Wave of protests by migrants in greek detention centers continues

No concentration camp, never and nowhere! ... not even on Mars!

No concentration camp, never and nowhere! … not even on Mars!

What started with a protest by detainees at the migrant detention camp at Amygdaleza in northern Attica, has reportedly spread nationwide. As many as 2,000 migrants being held at detention centers around the country have reportedly gone on a hunger strike since Saturday April 6, to protest the deplorable conditions, police violence and prolongued detention periods.
Riot police entering Corinth detention centre

Riot police entering Corinth detention centre


On Saturday three detainees in Amigdaleza even had tried to commit suicide: one with a broken glass, another by drinking shampoo and yet another by cutting himself with a sharp object. The hunger strike was encountered by the guards with mere violence: beatings, tear-gas and other forms of cruel treatment as standing outside on one spot for 5 hours or denying visits of relatives and friends. On Monday some hunger strikers had fainted. The guards refused to call for medical help. “If you want to keep on with your hunger strike, then die,” some officers said. Police violence has been a constant issue in Amigdaleza and in other detention centers before. Specifically the violent responses of revolts and other forms of protest seem to be a rule. On April 20, police officers charged of ill-treatment of detained migrants in Amigdaleza will be brought to the court.
Riot police in the detention centre of Corinth. On the roof a migrant detainee threatening to jump.

Riot police in the detention centre of Corinth. On the roof a migrant detainee threatening to jump.


On Tuesday April 9 at 21 o’clock two migrant detainees climbed up a chimney at Corinth detention center threatening to jump if they were not let free. After long negotiations they were talked into backing off.
The next day ongoing tensions have resulted in 47 arrests. Human rights groups claim the riots were sparked after police beat up a detainee who had refused food to protest the extension of his detention. Specifically, when authorities informed the detainees that their detention periood was extended for another 3 months more 65 migrants declared to start a hunger strike. One of them upon denial of food got beaten by officers. He reacted by threatening to throw himself from the roof of the building. Since the early morning riot police has started throwing tear gas inside the cells. Two cells were on fire. Around 13 o ‘ clock police forcibly entered the cells to repress the protest.
A police statement says officers fired tear gas at detainees alleged to have thrown roof-tiles at them and set fire to buildings in the complex outside the town of Corinth. Ultimately, a group of 47 Afghan migrants were arrested and taken to a nearby police station. They await criminal prosecution for offenses of – amongst others – resistance, disobedience, revolt of prisoners, criminal association, arson, attempt of causing dangerous and unprovoked bodily harm, aggravated damages, abuse and violation of the arms legislation. These are common charges for detainees who protest. In other protests in Corinth, Komotini, Fylakio and elsewhere, migrants have been charged the same offenses to frighten them off protesting.

The protest in Corinth detention center:

The general demand of all these protests is: freedom!

It is not the first protest since the opening of the new mass detention centers for sans papiers in Greece during the police operation “Xenios Dias” – a raid that started on August 4 nationwide.*
Repeatedly migrants in new and old detention centers but also in police stations that are being used also to close up sans papiers have protested with hunger strikes, through self-injuries and revolts. Hundreds were beaten when riot police was send to end the protests by force. Tear gas was thrown into closed cells almost as a rule. Dozens of detainees have been criminalised in the following when they stood up for their rights and brought to the court with different charges following the different revolts.

While hundreds of detained migrants in Greece are on hunger strike protesting prolongued detention and inhuman detention conditions the Greek government announces the creation of further detention centres. Six are existing at the moment in Xanthi (currently 440), Komotini (427), Drama (320), Aimgdaleza (1.665), Fylakio (2.034) and Corinth (1.022) with a total capacity of 5.000. With the new detention centres planned in Ipeiros and at least four islands in the Aegean, capacities are planned to rise to 10.000! In the centre of Athens police raids continue and many sans papiers as well as migrants with residence permits find themselves in one of the many busses carrying them to the Aliens police for further control and later – some of them – to the above described detention centres.

* During half a year since the beginning of Xenios Dias, approx. 80.000 migrants have been temporarily arrested, 5.000 finally detained for “lacking legal residence permits”. At the land-border to Turkey in Evros, where most sans-papiers would enter the country until the beginning of 2012, Xenios Dias included the massive influx of additional police forces to prevent border crossings. Since August border crossings at the land border consequently decreased by 95%, police reports. migration routes since then shifted back to the sea border in the Aegean.

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left.gr (in greek)
tvxs (in greek)
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press release AITIMA concerning detention centres in greece / 10.4.13 (in english)
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