“Voluntary Returns”: 4 – 10 March 2019, 16 people

Date8th of March9th of March
Number of people106
Islands10 from Chios source6 from Kos 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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7 March, Lesvos – Turkey

Date & Time7th of March, 11.30 am (Ferry)
Means of TransportationBus & Ferry (Turyol)
Number & Gender2 men
Nationalities1 from Nigeria 1 from Ghana (source: UNHCR)
Islands2 from Samos source
Reasons for Deportation2: negative decision at 2nd instance (source: UNHCR)
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Deportations to Turkey – overview: February 2019

MonthFebruary
Number & Nationality13 (3 from Afghanistan, 2 from Pakistan, 1 from Nigeria, 1 from Egypt, 1 from Iran, 1 from Iraq, 1 from Algeria, 3 other Nationalities) source1 source2
Islands5 from Lesvos, 3 from Chios, 3 from Samos, 2 from Kos
Reasons of Deportation11: negative decision on asylum claim at 2nd instance
2: withdrew their asylum claim
source
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“Voluntary Returns”: 25 February – 3 March 2019, 5 people

Date1st of March3rd of March
Number of people23
Islands2 from Lesvos source3 from Kos 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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“Voluntary Returns” overview: February 2019

MonthFebruary
Number of People31
Islands8 from Samos, 20 from Kos, 3 from Chios

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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28 February, Lesvos – Turkey

Date & Time28th of February, 1:45 pm (Ferry)
Means of TransportationBus & Ferry (Esref Jale)
Number & Gender2 men
Nationalities1 from Cameroon, 1 from Algeria (source: UNHCR)
Islands1 from Chios, 1 from Samos source
Reasons for Deportation2: negative decision at 2nd instance (source: UNHCR)
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“Voluntary Returns”: 18 – 24 February 2019, 11 people

Date18th of February20th of February
Number of people83
Islands8 from Kos source 3 from Chios 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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21 February, Lesvos – Turkey

Date & Time21st of February, 11 am (Ferry)
Means of TransportationBus & Ferry
Number & Gender2 men
Nationalities2 from Afghanistan (source: UNHCR)
Islands2 from Lesvos source
Reasons for Deportation2: negative decision at 2nd instance (source: UNHCR)
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Criminalization of Deportation Monitoring – Arrests and Police Violence

The EU-Turkey statement of 18th of March 2016 gained lots of media attention. It was presented as a solution for the so-called “refugee crisis” with the goal to return “[a]ll new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 […] to Turkey”.

Three years after the statement, there is hardly any public interest in the situation for refugees and migrants affected by detention and deportation under the EU-Turkey statement. Deportations are implemented seemingly without any official monitoring body overlooking the situation for migrants before, during and after their return. Although Frontex has a human rights unit involved in the deportation process and the Greek ombudsman’s office is sometimes present on-site, several rights violations were reported through independent activists reporting for Deportation Monitoring Aegean.

Monitoring deportations is not a crime, in contrast, deporting severely sick people or people who are still in an on-going asylum procedure is in fact legally most problematic. Nevertheless, the independent monitoring structure is put under growing pressure. Independent activists who monitor deportations are frequently controlled by the police, have their personal data stored, are intimidated, or even arrested and beaten.

One of the most severe cases happened on October 4th, 2018. A person was arrested for nothing more than standing close to the police station of Mytilene. He reports:

“I was standing with some people outside the coffee bar, opposite the police station of Mytilene. Suddenly a policeman in motorbike clothes came and was shouting at us. It was Greek so I couldn‘t understand, but it seemed, that he told all people to leave, so I walked away. After a couple of meters I recognised the officer was still shouting after me, so I turned around and went to him to apologise that I misunderstood him and to ask for his request. He immediately pulled my hair, twisted my arm and apprehended me.”

In the police station, the person monitoring was pushed onto a couch, a police man yelled at him and insulted him in Greek and English. His hat was taken off him and used to slap him in the face and his legs were kicked.

The person monitoring was detained in the police station and was asked to testify. Since the accusation was obviously made up (the police man had testified that the activist monitoring tried to run to the deportation bus to stop the deportation) and the activists did not have a lawyer at the time, he refused to testify. The police forced him to give his address and personal data and kept him in the police station for eight hours. He was put in a prison cell together with three men whose deportation had been stopped last minute on the same day. Their deportation was cancelled with the help of lawyers who had been informed by the activists monitoring the deportation process. Only through this intervention was the will of the three migrants to issue a subsequent asylum application accepted. Instead of being deported, they were returned back to Moria dention center after some hours, while the activist was finally released at 8pm.

Later it was found that the police had pressed charges against the activist for insult and resistance against the police. There is still no court date for the incidence.

The criminalization of support structures has to stop immediately! Monitoring deportations is no more than basic human rights work in order to prevent illegal actions and report the violence imposed on people on behalf of the EU-Turkey statement.

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Moria 8 declared innocent

“Police officers in Mytilene do strange things I cannot understand.”

President of High Court, Chios

After 11 months of unjust detention, the Moria 8 have finally been declared innocent and will be released. On the 22nd of February 2019, they were 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.

The eight men were arrested on the 19th of March 2018 and accused of attacking the police and arson during protests in Moria camp five days before. Five of them were kept in detention for eleven months, two in the prison Korydallos and three in the prison on Chios. There was no investigation and the alibis proving the absence of at least two of the accused during the protests were neither taken into account at the pre-hearing directly after the arrest nor at the submitted objections against the detention. None of the 17 police men who were on duty during the protests in the camp had been invited to the pre-hearing and asked to identify any of the accused.

The accusation of the eight men from Syria and Iraq only relied on one testimony of another camp resident. Three months before the trial, the man sent a video to one of the defendants, where he apologizes for making wrong accusations and states that: “I snitched on them falsely because I had problems, I was under threat and I had to leave Mytilini.” When he gave his testimony, the police arranged for him to directly leave to the mainland.

The president of the High Court listened to eleven testimonies from the 17 police officers who all claimed that they were unable to recognize any of the defendants. She did not even ask the three defence witnesses to testify. She stated:

“Police officers in Mytilene do strange things I cannot understand. They took people to prison because of one testimony that does not justify this. Every now and then, they send people to the High Court without any reason. There is no case. The police departments in Mytilene should coordinate better. If there is something happening, you should investigate.”

It was the same judge who had convicted 32 men of the group of the Moria 35 one year before, although there was no reliable evidence.

Vici Angelidou, the lawyer of four of the accused stated:

“The judge and the jury did not even have a meeting in order to take their decision, they looked at each other and made it directly in about ten seconds.”

The judge found clear words for denouncing the injustice happening on Lesvos, where migrants are frequently targeted by police and can be detained up to 18 months without any investigation. Still, the practice of random arrests and legal accusations has not stopped. There will be more court cases against refugees from Lesvos Islands on 28th of February, 9th of May and 10th of October 2019.

We demand the police and the court of Mytilene to stop these crackdowns on refugee protests and the criminalization of people seeking international protection in Greece!

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