In the night of the 12.05.2015 a refugee boat by the name of “M/S Sula” carrying 192 refugees got in distress near Palaiochora, Crete. The mainly Syrian passengers were saved and brought to a closed gym. According to testimonies of refugees the police authorities wrote registration numbers on their arms while they were sleeping. Representatives of local NGOs explained, this was a common practice during massive arrivals on the island.
registration numbers marked on the arms of the refugees
It’s the second arrival of a refugee boat in Crete within one month. The “M/S Sula” had reportedly started in Antalya, Turkey and was heading towards Italy when the bad weather conditions forced the refugees to send SOS to Greek authorities. Most of the passengers were Syrian protection seekers while there were also some Palestinians. There were also 70 children among them as well as five unaccompanied minors. All refugees were first brought to a closed gym. The minors were then transferred the next day to detention in the police station of Souda/Chania awaiting a free place in a reception center for minors. UNHCR and IOM representatives visited them the first day of arrival. On May 14, 2015 most of the newcomers were transferred to Athens with an official note that allows them to stay for six months in Greece.
“M/S Sula” – 12.05.15
In the meantime, six persons were arrested and charged as smugglers. One of these arrested was traveling with his wife. She had to be brought to emergency department of the Hospital of Chania because of a panic attack on May 14, 2015 and following the arrest of her husband.
R. from Syria:
“We went to Lebanon and from there to Turkey. We wanted to go directly to Italy. Our boat was only 35 meters long while we were more than 180 persons. It was in a very bad condition being rusty and old and the waves were getting very high. We were four days on the sea. It was very dangerous. Some people got crazy of fear and started screaming. All people in the boat vomited. We were alone in the sea. No other ships. We called for help. Then the Greek authorities came and brought us to Crete. The police wrote registration numbers on our arms. They called me with the number. That is horrible. It’s not my name.”
M. from Syria:
“I am from Damascus. I lost everything in Syria. I just have my family. A lot of friends are dead. Some of my friends escaped to Europe. Others stayed in Syria fighting. I want to go to Germany to save my family. (…) When no NGOs and no journalists are here in the gym during night, they start shouting on us. They also don’t allow us to go out. The first night while I was sleeping, they came and wrote on my arm this number. I feel horrible about this. Why they put a number on me? Why they call me by a number? We are humans. We have names. Even they wrote numbers on small children arms.”
gym where all refugees spent the first nigiht
registration numbers instead of names
registration numbers marked on the arms of the refugees
331 refugees (267 men, 24 women and 40 children) from Syria and Egypt were saved from a fisher boat which had gotten in distress earlier in the sea of Kythira. They were transferred to Crete. The fisher boat had called SOS in the night of Sunday 65 nautic miles northwest of Crete. Two cargo ships of foreign flags, one greek tanker one ship of the US-Marine, a boat of the Greek coast guard, a fregatte of the greek navy and a helicopter of the greek coast guard got to the spot immediately.
Following the repeated announcement of prolonguation of their detention, the migrants which were arrested during police raids of the Xenios Dias police operation started a hunger strike in the police station of Iraklio, Crete. Reportedly they suffer also from police violence and repeated ill-treatments.
“It happens often that they beat us with punches and kicks whenever we ask for something, even the smallest thing. The worst behaviour is shown by the officers when some one of us is ill and asks to see a doctor or to get medicine. One officer shouted repeatedly: ‘Put my d…g in your mouth and you won’t need any further medicine!'”
Only 10 days earlier 21 migrants had started a hunger strike in Xanthi detention centre when they heard their detention period will be extended again and they might stay almost 2 years in prison without committing any crime.
In the end of April detainees in Kalipoli police station in Piraeus had started a hunger strike to protest the prolonged detention in a cell with no access to natural light designed for maximum 1-2 days of detention. Some of them have been there since August 2012. The officers made a whole in the wall to get some sun light in because they said detainees had lost their natural feeling for day and night. Among the persons detained there is one with cardiological problems and another who needs psychological treatment. Some of them were detained in summer, lacked winter clothes and now ask for summer clothes again. They have almost reached one year of detention in a small cell.
Eleven young men of Syrian origin were being provided with first aid, food and clothing in southern Crete on Monday after being dumped off the coast of the southeastern Aegean island by human traffickers and forced to swim to shore.
All 11 of the would-be migrants told investigating coast guard officers in Rethymno that they had been taken off a larger boat that brought them near Crete and then rowed closer to shore in a dingy from which they were told to jump in the water and swim to safety. Continue reading ‘Eleven Syrians dumped off southern Crete coast’
As reported by different antiracist groups, the around 140 Afghans and Pakistanis living and working in Timbaki, Crete, experience for a long period repeated racist assaults by a group of 10-15 fascists. The fascists threaten them telling them to not only leave Crete but also Greece.
Meanwhile, during the court case of the 16th December against the marines who were shouting racist slogans last year another group of 10 fascists was attacking migrants who were simply passing by in the area close to the court in Piraeus.
50 Syrian sans-papiers who had been arrested in Crete and are currently detained in the police station of the islands city Iraklio started a hungerstrike on the 3rd of December protesting against the inhuman and degrading detention conditions. Three of them had to be transferred already to hospital. According to the detainees they suffer from hunger, lacking medication, they have no right to go outside even for using the toilette. Reportedly, they have become victims of police violence.
The Greek police arrested a refugee who is main witness of a murder case, where a coast guard officer from Igoumenitsa is being accused of murdering another refugee.
Sali is a Kurdish Refugee with serious health problems (he has only one lung) and he is the main witness for a murder case, where Greek coast guard shot Arivan, another migrant, to death in the port city of Igoumenitsa. He has to participate in the court case as witness on the 16th of December. Anyway, he was arrested on the 2nd of December in Crete. Originally the police was called to his place by neighbours for some small argument, but when they found the call to the court in his flat which clearly says that he is a witness against the coast guard he was immediately arrested, badly beaten and brought to the public prosecutor who ordered an administrative deportation for Sali. This police action was clearly a revenge. Sali was released on the 3rd, while his brother and another sans-papiers, both arrested together with Sali, remained in prison with the aim of their deportation.
... 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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