Open Border Conference. Creating Shared Spaces of Struggles: Refugee Support and No Border Activism in Times of Fortress Europe

Wienwoche festival

Venue of the workshop:

Transform Europe
Gusshausstraße 14/3
1040 Vienna

Venue of the public discussion:

Theater Odeon
Taborstraße 10
1020 Vienna

transform! europe at the 2020 Wienwoche festival for art and activism in Vienna.


Additional information:

  • The workshop is separated from the public event: It is held on the 9th and 10th of September during the day while the public event will take place on the 11th of September.
  • Not all workshop participants will and want to participate in the public event. Nevertheless, as registration is mandatory due to COVID-19 regulations, the organizing team booked two places for each participating organisation in advance.
  • The panel discussion opened up a controversial discussion about the need to invite representatives of international institutions who are directly complicit in crimes, torture and human rights violations against people on the move. Alternative ways in how such a panel discussion could be staged have to be further elaborated and discussed.
  • Due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, some participants might join the workshop online. Access links will be provided some days ahead of the event.
  • Snacks, drinks and lunch will be provided during the workshop sessions. We also offer the possibility of joint dinner after the workshop.
  • If needed, childcare is offered during the workshop sessions. Please contact the organizing committee in advance.

Urgent questions and support during the conference:

Klaudia Wieser: 0043 664 1682629


9 September, 10:00 – 5:00 pm


10:00 – 1:00 pm: Contextualizing Struggle(s) and Practice(s) of Solidarity

Leading questions of this session:

  • How to work together in solidarity and/or partnership instead of re-affirming dominant structures by paternalistic approaches (towards people on the move as well as between activists in different parts of the EU) and charity?
  • How can we negotiate different positionalities between humanitarian assistance and radical no border activism?
  • How to include migrant struggles for freedom of movement into agendas and struggles of emancipatory organisations, such as social movements and trade unions?
  • How to recognize and commonly develop agency of all people concerned? How to find ways for everybody to express him_her_theirself and for these expressions to be recognized?
  • How to deal with conflicts in a constructive way? What are the participants good practice stories?

We will start this first session by a round of introductions of the groups present and would invite you to present your first thoughts on the questions above as part of this presentation of 5 minutes.

We shall then have an introduction into the theme by Emina Buzinkic (Transbalkanska Solidarnost) before we open up general discussion

Moderation: Monika Mokre

1:00 – 2:00 pm: Lunch Break

2:00 – 5:00 pm: Speaking Truth to Power: Media Work: Who sets the agenda?

Focus: Transnational documentation, media work and actions

Leading questions of this session:

  • How to develop a general discourse of common problems and chances?
  • How can we twist the logic of mainstream narration about migration and people on the move?
  • How can we include citizen journalism, self-documentation of people on the move and archiving projects of various struggles?
  • How to confront the mainstream discourse of exclusion and extremely limited charity?

Input: Syrian Archive (not confirmed, online), Rubia Salgado (maiz/ das kollektiv), Nidzara Ahmetasevic (Transbalkanska solidarnost, independent journalist), Kid Pex (SOS Balkanroute), 10-15 min

Moderation: Klaudia Wieser

10 September, 10:00 – 5:00 pm


10:00 – 1:00 pm: Extra-Legal Conditions and Multidirectional Migrant Movements

Leading questions of this session:

  • What are the limitations and possibilities of legal support under the current status quo in your respective areas of work/countries?
  • How do activist, support networks and people on the move navigate (and resist) within extra- legal conditions within the European border regime?
  • How do we analyse political, social and economic frameworks, which result to tendencies to militarize and securitize the European border regime? How can we develop a common understanding of this complexities?

Input: Lukas Gahleitner (Asylkoordination), Kolpa Group, Afrique-Europe Interact, Asylum Protection Center (online), Gianfranco Schiavone (Consorzio Italiano di Solidarieta), 10 min

After the inputs, we shall invite all participants to add further information on legal and extra-legal situations. We shall then try to summarize with regard to those problems affecting us all.

Moderation: Katerina Anastasiou (transform! europe)

Discussant: Monika Mokre

1:00 – 2:00 pm: Lunch Break

2:00 – 3:30 pm: Future Common Struggles

  • What are the common fields of struggle on and within the European border regime?
  • Ideas for concrete projects/ campaigns to follow up the workshop
  • We shall first discuss these issues in groups (3 groups, one of them the online group) for 30 minutes before bringing our ideas to the plenum.

3:30 – 5:00 pm: Future Perspectives for People on the Move in Europe? Responsibilities and crimes of European institutions

  • Structure, organization and action of international institutions and European Union agencies. How can we intervene?
  • Preparation for panel discussion at the opening of wienwoche on the 11th of September

Moderation: Katerina Anastasiou (transform! europe)

11 September, 5:30 – 7:00 pm

Public Panel Discussion

Invited speakers so far:

  • European Commission: Wolfgang Bogensberger (confirmed)
  • UNHCR: Christoph Pinter (confirmed)
  • ICMPD: Martin Wagner (confirmed)
  • Sans Papiers: Emmanuel Mbolela (confirmed, video message)
  • maiz/ das kollektiv: Rubia Salgado (confirmed)
  • +?
  • moderation: Monika Mokre