Several hundred people gathered in central Zagreb on Saturday to express their support to refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are seeking shelter in the European Union. They observed a minute of silence in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks carried out in Paris on Friday night.
They marched from Victims of Fascism Square to Europe Square, carrying banners that read "March of Solidarity", "Solidarity Has No Boundaries" and "For an Open Europe". On their way they stopped at the French Embassy to lay five red roses for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
They held speeches at each stop along the way and in Europe Square speeches were also given by activists from Serbia and Slovenia.
"We, volunteers, citizens, refugees are against Europe becoming a closed continent. We do not accept that the only alternative for people fleeing the insecurity of wars is insecurity within the European borders where they will be marginalised, criminalised and exposed to racism and xenophobia," one speaker said.
The March of Solidarity was organised by the Network of Antifascist Women from Zagreb (MAZ) and the Welcome! initiative. The organisers estimated the number of people involved in the march at 700, while the police put their number at 350.
On behalf of the organisers, Damir Culjak expressed his sympathies and condolences for those killed in the terrorist attacks in Paris and called on those gathered to observe a minute of silence in tribute to all victims of terrorism, war and violence. He said that it was precisely situations like the one in Paris that refugees were fleeing from because such attacks were part of their everyday lives.
Culjak said that the MAZ organised the March of Solidarity once a year to draw public attention to social and economic policies that exclude, disenfranchise and impoverish various social groups. He said that this was the eight such march and that its focus was on the problem of refugees.
"While European governments and institutions are putting up fences and turning Europe into a fortress, European society is showing a different picture. They are showing their solidarity and will not allow to be ashamed by the actions of their governments but want to build a different Europe, an open Europe," Culjak said.
"The present humanitarian crisis on European soil is the result of a cynical attitude of the EU institutions and EU governments whose centralist practices are directly responsible for migrations. Such policies must stop!" the organisers said in a proclamation.