During the first week of March, the Morocco-Spain border of Melilla (an autonomous Spanish city located in North Africa), experienced its biggest wave of illegal migrants. Nearly 3,700 people attempted to cross the border’s fence in just two days. Approximately 891 of them made it to Europe.
While the Spanish government opened its doors to Ukrainian refugees, on the other side of the Mediterranean, thousands of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa were beaten up with batons by the Spanish border police.
As we can see in the video that went viral on social media, a young man climbs over the fence and is severely beaten up by the police once he lands on the soil of Spain.
— RTVE Melilla (@RTVEMelilla) March 3, 2022
As we witnessed acts of inhumanity, the Spanish interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who is responsible for the Spanish security forces, defended this act as being “proportionate.”
On March 3 in Madrid, Santiago Abascal, the president of Vox, a far-right national conservative political party in Spain, supported the acts of Spanish border policemen towards African migrants, comparing them to Ukrainian refugees and saying that the latter are refugees of war and deserve to be welcomed in Europe, but not other refugees.
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“Everyone should fully understand what is the difference between this flow of refugees that there is today and the invasion of young men of military age and of Muslim origins who crossed different borders of Europe with the intention to destabilize and colonize it,” Santiago Abascal said.
As the videos and images went viral on social media, thousands of people denounced Spain’s hypocrisy when it comes to refugees from Sub-Saharan African countries and the Middle East, as opposed to their immediate receptivity to hosting Ukrainian refugees.
The clips shot by RTVE Melilla (shown below) prove how outrageous and saddening the conditions of African migrants at the Morocco-Spain border are.
— RTVE Melilla (@RTVEMelilla) March 3, 2022
Into the bargain, the Spanish government and some Spanish newspapers insisted on the “brutality” that some of the police forces experienced without even mentioning the savagery that was inflicted on the migrants.
Virginia Álvarez, head of Internal Policy and refugee and migration expert at Amnesty International Spain, summed up the situation:
“The whole world is horrified by the images from the war in Ukraine, and the European Union will grant immediate protection in EU countries to people of Ukrainian nationality fleeing the conflict in the country….But meanwhile, at our own borders, migrants are punished with extreme brutality: is that the image we want to project, is this how we are going to receive those who also come from possible conflicts or persecution?”
Although this was the largest wave of illegal migrants for Melilla, this kind of incident is not new to Spain’s border with Morocco.
For years now, the same acts of brutality against African migrants have been happening and are well-documented.
Virginia Álvarez does not mince her words:
“Spain has been violating international law on its border for years, we have already seen this cruel treatment on too many occasions. However, nobody seems to do anything about it. We demand an exhaustive and immediate investigation into the possible cases of forced returns that have occurred, which are contrary to international law, as well as the deplorable excessive use of force that agents are using against migrants.”
On the other hand, the migrant incident at Melilla caused the Spanish government to point out the part that Morocco has taken in the rising wave of migrants from North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa over the past years.
In a tweet, Santiago Abascal, the Vox party leader, accuses Morocco of “throwing thousands of men against the border at Melilla” and says that the army should be deployed as soon as possible. Note that the latter is out of favor of Spanish human rights activists who consider his ways as “old-fashioned” and have pointed him out for his incendiary speeches, which are reminiscent of the air of colonialism.
Marruecos ha lanzado a miles de hombres contra nuestra frontera en Melilla.
Debe desplegarse el ejército cuanto antes.
Nuestra frontera sur está bajo ataque permanente.
Ni el gobierno ni el PP quieren afrontar lo evidente https://t.co/p7YOuOFovb
— Santiago Abascal 🇪🇸 (@Santi_ABASCAL) March 2, 2022
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: The fence around the Spanish enclave of Melilla, 2006. Featured Photo Credit: Noborder Network/Sara Prestianni