“We could die without anyone even learning about it. It is our fifth day on hunger strike in the detention facilities of the Police Station of Moshato. We live like dogs”, says Armen Mourantian: “We sleep in shifts in a room full of dirt. Six people sharing three mattresses. Three full rooms. In the fourth one, which is the largest, they have cornered more than 15 people”.
5th day of hunger strike in the detention facilities for immigrants in Moshato
It was already past midnight when the young Armenian made a phone call to ‘E’ in order to make a plea for help. “This moment we are aloud to make phone calls. We were arrested by men of DIAS group [special police group on motorbikes] in the street. Our papers were expired. None of us has been charged with theft or any felonies. We are held for 7-8 months with a deportation decision”. Continue reading ‘We live like dogs and sleep in shifts’
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.
An immigrant from Senegal died falling from a height, on the rails of the subway in Thiseio station in central Athens, during an operation of Municipal Police to remove peddlers from tourist area.
A big operation of Municipal Police started on Friday afternoon on the touristic area of Thiseio, in central Athens, to remove immigrants from the streets, who work as peddlers to live. During this operation Cheikh Babacar Ndiaye a 37 years old immigrant from Senegal, was chased and he died falling from a height, on the rails of the subway in Thiseio station. From the blood seen on the pictures possibly his death resulted from the fall.
Subway metro services were disrupted for at least two hours. First aid assistants removed the body of the immigrant from the rails. Meanwhile his friends gathered at the station, together with other people from Senegal.
Some of them mourned, but when they saw the stretcher with the dead body they began to shout and protest. Some of them they shouted that Police is racists. Riot police arrived immediately and attacked the gathered people, and cleared the area around the station. At the same moment of the attack the dead body of immigrant was moved to an ambulance and left the area, for an unknown and undeclared direction, in spite of the questions made on this.
On Saturday 26th of January 2013, 152 migrants were temporarily arrested in Attica – most of them street vendors whose whares were confiscated.
Until that date police during “Xenios Dias operation” which lasts already since August 4th, 2012:
- temporarily arrested 73.100 migrants
- of whom 4.352 were finally arrested due to lacking residence permits
- 519 homes were searched
and 2.373 women were temporarily arrested for prostitution (migrant and non) of whom it remains unclear how many had to stay in detention and how many were falsely arrested.
We are a group of immigrants, illegal ones, who managed to avoid arrest during the “Xenios Zeus” operations that took place in Patras on the 1st of October. During this operation many of our friends were arrested and are now being held for no reason whatsoever in concentration camps (prisons). The reason for writing these words is because our wish is that our message will reach everyone who lives in Greece so that we can make certain things clear, because the State has molded a much distorted image of us. Continue reading ‘Message from Migrants concerning sweep in Patras’
Mr. Dendias, the country’s public order minister, in August 2012 launched a large-scale sweep operation to arrest and deport illegal immigrants in Athens. At a news conference in August, he compared the influx to the invasion of the Dorians 4,000 years ago. The police operation called ironically „Xenios Zeus“ – after the god of hospitality – began on August 4th, 2012. During three months (August – October 2012) the police temporarily arrested 48.402 migrants of which 3.668 were finally detained.
The provisory detention centre for sans-papiers was opened about four months ago in an overnight action by the Ministry of Citizen Protection and Public Order. It is one of three mass detention centres – the others are located in Xanthi and in Komotini – which were set up by the new government in the summer to fit the thousand arrested sans-papiers captured during the Xenios Dias sweep operation. There have been repeated protests by the mayor of Corinth against the creation of this detention centre. He even reached the point to cut off the water supply.
Corinth provisory detention center in a former army camp
The building was originally an army camp at the outskirts of Corinth city. Sans-papiers were arrested in massive sweeps and were brought from various places, such as Corinth and Patras, to this detention centre. A couple of NGOs have tried ever since to enter the prison in order to monitor the situation, screen the detainees and offer legal aid, but access has been denied. They could only see a hand full of detainees of whom they had their names in advance.
Yesterday, solidarity groups from Patras and Corinth but also from other places hold a protest in front of the detention centre. A delegation of seven persons entered the detention centre (with 2 parliamentarians of Syriza, a doctor, a lawyer, interpreters and members of the Movement for the Support of the Rights of Refugees and Migrant of Patras as well as the Antirascist Initiative of Corinth) More than 650 persons were detained in the overcrowded detention centre for the reason of “illegal entry”, “illegal stay” or “illegal exit” to/in/from Greece.
Detainees reported to the delegation that they were lacking warm water, they have insufficient food, no access to information and lawyers and seldom visits of doctors always without any interpreters, many lack medicine they need to take and thus remain sick in their cells.
Among the detainees were many minors, there were family fathers whose families upon their arrest were left behind without anyone to take care, there were persons who wanted to apply for asylum but could not manage and others who had applied 4 months earlier but were not released within the legal maximum period of detention for asylum seekers (3 months). Others had managed to apply for asylum but received during detention the rejection and lacked any information and legal aid to appeal within the given period of 15 days, therefore, falling out of the asylum system.
Reportedly, there are also many cases of ill-treatment by the authorities.
... 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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