Monthly Archive for October, 2009

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As the Vice Minister turned his back

A few days ago, news arrived about the vice Minister visiting Pagani, describing it with the words “Dantes Inferno”. Today, our faithful source in Mytilini reports about new revolts in the Detention Center of Pagani.

Today the revolts in Pagani started again. After the Vice Minister of internal affairs visited Pagani two days ago, the violent habits returned to Pagani. Prisoners reported about a huge police brutality after the visit. Some of the prisoners where calls out, one after the other, to the prison Jard. There they where badly beaten by the police. The prisoners felt save, telling the vice Minister about there situation, but in the end there where punished for there statements in front of the visitor. A complain against the police was made by the prisoners.

Continue reading ‘As the Vice Minister turned his back’

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.

Faces and Fates

A friend in Lesvos collected the fates of people in Pagani. We document five of them here:


Zaher Hostin has been imprisoned in Pagani four months. He is the longest staying prisoner so far.


Daudze Zohra from Afghanistan, 12 years old, has already received the white paper, however, he has not been released so far. His father is also in Pagani, but they won’t release him either.


Abdula Satari from Afghanisten, his got an injured leg and is in urgent need of medical treatment.


Khan Shzad from Afghanistan has been imprisoned for 26 days. His right hand and arm is red and blue from infections, and he has several injuries. He is also in urgent need of medical treatment.


Husein Hadar was injured during the revolt: the riot cops were beating him, but he was not brought to hospital for treatment.

These are only five stories. This day-to-day brutality needs to stop. Close Pagani, stop detention.

Who says a little revolt won't help?

Yesterday we reported about another revolt in Pagani. Today, we hear that it was partly successful:

DSC09322 Kopie

At 4pm I got a phone call from one of the prisoners saying he was free, that he would go to the harbour totake the ship. When i came to meet him, I saw that 300 people had been set free from Pagani, both families and men. Most could buy tickets themselves and leave with the boat to Athens. Some others stayed behind, looking at the others waving farewell.

Local elderly men were asking what will happen with the ones that have no money for a ticket. The shipping company responsibles were not willing to take the 8 people without tickets. Although normally the tickets should be given from the state and the shipping company makes a big business with the refugees that have to leave the island and are their best clients.

Everyday around 100 new people arrive and hundreds of people are still imprisoned. Pagani is not empty. There is a lot of police inside the courtyard, the prisoners have the right to get out only once a week for 10 minutes and the next revolt is around the corner.

The bigger picture

With the revolts going on in Pagani, what is the bigger picture? A friend wrote to let us know:

The minister of “citizen’s protection” (sic!, former ministry of public order) of the new socialist party government announced the liberation of 1.200 migrants from detention centers and police departments (from the total of 5.500 migrants who are kept in detention for illegal entry).

He presented this as a humanitarian move, but for sure this was necessary for the whole detention system, which was completely stuck after a summer with large police operations and arrests and the new arrivals. The released migrants will get the famous white paper (deportation decision with 30 days of tollerance to leave the country).

He also announced large scale repatriation with IOM’s help and with european funding and once again declared “zero tolerance to illegal migrants”.

You can also read an article in Kathimerini. So much for the new government (war is peace, citizen’s protection is repression, George is Orwell, etc). There was one incident in Athens were the police torture-killed a migrant. Occupied London has a report, and there was a demonstration afterwards which got attacked by the police. Another friend from Greece summarises the situation as follows:

Continue reading ‘The bigger picture’

Yet Another Revolt [1 Update + Photos]

This report about a new revolt just reached us:

DSC09207 Kopie

Today (19.10.2009) around 3 o’clock pm, prisoners in Pagani set fire to at least two cells. They protest against their continued detention, and especially against the principle that some prisoners are released after a few weeks while other are imprisoned for much longer. They also continue to protest against the unbearable living conditions inside the prison.

They say that right about now, 900 people are imprisoned in Pagani, including youth. There is the case of a young afghan boy of about 12 years who received his release papers while his father is still imprisoned. So he also needs to stay inside. More youth have been spotted amongst the prisoners.

The fire was quite strong, which made a large intervention of the fire brigade necessary. Two refugees fainted, and another six were beaten so badly by the notorious anti-riot police that they need to be admitted to hospital. We’re trying to organise photos documenting this.

At about 6 pm, the fire was out, the injured had been brought to the hospital, and supporters started to arrive. The prisoners were still inside the yard, telling a lot of stories. One of them explained that he had been imprisoned for over four months. Others told that they mothers, wives and sisters had been released earlier and have gonbe to Athens, so they are worried about them being well. It seems that the prisoners will spend the night in the yard.

We also saw two prisoners who had been injured during their flight and who have not received any treatment so far.

DSC09189 Kopie

Update 1: Another friend wrote to let us know:

After the previous revolt, the police told the prisoners that in any revolt they were going to arrest two prisoners each time. They don’t care if these prisoners have any relation with the revolts or not. And they did it the previous time: they arrested two prisoners in the previous revolt. They kept the one of them for some days in the jail and then they sent him back to Pagani, but until now we don’t know where is the other one. About today’s revolt, I don’t know if they have arrested any people or not yet…

DSC09202 Kopie

We have an image gallery:

Continue reading ‘Yet Another Revolt [1 Update + Photos]’

Revolts, revolts

After the last revolt, we didn’t receive much news from Pagani. But now, there is this bit which we would like to share with you:

Last Saturday there was a revolt in Pagani. The prisonners set fire in their cell and the police was forced to open the door and put out the fire, so that the prisoners would not suffocate. 3 prisoners had to be brought to hospital. The prisoners’ demands are to be registered and to be set free and not to be kept imprisonned some more and some less long.

went tolast night 14/10 there was once more a revolt in pagani. Women and men started it. The prisononers said that the police hit two prisoners and took them away, probably to the police jail. The policemen told the prisnoners that everytime a revolt starts they will take two
people out of them to prison. Even if they did not take part in the revolt.

Last week a woman was brought to Pagani after giving birth, and was set free after three days only because of the pressure from outside.

Today the jungest prisoner is a mere30 days old.

The police together with the local authorities is responsible for the punishing attitude towards the prisoners, responsible for the imprisonment of minors and women and children.

Shut down Pagani! Azadi!

Another evaluation of the no border camp in Lesvos. By transact!, October 2009. Published in german language in ak – analyse und kritik.


Never before have we experienced a noborder camp on the outer borders of the EU at which political protests and social struggles for the freedom of movement were as intertwined as they were in Lesvos. International press coverage about the detention centre Pagani was considerable and we return with many new impulses for transnational networking. Even if meetings were characterised by strong disagreements, our evaluation of Lesvos is overwhelmingly positive.

Tomorrow when we continue our journey, we will be refugees again. But till the last minute we will be just people here tonight, friends celebrating together. Who would’ve thought that on this island we wouldn’t have to hide in the woods and that we would get the gift of a night of freedom amongst friends!

Continue reading ‘Shut down Pagani! Azadi!’

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.

Continue reading ‘Of lies, more lies and some successes’

About w2eu

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


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)

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