On The Railtracks

The “new  jungle”  gets raided every night, up to 5 times per night, and again in the morning…

After the police moved the people who were sleeping in front of the BCMO (17th March) they moved to some disused railway tracks near the motorway, opposite to the Hazara’s jungle. They are mainly Pashto, over a hundred people, the Kurdish have a smaller ‘jungle’ nearby.  Nearly half are boys under 18,  I counted 40 boys aged 12 to 17.

When they were moved from the BCMO, the people invited me to go to the jungle with them, so I did – and I ended up sleeping there most nights. The first night the police assaulted me. They arrived shortly after midnight, when most people had just gone to sleep in the abandoned trains or under. I was sitting by the fire with a small group of migrants, including two under age boys – one was arrested, the other was left alone because only 12 years old- but he was to be arrested again and again the following nights.  It was bizarre, a group of  7- 8 police just popped out from nowhere, big guys all dressed in black and some even wearing a mask on their face like in some bad action movie, flashing lights on our faces and shouting ‘police’. I was assaulted by one policeman and pinned to the ground because I stood up, I was wearing a hood and he thought I was a migrant. They arrested 6 people, later they returned and arrested 12 more.

Monitoring arrests on the railtracks has been difficult not to say impossible, due to the huge number of raids, the vastity of the territory, the police being heavy handed- I was assaulted twice, once for trying to take pictures. And for some reason  I was there on my own most of the time, strange pastime for a lady but  I got on with the guys really well… The few times the noborders turned up it proved rather useful. Once some activists arrived with a van and some blankets to distribute; the police arrived immediately after. By the time the police had searched the activists and the van, everybody had gone to hide at a leasurly pace. The policemen proceeded to search the trains and went away empty handed… they were gutted. Unfortunatley they returned later and made numerous arrests. The number of arrests ranges from 12/ 20 per night up to 40/ 50 arrests when there are massive raids. I really do not know what is the best strategy and what can we do, the police go there every night, 2,3,4, 5 times per night and again in the morning, they are often aggressive towards us, they have used gas on migrants, they hit them with truncheons when they run. Very many people have injuries, mostly by running in the dark and falling as a consequence, broken fingers, dislocated wrists and ankles. Two men have been hospitalized after being hit by cars while running over the motorway. The plastic sheets people use to shelter from the rain are often confiscated or destroyed by the police, the blanklets get wet.  People can never sleep, they are arrested again and again, kept in the police station up to 24 hours, more often they are released early – maybe to be arrested again when they return- or kept for a few hours or 12 hours, including minors and people with papers. They are kept in small, filthy and overcrowded cells. More arrests are made when people leave the railtracks to go to the food distribution place, it is a long road and very exposed. The most unlucky are taken to the deportation centre and some have been dispatched to Greece, Hungary etc. The police only “forgot” to raid the railtracks the night between the 6th and the 7th of April – some noborders activists were there – and as far as I know that is the only night the railtracks were not raided, since the 17th of March.

Under age boys are not treated different from anybody else – except for the fact they cannot be deported. It is shocking to see anyone treated like that, even more shocking when it is a child.