Archive for the 'Detention' Category

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Hunger strike in Horst (Germany) III

But people do fight back | 26th September 2010

More school-age children have been sent from Hamburg to Horst, despite an agreement to the contrary. A fascist attack occurred on a refugee who is forced to live in Horst. It is the second week of protests in Horst, where the refugees are still waiting for an opportunity to finally talk about their demands with the camp management.

On Wednesday, the camp management and the interior ministry invited politicians and selected journalists to visit the facilities in a desperate attempt to silence the 300 people who live there. No attempt has been made to talk to the refugees about their demands.

On Saturday, 25th September several people and solidarity groups from various cities visited the refugees to reassure them of their support. The attempt to visit them was stopped at the gate, due to a general ban on visits. Whenever we asked in the past why the IDs of everyone wanting to visit were checked, we were given the excuse that told that the camp was open, the people were free and the checkpoints were only for the protection of the refugees.

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Hunger strike in Horst (Germany) II

Rally outside the camp in Horst | 23rd September 2010

11 days ago, a young refugee decided to go on a hunger strike to protest against the inhumane conditions in the camp in Horst. Other refugees joined him, and together with supporters from the outside, the pressure on the camp management has been increased. So yesterday, the camp management invited government officials, political parties, the refugee council and selected journalists to visit the camp in order to counter the images the public have seen in recent days with their propaganda.

It soon became obvious that the journalists who were invited were those who had written negatively about the camp. A photographer and a reporter from the magazine “Spiegel”, as well as other major news agencies had to obey the ban on visits that had been in force since the hunger strike began and had to wait outside.

Solidarity groups had organized a rally outside the camp to make sure that the journalists would see and hear the messages of the refugees. Immediately the refugees joined them, children drew pictures on the ground and others put up banners. Their demands were read out in Farsi, Serbo-Croatian, English, French and Arabic. Hearing their demands through the PA system gave people strength and as soon as the music played, the children started to dance. It didn’t take long for the rest to join and all the people who had told us their stories in the last few days were able to dance away their worries for a moment. People were singing, the fence was covered with banners and all that was missing was the delegation.

Continue reading ‘Hunger strike in Horst (Germany) II’

Hunger strike in Horst (Germany) I

Day 10 | 17th September 2010

Ten days after the start of the hunger strike in the refugee camp in Horst (a small town approximately 100 km east of Hamburg), the refugees gathered again in the canteen to emphasize their demands.

Although the hunger strike has left its mark on the refugees, they are still determined. The camp management is trying to break their resolve with repression, threats and isolation. While at the beginning of the hunger strike, the management started to cancel the work opportunities for the refugees and closed the common rooms, they now resort to taking down the details of those who speak to the press. They also openly threaten with deportation. Despite all this, a lot of people have been showing solidarity with their struggeling neighbors. Also ctivists from various cities are among the supporters.

During the past year, the refugees have managed to draw attention to their disastrous situation. More and more media are arriving at the camp to get a picture of the situation. On Saturday, Mehmed Yildis, a member of the Hamburg Parliament from the party “Die Linke”, visited the refugee camp together with journalists. However, they we were denied access, and so far no journalists or anyone else have been allowed in.

Continue reading ‘Hunger strike in Horst (Germany) I’

Samos Report

This is a first interim report of this year’s Swarming No Border activities in Greece. The first stop was Samos, an island in the Aegean sea, close to the Turkish mainland. The proximity to Turkey is why many migrants arrive here and consequently Frontex is stationed here too. Together with activists from Samos, we organised an anti-racist weekend during our stay there.

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From Lesvos to Kabul

About the readmission agreement between Turkey and Greece leading to direct refoulement to states that practise torture

The readmission protocol between Greece and Turkey was signed in 2001, but hasn’t entered into force yet. Instead Greece carried out illegal push backs to Turkey via the northern border in the Evros region. In May 2010 Greek and Turkish authorities met and discussed the concrete implementation. They declared their will to implement the readmission protocol in the near future and agreed that at least 1000 requests per year will be accepted by Turkey. More detailed negotiations concerning the protocol are ongoing at the moment. On our journey from Samos via Izmir to Mytilene we found out that parallel to the negotiations first steps are taken to start a one year pilot project, which is expected to start in two to three month from now.

The sign reads: Izmir Police Management, Foreigners department Deportation Center


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Pagani – Last Good Bye

On Monday we took our exhibition Traces from Lesvos through Europe to Pagani and turned the space where refugees and migrants have been detained and humiliated into a museum – a place that belongs to the past.

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Pagani – Relict of an old system

The migrant prison of Pagani near Mitilini, Lesvos stood at the centre of the activities of last year’s noborder. During the noborder, the refugees imprisoned in Pagani started hunger strikes, while noborders stages actions outside, which together led to a significant number of people being set free immediately. September saw numerous revolts inside Pagani, cells were set on fire and the police ultimately withdrew. Pagani was declared as officially closed at the beginning of October.

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Meanwhile in Australia

Yes, we have arrived on Lesvos island, and we are preparing out first reports, discussing our timetable and meeting with local activists. Expect updates soon.

But right now, we would like to turn your attention to Australia, where more than 80 Afghan refugees whose asylum claim had been rejected and who were detained in a privately run detention centre in Darwin have broken free and staged a protest in order to halt their deportation. They have now been arrested and are being taken to another detention centre.

From an article in the The Australian:

Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan earlier said the men had broken through two electrified fences – an interior fence and a perimeter fence, both carrying 11,000 volts – at about 6.30 this morning.

Followups: here, here and there generally seem to be tensions at Darwin detention centre: Indonesian fisherman who are charged with people smuggling and face a 20-year prison sentence have been rioting.

We send our solidarity to all those imprisoned in Australian detention centre! Freedom! Azadi!

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]’

First Words from Samos

In the last few days we gradually arrived in Samos and found a totally unexpected situation. The huge detention centre above Vathy is empty, all detainees have been transferred off the island, presumably to Athens, where they are either held in another detention facility or are released with the infamous White Paper.

Currently, there is an Italian Guardia Frontera ship in the harbour representing FRONTEX. The Dutch coast guard is present with a speedboat. From our observations, the latter basically go around and drink coffee at the various beaches. The Greek coast guard has two boats in Vathy, one of them is broken, though. The Italian Frontex ship leaves every night at 10 p.m. and returns in the early morning – but these days they are not very “successful”: According to what they say, they have not caught anybody during the last weeks. Inhabitants told us that still some people arrive on the island but without being caught. But compared to last year, arrivals have dropped dramatically. According to a chatty coast guard officer most refugees now choose the route via the Evros region in the north of Greece. The few people caught on the island are imprisoned in one of three police stations on the island and usually not taken to the detention centre, but sent to Athens straight.

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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