ATHENS, May 28 2014 (IPS) – The evolution of immigration and border control policy in Greece and its interdependence with European funding suggests an agenda which has been decided above national legislatures with strong coordination between European political actors and economic interests, while ignoring the human suffering it produces.
Since February, the Greek authorities have taken another step towards harsher treatment of irregular immigrants by announcing a policy of indefinite detention until repatriation. Indefinite detention has been based on an opinion of the Legal Council of the Greek State and will be implemented even in cases where repatriation is not feasible.
Aghia Barbara Hospital in Aigaleo, Athens has been announced to become one of the new detention centres for migrants in Athens adding to the alreaady existing 5,000 places in mass detention centres that were opened after August 4th, 2012 Operation Xenios Dias.
Antiracist organisations, labour unions, municipal movements and neighbours protested against the change into a detention centre and demanded the re-opening of the hospital. They stopped bulldozers from entering the to be construction site. Also the mayor expressed that there was no interest by the local government to accept this measure and that he would proceed to protect peoples lives. Consequently the re-construction was temporarily stopped but will continue after elections, Minister Dendias said. As he continued the government planned an open camp for men and women there and not a detention centre. Nonetheless and given the Ministers tradition in anti-migratory policies no one trusts his statement.
The government meanwhile plans to open also detention centres in other recently closed down hospitals of West-Athens such as the Therapeftirio Chronion Pathiseon Paidon in Sxistou and Skaramanga street.
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.
This is a video produced by the Greek Police for today’s “stop and search” campaign in the area of Kypseli. To get a grip of the institutionalised racism of the greek state, one needs to pay attention to the video: in 4mins, there is noone stopped and searched who is not black or Asian. Absolutely none!
“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’
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.
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.
This video was made by the police for the purpose of their propaganda. Unfortunately the police was not brave enough to show us also the sound! Easy to guess why…
Yesterday, October 5, the police invaded again the centre of Athens during “Xenios Zeus” operation. 1.537 persons were temporarily arrested and transferred for further controls to police stations. 339 of the were finally arrested and detained because they were lacking valid residence permits. 11 house searches were conducted. The police held the operation in the area from Syndagma up to Patissia.
... 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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