How “real” asylum recognition rates are in Greece in reality… About the temporariness of being a recognised refugee in Greece:
by D. Angelidis
The General Secretary of the Ministry of Citizen Protection and Public Order, Mr Ath. Andreoulakos is destroying consciously and illegally the work of the Asylum Committees while he is rejecting arbitrarily the renewal of the two-year protection status (subsidiary and humanitarian) of many refugees who then end up without papers.
NGOs speak of an industry of rejections when it comes to the renewal of humanitarian or subsidiary protection in Greece. The refugees who understood they had to renew their papers and who applied for that depend on the decision of the General Secretary of the Ministry. It is highly questionable if he has the expertise to take such a decision, but he doesn’t even examine case by case if the grounds of persecution in each case are still valid, instead he actually just rejects the applications and turns upside down the decisions which were taken two years ago by the Asylum Committees. Continue reading ‘Mass rejection of renewal of 2-year refugee status’
Yesterday the 159 migrants from Afghanistan, Syria and Egypt had started from turkey some days earlier heading towards italy when their ship got at distress at sea close to the Calabrian coast. Among them were 8 children, one newborn and four women. Four migrants had to be transferred to hospital.
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.
In a recent visit a committee of Syriza party, a residents initiative and other solidarity groups from Thessaloniki (including parliamentarians, lawyers, doctors and member of the movement “deport racism” and of the “network for the documentation of racist violence”) visited the police station of Vatipaidi following the repeated citicism of the local residents initiative concerning detention conditions for migrants. The aim was to control the situation, to discuss with the authorities, to provide legal information to detainees and to check wether there are medical needs. The result: The committee was informed that there were 14 suicide attempts within only three months registered within the two small detention cells!
The authorities confirmed the inacceptable detention conditions and allowed entrance to the committee. The committee reached the following findings:
– 38 detained migrants in 2 cells
– detention reaches 6 or 12 months following orders (ΑΕΑ 6634/1-326796 of 23-8-2012) of the Aliens Directorate
– overcrowdedness leads to easy transfer of contagious diseases such as scabies
– no access to outside areas
– food consists only of uncooked dry meals
– not enough clothing and blankets in very cold cells
– no hygiene insanitary infrastructure
– 14 suicide attempts within 3 months!
An undocumented migrant woman – bedridden due to cancer – is currently hospitalized in a public hospital while under custody. The hospital director reported her to the police although her family had already paid the costs of the hospital for her.
The woman had been transferred from Metaxa hospital to Agioi Anargiroi hospital for an urgent operation. Following the operation her relatives paid the hospital bill since she is undocumented and thus also not insured. Then the director of the hospital Mr. Bartzokas reported the woman to the police because she was undocumented – resulting in the woman being under custody in the hospital while bedridden. Continue reading ‘Undocumented migrant woman with cancer under custody in hospital’
Since yesterday (28.11.12) the civil society has managed to temporarily win the struggle for an open first reception centre with the authorities agreeing to transfer all the unregistered to PIKPA – a place also used once before during noborder Lesvos 2009 for the same purpose. About 70 refugees – among them pregnant women, small children and even a 10-day-old baby. Immediately both police and citizens started bringing even a few more freshly arrived. PIKPA is a summer camp construction, which is now not in a condition to be inhabited, thus, the local population together with the refugees try to make it more comfortable, to re-store the water connections etc. and to bring food for the persons hosted there. This ad hoc solution still needs a lot of support in order to become an official open reception centre, now still being a temporary solution. There is a great need of support of any kind!
On Tuesday November 20 some of the migrants detained in Mytilini police station for undocumented entry into Greece through the Turkish border started a hunger strike in order to protest against the humiliating detention conditions and the long detention periods. They struggle for freedom. It is not known how many of them continue the struggle and if some have been already released or not.
Arrivals of migrants have started again this summer, fastly exceeding the capacities of detention cells in the local police stations of the island. Due to the general order “to keep them as long as possible in detention” overcrowdedness amongst others has been reported throughout the four months to worsen the detention conditions. Continue reading ‘Hungers strike of migrant detainees in Mytilini and racist attacks against homeless newcomers’
... 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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