Lesvos 21.3.2016: Detained Pakistanis transported with Blue Star in handcuffs to Piraeus / additional information

A witness account

pakistaniWe were traveling with the ferry Blue Star 1 from Mytilene to Piraeus on the 21.3.16.
As we entered the ship at 19.45 o’clock we saw an overcrowded bus entering filled with with sitting and standing persons. Outside media representatives and volunteers where watching the situation.

The bus on which was written EURORIDE on the front right side and which had the plate nr. PAZ1316 stopped inside the ship and we could see from a distance of 1 meter the people running handcuffed two by two up the stairs. We asked how many they are and someone from the crew said 150.

Around an hour later we had the opportunity to offer some water and chips to the detainees and saw that they still were hand cuffed to one another two by two.

Even if the government made an announcement that it was not handcuffs but plastic handcuffs we are sure that the police would never use plastic handcuffs if they were not sure that they are as effective as metal ones. Injuries of people having been handcuffed for hours with plastic handcuffs prove this around the world.

When the ship arrived in the harbour of Piraeus all passengers and cars disembarked among them around 150 Syrian registered passengers mainly women with kids, and many media where awaiting the boat at the entrance.

Hellenic police cars, motored paramilitary coast guard and after around an hour 4 police detainees transport buses arrived. The police cars entered the ship. The right side entrance embarking ramp was put up so that the media could not film the detainees entering the police cars. This means the shipping company collaborates with the police to keep hidden what is going on.

The detainee’s busses left for the detention centre of Corinth.

Next day on media (hitandrun.gr) there was an announcement that it was not the coast guard that handcuffed the detainees but the police. Reading the law we saw that detainees have to be transported handcuffed so that they don’t escape.

The questions arising are: Are refugees just accused for entering illegally the country who had not even yet the chance to individually put an asylum claim, the same like other people accused for penal crimes? And is it not against the ship safety regulations to transport people a 12 hours journey handcuffed?

Waiting for the police cars to come out of the boat we talked with others standing around, among them volunteers from an US organisation and asked them if they want to shout some slogans like “freedom of movement” when the busses come out. Most of the young volunteers wanted to do this but, as they told us, they had to sign a contract that they will not only lose their volunteer status but also that they would be kicked out of their university, if they get involved in any political action in advance to their volunteership.