The Greek island of Lesvos is frequently the subject of news reports on the refugee ‘crisis’, but they only occasionally focus on the dire living conditions of asylum seekers already present on the island. Through direct experience as an activist in Lesvos refugee camps and detention centres, Iliadou gives voice to those with lived experiences of state violence.
The author considers the escalation of EU border regime and deterrence policies seen in the past decade alongside their present impacts. Asking why the social harm and suffering border crossers experience is normalised and rendered invisible, the book highlights the collective, global responsibility for safeguarding refugees’ human rights.
In this book, I argue that the multiple border policies and practices that have been enforced in light of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ inaugurated the interference of actors who semi-settled and operated in Greece by turning Lesvos into a securitized and militarized place. On the one hand, all these agents not only enabled the border policies and practices, but also made the dystopia of borders possible by becoming complicit in border violence. In other words, the violent border policies would not be possible without the complicity of key security actors, professionals and street-level bureaucrats as well as ‘ordinary citizens’. On the other hand, these border policies and interventions led to a strengthening and expansion of intervening actors’ power and promoted and expanded, legitimized and normalized their capacity for violence (Massaro and Boyce, 2021). These multiple intervening actors as well as the ordinary citizens who are located within the border play a significant role in ‘the production and performance of borders’ (Pickering, 2014, p 188). I showed that the capacity for violence of each of these actors creeps into the various stages of border crossers’ perilous journeys across borders and the registration, identification, asylum and deportation procedures, in the Moria hotspot and beyond, on the island of Lesvos and in the port and the city centre, in the streets through stop and search, sweep operations, policing and criminalization. This capacity for violence and impunity has produced a suffocating and intimidating reality from which border crossers cannot escape.
This chapter explores the legacies and memories of forced migration, borders and violence, focusing on Greece and Lesvos in particular. It begins by looking at the Greek Genocide (1914-1923) and theAsia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 and the violence and humiliation that Asia Minor refugees experienced when they settled in Greece, which were similar, if not identical, to contemporary border crossers’ experiences in refugee camps, hotspots, detention centres and the local community of Lesvos. The chapter focuses on the intergenerational harms that remain in collective memory, time and space. It then discusses the ‘violence continuum’ across time and space – that is, the existence and operation of past border policies and practices in the present and future. The chapter argues that past developments and security/military responses to unauthorized border crossings across time and space have generated a ‘border harm’ precedent that has been passed on to the present. This border harm precedent operates as part of the ‘generational’ effect (Arango, 2012) from preceding border regimes, which has affected migration policies and practices across generations. The deficiencies, bureaucracy, inconsistency and chaos surrounding policies and practices of migration governance in each phase of irregular migration in Greece have been passed on from one phase to the next by formulating a genealogy, routine and ritual of cumulative misery, violence and harm in time and space.
From 2015 onwards, the debates and dominant narratives about the 2015 ‘refugee crisis’ put forward by multiple intervening actors and policymakers (at EU, national and local levels) and in the media have been ahistorical misconceptions, as they have routinely represented the refugee situation and the human suffering and border violence in the Greek region as new, unforeseen, isolated events or tragic accidents – that is, as ‘crises’ – which were not consistent with existing patterns (Freek and Lindblad, 2002). These misconceptions have tended to obscure deep historical roots – the genealogy of border violence in Greece and its continuum in the present – as they see the refugee issue, border violence, suffering and border deaths in Greece and Lesvos as starting explicitly in 2015. This chapter sets out the aims and the structure of the book. It also includes a discussion on concepts, methods, positionality, power and ethics.
This chapter explores the bureaucratic procedures surrounding registration, identification and asylum that are implemented upon arrival and which produce uncertainty, protracted waiting and bureaucratic limbo by mentally exhausting people. The chapter argues the bureaucratic procedures are designed to always fail, so as to make people’s lives unliveable. Furthermore, the procedures are characterized by an overwhelming inconsistency, uncertainty and chaos, which border crossers must adhere to while living in appalling, inhuman, degrading and life-threatening reception and living conditions. Through this lens, the chapter explores bureaucratic deterrence, and therefore bureaucratic violence – that is, the intentional, well-designed policy of deterring by gradually, slowly and silently ‘killing’ those who have sought international protection in Europe. The bureaucratic deterrence is the apotheosis of the ‘politics of discomfort’ (Darling, 2011, p 268). In this way, border crossers are deterred and indirectly coerced by the authorities to withdraw their asylum claims and either traverse alternative dangerous illicit migratory pathways to other EU countries or ‘voluntarily’ return to their countries of origin.
The chapter explores the human consequences of the ‘necropolitical’ (Mbembe, 2003) border regime upon the lives which are made ‘unliveable’ (Butler, 2004). It focuses on the manifold abandonments (left-to-die practices) of border crossers, inside and beyond the refugee camp, in appalling conditions that not only are tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, but also inflict, normalize and naturalize disposability, humiliation, social death and suffering. This chapter builds on Achille Mbembe’s (2003) work on necropolitics to explore the governance of migration through abandonment to social death. It also builds on existing academic literature on the politics of abandonment, the production of humiliation and degradation, racialized social death and disposability as a modus operandi of migration governance (Cacho, 2012; Davies et al, 2017; Mayblin et al, 2019; Gordon and Larsen, 2021). The chapter also engages with three bodies of literature: the social harm approach (Hillyard and Tombs, 2007), critical migration and border studies (De León, 2015; Squire, 2017) and social anthropology of violence (Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois, 2004). It provides insights into border crossers’ lived experiences of violence. Furthermore, the paper contributes to the growing academic literature on the politics of abandonment (Davies et al 2017; Gordon and Larsen, 2021; Mayblin et al, 2019), and disposability as a modus operandi of migration governance.
This chapter focuses on the politics of closed borders and deterrence that has been enforced since the Schengen Agreement 1985 but which has proliferated in the aftermath of the 2015 ‘refugee crisis’ by establishing a dystopic landscape of border controls and violence. In the first section, I argue that various exceptional externalization border policies and practices have been enforced (at EU, national and local levels) as a response to the 2015 refugee crisis. Externalization policies and practices target people who are en route to Europe by immobilizing or intercepting them in non-EU countries and, therefore, pre-emptively deterring them and preventing them from reaching Europe. In the second section, I argue that although externalization is justified, legitimized and enforced allegedly to alleviate human suffering, prevent border deaths and protect border crossers’ from the smuggling and trafficking networks, externalization made border crossings and transit routes more securitized, perilous, expensive and dependent on smugglers and traffickers. In the third section, I focus on the internalization of border policies and practices that target people who manage to reach Greece and Europe (alive). The section examines the operationalization of the Greek Aegean Islands as filtering, screening and deportation mechanisms. I deploy the metaphor of Lesvos as a ‘prison island’ wherein deterrence is actively materialized.
In this chapter, I explore the genealogies of militarization, securitization and medicalization of borders as a response to the overlapping refugee and COVID-19 ‘crises’ in Greece. In doing so, I challenge the mainstream discourses which represent and normalize exceptional and violent discriminatory security and COVID-19-related enforcements at, within and beyond the borders as something new. Instead, I place the mandatory surveillance and sanitation border enforcements on mainland Greece and the island of Lesvos in a genealogical framework. Certain patterns of violence, quarantine and border control of the present display similarities with earlier patterns. Therefore, the sanitation and military border enforcements are perceived in a diachronic sense, as a continuum rather than a crisis. I argue that the health inspections and discriminatory quarantine practices at the borders unfolded as a continuum across time and space.
In this chapter, I focus on the continuum of politics of closed borders and explore the human consequences of the thanatopolitical border regime upon lives which are apprehended ‘unlivable’. I particularly explore the continuum of border deaths off the coasts of Lesvos – as people cross the Aegean Sea – as well as inside the refugee camps on Lesvos. This chapter is about (temporal) violence and state- and policy-facilitated stealing of time. In the existing academic literature, time – temporality – is examined as a fundamental feature of the border and migration governance, and as a border technique (Tazzioli, 2016). The first section of this chapter has a self-reflexive vignette from a fatal shipwreck that took place in 2012 on Lesvos. The second section explores the thanatopolitical border regime, characterized by deterrent policies and practices which have been enforced at, within and beyond the borders. These lethal policies have greatly escalated in the light of the 2015 refugee crisis by inflicting border deaths. The third section focuses on the continuum of deliberate ‘deterring-killing’ policies and practices, actions and inactions – by state officials and border agents – of exposure and abandonment of border crossers to death or to a high risk of death.
For many children and young people, Britain is a harmful society in which to grow up. This book contextualises the violence that occurs between a small number of young people within a wider perspective on social harm.
Aimed at academics, youth workers and policymakers, the book presents a new way to make sense of this pressing social problem. The authors also propose measures to substantially improve the lives of Britain’s young people – in areas ranging from the early years, to youth services and the criminal justice system.