Migrants in Bulgaria: Riots, Drug Trafficking, and Deportation

After the latest uprising in the Harmanli asylum center, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is now considering deporting the entire population of the camp. Below is a panel discussion from Bulgarian television about the logistics of deportation, and the migrant role in drug trafficking.

Many thanks to Tanya T for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Transcript (based on the times in the original clip):

14:53   In your opinion, why hasn’t this happened?
14:56   This question was raised — the agreement for readmission,
14:59   but not till December… Well, it won’t be too late,
15:02   if it happens then. Could all these people be deported? —But 400-500 enter in a day…
15:06   Mohamed Halaf, journalist: Yes… —And they would have to be deported right away… —Look, look…
15:09   It takes organization; it’s not an easy thing: planes
15:13   have to be arranged, procedures, documents, etc…
15:17   But the real issue is different — why did it come to what happened in Harmanli —
15:23   the closing of the camp, at the nationalists’ demand means
15:27   cutting off the contacts between these migrants and the traffickers.
15:33   they don’t want to remain in Bulgaria, they want, as Majd knows…
15:37   they want to leave Bulgaria. They know very well that the way of life they expect is not here;
15:42   they want to go to Western Europe. But, anyway, the question I raised in the beginning:
15:46   how do they succeed in entering the country…
15:49   Majd knows that there are organized traffickers, connected to (unintelligible)
15:53   —Not just me, everyone knows it.
15:56   Exactly, that’s exactly what I mean, that everyone on the market knows
15:59   who the traffickers are, how much they take. —Both their names as well as faces?
16:02   Where they gather… —Several governments (in Bulgaria) failed to solve this problem,
16:05   not just the last one. This is an issue for institutions… —Wait, we can’t … —This is a problem
16:08   that has existed for so many years and nobody… —We can’t legally… Wait, wait…
16:11   What you are suggesting … we can’t, through breaking the law, solve our problem independently.
16:20   We will continue in a moment… —How could we solve the problem through the traffickers alone…
16:24   Back at the studio, Dimo Gyaurov joins us, however Majd Algafari has a lot to tell us…
16:27   We will hear him first, what should be done at the moment. —Mr. Gyaurov will tell us presently.
16:32   I’ve asked Mr. Slavov and Mr. Enchev to remain in the studio as well.
16:38   Mr. Algafari, are these Afghans, are they Pakistanis, and could they quickly
16:42   be sent back to where they came from, if they are not refugees?
16:46   I’ve said this many times, in all the media, not just in yours.
16:52   Majd Algafari, interpreter: Everyone who enters Bulgarian territory without any kind of document
16:57   must be taken to a center of the closed type until it is determined
17:02   whether he really is from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, whichever country he may come from.
17:06   Otherwise he must show documentation, because in most cases their documents are hidden in Turkey.
17:11   After we have determined who he is, and in the case where he makes a refugee application,
17:15   at the moment he is granted his refugee status, let’s unlock,
17:18   metaphorically speaking, the door of the camp he is in,
17:21   and tell him, welcome, this is the Republic of Bulgaria. Otherwise he must remain in that camp,
17:26   and as soon as his application is rejected — on the plane and back to where he came from.
17:33   These people, what nationality are they? Those we see on the flashes (in the videos)?
17:38   99% of them are Afghans, possibly 100%. They are Afghans and Pakistanis.
17:42   How come all of them are alone? —What do you mean?
17:45   —I see no families, I don’t see their women and children. —There are no families;
17:48   what families could there be? Besides, does anyone ask themselves the question…
17:51   From Afghanistan to Germany, trafficking costs nearly €10,000.
17:57   An Afghan, between 15 and 20 years old, where does he get €10,000 from?
18:02   From where? Besides… From where? If he really has that much money,
18:05   and he stays in Afghanistan he would live like a king…
18:08   What is your explanation, then? Drug trafficking, weapons trafficking,
18:12   everything that has to do with money, and could be trafficked, they do it.
18:17   These are not people who just came to look for some kind of… really, better life. On the contrary —
18:22   they are looking for some kind of fiddle. Something that would bring them pots of money.
18:26   They have loans to pay off in Afghanistan, a lot of things…
18:31   These are not simply… these are not people who are fleeing because
18:34   their life is in danger or because they are unemployed in Afghanistan.
18:37   With €10,000 he cannot work in Afghanistan?! I’d never believe that.
20:41   Yet another question, a picture immediately appeared — a volunteer
20:45   sent them — about violence against the refugees.
20:49   Borisov (Prime Minister) was right that one of the questions
20:52   will be whether the police used excessive force.
20:55   I will show you the pictures in question. Their claim is that they were peacefully and quietly
21:00   staying in their rooms and the police came in and beat them black and blue. —I very much doubt it.
21:03   This is unverifiable. —I very much doubt it. These… mention it because it IS being mentioned.
21:06   These… pictures from NGOs, how somebody supposedly took pictures of something,
21:10   and sent it to them… we’ve long known these tricks.
21:14   That’s not all. In addition — it is quite natural, and the law foresees an option
21:19   for the police to use force when … we witness things like those we saw yesterday.
21:26   —On the one hand, aggression against the policemen, on the other — brutal destruction of property,
21:32   obscene gestures at the TV cameras, —And words, but there’s no one to translate them,
21:37   and the burning of the national flag. Was this confirmed, about the flag?
22:08   Is it confirmed that the flag was burned? This will irritate a lot of people…
22:13   This is a crime according to Bulgarian law, as you know… How many crimes have they committed?
22:17   From their illegally entering Bulgaria… And so far there has not been a single convicted Afghan.
22:21   That’s why I said a moment ago; it’s crucial that all authorities
22:24   take a stand —You’re absolutely right. —By all authorities
22:27   I mean not just the executive — police, prosecutor’s office, the judiciary.
22:33   Let’s stop with these administrative punishments, the law foresees other measures.

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