Tech & Rights

Zagreb Activists Arrested for Painting 'Open the Borders for All'

Activists are arrested and questioned for spray-painting the message "Open the borders for all" on a rooftop in Zagreb, a city where graffiti featuring Nazi symbols and hate speech abounds.

by Danela Žagar
For Croatian authorities, it is more important to protect foreign officials from unpleasant messages than to protect freedom of expression. (Image: Michael Shaheen - Flickr/CC content)
Two activists from the "Welcome" initiative were arrested and questioned by police after painting the message - a show of support for refugees - while foreign diplomats were in Zagreb for official meetings.

The activists were arrested on November 24, shortly after painting their message. The official charge given was violating the protocol of the meeting of Croatian PM Zoran Milanović and President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and the regional summit that included Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Open the 'Balkan route'

After the arrest, firemen went to paint over the "Open the borders for all" message, which was addressed to the European and American leaders meeting at the recent regional summit in Zagreb. The message referred to the current practice of countries on the so-called Balkan route to accept only refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, while others are not allowed to enter Europe.

The message was written on the roof of the Medika building, which represents one of the most important areas of independent culture in Zagreb, and this act of censorship represents a serious blow to the freedom of speech and expression.

Stop war, not people!

In a country where Nazi features and other hate messages are often not erased, this message against war and violence, and in support of the protection of human dignity, is quickly erased. Also, it is sad that for Croatian authorities, it is more important to protect foreign officials from allegedly unpleasant messages than to protect citizens' freedom of expression.

The “Welcome!” initiative does not give up on its demands for secure passage for all individuals who are coming to Europe in search for security! Instead of losing Europe between wires and fences, bans and inhumane treatment under the pretext of security, we, the citizens, appeal one more time to the all leaders that have gathered at the aforementioned summit: Stop the wars, not the people!


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