On November 17th, 2014 hundreds of refugees detained administratively in the pre-removal centre of Amygdaleza started to protest massively against the prolonged detention of more than 18 months, against the detention of dozens of minors and the detention conditions that amongst others recently led to the death of two detainees.
“They coop us up here like sheep and then don’t care anymore about us. (…)”
“There are persons detained 26 months. (…)”
“When we say ‘my stomach hurts’, they’d answer ‘my balls hurt’.”
Only on November 6th the 26-year-old Mohammed Asfak died of the consequences of beating by law enforcement officers in Corinth detention centre during one of the uprisings of migrants there 5-6 months ago. His injuries had not been taken care of adequately. He was only transferred to hospital after a break down. For 15 days he had been begging the police to bring him to the hospital as he had respiratory problems. When asking for medical aid, police even replied: “Die, we don’t care.” Only some days after this tragic incident, another detainee from Bangladesh died of lacking sufficient medical aid.
Yesterday, on the third day of hunger strike the Movement against Racism and Fascist Threat (KEERFA) reported of 15 detainees who had been transferred to the hospital after fainting and 90% participation in the hunger strike. KEERFA furthermore said that the detainees chose to go on hunger strike on November 17 as a symbolic move because the particular date marks the 41st anniversary of the student uprising against the junta.
The Amygdaleza detention center is 10 kilometers away from Athens and it is supposed to hold 1,000 inmates. In October 2014, the number of detainees was 1,600. The facility has repeatedly come under serious criticism both due to the indefinite time of the detention of migrants and refugees, as well as the squalid conditions they are held in. Among the approximately 1,600 detainees are many vulnerable groups such as 15-year-old children, asylum seekers, de facto refugees such as Syrians and other nationalities whose deportation is not feasible according to UNHCR such as Eritreans. There are also persons with close relatives in other EU-member states awaiting family reunification, victims of torture who have never been identified by the authorities and sick persons.
“We will fight until freedom”, an underage refugee declared, who has been registered as adult.
In Amigdaleza detention centre where currently around 1,650 sans-papiers are detained, some of which are there even longer than 18 months, a Pakistani migrant died today of a heart attack. His case is the third medical case of a detainee in detention with fatal consequences due to insufficient medical aid. koutitispandoras (in greek) efymerida ton sindakton (in greek)
“Are you kidding?” I ask the director of the detention centre Amigdaleza with a feeling of indignation and despair when he describes us how normal the centre is functioning despite “individual” problems.
How ‘individual’ are the problems? Hearing for example that you will be held there over 18 months, for “indefinite” periods (following the opinion of the Legal Council of State, which was issued upon request of Mr. Dendias). Young people, who have nothing to do all day, who are detained just because they have no papers, indefinite detainees. And they get crazy! So when there are riots, hunger strikes, suicide attempts, let us not wonder why, let’s not be surprised. The causes, if we want to close our eyes, we know already. Continue reading ‘Amigdaleza: “When the Great Wolves eat the Light”’
ON August 10th detained migrants in Amigdaleza near Athens protested in an uprising against the extension of their detention from 12 to 18 months. 1.620 migrants are currently detained in this prison while it was built only for 820. In the past months different human rights organisations had reported about the inhuman detention conditions, about cases of police violence and forced “voluntary returns”.
Saturday 10th of August: Immigrants imprisoned at Amygdaleza detention center (near Athens) started a revolt around 21.00 o’clock. They protested against the deplorable conditions and the extension of their detention from 12 to 18 months. Many of the detainees face deportation following the negative decisions on their asylum cases and have lost hope.Continue reading ‘Uprising in Amigdaleza’
I a recent visit of Elliniko detention centre Javed Aslam form the Pakistani community together representatives of KEERFA spoke with migrants who had been tortured in the Athens airport police. They had been first detained in Amigdaleza, then transferred for forced deportation to the airport.
Now they are detained in Elliniko. The three detainees reported that they had been beaten and electroshocked. One of them reportedly had been boxed in the face, nine times electroshocked and kicked in the stomache. Another detainee had bruises on his back and sholder. The third one reported that he had been hurt with the Teaser’s electricity on his genital organs. He also showed injuries on his arm.
Furthermore, they reportedly were insulted and sexually harassed by police officers who asked them for oral sex.
In Lesvos island dozens of refugees are detained in the port being exposed to the burning sun while lacking water and food supply. Among them are children and even a 2-month-old baby. +++ In Amigdaleza detention conditions have even worsened since November 2012, said Rebecca Harms from the Green Party after a second visit in June 2013. +++ Meanwhile a young migrant (20-year-old) from Cote d’Ivoire committed suicide in Grevena police station because he didn’t want to be deported to his country.
Meanwhile, KEERFA (ΚΕΕΡΦΑ), the Movement “United against racism and the fascist threat” denounces that Greek authorities and IOM use “Gestapo like torture methods” to force refugees and migrants detained in Amigdaleza to “voluntarily” return.
First they are detained for many months without knowing when they might be released, then they are being pulled by force to the airport. A woman employee from IOM escorts them who threatens that if they don’t accept to sign the voluntary return they will wear them head covering masks and bring them by force to the airport. IOM employees enter detention centers to collect signatures for voluntary return in co-operation with some embassies such as the one from Pakistan. Continue reading ‘Detention conditions in Greece inhuman and life-threatening – IOM enforces “voluntary return”’
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
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.
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.
On February 23, 2013 Riot Police antered Amigdaleza detention centre near by Athens in order to violently stop hunger strike that had begun on February 21. The riot police beat the detainees with clubs. Some detainees reported of broken hands and legs as a consequence of the beatings. The police used tear gas in closed rooms.
The struggling detainees protested against the extended detention periods since many of them are closed up since more than nine months.
On December 1st migrants detained in Amigdaleza detention center started a protest against the detention conditions and demanding their freedom. It is not the first time and will not be the last time of protests in Amigdaleza and other detention centers.
In The night of that Saturday, the detainees gathered in the yard pulling the fence and shouting slogans for freedom.
... is like a “paper boat”. We chose this as a metaphor for what we want to create and for the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. The paper boat is a folded boat able to swim – for a while. Then you have to build a new one to go on travelling. A paper boat is symbolic for the journey of life, vulnerable but in your own hands and to be recreated again and again. It is simple, but it carries many hopes and dreams. It can dance on a turbulent sea. It belongs to everybody. And it might become the small version – like a first draft – of a welcome-space.
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