From Iceland — No Human Is Illegal

No Human Is Illegal

Published August 25, 2023

No Human Is Illegal
Photo by
Art Bicnick

No Borders Iceland continues its fight

Among the organisations in Iceland fighting for a more humane treatment of refugees is the activist collective No Borders Iceland. 

A movement transcending Iceland, No Borders is a loose network of groups primarily based in Europe. Its ideological foundation rests on the anarchist principles of the absolute freedom of movement and the abolition of borders. 

“The idea is to renounce the concept of the nation-state and fight for people’s freedom of movement – absolute freedom,” says an anonymous source within the group. “There is no authority that should define what people can do and where they can be. It’s irrelevant.” 

The state – and its policies against people – are racist.

Although a radical idea in this era, many of the group’s supporters don’t necessarily define themselves as anarchists.

“The idea of the nation-state rests on dividing people into desirable and undesirable; where they were born in the world; what colour they are; race and such – based on racist ideas. This is what we’ve always fought against,” says the informant. 

Coming together in times of need

Iceland’s first No Border group started its operations in 2011. The group is not a registered organisation in any way, choosing to work outside the state’s periphery. “That can be useful because, according to the state, we don’t exist,” they mention. 

The collective’s main operations are most prominent during periods when political injustice against migrants is noticeable. In 2019, mass protests against the forced deportations of asylum applicants took place in Reykjavík. Protesters and refugees alike set up camp in Reykjavík’s Austurvöllur – located right in front of Alþingi – to raise awareness, demanding justice. 

“The movement has perhaps never been as pronounced during those demonstrations. I think it had the effect of making refugees more visible than before.” 

In recent weeks, the newly enforced Foreigners Act has exhibited its long-reaching effects. One of its stipulations include depriving asylum applicants of all social, medical and housing supports, lest they comply with the government’s orders to leave the country. 

The Icelandic state is a participant in crimes against people.

“The state – and its policies against people – are racist. It is saturated by racism and racial separation. We’ve seen its manifestation these last few weeks clearly. Where white people in power pretend to be in the position of telling people from Africa that they’re illegal. That they aren’t human and that they should live in the streets,” they comment. 

According to No Borders, the Icelandic state doesn’t only commit atrocities domestically, but also internationally, as part of the Frontex project – the control of Europe’s external borders. “The Icelandic state is a participant in crimes against people,” they state. “We see the consequences of Frontex in the Mediterranean, where people die every day due to Europe’s aggressive border policy. Iceland is a participant in what I would call the holocaust of our time,” No Borders’ spokesperson claims. 

Solidarity is not a crime

Asked how people can show support, No Borders point to Solaris – a humanitarian aid organisation working for the betterment of asylum seekers and refugees in Iceland. Currently, due to the high number of migrants being forcibly displaced from their shelters and facing uncertain conditions, Solaris is raising funds for emergency relief. 

During the 2019 demonstrations, several activists were detained and prosecuted, allegedly for not following police orders. Although the domestic court cases have now been closed, some of them have been sent to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where they await processing. “These cases are examples of people fighting against a system that prevents them from expressing their democratic right,” No Borders say. 

People interested in supporting the cause can alleviate the activists’ legal costs through the Styr solidarity fund. 

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