Protests in the big detention centres after declaration of an extension of the detention duration to more than 18 months
Today the authorities of the mass detention centres in Drama/ Parenesti, Komotini, Corinth and Xanthi informed the detained sans-papiers that they might stay even longer than 18 months, up to 24 months, or 36 or for an endless period if they do not co-operate with the authorities according to a new rule. In fact co-operation means here “voluntary return”. The only alternative is an asylum application.
It has to be noted though that according to the European Directive 18 months are the maximum period for administrative detention and this only if the deportation is feasible. Nevertheless, the greek authorities detain many people belonging to nationalities that can not be deported, such as Afghans, Eritreans, Somalis and even people from Syria.
copyright: Ta NEA 2013
The detainees in the so called pre-removal centres that opened with the initiation of Xenios Dias police raid in beginning of August 2012 have been already psychology broken by getting every three months the information of their prolongued detention for another 3 or 6 months. The limit of 18 months seemed already so far but at least gave a hope to an end of their imprisonment. Today the shocking information of even more time behind the bars led to uprisings, self-injuries and hunger strikes.
Yet it will become clear in the next days if the threat of another extension of the detention duration will get real or not when the next detainees complete 18 months. Reportedly a few of them have already received detention decisions that with an extension of the maximum detention period of 18 months for another 6 months – even before they have completed 18 months.
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’
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.
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 Friday 8th the detainees of Fylakio, near Orestiada, Evros started in the early night hours to protest until the early morning hours. The police reacted with their usual violent repression. Police forces came even from the next town in Didimoticho.
The migrant detainees protested against the extended detention period of 18 months by putting fire on matresses and blocking their cells doors. Eight detainees were arrested. A representative of the police sindicate of Orestiada said: “We demand the symbolic punishment of the arrested so that all detainees stop behaving in this manner.”
A migrant detainee in Parenesti, Drama tried to commit suicide with a razor in the night of Friday, 25th. The other detainees complained in a heated atmosphere against the detention conditions. Soon police forces were called to “control” the escalating situation.
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.
Following the events of last Sunday in Corinth detention centre, on Friday 23 of November, the detainees of Komotini started an uprising to protest against detention and demand freedom. Left.gr reported that repeated gun shots have been heard from within the prison and smoke was seen. Parliamentarians form Syriza are heading towards the prison to see what is going on after the police confirmed the information on an uprising. Extra police forces are on their way to “control” the situation. Continue reading ‘Uprising in Komotini detention center now!’
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