Fascists on Saphous square and attempted illegal deportation

“Concerned citizens” and angry shop owners formed part of a 40-strong fascist mob at Saphous Square last Tuesday, gathered in an attempt to evict refugee protesters from their month-long occupation of the site. They were soon joined by police. After extensive negotiations between the protestors, the mayor, and the police, the protestors agreed to pack up their tents. Verbal abuse and the threat of physical attack from the surrounding mob left the protestors with little choice but to do so. They were promised a night in a ‘warm place’ in return, but this was never delivered, and instead of decent government-provided shelter they were brought to sleep in tents at House4Humanity.

Following this, the protestors returned to the square the next morning, welcomed again by the fascist mob. Police in full riot gear showed up to separate the parties and to begotiate again. After some time the protestors were offered a three-day stay in Pikpa, an independent refugee camp, with the obvious question of what will happen once the three days are up left unanswered. The protestors announced to return to the square if not offered any solutions after this time. During the negotiations the gathered fascists shouted violent verbal abuse, directed at the protestors and those in solidarity with them. At one point this broke out into a physical attack, with 25 men attempting to assault 4 women attending the protest in solidarity. In the end, luckily, no one was hurt.

Currently Saphous Square lies empty, save for a handful of bored police. For now we wait to see where this leads us, with a verdict promised by Saturday.

The importance of the Saphous Square protest, and the need for it to continue, was demonstrated again this morning. Despite one individual’s lawyer appealing his deportation order, we learned today that this man remained on the list for deportation to Turkey. The deportation has been stopped for now, by pressure from the lawyer, activists, and journalists on the police.

However, the question remains: what if this individual had not been one of the lucky few represented by a decent lawyer? Most likely, he would right now be in a Turkish detention centre, and in a few months, on a plane back to Kabul.

Nearly every week between 7-20 people are forcefully deported to Turkey. The situation is almost impossible to monitor, as access to the prisons is strictly limited to lawyers and close family members, and there are nowhere near enough lawyers on Lesvos to provide access to legal aid for the detainees. We know that today was not the only attempt to illegally deport someone, and we can be sure that the cases we hear about are the very tip of the iceberg.

General strike and demonstration

Today there is general strike and a demonstration called by the major. Although they demand the refugees to be able to leave the island we should not follow a racist argumentation that demands to decongest the island because refugees are a “burden” for the local population. Our demands are to open all borders and decent living conditions for all people, on the islands, on the mainland and in the rest of Europe.

Open the islands- Open the Borders-Free Hesam!

27 days of protest on saphous square and demonstration in front of Moria

The occupation of saphous square in Mytilini is now happening for the 27th consecutive day. For almost one month now refugees from different countries of origin, different age and gender have stood together against the conditions on the island and for their right to freedom of movement.

On Tuesday afternoon, the protesters called for a demonstration in front of Moria. The reason for the protest was the arrest of Hesam, one of the occupants of saphous square. His asylum was rejected and he faces deportation to Turkey and then Iran. He is afraid that he will face further religious persecution upon his return to Iran.

At 4.30 in the afternoon around 30 people gathered at first in front of Moria. Quickly they were joined by many people living in Moria camp that formed a loud and powerful yet peaceful gathering.

20th day of protest for freedom and opentheislands

Refugees have been protesting against the unsafe conditions in Moria and for Freedom of movement for 20 days now, for 19 days they have been occupying the central square in Mytilini.

Despite harassment by the police and nights that always get colder, they are still present and continue to fight for their rights. Some of the protesters started a hungerstrike several days ago.

The protest was started by mostly families after an outburst of violence inside Moria camp on October 20th.

At the same time in Athens, several people are on hungerstrike. They demand to be reunited with their families in Germany and protest the delays of family reunification by the German government, letting people wait for months before being united with their loved ones.

Follow our facebook and twitter for more updates.

Call for Donations: NoBorderKitchen Lesvos needs your support!

Once again we are almost broke and urgently need money to continue our work.

We are an anti-hierarchical, self-organized group of activists with and without papers from all over the world, with the shared aim of overcoming the borders and restrictions that impede freedom of movement.
As well as providing food in order to support the autonomy of those living outside of the state-run camps, we do other political work to resist the border regime, and fight together for a world where we are all recognised equally as humans.

What we need the money for:

Food provision is only one of many parts of our work, but it is by far the area in which we spend the majority of our money. Every month we support more than 300 people with food boxes which enable them to live and cook autonomously. For most, our support allows them the possibility of living outside the miserable, state-run camp, and making their homes in their own flats and squats instead. The demand for the boxes is huge and we currently have a long waiting list. We always hope to be able to support more people in future, but even continuing to support those we already provide for demands more funds than we currently have!

For people we cannot currently support with food boxes, and for those who don’t have cooking facilities, we also organise a daily distribution of hot food of around 80 meals a day. This is also important as an opportunity for meeting each other and chatting over a nice cup of rice and salad, and building networks of solidarity on the island.

Delivering foodboxes and meals involves a lot of driving which means we spend a lot of money on fuel, car repairs etc. At the moment we are also readying the kitchen for winter and so urgently need to buy building materials.

Food is not everything – we also support people in other ways when we have the financial means. This includes a range of things, for example providing support to our friends in detention.

If you cannot donate yourself, you could help us by doing solidarity-parties or other fundraisers in your hometown and sending us the proceeds. Even just spreading the info about NoBorderKitchen can be very useful!

Please contact us for the bank details via noborderkitchen@riseup.net or on facebook.

Follow our Facebook (“No Border Kitchen Lesvos”) and our Twitter (“@noborderkitchen”) for information on the situation on Lesvos and for updates on the work your support will enable.

#OpenTheIslands

New campaign for Freedom of Movement and against EU-Turkey deal. Share, Retweet, Sign and check out the blog opentheislands.wordpress.com!

JOINT STATEMENT

Open the islands – No more dead from cold

Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action as winter is coming for refugees in Greece

12 October 2017

Over 40 solidarity groups and organisations are calling for urgent action from the Greek local and national authorities to prevent more refugees from dying in the cold as winter sets in once again. They expect more groups and organisations to join them over the next days and weeks.

Several places woke up on Thursday 12 October to find their neighbourhoods plastered with the emblematic picture of Moria camp on Lesvos, covered in snow last winter, while the collective has also launched a campaign on social media with the hashtag #opentheislands.

Six people who were seeking refuge and protection in Europe died in Moria last winter, their deaths linked to inhumane winter living conditions. Their families are still waiting for answers from the authorities as to how and why their relatives died, and for those who are responsible to be held accountable. Only last Sunday 8 October, a five-year-old Syrian girl died in Moria. The cause of death is yet unknown.

The collective of solidarity groups and organisations, expresses their shock and outrage at the current situation in the islands as winter sets in. Approximately 5000 people currently live in Moria camp, which has a capacity of around 2000. This includes the seriously ill, the disabled, pregnant women, many children including unaccompanied minors, and survivors of torture and other trauma. Many now live in woefully inadequate summer tents and have to sleep on the floor on thin sleeping mats or blankets. Likewise, the other Greek hotspot islands – Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros – are dramatically overcrowded, leaving 8000 more asylum seekers without appropriate shelter. The so-called hotspots are currently uninhabitable and to date a clear plan to prevent the tragedies of last winter from being repeated has not been released.

A refugee forced to stay in Moria camp reports about the conditions:

Living in Moria makes us all sick. In the morning you wake up in a cramped tent or container between other people. It smells disgustingly and I hate that I cannot wash myself properly. In winter it is freezing. Everything is soaked. When you wake up you cannot move your limbs. And you’re covered in ashes. Last winter we burned paper and plastic to stay warm. It is as if we were not human beings.”

The collective stresses that the current situation is not caused by the onset of winter or a sudden increase of arrivals. Rather, it is a direct result of the EU-Turkey Statement and EU asylum and migration policies of exclusion. These policies keep people trapped on the islands for prolonged periods of time, prevent people from ever reaching Europe, and prevent people who are eligible for relocation and family reunification from moving on to other countries in a reasonable time.

Everybody knows that winter is coming. 700 million Euros have been made available to the Greek authorities to manage the situation. As a collective, we want details as to how and where this money is being spent. We also urgently demand that the several relevant actors in the Greek government, at national and local level, assume and clearly communicate their responsibilities. They must then be held accountable for what will happen to refugees and migrants this winter in Greece. The ongoing practice of dodging blame and responsibility for the systematic violation of refugees’ rights in the Greek hotspots is unacceptable and has to stop. It is the role of the prime minister to ensure that all levels of the government function and are held accountable. We call on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to clarify the responsibilities of different actors both locally and nationally, and to present a plan for winter.

Likewise, we condemn all the European governments who have created the EU-Turkey Statement and who put pressure on Greece to implement the EU-Turkey Statement, through the European Commission and other channels. The Statement prioritises maintaining Fortress Europe over all else, trampling roughshod over international human rights law. All European governments share the responsibility for the human rights violations suffered by refugees in Greece today, for those deaths that have already occurred, for those which could follow this winter.

It is with great interest that we have taken notice of the various statements by UNHCR, municipalities, and RIC staff, sounding the alarm over the current situation in the Greek islands. But without action, these statements are empty. We need solutions and immediate action from all responsible actors, including UNHCR, whose mandate is to provide international protection and seek permanent solutions for problems faced by refugees.

We call on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to:

clarify the responsibilities of different actors both locally and nationally, and to present a plan for winter.

We call on the Greek government, at local and national level, to:

  • Close the hotspots and decongest the islands by ending restrictions on the freedom of movement of asylum-seekers arriving on the Greek islands and provide them with adequate reception on the mainland outside of detention facilities.

  • In the meantime, provide appropriate, winter-proof shelter for refugees staying in camps throughout Greece.

  • Stop returning asylum-seekers to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal, since they cannot fully access their right to apply for international protection in Turkey. Therefore, Turkey cannot be considered a “safe third country” or a “safe first country of asylum.”

  • Examine all asylum claims on their merits in a full and fair asylum process with all procedural and substantial safeguards.

  • Stop arbitrary detention. Stop the current practice of generalized detention of asylum-seekers based on nationality with the intention of returning them to Turkey. Children must never be detained.

  • Ensure access to medical care (including mental health care) and legal aid for asylum-seekers.

We call on the European Commission to:

  • Revise the recommendations made in quarterly reports and joint actions plans, and remove recommendations to increase security forces and detention facilities for people seeking protection in the European Union.

  • Remove recommendations to legalise the detention of minors, as outlined in the recommendations of the European Commission on 7th of March 2017, as the detention of minors violates the rights of children.

  • Remove recommendations for limiting the number of appeal steps and for including vulnerable asylum applicants as well as those with family links in the EU under the EU-Turkey deal.

We call on the European Union Member States to:

  • End all returns to Greece from other European States of refugees and asylum seekers under EU Regulation No. 604/2013 (Dublin III), due to the inhumane conditions in Greece.

  • Increase the number of available relocation places by allowing access to the scheme for those who have arrived after the conclusion of the EU-Turkey deal, and swiftly match relocation requests in order to ensure that the minimum reception conditions to safeguard human dignity can be met, as required by EU Directive 2013/33/EU.

  • Expedite the Dublin III reunification of families, many of whom have been forcibly separated by war and persecution and have been waiting years to be reunited.

  • Cancel the inhuman EU-Turkey deal.

For more information, including press materials and the list of signatories so far, please visit: https://opentheislands.wordpress.com

List of solidarity groups and organisations signing on to the joint statement

“Open the islands – No more dead from cold”:

  1. ΑΛΛΗΛΕΓΓΥΗ ΚΩΣ (Kos Solidarity / Αλληλεγγύη-Κως)
  2. Αλληλέγγυοι Χίου / Chios Solidarity (fb: https://www.facebook.com/chiossolidarity/ )
  3. Αλληλεγγύης στους Πρόσφυγες Ρεθύμνου/ Solidarity to Refugees in Rethumno
  4. ΑΝΤΙΦΑΣΙΣΤΙΚΗ ΚΙΝΗΣΗ ΚΩ/ Antifascist Movement Kos
  5. Κίνηση αλληλεγγύης  Περνάμε τα Σύνορα. Κατερίνη/ We Cross the Border Solidarity Movement
  6. Κοινωνικό Στέκι-Στέκι Μεταναστών Χανίων/ Social Centre- Migrant Centre of Chania
  7. Ομάδα ΌΑΣΙΣ Ρόδος
  8. Ομάδα στήριξης μεταναστών και προσφύγων Καλύμνου /Kalymnos Support Group for Migrants and Refugees
  9. Πρωτοβουλία Έμπρακτης
  10. Πρωτοβουλία Ηρακλείου για τους Πρόσφυγες/Μετανάστες /Heraklion Initiative for Refugees and Migrants
  11. A Drop in the Ocean / Dråpen i Havet
  12. Agora
  13. Are you Syrious (AYS)
  14. Borderline Europe/ Borderline Lesvos http://www.borderline-europe.de/
  15. Christian Peacemakers Team Europe (CPT)
  16. Collettivo Fotosocial (www.collettivofotosocial.com)
  17. ConAction – Joliba e.V. Berlin
  18. Enough is Enough
  19. FFM (Research Society Flight and Migration)
  20. HarekAct http://harekact.bordermonitoring.eu/
  21. Heimatstern
  22. InterEuropean Human Aid Association Germany e.V.
  23. Joinda Production
  24. Khora Athens http://www.khora-athens.org/
  25. Kritnet (Network Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies)
  26. Legal Centre Lesbos (www.legalcentrelesbos.org)
  27. Lesvos Solidarity (www.lesvossolidarity.org)
  28. MissingLink e.V.
  29. Mobile Flüchtlingshilfe e.V. – Mobile Refugee Relief
  30. Moving Europe http://moving-europe.org/
  31. NISYROS SUPPORTS REFUGEES
  32. No Border Kitchen Lesvos ( http://noborderkitchenlesvos.noblogs.org/)
  33. One Happy Family
  34. Outreach Service Athens
  35. Refucomm e.V Munich
  36. Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza
  37. Refugee Empowerment Awareness Task Force
  38. SAO Association
  39. Sea Watch https://sea-watch.org/en/project/about-us/
  40. The International Refugee Assistance Project
  41. Volunteers for Lesvos
  42. Watch the Med – Alarm Phone http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/page/index/12
  43. Welcome to Europe (W2EU)
  44. Maritta Gudrun Efthimiadis (since March 2015  volontary assistant in Polykastro /Thessaloniki)

 

28 REASONS FOR ARBITRARY DETENTION

The Greek government have recently introduced a way to abitrarily detain even more people in Moria. They will expand their practice of detaining people with citizenships of countries with low asylum acceptance rates, undermining the already barely existent right to a fair asylum procedure even more than before.

For several months the government has been detaining people of certain nationalities with very low acceptance rates based solely on their citizenship. The most targeted groups were people from Pakistan, Algeria, Morocco and Bangladesh. Although this is illegal regarding EU law as it is clearly discrimination based on a persons nationality and leads to a lot of racial profiling, it has been used by the government to force people to apply for asylum instead of travelling on, to get rid of “troublemakers”, to coerce people to sign for so called “voluntary return” with IOM and to make sure that as many people as possible get negative decisions on their admissability interviews and thus can be deported back to Turkey.

Since these nationality-based raids and checks have started, fear and anxiety have spread through the affected communities. We have friends and comrades who, already scared by the constant police presence and violent raids in the camps, are now also afraid to go to the city and walk in the streets. Many people have been deported in recent months, and the ones remaining live in constant fear and uncertainty, leading to constantly high levels of psychological stress.

Now the government will expand this practice. The first change is that they now plan to detain people from all countries with less than 25% acceptance rates on their asylum applications; at the moment there are 28 nationalities that fit this criteria. We don’t know yet which the 28 nationalities are but know that it will newly include, among others, people from African countries like Cameroon and Ethiopia.

The second change is that people will be detained and processed directly upon arrival. During recent months the police have often targeted people staying on the island for some months without applying for asylum. What is new now is that they want to not only detain detain and register, but also process people, directly upon arrival. The implementation of this pilot project will have severe consequences. People will

– not have time to understand the admissability and asylum procedure1 in the hotspot on Lesvos and prepare properly for their interviews

– not have proper access to legal help and be even more poorly informed about their rights

Already now the government have detained people far longer than the maximum permitted 25 days without them having received a decision on their interview. It remains to be seen how EASO, already completely overwhelmed, is supposed to provide decisions within a few weeks to new arrivals.

The Legal Centre Lesvos

“condemns the policy being used by Greek authorities that keeps applicants for international protection from countries with “low rates of recognition” detained for the duration of their asylum procedure, which is also accelerated. This policy is in violation of international human rights law: amounting to discrimination on the basis of nationality, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and precluding the right to effective access to procedures and effective remedy. The policy also violates procedural requirements of EU and Greek law, which explicitly prohibit holding people in detention for the sole reason that they have applied for international protection. […] The disturbing assumptions underlying this manifestly unlawful policy should be evident from the fact that a police circular describing the policy on 18th June 2016 termed people from “low rate of recognition” nationalities as “economic profile”, as opposed to “refugee profile” applicants.”2

This practice will lead to many people not having access to a fair procedure, and thus lower acceptance rates, which can then be used again to justify their detention in the first place. This is a dangerous and irresponsible loop, using the unjust consequences of an illegal practice to rationalise its use. Furthermore the separation of economic and political migrants dangerously ignores the political reasons for the economic injustice in countries of the south and Europe’s colonial history.

A further concern is that it will lead to more deportation of vulnerable people: those who should actually be admissible for an asylum procedure in Greece and could legally not be deported back to Turkey. However, the vulnerability screenings done as part of registration very often overlook less visible vulnerabilities like severe psychological problems (often directly related to the reasons people fled their contries of origin). This will lead to an increase in unidentified vulnerabilities and therefore deportations of people who would actually be admissable for asylum procedure and maybe also eligible for international protection.

Refugees’ access to a right to asylum and to fair procedures are already basically impossible under the EU-Turkey deal. These new regulations will make it even more difficult for them.

All of this said, it should be stressed again that migrants on Lesvos are and will be increasingly detained under horrible circumstances and for unknown periods of time just because they came to Europe from a certain country of origin. Officially the detention capacity in the pre-removal centre inside of Moria camp is 210 people3 (it was recently expanded), so it can’t hold all new arrivals; a small piece of good news at an otherwise highly worrying time.

Even more shamefully, the government’s plan for an increase in deportations doubles as their excuse for not improving the living conditions in Moria camp. The “solution” of the government for preparing the camps for winter is to deport enough people that the rest can fit into the containers built this spring.

And their “solution” for solving the long waiting times until the asylum decision seems to be to detain new arrivals and fast track detention procedures, to be able to deport people faster and more effectively (albeit illegally and inhumanely).

1For more infos on the procedures in the Greek hotspots after the EU-Turkey Deal read www.w2eu.info/greece

2http://www.legalcentrelesbos.org/2017/09/30/september-report-on-rights-violations-and-resistance-in-lesvos/

3http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/sep/eu-com-eu-turkey-7th-rep-com-470.pdf

A Moment of victory

 

Even though we declared the protest of last Saturday as a peaceful demand  of the release of Behrooz Arash and Kozhin Hussein and all illegally  detained refugees, we have been deeply concerned about police violence  and arbitrary arrests. We had mixed feelings about mobilizing people to  join the gathering, because it was obvious that the risk of police  violence would be high. It seems that police crime entered a new level of inhumanity on this  island. People get arrested in handcuffs like criminals just to check  their papers, sometimes they get detained for one night without any  reason even if their papers are valid. After the last protest in Moria  individuals got brutally pulled out of their shelters, arrested and  charged without any evidences and are detained in different prisons all  over Greece without any legal base. In a place like Moria, where  pregnant women get beaten up by police, we expected the worst but  couldn’t resist to show our rage about the injustice and our solidarity  with people who tried to reach safety but instead of receive this right  of protection get treated like criminals. Lucky us that the police kept quiet this time. Lucky us, that it seems  like this time at least one of our common goals was achieved. Behrooz  Arash and Kozhin Hussein got released of their unlawful detention on day  41 of Arash Hampays hungerstrike. Grateful for this moment of victory we  continue our fight until human rights and justice are more than just  fictive words in Europe.

Save No Border Kitchen Lesvos — fight for refugee autonomy

No Border Kitchen Lesvos currently supports 350 refugees to cook and subsist autonomously, at a regular cost of 20 euros per person per month.

We work alongside refugees failed by the broken asylum system and the bloated NGOs, standing with them as they self-organise and live outside the detention regime at Moria prison camp.

But our bank account will run empty this week. Unless we raise at least $7000 in the next two weeks we will have to shut down or reduce our operations, leaving hundreds of vulnerable refugees without access to urgently-needed support.

Please donate and share using the link youcaring.com/nbklesvos.

HOW you can help us:

no donation is too small, but:

  • €20 will provide one person with supplies to subsist autonomously for a month!
  • €80 will supply a family of four!
  • €160 will supply a group of eight – the most common size of food-box we prepare!
  • €500 would pay the rent and utilities on our kitchen/warehouse for a month!

 

You can also support us by organising solidarity parties, gigs or events in your home city. Additionally, every “share” of a crowd-funding page raises an average of €30 – so please post away on your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

We would also greatly appreciate regular monthly donations, or you can purchase credit at local food wholesalers to support the local economy – please message the ‘No Border Kitchen Lesvos’ Facebook page or email noborderkitchen (at) riseup dot net for more information.

If we smash our target together and secure some regular donations, NBK can begin working with the over 300 refugees currently on our waiting list, which is growing every day!

WHAT we need the money for:

Every month we buy 1500kg of flour, 1000kg of rice, 800kg of potatoes, 600kg of onions, 500kg of lentils, 500kg of tinned tomatoes, 480 litres of oil, 400kg of sugar, 32 crates of fresh tomatoes, 32 crates of fresh fruit, 32 crates of fresh vegetables, 320kg of tomato paste, 80kg of tea, 80kg of coffee and 40kg of salt, plus spices and toiletries. We rent a kitchen/warehouse and pay for cars and fuel.

We distribute these supplies to squats, camps, crowded flats and rough sleepers around the island, and also offer hot vegan food each day to all-comers.

WHO we are:

No Border Kitchen Lesvos is a non-hierarchical self-organized group of activists and refugees from all over the world that share the aim of overcoming the borders and restrictions that impede freedom of movement.

Alongside our food distribution, we organise a number of political programmes. Drawing on our network of contacts across the island, in Moria and in detention, we work alongside lawyers and refugee activists to support those at risk of forcible transfer to Turkey or their home countries, resist the border regime, and help refugee comrades to fight for their human rights.

Follow our Facebook (“No Border Kitchen Lesvos”) and our Twitter (“@noborderkitchen”) for information on an ongoing, brutal wave of deportations and police violence, and for updates on the work your support will enable.

With love and solidarity always

Your NBK crew

Deportation, self-harm and police violence: how the EU is condemning refugees to death

Riot police, with faces masked, pelt peaceful protesters with stones. A refugee in t-shirt and shorts slides down a loose scree slope and places his hands upon his head, only for the police to fall upon him and batter him with boots and batons.  Another protester, already handcuffed, is kicked to the ground by a mob of police. In Moria prison camp and across Lesvos, the same border regime which condemns the alleged “barbarism” of refugees is lashing out with medieval brutality.

Yet police violence is only the bluntest weapon used by the EU and the Greek authorities as they exercise arbitrary power over the lives of our refugee friends. Even more than the refugee left unconscious and bleeding for four hours after a police beating, the brave human rights activists currently on hunger strike inside and out of Moria embody the maltreatment of refugees on Lesvos.

The hunger strikers slowly starve, denied access to basic medical care and shading closer to death on a daily basis. Likewise, refugees trapped on Lesvos to rot for 12 months or more are seeing conditions and care provision deteriorate week by week. The only question is whether an epidemic of self-harm and suicide bids will claim them before they fall victim to frequent and brutal waves of deportation.

Broken bones and arbitrary arrests

The assaults – bravely captured on camera by refugee activists inside Moria –  clearly depict the way the EU is abusing these vulnerable individuals. Following protests against the lack of action on the cases of refugees from certain countries, riot police forced the demonstrators inside the camp and closed the gates.

Several new squads of riot police have been freshly imported from Athens, to crack down on dissent and round up refugees for deportation. They roamed through the camp alongside their compatriots from Lesvos, arresting at random anyone who seemed to share the protesters’ ethnic background. Covering their faces to avoid identification, they wielded rocks and batons and fired teargas canisters at point-blank range.

Victims were spat upon, subjected to racist abuse (such as “Stupid African”), stamped on by groups of ten or more cops, and beaten inside the police station. Some were dragged out of the boxes where they sleep, having remained inside for the duration of the protest, beaten and arrested. Pregnant women were manhandled. You can read more testimonies here.

One victim lost consciousness after the assaults, waking up four hours later in hospital in critical condition. He was bodily dragged to the prison van by police, leaving him with wounds all over his body. Others spent up to six days in jail awaiting pre-trial hearing without access to a doctor. A comrade newly arrived to the island said the sight of the ‘suspects’ arriving to court, splattered in blood and still with open wounds, could only be compared to centuries-old woodcuts depicting the victims of slave traders.

Lawyers were likewise repeatedly denied access to the 35 arrestees. The majority have already been dispersed in handcuffs and tattered clothes to prisons all over Greece, to languish for a year or more until their case is heard – given the near-total lack of evidence against them, the prosecutors are likely to delay their trials for as long as possible.

On top of their ongoing asylum claims, they now face a minimum of €1300 each in legal fees, compounded by long-term isolation from their friends and family – and from their lawyers. We are working with Greek comrades to build a legal and financial solidarity network and will let you know how you can help the ‘Lesvos 35’ soon. We stood in solidarity with them outside the courthouse and will not let them be forgotten.

Self-harm and death by drowning

Sadly, it is not only the cops leaving refugees broken and bleeding. Since the EU-Turkey deal was signed in March 2016, reported instances of self-harm in Moria have increased by 600 per cent, while there have been at least 10 suicide attempts within the camp in recent months – as always, actual figures are likely far higher. You cannot walk down the street in Mytilene without passing young men in ill-fitting hand-me-down clothes, riding up to expose limbs scored with fresh knife wounds and cigarette burns.

A recent report by Médecins Sans Frontières found that 80 per cent of refugees assessed in Moria had “severe” mental health issues. One-fifth had been tortured, two-thirds had suffered violence, and half of all women in Moria examined by a gynecologist had suffered sexual violence. Yet there has been a “dramatic deterioration” in the provision of mental health care, as a “grossly deficient” system aims only to deport refugees wholesale back to Turkey without concern for their wellbeing.

Yet still refugees arrive on Lesvos – nearly 1000 in the last fortnight alone. Just two days ago, five women and two children drowned attempting to cross the Aegean. 2377 refugees have lost their lives crossing to Europe this year alone. 1 in 50 people now dies while making the crossing – it is far more dangerous than back in 2015, when the world was still watching. This figure still does not include those thousands who die crossing the Sahara or at the hands of people smugglers in Libya, where deaths are likely even more commonplace than out at sea.

Deportations and psychological borders

Meanwhile, more and more of our friends are being deported back to face violence, persecution and death abroad. This Monday, police stormed Moria and nearby squats and social centres, arbitrarily arresting 50 refugees. They were forced to release those whose case is still under appeal: around 25 others, less fortunate, joined the ranks of those awaiting deportation.

Stripped of their phone, cash, and everything bar the clothes they stand up in, handcuffed deportees are muscled onto boats surrounded by Frontex minders and returned to Turkey – a “safe country” where journalists, teachers and judges are being imprisoned and brutalised in their thousands. They face 6 months’ internment, in overcrowded prisons where sexual and physical violence are commonplace and those without friends or financial support can easily sink without a trace. By this stage lawyers can do very little, as far as we know securing protection for only 5 out of thousands of non-Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Others face direct deportation to their countries of origin, where the situation is often even bleaker. Many of our friends are now too scared to attend medical appointments or crucial case hearings, for fear they will be seized and deported. They may never see their friends and family here again.

The mental health epidemic, and the generalised terror across the island , must be understood as weapons in the hands of the EU and the Greek authorities. They are breaking down people’s will to struggle and fight for their human rights, coercing vulnerable individuals to return “voluntarily” to unsafe countries. The regime is building borders in the heads of refugees.

We continue to provide food to hundreds of refugees across the island, and have a waiting list of at least 200 more individuals who urgently need our help. Our political programmes also continue, providing direct, legal and personal support to those imprisoned and at risk of deportation. We are looking for one-off or regular donations, solidarity events abroad, and long-term volunteers to come to the island. With this support, we can give these individuals the best chance possible of freedom and security, as well as feeding hundreds more refugees – please contact if you would like to support our work.

The EU is murdering refugees. It is condemning them to drown in the Aegean, to starve to death in prison camps, to open their wrists with razor blades, to be raped and beaten in Turkish prisons, to be tortured and executed in the countries they fled. Their blood is on all our hands.

We remember those who have died, and fight for those whose struggle continues.

Love & rage always

Your NBK crew