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The biopolitical border in practice: surveillance and death at the Greece--Turkey borderzones.

Abstract. This paper examines biopolitical control practices at the Greece--Turkey borders and addresses current debates in the study of borders and biopolitics. The Greek and Frontex authorities have established diverse surveillance mechanisms to control the borderzone space and to monitor, intercept, apprehend, and push back migrants or to block their passage. The location of contemporary borders has been much debated in the literature. This paper provides a nuanced understanding of borders by demonstrating that while borders are diffusing beyond and inside state territories, their practices and effects are concentrated at the edges of state territories--ie, borderzones. Borderzones are biopolitical spaces in which surveillance is most intense and migrants suffer the direct threat of injury and death. Applying biopolitics in the context of borderzones also prompts us to revisit the concept. While Foucault posits that biopolitics is the product of the historical transition away from sovereign powers controlling territory and imposing practices of death towards governmental powers managing population mainly through pastoral, productive, and deterritorialized techniques, the case of the Greece--Turkey borderzones demonstrates that biopolitics operates through sovereign territorial controls and surveillance, practices of death and exclusion, and suspension of rights. This study also highlights the fact that, despite the biopolitical realities, migrants continue to cross the borders.

Keywords: Greece--Turkey borders, surveillance, biopolitics, border ethnography, migration control, human rights


In recent years the Greece--Turkey borders have become the main points of irregular entry into the European Union (EU). Two routes have been used by the migrants: the Aegean Sea route and the Evros land/river route. In response to the flow of migration, the Greek and Frontex (the EU border Agency) authorities have established diverse surveillance technologies at the borders. Technologies already in use include thermal cameras, thermo-vision vans, patrol units, helicopters, planes, a fence, radar surveillance systems, the Surveillance Operational Center, and Geographical Information Systems (GIS); full operationalization of the National Coordination Center, and EUROSUR (European Border Surveillance System) and its satellites and drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) is in process. These technologies render the borderzone space controllable. The Greek and Frontex authorities rely on these technologies to monitor, intercept, apprehend, and push back migrants or to block their passage.

For the migrants, surveillance is a matter of life and death. Many migrants have drowned in unsafe vessels in the Aegean Sea and Evros (Meric) river while trying to cross the borderzone quickly to avoid detection; many families have been separated after crossing; many have got lost at night; many have been intercepted at the borderzones, pushed back by the Greek authorities, and abandoned to death; many have tried their chances of entry multiple times, even after surviving pushback, interception, and boat incidents, each time risking their lives. Between 1994 and 2010, there were 952 migrant deaths at the Greece--Turkey borderzones (UNITED, 2010), and there have been more than 300 deaths since 2010 (Infomobile, 2012; ProAsyl, 2013). The real numbers are likely much higher, since not every case is reported. Cases of mental and physical injury have not been documented but seem to be countless (MSF, 2010).

These realities demonstrate that the Greece--Turkey borderzones are biopolitical spaces where surveillance intensifies and migrant lives are held hostage. An equally important characteristic of the borderzones is their indeterminate legal status between sovereign power and human rights. While all border control activities directly or indirectly violate human rights and international refugee law, border authorities maintain that their operation is their sovereign territorial right. While all migrant deaths and injuries directly or indirectly result from border control activities, the authorities blame human smugglers and harsh geographical conditions for the migrant deaths and injuries. Practically speaking, then, borderzones are spaces where human rights are suspended in favor of sovereign practices, and migrants are left to die. This is not to imply that human rights do effectively exist for migrants outside of the borderzones, but rather to emphasize that human rights violations for migrants are concentrated at the borderzones.

Drawing on the empirical realities of the Greece-Turkey borderzones, this paper addresses current debates in the study of borders and biopolitics. Within border studies, many scholars have argued that contemporary borders can no longer be understood as territorially fixed spaces that are located only at the edges of states; that borders now extend beyond and inside state territories through preemptive surveillance and diffused security checks (eg, Balibar, 2002; Bigo 2011; Broeders and Hampshire, 2013; Dijstelbloem and Meijer, 2011; Lyon 2005; Rumford 2008; Vaughan-Williams, 2010). Some others have pointed out that borders are further solidifying at the edges of states through fences and walls that are equipped with digital surveillance technologies (eg, Brown, 2010; Rosiere and Jones, 2012; Vallet and David, 2012). Moving from "the concept of the border to the notion of bordering practice" as suggested by Parker and Vaughan-Williams (2012, page 729, original emphasis), this paper provides a nuanced understanding of borders by demonstrating that while borders are diffusing beyond and inside state territories, it is at the edges of states--ie, borderzones--that their techniques and effects are concentrated.

The characteristics of the borderzones also urge us to reconsider the concept of biopolitics, which has become a "buzzword" in diverse literatures (Lemke, 2011, page 1), often used without much critical reflection. Contrary to his methodological commitment to studying the material and complex practices of power, Foucault implies a progressive transformation from a sovereign mode of power that is concerned with exerting control over territory and practices of death to a modern biopolitical one, which manages the population primarily with productive and deterritorialized techniques of security. However, the case of the Greece--Turkey borderzones demonstrates that sovereign territorial surveillance, practices of death and exclusion, and suspension of rights are all central aspects of biopolitical control.

The claims in this paper are based on in-depth interviews with the Greek, Frontex, and Turkish border authorities at the Evros border region (1); representatives and fieldworkers from migrant-rights NGOs and political groups in Greece and in Turkey*2*; and migrants who crossed the border irregularly. (3) All interviews were conducted between May and September 2012. Additional evidence has been drawn from documents and reports produced by the EU, Frontex, Greece, Turkey, NGOs, and political groups.

This paper is divided into three main sections. In the discussion that follows, the paper first engages with the debates in border studies and biopolitics literatures to develop an analytical framework for understanding the biopolitics of borderzones. Second, the paper demonstrates how biopolitical controls operate over migrants at the Greece--Turkey borderzones. The final section concludes by summarizing the findings and arguments in the paper.

Biopolitics of borderzones

The location of contemporary borders has been much debated in the literature (Johnson et al, 2011). In line with Balibar's renowned argument on the "vacillation of borders" (2002, page 89), many scholars have demonstrated that contemporary borders move inside and beyond the territories of states through such techniques as visa policies, carrier sanctions, employment of liaison officers, biometric databases, electronic identity cards, diffused surveillance over disadvantaged groups, and profiling of travellers (eg, Balibar, 2002; Bigo, 2011; Broeders and Hampshire, 2013; Dijstelbloem and Meijer, 2011; Lyon, 2005; Rumford, 2008; Vaughan-Williams, 2010). Some other scholars have pointed out that borders are in the process of solidification at the edges of states, as evidenced by the global expansion of walls and fences, often equipped with digital surveillance technologies such as cameras and radars, in the last ten years (eg, Brown, 2010; Rosiere and Jones, 2012; Vallet and David, 2012).

While scholarship on 'border is everywhere' has shown that borders can no longer be understood simply as territorial lines, overemphasis on the diffusion of borders may run the risk of obscuring an accurate understanding of how contemporary borders function. Speaking of the Greece--Turkey borders, for example, while it is true that Schengen visa policies, carrier sanctions, liaison officers, and database technologies (such as the Schengen Information System and Visa Information System), function as remote and mobile borders, the effects of these instruments are limited in their scope. They operate over relatively rich migrants who attempt to enter the EU from regular border crossing points, using either legal or forged documents. For many others, such instruments have deterrent effects more than diffuse ones. Having no prospect of reaching the EU with legal documents and no money to afford forged documents, these migrants end up at the borderzones where they encounter diverse surveillance practices. While some of these practices (such as camera surveillance, identity checks, and police raids) are also found beyond borderzones, such as in urban contexts (4) they are concentrated primarily at borderzones. Migrants experience the most extreme effects of othering and abjection in the borderzone space. In fact, many migrants succeed in reaching Greece only after multiple attempts, and, therefore, experience the same effects over and over again.

The concept of biopolitics can be utilized as an analytical tool for understanding the complex nature of contemporary borders, which operate in both diffuse and concentrated forms. Foucault defines biopolitics as "the administration of bodies and the calculated management of life" (1998, page 140). This definition of biopolitics does not refer to a fixed locality; thus, any space where calculation is practiced to manage individuals can be considered a biopolitical space.

Such emphasis on calculation prioritizes the study of the practices and effects of borders. Here I am reminded of Foucault's methodological approach, which focuses on the material practices and effects of power rather than narratives about power. This emphasis on practice should not be understood as an empiricist perspective--the one that disregards what exists at a deeper level than the empirically observable (eg, Frauley, 2007). In the context of European borders, for instance, theorists such as Balibar and Wallerstein (eg, Balibar, 2004; Balibar and Walterstein, 1991) have demonstrated how the historical and material structure of European borders was formed via colonialism and racism, and sustained its core in the neoliberal globalized era. Other theorists, such as Ranciere (eg, 1999) and Zizek (eg, 2008, pages 199-288), in their different ways, have pointed out how this structure continued to operate within a postpolitical framework which reduces the political issue of migration to a managerial and technical one. But, following Foucault, one also has to study how this structure is practiced at the ground level in order to understand the current condition of borders and their specific effects--for structures need to be practiced in order to exist.

Following this methodological approach to practice, and drawing on empirical data, I argue that, while it is true that biopolitical practices are dispersed inside and beyond territorial borders, they are concentrated primarily at the borderzones, and have direct and brutal effects on migrants. Any biopolitical technique combined with misfortune or accident can have deadly consequences for migrants at the borderzones. This is not to suggest that borderzones clearly demarcate the 'inside' from the 'outside'. Speaking of the Greece-Turkey borderzones, there have been many cases of migrants who managed to reach Greek territory but were nevertheless forcefully pushed back or returned to the Turkish side. Surveillance practices, too, not only calculate Greek territory. Turkish territories are also calculated to ensure preemptive control of migrants before they reach the borderlines. Therefore, rather than fixed territorial lines, borderzones should be understood as extended spaces of biopolitical management that are located at the margins of states.

While Foucault's notion of biopolitics as practice is essential for understanding borderzones, his broader theory of biopolitics is somewhat vague and surprisingly teleological to fully capture all of these aspects of the borderzones. Despite his earlier methodological commitment to studying material practices of power with an archaeological and genealogical opposition to linear and totalizing narratives (Foucault, 2002; 2003a), Foucault's analysis of biopolitics as governmentality implies a "progressive unfolding" (Dupont and Pearce, 2001, page 134). According to Foucault, since the late 16th century (particularly from the 18th century onwards) there has been a transformation from sovereign powers exerting control over territories and practices of death to biopolitical and governmental ones that manage the population primarily with productive and deterritorialized techniques of security (2007; 2008). Although Foucault emphasized that we should not understand this passage as a replacement of one society by another (2007, page 107), his empirical focus still implied a gradual transformation. (5)

To begin with, Foucault's underestimation of territory is problematic. According to Foucault (2007), when we pass from sovereignty to biopolitics/governmentality, the primary concern of power shifts from territory to population. Following this argument, Foucault focuses on nonterritorial population management techniques such as the calculation of health risks and targeted medical campaigns (page 10), probabilistic calculation on future criminal activities (page 7), and the use of statistics and political arithmetic (pages 104-108). Even when he talks about space (for example in town planning), he is careful to point out that in the biopolitical era, space is minimally regulated in order to enable circulation and free passage, as opposed to enforcing enclosure and circumscription (page 18). Flowever, as Elden (2007; 2010; 2013) points out, there is no reason why the same calculative techniques that apply to population should not apply to territory. In fact, historical evidence suggests that territorial calculation techniques emerged around the same time as population calculation techniques (Elden, 2013). Here, the term 'territory' should not be confused with 'land,' which is owned and distributed simply for economic purposes (2007, page 574). As Elden puts it: "territory is more than merely land, but a rendering of the emergent concept of 'space' as a political category: owned, distributed, mapped, calculated, bordered, and controlled" (page 578).

At the borderzones, territorial calculations intensify with the help of diverse surveillance technologies. Although sovereign powers have historically applied various techniques of calculation to control territory (eg, Crampton, 2010, page 94; Elden, 2010, page 809), the development of digital surveillance technologies such as cameras, drones, integrated surveillance systems, and GIS-based risk analysis methods marks a significant change in how these calculations are carried out and in their effects on different groups (eg, Graham, 2005; Graham and Wood, 2003; Klauser, 2013; Lyon, 2007). Digital surveillance technologies automatically organize space for selective access. Migrant bodies are monitored, categorized, sorted, and excluded as these technologies are put to use at the borderzones.

If the importance of territorial calculations and surveillance in the operations of biopolitics is clear, then we should modify another problematic point in Foucault's biopolitics: his gradual prioritization of pastoral-productive aspects of power over repressive ones. Foucault's model of the shift away from sovereignty towards biopolitics implies that the primary purpose of power is to foster the life capacities of bodies, rather than to exclude them by law, or punish them using practices of death and exclusion. While in Society Must be Defended (2003b) and The History of Sexuality Volume I (1998), Foucault studied the productive aspects of power together with their dark side in repressive regimes, such as in the case of Nazi racism, his later emphasis, starting with Security, Territory, Population (2007), was largely on productive aspects of power under governmentality. Fie stated that biopolitics is more about indirect governance of the populations (see, eg, 2007, pages 87-110; 2008) with a pastoral care and concern that is recast under a modern secular format to make them productive (see, eg, 2007, pages 115-185; succinctly in 1982, pages 782-784). (6) Foucault's model of biopolitics may have still involved the exclusion of populations who pose a threat to the lives and freedoms of productive subjects. (7) But I would maintain not only that exclusion and death occupied a marginal place in his later empirical analysis (Agamben, 1998, pages 4-7), but that Foucault did not sufficiently analyze how different groups within the 'population' are treated differently as a result of structural inequalities (Dupont and Pearce, 2001; Fassin, 2009).

The claim that productive and pastoral aspects of power are dominant over repressive ones is a highly questionable one, given that groups from disadvantaged backgrounds are subjected to ever more intense repression, exclusion, and exploitation today, at both national and global levels. (8) Rather than ontologically prioritizing one form of power over another, one should, following the insights of Dupont and Pearce (2001) and Fassin (2009), take into account how material biopolitical practices are driven by, perpetuate, or mask structural inequalities. Such focus on the material-structural aspects of biopolitical practices is particularly important when studying borders--as borders always sort groups on the basis of their structural positions. (9)

In the context of the Greece-Turkey borders, it is highly doubtful whether border control policies really increase the productivity or protect the freedom of EU populations. Rather, as with the ongoing austerity measures which have had devastating effects on Greek society, these policies seem to protect primarily the interests of the EU elites and their contractors. (10) With regard to migrants, the picture is ever clearer. It is the practices of death and exclusion, which are all related to migrants' disadvantaged structural positioning in the global capitalist order, rather than productive and pastoral biopolitics that are the dominant aspects of power at the borderzones.

These practices of death and exclusion can actualize themselves only after the suspension of rights--another point that remains unclear in Foucault's work (Agamben, 1998, pages 5-6). Agamben's contribution to biopolitics is essential in this context. Agamben (1998) shows how sovereign powers suspend rights to produce the biopolitical body, or bare life. Under the sovereign suspension of rights, inside and outside become indistinguishable from each other and individuals are reduced to mere biological entities deprived of political status. They are, in other words, included only through their exclusion from the political community.

The ways in which borderzones operate largely fit into these descriptions. They operate as liminal spaces, or zones of indistinction, where human rights are suspended and migrant bodies exist only in so far as they can be excluded at any time by border practices. This is not to suggest that border control authorities do not strategize their deployment of law at the borderzones. Agamben, despite his largely undifferentiated understanding of sovereignty, hints at this point when he states that today "law is in force without significance" (1998, page 51, emphasis in original). But a Foucauldian emphasis on strategic calculation should also be applied to fully understand the operation of law at the borderzones. Just like territory, law is also calculated at the borderzones. Although all border control activities directly or indirectly violate fundamental human rights and the international refugee law,(11) all efforts are made by the Greek authorities to preempt the entry of migrants while they are still on the Turkish side, or to intercept them at the borderlines to discourage their passage--practices that they maintain as their sovereign territorial right. They then ask the Turkish authorities to apprehend migrants. While the practices of pushbacks and deportations from the Greek side also continue, they are carried out secretly and, thus, strategically. When migrants die or get injured as a consequence of these border operations--in riskier routes, in overcrowded or unsafe vessels, while rushing to avoid detection, or sometimes even during or after pushbacks and interceptions--the authorities simply deny the existence of pushbacks and blame human smugglers and harsh geographic conditions rather than referring to a sovereign right to kill migrants. (12) Yet, practically speaking, sovereign border practices reign supreme over human rights and migrants are abandoned to death at the borderzones. These realities of the borderzones also demonstrate the impotence of the humanitarianism-driven (rather than properly political) and state-centric and state-dependent regulations on human rights when these are measured against the sovereign suspension of rights (see Agamben 1998, pages 133-134; see also Lechte and Newman, 2013).

To sum up, territorial calculations and surveillance, practices of death and exclusion, and suspension of rights all play key roles in shaping and implementing biopolitical interventions at the borderzones. This is not to suggest that these apparatuses are successful in preventing migrant mobility and reducing migrants into homo sacers--devoid of not only protection but also agency. As I will demonstrate below, rather than preventing migration, surveillance technologies shift its route to risky areas that are harder to control; and migrants, despite the great risk, continue to cross from these areas and challenge biopolitical controls.

Surveillance and death at the Greece-Turkey borderzones

There are two crossing routes from Turkey to Greece: the Aegean Sea and the Evros land/river route. The migration route shifted from the Aegean Sea towards the Evros land river route in 2010 and has shifted back to the Aegean Sea since August 2012. There are also indications that the crossings from the Turkey-Bulgaria land route, which was unused in the previous years, are increasing. The majority of the migrants come from Afghanistan and Middle Eastern countries (recently mostly from Syria) as a result of wars, conflicts, and poverty. Migrants from many other Asian and African countries are also involved in smaller numbers.

The Greek and Frontex authorities have responded to migration flows by increasing surveillance capacities at the borders. Although the Greek authorities already possessed extensive surveillance equipment, they have continually updated their inventory with the financial support of the EU External Borders Fund. Frontex's involvement in border controls, with its own personnel, equipment, and budget, has also greatly increased the surveillance capacity at the borders. This involvement has been continuous at the Aegean Sea since 2008 and in the Evros region since 2010. Due to the secrecy of Frontex operations, there is no accurate information about the degree to which Frontex units are involved in border operations. But even if we were to assume that Frontex units have not taken part in actual pushback, deterrence, and diversion measures, their technical support has certainly facilitated such operations.

The involvement of Frontex in Greece is a continuation of its activities at the external borders of the EU, particularly southern coastlines, since 2005. (13) Despite ongoing criticisms by human rights groups, Frontex has gradually extended the scope of its activities not only in actual border operations but also through indirect means, such as new surveillance mechanisms developed in collaboration with private security corporations (particularly the EUROSUR), technologically mediated risk analysis, and cooperation agreements with the third countries. While all of these activities have directly or indirectly resulted in human rights violations, Frontex has not been held accountable.

There have been some efforts to make Frontex more respectful of human rights, especially for the principle of nonrefoulement, but ultimate responsibility still lies with the hosting member states. Attempts to hold Frontex accountable are further impeded by the lack of an effective complaints mechanism and the lack of transparency regarding their operations and their agreements with third countries (see O'Reilly, 2013; PACE, 2013). In these efforts, the indirect consequences of Frontex's surveillance and research and development activities on human rights are not problematized. Nor is the need to reinstate migrants as political subjects (rather than nonpolitical objects of humanitarianism) emphasized, or sovereignty of the hosting states sufficiently challenged. These realities also demonstrate the need to detach human rights from the humantitarian mercy of the state and to relocate it into the sphere of equal rights in order to effectively contest the logic and practice of sovereignty. (14)

The EU gives billions of euros to Frontex and major security corporations to develop EUROSUR and other systems to seal itself off from migrants (Hayes and Vermeulen, 2012; Hayes et al, 2014). Surveillance systems, however, cannot establish total control over border regions. Rather, they force migrants to find new and often riskier routes of crossing and to use riskier methods of entry. Prior to the construction of the fence, for instance, the 12.5 km land section of the Evros border was the most common crossing section, as it was the least dangerous one. Now that the land section of this border is 'sealed', many migrants cross over the Evros River and Aegean Sea using ever-riskier methods of entry and at great risk of death. Some others have begun using the Turkey--Bulgaria route, which was an unused route only a few years ago but no less dangerous. In other words, the primary effects of the technological systems are biopolitical rather than preventative.

Surveillance at the Aegean Sea

Migrants use boats or small ships to reach the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Patmos, Leros, Kos, Agathonisi, Farmakonisi, and Symi, which are located a few kilometers away from Turkey. In response, the Greek coast guards use patrol vessels and boats, helicopters, planes, thermal cameras, binoculars, night vision goggles, movable vehicles for coastal surveillance, land vehicles, and land-based radar surveillance systems to detect their entry. Full operationalization of the National Coordination Center (NCC) and EUROSUR is in process.

The Greek coast guards use offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), coastal patrol vessels (CPVs), high speed coastal patrol vessels (HSCPVs), very high speed coastal patrol vessels (VHSCPVs), high speed boats for special operations (HSBSOs), and rigid inflatable patrol boats in their operations (EBF, 2007, page 21-26). OPVs and CPVs are large (50-20 m long) and high-speed (25-10 knots) vessels with strong endurance. During patrols, planes and helicopters assist these vessels with their advanced maritime surveillance sensors (EBF, 2007, page 21-27). HSCPVs, VHSCPVs, and HSBSOs are smaller and faster vessels used in "urgent patrols ... mainly at night" (EBF, 2007, page 26). These vessels are deployed in locations that are harder to patrol with the OPVs and CPVs, such as "mountainous areas close to the coastline, hundreds of small bays and gulfs" (EBF, 2007, page 26). Movable land vehicles with sensors are also deployed in the mountainous and hilly coastal areas to detect approaching migrants. Other land vehicles include off-road vehicles, motorcycles, and vans. These units are used in apprehending migrants who have already disembarked (EBF, 2007, page 27). Frontex units support the Greek authorities with their own patrol vessels, helicopters, and planes (MCP, 2011).

While surveillance with vessels, air units, and land vehicles continues, the Greek and Frontex authorities have in recent years also installed land-based surveillance systems to monitor the situation at the Aegean Sea from a distance. The rationale here is to move from "patrolling driven (based on their patrolling without any support from land based infrastructure)" to "intelligence driven (significantly supported in the detection/identification of targets by the land based infrastructure)" surveillance (EBF, 2010, page 37).

The Greek coast guards already had the automatic identification system and vessels traffic management and information system. New systems include the NCC (EBF, 2009, page 32; 2012, page 7) and radar surveillance systems (EBF, 2010, pages 37-41; 2011, pages 35-37; 2012, page 41). The NCC is at the heart of these developments; it will gather data from all of these surveillance systems to establish immediate communication with the operational centers and patrol units (EBF, 2011, page 7).

The NCC will also form the basis of EUROSUR in Greece. EUROSUR is an EU-level system which has been developed by Frontex since 2008 and became partially operational in December 2013. Once in full operation, it will gather data from all the NCCs of the EU member states in a single center to establish continuous surveillance over the EU external borders. In addition to compiling data from existing land-based surveillance systems and air units, EUROSUR is also intended to gather data from satellites and drones.<15)

To summarize, surveillance at the Aegean Sea has gradually intensified over the years. The classic strategy of patrolling the sea with various types of vessels and air units is increasingly combined with 'smarter' systems, such as radars, satellites, and coordination centers. Expansion of surveillance over the borderzone space is driven by biopolitical rationalities of exclusion. Although when justifying the expansion of surveillance systems the Greek and EU authorities also point out the importance of these systems in search and rescue operations, their rhetoric is far from convincing. As I will demonstrate below, these systems are primarily used to intercept, apprehend, and push back migrants or to block their passage, either directly or indirectly causing many tragedies over the years. It is highly unlikely that this long-standing practice of the Greek and Frontex authorities would change with EUROSUR, especially given the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding their border operations. The truth is that even when they receive distress signals, the Greek authorities use these signals to locate and push back migrant boats towards Turkish territory instead of starting search and rescue missions (ProAsyl, 2013, page 28). 5

Death in the Aegean Sea

Three methods have been used by the Greek coast guards to prevent the entry of migrants. The first is through intercepting migrants at the borderlines and discouraging their passage, sometimes even by circling their boats and causing waves. The second is through intercepting migrants in Greek territorial waters, forcing them to return to the Turkish side, and/or towing them back and abandoning them in Turkish territorial waters. The third is through arresting migrants in Greek islands, forcing them back onto their boats, and forcing them to return or towing them back to Turkish territories (AI, 2013; HRW 2008; ProAsyl, 2007; 2013). See for instance the following interview:

Migrant (16): We stayed in [a neighborhood] in Istanbul for one month. Fifteen days in [another neighborhood]. Then we go to Izmir and crossed by boat. ... Then Greek police came and searched if we had drugs. Then they threw us into sea. There were eleven people in a small boat. They gave us one paddle and told us to go back to Turkey. It was almost night. We were scared. We almost lost our way. We did not know where to go. But somehow we found Turkey.

Even when they are not intercepted by the border authorities, crossing is not easy for the migrants. Many of them drown in the sea in overcrowded boats and ships. A migrant who witnessed a boat accident in 2010 stated that

"there was a big ship and a boat. I was in the big ship. The boat can carry four people, they use twelve people. Their boat was destroyed. The water was dangerous. They cannot find the dead body. Nothing to do, just sea."

As a result of expanding surveillance and antismuggling regulations, the number of crossings has dropped and the main migration route has shifted towards the Evros Region since 2010. With law 3772/2009 coming into force, human smugglers are now sentenced to imprisonment of ten or more years and a fine of 20000-50000 [euro]. While smuggling organizations have developed the counterstrategy of sending minors to operate the boats in order to avoid penalties, some local informants on Lesbos have stated that now even the minors, many of whom are Turkish boys from villages who have been deceived by smuggling organizations, are subjected to the same penalties.

Since August 2012, however, following the intensification of surveillance in the Evros region, the Aegean Sea route has become active again. This time, biopolitical effects are even more severe. Evidence from the latest NGO reports suggests that pushback and diversion operations continue with the same and even harsher methods, causing many tragedies (AI, 2013; ProAsyl, 2013). These reports demonstrate that many migrants are abandoned to die in the middle of the sea upon being pushed back, some die during pushback operations (ECRE, 2014), and a majority experience ill-treatment upon apprehension and during pushbacks. It can also be inferred from migrant narratives that remote surveillance systems are now used intensively in border operations. Many migrants, for instance, state that the coastguard vessels appeared close to them suddenly without them having noticed (ProAsyl, 2013, page 22).

The Aegean Sea is a biopolitical space where sovereign border practices reign supreme over human rights. While these practices violate human rights and international refugee law, the Greek authorities maintain that "the Greek coastguard has the right to prohibit the entry of illegal migrants" (cited in ProAsyl, 2013, page 17). When migrants die as a consequence of these operations, the authorities deny any responsibility (ProAsyl 2013, page 16).

These biopolitical realities, however, do not seem to prevent migrants from crossing the border. Even those who experience pushbacks continue risking their lives: "[after being pushed back] we go back to Istanbul. In Istanbul we found smugglers and came to Izmir again. This time it worked. After four and half hours we came to Mytilini." In response to the intensification of surveillance and harsh penalties on smuggling, however, migrants and smugglers have begun to use ever riskier methods of entry. One new strategy involves going directly from Turkey to Italy. This new route has increased the risk of death as it involves a longer journey. Another strategy is to use small (3-7 m long) rubber inflatable, high-speed, or wooden boats that are very difficult to detect or apprehend. These boats are, however, extremely dangerous in open seas, particularly in bad weather. Because human smugglers fear getting caught on the Greek side they usually do not escort the migrants now; they 'teach' one migrant how to drive the boat or ship on the road and then return to the Turkish coast in another boat. This new smuggling strategy has also increased the risk of the journey for migrants, who may easily get lost at sea or panic during pushbacks and apprehensions. (17) Migrants encounter the concentrated biopolitical effects of European borders while crossing the Aegean Sea borderzone. They can die at any point.

The cooperation between the Greek, Frontex, and Turkish authorities has increased in recent years (ProAsyl, 2013, page 21). Turkish Coast Guards survey the area with vessels, helicopters, mobile radars, and night vision systems (SGD, 2012, page 15). Those migrants apprehended by the Turkish authorities, however, receive inadequate assistance and ineffective protection and risk being expelled to their countries of origin, where they would face the threat of persecution. Between 2004 and 2008, out of 300666 apprehended migrants only 548 managed to apply for asylum and 258590 of them were deported back to their countries of origin (Multeci-Der, 2010, page 25; see also HRW, 2008). While a circular issued in March 2010 granted apprehended migrants the right to claim asylum, due to a lack of information there is still a risk of deportation (1HAD, 2013, pages 7-8). Even if asylum procedures presented no obstacles to migrants, it would still not be desirable for them to claim asylum in Turkey. Even with the 2013 Law on Foreigners and International Protection, which is yet to be implemented, Turkey maintains geographical limitations to the 1951 Refugee Convention and grants refugee status only to migrants from European countries, who constitute a very small minority (Soykan, 2012). Potentially, non-European migrants can be resettled to third countries (18) via the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. In practice, very few are resettled--most live in impoverished conditions (eg, Okyayuz and Angliss, 2014), and some, out of desperation, decide to risk their lives at the Greece-Turkey borders. These realities also demonstrate that, by means of apprehending, detaining, and sometimes expelling migrants who have done nothing more than try to reach the EU, Turkish authorities take part in the production of biopolitical bodies.

Surveillance at the Evros region

The Evros border between Greece and Turkey is 206 km long. There is a small, 12.5-km-long stretch of land along this border, but the rest of it consists of the Evros river, which functions as a natural demarcation line between the two countries. The river itself is made up of several branches that are connected at its base, and it contains small islands in some areas. The river is muddy and dark, with a strong current. Its edges are lined with trees and bushes. The entire region is forested. In the winter, the temperature in the region falls as low as ten degrees below zero. In groups of ten to twenty people, migrants use small boats to cross the river.

In their operations the Greek authorities use patrol vehicles, long-distance day goggles, night vision goggles, thermal cameras, mobile infrared cameras, thermovision vans (equipped with thermal cameras, day and night cameras, laser rangefinders, pulse radars surface, silent generators, and communications and data transfer systems), and helicopters (equipped with infrared and visual cameras, spotter cameras, and geographical coordinate systems) (EBF, 2007; 2008, page 17; 2009, pages 12-15; 2010, pages 11-13; 2011, pages 9-12). Although it is not stated in the official documents, they also use small boats to patrol the Evros river. Helicopters survey the area to assist the land and river units, while the thermovision vans, which are positioned at sections where migrants cross frequently, gather images of the area to direct the patrol units. Frontex units support these activities with their own planes, helicopters, thermovision vans, and patrol vehicles (MCP, 2011).

As with the Aegean Sea, there has been a shift in recent years away from patrol-intensive controls towards remote controls in the Evros region. Integrated border management systems, such as the surveillance operational center (SOC), are at the heart of this shift. In an interview the Greek head of the border operations stated that prior to the center opening, their job was much more difficult because they had to deploy units to many different sections of the border. Now, thanks to the center, he added, they can monitor the situation at the border, communicate with patrol units, and direct these units to the areas where migrants are approaching. The center gathers images from thermal cameras and vans positioned along the borderline. Not only is the Greek section of the border surveyed; the Turkish side is subjected to even more intensive surveillance to preempt the entry of migrants while they are still on Turkish territory. The Greek head of border operations stated that once they detect migrants approaching from the Turkish side, they first call the Turkish authorities to arrest them, and then they send patrol units to the nearby sections to prevent their entry. In the future, the SOC will form the backbone of the NCC and EUROSUR, further expanding these preemptive surveillance activities in the area.

Frontex units are tasked with establishing the SOC and EUROSUR at the region but they are also pioneers in using other 'smart' methods of surveillance. In an interview a Frontex officer stated that they deploy their units to specific areas of the borderzone based on methods of risk analysis. "They [Frontex] also have special teams here," he said,

"They stay on one hot spot ... because this border is sometimes penetrated by groups by twenty, forty, fifty illegals so you should be there at that moment. But that is why we have risk analysis and so on."

While the Frontex officer did not provide further information on how exactly they choose these 'hot' spots to deploy their units, in a Frontex conference a member of Frontex's risk analysis unit in the Evros region explained the central role of GIS in determining 'hot' spots along the border. GIS maps the location, time, and type of migrant interceptions to create geographical patterns of border crossings. These patterns are then used to deploy patrol units to specific areas (ED4BG, 2011).

The development of these 'smart' methods, however, does not mean conventional ones have lost their significance. The Greek government also constructed a fence covering the 12.5 km land section of the border in December 2012. The fence has day-and-night thermal cameras that survey the area and send images to the SOC. A few years ago, the section where the fence was built was one of the most common spots for crossings, because it was the least risky for migrants. Migrants simply crossed the river on the Turkish side and walked towards Greek territory. Since the construction of the fence, however, crossings from the land section have halted. But the fence covers only 12.5 km of the 206-km-long border. Rather than stopping migration, the fence has altered the route that it takes. Even the Greek head of border operations acknowledged this point in an interview, stating that

"The fence is going to be [the] solution to a problem on a particular point ... the migratory flows shifted to the river borders from the land borders. That's where we are going to place our interest in order to prevent them from entering."

Set in the larger context, the fence represents another step in the gradual expansion of surveillance in the region. The Evros region has been rendered calculable and controllable as a result of using the fence, SOC, GIS, helicopters, planes, thermal cameras, patrol units, and thermovision vans. These surveillance mechanisms have had biopolitical consequences for migrants by enabling the Greek and Frontex authorities to detect, intercept, apprehend, and push them back or to block their entry.

This is not to suggest that surveillance systems have established total control over the Evros region. Rather, as the Greek head of the border operations confirmed in an interview, these systems have shifted the migration route to areas that are harder to control for authorities and riskier to cross for the migrants, such as the forested sections of the Evros river; and thus, they have increased the biopolitical consequences for migrants rather than stopping their mobility.

Death in the Evros region (19)

Until 2009 land mines laid by the Greek Army in 1974 in a response to Turkey's military intervention in Cyprus were the main cause of death and injury in the Evros region. Over a hundred migrants died and 186 others were seriously injured in the minefields between 1995 and 2008 (LCMM, 2009). Most of the mines were cleared in 2009 but there are still some left. While these mines still constitute a threat to migrants, the biggest threats now are the pushback, interception, and diversion operations. These operations have a long history in the area but their tactics have changed somewhat over the years as a result of expanding surveillance.

A few years ago the most common practice was to arrest migrants on the Greek side then forcibly return them to Turkey (ProAsyl 2007, page 6). While in an interview the head of Greek border police denied the continued existence of this practice, material evidence suggests that it is still being used systematically, yet covertly. A couple of migrants who were sent back to the Turkish territories with this method stated that:

"They [the Greek police] don't listen [to] you. When you say something they were swearing, hitting you. And then they all deported us back. They look at [the] border and if there are no Turkish police they send [us] back to Turkey."

Some other migrants stated that they were transferred to the Turkish side across a bridge without being registered in Greece. NGOs reported other cases in which migrants were put on boats and sent back into the river at midnight (AI, 2012, page 4; ProAsyl, 2013, pages 29-32).

While pushbacks from Greek territories continue, now, with the help of surveillance technologies, the Greek and Frontex authorities direct all of their efforts towards intercepting migrants at the borderlines before they can enter Greek territory (see also AI 2012, page 4; ProAsyl, 2012, page 14). The Greek head of border operations nonchalantly confirmed this practice in an interview. Fie drew a simple map of the region. Pointing to the Greek side he said, "The Greek and Frontex forces are in this spot", adding,

"And if they observe many people [coming] from the Turkish side, they shout 'Stop! Stop here!' And after [that] they call the Turkish army to arrest them."

What he did not disclose was the fact that the border guards also shoot their guns into the air to discourage migrants from crossing the river. There were also some cases of the river patrol units damaging migrants' boats upon interception, leaving them no choice but to swim back to the Turkish side (AI, 2012, page 4).

The reason why Greek authorities acknowledge interceptions and diversions at the borderline, while denying the existence of pushbacks from Greek territory, is their belief that only the latter practice constitutes refoulement, in violation of international refugee law. They regard interceptions and diversions at the borderlines simply as their sovereign territorial right. Thus, law is not simply suspended; it is strategically suspended at the borderzones.

As a result of ongoing pressure from the EU, Turkish authorities do seem to be responding to apprehension requests from the Greek side recently. Upon locating migrants on the Turkish side, Greek authorities call their Turkish counterparts and provide an area code using Google Earth. The Turkish authorities then direct their units to these areas to apprehend the migrants. Turkish authorities signed a memorandum of understanding with Frontex in May 2012, participated in numerous meetings throughout 2012 and 2013 with Greek and Frontex officials, initialized a readmission agreement with the EU in December 2013 (to be completed when the EU lifts visa requirements for Turkish citizens), and started to update their border surveillance systems using EU funds. While such systems as fixed thermal cameras, radars, night vision devices, sensors, patrol vehicles, communication systems, and (unspecified) aerial vehicles were already in use (SYB, 2006, page 27), new projects include the establishment of integrated surveillance systems, improvement of cooperation with the Greek authorities, and training of professional border guards to replace army soldiers (DIAB, 2012, pages 127-130). The experiences of migrants apprehended at the Evros river by Turkish authorities are similar to those of migrants stopped at the Aegean Sea. They are confronted by an ineffective protection system and low life prospects, and they sometimes return again to risk their lives at the borderzones.

Once pushed back or blocked by the Greek authorities, however, migrants do not simply wait around to get arrested by the Turkish authorities. They return to the Turkish side, hide under trees and bushes for a while, and attempt to cross again from another section of the border. But even when migrants do not encounter border authorities, this does not mean that they have an easy passage. Being aware that they can be detected at any point, migrants rush towards the river. As in the Aegean Sea region, smugglers do not accompany them most of the time for fear of getting caught. They provide the boats, put as many migrants as they can into them, push the boats into the river, and then disappear. See for instance the following interview:

Migrant (20): They [smugglers] usually use some economics boats. Because when they send one boat it means that they are sending a boat that will not come back. They try to put more people. Not eight people. Twelve, fifteen, or twenty people, children and women.

Interviewer: Why do they use boats that will not come back?

Migrant: They don't want to take the risk. Because if they stay like one hour in the border they will be catch by the police. Sometimes they kick people. They say 'go go soon'. The time when you cross the border everyone wants to go, they are hurried ... to catch a little more of Greece border. Because if the police catch you in the border, in the borderline, they will send you back to Turkey. Interviewer: What happens if something happens and they cannot cross?

Migrant: If the Greek police come and return people back, then they will try again.

It is important to highlight that most of these activities take place at night, in the cold, and that the migrants often include entire families with children. Stories about this kind of

crossing situation reveal extreme instances of panic and horror. Many boats get stuck in branches and are overturned in the river. Many migrants, including children who do not know how to swim, fall off the boats and drown, while the rest of the group continue the journey. Many get trapped in the small islands in the Evros river and scream until morning, hoping that someone will hear and rescue them. Many others, who succeed in reaching the Greek side by swimming, are seriously injured. Many get separated from their families. Migrants face the biopolitical reality of Europe's borders in its crystallized form when crossing the borderzones. They are under direct threat of death and injury.

A migrant who crossed the borderzone in a separate boat and lost his entire family during the crossing said: "we were waiting for my family inside of Greece ... the families were coming. But from one family they lost one small girl. Ten years old girl. And my parents. They did not come.... It was two o'clock of the night.... It was the last boat. Nobody saw them later." A father who lost his daughter during the crossing stated: "when we cross the river, our boat suddenly destroyed. I saved my three children and my wife. And then I tried again to save my daughter. It was night and it was dark. She disappeared." Another migrant whose boat was overturned during the crossing stated that "we crossed with nine people. We were all men. We fall into river. We swim. But one person drowned. He did not know swimming well." Another one who crossed the border noted: "I have seen a lot of dead bodies around the river. There are sides of the river; there were trees. And you can look at the side of the trees there were dead bodies." A few others stated that they saw snakes inside and around the river. There are also precrossing stories that need to be emphasized. The journey from Istanbul to the borderzone itself is very risky as it includes an intense amount of physical activity, usually at night: "we came together with twenty-five, twenty-six people from Istanbul. There were families, children; black people, Pakistanis, Iranians. First we entered into a forest. We hided inside the forest until it was four or five o'clock of the night. Then the smugglers came and we crossed the border." Some migrants cannot even make it to the river. Another migrant stated: "we lost an old man in the journey. Old man was black skin, he was from Sudan. It was dark night. We were going very fast. We looked for him. But he got lost. He is probably dead. Many people die." There are also migrants who die from hypothermia on the road. After crossing the river, migrants try to avoid the Greek authorities for fear of being returned to Turkey: "I hid behind the trees. Because I heard in Turkey that when they catch you they return you back to Turkey."

As in the case of the Mexico--US border (Doty, 2011), when I asked about migrant deaths and injuries, the Greek and Frontex border authorities did not accept any responsibility. They both presented human smugglers and harsh geographical conditions as the real causes of the deaths. To justify his argument, after the interview, the Greek head of operations showed the thermal camera records in which smugglers kick migrants and push them into the river, and a few other records showing Greek police rescuing migrants from the small islands of the river. Another significant point with regard to responsibility was the continual effort of the Frontex officer to underline that Frontex officers are "working only with Greek officers, and with their approval and with their schedules" and that they "support not substitute". In fact, such justification says much about the institution of Frontex. In addition to the secrecy of Frontex's activities, there is also a loophole in Frontex regulation where responsibility for border operations is concerned. The final responsibility for border operations lies with the host member state. Above all, there is no mechanism to hold Frontex to account for the indirect yet no less violent effects of its surveillance activities--from the establishment of the surveillance centers to the application of the GIS methods--on migrant lives.

Border surveillance activities of the Greek and Frontex authorities, directly or indirectly, cause migrant deaths and injuries. Yet, the de facto suspension of human rights at the borderzones allows the authorities to continue their operations while denying responsibility for their consequences.


This paper has demonstrated that the Greece-Turkey borderzones are biopolitical spaces where surveillance intensifies and migrant lives are held hostage. Sophisticated surveillance mechanisms--including radar systems, a fence, surveillance coordination centres, patrol vessels and vehicles, aerial vehicles, and the GIS--have been deployed as "political technologies" (Elden, 2010, page 810) to control the borderzone space. The more surveillance has intensified, the more migrants have felt the biopolitical reality of European borders. Many of them have drowned in the Aegean Sea and Evros river. Many others have been injured. Technologically mediated controls would not have been possible without the suspension of human rights at the borderzones. Borderzones are spaces where sovereign practices prevail over human rights and migrants are left to die. This is not to suggest that biopolitical borders are successful. On the contrary, neither surveillance systems nor suspension of human rights can prevent migrant mobility. Despite the great risk, migrants continue crossing the borders and contesting the biopolitical regime. (21)

For Foucault, biopolitics is the product of the historical transition from a sovereign mode of power that exerts control over territory and uses practices of death towards a modern biopolitical one which manages population mainly through pastoral, productive, and delocalized techniques. This paper demonstrates, however, that biopolitical sovereignty operates through territorial controls and surveillance, practices of death and exclusion, and the suspension of rights. The concentration of biopolitical controls at the borderzones also prompts us to revisit debates in the border studies literature on the location of borders. While borders can no longer be located only at the edges of states, the case of the Greece--Turkey borders demonstrates that the practices and effects of the borders manifest themselves primarily at these territorial edges.

This paper has demonstrated how violence against migrants is crystallized at the borderzones. Opposition to violence should also start from there. We must question and challenge the material conditions enabling violence at the borderzones; the material processes which have allowed the development of surveillance technologies and sovereign suspension of human rights at the expense of migrant lives.


Acknowledgements. I would like to thank all those who participated in this study, particularly migrants who shared their stories. I am indebted to those who facilitated my fieldwork at different levels, among others to Burcak and Valy. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the 4S/ EASST Conference, Copenhagen, October 2012, and at the Borders, Walls and Security Conference, Montreal, October 2013. I would like to thank David Lyon and three reviewers for their helpful comments on the earlier versions of the paper and Frank Pearce for his intellectual comradeship. All errors of fact or interpretation are my own. I acknowledge the support of the Queen's University Dean's Doctoral Field Travel Grant for the fieldwork.


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(1) Namely, the Greek head of the border operations in the wider area of Orestiada and North Evros; the head of the Department of Foreigners, Borders and Asylum of the Turkish National Police in Edirne; and the Frontex Support Officer who was involved in border controls and screening of migrants in the Alexandroupoli and Orestiada region. Note that on the Turkish side the Turkish Army patrols the border while the Turkish Police are responsible for asylum and detention procedures in relation to apprehended migrants and communication between the Turkish Army and Greek authorities. An interview with Turkish Army officials was not possible. But information about the Turkish border

(1) (continued) surveillance systems was gathered through the Border Management Bureau in Ankara and reports of the ongoing projects. The Greek Army is also deployed at the region but they are not involved in the border controls. I did not interview officials deployed at the Aegean Sea route, because, when I was doing my fieldwork, the sea crossings were almost halted. But I had the chance to speak with migrants, NGO fieldworkers, and local informants with regards to specifics of the Aegean Sea route, in addition to collecting government and NGO reports.

(2) In total twenty interviews with representatives and fieldworkers from sixteen NGOs and eleven interviews with political activists from seven political groups.

(3) In total fifty-eight interviews: forty two in-depth (twenty eight audiotaped and fourteen noted) and sixteen short (briefly noted or notes were taken after the interview). Nationalities of the migrants were: Afghan (thirty three); Algerian (five); Iranian (four); Kurdish (four); Burkina Faso (three); Bangladeshi (two); Nigerian (two); Mauritanian (one); Moroccan (one); Pakistani (one); Palestinian (one); Turkish (one). All the interviewees were men. Initial contact with migrants was established with the help of NGO workers and the snowball technique was used to reach other migrants. The interviews were conducted at NGO buildings, social buildings (including mosques, coffee shops, and buildings owned by philanthropic and political-activist groups), parks, and migrants' houses.

(4) This is particularly true in Greece where migrants are subjected to systematic police intimidation and racist attacks organized by the neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn. Rather than following preemptive or technological logics, these attacks follow old logics of racial violence (see HRW, 2012).

(5) The drawback in Foucault's analysis is also related to his undertheorization of sovereignty (see Latham, 2000, page 8; Singer and Weir, 2006). In contrast to Foucault's argument, the end of the premodern regimes did not represent the end of sovereignty; rather it represented transformation in the 'social structure' (Latham, 2000) and 'symbolic regime' (Singer and Weir, 2006) of sovereignty. Rather than the end of sovereignty, what we are witnessing today is the transformation of sovereignty under the economic conditions of neoliberal globalization and the symbolic conditions of postpolitics.

(6) Foucault-inspired governmentality literature largely follows this line of argument, underemphasizing the repressive aspects of power (see Walters, 2012, pages 71-74).

(7) For an elaboration and review of this line of argument, see Dillon and Neal (2008).

(8) In fact, even when some policies increase the productivity of certain segments of the population, this still does not mean that there is any pastoral care involved. Such programs are often aimed to off-load responsibility to individuals to mask structural inequalities.

(9) Here one can also find great value in the 'surveillance as social sorting' perspective (eg, Lyon, 2007).

(l0) Major security companies have had a great influence over EU security policies. The EU has given billions of euros to these entities to undertake security 'research' and to develop the EUROSUR and other border technologies (see Hayes and Vermeulen, 2012; Hayes et al, 2014). It is also clear that the EU's border and asylum policies overburden member states whose borders are external borders of the EU (Triandafyllidou, 2011). In fact, a majority of migrants who succeed in crossing the Greece--Turkey borders do not want to stay in Greece because of the economic crisis, racist violence, immense difficulties in accessing the asylum procedures, and extremely low asylum acceptance rates. But they are trapped inside Greece. Over the years the Dublin II regulation, which obliges migrants to claim asylum in the first EU country of arrival, has been used by the EU states to send migrants back to Greece. Since January 2011 Dublin II returns were suspended by the European Court of Human Rights because of the inhuman conditions of detention and the failure of the Greek asylum system. However, migrants are still trapped inside Greece because of intensive surveillance at Greek Airports (supported again by Frontex) and on the Greece--Italy sea route. The newly adopted Dublin III regulation is unlikely to have much impact on the overall situation, as it neither changes the principle of first country of asylum, nor removes de facto border controls over migrants inside the 'borderless' EU.

(11) Including the right to life, the right to seek asylum, and the right to protection from ill-treatment and collective expulsion--as well as the United Nations Refugee Convention, which prohibits refoulement.

(12) This attitude is shared at the EU level. After the death of the 359 migrants in the October 2013 Lampedusa tragedy, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs simply off-loaded responsibility for deaths to human smugglers and even called for more border surveillance (European Commission, 2013).

(13) See Marin (2011) for an analysis of Frontex's previous operations.

(14) This is, of course, not to underestimate the importance of refugee advocacy institutions and groups in challenging border controls, but rather to point out the limits of humanitarian and state-centric and state-dependent laws and approaches.

(15) Ongoing technical setbacks, cost overruns, and increasing political opposition to EUROSUR may alter its development path. Due to legal restrictions, EUROSUR drones may also be replaced by optionally piloted aircraft (see Hayes and Vermeulen, 2012; Hayes et al, 2014).

(16) Migrant crossed in 2008.

(17) Yet migrants who drive the boats do not seem to care. When I reminded him of the risks of driving a boat, a migrant who drove a boat in 2009 stated that: "Everything is risky. I didn't pay money to smugglers because I drove the boat."

(18) Mainly to the USA, Canada, and Australia.

(19) All migrants cited in this section crossed the Evros border between 2010 and 2012.

(20) In addition to his personal crossing experience, this migrant also knew a lot about other migrants' experiences because he was working in a community organization.

(21) They are not entirely alone in this task. Although their reach has been limited, political organizations such as StopEvrosWall, Clandestina, the Antiracist Initiatives of Athens and Thessaloniki, the Migrant Solidarity Network from Istanbul and the No Border Network have been active in supporting migrants on both sides of the border. These solidarity efforts, however, are the subject of another paper.

Ozgun E Topak Department of Sociology, D431 Mackintosh-Corry, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6; e-mail:

Received 17 May 2013; in revised form 29 March 2014; published online 28 August 2014
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Author:Topak, Ozgun E.
Publication:Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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