March 17, 2016
CPT-Europe: "Sinking in the Sea and Walking for a Better World"
By Ronbir Mohammad
(This article is the first in a new series of reflections: "The Border is Everywhere.")
In the summer of 2013, I walked with a group of refugees and allies from Malmö in the South of Sweden to Stockholm, the Swedish capital, as part of what we called “Aylstafetten.” We wished to transform Sweden to a country where refugees would be treated as human beings. Many of the refugees walking with us had no legal status and were “without papers.” For many of them, it was the first time experiencing solidarity from so many white Europeans.
As we moved in the capital amidst its power dynamics, some of those same dynamics were reproduced among the walkers, whether we wanted it or not. Some of us were white Swedes, others non-white Swedes born in Sweden, some non-white Swedes born outside Sweden who had acquired citizenship, others refugees with residence permits, and some refugees lacking residence permits but present in the country legally. The most vulnerable were refugees without papers who could be captured at any time and deported to “their countries”.
But during the walk we were equals. Whether we were swimming in the blue lakes of Sweden, walking past the small red houses in the countryside, or handing out leaflets and shouting slogans, we were equals. We were equals when we enjoyed the tasty Afghan food our fellow comrades made, or when we were singing, reciting poetry, and giving each other massages. We were comrades. During the month we walked, conflicts broke out and were solved. Stories of love, jealousy, tears, and laughter. The solidarity between the walkers was so strong that sometimes, as I was simply walking along and smoking, my heart was so filled with joy I wanted to shed tears.