An unusual demonstration took hold Monday in the sprawling crowds of refugees and asylum seekers trapped along the Macedonia-Greek border, as a handful of migrants reacted to new travel restrictions placed on those coming from areas other than Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan in Europe.
Thousands are trapped between the two countries as some Balkan states enact the strict filtering system. Affected Iranians and Kurds responded by first threatening hunger strikes.
Next, they began sewing their lips together using needles and nylon, Al Jazeera reported.
Last week, Macedonia handed down the new restrictions amid an ongoing debate in Europe about what to do with tens of thousands of people seeking asylum in EU countries. Macedonia's revised rules mean only those fleeing active conflict zones will be allowed entry.
The screening of refugees is a process of any intake facility, but as Milena Zajovic, a spokesperson for refugee activist group Are You Syrious, pointed out, it's neither normal nor effective to screen by country.
"You can't just declare all of the potential asylum seekers from one country 'economic migrants' and send them back without knowing what they are running away from. Every asylum seeker should have the right for his case to be heard," the activist told Al Jazeera. "At this moment, EU is taking this right away from them."
Of course, many are fleeing years of conflict Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. That much is clear. But they're not the only ones. As Monday's protest showed, many more are also heading for European shores—and trapping them at the border is only making things worse.
Have a look at scenes from the Iranians' protest below. All photos by AFP.
© 2000 - 2019 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)