New Pact on Migration and Asylum

It has been a few days since the “New Pact on migration and asylum” was announced by the European commission.
The key points? Increase in deportations and decrease in respecting the even most basic human rights of asylum seekers. It will make access to fair asylum procedures even more impossible for many. It will potentially replicate the EU-Turkey Deal to other countries.

While presented as “a fresh start”, many things in the pact are unfortunately all too well known already for people here on Lesvos. Being on Lesvos, it seems they have taken everything that’s bad and broken here and tried to transfer it to an institutional European Level to ensure suffering for all who attempt to get to Europe.

“No more Moria” they promised but simultaniously, in true doublespeak fashion, make it clear that at the same time what they are aiming for is in fact not Moria, but something far worse. They intend to strip asylum seekers of all of their self determination and rights to a fair procedure. No more Moria not because Moria was a human rights violation but because people were still too “free”, by their standards. No more Moria’s but more prisons. No More moria but more and faster deportation. No more Moria, but more electronic surveillance, security checks and identity verification. No more Moria but more suffering and death.

In their proposal released on the 23.09 the European commission presents their plans to establish pre-entry screenings and border procedures for all asylum seekers that come irregularly through a external border. People from a country with less than 20% acceptance rate will be detained, entered into a fast tracked procedure and returned.
On Lesvos, detention upon arrival based on nationality and fast track procedures have already started a while ago and been gradually intensified until this day. We can see the consequences – people not having access to fair procedures, not having access to any legal support and prolonged periods in prison – from arrival until deportation. This is not just problematic in a legal sense but had very direct, dire consequences for the affected people. While European commission promises more fair and transparent procedures we clearly see the exact opposite. People are being rejected without even knowing how the asylum procedure works. Not to speak of their rights in the procedure. This takes a huge toll on their mental health. As has been seen very sadly on Lesvos, detention (upon arrival) creates severe misery – and endangers the life of the detainees.

Also the Commission praises the EU Turkey Deal and promises more “continued and sustained EU funding” for Turkey. A lot has been written about this Deal – and we do not have to repat that giving money to Erdogan in order for him to commit human rights breaches towards refugees for the EU is utterly unacceptable. To repeat this with other actors as the EU “promises” gives us sleepless nights.

“At least if they [the iranien government] would have killed me I wouldn’t have to die like this here. Piece by piece” says one asylum seekers.
While some argue that the situation here on Lesvos is not compatible with European values, we see it the opposite. This are the European values. The situation of refugees on Lesvos is the European values displayed for all of us to see. It is European value to kill the people slowly slowly every day so no new people will take the risk to migrate to Europe. It is an example made on the people here to stop everyone else. It is the ugly face of the core European values – colonialism and racism.

We are scared in of the future this new pact will bring. While we are still unsure how exactly it will be implemented one thing is sure – it will be a nightmare.

Moria 2.0 is a prison

Moria 2.0 is a prison.

The new camp is expanding every day. The authorities publish orwellian statements to force people to go inside the new structure. As the new fences arise, the crimininalisation of solidarity continues. The authorities have released a slew of statements that imply that solidarity workers are “using and exploiting migrants for their own interest”. For some years, and not only in Greece, conservative and outright racist political parties, groups and newssources have been using this narritive, with high succes. As the populace votes, political parties use their position to turn this narritive into law and practice.

As people are seduced, forced and blackmailed to go into the new camp, the goverment of greece does its best to not only ensnare their voter base with populist rhetoric, but also convince the migrants to act against their own best interest. Most of the tents in the camp are incomplete, providing only shelter against the sun. But with the autumn on the way accompanied by heavy wind and rain, this is not enough. There is not enough food and water, it is given out only once a day. Once again there are long lines. There are not enough water points. Social distancing is impossible. There is no proper medical care. People’s movement is once again constricted. The authorities, the greek goverment and the european union are conspiering to cover up that they are rebuilding Moria, and continuing the dehumanizing and racist policies. And when the twenty four hour news cycle lose interest in the people trapped on this Island it will be business as usual.

So many lies

“The greek state guarantees your safety”. .

These words ring out across the computer screen. Is this the same greek state that has spend the last week shooting teargas granades into family’s? The same greek state that instead of providing aid, shelter and food in a emergency situation send more police? The same greek state that has done their absolute best to guarantee only the minimum of human rights through making an immigration system that was already inhumane even worse? The same greek state that sends it’s coastguard to do illegal pushbacks that put countless people in danger and has cost many lives?
In the last days, the greek state has been hard at work at a new reception centre. And ofcourse, it will be a closed facility. A closed facitlity is a prison. A few entered voluntary, but many only entered after the greek state issued leaflets that people’s asylum procedure would not be continued if they did not cooperate with their own incarceration. In foreign media the greek state likes prides itself in the improved water and electricty system, but here all we see is comtempt. The greek state cares only about one thing and one thing only, to get away with making these’s people’s lives as miserable as possible. Year after year, day after day, the greek state sends its police dogs to shout abuses and and beat people into submission. The greek state is a state like any other. Hateful, authoritarian and racist.

“Do not trust anybody else, they are using you”.

The greek goverment is trying to insinuate that the people in Moria have been “tricked” into starting the fires by evil ngo’s with misinformation about the sitution they are in. This racist narrative implies that people of colour would not have taken action against the injustices and violence perpetrated on them without white people to “guide” them. The situation in Moria has been well known for many years. And so where the countless demonstrations inside and outside of Moria organised and attended by migrants over the last 5 years.
The greek goverment telling people that they will ensure their safety is a cruel, sad joke. While the demonstations in europe for the evacuations of the people formely cought in the camp are ongoing, the new prison will take it’s place. A prison where people will be once again forced to live in horribly conditions under the watchful eye of the greek police. But, the politicians of europe can go to sleep easy, as the unwanted immigrants are locked up once again.

after the fire

Four days ago the camp in Moria started to burn. Unlike conservative mainstream media we do not care about how the fire broke out or who started it. One thing is clear to us: every person, who has had to live under repression for months and years, who is forced to live in inhuman conditions and who does not have any chance to set up a self-determined life because of racist structures, has the right to fight against this oppression by any means necessary.

From the beginning Moria camp was (intentionally) inhumane and it got worse and worse. The camp, the surrounding olive groves and actually the whole of Lesvos is one big open-air-prison for migrants. Coronavirus only worsened conditions. Some people were allowed to leave the island but were forced into illegality in Athens. Last week, the inevitable first Covid case was recorded in the camp and more followed. Even without the virus the camp was unbearable. So there was bound to be resistance.

It began with young people, who did not want to be imprisoned with Coronavirus, or to be even more controlled in the name of preventing its spread. They began a revolt against the police. When parts of the olive groves around the camp – where people live in tents, self-built shelters, or without any shelter – started to burn, police did not care at all. Not until the agency that organises “voluntary deportation” was attacked did they react. And their reaction was typical: tear gas. Not until the whole camp was on fire were migrants allowed to move. But not even then they were allowed to move to the next city. They are stuck in between the village and the city now, with police blockading them on all sides.

In addition to the police, fascists – just like they did in March – have begun to aggressively follow, intimidate and harass migrants and solidarity workers. They are patrolling the city and surrounding area on motorcycles. While cars attempting to deliver food and water are held up and often turned away from police checkpoints, fascists cruise right through, demonstrating with whom the cops are aligned.

From photos and videos the dimension of the catastrophe can be seen. But many people are still missing and cannot be found since no one knows where they fled. Many have had little or no food or water for days at this point. The Greek state reacts as usual: a state of emergency declared in Lesvos for four months which means more police and border police on the island. Not only more police, but also immediately two military camps were found and proposed as suitable locations to set up new temporary camps. We have heard that some migrants have already been taken there, while fascists are gathering closeby. People we’ve spoken there reported that they are not allowed to leave. Is this already further movement towards the new closed camps?

So if anybody was hoping that because of the fire there may have been some political decisions that improve the migrants’ situation, you have misplaced your hope. We find hope instead in how Moria residents continue to refuse the subordination and discipline the camp is meant to accomplish, and to defiantly imagine a better life for themselves. A new camp is no solution: the only solution is freedom to move for all.

No new camps,
no (new) fences,
no (new) borders!

Migrant struggle in times of Corona.

The last months we have mostly been provinding updates and context regarding the broader situation on the island. This time however we thought it might be nice to provide and update on the current activities of NBK in times of Corona.

We where forced to stop distributing in the open, but that didn’t stop us from reaching the people that regurarly attend. We are still giving out food every day, to those who are left behind. We give out approximatly 200 meals a day to people and families on the move, and currently also local people who are in a vunerable position due to the restrictions on movement and threat of Corvid-19 in place in Greece.

We are still giving out foodboxes to migrants living in Mytillni that don’t receive any support from other sources. A foodbox consists of fresh vegatables, dry food, oil, tea and sugar. People receive them once a week and they are meant to supplement people’s costs of living. All of this is ofcourse done with the proper hygiene measeures in these times.

Like the rest of the world, Lesvos has been affected by Corona, even though as of the time of writing the amount of cases is relatively low. The restrictions placed on movement around the country forced us to heavely restructure our activities. It doesn’t mean we have to stop our activities alltogether. Dispite the current crisis plagueing the world, people still need support. Now even more then before. The situation in Moria has not improved. In fact it has become worse. But the problems that prevent the people from taking washing their hands every 5 minutes and keeping 1,5 meters distance are not new. They where there 6 months ago just the same. Corvid-19 does definitly pose a real tangeable threat to the people who are forced to live in the prison that is called Moria, but it only serves to underscore the structural problems that where present from the day it was openend.

No one knows how long this corona crisis will last, and the after effects are already promising to put an even greater strain on the already fragile situation at europe’s borders. These dark clouds looming on the horizon are not only gathering above Mytillini. We are always gratefull for the donations we receive, but we would also like to point out that there are many more places that need support right now, that often get overlooked. Lesvos is quite well known, and also Moria is a place that receives a lot of attention internationally. But lets not forget about Chios, Samos and Patras. Or Serbia or Calais, or many more. We stand in solidarity with the people who share our struggle, in times of corona, but also after.

As always,

Get Angry. Get Organised.

Forced Stop of Hunger strike

After three days of hunger strike the prisoners in Moria were forced to eat again. There have been several concerning allegations of police violence during the week, which people inside have told their friends through the fence. A special-forces police unit was present for the duration of the strike, with a brand of violence reportedly even more severe than usual. Detainees were removed from their cells for interrogation and at least one of them was beaten.

Apart from a few brief exchanges, shouted across, we still don’t know the details of what happened inside the prison to stop the strike. Police have blocked prisoners’ usual communication channels with each other and with the outside world.

The prisoners went on hunger strike to demand their freedom and to have their voices heard. The police did, and continue to do everything they can to prevent this. They were not alone – last week (?) police also violently suppressed a hunger strike in Paranesti detention centre.

The suppression of this hunger strike makes clear the determination of the state and its attack dogs to stifle the voices of people incarcerated in detention centres, pre-removal centres and prisons everywhere. We must not forget, that the a hunger strike is the last resort if all other possibility’s of protest have been stripped from you. By committing to this, people have to struggle against their survival instinct, because it’s the only option they have left. What kind of measures against them can make them also lose this option.

We demand a world free of prisons. A world free of police brutality and uniforms. A world where no human can be incarcerated for being born in the “wrong” part of the world, the colour of their skin or their sexual orientation. We demand immediate closure of Moria, and of all structures that produced and depend on it.

We demand and fight for the end of this system built on and sustained by cages, prisons and violence.

Free all prisoners in Moria
Shut down the prison and the whole camp.
Shut down all Detenion Centers

„Untill death or freedom“

Hunger strike in Moria Prison

Three days ago, on 5th of April, the prisoners in Moria’s pre-removal detention centre went on hunger strike, to demand their immediate release.

The cops in the prison responded with ridicule, intimidation and violence: mocking the strikers, conducting a raid, taking people for interrogation, and beating one of them. Four detainees sewed their mouths closed in protest. A doctor was called to come and remove the thread by force.

This is now the second hunger strike within a few days in pre-removal detention centers in Greece. Already on 3rd April detainees in Drama’s Paranesti detention camp went on hunger strike after being served inedible food. One detainee reported: “70 riot police entered the camp last night and beat everybody with batons”.

These days governments across the world have been releasing people with short sentences from prison, while the Greek state continues to insist that no migrant detainees will be released.

The men here in the prison are held in administrative detention and have committed no crime. They are detained only because of their status. Some because of their nationality, some because their asylum claim was rejected, some because they tried to leave the islands, some even because they signed up for supposed “voluntary return”. Many of those with rejected claims haven’t even had the opportunity to apply for asylum, because of recent legal changes discriminating against people who don’t speak the colonialist language of the country they fled from.

They are awaiting deportation to Turkey, despite there being no deportations scheduled for the foreseeable future.

The situation inside the jail has reached crisis point after the implementation of ‚New Democracy’s‘ new asylum laws. Authorities have increased their efforts to reject claims, and carry out deportations. People have been deported despite ongoing asylum cases. They have been deported without ever having set one free foot in Greece.

Those now in prison have no hope. On 6th January a 31-year-old man was found hanged in his cell after being placed in solitary confinement, in an isolated cell. Several suicide attempts have followed this. In one case, a man attempted suicide and was deported the following day. Police violence and harassment continues, and in more than one case has both preceded and followed suicide attempts by those imprisoned.

In Solidarity with the hunger strikers NBK

Free all prisoners in Moria

Shut down the prison and the whole camp

Shut down all detention centers

4 Years EU-Turkey Deal

It happened as it was to be expected: Four years of standing on the sidelines have resulted in a catastrophe. 40,000 human beings, penned up in hopelessly overcrowded EU-hotspot centres like Moria on Lesvos Island, living under squalid living and hygienic conditions, will soon face the deadly disease. European countries close their borders and enforce social distancing in order to curb the spread of the pandemic. But the Greek health system, already severely weakened by austerity policies and the economic crisis, is in no condition to guarantee the medical care for refugees once the pandemic starts spreading widely. Yet still, the EU does not answer the numerous appeals to evacuate the centres and to bring those affected to safety. Internment is the EU’s answer.

These policies are entirely in line with what we have witnessed at the Greek-Turkish border in the recent two weeks. An unprecedented brutalisation of EU migration policy, coupled with the unscrupulous violation of fundamental human rights, European law and the Geneva Convention on Refugees.

People seeking protection in Europe are being shot at with tear gas, beaten up, stripped and illegally pushed back across the border. In the Aegean sea, refugees are aggressively attacked by the Greek coast guard, engines destroyed and rubber dinghies stabbed at.

Even what was unspeakable in 2015 has now become reality: Even what was still unspeakable in 2015 has now become reality: The border is being defended with live ammunition and several people have been shot at the Greek-Turkish Evros border. European border policy has thus turned from a policy of passively acquiescing to death at the external border to one of actively killing.

Right-wing extremist networks publish bounties for volunteers and employees of international organizations on the Greek islands. They are being hunted down and brutally beaten up by fascist mobs. Fascists from all over Europe arrived on the Greek islands, social centres and solidarity structures were set on fire.

In addition, the right to asylum has been suspended for all persons who have entered Greece after March 1, 2020. The Greek government announced, through its spokesperson Stelios Petsas, that it would not accept any asylum applications from newly arrived persons for one month. Newly arrived refugees are being held under ad-hoc detention conditions, such as in the port on Lesbos, while the government is intent on deporting them.

However, they are not only being denied the right to protection; according to media reports, there have even been several hundred cases where people have been sentenced to four years in prison for “illegally entering the country”.

(statement by different groups, find the full statement at:

When is enough enough?

Over the last week the corona virus has almost completely taken over the news cycle. And the measures that are being taken against it especially. Self isolation, “social distancing”, curfews, bans on public gatherings, fines…..

But what does this mean for Moria, the biggest monolith of inhumanity within the european fortress?

As off tommorow it means:

1. Restriction of movement between 19.00-07.00.
2. One person per family is allowed to go to the city per family. This will be checked by the police.
3. Every hour only 100 people can go outside of the camp.
4. The police is responsible for the enforcement of these measures.

Earlier news reports also talked about new fences and things like this, but this remains to be officially confirmed. However, the already annouced measures will have a siginificant impact on an already volatile situation. And the responsability of upholding these new measures fall upon the state’s very own attack dogs, the police. Time and time again have they shown that they care very little about migrants, and their whole excistence is an affront to the freedom of movement.

The increased xenophobia that is terrorizing the island is only amplified by the spread of the “foreign” corona virus, and this too will hit the people trapped on the move. For us, it just makes it completely and utterly clear that places like Moria shouldn’t exist. Europe is forcefully and knowingly putting human beings in positions that are in-human. And the effect that that has will now be amplified a thousandfold.

The conditions in the camp are well known and documented. Much of the conditions imposed on the rest of the world to stop the spread of the virus are impossible to maintain in an overcrowded migrant camp. Hygiene is minimal at best. All space is shared. There is never enough food, and some people stand in line for days without getting any.
People used to be able to go outside of the camp to get additional supplies, and now this too will be next to impossible.

People will be trapped in a place that is overcrowded, dirty and without access to regular meals. It doesn’t take much too realise that it’s a deathtrap. 3 months ago it was impossible to imagine that the situation in Moria could get any worse. And yet somehow it did. And also our fear has come true. The camp will be closed, and a lot of people that came here seeking life, will instead die.

Powerful Women Protest

On January 30th 2020, female inhabitants of Lesvos’ populous refugee camps publicly denounced the situation in which they are being forced to live. Despite the morning rain and with it the assumptions that it would weaken attendance, approximately 300 women took to the streets of Mytilene to demonstrate against the cruel treatment they are forced to endure whilst exercising their right to seek international protection as a refugee.
Women of all ages united to cry out for their ‘freedom.’ Such was the word that heralded the demonstration, where the appeal was made in several languages and dialects. With it came an attempt to communicate what life is like in the migrant prisons of Lesvos, the small Greek island and first entry point of Europe for refugees fleeing violence and oppression from their countries of origin.
The banners carried by the women denounced against not only the feeling of what it is like to live in a prison, but also as to being treated as an object seeking shelter, rather than as a fellow human being. They came to Europe to seek European rights and freedoms, but the absence of such was also denounced.
It is not a coincidence that cries were heard and seen in Farsi, English, French, Arabic and Somali; it is a testament to the unity of all the women in the camp.
The overcrowding of the camp in Moria, which has an official capacity of 3,000 people and in which currently resides more than 20,000 (both in and around the premises), demonstrates a lack of infrastructure and services, giving rise to a systematic violation of fundamental rights. The subsequent poor nutritional and hygienic conditions are a major health hazard for every man, woman and child forced to live in its tents and iso boxes.
Added to this is the enormous insecurity in which the new Greek asylum law is creating among refugees, with a further deprivation of the fundamental right to international protection and the increase in the volume of deportations.
The frustration and anger over this situation was shouted out during the protest, blocking Mytilene’s main street for several hours. Arrests were fortunately avoided, however the police removed several European women attending the rally for personal identification. The racist prejudice motivating this action? That the women of the refugee community could not demonstrate and congregate of their own accord, ignorantly naïve of their strength and determination.
The chief of police tried to persuade the women to stop the protest by offering free buses to Moria Camp. Few women could be bought so cheaply. The majority of the women ended the protest with a meal and a reflection of their actions.

All in all, the protest was a great success, birthing the energy and plans for another strong protest, this time assembled alongside the male members of the refugee community.