Freedom – a dangerous demand

I was at the EASO office, and EASO for those who do not know is the most amazing office you can ever visit: European Asylum Support Organization. Suddenly, a very dangerous thing happened: a peaceful demonstration erupted.

When I first heard about EASO I had that feeling that someone really cares about me as a refugee. That someone is supporting me in my asylum process. That is why I decided to visit these amazing people, located in the middle of Moria hotel.

Some would like to call Moria a refugee camp. However, for me it is a five star hotel: You get everything for free: Police attention and care, security guards everywhere and military vehicles: All for your personal care, they are watching you closely like a father. In Moria you also get a free Sauna when it is 40 Celsius outside, some people will be paying for going to a beach or sitting at their own apartment or hotel under the air-conditioner unprotected and with no guards, but in Moria you, as an honourable refugee, will be sitting in your own tent, enjoying the free sauna, protected by police and other security guards. Moria is also a time machine: you get rid of the modern world and you get back to the jungle as there is no presence of law, and it is all for your benefit to gain experience.

So as I was saying, I decided to visit these amazing special creatures at the EASO office in Moria hotel. When I first arrived, I saw fences covering the office, police and private security guards were double the number of refugees they are serving. It is reasonable as each refugee will get two guards, not because he is a threat of course, but because they want to ensure the refugee’s safety and care.

These guards were lovely people, it is true that for many that they view the guards as angry nervous human beings. For me it was obvious that they, unfortunately, are unable to express their true emotions, but their energy is full of love and care, you can feel it when they look deep at you, when they are searching you, when they stand beside you, they want always to make sure that there is no explosive materials in or around you: of course not because you, as a refugee initially decided to bring them, but maybe someone put them in your pocket.. You know it happens..

While I was happily looking at that beautiful place, I was hearing the stories of people who spent months and years without any progress on their asylum process: EASO feels like a mother who does not want her children to get away to another country. Some people will call it a trap, I would prefer to call it extra care. Maybe we need a family therapist here.

I was enjoying hearing the experiences of these people, knowing that I may be also overwhelmed by the trapping love of EASO, a dangerous thing happened suddenly; A group of about forty refugees (not just refugees, but also human beings.. can you imagine?!) acted so dangerously: They started to chant Freedom and Liberte while peacefully walking in the camp!

How did I know that it was a dangerous act? Because the lovely police started to quickly and nervously move to protect us from behind the fences. The guards felt really sexy and strong with all of these Hollywood moves *powpow*, just saying.

It is really dangerous to see people demanding their Freedom after being trapped here for months. They are traitors to the love of EU authorities, seriously. The EU has been providing them with five star accommodation, food, water, protection, sauna etc and the option to voluntarily go back to their home countries. You know, these people came here for a lovely vacation, and maybe when they finish they can go back to their safe countries. It makes sense.

After all of that they will say they are angry?! And what do they want.. Freedom! Why freedom motherfu*****! We just want you to stay with us more, we don’t want to lose you to another EU country, we feel jealous if you were relocated in EU!

Then I noticed that it is not just the sexy guards who were nervous, but also the lovely EASO employees who hide themselves in their offices and started to take sneaky looks at the peaceful protest from inside the office, behind the guards and the fences.

I felt that I would have an heart attack, it must be so hard to imagine how dangerous it is, forty refugees (and also human beings, again!) demanding their right to be free.

And then I felt calm… It felt like home! In Syria when some crazy dangerous peaceful demonstrators demanded Freedom, they were considered as a threat to the Assad state, that is why Assad, to protect the rest of the country from the threat of Freedom, decided to gently act against this threat. Some people would say that Assad destroyed Syria, he was strict, just saying.

So as I am telling you, I felt comfortable, I felt home again. Crazy dangerous people chanting peacefully Freedom & Liberte, but on the other hand there are these honest guards protecting the rest from the infection of their voices.

While all of that was happening, I saw a little child crying, she was very nervous, maybe she, like me also trusts the authorities, so she felt afraid of the peaceful protest when she saw the guards moving firmly and quickly from one corner to another behind the fences. I looked around me trying to find the superman who will come from the employees or guards to get the little girl inside one of these offices, but the superman did not appear. I mean… I trust the guards and employees, I knew they had their own reasons why they were not inviting a little girl to one of the offices where they were protecting themselves. I mean, why do they not hide us among them? Because now I am so afraid of what is going on.

I stood up and went to ask one  of the employees (because the guards were really busy doing their flexible sexy movements from behind the fences). I just wanted to know if this place is supposed to protect refugees, why don’t you invite us to hide from the dangerous demonstration! When I heard one Greek independent lawyer and one refugee whispering; freedom, and one refugee smiling at him!

Oh… It’s the fu***** infection! We are also dangerous, because we may also chant “Freedom”!

Our friend Zaid, an expert refugee.

** Thirty-five refugees were arrested later that day and are facing up to 10 years in jail. For more information about Moria 35:


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!