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: https://bordermonitoring.eu/verein/2020/03/refugees-welcome-dont-shot/)

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.

A retrospective on January 2020

Just one month has passed in the new year and it already casts a grim shadow over the months yet to come. Blow after blow, new atrocities occur, and the government issues one fascist decision after another. Public outcry is absent.

Still, almost every day people set out on the dangerous journey across the straits between Turkey and Europe. Forced by a system that criminalizes and negatively stigmatizes migration, people unsafely have to board boats and leave everything behind, in the hope of a better, normal life – and for the EU (and within it the Greek government) no effort seems too big or too expensive to crush said people, no matter the cost.
The numerous shipwrecks in this month alone shows yet again how dangerous the crossing is. The Turkish coast guard rammed a rubber dinghy, 4 people drowned, one person went missing – and the excuse of missing safety precautions onboard is accepted without comment. A fiber boat broke, 11 people died, of whom 8 were children – but the outcry is absent.

Driven in desperation by a dehumanizing and exclusionary system, a man finds himself during first days of January in prison. He is locked away in solitary confinement, out of sight. He is man with known psychological problems and he is left alone. Nobody will take responsibility for him. Death appears to him as the only way out of this hell.
In response to this, approximately 150 people took to the streets to protest against Moria Camp and the conditions in its prison. In a public statement (in several languages), the violent methods, which are de facto torture, were criticized, and the release of all prisoners demanded, as well as the closure of Moria camp and freedom of movement for all.
Towards the end of the month around 300 women protested in the streets of Mytilene with slogans such as “we want to be free, we want to be human”. They criticized the horrible living conditions in Moria camp and the ongoing violence. Meanwhile, another hundred women were prevented from participating in the protest and were blocked at the streets entering Mytilene. More than ten non- refugee women that attended the demonstration were removed and taken to the police station. The police were of the opinion that it was they who organized the rally, based on no evidence and only prejudice, the racial prejudice that the refugee community were unable to organise the demonstration themselves, and that it must have been done for them.
Women have to live under constant fear of assaults and rape. Medical help for pregnant women is barely existent. General medical support is scarce. Children grow up in a hostile environment. They are denied their childhood. But the outcry is absent.

Over 20,000 people are currently stuck in and around Moria camp, having to call it their home. Basic needs are not even close to being met. The ideal environment for violence has resulted in several attacks. Already more than 10 people have been injured and hospitalized since the start of the year. Among those, two men were killed. Some no longer dare to stay in the camp and see themselves forced to endure the cold winter nights in public places. But the outcry is absent.

On January 22nd, with the slogan: “we want our islands back!”, thousands of Greek civilians went on strike and protested the government’s refugee policy. The general strike was supported by the broad public, and a poster with their inflammatory demands could be seen in countless shops and stores of Mytilene, resulting in the largest protest in the history of Lesvos. Thus, domestic politics evaporates, and the belief that those who have newly arrived are to blame for the old, structural problems of the country spreads.
This is a perfect example of the recently formed government confirming its desire to show hardness and “strength” by implementing xenophobic policy. Championing the ideal of “out of sight, out of mind”, the first closed camp is already being built on the island of Samos, afar from any civilization. Men, women and children are to be imprisoned there on a general basis, their only “crime”: they came to Europe. They shall be imprisoned for 25 days. Within this time, it is supposed to be decided who is allowed to stay and who will be deported. The new law, however, provides for numerous possibilities to extend detention – up to 18 months if the asylum application is rejected. In addition to this, the time limits for appeals has been shortened, and any appeal must be submitted by a lawyer. This gives rise to the fear that under these circumstances many will not find a representative in time to appeal against a negative verdict.
But the government cannot wait for the completion of the closed camps to achieve their goal. Thus, on the last weekend of January, 55 people, most of them families, were locked up in a wing of the prison on Kos island. EU law ubiquitously requires a case-by-case assessment of whether there is a reason for imprisonment, and the Greek government flagrantly shows a clear disregard for such legal principle. If even legal principles are so publicly ignored, how are we to believe that any moral or ethical principles, such as a basic human right such as migration, will ever be followed?
Help and support will never be close at hand. The dehumanization continues. Imprisonment of the innocent, even children, is legitimized by our xenophobic system. But the outcry is absent.

The closed camps are intended to accelerate and intensify deportations. By the end of 2020, the government wants to deport 10,000 refugees to Turkey – five times greater than the total number of deportations since the EU-Turkey deal was made. So far, in accordance with former practice, many deportations have been prevented (or at least delayed) with the argument that the horrific conditions in Turkey classify a return as unsafe. However, the Greek government has installed a new judiciary for decisions in regards to deportation, and hopes they will decide differently. But the outcry is absent.

The European Union continues to fully support and implement the entire system. They don’t only demand more “effective (frequent)” deportation but also demand the doubling of EASO staff officials to carry out the heinous act. It is not the only staff increase. The cruel, so-called “defenses” continue. The government announced to have 1200 more border police officers in the coming months. Already 400 jobs are advertised for the borders at the river Evros, and 800 are to be added on the Aegean islands.
Now they also want to install a floating dam system on the water. How exactly this is supposed to keep boats away is unclear to everyone. Considering that Lesvos is roughly 70km long, the 2.7km long barrier with blinking lights does not invoke an effective approach to the “issue”. The half a million-Euro project seems even more senseless when one takes in to account that people who are stopped by the barrier have already reached Greek territorial waters, and would therefore have to be rescued and taken to Greek soil under maritime law. But the outcry is absent.

As well as this, Stage 2 was closed on the 31st January. Stage 2 was the short-term transit camp to ensure people who land on the northern coast can access safety and receive medical aid and shelter. Over half of the total arrivals on Lesvos are on the northern shore. With closing Stage 2, people arriving will be left waiting for hours on beaches, by the side of the road, or in remote rocky areas, with no access to immediate shelter, protection or medical aid; some may even attempt to walk for hours to the south. But the outcry is absent.

Irony screams out, with all of the events aforementioned taking place in the same month in which the liberation of Auschwitz was remembered during the 75th anniversary of it’s closure, with politicians from left to right wing parties proclaiming: “never forgive, never forget!”. But they do forget. They forget all people who are not wanted in Europe because of their country of origin. They forget the tens of thousands of people who lost their lives because of the current EU policy. They forget the children who have experienced nothing else in their whole life than war, conflict zones and flight, and now are forced to live in hostile environments which provoke child suicide attempts. They forget all the young people who are condemned to do nothing, full of potential – potential Europe desperately needs, but apparently would be provided by the “wrong” people. They forget humanity in view of their own political and economic interests. They forget that fascism is in our midst and again the majority is not only watching but willfully ignoring. Thus, new atrocities take place over and over– but, once again, the outcry is absent. Deafeningly, forever absent.

United we stay- divided we fall.
No borders
Solidarity will win

Solidarity works!


Dear comrades around the world,

Last month we almost ran out of money and sent a call-out for support. We received incredible answers, and in less than a month we received enough money to continue our work for 3 to 4 months. And donations are still arriving.

We want to thank you all for proving again that solidarity works. This is confirming that the resistance on Lesvos is part of a common struggle against racism and fascism and that we are united beyond borders in our fight for a word of solidarity, equality and freedom.

In these difficult times on the island, where the freedom of people on the move is increasingly restricted through militarization, criminalization and racist legislations, our struggle continues.

Love and rage,
Your NBK crew

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.

Why?

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.