Potemkin village and Dante's Inferno

Your faithful chronicler on the island Lesvos told us today:


Yesterday night, the riot cops were beating prisoners since they refused to get back into their cells. The cops also threatened them not to talk about these beatings, or otherwise they would be beaten again.

Today, there was a visit from the newly formed “ministry for the protection of citizens” (the former ministry of public order). So at ten o’clock am, the yard of the prison looked differently altogether. The two broken cars and all the rubbish had been disposed of, three cops in blue uniforms were seen taking pictures (for the white paper?) of under age refugees, which looked funny since the pictures were taken in front of the wall with graffiti.

It is not exactly clear who of the ministry came, it was either the vice minister or the secretary of state. He came with a lot of NGO representatives, journalists, media people, about 30 in total. They were brought to the yard, where a lot of refugees were sitting/standing around, talking to each other, while others were behind bars. One could have the impression that this was a normal situation. But if you know there are at most 10 minutes of yard for a prisoner in one week, you know that it was a fabrication today. However, this was used by many today to be reunited with their other family members (who they usually cannot see at all!).

familien trennug wahilis

Check the pictures for example. There is a mother with a newly born baby, another mother with her two young girls, and the husband in front of the cell. He will later go and see his under age sons and to show to the ministerial visit what the situation is like for families: separation. This is not a singular case, mother and daughters separated from the father separated from the sons.

familienzusammenführungs wunsch suleyman walahi

The politician did actually go into each cell and listened to the stories. In the women’s cell, the floor was still wet (like we saw it in summer), due to a leak. The matrasses are wet because of this, and the women and children turn sick. Nothing has changed since our visits during the noborder camp.

frauen zelle mit nassen fussboden

gebrochene hand

At least three men hat bandaged hands. Perhaps it was from the beatings the riot cops gave during the last revolt. All over Greece, bandaged hands are a visible proof that people had “contact” with the ministry for the protection of the citizens.

The prisoners used the visit to roam more freely than normal, and to visit their family members. The slogan of “freedom” was shouted again and again, and you could see hope for change in many faces.

After he had visited the last cell (of the under age prisoners), the politician talked to the media present (TV channels, radio, newspapers). He said that that cell was worse than the Inferno of Dante. That this “detention centre” was unbearable. That it needed to be closed. And that most of the prisoners didn’t want to stay in Greece anyway [so what? if they wanted to, would that be a valid reason to treat them that way?]


Round noon, there was another meeting at the prefecturate with all people involved in Pagani. We’ll find out what was the outcome.

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