Archive for the 'Lesvos' Category

Short history of hunger strikes by refugees

…in Greece within the last year:
by Infomobile

  • 19th September – 22nd October 2009:
    After a number of revolts inside the detention centre Pagani on Lesvos island, the prison was finally officially closed and the last refugees left to Athens. Huge numbers of refugees had been imprisoned in the overcrowded prison all over the summer, leading to repeated uprisings. The refugees demanded freedom through hunger strikes, broke the doors of the cells and put the cells on fire. The revolts gained a lot of public attention and media coverage through the noborder action Lesvos 2009.
  • 3rd February 2010:
    Refugees detained in Venna put fire on their clothes and mattresses to protest against their prolonged imprisonment and the inhuman detention conditions. Only three days later 42 of them were judged penalties of 4-6 months detention and following deportation without having any access to lawyers and interpreters. Then they were transferred to other prisons in order to isolate them.
  • 13th March:
    In the night of 13th March 2010, 35 detainees set the detention centre of the police station of Patras on fire to protest against their detention and the detention conditions.
  • 13th–17th April:
    124 detained refugees started a hunger strike in the detention centre of Samos protesting against the transfer of 60 refugees from Samos detention centre to a prison close to the Bulgarian border and to protest against their deportation
  • Continue reading ‘Short history of hunger strikes by refugees’

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


Continue reading ‘From Lesvos to Kabul’

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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Memorial for the drowned refugees of October 2009 [+speech]

Survivors of the accident with the rescued baby

On Sunday, 5th of September, Welcome To Europe installed a memorial for the drowned refugees of October 2009. It reads:

We mourn the refugees that died during the attempt to overcome Fortress Europe on the 27th of October 2010.

Yalda 8 * Neda 10 * Mehdi 4 * Zakia * Tsima * Sonia 6 * Abdulfasl 3 * Zomaya

We thank the heroic fishermen who saved the lives of the survivors.

The Speech

We came together today, here in Korakas. A horrifying name – Raven is its meaning. A messenger of death. Today we gathered in Korakas for remembering the dead.

We gathered for giving back a piece of dignity to those who survived. A piece of dignity that was lost on the way to Europe, like the passports or the photographs showing the faces of the beloved ones that disappeared in the water. We gathered to give back a piece of dignity to those who might even feel that having survived is a betrayal to those who died. We want to give back a piece of dignity, also to those whose death disappeared – right here – into the senselessness of the European borders.

Here and today, at this place of failure, we want to pause and create a space for all those who lost their lives. Remembering here means to save the stories of the uncounted faces of those who lost their lives at the borders of Europe from the tremendous arrogance of the posterity.

Their death is the death in search for freedom. And that concerns all of us. So let us speak together.

Yalda – She lives!
Neda – She lives!
Mehdi – He lives!
Zakia – She lives!
Tsima – She lives!
Sonia – She lives!
Abdulfasl – He lives!
Zomaya – She lives!

We shall never forget them.
We shall tear down the borders that killed them.

w2eu@lesvos: our programme for the next days

Saturday, 4th of September 2010, Platia Sappho, Mitilini. 6pm
Exhibition Traces from Lesvos through Europe – one year after the noborder camp in Lesvos

Last year during noborder, we met a lot of people that soon continued their way through Europe. With the exhibition, we want to bring the stories of the people back. Where did they go and what happened to them?

Sunday, 5th of September 2010, Skala Sikaminias. 5pm
Installation of a memorial for the drowned refugees of October 2009

On 26.10.2009 next to the coast of Korakas, eight refugees drowned during their attempt to reach Europe. A local fisherman could rescue a baby from one of the families, who had the luck to survive. To remember this great act of solidarity but also all the deaths of fortress europe we will be installing a memorial at the lighthouse at the beach of Korakas outside Skala Sikaminias.

Monday, 6th of September 2010, Pagani, Mitilini. 6pm to 9pm
Temporary museum of migrant struggles against detention camps

We present the exhibition Traces as well as photo- and video-screenings about the continued resistance of refugees and migrants from the inside and about the protests from the outside against the imprisonment of refugees and migrants. The protests led to its official closure in October of last year. Pagani is an abandoned place today, but the traces of the struggles are still alive.

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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Frontex in the Aegean

In 2009, 150.000 irregular migrants were intercepted in Greece, which amounts for 75% of all interceptions in the EU. Even though in 2010, this number is likely to drop again, it is clear that the closure of other routes to Europe (West Africa to Spain, Libya to Italy/Malta) has made Greece the presently last remaining gateway to the EU, turning it into a embattled ground where the EU is intervening decisively.

There are three tested responses to irregular migration, and the operations of Frontex in Greece and the Aegean have elements of all of them. The first would be to integrate Turkey into the border regime (similar to the case of Libya). On an institutional level, Frontex is trying to connect with the Turkish coast guard and to involve them in joint maneuvers and also seeks a working agreement with the Turkish border authority. But also Greece and the EU are trying to improve their cooperation with Turkey on migration matters: While Greece and Turkey have a readmission agreement (which Greece would like to extend, since practically, its functioning is questionable), the EU has been negotiating such an agreement for many years with Turkey, albeit without success so far. Functional readmission agreements would force Turkey to readmit not only nationals, but all irregular migrants who can be proved to have entered Greece and the EU via Turkey. This would shift the responsibility for securing borders and inhibiting the movements of migration to Turkey.

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Pagani – Villa Azadi – Dikili

As you can see, this our blog is picking up speed again, and we intend to maintain that speed: A lot of things are happening, and of course we will make a lot of things happen this year again, too. But one after the other. We receive a lot of questions concerning various developments, so we try to follow up. We start with these sites.

Pagani, detention centre/prison
Is Pagani closed or not? This is the question most often asked, and subject of heated debate. We have always stated that Pagani is closed (as not-functioning as a detention centre) and open (as in rather open reception centre). This is not entirely true anymore.

To be very clear: The situation in Pagani is far from what it was last year, and this is still a major success. To date, not more than 30 refugees are detained in Pagani, but at most for a couple of days, until they are being transferred to Xios or Athens. We still need to verify what is happening to them there (white paper? detention? deportation?), so bear with us for the time being. The cells however are never closed, a lot of people sleep in the yard, which however is locked and guarded by the local police. The visible difference is that Frontex has become active in the camp, interrogating detainees (like what is happening in Samos).

What to make of this news? The Greek state clearly has not managed to reverse the situation that was created during and after noborder last year. There are no real detention capacities, a new, human-rights-compatible detention centre has not been built (also due to local popular resistance), it is only the european side of things that is moving forward, intervening, forging ahead.

Villa Azadi, open reception centre for under-age refugees
Some of you might be familiar with Villa Azadi, the open reception centre for under-age refugees near the village Agiassos on Lesvos. It was one of the few efforts on behalf of the greek state to house migrants in need of protection in a good and safe environment.

Villa Azadi is not functioning anymore as of this month. There is no more money, hence no paid staff.

Dikili, Turkish port opposite Lesvos, to become deportation port
The newspaper Ethnos reported on the 5th of July that

[d]uring last week’s meeting of Greek and Turkish officials on irregular migration in Athens, the Turkish side agreed to set out the port of Dikili, about 15 miles off Lesvos island, to serve the readmission of irregular migrants in Turkey. Turkish authorities estimate that the port will start operating within the present month of July.

In May, during a joint cabinet session of the Greek and Turkish governments, an agreement was reached to reinforce the Greek-Turkish Readmission Protocol. Apart from agreeing to process 1.000 readmission requests per year, the Turkish side also agreed to open a port for direct deportations. So far, deportations from Greece to Turkey had to pass the land border at the river Evros/Meriç. So in the case of the islands, all intercepted and to-be-deported migrants had to be transferred to Athens, then on to Thrace, and over the land border. This might change now.

Conclusions
The developments in the Agean are severely lopsided. While Greece and Europe are strengthening their deportation capabilities (Frontex patrols, Frontex interrogators, deportations via sea, the continued use of Pagani), the reform (read: creation) of an asylum system vaguely reminiscent of protection is not moving forward at all, and the few gems like Villa Azadi are being shut down.

Mitilini, June 2010

+++ Frontex expands border patrol +++ Pagani still works as closed detention centre +++ Frontex-interviewers replaces Medicines Sans Frontiers +++ marks of Noborder are still to be found everywhere +++

When you walk along the port of Mitilini, the capital of Lesvos island, you can hardly oversee that you are moving in a militarized zone of migrant-hunters. The greek coast-guard and the European border agency Frontex are even more obviously present than last year. The ship of the Rumanian coast guard (a lot of people might know it from last years Noborder-activities) looks small and almost friendly besides the more than double-sized grey vessel, named “Arago” from France. The “Arago” participated already in September 2008 in the Frontex-Mission Nautilus between Lampedusa and Malta. Even too big to be placed in the closed part of the port, it has to be parked in front of the Blue Sea Hotel. Sometimes it is also “hiding” near Petra on Lesvos’ north coast, the main arrival coast of the last years. In the main port in Mitilini the coast-guard is again present and the small hunting-speed-boats that had shown their manoeuvring in the harbours action last August as well.

Continue reading ‘Mitilini, June 2010’

Daily arrivals in Mytilini: Dantes Inferno has open doors!

Daily arrivals in Mytilini: Dantes Inferno has open doors! While everybody is waiting for the new asylum law announced to be passed around May 2010, the new season has begun! Almost every day refugees arrive on the island: 11 today (within them a pregnant woman/ 9th month!), 14 yesterday, 30 the day before, depending always on the weather conditions. The new screening center in Outza is under construction despite protests by neighbouring businesses. New arriving refugees are currently being brought to Pagani for one or two days, issued a white paper and released to go to Athens. Probably some are still transferred to Chios island. The doors of Pagani are widely open. No police presence, only food is being brought there. The facilities of the detention center have not changed at all. There is no stuff working there. The facilities of the detention center have not changed at all.
At the same time Frontex is preparing the official opening of their operational office in Piraeus. Officers are already working in the detention centers of Samos and Chios, with additional presence on other islands such as Kos and Rhodes. Within the next two months German officers are expected to arrive in Greece with two helicopters strengthening the Frontex force. Also the Greek coast guard of Mytilini expects enforcement and additional stuff for the coming summer.

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