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

A short philosophical lesson

When there is a person, or even more, dying in front of your eyes, what do you do?
Some people suggest to help immediately but only as far as you don’t put yourself at risk.
Others say: Help, no matter about yourself
Again others would do a calculation about which act in the end helps the most people, even if some other lives are wasted for that.
So you see, there are some possibilities, how to act.

So let’s see, which possibility the UN, the EU and the Greek authorities pick, when they have dying people in front of their eyes:
None. They do exactly nothing.

Be it people drowning in the Mediterranean or the newest example of this fucked up ignorance:
Letting people starve to death.

Amir Hampay, Bahrooz Arash and Kozhin Hussein have been hunger striking in Moria’s section B (the detention center) since the 27th June 2017.
Now you might argue that they are not really visible, as they are put behind bars.
But then there is Amir’s brother Arash, sitting in the main square of Mytillini, joining their hunger strike one day after they started it in order to make it more visible.
So this excuse doesn’t count.
But maybe they are bad people, so they deserve to be in prison, others may ask.
Well, if you think it is right to put people in prison, because they fled their homes and were forced to leave their families and friends because of war, poverty, oppression or persecution, then you might find it reasonable, but then you are also a huge asshole.

So, back to the main topic, the hunger strikers in Section B were taken to hospital only tree times in the last month to check up on their health.
Also, and thats crazy, no one is allowed to bring them salt or sugar to add to their water, so they don’t die. When Arash was in hunger strike in Iranian prison, where he was tortured and imprisoned because he (like his brother Amir) were Human Rights Activists, friends and family were allowed to bring him salt and sugar.
You see: Iran –> salt and sugar; EU→ no salt and sugar
So the European Union, that likes to put the crown of Human rights on its head, treats hunger strikers worse than the repressive Iranian regime. Congratulations!

But we have one good news: Last Friday Amir Hampay was released from Moria prison, where he had spent more than three months because he dared to ask for asylum in Greece, which was not accepted, even though he has exactly the same case as his brother Arash, whose Asylum claim was approved. Greek authorities went so far to try to deport him to Turkey, a country of whom themselves said that its not safe for him. Congratulation again!
Luckily this illegal deportation could be stopped.

Sad news is that the other two imprisoned hunger strikers still are not released.
After one month of hunger strike we expect their health situation to be really bad.
But we can’t say how bad exactly because Bahrooz and Khozin are, like all other detainees in section B, only allowed to check their phones for 5 – 60 minutes a day.

They need to be released from detention!
Otherwise they will die.
And afterwards you can’t say, you didn’t know whats going on!

(picture by Kini Teesdale)

Daily Routine of injustice

Yesterday morning at 5 o’clock, riot police started to detain people in Camp Moria and in Community centers. They arrested around 50 persons of whom 20 – 25 persons were released later today.

First we assumed that they were hunting for people with two negative asylum decisions but as we found out they also arrested people with papers.

We think this happened for one reason: To raise fear.

Again they want to raise dread of deportation and detention among people, to increase suppression and by doing so, preventing the people to ask for their basic human rights.

We believe this, together with the super unjust court hearings that are going on these days in Mytilini court (we will publish an update about that soon!) are all to create an atmosphere of anxiety on the island.

We wish strength to all the people still detained in the police station and Moria’s section B and other places worldwide to not give up the struggle for freedom.

Another world is possible!

Food for refugees and fighting deportations: No Borders call for support

The No Borders squat in Lesvos was evicted five weeks ago, and it feels like we’re losing more space every day. It’s been a month of harsh police crackdowns on squatting and rough sleeping, vicious and increasingly frequent deportations, and dwindling financial support. The EU is funnelling the thousands of refugees here into Moria detention centre, deporting them to face persecution and death abroad and washing its blood-stained hands of the whole affair.

No Borders Kitchen are still here, still fighting and still providing food, care and legal support to hundreds of refugees, but our work is more difficult than ever before. Here’s how the situation has deteriorated for the roughly 4000 refugees trapped on Lesvos, how No Borders is struggling to respond, and what you can do to help out.

The beautiful prison

As the time refugees are trapped here lengthens, the island grows smaller and smaller. There is little to do each day but trudge to Moria to hear that no progress has been made on your case, fight over cooking oil, and skim stones into the Aegean Sea. People are making increasingly desperate attempts to escape Lesvos – the ‘beautiful prison’, as one refugee recently described it. Earlier this month, one young man attempted suicide in Moria’s Section B detention centre, stabbing himself in the chest with a switchblade. He remains incarcerated.

It is easy to think of time as standing still, but actually it is sliding away: people have been waiting for 9, 12, 18 months as interview dates are bungled, translators cannot be found, and the broken assessment system grinds slowly on. These months are taken off young lives, eating into education and careers among much else, and cannot be bought back at any cost.

There are months and months of nothing, and suddenly there is no time at all. Once an asylum application fails, as over 90 per cent eventually do, refugees have five days to lodge an appeal before deportation. Many are not told they have this right and so are deported when they still stand a chance of securing asylum. Some physically sick refugees and others with the legal right to remain have been pulled off the deportation ferry by lawyers: others are illegally kicked out ahead of time. Friends of ours awaiting deportation in Section B are shivering with sickness, while others are covered in historic torture wounds and recent self-harm scars. If they are not stopped, these deportations will kill.

Deportees are taken from Moria to the port under cover of darkness, but deported under the cover of tourist-trap sunlight. Handcuffed and stripped of their mobile phones, they are muscled onto private ferries, and the holiday-makers around the harbour never realise human rights are being infringed 20 yards from their cocktail bars. Official figures show 129 deportations under the EU-Turkey deal from Lesvos since the start of April. And as the EU is finally clearing its backlog of stranded refugees – by deporting the overwhelming majority – we expect a severe increase in arrests, detention, and associated police violence.

Some deportees attempt a return as soon as they escape detention abroad – “until they die they will never stop coming back,” one Pakistani refugee recently said. Many take the suicidal Libyan route, through waters where an EU-trained coastguard sprays bullets at drowning toddlers and deaths are so common as to seldom make the news.

Giving up any hope of claiming asylum, those opting for so-called ‘voluntary return’ are bribed and coerced into returning to life-threatening danger in their home countries. Following a lengthy jail spell in Athens, they are imprisoned for months in Pakistan or Afghanistan, until a family member can bribe an official to have them released. For families who spent all they had to send one child to the imagined safety of Europe, this is often impossible, while violence, abuse and suicide are of course rampant in these prisons as well.

No space

Every time we walk the long, hot coastal road from the city centre to Moria, we pass the mocking empty space of the old No Borders squat, still daubed with anti-patriarchy graffiti but now ringed with razor wire and under 24-hour security surveillance. Scores of refugees and activists ate, slept and lived together here in shared struggle.

The squat’s eviction closure makes it hard to even meet with our refugee friends, let alone  support them in resisting deportation. For the crime of sheltering in a derelict building, refugees have been hit with heavy legal fees and court cases which will badly affect their asylum claims. Some former squatters now sleep on the beach or in the woods, and some have returned to Moria. Others have opted for voluntary return, preferring an unknown prison sentence to the certitude of sectarian violence in the prison camp.

The remaining squats are increasingly violent and volatile. Friends of ours have been beaten, robbed of their mobile phones, and extorted for the safe return of sim cards containing their only contacts to their families back home. These squats also face imminent eviction: a derelict white building we called ‘Casablanca’ was forcibly cleared out, and all its occupants detained or charged with squatting, just two days ago.

Pending court cases, combined with the police’s increasingly violent and zero-tolerance approach to squatting, mean we cannot find a new space to live together. While we continue to find shelter for the most vulnerable, we are forced to tell many refugees in desperate need of shelter that we can no longer keep them warm and safe overnight.

Our work

Food is the focus of our practical support. Each week we provide up to 300 refugees with all the ingredients they need to cook for themselves and subsist autonomously, packing up boxes in an abandoned strip club and distributing them in squats and parking lots around the island.

Every month we distribute over 1500kg each of flour and rice, 800kg of potatoes, and hundreds of kilogrammes of fresh fruit and vegetables, lentils and pasta, plus spices, tea, coffee, cooking oil and toiletries. We receive more requests for boxes daily, and are currently forced to turn families away due to a lack of funds. Each day, we provide a hot meal to around 60 refugees, catering for those unable to cook for themselves and creating a small ad-hoc social space, and have recently started meeting for tea, coffee and hot food withrefugees living in Moria. We also feed desperately impoverished Roma families, marginalised and persecuted here since before a single refugee arrived.

Drawing on our network of contacts across the island, in Moria and in detention, we are now offering material support and legal assistance to detained refugees. All deportations are cruel, violent and illegitimate, but many are also illegal, and we are working alongside lawyers and refugee activists to save people from forcible transfer to Turkey. All our work enables us to stand in close, personal solidarity with our refugee friends, particularly those shut out of the asylum system and failed by the big NGOs, and support them in their struggle for asylum and dignity in countless different ways every day.

Our needs

Many more refugees will arrive in Lesvos over the coming summer months, as people-smugglers take advantage of the clear nights and heavy maritime traffic. 16 people recently drowned offshore, while four boats containing hundreds of refugees made land just this weekend. Since the EU-Turkey deal began on 18 March 2016, the number of migrants stranded in Greece has actually increased by 45%. Thousands of new arrivals are currently being dispatched by Turkish smugglers to nearby Chios, and many will be transferred here for detention and deportation.

As the tourism season comes around, Frontex will prevent the ugly sight of refugees washing up on golden beaches by intercepting them in dangerous deep water, and the police will come down even harder on paperless refugees sleeping rough among the olive groves and cobbled streets of Mytilene. The EU is trying to squeeze these refugees out of existence, but we are determined to give them room to breathe, and the best chance possible of continuing onward to a better life.

€20 will feed one refugee for a month

€100 will provide five refugees with phone credit to contact lawyers and loved ones after deportation to turkey

and $2000 per month will provide food boxes for the roughly 100 refugees on our waiting list, currently left hungry because we can’t afford to feed them

If you are able to donate any amount to support our work, please email noborderkitchen(at)riseup.net, message our Facebook page or contact us via telephone or Whatsapp. We also accept credit at local food wholesalers and donations via Just People, a partner organisation based in the Netherlands:

Name: justpeople
IBAN: NL37INGB0007344776
BIC: INGBNL2A
Bank: ING

Payment Reference: LESVOS DONATION

Please also get in touch if you would like to work alongside us in Lesvos. We are particularly looking for longer-term activists who share our political principles, and drivers with cars.

With love, rage and solidarity always

Your No Borders Kitchen crew

“No Yoga in the police station” Evicton of “Old squat” April 28th 2017

Yesterday one of the squats we supported was taken away by the cops and the Alpha Bank and turned from a home into an old abandoned unused building again. All people were arrested and detained for a day and might face charges for trespassing and destroying of property. Now many people are out on the street, with no safe place to go.

What happened yesterday leaves us sad and incredibly angry. What was destroyed by the state and capitalism was not just a building. It was a home. It was a community. It was a place for friendship, for solidarity, for struggling together against this border and this system that creates them.

The squat was not a perfect place. There was always rubbish lying around, the sound of the power factory next door was the lullaby and the toilet was rarely cleaned. But still we loved it.

Yesterday we were awaken at 7 a.m. as the police kicked our doorsover and over. When we came out of the rooms there were numerous policemen, regular city police and OPKE in the yard. For the three days before we already watched workers turning this home into a jail so the eviction didn’t come as a complete surprise. Each day workers would continue the razor wire around the wall of the squat we supported and lived in while we were trying to decide if there was anyway to resist.

At the time of the evictionwe were were around 35 people in the squat and all were gathered in the yard. The segregation and racism began immediately as people that looked like “refugees” had to gather in one corner of the yard and everyones papers were checked and taken by the cops. Then people they considered “Europeans” or people with passports were also asked to give their passports. Some refugees were handcuffed to each other for no apparent reason. We tried to resist the separation but those who insisted on staying were pushed and dragged away. All people with western passports were taken into an arrest van and brought to the police station. We were made to sit down on a corridor and were given contradictory information whether they were arrested or taken for ID control only. When we were waiting we saw that the refugees were also taken to police station. They were all put into cells while everyone with a western passport was kept in the hallway.

After hours of waiting we were informed that we all are accused of vandalism and trespassing. Everyone of us was taken into an office and we were asked to sign papers written in Greek. Only oral translation into English was provided and we had to ask repeatedly for a complete oral translation of the documents. Also everyone had their fingerprints and pictures taken. At around 7 in the evening the last person was released from the police station. When the police let us go they didn’t inform us if we are charged or not. Still it is unclear what will happen now, if we all will face court or not. We left the police station with relief and happiness to feel the sun warming our skin and to see the faces of all friends that were welcoming us outside. The relief stayed only a short while. The eviction left dozens of people out without shelter, without any safe place to go. What was a home is now an empty building surrounded by NATO wire and guarded by securities.

This eviction didn’t come as a surprise. In the last four months the repression on refugees, especially people without valid papers and from certain nationalities, as well as solidarity movements has become worse each week. The destruction of any autonomous spaces for people to live was expected. Many friends we support living out of the camps have been checked and arrested in the last months. There have been many steps taken in order to clear the streets and the city of refugees and keep as many people as possible within the confines of Moria camp. They were tightening security at Moria, police presence on streets became stronger, many people are and were detained during their asylum procedure, deportations happen on a regular basis and so on.

This time it was Alpha Bank, the owner of the building, that had the power to cause the most damage to us. It was Alpha Bank who pressed charges against us and pushed this eviction. We are sure that the building will not be used. It is very old, in the ugliest spot in Mytilini next to a power electric factory billowing steam and chemicals and air and noise pollution. No one wants this building except those with no other option except the prison that is Moria.

All of this also coincides with the announcement that all NGO and international groups will leave Lesvos by July 31st. As we are one of a handful of groups without government contracts working outside camps, the EU and Greek government would very much like to see No Border disappear from Lesvos.

Unfortunately this eviction is not the end of a series of repression but rather its beginning. We expect evictions of the other remining squats in the next weeks and months. Furthermore we also expect the arrests, imprisonments and deportations to keep going.

But we are not ready to give up. We will stay here, we will continue to support the people in their struggle for freedom of movement and dignity. We will keep fighting.

We send a lot of Love and Rage to all people standing with us and fighting against all borders here on Lesvos and everywhere!

Your Nbk Crew