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Freedom, not Frontex
There cannot be democracy without global freedom of movement
The dynamic of the Arab spring is emanating into the entire world. The movements of revolt in the Maghreb encourage and give hope, not only because despotic regimes that have been believed invincible were chased away. Although the direction of further developments remain open it is obvious that the domino effect of the Tunisian jasmine revolution swiftly brought back the old insight that history is driven from below. The struggles are directed against the day-to-day poverty as well as against general oppression, they are as much about better living conditions as they are about dignity, in short: “bread and roses”.
Continue reading ‘Freedom, not Frontex’
The Guardian released two embassy cables provided by the by now well-known wikileaks cablegate that report on the Greek government’s position and strategy on dealing with irregular migration. This article provides a short summary of the contents. Both reports were written shortly after the change of government in October 2009, in December and February respectively. They don’t offer any surprising insight, but sketch some policy lines.
- Greece tackles migration and asylum issues. 4th of December 2009
- Greece revamps security service and tackles immigration. 1st of February 2010
The first embassy cable, Greece tackles migration and asylum issues confirms that asylum and migration are high priority to the new government, both on a domestic as well as on a European level. From the summary:
Continue reading ‘US embassy cables: Greece and migration’
Our friends from Clandestina alert us to the fact that…
…last Tuesday (4th of December), a riot broke out, one of the most serious to date, at the detention centre at Fylakion in the Evros region, near the town of Orestiada and the FRONTEX headquarters at the Greco-Turkish border. According to the policemen guarding the centre, the sans papiers immigrants short-circuited the electricity network causing a blackout, blocked the sewer system causing the overflow of waste and caused minor damages to the centre’s building.
Special police forces were called in from Orestiada and the sans papiers welcomed them by throwing chlorine detergent at them. They had been supplied bottles of chlorine so that they keep the prison clean by themselves, since no cleaning service is provided for the 3-year old detention centre, where up to 1000 refugees, including families with small children, are being held in a building designed to temporarily host 350 people at a time – with bad water, few toilets, no showers, and no medical or legal help.
During the riot, four sans papiers are said to have escaped.
picture credit: image of Fylakio detention centre taken from wikipedia
Iranian refugees detained in Evros continue wave of hunger strikes
27th November, Athens, by Infomobile
Four Iranians detained at the border station of Feres in northeastern Greece have sewed their mouths in protest of their prolonged detention. Only one of them, a journalist, managed to apply for asylum. The situation in Feres is critical due to overcrowded cells but also because victims of torture, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups are held for long periods in detention.
In the beginning of October two Iranian refugees started a hunger strike while being in detention in Evros. They stitched their mouths using fibbers from their shoelaces as an act of protest against their deportation and for their right to political asylum. If they wouldn’t had been in a critical medical condition, which led to their transfer to Alexandroupolis hospital, their cases would not have reached the public. They would have been possibly deported back to Iran where they would face imprisonment and execution for political reasons.
Since the early summer of 2010 more and more refugees – mainly coming from Iran – are caught up in the midst of a protection gap. They resorted to hunger strikes as act of political resistance, their last means of struggle, the only way to be heard and helped. Repeatedly they have fought for their right to asylum, some of them succeeded. They also fight for their freedom and basic human rights.
Continue reading ‘How the Rabit saved the refugee’
We are monitoring the situation around the upcoming RABIT deployment to Greece. As it seems, Greece has requested
160 175 officers to be sent to Greece.
- Denmark will contribute five to six officers, which will be able to travel within the next four days.
- Sweden will contribute
a handful of officers.
- France has announced to mobilise the entire French RABIT pool.
- Update 2, 4.11.2010:
- Germany has announced to provide up to 40 officers, plus 7 patrol cars and 4 thermo vision vans (source: Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 4.11.2010)
- The Netherlands will send 14 officers of the Royal Military Police (RMP) and 2 officers of the Rotterdam Seaport Police. These 16 will be in action until December 1 and will then be replaced by other Dutch units.
Update 30.10.2010: Frontex released a third press statement. They will deploy 175 border guards and a additional technical equipment:
In total, 175 border-control specialists have been made available by the 26 Member States and Schengen-Associated Countries participating in the first ever RABIT deployment. Joint Operation (JO) RABIT 2010 will also see an unprecedented quantity of technical equipment and other logistical and administrative support. All the costs incurred by Member States in relation to the deployment will be reimbursed by Frontex.
The specialisations of guest officers deployed will include experts in false documents, clandestine entry, first and second-line border checks and stolen vehicles as well as dog handlers and specialist interviewers, debriefers and interpreters. All RABIT officers receive mandatory human rights awareness training as part of their RABIT training by Frontex and in addition, special briefings will be held on the spot as a provision of JO RABIT 2010.
The deployment is scheduled to commence on 2 November 2010, with an anticipated duration of up to two months.
- 1 Helicopter (Romania)
- 1 Bus (Romania)
- 5 Minibuses (1 Romania, 2 Austria, 1 Bulgaria, 1 Hungary)
- 19 Patrol cars (4WD) (7 Romania, 3 Austria, 2 Slovakia, 7 Germany)
- 9 Thermo Vision Vans (2 Austria, 2 Bulgaria, 4 Germany, 1 Hungary)
- 3 Schengen buses (1 Austria, 2 Hungary)
- 3 office units from Denmark
Developing story, we will update this post.
Frontex has granted the request of the Greek government for the deployment of the Rapid Border Intervention Teams in the Evros border.
From their press release (25th of October 2010):
Continue reading ‘Frontex acknowledges Greek RABIT request’
Today, Saturday, was the designated Frontex action day in Samos. We scored our first victory in the morning when all coast guard and Frontex ships withdrew from the port, disappearing somewhere. Up to now, they have not returned. The image below shows where they usually park their ships during the day… it is empty. We demilitarised, de-frontexisised Vathy, at least for a day.
Continue reading ‘“Please don’t paint…”’
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.
Continue reading ‘First Words from Samos’
Well, well, nothing is ever moving as fast as said. A new article in The Economist brings the news that apparently, the opening of Frontex’ Branch Office in the port of Piraeus will be delayed until October, after it was supposed to first open in spring, then in August.
There are two more aspects in the article that are worth noting, summarised in this paragraph:
So Brussels is sending in the cavalry. Frontex, a Warsaw-based agency created in 2004 to manage the EU’s external borders, will open a pilot office in the Greek port of Piraeus in October. Earlier this month its executive director, Ilkka Laitinen, went to Athens to finalise the plan with Greece’s home-affairs minister, Michalis Chrisochoidis. There was much talk of “milestones” and “adding value”. But there were hints of frustration behind the smiles. Mr Chrisochoidis welcomed the symbolism of the move but says in practical terms it will be “a drop in the ocean”. As for Frontex, squeezed by budgetary and personnel constraints, Mr Laitinen politely describes its job as “a challenge”.
Well, the Economist might have it the wrong way, since it also credits to job of
managing the EU’s external borders to Frontex, which is not really true. However, the image of the
cavalry is interesting, as it might still be sufficiently describing the role of Frontex in Greece: They don’t come to support, they don’t come to coordinate, they come to get the job done, and that by any means necessary. We have already described what that means: Maximising border “security” by all means, minimising the respect for human rights and international law. Or is this again a misconception, citing the
drop in the ocean? We will be in Greece to find out.
Just to keep you updated on the activities of Frontex in the Aegean, we dug out this recent article from a local newspaper, reporting about Frontex in Patras. Is the advertisement next to it not great? Yes, the Mediterranean used to be an area of travel, exchange and commerce, why did we turn it into a mass grave?
Our friendly translator says:
4 coastguards of Patras Central Post Authority are following a special training program and will be the Frontex “branch” in Patras. They will report on the current situation for the implementation of the appropriate interventions.
Training consists of 3 levels and we completed two of them. Seminars are taking place in several countries. Me, for example, I have been trained in Spain and Italy. We will try to help the Frontex specialists group which will visit us, by providing crucial information, Evangelos Agelis, vice-president of Patras coastguards and one of the 4 coastguards in special training program, said.
In Patras port 2 german and 1 italian policemen are taking part in passport controls in order to reduce illegall migration.
This year, the Schengen Agreements turn 25 years, supposedly providing for passport-check-free travel in Schengenland. So how are those three border guards mentioned in the last paragraph controlling?