Together the movements for refugee rights and climate justice must force leaders to open borders

Last Thursday the Actiefonds and LAB 111 organised a meeting “No borders, no nations!” about the Europan border crisis. In the invitation they wrote: “Last month the Greek refugee camp Moria burned down to the ground, causing more suffering and more moral outrage. The latest event in a long, sad history of human rights’ violations at the European borders, it should force us to radically reconsider the phenomenon of borders as such. The thought that there is a ‘crisis’ concerning immigration has become central in the political debate across Europe in recent years. Yet many people – and especially politicians – believe that migration as such is the problem and that migrants should be kept out. After the incredible amount of violence this belief has provoked, it is time to drastically change our perspective. Aren’t borders themselves the real problem?” On the meeting they showed the movie “Children Of Men” and activist Abdulrazik Khamis held a talk, which you can read in full here.

Hello everyone,

Thank you for coming to this wonderful event. And I thank the Actiefonds for organizing the event.

As most of you know I will speak out on the border crisis and why it’s important to abolish all borders.

What country in the world are Europeans not travelling to? But people like me can’t even travel inside our own countries. In every step of our life there is a border.

Beside Fortress Europe, militarized border security is becoming increasingly common across North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Much of this is part of a broader strategic undertaking by Western coalitions and governments to prevent migration flows from reaching their borders.

The EU, for instance, has programs of “externalization” – logistically supporting third countries to secure their external borders – from Africa to China to the Caribbean, while Australia has similar programs in Asia and Oceania. The US Army is in possession of trained soldiers for border security patrols in over a 100 countries, and many leaders in other regions – particularly the Middle East and South Asia – are desperate to get in on the game.

Taken together, militarized borders and climate change make for a toxic cocktail, especially in the Global South, where local populations often face the most severe social, economic and political obstacles to climate adaptation.

The fashion in which Europe is currently dealing with its refugee crisis is by doing everything in its power not to let it reach its doorstep. The gates have been closed, new fences have been built. Batons, tear gas and water cannons are deployed in order to keep the ‘barbarian hordes’ at bay.

In June, the EU signed a contract for an interoperable digitized monitoring system to be rolled out by 2022 that will collect a large amount of personal data including the informational data from children of six years old. Europe will hold fingerprints and facial images of more than 400 million people by 2022.

Africa is a paradise, but the West made it a hell. Africa has a large quantity of natural resources. It is full of resources including diamond, sugar, salt, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, silver, petroleum and cocoa beans, but also woods and tropical fruits, etc. The West left nothing to Africa. The West extracted 35 trillion dollars from Congo. From only one African country! Africa is not poor; it runs poorly with the pressure of the West.

Leaders must be dictators or else they will be assassinated. Look at all the African leaders who operated in the interest of Africa whom were assassinated. We want to love and to live in our beautiful and rich countries, but we can’t because of Western military and financial interference. Think about the military operations in Mali (meddlesome and lethargic interference with an African country) or foreign direct investment in the Great Lakes Region for extractive, destructive and polluting installations, substantiated by the export credit insurances supplied by the Dutch government. Your perennial interventions dispossess Africa from its resources for your capital and commodity accumulation.

The international civil war against refugees must stop. An international civil war against people who just want to live like every nation in the world. The military industrial complex, the Turkish-EU deal and the Khartoum process agreement. All these deals are stopping refugees from reaching Europe’s bays despite the war in the countries the refugees come from. Do you think a predatory golddigger can travel or track through the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean sea? Either death or survival. And this is only to reach Europe. We refugees were desperate for some consolation. Solace we scantly found and a sanctuary, like us, had been superseded and deracinated, condensed in the hermetically sealed off detention camps. Prisons.

Do you think I will choose Death or Life?

– A migrants corpse deposited by the eb and flood of the Mediterranean Sea, washed ashore at the European borders,

– No access to adequate medicine and rudimentary health care.

– Did I say? Dying on the Mediterranean Sea.

– To be deceased in the Sahara desert.

– Deportation an excruciatingly elongated waiting process for just the recognition of humanity and the valorization of the God given dignity of your life.

– Living in detention.

– To be racialized as an easily disposable alien not entitled to the benefits common EU citizens enjoy.

– To be dehumanized through the discriminatory vernacular of calling people “illegal migrants” and its attendant institutionalized practices of detention and labour precarity as a form of harrowing exploitation.

Look at Moria. One of the most emblematic images capturing the desperate situation on the Greek island Lesbos since the Moria refugee camp burned down on September 8 shows people sleeping on the grounds of a local cemetery: men, women and children trying to find some rest besides tombs and gravestones. With the camp destroyed and angry residents blocking the streets to the village, there was simply no other place for them to go.

The deal between the EU and Turkey is a scandalous example of how the refugee crisis is being used for local political gain by both sides. A politicization of human life and human migration patterns impelled by desperate living conditions.

What happens when refugees arrive in Europe: deportation, endless waiting, detention, denial of a dignified life, horrible stories. Despite the life refugees suffer, some individuals/politicians think refugees are the problem. This is the arch typical example of victim blaming. I call this hypocrisy.

Think of the war, conflicts and the weapon industries generated through the militarized apparatus of the lucrative arms trade industry. Yet when we flee from such inflammatory preliminaries we are deemed the problem. Imagine this building is burning now and we need to evacuate ASAP. Most people don’t realize how intolerable the heat of a burning edifice really is. Some people think the residents within the property are the problem, whilst the problem is the basis of it: a reinvigoration of conflict by Western arms trade companies.

We must act on this today, immediately! The faster we do, the least casualties, human beings like you and me! In contemporary times, we lose millions of fellow human beings to the global threat of climate change and war on migrants. The narrow-minded and xenophobic views of world leaders on who has the right to move and who doesn’t, should have been discontinued and discounted yesterday already.


I have come to understand that this is a system that has been put in place to make sure these things happen. There is a system of standardized bureaucracy progressively and continuously working against us, so we will be entangled into a spider web of injustices regarding our mobility and basic rights. This is a system purposely wanting to stop us from acquiring access to insurance, work arrangements and contracts, health care, quality education, etc. We have to be given the knowledge. We have been suffering from political oppression imbricated within authoritarian regimes. Imagine: every hour, 1.500 people are displaced somewhere in the world. Alarmingly, climate change will undermine many countries’ ability to support their respective populations, multiplying and proliferating migration rates across the globe. In a rapidly warming world, the rules of border control clearly need to be rewritten to make migration an option for those fleeing the consequences of climate destabilization and warring strife in their home countries.

The way the term “refugee crisis” has been used in recent years implies a crisis for Europe and the West. The real crisis, however, is faced by those who have been forced to leave everything they have ever known. Climate change is the ultimate game changer in this respect. In times of extreme adversity, the rules of the game – including the rules of international migration – will need to be rewritten. This cannot wait for a few years or decades down the line. By then, some of the most dangerous forces of climate destabilization will already have caused giant disasters.

The refugee crisis is a humanitarian crisis, and should not be politicized as a political crisis compounding over decades of debates over migration. As such, the solution lies with ordinary people and not with the political games of authoritarian and hypocritical democratic leaders. Speaking up against hate and fear is as important as acts of hospitality and solidarity. But the solution lies not in isolated acts of kindness. It should be a permanent re-affirmation and consistent recognition of a shared humanity.

Leaving all systemic critiques of the political system aside, we need to stand up to this discourse of hate. In order to rise up from the politics of fear. We need to show that power resides with those who have built it through struggle – a muscle of flexible adaptability and resilience, and that protection will be granted to those who need it.

When the system fails, the people show up! Politicians come and go, let’s do something for the system. The system of necropolitics decides that people who look white with blue eyes and blonde hair must live in peace, and the people who look like me – black and proud – and the rest of the world must die. Decolonize the system where predominantly Western nations have the veto power at the UN Security Council nations, of which an integral attribute is the protection of arms trade interests. Dismantle the system that is keeping colonialism and slavery alive. Stop the international civil war against refugees: genocide, ethnocide, modern imperialism. Abolish all borders and let’s live free as humans in a free world.

Are NGO’s set up because of human rights? And: why don’t they unite for the same purpose? Revolution is innovation; it reconstructs a system. Let’s bring class, race and gender together through an intersectional vantage point. Two hundred NGO’s can be one NGO! European nations need to vote for the politicians who can solve these international refugee crises and those who can open the earth to its human beings.

Speaking and writing articles, spreading the news, we are making slow progress, because we are not being heard. And people are dying everyday. We don’t have time for genocide; we don’t have time for exploitation; we don’t have time for starvation. We don’t have time to keep begging the system of exploitation to integrate us. We are here, we are proud and we are human beings. That should be enough.

Movements mobilizing around refugee rights, border security and climate justice will now need to come together to put strong pressure from below to force world leaders to open borders – rather than closing them. Of course, taking radical steps to limit global carbon emissions will be the single most important contribution to easing the pressures on vulnerable populations, but we must be clear that there will be further increases in international migration, and that our struggles must be geared towards enabling orderly resettlement wherever necessary. Around the world powerful and diverse possibilities are in struggle.

Change the system of exploitation because it’s your history. The biggest problem is the West or the EU system that is set up by European nations! Voting for jingoistic foreign policies decimating nations faraway as imagined in the cognition of the ordinary EU citizen. In March please vote for the decolonization of this system, by which I mean the retraction of the military industrial complex and the environmental degradation precipitated by Western oil and fuel companies. What kind of history and civilization are you leaving to your young future generation? Do you think your children can handle such a passage in the history of humankind? I think so yes, but we shouldn’t want to expose our children to such cruelties. If you can’t explain the vast atrocities committed by Western corporations subsidized by Western ‘democratic’ governments to a three year old, it should be a signal for immediate change. Vote for justice, peace and decolonization! And again: abolish borders!

Abdulrazik Khamis