16 May, Lesvos – Turkey

Date & Time16th of May, 12:35 am (Ferry)
Means of Transportationsmall police bus & Ferry (Esrefjale)
Number & Gender3 men
Nationalitiesunknown
Islands1 from Samos, 2 from Kos source
Particularitiespeople were not handcuffed, no big travel agency bus
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“Voluntary Returns”: 6 – 12 May 2019, 8 people

Date8th of May12th of May
Number of People35
Islands2 from Kos, 1 from Leros source5 from Samos source

These people agreed to “voluntary” return from Greece to their country of origin with the programme of “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration” (AVRR) of the IOM. From the Greek Islands they were most propably transferred to a pre-removal centre on the Greek mainland in order to be returned to their country of origin.

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The Death of Dreams – A Voice from Prison

Many people who come to Europe looking for freedom and safety find themselves imprisoned. While the EU politics forcibly keep people trapped in overcrowded and barbed wired camps on the Greek islands, the Greek police uses harsh crack down strategies in order to suppress conflicts and protests arising from the unbearable living conditions in the camps.

Migrants on the Greek islands find themselves in a situation of detainability – regardless of whether they committed an offense or not, they do not only have to bear the constant insecurity of the camp but have to live under the constant threat of being arrested and detained.

Below, we reproduce the account of Aftab Mohammadi (name changed) who was arrested in Moria camp in July 2018 and has since then been held in the prison of Chios Island. It is one of many stories of a senseless and cruel detention practice beyond any reason.

Moria Pre-Removal Centre – Lesvos Island

Nine months ago, it was a night like other nights. There was a fight in the camp between a few people that lasted for more than two hours. The fight started between two people and after a while others in the camp got involved. It all started because of the bad conditions of the people who have to live in the camp. Some have mental issues, because they live in these terrible conditions and do not have any mental support.

The police was present and they saw what happened. I felt terrible this night, especially when I saw that the children were holding onto their moms, they were very scared and crying. But for the police it was a special night. They were laughing at the people. For them it was like a watching an online movie. We were asking them for help but they were only laughing at us, taking photos and recording us.

Finally, they rushed in the camp but to the people who were not involved in that fight, and they attacked the innocent people. We did not have any place to go, we were about 18 persons and I was one of them. The police took us to the police station, hit us, treated us very badly and called us aggressors. For several hours our hands and our feet were handcuffed. We could not communicate with them because we did not know their language and they opened a file for each of us for no reason. After the paperwork they separated us and put us in different cells.

Before going into the cell, I thought we were the only people there for no reason, but when I went inside, I saw many people who were there for the same reason. The prison was full of refugees. The Greek police does this to people like us in order to show their power, to show that justice does not exist here. I asked the other people why they are in the prison.  ​It was because of small things. Most of them were not Greek. We only committed the crime that we were born in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. I also saw plenty of other people who were arrested for the same reason like me and they had been in the prison for many years.

Afterwards, the court recognized them as innocent. I do not know if is fine to put innocent people in prison and open a file for them in the police station or in the court, when in the end it was for nothing, for no crimes.  I do not know what the Greek government will achieve with this kind of thing.

The European Union and the people who are in power are always talking about human rights and they are going around the world to ‘protect’ human rights. They say that everyone should have freedom and everyone has to be free. I find it very strange that they are not looking at Greece which is a part of them. In this country that is part of the European Union you can see the most vulnerable people who have been forced to leave their home country and are seeking for asylum and looking for a shelter. But this country is using them for their benefits and they are taking the people’s freedom to do their business. They are keeping the refugees here because they think they can improve their economy. I am sure this plan will not work.

Whatever you read here, it came from my heart. The people lost their freedom because of being a refugee and they lost their dreams inside the democratic prison. And we know that there are some nice humans who are trying to help others. Those people who are helping the others, they do not care where people come from, where they have been born, what are their religion and believes. They believe that we are all the same and we should help each other. In the end I hope they are going to stop making business with the humans. I hope one day I can see that everyone is equal. It is a shame to see what is happening with people’s life. ​

14th March 2019​

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Trial of Sapfous 122- Not Guilty Verdict on All Charges

Via Legal Centre Lesvos:

Press Release: Peaceful demonstration and the human right to freedom of assembly prevails

On 9th of April 2019, in the Misdemeanours Court of Mytilene, the 110 on trial for resistance against authorities, rioting, and illegal occupation of public property were found not-guilty of all charges against them.

The charges were brought last year, after a peaceful sit-in of approximately 180 refugees took place in a small part of Sappho Square in the center of Mytilene between April 17- 23, 2018, in protest against poor living conditions in Moria Camp, lack of medical care and access to health services, imprisonment on the island and the long delay in their asylum process. The trigger of the mobilisation was the hospitalisation and death of an Afghan asylum seeker with serious health problems

What fundamentally differentiated this peaceful demonstration from previous demonstrations by refugees in Sappho Square was the unprecedented organised violent assault against the protestors by far-right elements with fascist and racist motives from the afternoon of 22 April up to 4 a.m. the following day, 23 April.

See report Progrome Night in Mytilene

While the police initially made efforts to protect the protestors during the attack, as is their duty, and formed a protective ring around them so as not to come in direct contact with the attacking mob, they did not manage to protect them from the continuous throwing of stones, glasses, flaming objects, tiles, and bottles; which resulted in many injuries to the demonstrators and those standing in solidarity with them.

Throughout the night, the police did not arrest any of the attackers, as one might expect. Instead, in the early morning when the situation was seemingly calm, the police continued the assault against the demonstrators and carried out a swift and violent evacuation of the Square, using tear gas and riot gear to forcibly encircle the demonstrators. The fearful and panicked demonstrators, including many mothers and young children, were arrested and led to the police vans without any prior warning, making it self evident in the trial that no rioting or resistance during the operation of the evacuation could have taken place. For all the above reasons, the acquittal on all charges of all the accused is important, as was the recognition by the court that the constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful demonstration superseded the alleged crime of illegal occupation of public property.

It was evident throughout the trial, through the testimony of the witnesses and defendants, that what was at issue was not that the public square was partially occupied, perhaps at the inconvenience of some individuals – but that the state was attempting to criminalize the constitutionally and legally exercised right to freedom of assembly. They did so with such tactics as disassociation of this trial from the unprecedented fascist and violent assault on the migrants, and by proceeding to trial in a case that lacked evidence of any crime being committed. Like many similar cases of criminalization of migrants in Lesvos, this case never should have gone to trial.

See also post by No Border Kitchen Lesvos

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Deportations to Turkey – overview: April 2019

MonthApril
Number & Nationality10 men (2 from Pakistan, 2 from Egypt, 1 from Algeria, 1 from Afghanistan, 1 from Bangladesh, 1 from Iraq, 1 from Senegal, 1 from State of Palestine) source1 source2 source3
Islands5 from Lesvos, 1 from Chios, 4 from Kos
Reasons for Deportation9: negative decision on asylum claim at 2nd instance
1: withdrew his asylum claim
source
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Trial of Sapfous 122 – Today in Mytilene

via Legal Centre Lesbos – Press Release of 9th May 2019 – Mytilini GREECE

Today 122 people are on trial in Mytilene, Lesvos, after being arrested in the early morning of 23 April 2018. They are charged with resisting arrest, rioting, and illegal occupation of public property. If convicted they could be imprisoned for two years. In the days prior to their arrest last year, 100-200 refugees and migrants who had been living in the notorious Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, gathered in Sapfous Square, the main square in town, to protest lack of access to medical care, horrible conditions, and delayed asylum procedures that kept them prisoners on the island.

After less than a week of their peaceful protest, on the night of 22 April 2018, they were attacked by a far-right mob. In this organized violent attack, roughly 200 fascists attacked the refugees and migrants, as well as those standing in solidarity with them, with projectiles.  While 26 people are now facing criminal charges related to the attack against the migrants, during the night not a single attacker was arrested. Only the 122 people facing trial today were arrested, after facing a night of racially motivated violence against them, which left many people, including migrants, journalists, and children injured.

This case shows a continued policy of the police and courts of Lesvos, Greece of criminalizing migrants who protest against their imprisonment on the Greek Islands and the inhumane conditions in Moria camp, denying them their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

For background information on trials see also Ongoing Criminalization of Refugee Protests – Upcoming trials against migrants on Lesvos
and for updates the information provided by HIAS Greece which is leading the defense and also represents the refugees in the case against the perpetrators of the racist attack.

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“Voluntary Returns”: 29 April – 5 May 2019

There were no transfers of people, who signed the “voluntary” return.

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2 May, Lesvos – Turkey

Date & Time2nd of May, 12.10 am (Ferry)
Means of TransportationBus (Mythimna Tours) & Ferry (Triol)
Number & Gender2 men
Nationalitiesunknown
Islands2 from Lesvos source
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“Voluntary Returns” overview: April 2019

MonthApril
Number of People49
Islands20 from Lesvos, 5 from Chios, 19 from Samos, 4 from Kos, 1 from Leros

These people agreed to “voluntary” return from Greece to their country of origin with the programme of “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration” (AVRR) of the IOM. From the Greek Islands they were most propably transferred to a pre-removal centre on the Greek mainland in order to be returned to their country of origin.

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“Voluntary Returns”: 22 – 28 April 2019

There were no transfers of people, who signed the “voluntary” return.

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