from afghanistan 6 days here what the broblem?
asks young Hamis Abdalah Ghasmi from Afghanistan on a piece of cardboard that was slipped to our delegation in Fylakio. And indeed, it is the question all migrants in detention in the Evros region have in mind: Why am I being kept here?
Yesterday, i.e. Saturday, the 18th of December 2010, saw a mobilisation from the Greek antiracist movement to the Evros region, where most of the border crossings happened the last months and where many hundreds of migrants are being detained under comparably horrible circumstances as in the infamous prison of Pagani.
Three busses and a number of cars converged on Fylakio (and later on Orestiada for a demonstration), where the detention centre is free standing in the middle of nowhere. No other houses closeby, just an industrial site. It is deep winter these days, snow everywhere and freezing cold, especially when the sun goes down.
Police was taking our visit very serious and had blocked access to the site with a bus and a number of riot police. A delegation of doctors, lawyers and translators was able to get inside and get in touch with the detainees, always under the watchful eyes of the staff. We also brought blankets and shoes and other basic necessities.
The inside conditions are very bad. The water pipe froze, so there is no fresh water, and the hygenic conditions are appaling, there is insufficient medical care (you have the choice between cough syrup and aspirin) and the food consists basically of sandwiches every day. There were reports about mistreatment and beatings.
While we were there, about 350 ppl were detained in Fylakio, but two weeks ago, there were about 1,000. So about two-thirds were released recently, and we suspect it was in preparation for our visit. Nevertheless, the cells were totally over-crowded, not giving adequate space to a human being, and that the detainees are never let outside, not even for a short time, is obvious from experience.
The worst however, and that brings us back to Hamis Abdalah Ghasmi, is the uncertainty. Why am I here, for how long will I stay, what will happen to me? These are the questions that are never answered. The detention period varies betwwen two weeks and several months, and apparently, asylum seekers are routinely detained for several months, while people classified as “illegal migrants” are being released earlier. Detention period is also dependent on other factors, like nationality, deportability, etc. The lawyers working in the area say they find no legal remedy to free the detainees.
The obvious question that remains is: By now, there have been numerous reports about what is going on in the Evros region. It is a well establishd fact that human right, international law, European conventions and regulations are openly breached here. The Greek government doesn’t even try to hide it, it even brought in Frontex, as if to drag down the European border guards into this mess. And indeed, according to Der Spiegel, a german magazine, the German part of the Frontex operation has asked to be excluded from certain parts of the operation. So what is the game the Greek government is playing with the lives of the migrants?