Of lies, more lies and some successes

Last week, we reported about the revolt going on in Pagani. In the immediate days after the revolt, there seemed to be some development favourable to the situation of refugees. Some friendly observers from Lesvos reported that on the very Tuesday of the revolt, there were

700 prisoners in Pagani, around 150 women and children and 150 unaccompanied minors. The minors living on the first floor set fire to matrasses in their cell, which produced a lot of smoke. To escape from the smoke they broke the bars of the window and went on the very small balcony in front of their cell window. They screamed for their freedom, some were very upset and the situation was very dangerous. The policemen of the prison managed to extinguish the fire. More policemen, fire brigades, journalists and observer in solidarity arrived. The tension spread to the other cells.

The prisoners broke the door with the iron bars and went out into the yard. They were absolutely peaceful and the police didn’t react. Around 400 prisoners were in the yard. The negotiations between the prisoners and the police and the prefect lasted until late in the night.

The outcome were promises such as:

  • All minors would be released until the Friday (25.9.09)
  • Some men imprisoned for longer than 2 months would be released, too
  • Pikpa open camp at the airport would be reopened, and families arriving on Lesvos would be sent there straightaway, without detention.

That was the last word we heard over last weekend. On Monday, nothing had happened yet, but it was somehow blamed on a strike going on in the port of Piraeus, stopping all ferry traffic and thus impeding the transfer of migrants from Lesvos to Athens. But it already sounded like a bad excuse. So finally yesterday, we learnt that all three promises were nothing but blatant lies. Pikpa open camp has not been reopened, no minors or families were released and the only change is that by now, about 20 riot police of the notorious MAT are stationed at Pagani prison in order to suppress any new ensueing revolt.

Y’all know that that means: we have to continue our campaign on Pagani prison and detention in general, and we hear that first actions all over Europe are already in preparation. So for one stay tuned, and for the other: Can you think about organising a local action where you live? We will be providing a set of material to support such actions, like we already started providing our videos.

On the other hand, there are good news, too. Other friendly observers from Lesvos report that the attitude of the population towards refugees and migrants is turning, and that numerous acts of practical solidarity with refugees can be observed. Even the site of the noborder info-point in Mytilini still seems to function as a meeting point for refugees, migrants and people interested to get in touch with them. Noborder left behind a new social space.

Meanwhile in Germany, concrete effects of the scandalisation of the detention conditions of refugees in Greece can be observed. The german constitutional court, i.e. the highest court in Germany, made an express decision stopping an Iraqi refugee from being deported to Greece under Dublin-II. At first the newspapers reported that it was a rather formal decision, they said he needed to remain in Germany since in Greece, he would be homeless and thus, the court would not be able to serve correspondence to his postal address. However, in a press release some days later, the court was tentatively questioning the legality of the whole Dublin-II regime, announcing that it would evaluate it and audit whether it was compatible with the german constitution. This is the first time since 1996 that the constitutional court is thorougly auditing a main pillar of the german asylum system. As a first reaction, refugees imprisoned at one airport after having been arrested coming from Greece have been freed, and the local authorities stopped the imprisonment of all further refugees coming from Greece. It is expected that the lower courts will follow the ruling of the constitutional court. So: deportations to Greece under Dublin-II seem difficult (the authorities still try to do it, and they manage if there is no legal fighting back), but there are first ideas about a serious campaign against Dublin-II. Again: stay tuned, and join the resistance.

Another serious development is that the German interior minister made a complete u-turn in his talking about the Greece asylum system. Before, it was always stated that Greece had a propoer asylum system, and that refugees sent back to Greece would live under proper conditions. Clearly, after all the media attention the issue attracted over the summer, such a lie could not be upheld. So at the EU interior ministers’ meeting in Brussels on the 21.9.09, a statement was issued by the german interior minister denouncing the living conditions of refugees in Greece, stating that human rights standards had to be adhered to all over Europe and implying that Greece was in fact threatening the whole Dublin-II regime. We concurr insofar as that we also believe that Dublin-II is ripe to fall, but we believe that putting the blame on Greece alone is wrong: Germany is profiting very much from Dublin-II, in fact the whole german asylum system rests on Dublin-II, and it is a European issue, not just a Greek one.

By the way, after the destruction of the refugee camps in Calais, some refugees were deported Greece, also under Dublin-II (although apparently not as many as first announced). There is still a strong solidarity campaign in Calais, so if you have some time and are willing to help:

Calais is turning into a hell with all the jungles being destroyed – the Hazara and Iranian jungles were destroyed, this moring the Eritrean squat was evicted and a fence put around it; security with dogs are preventing people to retrurn and collect their few belongings!

As a result some migrants have initiated a hunger strike and they need support.

There are some people coming to Calais on Friday [last week] from London and from the Netherlands: if you need a lift from London there is possibility of a minibus, call the communication phone 0033 6348 10710, or to take stuff from London to Calais.

You can always follow the development at their blog calais migrant solidarity, and there is a call for a direct solidarity action on the 28th and 29th of November.

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