Chronology

Archive Lesvos 2009
In this post, we are trying to put together an overview over all that happened around and during the noborder camp. It is based on the entries on this blog, but surely, things will be missing. Therefore, yet another call to collaborative action: Use the comment function and add what is missing, we will incorporate it into this article, so in the end, we can have a fairly comprehensive documentation of noborder lesvos oh nine. We are looking for: missing information on what happened, links to other reportings (indymedia or mainstream or …). We will also put images and links to videos. Please suggest what is missing. This is work in progress, so even if you are only a reader, make sure to check back as this will be growing.

Thursday 23 July

An attempt to deport migrants from Pagani to the Evros region, from where they would probably be pushed back over the border to Turkey, is blocked by local activists in the harbour of Mitilini. Similar actions take place on other islands (which? links to articles?). Subsequently, this new policy of illegal deportation is dropped.

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Tuesday 4 August

Activists in Samos stop the deportation of migrants from the local detention centre.

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Friday 7 August

Radio in Mytilini squatted, a programme about noborder, the recent deportations and the situation of refugees was broadcast.

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Monday 10 August

Detained migrants in Samos go on hunger strike to thwart their imminent deportation. They are successful.

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Thursday 13 August

Demonstration in Mytilini. At the landing site of the Frontex boat, a clear warning of the activities of Frontex and the Greek coast guard is left behind in big letters.

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Tuesday 18 August

160 minors detained in one cell in Pagani start a hunger strike, their demand being immediate freedom.

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Thursday 20 August

Around 50 noborder activists take to Pagani prison to support the hunger strikers. For many, it is the first visit to Pagani and they are shocked. On the initiative of the detained migrants, a camera is passed into the jail, and for the first time, images from the inside of Pagani are available. Under the title “Voices from the Inside of Pagani”, the video is released to the internet. In the following days, TV stations all around the world, including CNN, Greek, German, Dutch and Danish channels are airing the video, stills from the material pop up in many newspaper, scandalising the conditions in Pagani prison worldwide.

Following the first visit to Pagani prison, activists regularily visit Pagani in the following days, establishing a more stable communication with the detained migrants.

Afterwards, a demonstration in Mytilini raises the issue of Pagani prison to the local population.

In the evening, a group of about 40 migrants were released from Pagani. The group included pregnant women as well as families with small kids. They received no support whatsoever from the authorities, and because of the end of Greek holidays, the ferries are all fully booked and the migrants are stranded in the port of Mytilini.

Friday 21 August

The group of released migrants stranded in the port are invited to stay at the noborder camp site. Discussions start how to force local authorities to provide the support they are refusing to give.

Sunday 23 August

Noborder camp (activists and migrants alike) takes to the port of Mytilini. Coinciding with the arrival of one ferry and the departure of another, a loud protest informs the public of what is happening with the migrants coming to Lesvos, with a special focus on the refugees left alone in the streets. A demonstrations forms and moves towards the seat of the island’s government (prefecture). On the way, the Frontex ship is taken by surprise and chased away, not without us taking a trophy. At the prefecture, noborder installs an infopoint including a big tent, in order to make noborder more visible in town. During the next 8 days, the infopoint becomes a gathering point in town and a real “Welcome Centre” for migrants.

Monday 24 August

The director of the Greek branch of UNHCR comes to visit Pagani prison. As he leaves, noborders improvise a press conference for him, obtaining strong statements about Pagani and the Greek asylum system. He then moves to Mytilini to attend a meeting in the prefecture with the prefect, local police and other NGOs, in order to discuss the situation at Pagani. Around the prefecturate, the noborder camp raises another protest demanding the closure of Pagani and an end to all detention, wrapping the building in a giant banner brought from the Calais noborder camp.

Tuesday 25 August

Official start of the noborder camp. Around 500 people live at the camp site now. In the evening, a first assembly tries to communicate what has already happened and how the camp will be structured.

Wednesday 26 August

Workshops in the noborder camp. More people take to Pagani. Our pressure results in the release of 200 people from Pagani, mainly families and women with children. At the airport, a new, open reception centre is established by the authorities, in order to accommodate the released migrants.

In the evening, a public discussion event on migration in Mytilini.

Thursday 27 August

Early in the morning, about 100 noborders attempt to squat the prefecture in order to increase political pressure. The attempt, as well as a second attempt later in the morning fail. In the meantime, a group of 22 Afghan migrants that recently arrived in Lesvos and were not caught by the police go to the new open camp, supported by some noborders. Result is the issuing of the white paper without detention. In the evening, noborder bids farewell to the migrants that were invited to noborder camp the week before and that finally obtained a ferry ticket to move on. A big farewell parade in Mytilini creates moving scenes and expresses our ambivalence at seeing our new found friends leave: We are happy for them to be able to continue their journey, but we know about the dangers ahead.

In the evening, noborder goes to different villages in Lesvos island to present our cause and to discuss with the local population.

Friday 28 August

Pagani action day. A strong demonstration moves to Pagani. Riot police blocks the main road, we cannot approach Pagani directly. Nevertheless, noborders are not deterred and negotiate for a delegation to visit Pagani. They stay for some hours, negotiating the release of some more women with children and the transfer of sick people to the hospital. As the delegation returns, a demonstration forms and moves to Mytilini, gathering more and more people and thus being one of the biggest demonstrations ever to be seen in Lesvos.

Saturday 29 August

Harbour action day. Supported by a demonstration in the harbour of Mytilini, 40 activists equipped with small rubber boats engage the coast guard ships. As if acting on reflex, the coast guards immediately starts creating waves and approaching the boats, in order to make the capsize, thus proving to the whole city that they are indeed killing people at sea every night in this manner. They also slash one of our boats with a harpoon. Confronted with too many boats with too many determined activists, they retreat, giving the stage to the activists, who eventually even manage to liberate a boat seized by the coast guard.

In the meanwhile at Pagani, detained migrants manage to get out of their cell, staying in the yard of the prison to negotiate their immediate release. Many of them, however by far not all, will receive their white paper later. Outside, noborders support their cause, even bursting into the yard and some later stage (when no migrants where in the yard). It is obvious now: United, we would be able to close Pagani or transform it into an open transit point.

In the night, a concert in Mytilini.

Sunday 30 August

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Monday 31 August

In the morning, ten activists from different countries occupy the roof of Pagani prison. They leave after one hour.

In the evening, noborder lesvos 09 end officially, with many people still staying to continue political action and solidarity to migrants’ struggles.

Tuesday 1 September

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Wednesday 2 September

47 minors in Pagani start another hunger strike.

About w2eu

This is the blog of the antiracist network Welcome to Europe. It was formerly known as lesvos09.antira.info.

 

The name Welcome to Europe expresses the discontent and anger we feel when looking at the fatal realities of the European external border: the long documented deaths and suffering have continued for years, and no end is in sight. We stand for a grassroots movement that embraces migration and wants to create a Europe of hospitality.

 

We maintain our focus on the European external border in Greece, but will not limit ourselves to that geographical area. The right of freely roaming the globe has to be fought for everywhere. Join us!

 

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Voices from the Inside of Pagani (2009)

Watch the video