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Idomeni camp is 'big violation of human rights': Ai Weiwei

Wednesday, March 09, 2016 - 01:03

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei condemns conditions at the Greek border camp where thousands of migrants remain trapped after Macedonia closed its border to illegal migrants. Rough Cut - Subtitled (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT - SUBTITLED (NO REPORTER NARRATION) China's renowned artist and activist Ai Weiwei visited the Greek border camp of Idomeni with his film crew on Wednesday (March 9). Some 14,000 people are stranded there after new border restrictions were imposed along the Balkan migration route. Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia said on Tuesday (March 8) they would place new restrictions on the entry of migrants and Macedonia responded on Wednesday by closing its border completely to illegal migrants, a police official said. Ai walked around the makeshift camp speaking with the migrants - seeing for himself the difficult conditions they have to brave as they wait to cross over to Macedonia and continue their trek northwards to wealthier European states. Ai, known for his criticism of China's human rights record, said he was witnessing a "huge, big violation of human rights" in the middle of Europe. "What we have seen here is almost unbelievable, you know. If you say this is in the middle of Europe, all the people stuck here, and there's no hope for them even to be transferred to anywhere else, you know. It's just in the rain, in the cold, and women, children, all the people waiting for some bread, or some dry clothes, and this is a very sad situation and people have no hope because the door is closed, totally shut off. I think this is a huge, big violation of human rights, right in front of us. I don't know what is going to come out from this, but in Lesbos people still come in thousands every day, and here nobody tells them what to do, and they stay here, still having hope to go to Germany or some other location, but I think, as the sky is getting darker and I don't think there's much hope for them," he said. People fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond have flooded into the EU since early 2015, most making the perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, then heading north through the Balkans to Germany. But a cascade of border shutdowns in the Balkans has caused the blocking of the so-called 'Balkans corridor' used by more than a million people since the migratory wave started a year ago. More than 34,0000 people are now trapped on Greece's islands and mainland. At an emergency EU-Turkey summit on Monday (March 7), aimed to stem the migrant influx to Europe, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told leaders of the bloc Ankara was willing to take back all migrants who enter Europe from Turkey in future in return for financial aid, faster EU entry talks and quicker visa-free travel for its citizens. EU leaders aim to work out key details with Turkey by the next scheduled summit on March 17-18. European Council President Donald Tusk said the outcome would show migrants that there was no longer a path into Europe for people seeking a better life.

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Idomeni camp is 'big violation of human rights': Ai Weiwei

Wednesday, March 09, 2016 - 01:03