Last night, 15-20 people organised at short notice to disrupt the smooth running of an event at the Bulgarian embassy in the elite area of Kensington, in solidarity with the recent uprising in Harmanli concentration camp, Bulgaria.
The Embassy was hosting a Gala Christmas party at £50 per head on the pretext of raising money for disabled (read: Bulgarian) children, with the Bulgarian Ambassador and a Bulgarian prince in attendance. Meanwhile, back in Bulgaria, the paid thugs of the state is busy cracking skulls and sending Afghan children, among others, to hospital.
Banners lined the entrance of the embassy, leaflets were thrust into the hands of guests, and constant chanting ensured that they were made aware of the hypocrisy and the state cover-up of the repression in the camp. While the embassy event went ahead, it was a major embarrassment for the guests dressed up in their finest to be greeted by a rabble of angry protestors. Chants of “Smash the walls of Harmanli! Drop the charges, set them free!” could no doubt be heard inside over the course of the event.
At one stage, another chauffeured Mercedes pulled in and a stern woman describing herself as the head of a migrant agency came out. She was so defensive about the legality of Bulgarian deportations (“I can assure you Bulgaria has the strictest protocols for returns”), that she had to either be government, or in their pay. She claimed not to know about the 15 year-old Afghan who ended up in a coma as a result of the Bulgarian cops, or the fact that a couple of hundred migrants are being coerced into signing ‘voluntary return agreements’, and that charter flights to Afghanistan are already being arranged. She claimed that she would personally look into it…right… Nevertheless, it was noticeable how much the embassy tried a ‘nicey-nicey’, “we believe in human rights, we’re part of the EU, blah” approach to de-escalate things.
Harmanli has limited network coverage, making it difficult for the interns to share information about what happens with the outside world, while the media inevitably gave a wholly one sided account of the uprising, with barely a peep about the bloody crackdown. Rumours even circulated that some people had been killed; while the cops did use rubber bullets, it’s impossible to verify this given the control exercised on the camp. It is only because some migrants managed to take photos of their injuries and get them on the internet that we know a bit about what happened. Yesterday’s demo follows one organised by Afghans at the embassy last week.
Solidarity with migrants in revolt!
Smash the walls of Harmanli!