Acquittal of 8 Migrants

Last year in March eight men were arrested and accused of attacking the cops and for arson during protests in Moria camp a few days before. Five of them were kept in prison for 11 months, on the mainland and on Chios.
11 months after the arrests, last week on the 22nd of February, they were finally brought to the High Court in Chios, where it took the three judges and the four person jury only an hour and a half to acquit them of all charges and declare their innocence.
Already in the pre-hearing directly after the arrests, the lack of evidence and the arbitrariness of the whole case was very obvious.
The whole accusation was only based on the testimony of a camp resident, who was in the role of community leader at that time. He claimed to have recognized all eight men, although their faces were covered and it was dark, and the air was full of smoke and teargas. Some of the accused men reported that they did not even know the community leader personally.
On the day he testified, his geographic restriction to Lesvos was lifted and he was able to leave to the mainland. Repeatedly community leaders are put under pressure by the police to pass on information and are threatened with criminal prosecution themselves, or told that it will harm their own asylum claim if they do not cooperate. Moreover, they are offered the possibility to be able to leave the prison island Lesvos if they work as informants. In this case the abuse is more than likely.
Not one of the 17 cops who testified has been able to recognize a single person. The alibis proving the absence of at least two of the accused during the protests were neither taken into account at the pre-hearings nor at the submitted objections against the detention.

The final decision, to find them innocent, is a small success and a relief for the accused. Nevertheless, five of them had to endure 11 months of imprisonment, and the criminalization of migrants and the random arrests continue.

The randomness of the arrests and the lack of of investigation shows once more, the symbolic character of the trial. It is another act of intimidation against those who try to oppose the system of detention and encampment at European Borders.
The pre-trial detention and the charges based on dubious accusations outline another case of criminalization of protests and a violent crackdown on the resistance of protestors.

In memory and rage

We are enraged by the events of the last week and the ongoing violence of the European Border Regime towards people on the move.

On January 8th, 2019 the European Border regime, and violent neglect of human life and dignity present in Moria camp on the Greek Island of Lesvos led to the death of Jean Paul, a 24 year old man from Cameroon. The last few weeks have been the coldest ones yet this winter, with temperatures hovering around freezing, high winds, and frequent rain storms. Much of Moria has been experiencing power outages for days, leaving many people without heat and other basic necessities.

Jean Paul had chosen to sleep in the Isobox container house of a friend for the night instead of his usual place in a tent in order to try to escape the cold. In the middle of the night, a friend noticed that his breath had grown irregular, and quickly ran to find medical assistance. Medical personnel turned the friend away, and by the time he returned to the isobox there was little to be done. Those who had tried to help him wound up spending the night in the police station, being questioned and detained without proper translation assistance before finally being released in the morning.

Over a week later, there continues to power outages throughout the camp, and Jean Paul’s death has been blamed on a heart attack. While this is possible, it fails to take into account questions of how a 24-year-old man described as quite healthy by his friends could have possibly passed away from this. It overlooks the impact that prolonged exposure to the cold and the stress of living in Moria can have on human health.

There have also been two major fires in Moria over the course of the last week. While the exact causes are uncertain, these fires were likely caused by people trying to build fires to stay warm during to the power outages, or even the faulty electrical system itself. Rather than taking steps to fix problems with the electricity and prevent future fires, the only real response on the part of the authorities has been to arrest residents of the tents where the fires occurred.

Jean Paul’s death, the electricity problems, and the fires are not isolated events. In the winter of 2016, several other people died from the cold in Moria. Reports on the 2016 death were not published until two years later, and similar delays are likely in this case. Doing so makes it harder to pursue justice, and pushes the problem out of view while waiting for people to move on. For years now, people have decried the unsafe and inhumane conditions in the camp, with clear evidence of human rights abuses occurring and the ongoing ways the asylum system and Fortress Europe has left those on the move in incredibly precarious positions. The fact that power outages still persist over a week after someone passed away from the cold and two fires in the span of a week provides undeniable evidence of the violent neglect of human life and dignity present. The only real response on the part of the authorities has been arrests, further contributing to ongoing criminalization of migration seen throughout Europe and ongoing injustices.

 

Winter update

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Winter  on Lesvos, the weather has taken a turn for the worst. In Moria, the main camp on the island, many people—among them recent arrivals—live in tents with little protection from the cold and rain due to a shortage of … Continue reading

How many more deaths in Europe?

2018 and things haven’t changed, Europes borders keep being as deadly as in the previous years.
So far this year, 2160 people have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea – 2 weeks ago, it was 2063. The emergency is still on. It’s time to react.

Right in front of our door, people are dying:
just some examples…
– On the 12th of November, a boat on the way to Lesvos capsized, two men managed to swim to shore in Dikili but 6 people died and 4 are missing.
– Two months ago (08/10/2018) nine dead bodies were found and dozens of people are missing. The boat was trying to reach Lesvos.
– Also on the way to Lesvos, 6 people, including three babies, drowned on the 29/06/18. – May 14, Babakale
– Turkey (just up north of Lesvos): 7 people died in a shipwreck.

This tragedy isn’t an accident, this is the result of European migration policies, set up since the Schengen deal in 1985. Strengthening borders and tracking and deporting people stops them from entering Europe legally, and forces them to use perilous routes instead.

The European Fortress also set up policies to externalize the borders and repel as much as possible. The EU injects millions of euros into projects to prevent migration into European territory, no matter if it supports dictatorial regimes. Indeed, on the 35 « priority countries » for the externalization of borders, all are known for abusing human rights and half of these countries have an authoritarian or dictatorial government.

It’s time to understand that the more money Europe give to train and equip armies from Turkey, Libya, Sudan…, the more people will try to flee those countries. For those who survived a dangerous journey and finally arrived to Lesvos, the island becomes not a place to find safety but even worse, a place to slowly die. Lesvos is a prison for them, as they can’t go forward because of European policy, and can’t go back to their country of origin, because they would be persecuted, enslaved or killed. We stand in solidarity with migrants everyday, not only when UN celebrates the « International Day of Human Rights ».

– Stop spending millions to kill people
– Stop supporting dictatorial governments
– Stop Dublin Regulations – Stop deportation
– Stop concentrating people in hotspots

Displaced People Displaced again.

After heavy fights last Friday in Moria, All the Kurds left Moria fearing their safety inside the infamous detention centre was greatly at risk. Mostly families with children and a small group of single men, tried to get to safer locations. They where cattled by the Police for several hours in de burning sun. Then they went into Mytillini to sleep in parks. A number of volunteers came to their aid, not only to provide basic needs, but also the local Antifa to protect people from potential threats.

After no solution was found that a smaller group went to Pikpa, and a bigger group tried to get to Karatepe, the Muncipality run “family camp”. That was not possible,so they where transferred to Stage 2, a transit centre. Then yesterday they where removed from the UNCHR run facility and are currently residing at Humans4Humanities, a grass-roots NGO that is, like Pikpa, over capcity and in no way has the infrastructure to deal with such large numbers of people. Currently there are still 350 people residing in Pikpa.

The authorities of Lesvos have once again shown their incompetence in dealing with life-threatening situations. The Kurds, fleeing from war and discrimination, find themselves facing much of the same treatment on this Island. The police and supposed authorities did nothing to stop the violence in Moria. Instead of finding a solution themselves they drop all the people on the grass-roots NGO’s so that they don’t have to worry about the situation. We cannot trust goverment institutions to safeguard the lives of people for whom they have shown total indifference in past, present and also the future.

No Border Kitchen and One Happy Family has been providing food for Pikpa since the onset of the situation, because no one else had the means to do so. We stand in solidarity with the people of Pikpa, volunteers and migrants that are trying their best to care for the people displaced again in search of safety.

For now we wait. A number of residents of Moria have said the Kurds are no longer welcome, and made a number of very colourful threats for the case when they would come back. But the current situation is also not sustainable, and the Authorities keep silent.

Pogrom night in Mytilini

On the night of April 22nd, a group of 200-300 fascists attacked a group of residents of Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. The pogrom lasted all night, leaving dozens of those occupying the square injured. Ultimately police evacuated the square entirely.
At the beginning of last week a group of Moria’s residents moved out of the crowded state camp in the olive groves of Moria to Sappho Square, Mytilini’s main square. The group settled down there, occupying a part of the square day and night. There are many reasons for their protest, including the oversight and inadequacy of local organisations in providing medical care for a friend of theirs dying in hospital. And they protest more generally against the oppressive camp structures propped up by a number of NGOs. The protesters accused Eurorelief and MMS in particular, both of whom work in the prison-like structures of the camp. There were slogans against the UN, as well as fundamental demands for freedom of movement.
Change of scene: Every Sunday a military parade and flag ceremony takes place in Mytilini. The Greek flag on the town hall is raised by the military and nationalists. This Sunday fascists came from all over Greece. After the ceremony they make their way to Sappho Square. The police are already present at this time and form a line between the people on the square and the surrounding fascists. Around 9 p.m. the first attacks occur: from the ranks of the fascists, two torches and a barrage of stones are hurled at the protestors. The protestors stand their ground, having already started to prepare for the attacks during the parade. They form a circle, with women, children and the elderly protected in the middle. All the others, including a few dozen Greek and international supporters, are standing around the edges. People start to form a tent of blankets to protect themselves from the objects to throw.
Until just before 11 p.m. there is some peace and quiet. The group of fascists seems to calm down and decrease in size, and the police make negotiations with both groups. The occupiers want to stay, and the fascists make it clear that they want to drive them out. Reports from Moria camp, about an hour’s walk away, suggest that many people set out to provide support, but were stopped by police and driven back to camp. The camp was then locked down. Shortly thereafter there are new waves of attacks: Again, objects fly towards the people in the square. This time also firecrackers, and bins set alight, to break through the police rows. The attacks are shifting to the promenade. Occasionally there are small fights when fascists succeed in breaking through next to the police line.
Throughout the night there are many injuries, mainly from stones, bottles and firecrackers. Many unconscious people are carried away after being hit in the head by rocks. There are open wounds as well as eye and ear injuries. In nearby premises, people of solidarity are setting up an infirmary in which injuries are treated in a makeshift manner. Due to the riots, it takes a long time for the first ambulances to arrive. Thanks to the strong solidarity structures on the island, fortunately some doctors are quickly on the spot. Small groups of fascists sometimes make it very close to the temporary infirmary, so that the injured have to be evacuated from there in an emergency and distributed to other places.
Meanwhile the fascist mob has grown to several hundred people. Between the promenade and the square are two police buses that block the view. Behind it, the fascists continue throwing objects at the people who are
still on the square. Although many have been injured and would like to retaliate, the people in the square are not provoked, and take great care that nothing is thrown back. In view of the great danger and the hopeless situation, the people on the square remain admirably calm. Stoically they accept the attacks and try to sit out the night. Don’t go back to Moria! But where else?
In the centre of the circle, the situation is particularly awful. Under the tent the remaining women, children and old people endure. They can’t see what’s happening around them. Children scream while the fascists try to hit right in the middle of the circle. Again and again firecrackers
fall down between the ceilings, which offer good protection against the stones, and explode between people. Tear gas wafts repeatedly pass by and get stuck under the ceilings.
Individual groups of fascists try to get closer to the protesting people from all sides. Stones are thrown from the side at head level. There are constant attacks in which several dozens of projectiles fly over the bus at the same time. Among them massive stones, Molotov cocktails and big firecrackers. The fascists accept the dead.
The police maintain a spatial separation of the two groups for most of the night. But often there is only a row of policemen in between. The people in the square remain within throwing distance. At times the police use tear gas, pepper spray and truncheons to drive back the fascists. This gives some space for a short time, but no sustained attempt is made to keep the fascists at a distance. For a long time there have been far too few police officers present. Many are probably still busy stopping the people from Moria who have run off in support. Only at the end, with the evacuation of the square, do new buses with policemen arrive.
This night revealed the racist face of the Greek police.
At 4 o’clock the police drive the fascists far away again and keep them at a distance. At the same time, they begin to crowd people together on the square. Supporters are attacked with pepper spray. The remaining 130 people are closely surrounded by the police. When it becomes clear that they will not voluntarily board the buses provided, the police use pepper spray and physical violence. This leads to last bad scenes. The police beat the people, kick them, and drag them by their hair across the square.
After more than 8 hours of attacks by the fascists, the people are arrested and taken to prison by bus. It is still unclear whether and which charges will be brought. In addition, four Greek activists are also being taken away by the police. Most of the fascists, many of whom were not disguised, remain at large.

Saturday 17th of March 12:00 @Safos Square Protest against the EU-Turkey deal.

Broad Demonstration against the second anniversary of the EU-Turkey deal!
This Saturday the 17th of March 12:00 @Safos Square!

But this is not the only place where demonstrations will take place that day.
Don’t let the Anniversary go by unnoticed! Find your local initiatives and get to the streets!

With the anniversary of the EU-Turkey deal coming up, it will be two years since the European goverments signed this deal with the devil. The despot Edrogan keeps bombing Afrin while the Eu looks on, forcing even more people to flee their homes. They claim to represent fancy words “civilisation” and “democracy” but turn a blind eye to the suffering of millions, that they have an active part causing.

No More! #openthefuckingborders

Justice for The Moria 35!

 

On the 18th of July 2017, prisoners in Moria held a peaceful protest outside of European Asylum Support Office. Their demand was simple: freedom of movement for everyone who has been trapped on the island for more than six months, and humane living conditions. All of the 35 people arrested and accused of crimes, seem to be chosen out of coincidence. They are also accused for exactly the same crimes. During the arrest, the police used more violence than needed including teargas. One of the accused refugees was taken to hospital where he had to stay for a week.

To give everyone a chance, Legal Center Lesbos is crowdfunding in order to be able to provide the legal support needed for the trials. They are running out of time, so HELP THEM HERE, NOW.

For more information: https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/maya-thomas-davis/on-lesvos-police-violence-crushes-refugees-resistance-justice-f

The Myth of Voluntary Deportations – “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration” from Greece

“Many people are literally broken by the unbearable living conditions in Europe’s refugee camps and by an asylum procedure lacking core standards of fairness to apply for IOM’s return programme… Once migrants have signed the agreement, IOM and other participating states and agencies seem to consider themselves discharged from the responsibility for the returnee’s well-being.

Many people signing up for the AVRR programme experience nothing close to a “safe and dignified” return. Before their return, they are treated as badly as deportees: transported in handcuffs, held in detention and affected by violence in the pre-removal centers. Back in their home countries, many returnees are again exposed to detention, exploitation and the persecution they fled from seeking safety and a decent life in Europe.”

Powerful piece from comrades at HarekAct border-monitoring, on the realities of the EU’s so-called “voluntary” returns programme.