Archive for the 'Interview' Category

Dublin-Deaths between Kerkyra/Greece and Bari/Italy (15th of January 2011)

The following testimony of Amin Fedaii, a 16-year-old afghan refugee, is alarming. More than 20 refugees (mainly from Afghanistan) died while trying to flee from Greece and to reach their relatives and friends in other European countries.

The asylum system in the crisis-ridden Mediterranean country has entirely collapsed. Refugees cannot find protection neither any income and often even no accommodation. Against this background deportations to Greece according the Dublin II-regulation have been stopped in many European Countries, but the affected persons got stuck in unbearable conditions in Athens or in the harbour-cities of Patras and Igoumenitsa. While EU-citizens can travel without any problems, refugees are trapped: a regular exit is refused, although they have – particularly if they come from war-zones like Afghanistan – good chances to receive a residence permit on humanitarian grounds in many EU-countries.

Amin survived and is now living in an accomodation for minor refugees in Hessen, Germany. But he had to experience the meaningless death of 20 persons by drowning, because firstly entry and afterwards their rescue has been refused: 20 more victims of a merciless european border regime, which obviously is calculating with the death of refugees.

More than 2.000 refugees and migrants died in the Mediterranean Sea within the last 6 months, mainly when they tried to reach Malta or Italy from Libya or Tunesia. Dead bodies in the Mediterranean Sea are washed ashore daily. Besides the bodies also their faces, hopes and dreams are lost. These daily deaths, be it at the external or internal European borders, remain shocking.

The victims are warning and accusing: This Europe is not safe, human rights and refugee rights have lost all relevance! They ask the ones alive to take action against this Europe of Frontex – borders and walls. And to struggle and to invent a Europe of solidarity, overcoming the deathly migration regime as it happened in history with the dark sides of the Middle Ages.

When I tried to flee Greece

I first tried to flee Greece in January 2011. In Athens, they put us in one truck with 200 persons. Beforehand, they told us that the truck would have air conditioning. It had not and so we ran out of oxygen soon with so many people. Soon many people fell unconscious. We started knocking the boards and screaming for help, but the driver did not react. One person had decided not to enter the truck before and we had his mobile number, so we called him to come and open the door for us, because we where not far yet. He did not come quickly, so we had no other chance and we called the police. They picked us from the truck and kept us for one night in police station.

Continue reading ‘Dublin-Deaths between Kerkyra/Greece and Bari/Italy (15th of January 2011)’

Hungary imprisons minors after Dublin II deportation

Interview with F. (17) in Zalaergerszeg detention prison

The following interview was taken under difficult circumstances, on the phone of the prison. We had never seen each other before – it was a friend of a friend who brought us in contact. F. was not in a good mood – but he said that he wants to give testimony what happens in Hungary to the deported. He hopes that maybe, if the authorities knew what happens, they might stop the Dublin-system. He says: For me it’s to late now, but maybe all the others, they should not experience the same!

Zalaergerszeg, 13th Oktober 2010 –

There are two conclusions:

  1. In Hungary the current policy is to detain refugees in general and for longer periods of time. Even if they apply for asylum they will be often detained until the first decision. And also all those, who get deported from other European countries, get imprisoned for often until the limit of six months. Hungary built 11 new detention facilities in the last months.
  2. In Zalaergerszeg there are obviously at least three minors imprisoned for a longer time, who have been deported to Hungary according to DublinII. We fear that these are not single cases and that in the other detention facilities you might also find minors.

 

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On two of the hunger strikers in Athens [2 Updates]

Update 2: Victory!
Just found the information on the UNHCR website. We wrote:

We were discussing with a lawyer here in Greece, and she said that she would find it highly unlikely if they received political asylum, since the actual asylum system has been suspended. The Ministry of citizen protection itself has pointed out that it cannot brake the law by giving asylum based on a suspended presidential decree and said that only in September, when the new presidential decree would enter into force, asylum could be granted.

The UNHCR says:

Given the imminent threat to the health and lives of Iranian asylum seekers continued hunger strike in front of the Office of the High Commissioner of UNHCR, the Ministry of Civil Protection has decided yesterday to activate the Appeal Board for the accumulated applications provided by Presidential Decree 81/2009, “on humanitarian grounds and very exceptional, […] despite the government’s steadfast position that the current asylum procedure is impractical, ineffective and outdated.

So yes, our doubts were right, and yes, they did indeed get a proper asylum status. That is very good. Congratulations, we are so happy that all went well in the end! Why did our friends have to take such drastic measures in the first place?
#END OF UPDATE 2

Update 1: Victory?
Today, on the 30th of August, there was the announcement that the six of the seven hunger strikers will obtain political asylum, and that the seventh might likely receive it tomorrow. That would be a huge success. The hunger strikers have since been brought to the hospital, and we are very lucky that the hunger strike is concluded.

You notice the question mark in the headline? We were discussing with a lawyer here in Greece, and she said that she would find it highly unlikely if they received political asylum, since the actual asylum system has been suspended. The Ministry of citizen protection itself has pointed out that it cannot brake the law by giving asylum based on a suspended presidential decree and said that only in September, when the new presidential decree would enter into force, asylum could be granted.

So we were wondering if the hunger strikers were granted humanitarian protection rather than asylum? That would leave them in a much more difficult status, since it would not allow them to leave Greece as some hunger strikers have wished, and the access to social support in Greece would also be much more precarious. We really do hope that the hunger strikes did obtain a proper refugee recognition, and we will continue to look for more precise information. If you know something, please post it in the comments.
#END OF UPDATE 1

Since 13 days seven Iranians are on hunger strike in front of the UNHCR office in Athens. Two of them are in their 32nd day, and you can find previous reports here, here and here + video + video.

We went to see the hunger strikers, and this is our account:

One hunger striker, Seid Rouhollah (28) was deported from Germany back to Greece one and a half years ago under the Dublin II system. He came to Greece via Mytiline, Lesvos, in one small boat with 26 persons. He was the only survivor when the Greek coast guard punched a hole in their dinghy. Seid is a good swimmer, so he managed to survive, but since than he is afraid of the sea and in his nightmares he sees black bodies drowning in the sea and he can’t do anything – just save his own life.

Seid managed to leave Greece after three months. He arrives in Germany where he gets caught in the airport. He spends another three months in detention camp and is finally deported to “Grieschenland” (the word for Greece in a particular German accent). And “Tschüüüss” the german word for bye-bye he still remembers as the police said to him at the deportation. They also told him that it would be nice in Greece, because of the fine weather. He says: Maybe for vacation it is nice. They say: Don’t worry, now they will care for you!

He arrives at Athens airport. They keep him imprisoned for 20 days. It is totally overcrowded, 20-30 persons in one cell. Only once a day there is food: ‘Malakas’ they say and they feed us like animals. There is no shower and when he leaves he has scabies.

They issue him a Pink Card. Go, go! they say and he has no shelter and no money. He contacts the Greek Refugee Council, but they say he shoud come again after one week. Since one and a half year now. There are not enough places in the shelters and since Seid is an adult man, he is not considered especially vulnerable. He has slept in a park since then. He says he had been waiting for the chance the hunger strike now gives to him, to finally make his voice heard.

Continue reading ‘On two of the hunger strikers in Athens [2 Updates]’

A Dublin II Deportation Diary


Why did you want me back in Greece?, ask the refugees being returned due to the Dublin II regulation from different other European countries. The deportation diary carrying the same name evolved out of a short visit in Athens, where activists from the newly founded infomobile project conducted interviews with refugees affected by this European regulation.

The findings, based on interviews with the people affected, are shocking and deeply disturbing. For although every story of flight to and within Europe is different, if we were to summarise, there are two main conclusions that need to be drawn.

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Interview with Milad in Sweden

Milad, 17, is from Afghanistan. We met the first time in summer 2009 in front of the Infopoint, a circus tent in Mytiline at the island of Lesvos. It was the time of Noborder, when Milad had just done his first step on European ground. His shoes were still salty from the trip with the small boat. Some days later he was captured in the harbour when he tried to save his fingerprints and to escape unregistered from the island. They brought him and his friends to Pagani, the big detention centre. He was part of the revolts that gave the last kick to shut down this place and was released after their cell got burnt down, after 2 months of prison. His narration on Noborder and the revolts in Pagani have been published.

Dublin II means they play football with us, shooting us from one country to another, playing with us and wasting our time.

Four days after this talk, he was deported back to Greece from Italy. He even did not have the chance to leave the ship. He was then imprisoned in Arta/Greece for another 10 weeks. He was still on his way to Norway and so he went directly into the next truck after his release. One day later he was imprisoned again. This time in Macedonia. He hurt himself very badly to get out of there after another 10 weeks of prison. He was captured again in Hungary in a very cold night in February. It was in Hungary when he said the first time that he feels a little bit tired of all this. It was the first time that his trust to reach Norway and to be safe there was shattered. He had applied for asylum in Hungary. He said he felt too powerless and too tired to stand the prison for another unknown period of time, although he feared now that his deportation to Hungary was even more risky than to Greece. He felt the Dublin II trap for the first time. He was not able to stay in Hungary, where as he says: The conditions to have less than nothing drives the people to rob the one besides him. He finally reached Norway some months ago. When he got to know that he would be deported to Hungary he fled to Sweden. The interview was made via telephone in June 2010.

w2eu: Hey Milad, how are you? And: where are you?

Milad: I’m in Sweden now. Near to Orebro in a camp for refugees. It is a very small camp for minors and the people here are kind. Nice place, television and everything. We are only 10-11 guys here, all of them underage. It is really nice for one week, two weeks. But actually we are wasting our time here. And it is very far from the city – far from society. We are not in fact imprisoned. We can go to the city. But it is 20-30 kilometre far. Too far to walk every day.

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Frontex frames innocent youth in Samos

M., a 17-year-old Palestinian youth was accused of “trafficking” in Samos. Four months ago, M. was arrested by the police, when he arrived in a boat together with another 55 people. The police claimed to have him identified as the driver of the boat. The accusation was based on a photo made from a helicopter that was stationed in Samos as part of the Frontex operation Poseidon. Despite being a minor, he was imprisoned, awaiting his trial. The Samos solidarity group heard about his case and organised a lawyer. He was in front of a court, but finally acquitted and set free.

Welcome To Europe made an interview with M. in June 2010, after the trial was over. His friend A. acted as a translator.

w2eu: Please tell us what happened.

M.: The police works in the sea, looking for people coming and they look with goggles. I was afraid because i was the youngest person in the boat, so I stayed near the engine. But I didn’t drive, because the big one drives, because he knows Samos, he knows the sea, he knows everything. In my country there is no sea. So I am absolutely no driver. The helicopter is coming with a big light and after that the police take me. I asked them why me? They say because the police saw me in the boat near the engine. But the photo is not very good because you can’t see in the sea if you drive or not, because the driver is clever, he stays behind and he puts his hand in the engine and he drives from far away.

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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