Demonstration in Solidarity with Sea Watch

On 2nd of July evening, an assembly of about 75 people gathered in front of the Frontex vessel Valiant in the port of Mytilini and marching downtown.
With slogans and banners they demonstrated against the arrest of the Sea Watch Captain Carola Rackete and demanded her freedom.

We were relieved when we learned during the demonstration about her release. Still, the criminalization of sea rescue continues. Saving lives is a duty not a crime. The European Union dumps this duty to the so-called Libyan Coast guard, militia groups that either do not react on calls – leaving humans to drown – or brings the people back to a war-torn country where they face maltreatment and imprisonment or are sold on slave markets. In some cases, people returned are eventually killed, as yesterdays events show: At least forty migrants died and about 80 were injured through an airstrike on a detention camp in the outskirts of Tripoli. Since 2003, these detention centres are financially supported by the European Union and provided with material and have even been visited by an EU delegation.

While Carola is for now released from detention, the people who were on board of the Sea Watch 3 are not yet in safety and the Sea Watch 3 is still confiscated. Many other people involved in sea rescue are still facing trials: At the same time, the Juventa crew and captain Pia Klemm is brought before Italian courts for saving thousands of lives.

But it is not only white, European sea rescuers who face persecution. The criminalization and persecution of migrants who have less international visibility is even much worse. On the Greek Islands, people fleeing to Europe are arrested from rubber dinghies on a daily basis for no other reason than driving their own boat or calling for help in case of accidents. After months of pre-trial detention, in a farce of trial most of them are literally convicted for hundreds of years in prison, that they usually have to serve as a 25 or 10 years prison sentences. Their lives are apparently considered worthless, they are criminalized just because they were born in a non-European country.

The release of Carola is a great success against the EU policy of isolation, deliberate left-to-die policies and criminalization of solidarity, but no one is free, until everyone is free.

Stop criminalization of people who save lives!

Stop the criminalization of people saving their lives!

Enable safe passages!

The Border remains deadly

– seven more people have died on the way to Lesvos.

Yesterday was again one of the days on Lesvos, when we don‘t know what to do. How to react to the message, that makes us cry. This morning in front of us, just a few kilometers off shore another shipwreck happened. The tragedy led to the death of seven people. As many others before, they risked their lifes together with 50 other people in a small boat which didn’t make it all the way and sank.

This shipwreck is no accident. The people who died are victims of
Fortress Europe, which still forces migrants to take this dangerous
route. There is no legal alternative to come.

In the same time, when people are dying due to this border, civil rescue teams face
repression, and are blocked and accused of working together with smugglers. With the same people who use the European migration politics to earn money off the desperation of people and don’t hesitate to overload tiny boats with 60 and more people.

Borders kill

love and rage
nbk

Today we are relieved to report the acquittal of 122 people on trial after the fascist attacks of 23rd April 2018. As the criminalisation of protest on Lesvos continues, this is a moment of respite.

The night of the attacks stands in our memories as an example of extreme hatred and violence against peaceful protestors. Stones and firecrackers were thrown at a group of Moria’s residents who had settled in the square to demand better living conditions and freedom of movement. After 8 hours of these attacks, 122 protestors were arrested, 12 of them children, for false, trumped up charges including illegal occupation of public property and revolt with physical force.

These people should never have been arrested and charged. The right to protest belongs to all of us. We celebrate that this particular weight has been lifted from the shoulders of those accused, and we continue to fight for more than the bare minimum.

Love and rage always,
Your NBK crew

Fascists set up anti-migrant cross at Lesvos shore

During the night of March 3rd 2019, a mob of around fifty fascists, led by a
Chios fascist, erected a 10m high metallic cross on the rocks of Apelli, Mytilene.
The atmosphere was heated and hostile, and the fascists were pushing each
other with enraged screams.
Immediately after the installation of the cross, thirty-six of them were arrested
and charged with ‘arbitrary occupation of public property and erecting an
illegal constructionʼ.
This illegal construction is a provocation. The cross is set at the shore, in an
area protected for archaeological reasons. Boasts arriving in the harbour will
have an immediate view of it.
Apelli is a spot prevalent in the history of Lesvos, being associated with the
executions of Greek civilians by the German Nazis during WWII. Fascists setting
up a sign at the exact spot is simply disgusting. The fascist act of “marking
oneʼs territory” is also just one peak of a series of racist and anti-migrant
events.
In the last years, Apelli became an area where migrants who are stuck on
Lesvos used to spend time and swim regularly. Local fascists were fighting
them away often, and even removed seating facilities to make the space less
comfortable. Simultaneously, paintings of white crosses appeared on several
public places frequented by migrants. They were used to mark the areas as
white and Christian territory.
In the summer of 2018, local fascists set up a 2m high cement cross on the
rocks of Apelli. Thirty-two fascists were subsequently arrested and charged. A
discussion broke out, in which many people and an NGO demanded the
structure be removed by the authorities as it offended migrants and abused a
Christian symbol.
Just one month later, the cross was found destroyed.
The discussion shifted, now focusing on the legitimisation of the destruction of
a Christian symbol. Fascists and conservative Christians aligned. The original
reasons for the erection were pushed out of focus.
On 3rd March 2019, the fascists set up the new, larger cross at the same
location. This time, there has been no public outrage and only brief medial
coverage.
Since then, fascists patrol Apelli day and night. A group of them constantly
guard the cross in fear of another destruction, and new ornamentation,decoration and blessings are constantly added to the cross, now including two
flag poles, a plaque, and various forms of art.
The fascistsʼ actions are accompanied by a public discourse that turns more
and more right wing, spreading hostility against the migrant population.
Fascists succeed in more collusion with the conservative Christian community,
instrumentalising the Christian religion and its various symbols. They
hallucinate that their culture is endangered by migrants coming to the island
across the Aegean. Successfully they distorted and warped the original
discussion of the erection of a fascist symbol with the intention to intimidate
and deter migrants, to a discussion about disrespect in relation to Christianity
and its religious iconography. Apparently, even the illegal construction and
installation of a 10m high structure at an archaeologically protected site is
tolerated by authorities.
Another example is a weekly military circus that happens at Sappho Square. For
years, every Sunday, the military have a celebration, raising the Greek national
flag. Recently, fascists invented a story that migrants were trying to attack the
event. This simply is a lie. It never had any true source or foundation of reality.
But it worked. Since the fake news spread, significantly more conservative
Greeks and fascists are attending the weekly celebration in order to protect
their event, and at the same time “their culture”. This is a dangerous
development, especially considering that at the same time migrants are
constantly threatened and attacked by fascists, and that these events do not
get sufficient public attention. A celebration of Nowruz (Persian New Year) on
21st March 2019, which was planned on a beach near to Apelli, could not take
place, for fear of fascist attacks.
Last year in April, migrants protested in Mytilene city centre after an Afghani
died due to lack of medical treatment in Moria Camp [https://noborderkitchenlesvos.noblogs.org/post/2018/04/28/pogrom-night-in-mytilini/]. The
people, among them children, were attacked by two-hundred fascists, who
threw bottles, stones, and fireworks, whilst screaming “burn them alive”.
Several people were injured and had to be treated in hospital.
Fascists parade themselves as victims, disguising the fact that they are in fact
the perpetuators. Their lies curry favour with the conservative Greek
population, strengthening and encouraging racists beliefs and attitudes.
We as No Border Kitchen stand in solidarity with the migrants and the anti-
fascists on Lesvos island. With concern, we observe the reinforcing fascist and
anti-migrant atmosphere. With rage, we take to the streets with shouts and chants. With passion, we maintain the work we do, establishing gestures of
solidarity and practically supporting the people on the move.

Fight borders. Fight nations.

3 Years EU-TURKEY Deal

The 20th of March 2019 marked the sad, third anniversary of the EU-Turkey Deal; a bad deal for refugees and asylum seekers who where looking for safety in Europe, because the current policies are still not offering sufficient safe routes into Europe.
The Eu-Turkey Deal stipulates that, among other things, Turkey controls its own border and all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to Lesbos as of 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey. For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled to the EU. Turkey will take any necessary measures to prevent new sea or land routes for irregular migration opening from Turkey to the EU. The Deal is shameful and in fact people still die and get arrested through this.

This is the reason why people of Lesbos demonstrated together at the 20th of March against this bloody Deal.
Around 120 people met at Sappo Square with banners and marched through the streets until the “Άγαλμα Μικρασιάτισσας Μάνας” Monument, “The Mother from Asia Minor.” Locals and Refugees held speeches in front an installation made out of a fences and life jackets as an image of this brutal, unhuman policy.

The truth is that desperate people will not stop trying to escape war and violence, and, despite the deal, arrivals in Lesbos have not and will not stop. As a result, camps remain overcrowded and services overstretched.

Freedom of movement is everybody’s right!

Acquittal of 8 Migrants

Last year in March eight men were arrested and accused of attacking the cops and for arson during protests in Moria camp a few days before. Five of them were kept in prison for 11 months, on the mainland and on Chios.
11 months after the arrests, last week on the 22nd of February, they were finally brought to the High Court in Chios, where it took the three judges and the four person jury only an hour and a half to acquit them of all charges and declare their innocence.
Already in the pre-hearing directly after the arrests, the lack of evidence and the arbitrariness of the whole case was very obvious.
The whole accusation was only based on the testimony of a camp resident, who was in the role of community leader at that time. He claimed to have recognized all eight men, although their faces were covered and it was dark, and the air was full of smoke and teargas. Some of the accused men reported that they did not even know the community leader personally.
On the day he testified, his geographic restriction to Lesvos was lifted and he was able to leave to the mainland. Repeatedly community leaders are put under pressure by the police to pass on information and are threatened with criminal prosecution themselves, or told that it will harm their own asylum claim if they do not cooperate. Moreover, they are offered the possibility to be able to leave the prison island Lesvos if they work as informants. In this case the abuse is more than likely.
Not one of the 17 cops who testified has been able to recognize a single person. The alibis proving the absence of at least two of the accused during the protests were neither taken into account at the pre-hearings nor at the submitted objections against the detention.

The final decision, to find them innocent, is a small success and a relief for the accused. Nevertheless, five of them had to endure 11 months of imprisonment, and the criminalization of migrants and the random arrests continue.

The randomness of the arrests and the lack of of investigation shows once more, the symbolic character of the trial. It is another act of intimidation against those who try to oppose the system of detention and encampment at European Borders.
The pre-trial detention and the charges based on dubious accusations outline another case of criminalization of protests and a violent crackdown on the resistance of protestors.

In memory and rage

We are enraged by the events of the last week and the ongoing violence of the European Border Regime towards people on the move.

On January 8th, 2019 the European Border regime, and violent neglect of human life and dignity present in Moria camp on the Greek Island of Lesvos led to the death of Jean Paul, a 24 year old man from Cameroon. The last few weeks have been the coldest ones yet this winter, with temperatures hovering around freezing, high winds, and frequent rain storms. Much of Moria has been experiencing power outages for days, leaving many people without heat and other basic necessities.

Jean Paul had chosen to sleep in the Isobox container house of a friend for the night instead of his usual place in a tent in order to try to escape the cold. In the middle of the night, a friend noticed that his breath had grown irregular, and quickly ran to find medical assistance. Medical personnel turned the friend away, and by the time he returned to the isobox there was little to be done. Those who had tried to help him wound up spending the night in the police station, being questioned and detained without proper translation assistance before finally being released in the morning.

Over a week later, there continues to power outages throughout the camp, and Jean Paul’s death has been blamed on a heart attack. While this is possible, it fails to take into account questions of how a 24-year-old man described as quite healthy by his friends could have possibly passed away from this. It overlooks the impact that prolonged exposure to the cold and the stress of living in Moria can have on human health.

There have also been two major fires in Moria over the course of the last week. While the exact causes are uncertain, these fires were likely caused by people trying to build fires to stay warm during to the power outages, or even the faulty electrical system itself. Rather than taking steps to fix problems with the electricity and prevent future fires, the only real response on the part of the authorities has been to arrest residents of the tents where the fires occurred.

Jean Paul’s death, the electricity problems, and the fires are not isolated events. In the winter of 2016, several other people died from the cold in Moria. Reports on the 2016 death were not published until two years later, and similar delays are likely in this case. Doing so makes it harder to pursue justice, and pushes the problem out of view while waiting for people to move on. For years now, people have decried the unsafe and inhumane conditions in the camp, with clear evidence of human rights abuses occurring and the ongoing ways the asylum system and Fortress Europe has left those on the move in incredibly precarious positions. The fact that power outages still persist over a week after someone passed away from the cold and two fires in the span of a week provides undeniable evidence of the violent neglect of human life and dignity present. The only real response on the part of the authorities has been arrests, further contributing to ongoing criminalization of migration seen throughout Europe and ongoing injustices.

 

Winter update

Gallery

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Winter  on Lesvos, the weather has taken a turn for the worst. In Moria, the main camp on the island, many people—among them recent arrivals—live in tents with little protection from the cold and rain due to a shortage of … Continue reading

How many more deaths in Europe?

2018 and things haven’t changed, Europes borders keep being as deadly as in the previous years.
So far this year, 2160 people have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea – 2 weeks ago, it was 2063. The emergency is still on. It’s time to react.

Right in front of our door, people are dying:
just some examples…
– On the 12th of November, a boat on the way to Lesvos capsized, two men managed to swim to shore in Dikili but 6 people died and 4 are missing.
– Two months ago (08/10/2018) nine dead bodies were found and dozens of people are missing. The boat was trying to reach Lesvos.
– Also on the way to Lesvos, 6 people, including three babies, drowned on the 29/06/18. – May 14, Babakale
– Turkey (just up north of Lesvos): 7 people died in a shipwreck.

This tragedy isn’t an accident, this is the result of European migration policies, set up since the Schengen deal in 1985. Strengthening borders and tracking and deporting people stops them from entering Europe legally, and forces them to use perilous routes instead.

The European Fortress also set up policies to externalize the borders and repel as much as possible. The EU injects millions of euros into projects to prevent migration into European territory, no matter if it supports dictatorial regimes. Indeed, on the 35 « priority countries » for the externalization of borders, all are known for abusing human rights and half of these countries have an authoritarian or dictatorial government.

It’s time to understand that the more money Europe give to train and equip armies from Turkey, Libya, Sudan…, the more people will try to flee those countries. For those who survived a dangerous journey and finally arrived to Lesvos, the island becomes not a place to find safety but even worse, a place to slowly die. Lesvos is a prison for them, as they can’t go forward because of European policy, and can’t go back to their country of origin, because they would be persecuted, enslaved or killed. We stand in solidarity with migrants everyday, not only when UN celebrates the « International Day of Human Rights ».

– Stop spending millions to kill people
– Stop supporting dictatorial governments
– Stop Dublin Regulations – Stop deportation
– Stop concentrating people in hotspots