Text by Sara Minolfi
As a friend told me, “it’s the same grass. Isn’t it silly that in that part Bosnia and Croatia share the same grass?”
This friend was a person on the move that I met last year in Bihac who told me that during one of his attempts to do the “game” -the name people on the move use to refer the attempt to reach some countries in Europe by foot, walking for several days through forests or crossing deadly rivers due to the lack of legal and safe pathways-, while he was walking on the mountains that divide Bosnia from Croatia, he realized that just a few meters of grass was separating him from Fortress Europe. But again, that time he was pushed back illegally.
I come back to Bihac after almost one year and many things have changed.
People have changed: most of the people on the move with whom I shared chats, food, games, laughs, stories, music, songs, dances, sometimes tears… most of them luckily have gone ahead.
Places have changed: Bihac looks more empty and less busy, a lot of squats -abandoned buildings that people inahbit as temporary homes- are empty and now the NNK Bihac team is in charge of the distributions also in Velika Kladusa.
Time has changed: it seems that people on the move stay less time, sometimes we don’t meet the same people more than once.
But that “grass” has not changed: that grass is keeping selecting, dividing, deporting, abusing.
In the past weeks we met people who experienced pushbacks from Croatia, often including taking phones and money as a systematic practice by the police, sometimes including violence – in a case of a testimony that we collected a few days ago, Croatian police used wooden batons to beat a group of people that included minors and forced them to cross the river back to Bosnia. We met families with littles kids who are terrified of crossing because of the stories that they heard about what some would call the most difficult border, the one with the European Union.
It has not changed the rage and the pain for the abuses of the border regime, nor the necessity and the urge to continue to be where we need to be at the border fighting for justice, as long as the same grass discriminate even just one person.