Prisons Kill

Another State Sponsored Murder

Even at this time of year in Lesvos, when every day seems to bring new levels of cruelty, sometimes things happen that are so sad, and so shameful, that they stop you from what you are doing and stick to you for a long time. Last week, on 6th January, a man was found dead, hung in a cell inside the Pre Removal Detention Centre (PRO.KE.K.A.), the prison inside Moria camp. The last weeks of his life were spent in solitary confinement. Police were aware of his serious mental health issues, and other detainees have reported that he cried during the nights and banged on his door. They never saw anyone visit him, or saw him taken out of his cell for support; his food was served through the window, and if he was allowed outside, it was at a different time than the others. His blood is on the hands of the police, the Greek state and European Union.

We have reported before on the conditions in this prison – that most detained there are arrested immediately upon arrival, for having the misfortune to be of a nationality regarded as suspicious by the authorities, called ‘low profile’. Single men from designated countries (mostly African states) are often detained for three months. The new asylum law allows for increasing detention time for up to 36 months.

We have also shared information about the conditions inside the prison, designed to drive migrants to desperation. It operates with little oversight and with no accountability. There, people are held with restricted access to legal, medical or psychological support. The system is designed to keep them afraid and isolated, to grind them down, and demonstrate daily that they are not welcome in Europe, until they submit to their own deportation rather than resist it. Those who fight back against detention and deportation are violently dealt with, and sometimes end up in the hospital.

Legal monitors and prisoners have described prison conditions as amounting to ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ – in other words, torture. Psychological and physical abuse is common. People are woken up at random hours of the night using noise and light. They are taken to where there are no cameras and beaten by the police, and beaten by the police while in handcuffs. But when visits are prohibited, and access to phones extremely restricted, reporting abuses is practically impossible. And many fear retaliation by the police and do not trust government or official organisations because they see abuse continue with no consequences for the police, even though the abuses happen under everyone’s eye.

These are the conditions in which the man who died found himself, in December 2019, when he was taken into detention. The prison psychologist working for the state owend organisation AEMY was away over the Christmas holidays, until 3rd January, leaving only two working days in which psychological support could have been provided. KEELPNO, the only other state institution able to make mental health assessments, has publicly declared that it will not intervene in the absence of AEMY staff, not even in emergencies.

It is clear to us that this death is the result of brutal prison conditions, and the failure of multiple state agencies to provide care. And yet once again, nobody has been held to account, and a preventable death is being whitewashed by an “investigation” as a death of natural causes. Migrants are blamed for creating their own dangerous living conditions, and the perpetrators walk freely.

One death is too many.

We call for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death on 6 January.

We call for the closing of PRO.KE.K.A. and the immediate release of all those detained.

We stand in solidarity with everyone detained in similar circumstances; from the dark cells of Korydallos to Petrou Rally

We call for the demolition of Moria Camp and freedom of movement for all.

The passion of liberty will abolish all prisons.

Call for Mobilization: Thursday 16 January, 6pm Sapfous Square

On 6 January a 31-year-old man was found dead, hung in a cell inside the Pre Removal Detention Centre (PRO.KE.K.A.), the prison within Moria camp. According to other people detained in PRO.KE.K.A., he spent just just a short time with other people, before being moved to isolation for approximately two weeks. While in solitary confinement, even for the hours he was taken outside, he was alone, as it was at a different time than other people. For multiple days he was locked in his cell without being allowed to leave at all, as far as others detained saw. His food was served to him through the window in his cell during these days. His distressed mental state was obvious to all the others detained with him and to the police. He cried during the nights and banged on his door. He had also previously threatened to harm himself. Others detained with him never saw anyone visit him, or saw him taken out of his cell for psychological support.

One death is too many.
His death is on the hands of the police and the Greek state.

We call for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death on 6 January.

We call for the closing of PRO.KE.K.A. and the immediate release of all those detained.

We stand in solidarity with everyone detained in similar circumstances; from the dark cells of Korydallos to Petrou Rally, the passion of liberty will abolish all prisons.

We call for the demolition of Moria Camp and freedom of movement for all.

Call-out for support

Dear friends and comrades,

Winter is here and while temperatures are dropping the situation is getting worse for people on the move. Police controls increase, prisons are full of people whose only crime is migration, and new anti-migration laws are pushed through at increasing speed and scale. A record amount of 20.000 people are staying in and around Moria camp, mostly – still – in summer tents or self-built wooden shacks. 

In the face of these ongoing dehumanizing ‘European’ politics, we continue to resist in solidarity with people on the move, supporting people and autonomous self-organized structures outside the camp with food boxes, food distribution, and other practical assistance. While things are getting worse, we continue to see and believe that only solidarity can smash borders.

Every day, we distribute 100 to 200 warm meals close to Mytilini. And every week, 150 people receive food boxes, enabling them to live and cook autonomously outside the camp structure. We also support other self-organized structures like assemblies, protests and autonomous housing projects.

NBK has been active on Lesvos since the winter 2015/2016. An incredible network beyond borders of comrades, friends, fellow activists, and groups have kept the solidarity on the island going ever since. Soli parties, fundraisers, and donations have been, and still are, absolutely necessary for us to keep going.

We are out of money and we urgently need your support. Our monthly costs are around 5000 euros. We use the money mainly for food, cups and transportation. So dear comrades, support us in any way you can. Every small bit makes a difference!

To donate find our details here:

II Support

Love and rage,
Your NBK crew on Lesvos

Spreading our call-out with friends, family and comrades is welcome.

Criminalising aid, another form of fascism

It is not front-page news anymore, but people fleeing their countries continue to arrive in Europe. Too many of them drown in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. And although their families do not receive our warmth after these human losses, each and every one of these victims hurts us.

Migration towards Europe has been declared illegal by European leaders (not only Europe. All the international organizations have done it: migration is only accepted under strict measures that defend trade, business, capitalism… and not the person as a human). And around it a whole billion dollar business has been created, which is not intended to help these people but to defend the privileges of a few and the pockets of even less.
However we believe: migration is a right and not a business. It is something that has existed since the beginning of history. All people have migrated. Europe’s population has changed continuously over the centuries, contributing to the current diversity. Europe is not homogeneous, but diverse. It’s people are not white, but multi-colored. The same can be said of the other continents because, although in recent centuries they have been subjected to the colonisation imposed on them, before that all continents already received populations from other areas. And we all come from Africa!
Why, then, this criminalisation of migrants? Why, moreover, are they stopping, accusing, and criminalising those who prevent those migrants from dying at sea in their flight to Europe?
We can use all the excuses we want: that they do not fit; that there is no work; that they would be parasites of our social services… Let’s see. To say that on a continent (without counting Russia) of about 6 million km² on which approximately 600 million people live, or 100 people per km², there is no room for 3 million more… is an excuse. To say that there is no work, or that it is taken away from us, when in agriculture alone we lack more than 3 million workers – or in education, or in health; when developing renewable energies would easily create those 3 million jobs; and when we normally make these people work in jobs that we have never wanted for us… it is an excuse. To say that migrants would be parasites of our social services when all the reports that are made tell us that migrants give the national treasuries more than migrants receive from them, and that they generate significant wealth in the countries in which they are established… is an excuse.
Rude, stupid and fascist excuses! And the worst thing is that people say it with conviction (but without thinking about what they are saying), deceived by the same people – businessmen, and politicians – who have emptied or helped to empty the municipal or state coffers for the benefit of their corrupted pockets and the pockets of their friends. Those friends who have their mouths full talking about the excellence of private enterprise and competitiveness, while they only know how to thrive thanks to public contracts, and by crushing their workers with more workload but less pay, stealing their money and their lives under the threat of layoffs or lockouts.

In addition to this stupidity, the power structures are criminalizing those who are defending the lives of these people and their right to asylum on a daily basis and who are helping them to reach Europe safely. We can give a few well-known examples, such as the arrests of Cédric Herrou in France, the trials of Proem-Aid firefighters in Lesbos, Helena Maleno in Morocco or the accusation against the mayor of Riace, Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Lucano.
Let us be clear that they are not being arrested and charged for doing something illegal, as the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, Agnes Callamard, has stated in her report “Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions” presented to the United Nations General Assembly in August 2018. Solidarity is criminalized because they simply don’t want witnesses to their massacres. They don’t want to be denounced for their trampling of human rights. We are seeing it all over the world: human rights defenders are being persecuted, imprisoned and murdered in many countries.

An alliance has been established between capitalism and fascism, and little by little, this has been installed among us, making caresses and winks that we have accepted until we do not recognize their origin.
To defeat fascism there are only two ways out, which are not exclusive: fighting and education – instead of indoctrination in submission for working life in capitalist companies. But unfortunately what is now booming, is quite the opposite. It is the flat brainwashing that demands total obedience without questioning. It is fascism in its purest essence, because although Hitler lost the war, some of his ideas govern us today: Trump in the USA; Putin in Russia; Orbán in Hungary; Bolsonaro in Brazil. And other governments are not far away. Whether they call themselves conservative, liberal or socialist, they carry out their policies without blinking, negotiating and selling arms to murderers, dismantling health care, privatizing public services, etc., and criminalizing humanitarian aid.

When we were about to publish this text, we received the news of the arrest of the coordinator in Lesbos of Team Humanity, Salam Aldeen.
He was previously arrested for his rescue work, charged with human trafficking and acquitted of all charges in May 2018. Today he is accused of ‘public threat’ for telling the European Parliament about the criminalisation of aid workers in Greece, about the reality of the situation in Lesvos, as well as for entering the Moria camp at night and making video recordings.

NBK demands the Greek government to release Salam Aldeen; and to stop persecuting those who do nothing but help.

Let’s recognize the real enemy and stand up to him!
Let’s not shut up!
Criminalizing aid is also fascism!
No human being is illegal!
Open The Borders!

In the struggle for a world free of borders, the squats throughout Europe have facilitated places where we could come together and create safe spaces, where we could be together on equal footing, free of the xenophobic attitudes of the world at large. Places like City Plaza and others have shown us windows to a future worth fighting for.


Because this extra-parlamentiary expression of political self-determination is invaluable. In greece and around the world squatting has given countless people spaces to organi themselves, share struggles and explore ungoverned ways of living, or simply a roof over their heads. This has given rise to infrastruture and confrontation in the streets of the big cities in europe where we fought for every meter. We fought against the systematic destruction of our communities through gentrification and repression. We used our spaces to develop different ways of working and living together. We intergrated ourselves in the struggles of cities and neighbours. While the fires burnt away the old world, we erected barricades to protect the new, and used the delaptated abandoned buildings to create new opportunities. The sound of the crowbar on the hammer, each hit an act of autonomy, the cracking of the lock the a symbol of our determination, and behind the door an utopia waiting to be discovered.

We will not back down. No amount of state violence can make us move. Instead we will stand our ground together, and we will fight to protect what we have pried from the cold hands the upper classes, politicans and cops, to make a better world without property, oppression, classes or borders. No Border Kitchen stands in solidarity with Mpineo, all off Exarchia and other squats in Greece as the proposed goverment deadline of 6th of december approaches.

The closing of Moria: a colonialist demand

Following the recent news about the Greek government’s intention to transfer all the people trapped on the islands to the mainland and to close the camps on Lesvos (Moria), Chios (Vial) and Samos (Vathi), we want to send you our reflections from NBK. All of us on Lesvos have, on at least some occasion, called for Moria camp to be closed. But this is no moment for celebration.

The announcement suggests that the camps will be replaced by new facilities on the mainland and on the islands []. These will be closed detention centres, likely in isolated spaces far from public view. Meanwhile, 20,000 among those currently on the islands will be transferred to the mainland.

When we call for the closure of Moria, it is to reaffirm that people are being locked up without crime, without accusation and without trial; and that they are being subjected to enormous violence. There is no victory when Moria’s closure means that the next people who cross these waters will find a new camp model, as the Greek government intends: centres where a prison-like regime will apply, as well as a fast-track administrative process – clearly and surely contrary to international legislation for the protection of asylum seekers – aimed at speeding up deportation processes.

Perhaps the living standards will be better in these detention centres, or for the 20,000 moved to the mainland. A bigger and more beautiful prison, where they can walk through a large courtyard, have more bathrooms and showers, and better food. But to denounce Moria and demand better living standards in new camps is to align yourself with those who are perpetrating this violence. It is to accept the established framework, in which all these people remain “others”. A colonial narrative is maintained, in our collective imagination and in reality, because it makes clear who has the right to human rights and who is the object of decision (and doubt) about their humanity.

NBK reaffirms that all these people, for whom we are here, are survivors of serious crises generated by our way of life and “our policies”. And yet they have been arrested and imprisoned.

We can only ask for the closure of Moria if we demand the immediate freedom of all of those inside. May they be free people to settle wherever they believe that their life can flourish. Their future cannot depend on administrative strategies that have been decided by criteria of who is the ‘enemy’ (of a white, Christian and heterosexual Europe… that does not really exist).

We don’t want all these people to be moved to closed, pre-departure centers, or to larger, more comfortable prisons. We want their right to free movement to be recognised!

Safe Passage!
Immediate closure of all hotspots!
No human being is illegal!
Open The Borders!

Only the People can save the People!

17. November

One year ago the people of Lesvos were given an award: the John McCain Award for Leadership in Public Service; which was presented at the 10th Annual International Safety Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia on November 17th. The people of Lesbos earned it “in recognition of their hospitality to the thousands of refugees and migrants who landed on the island,” said Cindy McCain, wife of the late Senator.

I doubt it’s an honor to be given that award, knowing who the late John S. McCain was!
I doubt that it is an honor when it is given to you in the framework of the Annual International Security Forum!
What I have no doubt about is the people of Greece: the people. The mayor of Lesbos at the time, Spyros Galinos, called the award “international recognition of the sacrifice, courage and real solidarity of the people of Lesbos, who shook the international community for the way they responded to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis of 2015”. And in addition to declaring that he would not come to receive it because it belonged to all the residents of Lesbos, he extended it to all the people of Greece for their attitude towards refugees.

The prize was collected by a group of scouts – always willing to help out: in this case not to embarrass the widow of McCain after the mayor’s refusal to come to the presentation.

NBK agrees with Mr. Galinos, as long as we ignore the thousands of disgusting Nazis and fascists who try to make life impossible for people on the move by harassing, insulting or assaulting them. We agree with the former mayor whenever we remember that, after 2015, Europe forced Greece not to be so kind to the refugees, and the government complied by creating and maintaining camps such as Moria in Lesbos, Vial in Chios, Vathi in Samos, and so on, where Human Rights and the Geneva Convention are empty words; and the bureaucracy around asylum claims is created to be so intricate and incomprehensible that it makes many people despair, desist from their request for help and decide to return to their countries to face death, or attempt suicide here in Greece.
Mr. Galinos was right: the response of the Greek people to the crisis, on both the islands and on the mainland, was exceptional. And it must be valued. Many Greeks received and welcomed all those who were fleeing, as they have done for at least the last 20 years. Even before the current “crisis”, Greece has served as a first entry point for people fleeing violence. This was evident, for example, during the war against the Taliban, during which Greece was an entry zone to Europe in the flight of civilians. The exodus from different countries and realities continued through these lands without posing problems, until Europe decided to close the borders with Greece and let them deal with it alone, in the middle of the deep economic crisis in which it found itself.
But whether it was welcoming them to the islands, creating the first support camps in their transit through the continent, or occupying abandoned buildings in Exarchia – the squats – and preparing them for these people, the people intervened instead of waiting for the crisis to be resolved by the big organizations. People saving people! A model of intervention different from the one we have always seen in the news. A model far removed from that of those large refugee camps where people are treated as if they were stupid and incapable, and where the money remains on the journey between those who give it and those who should receive it. A model far removed from that of stupidity (let me use this word to describe it) of UNHCR and other international bodies.
The Greek people intervened with a model in which these people were not separated from society but were included in it. This made it possible for them to remain as protagonists of their own stories, and not as objects of charitable attention (and study). It made it possible for them, while their transit between flight and the granting of asylum lasted, to maintain their capacities and even acquire others, instead of feeling stupid queuing up for everything while some white Europeans fix their day looking at them from above.

Ms. Cindy McCain added in announcing the award, that “in awarding this award to the people of Lesbos, we recognize the sacrifices that so many ordinary people have made to bring security, comfort and hope to refugees in desperate need. My sincere hope is that this award will also serve to inspire others, wherever they are in the world, to stand up for what is right”.
We, the NBK activists, join you in your request… and specify it – from our standpoint:
Europe schould not give a single euro for military solutions in the management of migratory flows; hopefully this crisis will be a separate point on how to intervene in the face of humanitarian disasters; hopefully, humanitarian aid and solidarity will no longer be criminalised!

…May history begin to write ‘The People’!

Let us accept diversity, let’s not confront it!
Let us demand other forms of intervention!
Let us call for the demilitarisation of borders, of aid… and of the world!

Only the People save the People!
No human being is illegal!
Open The Borders!

“Sometimes I think drowning in the sea is better than living in Moria”

“Sometimes I think drowning in the sea is better than living in Moria”

This was said by a young man at food distribution, while talking about the situation in Camp Moria this week.

It is no longer new or unusual to write about the abusive conditions and overcrowding in Moria camp, or about the coming winter, which its enforced residents must soon face. It happens every year, and once again Moria has reached new levels of overcrowding. Last winter, around 7400 people were living in the camp – a record high at the time. Now it is double that. The statistics of the “Ministry of Citizen Protection” show that about 14,700 people are currently condemned to live in Moria – over five times its’ official capacity of 2840.

Since there are still a lot of people arriving on the islands, in October alone Moria’s population increased by around 2000 people. Authorities responded by transferring 1700 people to the mainland, but in the same period there were over 3300 new arrivals to the island. It’s clear that the usual policy of transferring people to the mainland and forgetting about them doesn’t work (without even talking about the human rights abuses that occur in these mainland camps). Reform or drastic change is needed to improve the situation on the islands. Without this, it seems likely to be the worst winter we have seen on the island, the latest in a chain of constantly worsening winters. But it is obvious that the European Union not even trying to improve the situation. The EU creates it. The EU creates it on purpose.

Despite all the evidence, all the stories of people on the move, EU authorities still believe these abuses will discourage people from crossing the borders: “Lesvos is a prison, Moria is a hell, so don’t come here, don’t even try.” The conditions here should come as no surprise, they are the direct result of the EU Turkey deal, and the policy aiming to send people back before they reach the mainland or other European countries.

We continue to report on the conditions, knowing that they are created on purpose, to stay informed, and to stay angry. To hold the authorities to account, even in the face of their indifference.

Overcrowding in Moria means conditions are getting even worse. Many people live in simple summer tents, which provide no shelter against the miserable cold rain and wind of the winter. In many cases, people do not even have blankets. People are crammed together in tiny, unliveable spaces – a four-person family reported being given just 4 square meters to sleep and live.

The days in the camp are full of waiting. Waiting for food, toilet, showers, money, doctors, and of course the asylum service. To use the toilet, the wait is up to 30 minutes. To eat something, it can be 3 hours – but even then you are not guaranteed to receive your small ration of food. And if you have an appointment in the town or at the Asylum Office, of course you will have to skip your food that day, because you cannot wait in line. One person now living outside of the camp explained his health problems prevent him from standing in line for that long – so it was impossible for him to stay in the camp, because he could not receive food there.

With the 90€ every asylum seeker should receive per month, people try to cover the gaps in this broken system, for example by buying additional food or bus tickets. But people now arriving on Lesvos have been told they must wait until April to receive this small cash assistance. So those people who know the structures the least, must somehow cope the whole winter without the urgently needed money.

The situation is worsening, as it worsens every winter. This year we are seeing new levels of overcrowding, new cruelties in the financial assistance program, and the continuation of incompetence and indifference from the authorities.

Moria is hell.

A hell created by the European Union.

A hell created on purpose.

It is not about improving (or pretending to improve) the situation in this hell. It is about closing camps like Moria and enable the freedom of movement. For everyone!

Love and rage,
Your NBK crew

Several protests follow Fire in Moria

On Sunday 30th September this year, a fire broke out in a housing container in Moria camp, due to a short circuit. One or two people were killed as a result. The police attacked spontaneous protests in the camp with teargas, and didn’t hesitate to also shoot teargas in to the quiet living areas of the camp, and the densely populated olive grove.

In response, an antifascist demonstration took place on the next day, with about 200 people taking part. While slightly more than half of the participants were locals, the rest were migrants, among them some of those who have been trapped on the island for years, as it is common practice here. Before the demonstration, police tried to stop people from Moria taking part, by closing the gates of the camp.

The demonstration was held in the streets of Mytilini. The participants demanded the abolition of the camps, freedom of movement for every human being and the destruction of the fascist reality established, mainly, by the member states of the European Union.
After the demonstration a large number of participants gathered to discuss follow up protests.

In response to the police action of closing the camp and making it impossible for people to join the demonstration, a march was organised one week later. The route started at Sappho Square and ended at Moria camp, approximately 8 kilometres away. Under the midday sun, around 200 people took part, carrying the protest up towards the gates of the camp. With chants in Farsi, Greek and English the participants demanded freedom of movement, self-determination, and the abolition of the military-organised detention camps. At first, the police just followed the protest march without interfering. This changed when the demonstration left the busy main road towards Thermi, and turned into the smaller road to the camp. More than one kilometre away from the camp, the road was blocked by police chains which forced the demonstration to stop. It was declared that no further movement in the direction of the camp would be allowed. While calmly discussing how to respond to the cops, the protests blocked the street for about an hour. Afterwards the people decided to return to Mytilini. The march found an end at Ermou (the main shopping street in Mytilini) with a loud rally.

We hope the protests will not be discouraged or frustrated by repression or a lack of visible results, but will continue, and grow into a strong, united struggle.

Another round of show trials to silence resistance:

Last week, once again, a trial based on empty accusations was held in the court of Mytilini. 13 people accused of occupying public spaces and resisting authority have been tried, two years after the events themselves.

In the autumn of 2017, police violently put an end to a six week occupation denouncing terrible conditions in Moria camp. The protestors were charged, in the face of excessive police action against them. Now, twelve have been deservedly acquitted of the charges brought against them by police, and the thirteenth given a three month sentence for resisting authority.

NBK supported the defendants two years ago at the protest, and also these last days with food during the preparation and on the day of the trial.

This trial, against people who protest against the inhumane living conditions and asylum procedure on the Aegean Islands, is no isolated case. Just last May there was a trial against 122 people, arrested on Saphus Square in April 2018, after severe attacks by fascists while police watched.

In both cases, after several hours of testifying in court, the court declared them innocent beyond all doubt. Once again the Greek police, their commanders, and their lines of action were not only left in question, but dragged completely though the mud. There are enough occasions already when their actions have been put into doubt by the courts.

In so many trials, it has been painfully obvious that the prosecutor and the police cannot present any valid evidence, that actually there is no case, that no one should have gone to court, that no one should have spent months in prison for their actions… That instead, the police should examine their actions in the face of these protests, which are protected by the Greek Constitution. That these actions ought to set off alarm bells, for the state and whole society.

We denounce the habitual actions of the police towards these people who protest against their treatment by the authorities. We can recall so much repression against protests in Moria. We do not recall any actions in their favour or even in their defence, only actions against the protesters.

This comes as no surprise, when the police (already a repressive body, defending the interests of the established power and not of the people who suffer from it) are infiltrated by Nazis, which happens not only in Greece, but in many European states now. It follows that this repression, even in the face of peaceful protests, is what people face day to day in Lesvos and in other islands of the Aegean Sea.

We do not resign ourselves to accept as everyday the habitual criminalization of protests and solidarity, the persecution of migrants who seek refuge and are protesting for their rights in a dehumanizing context, and the persecution of people in solidarity. We will continue to fight against these actions, and denounce the savage repression.

We know that all this is being ‘normalized’ in the subconsciousness of many people, here and in the whole of Europe. We know that these actions have the protection of the European Union’s rules, regulations and course of action on migration. We know that European right-wing, far-right, fascist and Nazi groups (acting from political parties, military, police, paramilitary and parapolice corps) take advantage of these ideological lines marked in pursuit of security (a security for hetero-patriarchal capitalism, not for us) to attack the different and the dissidents.

We will not stop denouncing this criminalization and shouting to the citizens of Europe, to wake up and rise up against oppression.
To fight to resist current European political lines, to respect all people and protect everyone’s dignity and freedom.

Stop show trials!
Close all hotspots!
No human is illegal!
Open The Borders!