge their way through the border fence. As Z. a young woman from Latakia explained:
“A group of young people managed to cut open the fence and enter Macedonian territory. However, as soon as we entered, the Macedonian army fired teargas and stung grenades at us. I received a lot of teargas and almost suffocated. The army tried to arrest us, but luckily we managed to escape back to Greece.”
H., a young woman from Damascus described the situation as follows:
“The protest started in the morning, and first, some refugees tried to reach an agreement with the army through conversation. But their answer was tear gas. Out of nowhere. That’s how it started. They wouldn’t stop throwing gas bombs at us for 4-5 hours, all afternoon long. The Macedonian army even broke into Greek territory. People threw stones at the army in response to the tear gas.
First, the wind blew the gas back on their territory, but then a strong wind blew the tear gas into the camp. We couldn’t escape from it. It is like breathing fire. Now it is raining. That’s why the protest stopped.
I went there to see what is happening. I was first in the front, but then went back and then I just saw the tear gas bomb fall in front of me and then I fainted. I don’t know how they can throw it so far. It was very difficult to breathe. It was burning like fire. Then, one woman gave me an asthma spray, and I could breathe again. It burned so much. It felt like breathing fire. I still feel sick. They also fired rubber bullets at us, at people. And also, they used a water cannon against us. So many people were injured because of the tear gas. It feels like fire. I feel like I have to throw up. Even after I fainted and went back the wind kept blowing the teargas in to the camp, on to our side.
The people here are still angry, they want to continue the protest tomorrow. It only stopped because of the rain.”
A Kurdish friend told us:
“It’s really really bad because of the tear gas, very bad tear gas. But some people they don’t care, they don’t give up. So now they want to give a strong message to Macedonia to say you are fucking nothing, we will not give up. We hate Macedonia because they have beaten up refugees. The Macedonian soldiers have thrown stones and big rockets of tear gas.”
We condemn the extreme violence of the Macedonia/FYROM authorities against the people in Idomeni. We denounce the closure of the corridor by the EU that created the unbearable situation in Idomeni. We wish the people in Idomeni strength in their struggle for their freedom of movement!