The sun from the last days is bringing a relaxed atmosphere to this forgotten part of the world, from where these lines are being written. It's been more than four months since we got trapped in the eye of the storm. During this time, we have witnessed how, day after day, dejection started showing in the brave ones who tried to beat the game of entering in Europe, which is commonly known as "THE GAME".
Sarajevo has become a compulsory spot for people in transit who are eager to arrive in Schengen territory to look for new opportunities: it serves both as the entry and return point of the Balkan migratory route. The mixture of cultures, races and religions merge in a scenery of transition that reflects each one of those projectiles that annihilated more than 100,000 people in the bloody Yugoslavian war. It is still present in the inhabitants of this country the trauma that this war created as well as the trauma produced by those bullets coming from the well-known Middle East, causing a hodgepodge of empathy and rejection towards the ones commonly known here as "migranti".
"Croatia. Police. Problem." are the most famous words used in conversations outside the Otoka stadium while young people wait for their turn to take a cold shower. Their concerns in the face of the situation at the border is present in every single moment of their lives. The impenetrability of the Croatian border - which seems to be from the underworld - is the reason why they are barely getting by and surviving through conditions that show a lack of commitment from many institutions to guarantee and protect human rights. Hundreds of people find themselves at the mercy of absolutely nobody, with almost no voice or resources to be able to achieve the decent life that their minds yearn for in this false "European Paradise".
It's been a winter filled with work, emergency and cold. The lack of an effective response from the public institutions has brought a lot of humanitarian labor from all of those collectives of independent volunteers who are in the field, and who have joined their forces together to cover the most basic survival needs during these last months.
In spite of the constant perseverance to keep the situation stable, reality goes far beyond everyone's wishes and the winter term has taken the lives of dozens of people, both at the Bosnian capital and at the border. There aren't much news about those bodies lost in this battle. No one speaks about the pain they feel when their limbs freeze to such an extent that their hearts are so weak that can barely beat. No one speaks about the disappearance of these young people in the mountains, the illegal pushbacks, or the lack of ethics - considering the methods used to protect Europe from hundreds of thousands of people who just want to pass the border because they hanger for a life.
It's around 10pm. I'm sitting at a cafeteria in the center of the city, where Turkish tea is served. Faysal (fake name in order to protect his identity) is in front of me. He is a 30 year old young Algerian man who has just returned from the border with visible marks of violence in his body. He is wearing an unzipped jacket, since the sling that holds his broken right shoulder does not allow him to zip it. His testimony is one of many that we try to collect in order to write a report including all of the illegal atrocities that occur in the Northern border. Faysal and two of his friends tell us about their attempt to arrive in Italy.
They remember every single detail of the events that took place. It is the forth time that they try to cross the border, and this time it was Faysal the one who suffered the most. They were intercepted in Zagreb and taken to the police station, so the police could identify them. Without providing them with much information, food or water, they had to stay there for five hours, until they made them get in a white 4x4 vehicle. They just answered the questions they were asked, because they knew the consequences that giving additional information could have. The three of them got in the car before midnight and started the trip. After a couple of hours, the car stopped. The police made them get out of the car, one at a time, and they closed the door after each of them, so they could not see what was happening outside. Although Faysal affirms that he could not see anything, he could certainly hear the screams of his friend, the one who first got out of the vehicle. He imitates the screams he heard, so we could make an assessment of the beatings that his friend received and write a violence report in detail. A few minutes later, the car's door opened again and his other friend, Ahmed (fake name to protect his identity), a 29 year old young Algerian man, got out of the car. Ahmed tries to explain to us what those people out there looked like. However, he could only see that there were six men forming two lines between the river and the car. They made him pass between both lines, and then they hit him so hard in his left leg that he became lame. He felt a terrible pain in his leg when he had to run away from the car trying to reach a place distant enough to feel far away from danger. Finally, they made Faysal get out of the car as well. They gave him a bag with their cellphones and, while he was walking between the two lines formed by the six people that Ahmed had mentioned, they hit him very badly in his right shoulder. When he bent down to get the bag and tried to flee, they beat him harshly in his back while they shouted "GO, DON'T COME BACK".
Faysal's testimony is not an isolated case. Unfortunately, testimonies with stories similar to this one are increasing as the weather is getting warmer, because the snow is melting in the mountains and the routes' conditions are a little bit less hostile. However, the reinforcement of security in these remote parts of Europe are, if possible, more dangerous than this piece of land itself.
We long for the moment when each and everyone of us start being responsible for our decisions and consistent with our actions. The unfair reality that these people are living is nothing but a mere reflection of the lack of humanity and values that hit this "European project". We are promoting an inhumane political and social system that is claiming many lives. It is time to believe in change, to defend justice and to judge the global moral tendency of each treaty and pact that are being agreed upon with public funds. We are tired of this tendency towards impersonality in face of the humanitarian crisis that we are living. We all have to stop keeping this oppressing system quiet and we have to start feeling that our duty is to give voice to each of those souls that are being lost on their way to find life.