Croatia is ready for Schengen, but has yet to face the consequences for Madina Hussiny

During the past few weeks, an increasing number of people on the move can be seen passing through some of the larger, as well as smaller, towns and cities in Croatia in search of safety and protection. For months now, the main train station in Zagreb has served as a home to many different groups of people – those seeking protection as well as those passing through on their way to other countries, where some of them have family members, established communities, job opportunities. A growing number of people is also present in Rijeka, with hundreds of people sleeping night after night at the main bus station and the surrounding area, in highly inappropriate and inhumane conditions. Some citizens of Rijeka have been giving out food and toiletries through solidarity initiatives, while there is also an awareness on the city level that the situation bears marks of a humanitarian crisis beyond the competencies of the City of Rijeka and that urgent action is needed. A similar awareness is also present in towns like Pazin, which are also seeing a growing number of people passing through.

During the past few weeks, Zagreb has joined global expressions of solidarity with Iranian women and men standing up against the repressive regime in Iran after the death of Jina (Mahsa) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, who died after being arrested by the Iranian religious police, with eyewitnesses reporting police brutality and violence as the cause of death. Following her death, protests emerged in Kurdish areas of Iran and spread across the country and beyond. In Zagreb, the protest was held in front of the Iranian embassy, where our new fellow citizen, Samaneh from Iran, commented on the situation faced by Iranian women and cut her hair in solidarity with the women of Iran. Samaneh talked to Croatian Television about her life and fleeing Iran. You can watch her interview here. We also direct your attention to the interview of Soran Ghasemi on N1, in which he talks about his situation and fighting the regime in Iran, where he converted to Christianity thus becoming a target, as well as in Croatia, where he is fighting for the right to asylum.

It is important to note that the slogan that spread with the protests and that was also taken up in Western expressions of solidarity with the women of Iran – “Women, Life, Freedom” – originated in the Kurdish women’s liberation movement (as “jin, jiyan, azadî”), and in its use we must never disregard its origin nor ignore its revolutionary significance, which was realised in practice in the Kurdish autonomous administration of Rojava. The discrimination against Kurds by the Iranian state includes the ban on the use of Kurdish names – because of this, many Kurds in Iran register their children under one name, while using another at home. This was also the case with Jina Amini, which is why it is important that her Kurdish identity, which may have contributed to the brutal reaction of the religious police, is not erased thereby further diminishing the position of women belonging to minority communities in Iran, who are being further marginalised and oppressed by the regime, not only because they are women, but also because they are Kurds, activists, Baloch, non-Muslims and so on.

In other news from Croatia, the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) has confirmed that new investigations are being conducted in the case of the death of little Madina Hussiny, as part of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, which established five serious violations of the human rights of the Hussiny family by the Croatian state. After the judgement, Croatia was given a deadline of six months to submit an action plan to the Committee of Ministers, which should contain general and individual measures to prevent the injuries suffered by the Hussiny family from ever happening again. According to the Office of the Representative of Croatia before the ECtHR, Croatia sent the plan, however, the Ombudswoman points out that only a partial plan was sent, and that general measures must be added in addition to the individual measures.

Croatia has met all the criteria for joining the Schengen area and there are no obstacles to becoming a full member without internal border controls, said the rapporteur of the European Parliament, in charge of drafting the opinion on Croatian membership in the Schengen area, Paulo Rangel, presenting the draft report at the session of the European Parliament’s Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). The European Council for Refugees and Exiles wonders why European Union standards for accession are so low and how quickly the EU forgets about Croatia’s inhumane treatment of refugees and human rights violations that occur on Croatian borders and within its territory?

A number of organizations, institutions and individuals called on the Croatian government to provide access to the asylum system for Russian citizens who refuse to fight in Ukraine and, in accordance with legal and international obligations, to grant international protection to all Russian deserters. As stated in the appeal: “EU member states, including Croatia, have a moral obligation to protect all opponents of Putin’s policy in Russia. The legal obligations of EU member states to provide international protection to anyone threatened with persecution, torture or death upon returning to the country, as well as those escaping forced mobilisation in this cruel war, are also clear. The humane actions of Croatia and the EU are therefore evidently clear: offer asylum and protection to those escaping Putin’s mobilisation effort.”

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