Last night, at around 22h, an Afghani man was shot dead in Bulgaria by border police. The murder has taken place in Sredets in southern Bulgaria, where a group of more than 50 migrants have been stopped by the police. The first information that reached media outlets was that the group resisted arrest which has prompted the border patrol to fire. What actually has happened is that the men were racially profiled as, according to the General Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Georgi Kostov, “they were obviously not Bulgarian citizens.” Moreover, added Kostov “There is definitely a difference between the profiles of the intruders from the summer months [and those arrested now]…They are most probably economic emigrants (sic!) but this is yet to be determined.”
The immediate reaction of the Ministry of Interior was to distort the event and to build upon a cluster of phantasmagoric stories so as to avoid a scandal. Some of these stories included: two groups of Afghanis invaded the Bulgarian border and opened fire; the two groups were heavily armed; the border police shot in the air as a warning; the bullet ricocheted; the bullet hit a bridge, bounced back and hit the illegal refugee right in the rear. Little did the Ministry of Interior know that a fatal shooting of a guilty border crosser will not result in the stirring of a scandal. In fact, Bulgarian politicians want more blood. This particular spectacle of death was not enough for them. Not surprisingly, Valeri Simeonov, leader of the Patriotic Front, a right-wing nationalist coalition which holds 7% of the seats in the Parliament, immediately requested that Border Police “shoots meat [at the border].” Bozhidar Dimitrov, Head of the National Historical Museum and a former Head of the Agency of the Bulgarians Abroad went as far as to petition for awarding the border policemen who were involved in the incident with the highest order. Tatyana Doncheva, a jurist who has defended companies such as Multigroup, similarly, called for illimitable solidarity with Border Police and suggested that the General Secretary should not feel and show guilt as such events are “normal” for border regions.
The European border regime has taken yet another victim. This is not the first fatal accident in Bulgaria. Just five months ago two Yazidis froze to death on Turkish territory after being pushed back by Bulgarian Border Police. Solidarity groups in Bulgaria call for protests in front of Bulgarian embassies worldwide.
Update: Some days later, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee made a statement about the incident and the vicepresident of the German State Parliament, in Brandenburg, filed a lawsuit at the Justice ministry in Sofia.