Lesvos and Chios: volunteers helping refugees arrested by police and Frontex, involvement of the International Rescue Committee

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2016

A crackdown has started on volunteers helping refugees in Greece, with arrests on the islands of Lesvos and Chios. Today volunteers on Chios were arrested directly by Frontex, the EU border force. On Lesvos a group of two Danish volunteers (from a Muslim background) and three Spanish lifeguards were arrested for towing in a stranded dinghy with 51 refugees. They have apparently been charged with people trafficking which can carry a sentence of up to three years. This follows moves to force volunteers and NGOs to register with police, and an agreement between authorities on Lesvos and the International Rescue Committee that effectively gives the IRC control over aid efforts in the north of the island. The IRC is a US based NGO for refugees which gets much of its funding from the US government and, at least in the past, had a reputation as a CIA front organisation. Henry Kissinger and Madeline Albright are IRC 'overseers', David Milliband is CEO. I'm not actually sure what to make of its involvement, or where the repression of volunteers and workers for smaller NGOs is leading. I'm starting the thread to post news as the situation develops.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2016

Five members of foreign non-governmental organizations were taken to the prosecutor on Thursday morning facing charges of having facilitated the illegal entrance of refugees and migrants to Greece.

The 2 Danes and 3 Spaniards were arrested this morning by members of the Greek Coast Guard because they towed a boat with refugees from the Turkish territorial waters to the Greek island of Lesvos.

source, more here

photos, also here

Activist on Chios reportedly charged with spying for photographing Dutch Frontex boat - source

One Spanish and two Swiss volunteers arrested by Frontex in a separate incident on Chios - source

Seven arrested on Lesvos for taking life vests from island dump - source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 15, 2016

Video blogs from Eric Kempson on the role of the IRC on Lesvos

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=p1zcLSTgL2I

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X5ZxNtf-tiU&feature=youtu.be

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=Upp19NwkLEQ

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=egxQ3gSSjbw&feature=youtu.be

Some historical background on the IRC here

IRC Board of Directors and Overseers with some interesting names

David Miliband and the IRC

Encyclopedia of Human Rights on the IRC

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2016

AFP report on the arrests

Going off this Twitter thread (in Spanish) the report is clearly inaccurate and gets their nationalities and the NGO they are working with wrong.

Hoy la policía griega ha detenido a varios voluntarios de @proemaid en Lesbos.

La policía griega acusa a bomberos sevillanos de @proemaid de "tráfico de personas" por remolcar una embarcación de refugiados. Indignante.

Los voluntarios de @proemaid están haciendo una labor increíble en Lesbos. Han salvado miles de vidas (no es una forma de hablar: miles).

Los voluntarios de @proemaid saben que no pueden entrar en aguas territoriales turcas. Sólo intervienen en aguas griegas.

Remolcar una embarcación que ha entrado en aguas de la UE NO es delito,a veces es imprescindible para evitar naufragios. @proemaid hace bien

Un responsable de @proemaid se ha puesto en contacto con la embajada española y con abogado griego, y han denunciado los hechos públicamente

La policía griega ha dicho a la prensa que los voluntarios detenidos (españoles y daneses) "remolcaban migrantes que no estaban en peligro"

La versión que ha dado la policía griega es absurda: dice que Proemaid remolcaba barcas desde Turquía en presencia de guardia costera griega

@Hibai_ Quiero decir,¿ los remolcaron en aguas griegas o desde la parte turca?

@LeticiaAtenas Las versiones difieren. Yo creo a los voluntarios.

gram negative

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by gram negative on January 14, 2016

I don't have anything to add, but thanks for bringing this up!

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2016

Thanks. As I said above I'm not sure where this is leading, or quite where the IRC takeover in the north of Lesvos fits in. I think it's connected though. There are also proposals for Frontex boats to return refugees directly from Lesvos to Turkey. This would presumably apply, at least for the moment, to the refugees/migrants who don't come from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan and are currently not being allowed through the Macedonian border at Idomeni. In theory they should still be able to claim asylum in Greece but I doubt that that counts for much in practice. All this is happening under a Syriza government of course.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2016

Yesterday on Lesvos

Cops and frontex shut down a spotting station run by volunteers, it used to spot the coming boats and sends signals to lifeguards

Now there is no way for lifeguards to be informed about the incoming boats, if a boat stops in the sea nobody will know about it

#Lesvos #Frontex w Grpolice put #refugees in police bus and do not allow any access to volunteers https://twitter.com/juancarlosmohr/status/687230987332263936

Reports on site: Frontex +GrPolice stop joint sea rescue operation of Greenpeace WWF on the north coast #Lesvos

source

Six activists arrested on Chios yesterday - source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 15, 2016

Guardian article from last week giving the spin from the Mayor of Lesvos and the UNHCR in favour of registration and control of volunteers and smaller NGOs. It also quotes praise for the IRC. This is all glossing over the conflicts between volunteers on one side and the island authorities, together with a couple of large NGOs and the UNHCR, on the other.

From the comments:

One reason so many small NGOs are at work in Lesbos is the tardy and inadequate response of large NGOs.

Yup - exactly. When I was there, if it weren't for the small NGOs and individual volunteers ditching their normal lives to get out to help a LOT of people would have been drowning/starving/dying through lack of medical treatment while UNHCR, STC, the EU etc. twiddled their thumbs.

A distorted article. Big NGO self promotion machines combined with local right wing politics is toxic. Volunteers here for a few days plug some gaps but create more confusion. The reality is nevertheless a huge state failure to respond, at a Greek and EU level to basic needs and basic human rights. Volunteers cannot fix this and NGOs with their own agendas buy into their own silence. Moria is a degrading and shameful stain on all the authorities, agencies and NGOs who perpetuate the misery of refugees here by pretending to be doing 'protection' work. In reality there is no food without volunteers, no warmth without volunteers and many more hundreds if not thousands would die here if it were not for volunteers. There are many army facilities on Lesvos with all the resources needed to carry out operations to the scale needed but they are confined to barracks. Children are held in detention conditions, certain nationalities are arbitrarily excluded from registration and then detained, and vanity donors play god by putting their resources into inaccessible and dangerous places that only add to the risks not the solutions. Local residents have every cause to feel they are not being considered, but this is a global problem not a small island one and will only be fixed with international solidarity and a good measure of honest reflection by everyone about what is really happening under all our noses.

I've worked as a volunteer (both independent and with an NGO) on Lesvos for the last 3 months and I can tell you that for this effort to be successful we need both groups of people.

I was criticized by a large NGO for rescuing 47 refugees who's boat was stuck on rocks outside my house in the middle of the night and bringing them into the warmth and giving them a place to change because it slowed their work down. It took that NGO 45 minutes to show up at my house from me raising the alarm about the boat. If those people spent that time outside they would have definitely suffered from hypothermia.

While not always following proper protocol independent volunteers can act quickly and provide support and avoid the bureaucracy that slows larger NGO's down. In our camp we work very closely with UNHCR, IRC, Red Cross & Save the Children and the evidence is there to see that when we all work together the results are incredible.

I've been on the island for a couple weeks and I absolutely agree. A few nights ago we were flashing our lights on the beach to try to get the boat to move away from the rocks and someone from UNHCR told us to stop talking about legal liability if something goes wrong... All I could think of was the boat we rescued the week before that was stuck on the rocks we didn't want this boat to get stuck on. (It was in the middle of the night and storming which made it even more crucial)

The bigger NGO's have rules and bureaucracy to abide by... That hinders the work that needs to be done tremendously!

In an ideal world, the Greek authorities would have deployed the army to set up temporary camps and provide transportation. it's the sort of thing armies are good at (I know, I used to be in one).

Second best would have been for the UNHCR to go in and do that, with or without the agreement of the Greek government.

But neither of those things happened, so individuals, loose groups, foundations and NGOs are filling the gap.

Coordination is certainly required. I was working with Starfish back in October, and things were sometimes a bit chaotic on the beaches, with us and other groups sometimes overlapping. Rather more ordered at "Oxy," the transit camp we were running just outside Molyvos where, to be fair to them, we were using tents and blankets supplied by the UNHCR.

But the problem is not "too many NGOs." It's "too little action by those who should be acting."

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 15, 2016

Report on the three Spanish lifeguards arrested on Lesvos (in Spanish)

La organización PROEM-AID ha comunicado este jueves que la Guardia Costera Griega ha detenido a uno de sus equipos de voluntarios en la isla de Lesbos, tres bomberos de Sevilla que participan en las tareas de rescate de los refugiados que llegan en embarcaciones al archipiélago griego desde Turquía. Según han confirmado a Europa Press en la Embajada de España en Grecia, los españoles fueron detenidos en la mañana de este jueves por la Guardia Costera Griega y se encuentran en las dependencias de la Autoridad Portuaria en espera de que “se materialicen” los cargos y pasen a disposición judicial, algo para lo que “es prematuro”. Tienen asistencia letrada.

Uno de los fundadores de esta organización, José Pastor, señala en declaraciones a Europa Press que los detenidos son tres bomberos funcionarios de carrera, dos del Ayuntamiento de Sevilla y otro de la Diputación Provincial. Llegaron a la isla de Lesbos hace dos semanas integrados en un equipo de seis personas con la previsión de ser relevados el próximo domingo.

“Lo que más nos sorprende es que tenemos buena relación con la Guardia Costera. A veces nos llaman y trabajamos coordinadamente, como el pasado martes, ellos se encargan de una embarcación y nosotros de otra. Y esta mañana van y nos detienen. Esto ha sido un palo tremendo porque estamos haciendo una labor importante allí”, lamenta Pastor.

PROEM-AID nació tras la difusión de la fotografía de la muerte del niño sirio Aylan Kurdi ahogado camino de Grecia. Está compuesta por doce personas, en su mayoría bomberos y patrones de embarcación y se dedica a rescatar a botes en problemas y a acompañar a otros en la recta final hasta la costa, para darles, en palabras de Pastor, “un mínimo de seguridad”.

Empezaron su labor en Lesbos el 3 de diciembre de 2015 organizándose en dos equipos de seis personas que rotan cada quince días. En la isla trabajan en grupos de tres: mientras uno sale al mar en la barca de rescate que consiguieron llevar hasta Grecia, el otro proporciona soporte en tierra y ayuda a los refugiados rescatados a desembarcar.

“En el mes de diciembre, nuestra barca ha acompañado dando soporte de seguridad a botes en los que viajaban casi 15.000 personas. En los rescates directos que hemos hecho de botes que iban a la deriva, que se han quedado sin gasolina o que se han desorientado durante la noche, había casi 3.200 personas”, destaca Pastor.

Incide en que lo que ve en Lesbos “es la migración de un pueblo entero, como si España tuviera que irse a Marruecos en barca”. “Hay familias enteras, muchos niños, varios bebés en cada barca, barcas sobresaturadas con sesenta y setenta personas…”, señala.

Por eso, aunque sólo tenían intención de quedarse “un mes porque no había recursos para más”, recaudaron fondos para poder seguir trabajando en Lesbos también en enero. Se apoyan en donaciones particulares y en sus propios bolsillos y para desplazarse hasta allí, tiran de días de vacaciones y cambian guardias a sus compañeros.

“Estamos allí costándonos dinero por la situación, porque yo ya no pienso en lo que me falta o en lo que necesito sino en las caras de las personas que hemos ayudado allí y yo lo que ha visto allí son familias, niños, personas con estudios universitarios, ancianos. Familias enteras”, ha declarado.

Also this statement

CEAR condena la detención de tres bomberos voluntarios españoles en Lesbos

La Guardia Costera griega detuvo ayer a tres bomberos voluntarios españoles de la organización PROEMAID, una organización que lleva desde el 3 de diciembre del pasado año colaborando en las tareas de rescate en la isla de Lesbos. Les acusan de un delito de “tráfico ilegal de personas” y está previsto que la vista se celebre mañana sábado. Se enfrentan a penas de hasta 4 años de cárcel.

Desde PROEMAID niegan que hayan intervenido en aguas territoriales turcas, motivo en el cual se basa la acusación, y argumentan que ni siquiera la embarcación donde navegaban los detenidos tiene capacidad para alejarse tanto de la costa griega. Además, añaden que vienen colaborando precisamente con la Guardia Costera griega que ayer les detuvo.

CEAR quiere mostrar su rechazo ante una detención que califica de inadmisible a estas personas, cuyo único objetivo era salvar vidas y cubrir una tarea que las autoridades europeas no están asumiendo debidamente. Además, CEAR quiere expresar su apoyo a PROEMAID que está realizando una labor humanitaria fundamental dadas las numerosas muertes que se producen en esa costa.

“Resulta particularmente grave que las autoridades griegas detengan a bomberos que colaboran con sus equipos en el rescate de personas en una de las zonas con más llegadas de personas refugiadas del continente, en vez de seguir centrando sus esfuerzos en coordinarse con ellos para salvar el máximo número de vidas”, lamentó Estrella Galán, secretaria general de CEAR.

PROEMAID on Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/proemaid

Report on this in Greek

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 20, 2016

https://www.facebook.com/yiannisbaboulias/posts/10207726570338360
Yiannis Baboulias

This is a very difficult message to write, but here we go:

Greece came under considerable pressure last autumn to "secure Europe's borders", threatened even with exclusion from Schengen, accused that it wasn't doing enough to control the EU's borders and it wouldn't accept help from other European countries.

Let me say outright here that the EU's help was piffle. Even the fingerprint registration equipment they promised hasn't arrived yet, let alone financial aid and personnel. The EU opted to give away 3 billion euros to Turkey to convince them to stop letting people board boats essentially. With 4000 people arriving almost daily still, that didn't work out.

In the end, Syriza backed down (again) and is accepting European "help". The first actions are to arrest volunteers in Chios and Lesvos with ridiculous charges (some were charged with trafficking, others with carrying small amounts of weed), close down infrastructure like soup kitchens and observatories for approaching boats to help those arriving and establish fast deportation routes back to Turkey, where a recent BBC report showed that refugees have been tortured.

This breaks two promises: the first is that under Syriza, solidarity networks that essentially fill in the gaps for a semi-collapsed central government, would be allowed to operate unabated.The experiment was successful, but now it's being curtailed.

The second promise broken is that of the promotion of human rights and humane treatment of refugees. By agreeing to allow Frontex to operate as border police and with the tactical police cracking down on activists, Syriza is succumbing to turning Greece to an open air detention centre for refugees, and the country as a whole to a European borderland where a quasi-autonomous force (Frontex) operates with a hazy mandate.

The final straw is the extension of the operation of detention camps in Greece, all of which have come under heavy criticism for the squalid conditions under which detainees live, until at least 2018. The government has vowed time and time again that they would be shut down. Now they won't be.

Unfortunately these are the facts. I would normally reserve all this for an article, but my disappointment and disillusionment are too urgent. What's happening in Greece is the inevitable outcome of a Europe that doesn't know what to do with itself. It's just part of the wave of reactionary politics engulfing the continent. Unwilling to act in Syria, bitter against Greece, divided, shocked by eastern european countries turning ever rightwards and with a heap of economic troubles on the way.

I have no idea how all this might play out and I'm not even sure there's anything we can do about it. But I felt these things needed saying. So here you go.

Edit: video on the Amygdaleza detention camp

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 15, 2016

The latest on the Spanish lifeguards

Demo in Seville tomorrow

Greek coast guards arrest Spanish, Danish volunteers

Greek coastguards have arrested three Spanish and two Danish volunteers off the coast of Greek island of Lesvos for allegedly moving towards a refugee boat without authorization, according to Greek officials.

The volunteers belonged to the nongovernmental organization PROMAID and Danish Team Humanity.

Greek coast guard claimed they found three knives, daggers and two digital binoculars from the volunteers’ seized boat. After their arrest, the volunteers were charged with attempting to help foreigners gain illegal entry into Greek territory and possession of weapons.

A lawyer for the detained volunteers denied all charges.

"My clients are professional firefighters in Spain and their organization has submitted the necessary accreditations to authorities. They have voluntarily come to Lesvos to help those in danger and have cooperated with authorities in the past trying to do so” Haralabos Petsikos, lawyer for the three Spanish volunteers, told Anadolu Agency.

Team Humanity urged the Greek government "to release all illegally detained volunteers because they were only trying to save human lives".

Greek police claim action against certain groups and volunteers was necessary to stop those "pretending to be volunteers" from stealing objects from refugees or boats and not deter the work of other accredited volunteers.

The five defendants are expected to apologize formally to the public prosecutor on Saturday.

.

https://www.facebook.com/solidarityplatanos/posts/1105502386156827

After the arrest of 3 volunteers in Chios, the greek state is trying to block the refugee solidarity movement on the island of Lesvos. Yesterday, 3 people of ProemAaid and 2 members of Team Humanity have been arrested by the greek security forces for "attempting to facilitate the entry of illegal migrants." The truth is that the rescuers were towing with their boat a refugee dinghy with engine problems when the greek coast guard ship showed up and arrested them. The 5 people will be judged on Saturday. Until then, they are deprived of their liberty and remain under arrest in the dungeons of the port. We will keep you updated.

FREE NOW ALL PROEM-AID AND TEAM HUMANITY MEMBERS

Khawaga

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on January 15, 2016

Thanks for these updates Mark. Pretty disgusting stuff, but what else to expect...

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 15, 2016

Thanks. I think as much as anything I'm trying to get a picture myself of how the changing approach to refugees in Greece fits together, along with the role of NGOs, Frontex, the Syriza government, local interests on the islands etc. The big stories are really about the refugees themselves, the risks they're taking, their reasons for leaving and the way they're treated. This can overshadow the issues around aid, NGOs, volunteers and the politics around immigration. Hence a thread on this rather than the refugees themselves.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 15, 2016

An old post from No Border Serbia with some thoughts on the role of the big NGOs

(Non)governmental organisations, such as the UNHCR, the Red Cross, Praxis, and other collaborators of the repressive system that supports the illegalisation, criminalisation, segregation and rasism will today, on December 18th, mark the International Migrants Day. They will do so ignoring and covering up the fact that they are in the most direct way responsible for the suffering and terror that migrants across the EU and the world are enduring.

Every day we hear and watch the propaganda aimed at recruiting the largest possible number of volunteers, who will soon be transformed into an army of obedients, blindly and without objection executing orders in a vertical hierarchy and distribution of power. More than once we wrote about the ways of financing of organisations who “deal” with migrants, and it is clear that their “work” and their sources of financing are in a great mutual conflict, given that their main financier is the EU — the same EU that invests great resources into militarising borders and building prisons they call “camps” and “centers”.

In the field we are witnesses of monopolies these organisations have and the deals they make assisted by the repressive and restrictive state apparatus, in the attempt to stop and completely close the door to the work of self-organised groups of individuals, while in crisis situations (and they are all such) they locked their containers and fled, abandoning people.

You will hear and read nothing in mainstream media or on websites of NGOs about the everyday violence and brutality of “border management” (the police, the army, Frontex), nor of the people who organise protests on the borders and end up in prisons, committing suicides or going through hunger strikes, fighting with all their strength for dignity and freedom of movement. This is precisely because these organisations are a part of the repressive, manipulative and ignorant machinery that aims to censor and negate the existence of resistance, of direct actions, of solidarity and support that isn’t there only one day in a year, but is present every day, and yet gets sabotaged at every step.
....

The IOM - the International Organization for Migration - may be a case in point

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 16, 2016

Heroes Held Hostage: Arrest of Volunteer Refugee Rescue Team

In Lesvos, I had the opportunity to volunteer alongside people from all over the world, working to save the lives of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, as they made the dangerous journey across the water from Turkey to Greece in an attempt to escape the horrific violence in their homelands. There were always whispers that those who worked out on the water were at risk of arrest, but the Greek police seemed to look the other way — a collective understanding that politics should not get in the way of saving human lives.

Yesterday, January 14th, this changed. Five volunteers working open-water rescue went out on an emergency call to locate a refugee boat in distress, adrift at sea between Greece and Turkey. Three of them, Kike, Manolo and Julio are firefighters from Spain and two are Danish rescuers working with the volunteer organization Team Humanity. While on their rescue vessel, they were arrested by the Greek coast guard and are now being detained on charges of “aiding illegal entry of foreigners into the country,” essentially human trafficking.

I personally witnessed the rescuers from these teams and others like them put their own lives at risk countless times to pull drowning people from the turbulent winter seas. If they are prevented from doing their work, we will continue to see those heartbreaking photos of the bodies of drowned children on the beach and have absolutely no one to blame but ourselves for turning a blind eye.

These volunteers will go in front of a judge at 10am (midnight, PT) tomorrow, January 16th. Per reports from their teams, they are being held in deplorable conditions -confined cells, no beds — and required to pay 1200 euros each for defense.

They should not be in jail. To be quite frank, their services shouldn’t even be required. As I have written before, the same path traveled by the refugees can be made by anyone with an American or EU passport for about $30. These rescuers are there to support the refugees who are not so lucky and are forced to make the terrible choice to risk their lives for the chance to live.
....
Changes in the human condition can frequently outpace the changes in government and policy needed to serve them. In the case of the current refugee crisis, there has been a catastrophic failure of government to act in the best interest of humanity. If this attempt at stopping the humanitarian efforts succeeds, it will likely be a slippery slope that could impact the overall volunteer efforts and cause massive suffering within a population that has already survived more atrocities than any of us can imagine.
....

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 16, 2016

A Syriza MP has given evidence in support of the volunteers - source

Also here

Edit: Two Greek MPs make public apology for the arrests

It does leave the question of where the decisions are coming from and who authorised the crackdown. I wouldn't necessarily assume that the Syriza government is the same thing as the Greek state.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 16, 2016

All 5 arrested rescuers have just been released after being questioned by both the prosecutor and the investigator. Restrictive measures and bail of 10.000 euros was imposed on the owner of the rescue boat. A bail of 5.000 euros was set for the other four rescuers. A trial date was set with charges of facilitation of illegal entry into the country of refugees and immigrants, and illegal possession of a weapon for one knife that was found on the boat(!).

source

Video clip leaving court

Video clip leaving court

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 16, 2016

AJE report

Police accusations carrying prison sentences of up to ten years in jail against volunteer lifeguards who rescue refugees have angered the NGO community in the Greek island of Lesbos, with some reporting a growing crackdown on their activities.

On Thursday, the Greek coast guard arrested two Danish and three Spanish volunteers from the Team Humanity and Proem Aid groups, respectively.

They are accused of people smuggling, the Danish citizens' lawyer Themistoklis Kefalas confirmed to Al Jazeera.

The Danish volunteers are 26-year-old Mohammed Abbassi and 33-year-old Salam Aldeen. The three Spanish volunteers are Manuel Blanco, Jose Enrique and Julio Latorre.

Late on Saturday, the five volunteers were released on bail.

All except Aldeen made to pay a 5,000-euro fee.

Aldeen's bail was higher, at 10,000 euros, and he is also the only defendant who must stay in Greece and report to a police station every week.

The group will appear in court soon, though a date is not yet set.

"The only thing I can tell you is that they are good guys," Kefalas told Al Jazeera. "If found guilty, according to Greek law, they face between five and ten years in jail."

Video footage on Team Humanity's Facebook page showed volunteers from around the world protesting the detentions outside the courthouse in the island's capital city of Mytilene, calling for the charges to be dropped.

Petitions have also been set up. One in support of the Spanish volunteers gathered some 35,000 signatories in two days.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Saturday, Ayman Elghiouane, a 21-year-old volunteer from Team Humanity, said: "Everybody is happy for us being there; I'm wondering why the coast guard did this."

He added that in recent weeks, police have started slapping parking fines on volunteers, where before they had not, signalling a shift in treatment towards the community.

"Their [the Greek authorities'] attitudes have changed," said Elghiouane, one of 40 or so volunteers who has worked for Team Humanity, which launched in September.

There are around 80 NGOs working on the island, and thousands of volunteers.

Volunteer rescue teams are required to communicate with the coast guard when they go to rescue refugees by sea.

"We always call [the coastguard] for permission before we head out to the water," Elghiouane said.

"Right now, we can still do our work, but I don't know what the court will say. I think there is a crackdown on volunteers; maybe they want to scare us."

The mayor of Lesbos has before complained that the influx of volunteers who do not cooperate with the municipality is "disruptive rather than useful".

But Elisabeth Dimitras, an individual volunteer who has before collaborated with groups including Team Humanity, told Al Jazeera that the detained group was communicative and dedicated.

"I worked with Salam Aldeen [of Team Humanity] for one month," said Dimitras, who has made three trips to the island to volunteer. "He has no bad intentions. For sure, he's not a smuggler."

She added that Greek officials quoted in local media say that they wish the volunteer community was more controlled, in terms of registering properly with authorities and working with the local governments.

"I also think NGOs should be controlled, but you cannot go around arresting volunteers.

"I'm really worried that the authorities think that as long as we're there, the refugees will keep coming. And if we're not, they will not come - which is not true."

Dimitras cited examples of increased pressure on volunteers, such as the arrest of an unrelated volunteer who took a photo with a Frontex patrol boat in the background.

"The Greek coast guard in Lesbos only has around three or four boats," she added, justifying the volunteers' work. "Even some captains at the coast guard are completely burned out."

According to the UNHCR, of the at least 660,000 refugees and migrants who reached Greece in 2015, more than half landed at Lesbos.

Team Humanity's Elghiouane estimated that while numbers are down from September highs, when some 10,000 refugees would arrive in one day, around 1,000 refugees now reach the Greek island per day now.

The number has fallen due to poor weather.

"People are still drowning," Elghiouane said. "Before, we used to like to party. We don't think about that kind of stuff now. We just want to go back to Lesbos and help."

At least 59 refugees have died or gone missing while making journeys to Europe this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

"These volunteers and aid workers are trying to ensure their [refugees'] safe passage ...the state should be assisting them, rather than arresting them," Nada Homsi, a Lebanon-based volunteer who worked on the island last year, told Al Jazeera.

"I've never seen anyone from the group do anything inappropriate or wrong, or anything that could constitute the gross charges that are being held against them."

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 16, 2016

Report from El País

....
El juez ha decretado su puesta en libertad pasadas las nueve de la noche, según ha informado la ONG Proem-Aid, a la que pertenecen los tres voluntarios. El magistrado ha tomado esta decisión después de escuchar el relato de los españoles y el de otros dos activistas daneses, también arrestados. José Amor, uno de los compañeros de los andaluces, ha apostillado que estos han tenido que pagar 5.000 euros cada uno en concepto de fianza. "Este dinero es para que, en el caso de que se reanude la investigación, las autoridades griegas se aseguren la presencia de ellos", ha añadido.

El letrado defensor, Jaris Pétsikos, ha indicado a Efe que los españoles tienen un mes para depositar el dinero, que sirve como garantía de que volverán a Grecia en caso de que las autoridades helenas les reclamen. La razón, ha remachado el letrado, es que la liberación de los cooperantes es una "decisión temporal", ya que la investigación continúa y tras su finalización un consejo de jueces determinará si se mantienen los cargos. "En los casos en que los delitos son tan graves y el juez decide que te puedes marchar es porque no hay pruebas de que los has cometido, además tratándose de ciudadanos extranjeros...", aseguró Pétsikos.
....

The Spanish activist accused of spying on Chios was sentenced to six months but released on condition he doesn't return to Greece for three years.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 17, 2016

PROEMAID statement

....
Manuel , Julio and Kike have been released without charges, interim measures are not imposed and they will return home very soon. However, the Greek authorities continue to investigate the case and demand to PROEM -AID paying a guarantee of 15,000 euros, and they will request to return their appearance if necessary.
....

(I can't see that 'released without charges' is correct here, if the case is still being investigated)

.
Team Humanity statement

Everyone was released on a €5,000 bail each. But Salam on a €10,000 bail and he is the only one who cannot leave Greece until next trial which might take 18 months. He has to show up at the Police Station once a week. We don't know if Mos bail has to be payed before he can leave the country or not.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 17, 2016

Report from a volunteer on Lesvos, written yesterday before the hearing.

These are interesting times, there seems to be a shift in atmosphere.

Reports of boats being paddled for five hours, with the two emergency paddles and hands, to the Greek shore, because the Turkish coast guard cut the fuel lines.

Just this morning I hear a boat came in at 5am, packed with exhausted, shivering people and crying children. Some of the petrol from cut pipes flowed into the boat. All breathed in the petrol fumes, and a five month pregnant women was sick and vomiting on shore.

While here in Greece, three Spanish lifeguards have been arrested for towing in a stranded dinghy with 51 refugees, and charged with human trafficking.

Well-regarded back in Spain as Firefighters, and well known here for tireless humanitarian work as Basque lifeguard group Proem Aid, they are one of dozens of non-government aid groups helping thousands of refugees and migrants on the beaches saving lives. They are now in prison pending sentencing.

This follows moves to require volunteers and NGOs to register with police, and an agreement between authorities on Lesvos and the International Rescue Committee that effectively gives the IRC control over aid efforts in the north of the island.

Frontex has shut down a spotting station run by volunteers. Used to spot the boats from Turkey, it sent signals to the beach crews alerting them where boats were landing.

Greece came under pressure to "secure Europe's borders", threatened even with exclusion from Schengen, accused that it wasn't doing enough to control the refugee exodus.

Now I believe the reports are that European "help" has been accepted, and there is this strange deal with the American IRC. The first actions are to close down infrastructure like soup kitchens and the watchtower, and establish fast deportation routes back to Turkey, without the option to claim asylum here, and arrest volunteers.

Independent volunteers can act quickly and provide support and avoid the bureaucracy that slows larger NGO's down. The evidence is here for all to see that when we all work together the results are incredible.

Every day I can see if it weren't for the small NGOs and individual volunteers stepping up to help a lot of people would have drowned, starved or died of hypothermia and lack of medical treatment.

What's happening in Greece is the inevitable outcome of a Europe that doesn't know what to do with itself.

The problem is not "too many NGOs." It's "too little action, too late, by those who should be acting."

The atmosphere seems to have turned as cold as the winter storms threatening the horizon.

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 17, 2016

At Idomeni on the Macedonian border yesterday

Just got threatened by Greek police at border. Suddenly, decided photography forbidden. These clowns make up laws at will.

Couple of cops here are on a real power trip, more like bouncers than law enforcement officers.

'I know who you are, I know who you are' screamed female cop, notorious for aggressive attitude here at #Idomeni

Standard cop BS for intimidating people.

'So, who am I? No reply.

source

Updates from Idomeni

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 17, 2016

No solo los pequeños grupos de voluntarios molestan a las autoridades, a las grandes ONGs tb q temen perder parte del pastel q se llevan

Rough translation - The small groups of volunteers don't just bother the authorities but also the big NGOs that are afraid of losing part of the money that's coming in.

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 17, 2016

PROACTIVA, the main group of Spanish lifeguards, are being prevented from using their boats. Lives will be lost if this carries on.

Las misiones humanitarias son a menudo una carrera de obstáculos.
Desde ayer nuestras embarcaciones permanecen amarradas en puerto hasta nuevo aviso, por decisión de las autoridades portuarias.
La historia se encargará de poner en el sitio a nuestras instituciones y a los que altruistamente nos implicamos en primera línea, incapaces de soportar en la distancia la omisión de nuestros gobiernos. Pero eso será en el futuro

Mientras tanto, la determinación de todos los comprometidos en esta crisis se topa a menudo con muros difíciles de franquear. Pero aquí seguiremos.
..............

The humanitarian missions are often an obstacles race.
Since yesterday our boats remain moored in port until further notice by decision of the port authorities.
History will put on the site our institutions and the ones selflessly are involved in frontline unable to bear in the distance the gap of our governments. But that will be in the future
Meanwhile , the determination of all those involved in this crisis face walls often difficult to overcome. But we will keep on.

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 24, 2016

Local politics Lesvos style - a long video blog from Eric Kempson about right wing racist business interests opposed to refugees and volunteers. I'm not sure how far decision making on the islands reflects these kinds of very local interests and how far it reflects government diktats from Athens.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEguGmaX6c

Edit: some similar views in Greek

The Greek link above is by Stratis Pallis, leftist mayor of Mytilene in the '80s. He gets a mention here:

Transformations of political divides: commerce, culture and sympathy crossing the Greek-Turkish border

Video and report in Greek with elderly residents of Molyvos who came to Lesvos as refugees themselves in 1922 talking about their own experiences and about the refugees arriving now:

«Υπήρξα και εγώ πρόσφυγας και ξέρω...»

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 17, 2016

@noborderkitchen serve meals to #refugeesGr 24/7, often under threat of eviction from cops & local authorities https://twitter.com/mark_wilding/status/686873230448168960

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 18, 2016

Facebook post in Greek on an encounter yesterday between Syriza MPs and volunteers on Lesvos. I may have a go at translating some of this later.

Edit: a very rough translation here - I may have misunderstood some of this but it gives the general idea.

Today at 16:00 Syriza deputies Vasiliki Katrivanou and Yiorgos Pallis, along with Syriza Political Secretariat member Panos Lambrou, visited the structure at Platanos. Following a discussion for many minutes, not without disagreements and tension, they asked us to find a "solution" for how to "sort out the chaos with the NGOs and teams of volunteers and solidarity activists" that are acting on the island. We answered that this is a problem that doesn't concern us and we informed them of yesterday's decision of the assembly of Platanos that under no circumstances will we work with the authorities and the ministry and that we refuse any kind of certification of the structure or integration into corporate forms. Some of us, in light of threats before Christmas of court action if we set up the clinic, advised them to bring in the MAT [riot police] to certify us. They left troubled, wishing us good strength.

Solidarity is neither certified nor intimidated.

Some background at solidarityteamplatonosblog - I think 'lesbian' here means 'from Lesvos'.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 18, 2016

End the criminalization of solidarity to refugees NOW!

Report (14.1.16) from Chios, which characteristically shows how the situation has exacerbated during the last week:

· The deployment of FRONTEX has begun without any information by the Greek govmt. towards the local politicians or the local population.

· FRONTEX is now present everywhere. Patrols are executed in a permanent way at the spots where the refugee boats land. The FRONTEX policemen sit together with their Greek colleagues in the Greek police cars.

· The coast guard – most likely by order of FRONTEX – doesn't allow anymore fisher boats rented by helping organisations, to leave the harbour and help refugees in the rubber boats to reach the coast.

· The Greek police together with the FRONTEX cops ask for the ID cards of all helpers at the beaches on the pretext to prevent robbing of the refugees, plundering the boats or the stealing of the outboard engines.

· Today (14.01.) some custom officers went to a small harbour to control the boxes with clothes etc. which are sent by citizens to the organizations and groups that provide the first aid to the arriving refugees.

· The Spanish volunteer who took pictures of the Dutch FRONTEX boat in the harbour and was arrested, will probably be charged for "spying".

· The two Swiss volunteers who where caught with some hashish were sentenced to 8 month prison on bail each.

· It seems that the situation has worsened also on the Turkish coast. Patrol boats are all day long present on the straight between Turkey and Chios so that no refugee boat can pass. Even though the weather today (14.01.) was very good and the sea quiet no refugee boat come until late in the evening.

....

With the time passing we learn to expect everything from the "first time left" government of SYRIZA, but we stand shocked in front of the criminalization of solidarity to refugees, a policy which resembles increasingly the policy of its predecessors and the one of its European partners.

Last week started the implementation of the announced upgrading of the Frontex policemen, who now have the authority to control Greek and foreign citizens or members of social and political organizations that offer support to refugees, either by rescuing either on the proceedings of reception and solidarity (social kitchens, clothing distribution) with the arrival of the people on the islands. In Chios a solidarity Spaniard is on trial for espionage because of photographing a Frontex vessel. In Mytilini, solidarity NGO members from Denmark and Spain who towed a boat to the coast of Lesvos to rescue the people onboard are prosecuted on felony charges for help with entry of illegal foreigners.

....

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 18, 2016

Update from Lesvos, 12th Jan 2016

....
We are being threatened on several layers, from eviction of the whole camp, to being arrested for working as non-registered “volunteers” and radical Salafists coming over to police our camp. The local authorities are gathering german Frontex and polish policemen and they seem to prepare a huge raid on the Greek islands to get rid of self-organized and non-registered supporters, as well as illegalized migrants.
....

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 18, 2016

It's snowing on Lesvos, no refugees arriving for the last couple of days. The consequences of lifeguards being prevented from taking boats out will become clearer when the weather calms down.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 18, 2016

I can't believe I'm writing this but I've been going to Lesvos for many years now and it's a place I love, however, I am totally disappointed with what is happening there at the moment.

Last year I went as usual to take a holiday and took some clothes with me because I'd been reading about the refugee crisis.

While I was there the first weekend I met Eric and Philippa Kempson and was so impressed with the work they were doing rescuing the refugees that I became involved. It was the most rewarding holiday that I'd ever had.

The Kempson family, the small charity groups and volunteers still do some wonderful work with the refugees, rescuing, looking after their welfare, feeding them and showing them compassion and warmth that is so welcome.

In April, I am going to Lesvos again with my family to help in any way we can and taking some supplies.

My disappointment is that 'the Powers That Be' on the island are doing everything they can to thwart the rescue attempts by these wonderful people. The high and mighty in Molyvos have always made it difficult for the rescue attempts but now have joined forces with International Rescue to try and enforce permits to rescue from the shores of northern Lesvos.

International Rescue in attempt to curry favour with the public and collect donations has set up an inaccessible camp out of sight of the tourists, where the tents have been blown down by the rough winter weather. The police are now arresting members of volunteer groups who are spending time in cells and having to pay bail, charged with 'human trafficking'. Further more their rescue boats are being impounded.

What the hell is going on here....all these measures will not stop these people fleeing from war in Syria. They are desperate people who just want a peaceful fulfilling life like the rest of us.

Okay, listen the Greek goverment, the hierarchy of Molyvos and International Rescue it will be YOU who stop the tourists from coming to Lesvos. If this heartless attitude continues then I for one won't continue to visit my favourite island. People like me and my family who have been countless times will consider very carefully whether we book another visit not because of the refugees but because of our disgust at the way you're treating the refugees at the moment.

source

More at Lesvos Refugee Updates

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 19, 2016

I would personally like to thank everybody for their support. Thank you for you concern, phone calls and messages. It means the world to us having your support and you having our backs. What happened to us is not fair and I would like to have the opportunity to show the world that we fight for peace and not human trafficking!

We got arrested for something we didn't do. You know and I know. We were out patrolling and looking for the sinking boat, which we got informed of, so we could save these drowning people and not to smuggle people! We are against this, we want people to be and feel safe and give them a better life. So why this unfair treatment?

This doesn't mean I will stop doing my work. I can not sit and watch people die and screaming for help, while they cry and are scared to death, cause it's death they see with their eyes. I will still - with my feet and body in the water wait for boats with families, women and children and carry them safe on land. This is what I do. This is what we do. We give them a warm welcome, we make them feel save. We show them humanity.

Thank you!

Salam Aldeen & Team Humanity

Team Humanity

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 19, 2016

....

The national and international “.orgs” on the spot on Lesbos have never really got going because they are hanging on the strings of the whiners and have to act accordingly. The result is that the “organised irresponsibility” (“die organisierte Unverantwortlichkeit”) of the national and transnational entities confronts a “transatlantic union of volunteers” (“Transatlantische Union von Freiwilligen” > Both article coming soon in English) of private groups and NGOs. Having never waited for a mandate or instructions it is they which shoulder the main responsibility on the refugee front (“The Responsibles” > Coming soon in English.).

The recognition of this contradistinction is both frightening and fascinating: The aid system on Lesbos is kept going mainly by the efforts of volunteers – for months, seven days a week, night and day. These volunteers from Europe, America, Australasia and Asia are largely aged between 20 and 35, perhaps 40; middle aged up to 55 or 60 are seldom, which may have to do with family responsibilities; pensioners, again independent, make a formidable contribution. When the helpers are asked what motivates them to work here without pay, one dominant aspect crystallises out: All are driven essentially by the PRINCIPLE OF HUMANITY. “Be human” is the unpretentious but not so simple answer.

As someone present on Lesbos, who himself works, observes, photographs and writes, I find myself, probably like many others, in a dilemma:

Should I rejoice because here a younger generation is training itself towards an empathic and humane world perspective, where solidarity is written large.

Is the frustration, sometimes the naked anger at the inhumane rules and laws and their executive institutions (police, army, Frontex, authorities …), so great and daily that it threatens to consume me?

The following description may help the reader to understand this frustration and anger: The Greek harbour authorities have made it clear that any help for the boat refugees while they are still on the water will be considered as assisting illegal entry. This means that anyone on the shore who gives a light signal to the refugees showing where they may safely land, is LIABLE TO PROSECUTION. Anyone who stands in the water and helps refugees from the boat to the shore is acting ILLEGALLY. The Spanish and Greek lifesavers (swimmers) – “Proactiva Open Arms” and “Lifeguard Hellas” – with their speedboats and water skis as well as “Sea Watch” with their speedboats are acting ILLEGALLY when they try to pilot overloaded refugee boats to a safe shore in order not to endanger lives. Volunteers and locals on shore act ILLEGALLY when they transport the refugees – wet, frightened, bodily injured and/or emotionally damaged, even when this transport is to a transit camp. All these actions are considered to be HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Refugees are not allowed to book a hotel room, but have to hold out in the cold and wet in completely unsuitable tents in Camp Moria.

How absurd can a legislative process be, whether national or international, which not only conceives but even, as law in force, codifies that survival help is illegal? What flawed idea of humanity can be the foundation of such policies and jurisprudence? How glad all the helpers are that the police, although they regularly check passports, otherwise look the other way. Civil disobedience, because in the real situation the application of the existing laws simply cannot be justified? Even Frontex on the water now acts the same way. However, what will happen when the EU Commission and the European heads of state (complete with the Swiss Federal Council knowing that it has the Swiss parliament breathing down its neck) carry out their threat to tighten up the border checks on the so-called outer borders? We are just waiting for an example to be made, and some rescuer, who has just saved a life, to be charged with human trafficking.

Will such a tightening up lead to even more boats being slashed (see “Mhd “ZIKOS” story” > Coming soon in English.)? Should one watch as young people, young families with their babies and small children drown before one’s very eyes – simply let them go down – or at best increase dramatically the dangers to which they are already exposed, simply because they are denied the possibility of applying for asylum at the Schengen Area border? Is this the 21st Century we want? What kind of world can it be when primordial human actions are illegal?

....

From a longer article at refugeelesbos.wordpress.com, Thom Held©2016

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 19, 2016

Radio interview in Spanish with Alicia Armesto

Lesvos is getting a lot of coverage in Spain in the wake of the arrests of Spanish volunteers. I think this interview, with a journalist who has stayed on as a volunteer, covers some of the issues better than mainstream media in English, in particular around this central point:

Alicia Armesto, al igual que otros voluntarios que hemos entrevistado, ha denunciado la carencia absoluta de apoyo de gobiernos e instituciones, "no hay ningún tipo de ayuda institucional, todo depende de voluntarios y ONG pequeñas".

'Alicia Armesto, as with other volunteers we've interviewed, has denounced the absolute lack of support from governments and institutions, "there isn't any type of institutional help, everything depends on volunteers and small NGOs".'

And this is what is now coming under attack, from an alliance of the island authorities, Frontex, the Syriza government and some of the larger NGOs.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 19, 2016

It will be interesting to see which of the larger NGOs are willing to speak out against the current direction of Greek government policy. Here's MSF.

On #Lesvos, volunteers have stepped in to provide care where #Europe has failed. #Greece, let them do their job!

#Greece, if you won't allow volunteers to do their job, you better be prepared to step up and do the work yourself!

https://mobile.twitter.com/MSF_Sea

Here's a transcript of a talk by Eric Kempson last year. Amongst other things it gives an insight into the behaviour of NGOs on Lesvos.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 19, 2016

Children on Syrian refugee route could freeze to death: U.N.

The U.N. weather agency said it forecast below-normal temperatures and heavy snowfall in the next two weeks in the eastern Balkan peninsula, Turkey, the eastern Mediterranean and Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.

"Many children on the move do not have adequate clothing or access to the right nutrition," said Christophe Boulierac, spokesman for the U.N. children's agency UNICEF.

Asked if children could freeze to death, he told a news briefing: "The risk is clearly very, very high."

Children were coming ashore on the Greek island of Lesbos wearing only T-shirts and soaking wet after traveling on unseaworthy rubber dinghies, the charity Save the Children said in a statement.

"Aid workers at the border reception center in Presevo say there is six inches of snow on the ground and children are arriving with blue lips, distressed and shaking from the cold," it said.

It said temperatures were forecast to drop to -20 degrees Celsius (-4°F) in Presevo in Serbia and -13 degrees (9°F) on the Greek border with Macedonia.

MSF

Of course, our camp at #Idomeni border is empty. It's -12 & the authorities will force families to wait outside

UPDATE: The #Greece #FYROM border and the #Serbia #Croatia border are now closed. Tonight 1000s will be stranded in sub zero temperatures.

Greek-FYR Macedonian border closed at #Idomeni. #Refugees taking shelter in @MSF tents kicked out by Greek police, sent to local gas station

#Idomeni border crossing now closed for "techical" reasons by FYR Macedonia, expected to remain closed till tomorrow morning

Seriously, Greece's "left-wing" #Syriza govt officials are just as racist as their far right predecessors when it comes to #refugees

In practical terms there is little or no difference between #Syriza and previous far right govt's treatment of #refugees.

Volunteer groups & NGOs helping #refugees on Greek islands and at #Idomeni crossing face harassment from authorities. Govt turns blind eye

It's not enough for Greek authorities to ignore deperate plight of #refugee, often actively hostile to those who are trying to help

https://mobile.twitter.com/teacherdude

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 19, 2016

The Eidomeni - Skopje border has closed and will remain closed until tomorrow morning due to technical reasons. It had been decided to keep the refugees in one of the heated MSF tents for the night up until the Greek police arrived, instructed them and put them back on the buses and drove them to the famous gas station Eko until tomorrow morning!!!!!

video

Οταν στους -12 διωχνεις πρόσφυγες από τη σκηνη των ΓΧΣ και τους στέλνεις στο βενζινάδικο, τότε μπορούμε να μιλάμε για 1η φορά φασιστερά.

Rough translation - 'When it's -12 and you throw refugees out of the MSF tent and send them to the gas station then for the first time we can talk of fascism.'

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 20, 2016

Refugees were arriving on Lesvos again yesterday as the weather improved. It seems the Spanish lifeguards from Proactiva have been allowed to take their boats out. This follows the previous instructions to leave them moored in the harbour until further notice.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 20, 2016

Two deaths from hypothermia on the crossing to Lesvos

Report on this from Team Platanos

Two dead so far today, at the port of Skala Sikamias.

Between 7.30 and 8.00 am, a rescuers' boat brought to the port of Skala, a 3-4 year old boy with his father. The boy was unconscious and had abnormal skin color and the father was in a state of collapse. Volunteers saw the boy in the hands of a group of organization members, asked if any help was needed and received a negative response. They brought the boy to the community clinic at the port which was found locked. The door was forced open by a resident of the village, who was nearby and the boy was brought inside the clinic in order to diagnose his condition. Soon after, it was announced that the boy arrived dead at the harbor, and the possible cause of death was hypothermia. Much later, an ambulance arrived at Skala to collect the body. It should be noted that, the rest of the family members were brought to the port of Petra (several kilometres north of Skala) by a boat of the port authority.

An hour earlier a Frontex vessel brought to the port of Scala a group of children and women who seemed to have been collected from within the sea (wet to the bone). Among them was a 35-40 year old woman with obvious signs of hypothermia. She was moved to the community clinic at the harbor from where her death was announced later.

The remaining refugees were not allowed to go to Platanos, which is a common practice for their reception and care, due to the intervention of a group of port authority officials that ordered that no one was allowed to leave the point until the registration process of all was complete.

The women changed clothes in the restaurant at the port and chaos ensued.

At this moment, we limit our description to the account of the events and will not comment on them – we lack the emotional capacity to comment.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 20, 2016

BREAKING: We have FINALLY been allowed to access the camp at #Idomeni. Buses drop people off and they're warming up in the heated MSF tents!

UPDATE: The border is NOT open. No one is crossing but the authorities are allowing all nationalities to enter.

Apparently it is just an "extraordinary" measure and will not be permanent. Let's see!

https://mobile.twitter.com/MSF_Sea

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 20, 2016

To whom it may concern.

As people of solidarity who have been operating for three months at the Platanos self-organized structure for refugee reception at Skala Sykamnias, and prompted by the arrival in the last few days of an accreditation hunt on the NE Aegean islands, we want to avoid any misunderstandings by making our position towards this game of impressions clear.

The structure of Platanos is an endeavour based on the principles of self-organization, solidarity and dignity.

We describe ourselves as self-organized because no political party, business or organization is standing behind us; all decisions and actions arise from open public assemblies and the responsibility of their implementation is shared equally. Mistakes are corrected collectively and every success is shared collectively. There are no leaders, only coordinators that are appointed by the assembly and alternated periodically. Above all the responsibility of the presence of everyone here is a clear, conscious, individual choice, not dictated by a governmental organisation or any other plan.

We act in Solidarity because we are here to give active support to refugees and migrants arriving from the opposite shore; recognising the injustice that pushed them to this choice and not to draw surplus humanitarian value from the pain of ”these poor people” or exert politics on their backs, or worse, on their dead bodies. We make the conscious choice of grassroots solidarity and networking in contrast with both the current dictates of a society that demands philanthropic consumers and inhumane workers, and with the ruling class and the suffering it causes.

We act in dignity because we choose to stand beside them in a human, not humanitarian way. We recognise the other's existence when our eyes meet and the need to treat them with the dignity they deserve, acknowledging the causes that led them to this point and promising not to stop fighting against those causes. We are against the easy humanitarian approach that averts its gaze from the real cause of the problem and in complacency hides behind phoney charities and "good deeds" that numb your conscience.

These are the principles through which it is made clear that our action so far, and as long as our forces allow us to continue, will remain without guardians and be uncompromising against the dictates of the killer states and their executive bodies – in or out of uniform.

It is therefore natural that any scheme for our legitimisation through associations, organizations and any other legal entities leaves us completely indifferent, since this condition is already achieved in everyone’s conscience.

It has been achieved through the selfless support that we receive from thousands of people around the world, demonstrated through their participation and endorsement, and through the recognition of the struggle that has been withstood all these months and its dissemination.
At the same time the state remains completely indifferent to providing assistance to these people while wasting thousands of resources to shift the responsibilities of its absence to those who rushed to replace it.

Self-organization is an act that fits neither in the system's registries, nor of course in the narrow framework of politicians that access everything through statutes. It is a continuous experiment which through its development and dissemination searches for the realisation of a free, consciously defined society; to each according to his needs, from everyone according to their capabilities.

Solidarity is not an accreditable product nor a theoretical discussion, but an act that is recognisable through its support and continuation.

Dignity is not negotiated in the halls of the courts and ruling institutions, but is determined through the daily struggle against injustice that these same institutions impose.

These are the principles of Platanos, and with these we will continue to move on, as long as the structure remains alive.

Self-organized Structure Platanos, Skala Sykamnias, 2016

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 21, 2016

From an article on Algerians and Moroccans locked up on Samos

The key agencies responsible for managing the refugees coming through the Greek frontier islands were thrown into chaos and confusion by the 2015 exodus. Now half a year later we are beginning to see the authorities regroup and try and regain control. One aspect is the clear division of tasks between the big NGOs which have arrived since Autumn 2015 and the state agencies with the former responsible for meeting basic food and shelter needs of the refugees and the state agencies focusing on data collection and processing. But this relationship is not easy nor by any means unproblematic as the Greek authorities are jealous to maintain their control of what goes on in their country. The fractiousness which characterised this relationship is not likely to go away soon for the central authorities of the EU have determined that tightening up the EU’s external borders, especially the Greek islands is a priority. This will not be left to the Greeks to manage.

One thing which is clear in all this confusion is that the outcomes are not going to be good for refugees...

.
From the same blog: Let them pass: refugees and Europe December 2015

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 21, 2016

This article gives some background on the situation at Idomeni and the detention and deportation of North Africans.

Restrictions and segregation on the Balkan route: Fences, detention and push-backs

....
On Wednesday 9th December, 400 Greek riot police officers were deployed to evict the people who were waiting in Idomeni. The police surrounded the camp, and started pushing people out of their tents and into buses to Athens, 6 hours away from the border. Around 300 people refused to enter the buses, there were protests and several arrests, while media and independent observers were denied access to the camp. Tents of people refusing to leave were cut open and those inside removed.
....
Most of the people who had been waiting and protesting at the Greek-Macedonian border were temporarily brought to the TaekWonDo stadium in Athens. The stadium was closed after a few days. The 'options‘ given by authorities to people with Moroccan nationality were detention, deportation, or 'voluntary‘ return. Around 400 people were detained in the Corinth detention center close to Athens. There were soon protests in the detention center in Corinth.
....
On the 3rd of January, there were more protests still and several people tried to break out whilst the Greek police intervened. Then, on January the 5th, what many had feared would start to happen, happened: around 100 Moroccans who had recently been detained in Corinth were taken back to Turkey by Greek authorities. There are reports though, that Turkey did not accept them, and that they are now back in Greece. Currently, smaller groups are being returned to Morocco on IOM-organized flights. Their places are refilled quickly, with around 400 people detained in Corinth all the time. This week, two Moroccans attempted suicide and 100 more detainees began a hunger strike. They are asking for their release and the opening of the border, so that they can continue onwards.
....

The IOM is the International Organization for Migration. It seems to be a player in Greece's refugee crisis, handling deportations. Greece has also asked for Frontex to organise deportations by boat from the islands to Turkey, and the IOM may not be involved in this.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 21, 2016

From the Macedonian META.mk news agency. I've no idea how reliable this is and Bild doesn't sound like the greatest source. If true it may help explain current policy towards volunteers. (Edit: this story is being questioned by journalists so it may not be reliable)

Germany and Austria planning to close the Macedonian border

Skopje, 21 January, 2016 (META)

Germany and Austria, in cooperation with the Macedonian and Greek government are developing a plan to close the Macedonian-Greek border for refugees, says the agency “Sputnik”, reporting its information from the German newspaper “Bild”.

According to the German newspaper, experts from Vienna, Brussels and Berlin want to close the border and equip the area with a surveillance system. At the same time, an increasing number of representatives from the Agency for the control of the EU external borders, Frontex, will divide refugees in the Balkans in to two groups, politically and economically.

The paper said the plan, which should be implemented in mid-March, also provides space for the establishment of a “mega-camp” in Greece, like deportation centres for distribution, for which Athens would receive financial assistance of 320 million euros from Brussels.

As of yesterday the border is open but only to Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans stating that they are heading for Austria or Germany.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 21, 2016

“Whatever we do, we do it together". Call for support and detailed report from No Border Kitchen on Lesvos

The authorities’ attitude is quite different. Apart from the beach, we have also taken an unused sports field nearby, so as to be able to store and dry off clothes, blankets and sleeping bags. At the end of December the municipal authorities, accompanied by police, told us to empty the field, claiming that the area is private and pretending to be its owners. Only after relocating the storehouse, we learned that this had been a lie intended to quicken our gradual eviction. Apparently, the authorities will not hesitate to use any method whatsoever to stop those who support migrants by creating friendly places which are not part of the repression system envisioned by the EU governments. The greek rescue-camp “Platanos” in the northern part of the island, which had been working efficiently for a few months now, has been in serious danger of eviction in recent weeks.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 21, 2016

Report of a push-back by masked men a week ago. It isn't clear if they were Greek or Turkish, although victims of previous attacks have stated that the attackers definitely weren't speaking Turkish.

http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/410

At 2.03am an informant alerted our shift team to a vessel on its way to Lesvos, but still in Turkish waters (case 4). We informed the Turkish coastguards and they confirmed that they would go and rescue the vessel. For several hours we did not obtain further information about the vessel. At 3.40pm we were able to reach one of the travellers who told us that they were safe but back in Turkey. He said that the group of about 60 people, including 20 children had faced a violent attack during their journey. He said that a vessel had approached theirs and men boarded their boat and disabled the engine, threatened them with knifes and a stun gun in order to keep them away from Greek waters. After that they left and much later the Turkish coastguards came and rescued them back to Turkey. When we spoke to them they were in a basketball stadium where they would stay for about 24 hours. He said they would try to cross the sea again. In the evening we reached him again and he added to his earlier account that the men who had attacked them had worn ski masks. Besides disabling their engine they had also punctured their boat. He also said that many stories were going around amongst the refugees about similar attacks at sea.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 21, 2016

12 dead, at least 10 missing from boat heading for Lesvos today

Yesterday's deaths:
[quote=Proactiva]

In the eyes of institutions and volunteers sea takes lives of new victims. It hurts.

It's more painful when you have an emergency before your eyes, experience telling you that you must act immediately, and you stumble upon the slowness and lack of coordination on the other side.

Today we have lived that closely.

In a tense waiting and after much insistence, we decided to intervene. At that moment authorities decided to take charge. But it had been too long, it was too cold. It was too late for this little child, the cold took the live of a 5-year little girl.

It is victim number 87 in 2016 .

Enough.
[/quote]
[quote=Oscar Camps]
Children dying of hypothermia due to incompetence and excessive police zeal Shame on them! [/quote]

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 21, 2016

Oscar Camps again

Desde la segunda detención de @proemaid no dejan actuar a nadie en el mar si no es por un naufragio

'Since the second arrest of Proemaid they don't let anyone act at sea unless it's for a shipwreck.'

The implication is that refugees are dying of hypothermia because of delays caused by the Greek authorities.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 22, 2016

At least 21 dead in two shipwrecks this morning (report in Greek)

[quote=Oscar Camps]
Unos 122 muertos en 21 días, mujeres y niños en su mayoría. El Egeo la fosa común de la UE @PROACTIVA_SERV @tv3cat
[/quote]
'Some 122 deaths in 21 days, the majority women and children. The Aegean is the mass grave of the EU'

Edit: At least 30 dead (in Greek)

[quote=Daphne Tolis]
UPDATE: 37 is the death toll from both shipwrecks so far: 30 from #Kalolimno shipwreck, 7 from #Farmakonisi. #refugeecrisis #Greece
[/quote]
[quote=MSF_Sea]

UPDATE:The @MSF team is providing psych care to surivors of #Kalymnos tragedy. 1 man lost his mum, wife & 4 kids-his sorrow is unimaginable.

Horror stories are emerging - 1 man lost his pregnant wife & 2 kids, a 17 y/o lost his brother an entire family was swallowed by the sea...

How many more families will be destroyed before #safepassage is a priority for #Europe?

At least 42 #people drowned today. They'd all be alive if the #Turkey #Greece land border was open.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 22, 2016

In Spanish

Spanish TV report on the work of Proemaid on Lesvos and interview with Manuel Blanco, one of the volunteers arrested last week. Warning - images of dead children. The report on Lesvos starts at 23 minutes.

El precio de la solidaridad

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 22, 2016

Stop Mare Mortum condemns the criminal action of Frontex, impeding rescue operations on the island of Lesvos

Last Wednesday morning a group of activists from Stop Mare Mortum — a united platform in solidarity with refugees, based in Catalonia — returned from the island of Lesvos where could see, among other things, the rescue work carried out there by volunteers. We were also able to talk to many of the associations that give urgent assistance and they explained to us that Frontex, the European border control agency, restricts its role to observing the area and only helps to rescue boats at sea when they sink. In fact, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it has the duty to render assistance. They also carry out functions, jointly with the Greek police, of checking people who arrive to decide who has the right to continue their journey and who doesn’t, according to their nationality.

We had just got back when we received news — and these reports were confirmed by contacts we had made on the island — that on Wednesday morning, following several days of strong storms, there was a significant arrival of boats. This time, Frontex changed its usual observer role and decided to intervene. They prevented ProActiva Open Arms — an NGO from the Catalan city of Badalona, composed of volunteer lifeguards from across Spain, which carries out rescues on the beach and in the sea — from approaching the boats that were adrift at different points north of Lesbos so as to rescue the people on them. ProActiva cite a specific case: in an emergency concerning a boat off the coast of Skala Sikamineas, they were not given permission to act and “after a long wait and many attempts [to get authorisation], we decided to start the operation. At that moment, the authorities decided to take charge. But too much time had gone by, and it was very cold.” As a result of this delay, a girl of nearly five died of hypothermia before reaching land, and a woman of 44 with hypothermia died following a heart attack.

To stabilise severe hypothermia, immediate intervention is required. The attitude of Frontex in this case is responsible for these two deaths, as it is for many others that are caused continuously along the borders of Europe. While the states of the European Union argue about what to do with refugees, while they say they are concerned to preserve values that have never really respected, their border control agency helps reduce the refugee problem in the most drastic way: causing them to die at sea. Official Europe has been turning its back on the problem, in effect, until it came knocking on their doors. Now the bartering continues, with the auctioning of human lives and the evasion of responsibilities.

This Europe, so often responsible for tragedies in other countries, with its neo-colonial and warlike foreign policy, does not represent us. For that reason, we will not tire of repeating, “For the dignity of Europe, for respect for human rights, no more deaths in the Mediterranean.”

source

Dannny

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dannny on January 22, 2016

Thanks for these updates Mark, much appreciated

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 23, 2016

Thanks. Maybe putting this information together will be of some use. There has been some good mainstream media reporting on the refugee crisis but I think the better reporting still tends to operate under ideological constraints that make it difficult to ask some basic questions, including questions about the conflicts between volunteers/activists and the authorities. I'd say these are going to become more central as borders close, the number of refugees arriving rises, and Greece heads towards a policy of prison camps and deportations. For now Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans are being allowed to travel on to Austria and Germany but it's hard to see this lasting for long, at least without some form of selection. That leaves the question of what happens to everyone else. Tsipras has been calling for Frontex organised deportations from the islands to Turkey. At the moment it's mainly North Africans being targeted for detention and deportation but I expect the net will be cast wider as time goes on. I'm not sure what this will mean for people with an obvious claim to refugee status who aren't accepted by Germany.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 23, 2016

#Eidomeni refugee camp in northern #Greece declared 'closed military zone.' TV journalists cannot film there anymore & within a 500m radius

https://mobile.twitter.com/filiopk/status/690558448799473665

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 23, 2016

Greek police officers met with representatives of the European Commission and EU border agency Frontex on Friday in a bid to settle a recent dispute over the refoulement of migrants who are not able to seek asylum.
....
The meeting regarding the return of migrants to their homelands took place after Greece was criticized for seeing through a low number of repatriations. However, Greek officials made it clear during the meeting that they have encountered numerous problems in the process due to the lack of cooperation on the part of other countries, such as Pakistan and Turkey.

“They showed understanding and British officials may negotiate with the Pakistani Embassy in Athens,” a police officer told Kathimerini. Greek authorities also asked the Commission to put pressure on Turkey to accept returning migrants.
....

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 23, 2016

Protests on the Evros border

Video

Siege of fences from Evros to Calais, January 23 to 24, Alexandroupoli

At the final stretch have entered the preparations of demonstrators who will flood the streets of Alexandroupolis on 23 and 24 January, demanding open borders to put an end to drowning in the Aegean of the little Ailans.

It is an international uprising against Lepen and fascist parties in Europe and the policies of Hollande and Merkel, who lead the way! Protest in Istanbul on January 23 and meet on both sides of the border, in the Kipi of Evros, on 24/1. Marching on January 23 in Calais, France, to the "jungle" of shame! Fascists are threatening to block this mobilization.

At Evros the voices of protest will be heard loudly by workers and youth for the deadly obstacle of the fence in Evros, which closes the passage of the persecuted by war and famine, refugees and immigrants.

It is a scandal in Greece that the international solidarity movement is prosecuted with firefighters from Spain and other solidary people. We do not tolerate the chase by the police and FRONTEX, against solidary people, who save lives at Lesvos and the other islands.

We do not tolerate a racist “Fortress Europe”, with FRONTEX, concentration camps, deportations, fences, blockades and Islamophobia. These open the way to fascists.

We do not tolerate, the caring grandmothers in Lesvos to take refugees’ babies in their hugs while the SYRIZA-ANEL government is cutting their pensions. Behind proposals for "Nobel Peace Prize" to the islanders the brutality of drowning in the Aegean cannot be hidden.

We demand from the government to cut the fences, the racist policing, the armaments and give money for social insurance, education and health. To prepare hospitality areas for refugees.

Legalize the immigrants to save the Social Security Funds, put an end to conditions of work of the type of Nea Manolada!

Make Evros a river of solidarity among peoples. They do not need fences of racist hate but flood defenses to prevent the sinking in mud of villages in the area.

We salute trade unions, student associations, solidarity movements, immigrant communities and artists who supported the campaign of KEERFA. All together we will continue directly with the organization of the international day of action against racism and fascism, on March 19, the day that the EU summit will proceed to measures for converting FRONTEX into an autonomous intervention force at the borders.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 23, 2016

Greece wants EU border agency Frontex to help send back to Turkey migrants deemed ineligible for asylum in Europe, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told reporters Saturday.

The minister's comments came a day after he shared this proposal with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steimeier in Berlin, Greek news agency ANA and a ministry source said.

Frontex currently operates 15 patrol boats in the Aegean Sea, whose mission is to assist Greek coastguard in their surveillance and rescue operations.

The minister said Frontex should deploy about 100 boats in the narrow stretch of water separating Greece from Turkey, the main launching pad for 850,000 refugees and migrants who reached Greece's shores last year.
....

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 23, 2016

In temperatures of -10C 3000 kept by Greek police at a gas station 10km from #idomeni on Greek - FYR Macedonian border.

Another organisational custerf**k by Greek police and Macedonian border guards, it's desperate, poorly clothed #Refugees who pay the price

#SYRIZA govt's criminal indifference to the well-being of #refugees in subzero temps denied access to warm camps at #Idomeni beggers belief

Arrogantly, #SYRIZA is celebrating one year in govt whilst denying #refugees access to heated tents at #Idomeni. Temps set to drop to -17c

https://mobile.twitter.com/teacherdude

UPDATE: Buses are now dropping #people off at the petrol station and returning to #Athens leaving many with no shelter. It's sub zero.

The @MSF tents at the petrol station are full. Families are sleeping outside. It's -9 degrees.

Families have resorted to putting their children in the luggage hold of buses to try and stay warm!

https://mobile.twitter.com/MSF_Sea

Steven.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on January 24, 2016

Yeah Mark just to echo other people's thanks for posting these updates, very interesting and much appreciated!

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 24, 2016

Even though Greek police control coaches carrying #refugees they refuse to share info with humanitarian groups helping at #Idomeni

This makes it difficult/impossible to anticipate refugee needs and numbers. Greek police attitude ranges from indifferent to hostile.

One day you'd think you and police are BFFs, next they're screaming threats at you and roughing up volunteers for questioning them.

Perfect mirror of the Greek authorities attitude to refugee crisis, ineptitude, indifference or barely concealed hostility

#Syriza celebrating 1 year in power today, while reneging on election promises, including humane treatment of refugees and immigrants.

https://mobile.twitter.com/teacherdude

Police & #Frontex are trying to keep independent volunteers out of refugee camps on #Lesvos. Only registered v are allowed inside #Moria

The only time all volunteers were officially allowed to enter in the last days was when the authorities really needed their help.

https://mobile.twitter.com/refugee_supp

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 24, 2016

Instead of being ashamed of himself for betraying the Greek left @atsipras hold a rally today for being 1 year in power. #syriza

https://mobile.twitter.com/Faloulah

Anarchist protesters about to deploy banner demanding #safepassage at #Syriza rally thrown out!

https://mobile.twitter.com/AthensLiveGr

Oh goody ERT is showing a live feed of the rally at the Tae Kwon Do stadium for Syriza's 1st year

"We give lessons in humanity" Syriza rally video from the Tae Kwon Do stadium

It's ridiculous. Are we supposed to be inspired and uplifted? I just feel like a mug watching this

Tsipras takes the stage to a funky rock soundtrack at the @syriza_gr rally

Still waiting for a concrete mention of the refugee crisis from the nice, warm Tae Kwon Do centre

So half an hour later, no mention of the situation with refugees, Idomeni. I'm not sure what I just watched

Not only was that the strangest political speech I've listened to,I'm actually angry towards furious that the refugee crisis wasnt mentioned

Piraeus port where #refugees arrive daily is a few tram stops away from the Tae Kwon Do & no mention of the crisis @tsipras_eu?

https://mobile.twitter.com/OmairaGill

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 25, 2016

What shall we do when the borders close?

Benjamin Julian wrote:

We have been cooking soup, distributing blankets, giving information, warmth, food and hope. It has been fun, it has been tragic. We’ve tried to bring a human face to the Balkan route. It has been intense, rewarding, invaluable. The support has been staggering, seeing the solidarity has been beautiful. But I am afraid we are on the wrong track. While we are providing aid and saving lives on the ground, politicians up high in the glass towers of Brussels have been hard at work getting over their differences in order to contain, regulate, close up and slow down the arrival of foreigners in Europe. They are doing it by means of savage bureaucracy, with the tidal waves of history propelling them forward, coming down on support movements as well as visitors to our continent, breaking up solidarity, isolating refugees from us and society. Migrants are step by step being put away in camps and prisons, contained like a disease, to protect Europe from exposure. This is the brutal face of bureaucracy and order, regulation and isolation, which tolerates no independent assistance, no independent information, no independent contact.

The shock of a million foreigners has set European racists reeling. It has made bureaucratic machines crack and sputter. The micromanaging states of Europe want this disaster of irregularity, chaos and non-registration to end. Better a drowned refugee than a non-registered one. Better an imprisoned child than a smuggled one. Keep THEM in those white boxes and keep those white boxes in barbed-wire fences and have volunteers – registered, of course – keep refugees in line. Sort them by nationality, gender, age, vulnerability, take their fingerprints and check just HOW MUCH they suffered, because we don’t accept just anyone here, you know. Write their number on their hand, tag their fingernails, count the cups of soup they get, stamp their papers, give them thirty days to get to Level 2 or it’s Game Over. Then their journey begins again, and when they get here next time, the open camp will be a detention center, the food-distributor a prison guard, the registration will be for a flight back home. And where will we, the soup-cookers and clothes-distributors, be then?

The incompetence of Greece and Europe has made people believe this can’t happen. But this is an illusory hope. Sure, Greece is incapable of managing registration, let alone keeping a million people detained. But Big Brother Europe has plenty of force to spare. Frontex-officials are coming to the islands like a plague of black locusts, gnawing apart nonconforming support structures, ridding the Balkan route of the insufficient Greek Coast Guard and insubordinate volunteers. In due time, tent camps will have disappeared and there’ll be a clean, white wall with a roll of barbed wire on top for us to graffiti edgy slogans on. Wet and fearful people will be brought in, and they will be “processed”, and when they will come out a magical transformation will have happened. They will either have the luck of having become a Second Class Temporary European, ready for deportation as soon as Their Disaster is over, or be an Economic Migrant, a worthless rightless leech on our goodwill, a disgusting rapist opportunist Muslim that can’t be deported too early. And where will we, the blanket-distributors and soup-givers, be then?

The weather is cold and windy, and still the boats bring thousands of people every day. What will it be like this summer? We are not the only ones wondering. The showrunners of Europe say they have two months to “save Schengen”, to hold together a thirty year old project, which is now crumbling under the weight of a million undocumented people – 0.2% of Europe’s population. More refugees are residing in Lebanon, a country of four million! If this is what refugees have brought us so far, what next? The infinitely rigid structure of European law, order and bureaucracy, carefully and painstakingly built on top of five hundred years of colonialism, slavery and oppression, is completely and utterly freaking out over this miniscule disturbance in the continent’s demographics. Europeans have built their collection of states like a kid builds a house out of toothpicks – on the assumption that nobody comes in and disturbs it. Now the smallest gust of air is making it collapse. “We cannot cope with the numbers any longer”, the Dutch prime minister says. Just imagine what he’ll be saying in June, when the Aegean sea will be warm and still.

We have to prepare for this. Europe is freaking out already, and it has given itself two months to save itself from the refugees. Only its boundless incompetence and disunity have allowed migrants to travel for this long. But with a near-fascist government in Poland, a straight-out racist ruling Hungary (with an even worse opposition), and the whole of Central Europe just waiting for an excuse to shut their borders, we can’t rely on hope or prayer anymore. Even the Empress of Europe, Angela Merkel, tried and failed to open the doors to refugees. She was sailing against the storms of five centuries, against the waves of populism, xenophobia and terror that rule the states around her, and even her own party.

We have to be prepared for Europe to try, haphazardly and fumbling, but with the determination of a mad drunkard, to lock up refugees and stop their coming here. Europe’s two ventricles of racist society and control-freak bureaucracy reinforce each other, pumping their insidious ideology across the continent. It spews forth in the utterances of everyday people: “There’s no space for them here”, “they don’t fit in”, “they’re all rapists”, “open borders just wouldn’t work”, “there has to be some order to this”, “they’re after our jobs”, “if we save them, more will come”. Europe has built itself assuming it was safe from foreigners. Now it’s in existential crisis. And as a rat stuck in a corner, it will rip apart anything and everything to save itself. It won’t spare any right, it will break any refugee, that stands in its way.

We have to be prepared for this. The state has benefitted from our providing wet arrivals with dry clothes, giving hungry camp-dwellers food, distributing blankets to freezing people sleeping under the starry sky. But now we are in the way. We are giving people a reason to care. We are building relations with those who are not supposed to be here. We are fighting for them, sometimes one person at a time, to make it through the next border. Now we are the targets.

We have to unite, communicate, know our strengths and attack the racism, exclusion and separation that the state is imposing on us. Europe is giving itself two months to save itself. What will we do?

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 25, 2016

Refugees unwelcome: border closures and freezing temperatures

Greece threatened with expulsion from Schengen over migration crisis

Greece rejects Schengen threats as 'blame game'

Despite patrols, sealing Greek sea border is near impossible http://www.ekathimerini.com/205376

If Greece shuts down that will only push the flow to Italy again, with thousands of victims potentially.

What some EU states want is for Greece and Italy to start drowning refugees, they're just ashamed to say it.

https://mobile.twitter.com/YiannisBab

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 25, 2016

The Belgian government says that because Greece is too weak to guard its own borders, it should face an EU "sanction mechanism" under which the rising number of refugees entering the country would effectively be forced to stay there.

Belgian Migration State Secretary Theo Francken told the VRT network that "the Greeks now need to bear the consequences" if internal border controls within the Schengen area, which is supposed to be a passport free zone, are extended for two years, as is currently discussed.

Francken said the Greek "state structure is just too weak to do it themselves - apparently."

Francken raised the specter of setting up "closed facilities" for up to 300,000 people in Greece to be overseen by EU nations.
....

A Greek minister has angrily blamed European Union member states for failing to send Athens enough manpower and ships to help it tackle the migrant crisis and for not living up to pledges to relocate migrants.

Immigration Minister Ioannis Mouzalas told reporters on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Amsterdam on Monday that sending officers from the EU border protection force known as Frontex to neighboring Macedonia in an attempt to halt migrants there would be illegal.

It has been suggested that EU border guards would be more effective on the Greek-Macedonian border, but Mouzalas said sending them there is "not a good idea," insisting: "We need Frontex in Greece."

Mouzalas says Greece is doing all it can to protect its sea borders from boatloads of migrants heading from Turkey to nearby Greek islands, but has not been sufficiently helped by fellow EU members. He says Athens wanted 1,800 Frontex officers, but has got only 800.

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 25, 2016

Lesvos this morning - Eric Kempson's video blogs. The IRC putting refugees at risk from hypothermia.

https://youtu.be/BOlL3mrSYoE

https://youtu.be/tWiIbZ_j4Ko

The IRC on its reception centre on Lesvos, funded in part through UK AID, that is by the British government.

IRC video on Lesvos

IRC president David Miliband at Davos: 'it’s right for the integrity of the system that those who don’t meet the criteria to qualify as refugees are not allowed to stay.'

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 25, 2016

Idomeni - Greek police demanding money from refugees

I saw a police vehicle parked up and a policeman talking to some people inside.

"If you give me 100 euros, you can go to Europe."

I wasn’t sure if this was for real. About 10 minutes later the same policeman came back and told them the same thing.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 25, 2016

Over 1,000,000 million refugees entered Europe in 2015, more than 800,000 chose the Western Balkan route which took them to an obscure railway crossing near the tiny village of Eidomeni on Greece's northern border with FYR Macedonia.

After a journey from the port of Pireaus that can last up to 20 hours refugees are rushed by the Greek police to the border. Volunteer groups and NGOs at the camp are often given as little as 10 minutes to hand out food, clothing, medical aid and information before crossing over.

There is the constant fear that the government of FYR Macedonia will permanently close down the border with Greece and so leave people stranded. When the border is open or closed seems to be completely at the whim of the FYR Macedonia government and there is little or no co-operation between the authorities on both sides of the frontier and so little idea when and for how long the crossing remain shut.

For their part the Greek police who control access to Eidomeni also refuse to share information with NGOs and volunteer groups over when and how many refugees will be arriving at the camp on any given day, despite the fact that they control the flow from start to finish on the Greek mainland. Indeed since December the attitude of the police has perceptibly hardened, ranging from sullen indifference to active hostility, sometimes kicking out organisations such Médecins Sans Frontières all together, with little or no notice.

To make an already difficult situation worst, the police forbid access to the hot food, doctors, heated tents and other faciities that have been built recently at Eidomeni. Instead refugees are forced to wait endless hours at a road side petrol station/cafe 20km from the site whilst temperatures at night often drop to -15c. Here refugees are obliged to buy food and water whilst just a ten minute ride away volunteers wait to hand out such items at no cost.

Last week over 3,000 people, including many families with very young children were forced to endure extreme cold overnight while the camp remained half empty.

We are calling upon media outlets to highlight this scandalous abuse of refugees by the Greek authorities. The more international pressure is brought upon the SYRIZA government and prime minister, Alexis Tsipras the more likely refugees will receive more humane treatment on the Greek leg of their trek to safety.

Refugee Solidarity Movement Thessaloniki-Eidomeni

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 26, 2016

EU exerts pressure on Greece via Schengen threat

Un ministro griego recordando que los países tienen la obligación de rescatar a quienes están en peligro en el mar. A esto hemos llegado

Les da vergüenza decirlo, pero a muchos gobiernos europeos les encantaría q #Tsipras enviara a la Armada a hundir los barcos de #refugiados

When you ask #Greece to close it borders...you ask #Greece to kill the #refugees when they sail from Turkey.

https://mobile.twitter.com/IdafeMartin

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 26, 2016

One woman reached across the divide between her boat and the rescue boat and tried to hand her baby to Lewis. He said declining to take the child went against his instincts and experience as a surf lifesaver but it was what they were required to do.

“If you assist the boat in any way then you are helping people cross international borders and then you could be up for people-smuggling charges,” he said.

“We can’t just grab them out of their boat and put them in our boat because it’s safer. We have to wait until they are in the water, in a desperate situation.

“I just can’t put it into a situation that Australians would recognise because we have nothing in common with this situation.”

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 26, 2016

Spanish lifeguards on Lesvos are being prevented from using their boats.

Without permission to use our boats, we had to swim to rescue a boat that is adrift 300 meters from the coast.

@chris_vd_post Since a few days, Greek authorities only allow volunteers to act on the coast. We'll load last official regulation soon.

https://mobile.twitter.com/proemaid/status/691972245460275200

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 27, 2016

Report in Greek about detainees, mainly Moroccans, being beaten by prison guards to get them to sign up for 'voluntary' repatriation.

Ενημέρωση από Μεταγωγών

Edit - translation:

Assaults against migrant prisoners in Thessaloniki removal center

Information regarding assaults against prisoners (mainly of Moroccan origin) so that they would sign their deportations ”willingly” has been confirmed.

So far, many migrants have been removed from the detention centrer and were relocated to the concentration camp Paranesti by ”chance” and without being notified in advance. The exact number of migrants is unknown. The migrants are then given a 6 month detention period before being deported back to their country of origin.

Finally, doctors are not allowed to be present on site nor provide their services despite the severity of some of the cases of injury.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 27, 2016

Greek MigrationMin Mouzalas says #Greece proposes a rapid readmission plan from Aegean islands directly to Turkey within 24/48hrs of arrival

Greek MigrationMin Mouzalas says Turkey has not yet accepted Greek proposal. 'More incentives needed for Turkey'.

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 27, 2016

European Commission press release

Commission discusses draft Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece

[quote=Zoe Mavroudi]

EU strategy, same as on fin crisis: pass buck to Greece about a pan-European problem, talk about "common interests".

When the @EU_Commission talks of "border control" think drowned children, families sleeping in the cold, millions spent on security contracts

The @EU_Commission commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day with press release basically telling #Greece it must guard its borders from refugees.
[/quote]
[quote=Damomac]
Let's remember the victims on #HolocaustMemorialDay and reflect on the fact that restrictive #refugee policy sealed the fate of many Jews.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 27, 2016

A year of disappointment in Greece
Yiannis Baboulias

....
In the end, Syriza backed down again and accepted European “help” in the form of more intervention by Frontex, the EU’s border agency. The agency’s first actions were to arrest volunteers on the islands of Chios and Lesbos for ridiculous charges, from trafficking to possession of small amounts of cannabis, and to close down infrastructure such as soup kitchens and observatories for approaching boats to help those arriving. Frontex also established fast deportation routes back to Turkey, where a recent BBC report showed that refugees have been tortured.

This broke two promises: First, under Syriza, solidarity networks that essentially fill in the gaps for a semi-collapsed central government were supposed to be allowed to operate unabated. Second, human rights and humane treatment of refugees were supposed to be respected. By agreeing to allow Frontex to operate as border police, Syriza is succumbing to Europe’s demands that Greece function as an open-air detention center for refugees.

The final straw is the extension until at least 2018 of Greek detention camps, all of which have come under heavy criticism for the squalid conditions under which detainees live. The government had vowed time and time again that they would be shut down. Now they won’t be.
....

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 28, 2016

[quote=MSF Sea]
UPDATE: The #Greece #FYROM border & the #FYROM #Serbia border are "temporarily" closed. For how long? nobody knows.
[/quote]
[quote=Andrew Connelly]
#Idomeni border opened midday, let in ~150. Closed since. Deep sense of foreboding as clock ticks until Europe finally raises the drawbridge
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 27, 2016

No one answered their desperate calls for help. Survivors tell about severe breaches of international law in Turkey.

11.45 PM, January 4, 2016 another boat sinks on its way to the Greek island Lesvos. After 12 hours in a freezing cold January sea, Ahmad staggers to land on the shore of Altinova, Turkey. As soon as his wounded feet reach dry land, he collapses. A local medical staff wraps him in a blanket.

This is the first help that he or any of the 52 people on the boat that would take them to Mytilini on Lesvos receive. Despite panicked screams for help and desperate phone calls to all authorities and contacts they know of.

They even met a boat out there in their peril, drifting towards death.

But no one came. Not on Greek water and not on Turkish water. The boat they met turned and left them.

Next to Ahmad on the shore, which in the summertime is crowded with affluent tourists, the other passengers washed ashore as the sun rises in they sky. Children, babies, mothers and fathers, ever petrified with fear. A little girl, who Ahmad held until she could not fight any longer, is lying there in her pink jacket.

The only survivors from the boat on January 4 are 12 men who travelled alone or with a friend or relative.

When Ahmad is taken in the ambulance he believes he is saved, in safety.

But he is wrong. This frightful story is far from over for him or the other survivors. It is still ongoing, somewhere in Turkey.

It is the first Monday of January and Ahmad is finally taking the way across the sea to Greece, to the EU. He is an open critic of the regime and has worked with art in Syria and Jordan. He has no other choice than to flee to Europe. He does not know where yet. He has bought a ticket for a day trip on a boat from a smuggler that seems to be good on Basmane Square in Izmir. This is where all the “traveling agencies” are. He is soon shown to a taxi and a convoy of cars drives them for hours. They are let off in a grove of olive trees somewhere. And immediately everything changes.

– We were met by a gang of smugglers, it was the mafia. They screamed, cursed and threatened us all, says Ahmad.

He says that the smugglers are armed with firearms and iron tools and knives as large as swords.

– They threatened and beat us all, not even the children got away. We didn’t want to, but they forced us into a boat even though it was dark, cold and the sea was rough.

The 52 people plus a driver got into the boat and drove out in the dark unknown sea. Everyone was afraid and after just ten minutes everyone onboard demanded the driver to turn around. He did as he was told.

– But when we came back to the place we left from the boss of the smugglers was still there. He became furious and started to hit the driver with his knife. He put a weapon against his head. Everyone in the boat screamed at him to stop, but then he threatened to do the same to anyone who screamed. He sent us back out again.

“If you come back I will kill you!”. The smuggler boss remained on the beach and in the boat Ahmad and the others began to understand their fate. They had no other option than to go straight out into the rough sea and the increasing rain. It was only a few degrees above freezing. In the little rubber boat which is really only meant for a few people, the children sit at the bottom. The passengers begin to become acquainted, introduce themselves and find out what skills they have.

– To dispel fear, says Ahmad.

And “just in case”. But they are all intent on reaching the other side, to the blinking red lights at the airport of Lesvos. They see no other choice. But when the rain and the frightening waves cause more and more panic onboard they decide to call the coast guard and hope to be saved that way. A ticket is about 1 000 Euro per person.

Even if it means becoming caught in Turkey. They do not dare return to the beach again.

The Turkish coast guard answers that they can be calm. They will come.

But when 30 minutes have passed since they called the coast guard no one has come to their rescue. The engine begins to malfunction. It breaks down and starts working again. Back and forth.

The boat crosses the border and they are on Greek water. They call the coast guard for help. They send an SOS in their Whatsapp group that they use to communicate during the journey. They write to other forums on Facebook and call family and friends for help.

Suddenly they see a ship closer to Greece and head towards it. The engine shuts down but they drift in the right direction. They even see the Greek shore, their goal. They are scared, but still see the light and hope in the blinking lamps along the coastline of Lesvos.

– We came all the way to the ship. Finally we are saved, we thought. We banged on the hull of the boat and together lifted the children in the air so that they would see them. Just take the children! we called. But no one came.

They call for help and see the captain come out. He shines a torch on them, smokes a cigarette. When he is done he throws the butt on Ahmad and the others in the boat and goes into the cabin and starts the ship’s engine.

They continue to call for help with the coast guard but they have stopped responding.

It is 11.45 PM. They know this for certain because one of the survivors’ watches has stopped at that time. 11.45 PM is also the time of the last emergency call from the boat. It is Ayman, a young Syrian who calls his brother and asks him to take care of his children now that he is dying at sea.

– The sea started to boil beneath us. The swell of the ship’s engine filled the boat with water. It was indescribable, I will never forget it. Those who sat at the boats bottom drowned first, and that was the children.

Eventually the boat breaks in two and everyone falls off. Or down. Ahmad has a six-year-old girl on his arm. Her mother despairs, the girl’s two brothers have already drowned at sea, they are gone. “Please, help my daughter!” are the mother’s last panic-stricken words before she too disappears.

– “Mister, hold me up!” the girl called and held onto my neck. I lifted her as high as I could. But the waves were high. She kept asking when the coast guard would come and save us. I told her “We live together or we die together, I will not leave you”, says Ahmad.

He and the girl are alone on the drift of the waves. The wind blows towards Turkey. For a while Ahmad finds some drifting wood to hold on to. But a wave takes it. The waves hit the girl, her face.

– I saw that she was starting to drown, but I couldn’t do anything even though I had promised her. Does that make me her killer? She died in my arms … I put her with the life jacket on her back, and said “Rest in peace. It will be good now, there is nothing left in life for you. Your brothers died, your mother died. Rest in peace”.

Ahmad is almost paralyzed from shock, cold and exhaustion. But he is swimming for his life. Night is turning into day. Suddenly he is closing in on twelve people from the boat. They are alive and one of them reach out with a hand. They have held on to the wreck of the boat. Dead people hang from it. Together they drift towards the Turkish coast. They reach a cliff. It is slippery and sharp and the waves make the attempts to get up violent. One woman hits her head and dies.

– It was so cold. We tried to become warm with stones and by holding each other. People started to come out by the beach and we called and waved, but no one saw us. That was when I decided to swim the last distance.

After nearly twelve hours of struggle for his and his travel companions’ lives, Ahmad swims the last 2 kilometers to land. He staggers up on the shore and is transported by ambulance to the hospital. He thinks he is safe.

But he is not. And neither are the others from the boat.

The other eleven men from the boat are picked up from the cliff by a smaller coast guard boat. They are wet, cold and in shock. But instead of being taken to land, to a hospital, they have to go with the boat and pick up dead bodies from the sea. For over an hour they go and pick up bodies instead of receiving medical attention.

Ahmad is at the hospital for a couple of hours. He rambles and feels guilt because he could not rescue the six-year-old girl. He and the eleven surviving men are taken to Altinova Jandarma, a military police station. They are held captive and are interrogated. None of them know why they are not released.

– I asked them every day, when will we get out? Why are you doing this? But there was no answer. During the first three days some organisation came with clothes and crackers, but after that no one was let in to see us. When someone was there the police pretended that everything was alright, but when they left they changed completely, says Ahmad.

Turkish and some international press have reported that one or two boats were wrecked on the night between January 4 and 5. But when the news is out any outside attention disappears. None of the survivors on the military police station get help to reach their relatives. How they are treated is closest described as torture.

– We were forced to look at the dead people from the boat. Not pictures, but the actual bodies. They took us in one by one and wanted us to identify them. I was beside myself and couldn’t understand why or how they could do this to us.

Ahmad panics and starts to shake inside the Jandarma. But the treatment continues.

–We were forced to work for food. We shoveled coal from the backyard. If we didn’t do what they said they gave us no food and hit us with sticks.

Some of the survivors decide to go on a food strike, but none of the police take them seriously. “Suit yourselves”.

After 15 days in captivity, without knowing why they were arrested or how long they were to stay, the twelve survivors from a boat of 52 were released. At the time 29 bodies have been found. The youngest wore a water-filled diaper. The picture of the girl that Ahmed tried to save, in her pink jacket and blue jeans, has circulated online. On the picture her black hair on the beach resembles a macabre gloria. A six-year-old girl on her way to the EU with her mother and two brothers to be able to live. The only way there left them at the mercy of an illegal and dangerous business run by a smuggler mafia associated with the Turkish authorities.

They never reached the EU tonight. The EU, which has given Turkey three billion to deal with the situation such as the one with the utterly insecure flight route over the Aegean Sea. The route that families and young men take every night, every day of the year. 30–40 boats still leave desolate beaches in Turkey every day. Many arrive and a new long journey towards asylum and residence permit is begun. But far too many never reach the shores and the shiny emergency blankets, soap bubbles and the warming tea of the voluntary workers. During 2016 there are already 158 deaths on the Mediterranean. 158 when this is written. 158 that we know of. Because who keeps track of the boats that are forced to go illegally protected by darkness and difficult weather? Who writes a passenger list on an illegal journey controlled by the mafia in the worst kept secret in the country? No, no one.

Why didn’t the Turkish coast guard show up as they promised?

Their office is in the harbor of Dikili. It was around this little Turkish coastal town that the dead and the survivors came on the morning of January 5. The coastguards cannot say what happened. But they were out that night, helping another boat. They show us their film footage.

Either they were tired of SOS calls from boats with engine trouble. Or there was an economic agreement with the team of smugglers on land not to pick them up. Or Ahmad’s boat was confused with the other one, the boat that had similar difficulties that same night. The coast guard was there and saved people. But no one knows how many boats leave the Turkish coast. “And God knows how many bodies are out there” says one of the officials at the Dikili coastguard after Ahmed’s boat has sunk. No one knows.

Ahmad and the eleven other men were released, and put on a bus to Izmir. Together with two of the other men he has travelled to another location and wants to find a new way to reach safety in the EU. It is from here that he tells his part of the story. At this time, he and his new friends from the boat are just as scared of the smugglers as they are of the military police, the jandarma.

– Why does the world let us who try to reach safety die? Why does no one see what is happening and open the way for us who need to live in Europe. This way just becomes an illegal business where people forge papers and manage to get in, while children are left to drown.

Like Ahmad and the other 52 people on the boat at 11.45 PM, January 4, 2016. On a cold, rainy and stormy sea, with no attempts to help from the responsible authorities. Left to their own devices. All while the EU promises billions to Turkey.

This story is translated from swedish webbpublication KIT and is written by Annah Björk and researched by Mattias Beijmo. Thanks for the translation LH Bergstrom.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 28, 2016

Samos today

As I write I am looking out from our house at 5 rescue boats just off the coast searching for bodies. It is 8.30am and the weather is cold but sunny. The sea is calm. As yet we are not clear how many people have perished but we know from the few survivors that there are likely to be many dead. One mother talks of watching her 2 children drown in front of her.

Yesterday evening around 6pm we had a phone call from a close friend who had just picked up from the road a young Afghani man who was in a very bad state and wanted some advice about where to to take him. We replied that he should go to the hospital. The refugee was not able to say much as he was so cold and traumatised. But from what we could understand he was on his own and that he had been in the water for around 9 hours before he made it to the Samos coast.

We were immediately very concerned as it seemed very unlikely that he could be traveling alone. It is now clear that he was not on his own when he left Turkey. He was with around 40 others. When the boat sank he swam.

As yet we have few details about the rest, although a small number of survivors were found during the night.

From various sources we have now learnt that there was no search and rescue during the night. From around 6am port police officers have been on the beaches looking for survivors and bodies. But the rescue boats we are now seeing were not dispatched until around 8am. We have not seen any helicopters although one was reported earlier.

Why so late?

What if these people were not refugees but European tourists lost at sea?

Why was there no major rescue operation launched as soon as there was any sense that another major tragedy was in the making?

When, when when will we all join our voices and say Enough! Y Basta! This slaughter of the innocents can not continue. It must stop.

UPDATE

It is now 1.10 pm. All morning we have been watching search and rescue boats, plus local fishing boats and at least 2 helicopters scouring the sea just off the coast by Agios Konstantinos. So far we have heard of 13 bodies being recovered but there are more for sure. Bizarrely a local fisherman has just laid his nets right by the area where the bodies are being found.

A close friend has been calling every half an hour as she searches along the beaches. Like many she is devastated. She talks of living in a war zone now. Is this what the EU wants with all its attention focused on tighter border control, data processing and hot spot nonsense. What about the lives of the refugees?

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 28, 2016

In German

#volunteer from #germany got arrested for human trafficking on #lesvos. Drove 6 #refugeesgr in her car 2 camp. https://twitter.com/koppeu1/status/692691262672146434

source

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 28, 2016

From the Samos Refugees Facebook page, posted at the start of January so the situation could have changed.

Samos Refugees / Πρόσφυγες στη Σαμο

Food for Thought

The authorities on the island have a duty to ensure that the refugees are fed. It is one of their core responsibilities. On Samos the authorities have left it to the volunteers and NGOs to fulfill this task. At the same time they have made this task more difficult and inhumane by insisting that no food provision can be made inside the camp.

With the freezing weather the issue of feeding all the refugees on Samos becomes ever more important. It is critical to their welfare that they are able to eat good nutritious food. It is ridiculous to make this point as it is so self-evidently obvious. Furthermore it serves no one if refugees are hungry.

The food security of the refugees, especially for the hundreds in the now 'open' detention centre has improved in recent weeks. MSF (Doctors without Borders) now provides a meal at lunch time, volunteer groups provide weekend breakfasts on a regular basis, and more recently a group of activists have created a kitchen and provide a hot meal in the evening. Likewise at the Port where the Syrian refugees wait to be processed an array of NGOs and volunteers provide meals.

But why do the police at the Detention Centre demand that all food like the clothes that volunteer groups bring must be distributed outside the fences and gates of the Centre? Such an insistence routinely humiliates the refugees who have to form lines on the road outside by the garbage bins. It is not uncommon for there to be scuffles and panic as people push to get their food or some clothes. Part of this problem stems from the complete exclusion of the refugees from all aspects of their welfare. The processes they experience whilst on Samos demands passivity and patience. And this is felt even more sharply in places such as the detention centre where there are so many things that could be done to lift the dismal conditions. So many of the refugees suffer from this forced idleness and are enthusiastic when there is a chance to do something. But this is not in the minds of the authorities. Instead the refugees are excluded and left in the dark. This is one of the factors that can spark chaos simply because none of the refugees knows what is going on and is desperate not to be excluded.

Moving all food and aid distribution into the Centre itself would do nothing more than make a slight improvement in the conditions for the refugees. But at least it would allow for the possibilities of more organised, effective and above all respectful distribution to be implemented. In the old camp for example, we have heard of how each dormitory would nominate a representative who would order and fetch the food for all the room. This avoided the 'cattle-feeding' scenes that you can sometimes see at the Centre when people have to form long queues. Such a system would not be difficult to implement in the Centre.

It seems unlikely that current policy will change. In large measure this is one of the direct consequences of having the Greek police as the lead agency in the management and welfare of refugees. As we have noted over many years, the mandate of the police has been clearly defined entirely within a criminal 'justice' and penal policy approach. Hence refugees are arrested and incarcerated in Detention Centres which run according to prison guidelines. Or at least that it is the intention. Moreover the police starved of resources have been pressed to focus all their attention and resources on processing the new arrivals, and in the case of Samos, moving them on to Athens at the earliest opportunity. Even if there was a desire to do something about refugee welfare and meeting the basic needs of the refugees, the police simply lack the resources to do very much. But the crunch problem is the focus and defining the refugee exodus primarily as an issue of control and counter terrorism and not as a humanitarian catastrophe. Until that fundamental shift occurs then the Greek Police will remain as the lead agency in places such as the Centre. In these circumstances it is hard to be optimistic that conditions for refugees will fundamentally improve.

Nevertheless, the necessity to feed the refugees in the Centre means that the principal food providers have some power in this matter. Maybe the Police could be made to consider alternatives if the main providers made it a condition of their intervention that all food should, wherever possible, be cooked and distributed in the Centre? But it is not clear if this power will be exercised. The Greek state demands total compliance with its decisions and policies as a condition of an NGO's entry to Greece and hence Samos. Many of them, including MSF feel that they have no alternative but to comply if they are to be allowed in and even require their workers to sign contracts which forbids them from challenging any Greek authority or decision. This is part of the price they pay to come to Samos to help the refugees. Step out of line and you are out and in the past 3 months we have seen some seasoned and senior NGO personnel rapidly removed from Samos following 'confrontations' with the police or the authorities. Our experience to date is that most of the NGOs here are fearful to rock the boat. A cause of further pessimism.

Doing Things Better

So many times over the past year we have seen how refugees working alone or with activists do things better. It is the refugees who best identify those amongst them who need special attention. It has been the refugees who have shown us how to provide meals for hundreds without any chaos and with humour and respect. We have seen so many men and women stand up and take responsibility for their group of refugees. The groups which form on the journey to Samos are often strongly glued together. They rarely move on to Athens until all of them have got their papers even when this can lead to significant delays. It is the group, through sharing, that ensures their survival and gives them a crucial sense of security and confidence. Many refugees would be stuck on Samos if their group had not managed to find their ferry fare.

These strengths and talents are not recognised and so are never used. This is not only the case for many of the state agencies, but includes many NGO's and many volunteers and their groups. Invariably it leads to refugees being seen as passive victims who are cut out of some the very few areas where they could participate and make a difference. Again an obvious example is meal preparation and provision. Recently, a group of activists have created a kitchen at the Detention Centre which provides a wonderful example of involving refugees in the provision of a hot nutritious evening meal which they prepare and cook alongside the activists. As one of the refugees slicing vegetables told us “we feel human again doing this”. Of similar importance is that it leads to meals which are attractive and appetizing to the refugees, something which can not be guaranteed with the bought in meals from local hotels over which the refugees have no input.

(Needless to say this kitchen is outside the gates with all the difficulties (no running water, no sinks etc) that involves. In past few days the Police have asked them to move. They want them away from the roadside and relocated on the hill above the camp. Why is it so important to the Police that this splendid kitchen should be out of sight?)

We are not short of similar examples which illustrate that a thought through food policy for refugees is much more than putting food on a plate. In a context where the psychological needs of often traumatised people are almost completely neglected, involving refugees in the preparing, cooking and distribution of meals, which in turn are appetising and nutritious can do much to promote their well-being.

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 28, 2016

[quote=Platanos Refugee Solidarity, Lesvos]
Platanos, as part of its solidarity action for financially challenged families in Lesvos, distributed boxes of basic food items and large packets of legumes and pasta to nine families in the village of Lepetymnos, two days ago. While we don’t believe these people’s financial problems will be solved this way, we decided to share part of the donations we have received with them. We thank all of you who, through your donations, give us the opportunity to continue our active solidarity to the refugees and, to the extent that it’s possible, the people of Lesvos.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 28, 2016

An old post from the Samos Chronicles blog, which has some of the more perceptive writing I've seen on the crisis as viewed from the islands. Again the situation may have changed, particularly with more NGOs arriving.

Something or Nothing: Helping Refugees on Samos

There has been so little time to stop and think. Since May this year the daily arrival of refugees coming to Samos across the sea from Turkey has transformed the daily lives of many here. The scale of this flow of humanity is hard to grasp. Everything seems to change. You look differently at the sea and sky now worrying about the waves and the wind. Above all you are endlessly alert, for although you know there are going to be arrivals you never know when, where or in what circumstances. If you can, you go down to the landings. This is a very critical time for the refugees. You can’t hang around. Especially now when the weather and sea at night is much colder than during the summer months. But also because now we are seeing many more babies, young children, pregnant women, older and disabled people amongst the refugees. They are vulnerable and find the sea journey and all that it entails waiting in the forests and shores of Turkey very difficult.

The reason we think and act as we do has one very simple explanation. We are human. How is it possible to be human and do nothing? Every day we see people who have suffered and are still suffering. People who are forced to face danger in order to find safety. It is beyond wrong.

From the ‘system’ nothing has been provided for the welfare of the refugees arriving on Samos. NOTHING! The only exception has been the rescue efforts of the coastguards, Frontex and now some volunteer rescue craft from Scandinavia. For the past months they have saved many lives. But other than the police who register and process the arriving refugees we have seen nobody.

We don’t have much time for the institutions and parliaments of the powerful. They are not known for their humanity and concern for the poor, anywhere or at any time. Samos provides a classic case study. Even on impoverished Samos there are resources which could make a difference. There is the army which could so easily patrol the shores and pick up and care for the arrivals; there are empty buildings which with little work could be made into refugee shelters and so on. As one experienced aid worker told us, it is worse than working in some of the poorest countries in the world. There there was absolutely nothing whereas here on Samos we know that there are resources and facilities which could make a difference. But they refuse to allow this. Why? It is almost impossible to explain and certainly impossible to excuse.

These are acts of cruelty; not to do something that would help when you have the means to do it. A big surprise is that ‘power’ does not seem to mind being unmasked for the horror it brings to so many; it does not seem to mind that its claims to be built on principles and values such as freedom of movement, solidarity, peace, prosperity and human dignity are stripped bare and revealed as empty words. It makes you think!

From our observations, whenever the agents of the system have to inter-act with the refugees directly it is more often than not dehumanising. There is often a lot of shouting (usually in English and /or Greek which means nothing to most of the waiting refugees); demanding that they form lines or sit and wait in certain places. They are treated like the goats on the island. This is not the way to treat anyone let alone those who have fled their homes and countries and just made a perilous sea crossing. Over the months we have seen a number of police change their behaviour and become much more understanding and gentle. But there are still many who humiliate the refugees and make life difficult for volunteers and activists. We continue to experience police harassment when giving lifts to refugees. And this is hardly surprising for the front line behaviours of some police reflect and represent one powerful dimension in the system’s response to the refugees; namely they are not like us so we don’t have to treat them as we would our own families and friends.

So whilst we have no expectations of the system, of authority at whatever level, its extreme abandonment of people running for their lives and washing up on the shores of the EU provokes anger and dismay. What does this say about the place where we live and the world we live in. The very system which is so deeply implicated in the causes of the refugee crisis turns its back when the victims wash up on their shores. It is a crime that refugees are dying every week making the sea crossing from Turkey. It can be stopped immediately by providing access to ferries and opening a safe land passage in the north of Greece.

The mega NGOs are no better. Medicin Sans Frontier (MSF) are now here and creating a significant team which might make a difference. But as for the rest of the big humanitarian NGOs; nothing. Many on Samos have one question for you: Where are you?

Volunteers and Activists

In contrast to authority the humanitarian responses of volunteers and activists have been extraordinary in trying to meet some of the basic needs of the refugees who briefly pass through Samos. Dictated by daily fluctuations in arrivals they have fed, clothed, rescued, comforted and supported thousands of refugees. They are the front line.

This effort has been almost entirely driven from the bottom up. Individuals, small groups of friends, tourists and visitors, rather than organisations have been at the forefront in giving immediate practical aid to the refugees. Over the summer a momentum developed as more people understood that the best way to help was to go to the ports and see what was needed. Food, clothes, shoes, baby stuff, toys all came to be supplied on a daily basis by an ad hoc collection of volunteers, who as time has passed have come to know one another and work in co-operation.

The realities confronting us are what drives our actions; the needs of the refugees in the port are obvious, and we have no need for some sort of co-ordinating committee. Also there are no limits to what is needed. So we must do what we can and what we are happy/good at. All of us have lives away from the port so it is not easy to commit to a rota or timetable. These are huge challenges for many of the volunteers as it is so difficult to stop in the face of so much need. Yet it is incredible how much time is given and how many give food in particular, on a daily basis. So whilst there maybe some loose ends it has worked and endured for some months now.

And we have got better. Clothing stores have been created alongside collections; there is now a former shop in Agios Konstantinos which is kept in constant readiness with the supplies needed for the early morning boat arrivals; a relationship has been created with a local restaurant that can supply a hot meal; endless relationships with shops and pharmacies that discount for the refugees have been established and we fund raise. And we have improved our ways of helping.

We no longer see cans of beer being left at the port and rarely food containing pork meat. There are endless moving scenes as people come down to help and even though most only stay on the island for less than 2 days it can still be enough time for some firm friendships to be forged.

Practical pressing needs set the context for all this effort. Organising food, making and distributing sandwiches with the refugees involved, getting to the beaches, finding the right sized shoes and clothes for wet people; transporting them to the ports or the medical centre/hospital; getting them to a wi fi café and giving basic information are what dominate the days.

There can be moments of misunderstandings and sometimes language barriers. The refugees have absolutely no idea who we are when we turn up on the beaches and at the ports. So it is not entirely surprising when some – and a surprisingly small number – think we are paid Aid workers and demand specific services on the expectation that we are being paid to do this. (So we have had some bizarre moments when we have had to explain to a young man why we cannot provide the jacket with desired label or why we don’t offer a menu from which to choose their supper.) But these are not common. It is amazing how quickly they grasp who and what we are and actively want to help us and embrace us with much love and enthusiasm, when we ourselves feel we have been able to give them so little.

In the limited time available we strive to help in ways that build and strengthen their solidarity. We always try to get the refugees involved as they are not passive victims and not the least once they have been processed by the port police there is a lot of hanging around and many of the refugees want to be involved and doing something to help one another. For many, the benefits of solidarity have been proved during the journey and especially in the sea crossing to Samos. For the Syrians in particular, the exodus has many implications and consequences. It is a great leveller where people often from wide backgrounds who had little contact with one another in Syria are now literally in the same boat facing danger together. Whereas the civil war and chaos of Syria deepened divisions, the exodus on the other hand brings them together in new ways and with new challenges. It is interesting to see how many of the ‘boat groups’ stick together and plan to move as one on through Europe and up towards Germany or Sweden.

Sharing is emphasised and people are challenged if they take more when others have little. The groups on many occasions have made sure that that they can all move off Samos together by collecting for the fares of the minority who have no money. For the refugees their solidarities are going to be their greatest strength during the onward journeys and beyond. After all although they are running from war, their common destinations of Germany or Sweden are hardly paradises. There are difficult times ahead where their solidarities are going to be very important to their well-being.

Only occasionally do we see volunteers behaving as if they were the story. Some leap at the chance to be interviewed by any passing media, or take ‘selfies’ as they hand out some bottles of water and then broadcast it on their Facebook pages. But they are the exception. There have been some visiting activists who arrive wearing T shirts identifying themselves as something or other and that seems odd simply because it is so unusual. Modesty and low profile would best characterise most of the volunteers we see in action.

We now have a Facebook page where we post smaller pieces and updates. This can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Samos-Refugees-Πρόσφυγες-στη-Σαμο-876937855721695

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 29, 2016

[quote=Amr Magdi]

Just told by activists who witnessed an Iranian detainee having a heart attack in custody and Idomeni Police was just watching.

@ganobi the guy is around 40 and police watched him in terrible medical condition for 30 min at least before calling an ambulance.
[/quote]
[quote=Peter Bouckaert]
Iranian had asthmatic & cardiac attack at Idomeni police station, police waiting more than 1/2 hour b4 calling ambulance. Unacceptable.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 29, 2016

An NGOish view on relations between volunteers and NGOs on Lesvos. It would be interesting to see the reactions of volunteers to this. I get the feeling it misses an awful lot out.

Refugee flows to Lesvos: evolution of a humanitarian response

From the intro to an earlier article by the same writer, now program director for a small NGO on the island:

This guest blog post comes to us from Joel Hernandez. Joel is an intern at the Migration Policy Institute and a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, with a focus on International Law and Humanitarianism and a background in legal assistance and advocacy on behalf of migrants and refugees. This post is based on his experience working on the Greek island of Lesvos in July and August of 2015.

It might also be interesting to consider how this kind of background colours his interpretation of the situation on Lesvos.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 31, 2016

New law for volunteer/NGO registration on the islands (in Greek)

Some more on this here:

Refugee crisis: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers
Statewatch

....

Greece: NGOs and volunteers have to "register" with the police

The Council proposals would criminalise NGOs, local people and volunteers while other EU plans would incorporate those who "register" into state structures.

The following is recorded in the Minutes of the UNHCR Coordinating meeting held in Mytilene, Lesvos on 21 January 2016

"Information was shared about the new coordination board being formed by the Greek government, to set out a new process for registration of NGOs and volunteers (including local NGOs and independent volunteers) on Lesvos (which will also be applicable to all islands in the Aegean).

Process will be as simple as possible for NGOs and volunteers, though more details will be required of those with specialized skills, such as medical personnel and lifeguards.

Launching of the process does not mean that current activities will be stalled; registration will be done simultaneously.

Confirmation of registration will be provided.

Details of each member of an NGO will need to be provided; there will be a procedure for short-term visitors as well. It will be possible to register members in advance."

Our contacts on the ground in Lesvos reported today that the police as yet do not have the "registration form" readily available yet.

The "registering" of all NGOs and volunteers is part of an EU led strategy to get them into the state coordination structure to stop volunteers, local people and NGOs from helping refugees when they land and to place them within EU-run structures - more commonly known as "hotspots".

This was spelt out in the European Commission Progress Report on the Implementation of the hotspots in Greece (pdf) in December and requires:

"a structured system for disembarkation at official disembarkation points as well as Appointed coordinators for the islands should be empowered by way of dedicated transportation to the hotspot areas should be established."

"And Terms of Reference to coordinate all relevant governmental and non-governmental players involved in the hotspot locations."

More detail of how the Greek state, at the behest of the EU, intends to register, evaluate, and control the work of NGOs and volunteers has emerged. This document in the Government Gazette - the Greek Republic, dated 28 January 2016 (pdf) says that a Committee will be set up with the purpose to register, classify and co-ordinate the NGOs operating on Lesvos. Para: 7.2 says that the work of that Committee will be:

"the registration, identification and certification of all NGOs and independent volunteers, that are active on Lesvos, with the purpose of contributing to solving the problem that have arisen by the migrant and refugee flows;

- the evaluation of NGOs in accordance with their statute and other documents that may be requested by the Committee;

- the contribution to organising their action on Lesvos in accordance with the needs that arise each time by the migrant and refugee flows. Their prior approval will be a necessary requirement for their inclusion in the Registry and the development of their work.;

- their classification on the basis of their action (space-wise and function-wise) and the services they provide, after their evaluation the continuous coordination and control of the action of the NGOs and independent volunteers the information with all appropriate means about the duty of NGOs to register and have their action approved"

The seemingly cooperative and voluntary process presented to the UNHCR meeting of NGOs in Mytilene is in stark contrast to registering, identification, "certification", evaluation and the "continuous coordination and control of the action of the NGOs and independent volunteers" set out above in the official Government Gazette.

Edit - Times report based on this:

'Tourists who help drowning migrants face prosecution'

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 30, 2016

[quote=Philippa Kempson]
Last night the medical tent in Eftalou was attacked for the third time this week but this time they finished the job and burnt it to the ground!
[/quote]

video

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 30, 2016

[quote=DresdenBalkanKonvoi]

#Chios: currently more than 3,000 people in camps - supplied by volunteers. EU, meanwhile, wasted money for Frontex.

The #Frontex border guards deal with it to harass volunteers. We will at least once searched and questioned per day.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 31, 2016

Moria camp, the hopelessness of trying to work with the UNHCR and NGOs.

[quote=David Zorrakino]

#UNCHR se niega a dar mantas con 500 de ellas en el almacén. Sus trabajadores dicen que lo dice el boss y no pueden perder el puesto.

Llegan mojados a Moria y estamos luchando literalmente por 30 mantas. @SamaritansPurse y #UNCHR alegan que tienen que recontar de nuevo.

@SamaritansPurse cierra la tienda de distribución porqué es la hora de cenar de los voluntarios a sueldo. ¿No importa más la gente mojada?

La trabajadora de #UNCHR sale a fuera de la carpa a decir 'We don't have more tents'. Hay 3 cajas llenas dentro.

Las grandes ONG's de Moria están más pendientes de los recuentos y las cifras que de las necesidades reales.

Si de alguna no puedo ir en contra es de mis principios. Abandono la tienda de distribución, no quiero formar parte de esto.

@DavidZorrakino Pero por qué? No comprendo nada

@RRTRPGGRL "Porqué lo dice el boss", literalmente. Ya estoy fuera.

@RRTRPGGRL No logro entenderlo. Dicen que son las normas.

'No hay lavadas de segunda mano y las nuevas no se pueden usar." Asín de claro.

Que no pueden desobedecer, que siguen las órdenes, que hay que recontar, que si las dan van a perder el sueldo. Están trabajando.

El periodista cuervo, el voluntario de chaleco y el samaritano de profesión. @SamaritansPurse

Y mientras la gente pasaba frío, mojada, temblando, mofándose de a ver quién llamaba al jefe. Esto es muy serio.

Pues nada. Que no hay más tiendas. Buenas noches, Moria.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 31, 2016

[quote=Teacher Dude]
47 #refugees saved off coast off #Chios island arrested by Greek police for not having valid travel papers http://www.seleo.gr/koinwnia/201993-diesosan-prosfyges-anoixta-tis-xiou-kai-meta-tous-
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 31, 2016

Video blog from Eric Kempson - the right wing in Molyvos, the main tourist town on Lesvos, trying to shut down the new Hope Centre, a previously disused hotel rented and set up by volunteers as a temporary transit point for refugees. See the previous videos on Eric Kempson's youtube channel for more on the Hope Centre.

Actually out of season refugees on the islands could perfectly well be housed in holiday accommodation rather then in tented camps (or out in the rain and snow if the camps are full). As it is hotel and room owners are prevented by law from taking in refugees before they've been registered, at which point they can get on a ferry to the mainland anyway. It's a measure of the Syriza government's failure that they couldn't even do anything to change this. And in this case at least the failure can't be put down to the EU or the economic crisis.

Azdak

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Azdak on January 31, 2016

This story yet adds another aspect to a tangled tale of brutality from Greek state and European forces, and the abject surrender before this by Syriza.

As far as outright repression of the refugees goes, there are a number of actors here. We all know what the Greek police and coastguard can be capable of - their actions have been caught on film and an estimated 50% of their staff voted for Golden Dawn.

There is also Frontex (Europe's border police), and now the IRC too. The Turkish authorities are none too angelic either, yet within all these forces and despite their dominant authoritarian and hostile norms, a wide range of behaviour in individual incidents, and even on occasion humanity, has been observed.

But there is also a 'third force' who are utterly vile, and I wonder if anyone with knowledge can comment. These are clandestine pirates/commandos in speedboats who attack the refugees around the Greek island coasts from Lesvos to Rhodos. We only have survivors' tales to go on, plus a few ambiguous fragments on video, and although the reliability of witness statements needs to be questioned, they share enough similar features to form a distinctive pattern.

These actors are armed, masked and murderous, stopping at nothing to terrify and/or potentially kill refugees in their attempts to turn them back. Often they rob, and sometimes they deflate the refugee dinghies. They have been seen in close coordination with the Hellenic coastguard, yet on at least one occasion the latter intervened to stop them. Survivors speak of random national flags being flown, or none at all. A range of languages that these 'pirates' use are also reported, from Latvian to German or English. It is not entirely clear, but such attack craft seem to be launched from larger 'mother ships', again of unidentifiable origin.

You can find stories online about this phenomenon from The Huffington Post, RT, CNN, Sputnik News and Vice News in various media formats, and HRW commissioned a report, yet little deep research as to who the culprits are has been done. Refugees who travel this route all know these stories and/or have had direct experience. The theories as to who the pirates/commandos are as follows:

1) Criminal gangs (but why the uniform equipment, and the sophisticated organisation/back up?)
2) Greek nazi paramilitaries? (however, Golden Dawn is generally very weak on the islands)
3) The Hellenic coastguard's 'special forces' (but then why the medley of tongues?)
4) A new special forces wing of Frontex, or even multiple special forces
5) Mercenaries (Dyncorp etc) employed by agents unknown who want to keep a low profile
6) A mix of some or even all of the above?

What I'm really driving at is whether there's any connections between all these murky threads. It could be that the explanation is quite simple and 'straightforward' (but still an outrage), or it could be a can of worms that goes all the way to centres of power in Europe or even beyond. Just how far are the people in power who want to control the movements of populations prepared to go?

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 1, 2016

Azdak - you might want to look at the 2013 ProAsyl report on push backs, which tbh I've only skimmed through very quickly myself. The report describes the situation under the previous government and in theory this should have all changed. However the descriptions of coast guard special forces that I've quoted below do sound rather like the masked men disabling boats in reports from the last year. My assumption has been that the masked men are something to do with the Greek coast guard, or other armed forces (given Greek-Turkish relations there's a significant military presence on these islands), and have been operating without government authorisation but essentially continuing previous policies. This is conjecture though - it's not something I'm sure about. I haven't seen reports of them speaking languages other than Greek or English before and I don't have an explanation for this. I'm sceptical about direct Frontex involvement. After all why take part in something that's potentially so damaging for their image? But again I can't be certain.

In the Aegean, in almost all cases, the officers involved in the push-back operations wore “black uniforms, carried guns and wore full face-covering masks”. In other cases, officers were “wearing blue uniforms”.

The Hellenic Coastguard 53 is the competent authority for the policing of the Aegean Sea, and search and rescue operations within the area are its responsibility.54 To this end, the Coastguard’s elite forces ‘Special Mission Units’55 are assigned the task of tackling ‘illegal migration’ and controlling the sea borders56,
....
55 | Art 136 Law 3079/2002 (Chapter III, Special Mission Units of the Hellenic Coastguard: Establishment, Organization, Staff) The Special Units Directorate consists of the Underwater Unit and the Special Missions Unit. The training, organization, function, means, equipment, as well as operational uniforms, its insignia and the choice of the Special Mission Unit staff are determined by a Regulation after a proposal drafted by the Head of the Hellenic Coastguard which is approved by the Ministry of Shipping and the Aegean excluding its publication to the Government Gazette. |

‘The Greeks were wearing masks, and we could see only their mouths and their eyes.’ 64

'I tried to look at their faces and remember them, but when I lifted my head one of them immediately attacked me with his baton screaming: ‘Don’t look at me!’ They were dressed in black. One of them was shouting: ‘Don’t look at me!’ and making noise with his baton on the floor of the boat.’65

A: ‘We were 50 persons from Syria and Eritrea. Among us there were four children and seven women. (...) Around 10 o’clock in the morning we were close to the island. Some meters away from us, was the Greek coastguard and they arrested us. It was a big vessel with a firearm on it of 12.7 mm. There were around 10 police officers on board. Two of them were wearing full-face masks. They told us to stop, to raise our hands up and not to move. They called and a second boat came. It was a smaller one, around 15mt long. On the second smaller boat all those who were on board, had their faces covered with full-face masks. The number of that boat was 84030. They used their arms (M4). They told us to get on the boat one by one and they hit each one with the gunpoint. They didn’t hit the women and the children.

They made us sit down, on the big boat. They took our clothes, our mobiles and threw them in the sea. They spoke among them. The first time they told us to put our hands behind our neck and then they turned our t-shirts over our heads. They didn’t do that to the women and the children. As we sat down they hit us again with the gunpoint. (...) They took everything, also the engine of the boat. There were two small paddles, which they also took. Someone from our group called the Turkish emergency number (...) We told them that the Greeks left us there. The Turkish coastguards came and took us offshore’.

Rachel

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rachel on February 1, 2016

Thanks for posting all this information, Mark.

Azdak

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Azdak on February 1, 2016

Thanks a lot for the reference on push backs, Mark, I will consult it and add it to my research.

Yes I agree that the evidence is very confusing and ambiguous. It is also clear that the Hellenic coastguard special forces are involved directly in some of the push backs (as they're called) but in other cases it's not clear at all. Certain tactics are common to all, as is the masking. However...

The ones I term 'commando/pirate' seem to be specifically carried out by boats smaller than the types used by Hellenic coastguard special forces. They seem to work with some kind of 'mother ship'. Insignia are either absent or of random/multiple nationality. Language too is polyglot - I've heard of German, English or Latvian being spoken - though this is of course impossible to verify. Weaponry is oddly uniform - either US made M4s or M16s in all cases. I checked out the Hellenic coastguard special forces, and from their videos they clearly use a mix of weapon manufacturers and countries of origin (German, Russian etc, as well as American).

In once recorded case, it was the Greek coastguard who intervened to save a sinking refugee boat from certain death at the hands of these commandos, and the interesting bit is that the latter 'waved a piece of paper at the coastguard vessel'. So what was this piece of paper - a letter of marque that informed the coastguard that they were to back off and that the masked men had higher authority? Luckily for the survivors, in this case the captain's humanity overruled his orders and the tactic didn't work.

In another case, in broad daylight, Turkish fishermen in the vicinity of a dingy and what turned out to be the mother ship, warned the refugees to 'keep away from the European boat'. An attack by small craft lowered into the water followed on from this.

The swaggering, brutal behaviour and unaccountability of the pirates/commandos recalls nothing more closely than the activities of the mercenary companies such as Blackwater and Dyncorp in Iraq during the 2000s.

Yes I agree it would be risky for Frontex to be too closely involved in such heinous activity, but if it was done by mercenaries... maybe not? Or maybe the authority of origin is not even Frontex as such, but someone else?

My theory remains speculative at present and I will keep my conclusions open. At this stage it seems certain that whoever is responsible, elements of the Hellenic coastguard are intimately involved, whether as sole perpetrators or as auxiliaries. What we need now is a whistle blower from the coastguard to step forward and confirm what's really going on one way or another.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 2, 2016

[quote=Life on the ground in Lesvos]

Things change here all the time. The most recent development is that FRONTEX (EU border control) are now rescuing most of the boats as soon as they reach Greek waters and then bringing them straight to the port. This is great news as regards safety for the second half of the crossing, however there are many reports of push backs by the Turkish coast guard which counters the good news.

We do also wonder that if the EU are really committed to saving people, why not just let them get on the 10 euro ferry and come over safely with the everyone else.
....
[/quote]
[quote=David Zorrakino]

Hoy, cero barcas en Skala Skamineas. La policía turca y la griega controlan por mar y aire la costa norte de #Lesvos.

Cuatro barcas rumbo Skala Skamineas están siendo interceptadas por #Frontex. Rescue Teams las traen vacías.

Es la segunda mañana con movimientos extraños. Se empiezan a hacer las transferencias en altamar antes del desembarque.

Los dingy's son interceptados por #Frontex con la ayuda obligada de los equipos de rescate. Los dirigen a Mytilene directamente.

De momento, sólo ha llegado una barca a las 8 de la mañana a The Chaple, zona 2. Las demás están en manos de Frontex.
[/quote]
[quote=Michael Räber]

Greek coast guard & Frontex vessels rescue now all #refugeesGr on entering greek waters & bring them to ports. No beach landings south t/d.

@iwatnew What happen with refugees when they arrive port?

@victormsmadrid Same procedure as always when rescued by coastguard. Names are taken then transported by bus to registration camp Moria.

Two #refugeesGr boats landed on coast after midnight in north and northeast #Lesvos. Total 55 ppl. Not rescued by coastguard nor Frontex.

Since 2d coastguard rescues #refugeesGr reaching #Greece waters #Lesvos. Costly operation. Still no #safepassage.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 2, 2016

This morning, the 1st February 2016, Greek police with the support of some heavily-armed special-units, stormed the accommodation of a group of international refugee-supporters near the Greek-Macedonian border. The whole house, the buses around the house and all members of the house had to stand for full body searches. The pretext given was a drugs search. Nothing was found, except for a few pocket knifes.

"It's just absurd!" says one of the supporters, "We are cooking soup! It seems as if the criminalisation of supporters now comes from the islands to us."

The house is located near the border village of Idomeni, and has now been used for the past few months by international refugee-supporters. From here they support thousands of people who are on the passing through, serving warm food, tea and distributing clothes everyday.

There are between 600 to 3000 people arriving on the Greek-Macedonian border to the transit camp of Idomeni each day. The situation however is unstable. "Some of them are shortly "parked" in the transit camp at the border, while others have to wait for up to 30 hours at a gas station situated 20 km away from the border" tells one of the supporters. "Nobody tells them where they are exactly or how they can go on. We try to as best we can to spread information during the food delivery". An official delivery of food and tea to the gas station simply does not exist.

It is especially difficult for people who are not from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. They are not officially allowed to cross the border or enter the camp, which means that many camp in the woods around Idomeni. Often in order to cross the border they are dependent on smugglers and many of them become victims of police brutality and/or robberies. The independent volunteers are also active in trying to support illegalized persons on their journey with food, blankets and clothes.

While the situation on the Greek-Macedonian border remains a humanitarian catastrophe, the European Union continues to work further their inhuman asylum politics. They threatened Greece with an informal "Grexit" of the Schengen deal if the Greek government can not control the flow of refugees from the Turkish-Greek border, which for example the Interior Minister of Germany, de Maizière demands. Furthermore, reports on the 30th January 2016 from The Times London stated that the EU interior ministers who met in Amsterdam on January 27 2016 want to criminalise refugee-supporters as “smugglers”.

The almost immediate repression from the Greek police, reflects how Greece is absorbing the pressure and passing it along. Todays police action is therefore not really surprising. It just shows once again the monstrosity of excluding politics around fortress Europe, and the vehement and criminalising procedures against anybody who stands up for the freedom of movement and self-determination for everyone; irrespective of passport and origin.

In spite of everything today cooking in the Greek village near the border goes on. Especially as thousands of people are expected to arrive today.

source

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 2, 2016

[quote=Arwa Damon]
#refugees & #migrants tired of waiting at #greece gas station start walk 2 border w/#macedonia
[/quote]
[quote=MSF Sea]
UPDATE: After ferry & farmer strikes & delays at #Polykastro,1000s of #people have had enough & now walk to #Idomeni
[/quote]
[quote=Forgotten in Idomeni]

HAPPENING NOW! Aprox 1000 people are walking on the main road heading to the border #Idomeni. Follow: https://www.facebook.com/forgotten.idomeni/

People walking to the border. Over 20kms. Sun is going down. What will happen when they get there?

People starting to take rests on the side of the road. Its nearly dark. Not sure how people will shelter for the night.

The border is currently closed. #idomeni camp is full and at the same time +1000 refugees are walking from #Polycastro on foot to Idomeni

3000 at the station. Volunteers are driving up and down the high way and monitoring the situation. It is a 5 hour walk to the border
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 2, 2016

Paul Mason - Europe’s refugee story has hardly begun

Greece is not going to “push back or sink” inflatables containing refugees. However many compromises Alexis Tsipras’s government made over austerity, it is full of human rights lawyers, criminology professors and people who spent their lives fighting fascism. There is outrage at Europe’s demands inside the Greek political establishment, ranging well beyond the radical-left party Syriza and its small nationalist coalition partner.

I think this is largely true, and Paul Mason's report is a useful summary, but he could have made some mention of the conflicts going on between volunteers and the Greek authorities. It would be more helpful if the left didn't gloss over Syriza's part in this. At this point it seems problematic to me to be writing about the pressure being placed on Greece without also mentioning the internal repression.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 3, 2016

Health and safety on Lesvos - cooking food for refugees has been banned outside licensed bars and restaurants.

[quote=David Zorrakino]

Por "medidas sanitarias", a partir de hoy se prohíbe a los campos de refugiadas cocinar en ellos. A pan y agua.

Sólo será posible té, agua enbotellada, frutas con cáscara y bocadillos sencillos.

@DavidZorrakino Eso en el Norte o en el Sur? O en toda la isla?

@alitwittt En toda la isla. Sin licencia no es posible.

Servir comida sólo será posible si está cocinada en un bar o restaurante para poder distribuirla. Se suman las complicaciones.

La represión contra la solidaridad en #Lesvos es cada vez mayor. El transporte pasó a ser tráfico ilegal y la comida, insalubridad.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 2, 2016

[quote=Forgotten in Idomeni]
The situation in #Idomeni is tense. Now almost all people are here. Is 8000 people close to real number of people?
....
They’re not letting more people enter into the camp #Idomeni. Must be 1500 inside max but 5000 outside. Many dont have shelter
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 2, 2016

Lesvos today - video blog from Eric Kempson. He sounds positive about the new coast guard policy of picking up refugees at sea.

[quote=Sea Watch]

Lesbos update 2nd February 2016

For a few days now Hellenic Coastguard is operating a huge rescue vessel in the north of ‪#‎Lesbos‬. All refugees that are crossing for the island are transferred from their unsafe rubber boats to this ship and brought to land safely in cherishing cooperation with us and the other action forces.
The Greek Coastguard is in this way performing a first policy shift towards life saving measures.

Yet that does not make conditions human: Refugees are still drowning almost every day - in Turkish waters. The pact made with EU worth billions of Euros is clearly leaving marks on Turkey that is sabotaging and imposing sanctions on refugee traffic.

We are critically observing the situation in the Aegean.
[/quote]

However...

[quote=Faloulah]
Greek military now in charge of #refugeecrisis response - that's in case you were wondering if things for #RefugeesGR could get any worse.
[/quote]
[quote=Asteris]

Thanks to EU pressure, the civilian leadership isn't in charge of refugee crisis response anymore in Greece https://twitter.com/ekathimerini/status/694606897412861952

Having the military help w setting up infrastructure is one thing (and needed), having it *in charge* of the response is alarming.

Once again, srsly: these are the kind of developments people should be going "whoa! wtf!" over https://twitter.com/SteliosBouras1/status/694478932633096192

"Closed military zone," 2 weeks ago; we'll be seeing this a lot more often wrt to refugee centers in Greece https://twitter.com/filiopk/status/690558448799473665
[/quote]
A question about the situation at Idomeni...
[quote=Andrew Connelly]
When this border closes, whose job will it be to move these people into camps in Greece? And to make them stay? https://twitter.com/zolinphoto/status/694642574548717569
[/quote]
[quote=Daphne Tolis]
The army? For those waiting around the border crossing area and/or "military zone". @connellyandrew @zolinphoto
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 3, 2016

Lesvos - the coast guard are picking up some but not all refugees at sea.
[quote=MSF Sea]
UPDATE: Beautiful weather in #Lesvos means that 7 boats have so far arrived in the north of the island today.
[/quote]
[quote=Michael Räber]

Lesvos southeast coast. Since 2am: 8 boats rescued coastguard, 4 boats landed ashore, 2 now on water.

Now: #Greece coastguard still tries to rescue all #refugeesGr boats in greek waters off #Lesvos. ~80% successful.
[/quote]
[quote=David Zorrakino]

@PROACTIVA_SERV remolca el primer dingy a Skala Skamineas tras tres días sin desembarques.

Una lancha rápida soltó ayer a media noche a 25 afganos en Kagia Beach. La policía tuvo un trato desagradable con los locales en su ayuda.

El dingy desembarca en la playa de Skala Skamineas con la ayuda de @PROACTIVA_SERV y ya está recibiendo la solidaridad de @team_platanos.

Desembarca otra barca con almenos 50 refugiadas en el Campo de @LighthouseRR remolcada por @PROACTIVA_SERV. Welcome!

El Coast Guard de la Hellenic Navy hoy no está en altamar. En un día soleado y con apenas vigilancia visible, #Lesvos recobra su normalidad.

11.23 de la mañana en #Lesvos. El recuento suma 7 botes en la costa norte de la isla, 3 en Skala Skamineas.

@PROACTIVA_SERV humaniza a la H. Navy. Gritos, disparos y malos tratos propios de una actitud militar se anulan con su presencia.

Skala Skamineas ya cuenta con 2 agentes de la Guardia Civil. Esta mañana "revisaban" con el cuerpo griego los motores de los dingys.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 3, 2016

[quote=Daphne Tolis]
Permission now needed from Piraeus Port Authority for solidarity groups present when refugees arrive. @BrunoTersago https://twitter.com/refugees_gr/status/694825533113245700
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 3, 2016

EU Blackmail worked: Greece to rush for 5 hot spots & 2 relocation camps – but many questions still open

One point in this is Yiannis Mouzalas claiming that in December only 45-60 per cent of arrivals were refugees when in fact around 90 per cent have consistently been from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. I think the implication here is that they're aiming to divide arrivals into 'refugees' and 'migrants' and deport the 'migrants' back to Turkey. It isn't obvious why Turkey should go along with this.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 5, 2016

In Greek

Protest march on Saturday against the enforced registration of volunteers and solidarity activists, organised by the Lesvos initiative for solidarity with immigrants (Λεσβιακή Πρωτοβουλία Αλληλεγγύης σε Μεταναστες-τριες). I think this must be in Mytilene.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 4, 2016

https://mobile.twitter.com/Frontex

#Frontex increases number of officers deployed on Greek islands to 750, including crews of patrol vessels

237 Frontex officers assist Greece in registering & fingerprinting migrants. Another 28 check for false documents

31 Frontex screening officers currently checking the nationalities of migrants arriving on Lesbos and other Greek islands

.
State of play of hotspot capacity

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 5, 2016

Facebook post from yesterday
[quote=Are you Syrious?]

‪#‎SYRIA‬: A huge new wave of up to 70,000 refugees, fleeing mostly from north Aleppo area, have started moving towards Turkey, many of them reaching the border today. The exodus began on Monday after government forces backed up by Russian air strikes began an operation that has severed the main rebel supply route into the city and broken an opposition siege on two regime-held towns, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed. AYS volunteer from the ground reports a chaos on Bab Al Salameh / Kilis border crossing, with thousands of new refugees reaching the border today (pictured here, photos taken in the morning, and then again at 7PM). The border remained closed today, leaving thousands of desperate refugees waiting on Syrian side, some of them resorting to smugglers in order to enter Turkey. According to info from the ground, Turkish authorities have promised to open the border tomorrow. As Turkish camps are mostly overcrowded, many of new refugees will probably be heading to Greece soon.
....
‪#‎GREECE‬: Yesterday, 3,299 new refugees were registered on Greek islands, including 2,046 on Lesvos, 806 on Chios, 255 on Leros, 87 in Southern Dodecanese, 86 on Samos and 11 on Kos, while 3,829 have departed for Greek mainland. By 9PM today, only two boats have landed on south Lesvos shores, while other numbers are still missing.

Early this morning on ‪#‎Lesvos‬, where residents are participating in Greek general strike, BDFM, the South Coast teams, Swiss Cross, ERCI, Ceriba, Mahracar, Pikpa and many independent volunteers came together to transport all the refugees to the port in time for the special 6.45AM ferrry while the buses and taxis were striking. It was a great team effort and no one missed the ferry to Athens!

Potential new volunteers on Lesvos must be aware that work at the beach is now restricted to specialised volunteers and authorised organisations. The same is with Moria Camp, which is getting more and more difficult to access even for registered and previously authorised Better Days for Moria, I AM YOU, etc. However, if you really want to go to Lesvos, there's still plenty of work to be done. We suggest following this group for extensive Lesvos volunteer info: http://on.fb.me/1NSLVcO

In ‪#‎Athens‬, Elliniko camp is full of people, both inside and outside, hosting up to 3,000 people according to some volunteer estimations. As most buses didn't depart from Athens due to general strike today, ‪#‎Piraeus‬ port is also crowded. After another ferry was announced late in the evening, police has told the volunteers to prepare port terminal E1 for 200 refugees sleeping there.

Situation is still very hard in ‪#‎Polykastro‬ and ‪#‎Idomeni‬, with conflicting reports about 50-70 buses on EKO bus station, while up to 6,000 people are sleeping in Idomeni camp. Document check-ups and border procedures are still very slow, leaving a lot of people stranded on the border (pictured here). If you want to volunteer in Greece, this area needs most support at the moment.
....
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 5, 2016

[quote=Omaira Gill]

Urgent call for volunteers @ Pireaus port today,100s of families stranded overnight due to general strike, only 4 volunteers currently there

As usual, absolutely no official presence or coordination at Piraeus. Volunteers doing it all @tsipras_eu #refugees
[/quote]
[quote=NoBorders]

Only port police presence and yesterday they were asking volunteers to REGISTRATE. It's a nightmare

Any supplies you can offer urgently needed at Piraeus port.Try contact volunteers, station inside gateE1

@Refugees_Gr do you know why these people are stuck at the port? aren't buses for Idomeni leaving?

@filiopk because of the strikes. This started yesterday morning after many ship arrivals. I'll get updates in a few minutes

We remind that at Piraeus port there is NO official medical or social presence, organisations or NGOs
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 5, 2016

[quote=Solidarity Team Platanos]

Protest February 6/2 at 11:00, central high schools area, Mytilene

while Europe is building fences and borders,
while Frontex, the coastguard and the greek police repress every initiative to help the refugees,
while the institutional separation of refugees/migrants traps thousands of people in detention centres and concentrations camps,
while immigrants face racist attacks and economic exploitation everyday,

We will keep fighting for open borders, free movement and safe passage for everyone,
Against the fictitious segregation of people into refugees and immigrants,
Against a Europe that builds fences and walls
Unmediated solidarity!

-Lesvos Initiative of Solidarity to Immigrants
-Platanos Self-organized Structure
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 5, 2016

Video from the No Border Kitchen on a beach outside Mytilene, operating since November without official authorisation and presumably under threat from the new restrictions.

As far as registration goes I'm still not sure how significant it is. This account by a volunteer makes it sound more of a minor bureaucratic hurdle, but it does give the authorities the opportunity to prevent individuals or groups from helping, and I suppose withdraw permission if they feel like it.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 5, 2016

The newly opened Soli Cafe on Chios, the target of a police raid and arrests a couple of weeks ago.

Soli Cafe is up and running !

After one month of squatting a building, renovating it, building up a kitchen, talking to neighbours, picking up free furniture and a stressful police raid, Soli Cafe on Chios is up and running. We are so happy and proud of this place, where everybody, regardless of nationality, gender or religion, can come and enjoy tea, food and socialize.

While official institutions like the European Union, the member states, Frontex and others build up walls and fences at the borders where people constantly die, Soli Cafe shall be a lighthouse in the fight for the freedom of movement and a world without racist borders.

For four days we have been chopping vegetables, cleaning dishes and mopping floors together with extremely kind and energetic people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and other countries. We meet on an eye-to-eye level, help each other out and learn from one another.
....

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 5, 2016

[quote=Leros Solidarity Network]
Leros Solidarity Network has pioneered humanitarian refugee reception, setting up PIKPA and The Villa, 2 purposely converted buildings that offer refuge to vulnerable refugees, mostly women and children. The volunteers who work within them, full of compassion and love for humankind care for the refugees they host like their own family members. The refugees that pass through these centres are so grateful for the glimpse of humanity they have been offered. We are now being threatened with the closure of these sites in favour of the hotspot detention centre. We have seen the difference that our approach has made to the people we have met, and will now start campaigning for these initiatives to be allowed to remain open to continue their work. We will campaign against the de-humanising of the refugees which is inevitable in the proposed hotspot.
[/quote]
[quote=Leros Solidarity Network]

Why is Pikpa so important?

The politics of numbers: Inhuman refugee reception

The recent refugee crisis has been called one of the greatest humanitarian disasters since the Second World War. The LSN concurs. We believe that the only disaster greater than this is the total absence of political vision on the part of our elected leaders to adequately respond to it. In a confused and confusing way they sit and haggle over numbers: how many can be processed; how many can be allowed through a fence; how many can find a place in a country.

Numbers. And in the media, we read about the crisis in terms of numbers all the time: five thousand refugees crossing daily onto Greek islands; one million who have survived the treacherous journey across European borders; 3600 dead in trying to arrive. These figures are sensational. They describe things, entities, bodies, in a way that excites shock, horror, fear. These emotions encourage us to accept political solutions, which are driven by the principles of administrative efficiency and order, rather than human compassion, dignity and empathy.

Our political leaders engage with a game of numbers that is focused on finding a rapid solution to a human problem, which leaves the human beings out of the equation. They seem to believe that if we get ‘all these bodies’ in one place and hold them there, we can solve the refugee crisis. “Hot spots” are ways of corralling, detaining, holding people in order to assess and validate claims for asylum. They are about managing numbers.

In a supremely cynical move, the municipal government on Leros proposes to open up Lepida as a “hotspot” to house refugees. Lepida is associated with the concentration camp for political prisoners held under the Junta and with the infamous mental hospital that became renowned for the treatment of its incarcerated as insensate beasts. Lepida, like all concentration camps in Europe, is not simply a “place”; it is a place of memory. Like all concentration camps, it is a place, which gave birth to a European conscience, a collective commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law. It is a place, which reminds us why it is essential to protect these principles.

The conversion of Lepida into a European “hotspot “ is a cynical dismissal of this history. But it is also a clarion call to Europeans. How governments should manage the refugee crisis is opening a major political fault line. On one side are those who believe in a policy based on the principle of administrative efficiency. On the other, is the international solidarity movement, that which upholds the primacy of the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. By some quirk of fate, Leros is an epicenter of this divide, which is being drawn across a struggle between two institutions dedicated to two fundamentally different visions of refugee reception: Lepida (seen in these photos) and Pikpa (mentioned previously).

Madalena Grossmann
[/quote]

[quote=A Fortnight in Leros]

....
The traffickers do not bring their charges directly to Leros, given the risk of prosecution and imprisonment. Entry without a visa is of course illegal, as well, but the sheer numbers make enforcement almost impossible. Usually, the refugees bound for Leros are deposited on Farmakonisi, a bare island with a small military base where they must wait for days to be picked up by the Greek coast guard or a merchant marine vessel, the VOS Grace donated by Britain to aid the search-and-rescue missions in the Aegean Sea.

The inhumane conditions on Farmakonisi have provoked charges of human rights violations against the Greek military. A refugee traveling with his wife and young daughter told me how he and a group of 80 others were penned up on the barren island for five days. Soldiers were shooting into the air to intimidate them. Instead of feeding them, as required by law, the soldiers were blithely selling them water and biscuits. Sleeping on the ground in the rain, he watched other starving refugees eat snails.
....
[/quote]
Which doesn't sound promising for the military takeover of the refugee crisis.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 6, 2016

Action day against fortress Europe

https://mobile.twitter.com/hashtag/actionday0602?src=hash

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 7, 2016

[quote=Kathimerini]

Greek authorities agreed on Friday to recognize Turkey as a “safe third country,” which means migrants for whom Turkey is a country of transit, not of origin, can be returned there.

The decision was announced after a meeting in Athens between Greek Interior Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis and his French and German counterparts, Bernard Cazeneuve and Thomas de Maiziere.

“This is a major step for Greece and we are taking it because we want to show our willingness to find a comprehensive way to address the problem,” said Kouroublis after the meeting. European officials said the shift in Greek policy was a “good start.”

The goal “cannot just be to register arriving refugees and to relocate them equitably [but above all] to reduce the flow,” said de Maiziere at the end of his two-day visit. He added that Germany is sending 100 police officers and two coast guard vessels to Greece.
....
[/quote]
[quote=Asteris Masouras]

For shame, @tsipras_eu, Turkey has deported Syrians back to Assad/IS

Ping me if you see video statements of Tsipras saying Turkey is a safe country for Syrian refugees. For posterity.

Turkey isn't even safe for its own citizens, let alone refugees. Expediency doesn't trump humanity, Europe https://twitter.com/dilkocer/status/695926910182957056
[/quote]
[quote=Benjamin Julian]
Top EU officials remind Turkey of its obligations to keep frontiers open to refugees. The irony is unbearable.
[/quote]
[quote=Bruno Tersago]
EU says Turkey must keep border open to Syrian refugees - This is some serious trolling http://f24.my/1QjuGDu
[/quote]

.
EU Law Analysis - The EU, Turkey and the refugee crisis: what could possibly go wrong?

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 6, 2016

[quote=Teacher Dude]

Lots of Greek riot police at Polykastro gas station nr #Idomeni. 1000s of #refugees there as well.

Gas station sound system playing recorded message in Arabic, Farsi, English earning people not to leave the grounds.

Not sure what we can expect at #Idomeni today, even if we'll be allowed access. Demo in progress, police blocked roads

....

Long, difficult day at #Idomeni. Made even more difficult by @UNHCRGreece who needed nearly 2 hours to give us permission to set up.

We've been going up to #Idomeni twice a week since September yet we virtually have to beg to be given a few sq metres of space to work

When we were helping in summer the only UNHCR presence was 2 witless clowns who'd shout insults at exhausted refugees.

We are not a bunch of amateurs who just turn up out of nowhere. We work well with other groups and make sure our work doesn't impact others

Border now closed at #Idomeni, camps gradually filling up, temperatures dropping to near zero

Greek police giving volunteers at the clothing tent a hard time, threatening to shut them down.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 6, 2016

Clowns Without Borders on the new conditions for volunteers on Lesvos, including exclusion from camps.

At this point, we have some definitive ‘no’ answers to our request for permission to become a registered NGO within the camp system of Greece.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 7, 2016

[quote=Refugee Support]

35000 refugees from #Aleppo arrived at Turkish border at #Kilis. But border has been closed. Open the border now!

It is a clear violation of the Geneva convention to push back refugees into a war zone (Art. 33)!

governor announced humanitarian supply will be given to refugees in #Syria. Throwing food over fence isn't a solution

refugees arriving now are trying to flee an offensive by Assad's troops and Russian airstrikes in the area of Aleppo.

It's a shame how nobody cared about #pushbacks happening everyday at Turkish border and now all of a sudden as numbers rise in spectacular heights every news agency shows up and all politicians feel the need to say something bout it

#EU specifically asked #Turkey to seal border and now they demand Turkey to open the border?
That's hypocritical bullshit.
[/quote]
[quote=free movement 4 all]

Hotspots are jail camps, targeting on violation of human rights, imposed by Germany

The only reason for incarceration of refugees is illegal deportation. Lets not let that happen.

Volunteers must not help to separate "migrants" from refugees. Their right to apply for asylum is violated.

If #EU would really want Turkey to open the border for Syrians it would enable #Safepassage

By preparing for massive pushbacks and deportations from #Greece #EU & #Frontex push #Turkey to close the border for Syrians.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 7, 2016

[quote=Samos Refugees / Πρόσφυγες στη Σαμο]

Nobel Prize Nonsense?

There seems to be some enthusiasm for nominating the people of the Greek frontier islands for the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe there are some on the islands who would be happy for their efforts to be recognised but there are many others who want nothing to do with such an award.

For a start this is a prize from the 'top' and not from 'below'. It is awarded by the Norwegian parliament which is being increasingly dominated by the populist right Progress Party. The Norwegian government now proudly boasts that it has some of the toughest policies on refugees in the whole of Europe. It is threatening to send back thousands of refugees and cruelly demands that refugees have to spend 4 years in Norway before they can seek family re-unification. We know that the elites of Europe are experts on hypocrisy so we can always be surprised. But who would want an award from that lot ?

Our experience on Samos has been those at the top have been and remain a huge problem. They have done so little to help and so much to make our efforts more difficult. For example, until the middle of the summer 2015 it was against the law of Greece to give a lift to a refugee in your own car. It is beyond counting how many times we were threatened with prosecution for carrying refugees in our vehicles or in our small boats. The authorities here actively tried suppress our humanity; to make us frightened. It was outrageous.

Some of the most courageous activists included many visitors to Samos; people who were on the island as holiday makers and tourists. People who could not stand by in the face of such suffering and joined in with us to feed, clothe and care for the refugees at a time when the Greek state did nothing and when there were none of the big NGOs on the island. Their contribution was massive not the least because they had more money than us. But they have been made invisible in this Nobel nonsense.

Many things have changed on Samos since the summer of 2015. Not only do we have the big NGOs on the island but we also have many 'volunteers'. The latter are a mixed group but it is amazing how quickly some of them become self righteous and pompous in their 'do-goodery'. They never seem to realise that we are deeply offended when they thank us for our efforts. Who do they think they are to 'thank us'. We have done nothing for them. Their arrogance is sometimes breathtaking.

Thankfully not all the volunteers are like this but sadly too many are; they are the ones who enjoy being the story and getting their photos in the papers as they hand out a bottle of water. Facebook is full of their nauseating righteousness where they wallow in feedback which describes them as “awe inspiring” angels and so forth. It wouldn't surprise us to see them wearing campaign medals like I was on Samos/ Chios/ Lesbos/ Kos 2015!

Even worse so many of the volunteers are happy to comply with the current demands of the Greek authorities to be registered and regulated. They seem to actively seek the blessing of the authorities which for years have been and remain part of the problem and never part of the solution.

We do what we do because we are human. To stand and do nothing in the face of the suffering we see on the frontier islands is not an option unless you are prepared to be dehumanised. There is absolutely nothing special about us. But we see heroism constantly. We witness the most amazing solidarities full of compassion and care and love. And it is most evident amongst the refugees. It is their qualities which enable so many to survive and overcome the traumas of both 'the escape' and the journey. Our contribution is nothing compared to this. If there are to be any prizes handed out give them to the refugees.

For us the idea of a Nobel Prize is disgusting and a further sign of a screwed up world where to be a human being is now considered to be worthy of a prize.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 8, 2016

Lesvos: the NGOs talk amongst themselves - report from a joint meeting in December.

....
An alternative view was that there were now too many volunteer groups on Lesvos that were proving difficult to coordinate and that, given the anti-refugee policies being adopted by some EU member states and increasingly hostile public attitudes towards refugees, it would be helpful if some volunteers remained at home and focussed their efforts on changing those policies and attitudes. How to channel the ‘volunteer phenomenon’ from action on the ground to advocacy back home was an important challenge for agencies - whether humanitarian or refugee/asylum agencies.
....
It was pointed out that one of the most effective advocacy strategies was to mobilise members of the public to encourage/put pressure on their local MP to engage with the issue. The people that politicians listen to most are those that vote for them and especially those who go and talk to them about the issue. Organisations need to provide information and create the opportunities to enable constituents to meet with their MPs to raise these issues.
....

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 8, 2016

[quote=Benjamin Julian]

Your life ends here

Another day, another report of deaths at the borders. On Saturday, two women froze to death in the Bulgarian mountains. One of them was a teenage girl. This mountain pass is the way of desperation, for people who can not afford the death boats to Greece.

People subject themselves to this misery and this fatal risk because it offers them the one thing that matters: getting closer to safety, stability and a new chance at life.

This possibility is now rapidly being eroded. Only three nationalities still have it, and even they will only be allowed to stay in Europe while their “home” is suffering war. Then they have to go back. Their possibility of family reunification, which has allowed relatives of healthy young adults to join them later via safe routes, is being restricted. Fences are being built, pushback agreements signed and camps, which no person should ever have to live in, are being proposed as an endpoint for the refugee trail.

Thus everything is brought back to normality. Arabs stay in Arabia, Africans in Africa, and Europeans can again pretend they’re not racist by throwing money at refugees over the five-meter razor-wire fences. People fleeing war will again be portrayed as impotent beggars, not as autonomous subjects that are free to move on their own terms. Freedom of movement will again be reserved for the people who only move if they want to, but never have to. It will again become our luxury product.

Resistance to this apartheid has mostly been offered by the migrants themselves. Ever since thousands of refugees, fed up with delays and blockages, ran across the Macedonian border last August, they have been the dominant force in the course of events.

Since then, hundreds of thousands have made it through borders that kept them from realizing their dreams, and they’re still coming. It is an achievement that decades of European open-border activism could only dream of. But now that such a force has entered the stage, our activism has taken an unexpected turn. Instead of fierce battles for freedom of movement, we have directed our attention at providing food, clothes, shelter. Things to make it more bearable to be stuck somewhere. For the first time in decades, the European public has its eyes on the consequences of border politics, but the drama has been focused on the beaches rather than the fences. Where are the lock-ons, sit-ins, roadblocks, black blocs, banner drops and paint bombs? Where are the protests, political appeals and actions? The European public’s attention is waning, the state’s actions are growing more determined, and still we’re mostly providing the refugees and the public with feel-good activism.

Obviously, food and clothes are important. But they are not what we are being asked for. We are being asked: how can we get to Germany? This, the ongoing possibility of movement, is the all-important point that no amount of soup will resolve. It is also the point that the state is now clearing up all on its own, month by month, by chopping up and regaining control of the Balkan route.

The political activism has largely been left to migrants – and it’s been impressive: They’ve marched to the border against police orders, attacked fences, protested against detention while in prison and blocked roads when they’ve been kept stuck. In the prison at Corinth, two Moroccans even tried jumping out of a window to make a run for it. They broke their legs and got apprehended. When brought before a judge, they named bad food as one of their grievances. The food handler got changed as a result. They now face deportation.

Their case reminds us of two things. Firstly, change comes in small steps. We won’t open all borders with One Big Action – but we do need to start somewhere. There are fences, prisons, camps and government offices all around, offering opportunities for protest and direct action. There are companies, essential to the functioning of refugee segregation, that specialize in separating nationalities by listening to their accents. These methods and practices have to be protested, one by one, to resist their ever harsher use.

Secondly, the Moroccans’ fate reminds us how easy and risk-free it is for us to protest. We are not at risk of being deported into the cold, hard hands of a repressive regime. We have experienced protesters and activists in our ranks and passports that give us significant political freedoms. It is essential that we use them, not just for migrants, but for our own society’s sake. A society that kills people at its borders, segregates them, makes them drown and freeze to death, a society that resolves a mass movement of people fleeing war by storing them in containers for years, is a society that breeds evil. It is imperative that we resist it.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 9, 2016

Amnesty report on detention and deportation of refugees in Turkey.

The human rights violations documented in this briefing contrast with the generally favourable, humanitarian approach of the Turkish authorities towards refugees and asylum-seekers in the country. Given that they coincide with the opening of negotiations around the Joint EU-Turkey Action Plan, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Turkey’s unlawful treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers caught attempting to leave irregularly has been triggered by the political and logistical demands exerted upon them by the EU to stop hundreds of thousands of people crossing a sea border with Greece of more than 700 km. The fact that detention and deportation are exceptional does not make them excusable. Irrefutable evidence shows that the Turkish authorities are detaining some of the most vulnerable people in their jurisdiction, including children, in a manner more akin to kidnapping than a lawful detention regime. Forcibly returning refugees back to Syria and Iraq is as unconscionable as it is unlawful under international and domestic Turkish law.

The fact that these detentions and returns took place in the context of negotiations and the signing of the EU-Turkey deal to combat irregular crossings, is chilling...

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 11, 2016

[quote=Soli Cafe]

In Vial, in the hillside of Chios, far from the touristy shore, a so called Refugee Hotspot is being built. It is obvious, that this place will fail to respond to the immigration of people fleeing war, persecution or poverty in a humanitarian way. The camp will restrict all chances for self-sufficiency of the migrants, being far from shops or supermarkets and public. Furthermore, a big part of the camp is already fenced in. It is likely to assume that people, who look for shelter, will be imprisoned, hold as criminals and deported from there.

Officials announced, that this detention center could be opened in two weeks. How will this change the support, that we as local and international volunteers and activists can provide to migrants on Chios? In order to discuss this question and the possibilities of a protest action against the Hotspot, you are invited to a meeting at Friday, the 12th of February at 11 am at the Soli Cafe. Feel welcomed to join in!
[/quote]
[quote=Philippa Kempson]

Please share widely among any volunteers and organisations currently active or present in Lesvos.

**RE: Information Meeting on the Targeting of Volunteers and the Identification of Legal Responses Towards it. **
....
Οn Saturday 02/13/2016 the Greek Action for Human Rights - "Pleiades" will host an informative meeting on "The announced recording, monitoring, coordination and supervision of volunteer services of individuals and entities in the perspective of the UN Convention for the protection of human rights defenders" with Electra Leda Koutra, Human Rights lawyer from Athens.

The event will take place in the hall of the Bar Association of Mytilene, which is located inside the building of the Court of Mytilene. The briefing will be followed by a discussion that will help identify responses towards the escalating targeting of volunteers and those who defend human rights.
....
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 12, 2016

Germany sends NATO warships to patrol with Frontex in the Aegean.
[quote=Faloulah]
Wanna see how #refugeesGR death toll will rise? Wait till NATO deploys twitter.com/asteris
[/quote]
[quote=Damomac]

In welcoming #Nato intervention, #Syriza partner #Kammenos says #Greece is closing "chapter of illegal immigration". No mention of refugees.

#Syriza coalition partner Kammenos welcomes #Nato decision: "arrested immigrants will be sent straight back to Turkey".
[/quote]

Kammenos is minister of defence in the Syriza/ANEL (Independent Greeks) coalition government. Initially this appointment may have looked like giving the leader of Syriza's right wing nationalist coalition partner a chance to play soldiers without it having much wider significance. With the Greek military taking over responsibility for managing the refugee crisis it's starting to look more disturbing. For a reminder about Kammenos, the Independent Greeks and the coalition see this article by Irate Greek written just after last January's elections.
Irate Greek

....

One last word

I am incensed – INCENSED – that SYRIZA chose to go for a coalition with Independent Greeks instead of repeat elections. I believe that people like Panos Kammenos – the raving, racist lunatic who said last week that that “Buddhists, Jews and Muslims don’t pay taxes” – should never, ever be given positions of power. Furthermore, accepting people such as Kammenos in a left-led government is playing with fire because it gives public and political legitimacy to his xenophobic, racist, antisemitic, homophobic views and Greece doesn’t need more of that when it already has a neo-Nazi party as its third largest political force.

So everything I wrote above is not arguments I agree with. I can see the reasons why SYRIZA chose this alliance, and I can see why it was the only possible alliance, but I think that, in the long term, it will prove to be the wrong choice.

Edit:

Π. Καμμένος για συμφωνία ΝΑΤΟ: Κλείνει το κεφάλαιο της παράνομης μετανάστευσης

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 11, 2016

[quote=Platanos Refugee Solidarity]

The situation in Lesvos has changed radically the last 10 days. New Frontex vessels appeared and together with the greek coastguard are barricading the sea the whole day. Very few refugees reach the shore cause most of them are being stopped by the authorities who take everyone on board and send them directly to Mytilene, Molyvos or Petra and then to the registration camp in Moria. In that way, no support from the frontline camps can be offered to these people, leading them to spend many hours without food, clothes and medical attention.

Platanos sea rescue team was stopped several times from providing help or guidance to refugee boats and we were ordered to back away.

In some cases the refugees had to wait for over an hour in the middle of the sea for the bigger frontex ships to arrive and pick them up.
[/quote]
From the comments below that post:
Platanos Refugee Solidarity

Its obvious that they want to take control of the situation and the management of the flows.

Also it's part of the plan of the EU that wants to immediately deport those who don't meet the criteria of the refugees. That's why they want to ensure that everyone will get to Moria where they will separate them and those who won't gain the status of the "refugee", will be send back to Turkey. Recently Greece recognized Turkey as a safe country, that means they intend to make Turkey the place where economic immigrants will ask for asylum.

....

1) Μας πειράζει όταν άνθρωποι περιμένουν βρεγμένοι μεσοπέλαγα να έρθει η Φρόντεξ να τους πάρει τη στιγμή που απέχουν 500 μέτρα από την ακτή. Επιπλέον, οι λιμενικοί τους πάνε κατευθείαν στην Πέτρα και από κει τα λεωφορεία τους μεταφέρουν στο κέντρο καταγραφής. Έτσι, για τουλάχιστον 5-6 ώρες τους στερούνται τα στεγνά ρούχα, το φαγητό, η ιατρική φροντίδα και γενικά όλη η υποστήριξη των δομών της παραλίας.

2) Πρέπει να το καταλάβουμε επιτέλους ότι η Φρόντεξ και το λιμενικό είναι εδώ για να ελέγχουν την ασφάλεια των συνόρων και όχι για να περιθάλπουν ανθρώπους. Αστυνομικοί είναι, όχι ναυαγοσώστες. Ακόμα και σε τεχνικό επίπεδο, τα σκάφη τους είναι παντελώς ακατάλληλα για διασώσεις. (Φαντάσου ότι ο μόνος τρόπος να περισυλλέξουν ναυαγούς είναι από την πλατφόρμα πίσω, λίγο πιο δίπλα από τις προπέλες δηλαδή, που φυσικά δεν έχουν καν το προστατευτικό δαχτυλίδι που έχουν τα διασωστικά.) Να το πούμε και πιο ξάστερα;

Οι ελληνικές αρχές και η φρόντεξ δεν έχουν κανένα επίσημο διασωστικό σκάφος, έχουν μόνο σκάφη περιπολίας και καταδίωξης!

3) Όλη αυτή η επιχείριση εντάσσεται στο γενικότερο σχέδιο ελέγχου των ροών και περιορισμού της μετανάστευσης. Το επίσημο σχέδιο της πολιτείας θέλει να ελέγχονται όσοι μπαίνουν στη Λέσβο, να μεταφέρονται στο κέντρο καταγραφής και όσοι δεν πληρούν τα κριτήρια του πρόσφυγα και θεωρηθούν οικονομικοί μετανάστες να επιστρέφονται στην Τουρκία με σκάφη της Φρόντεξ. Ήδη η Ελλάδα αναγνώρισε την Τουρκία ως ασφαλή χώρα, οπότε όσοι είναι για αίτηση ασύλου πολύ πιθανώς να μεταφέρονται εκεί.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 11, 2016

[quote=Chris]
In port of Samos the camp is broken and moved to mountains by military. I was forced to "leave the harbor". https://twitter.com/martingommel/status/697761543627399172
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 12, 2016

[quote=Damomac]
Safe corridors through the Nato patrols which the Syriza/Anel government has approved? https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos/status/698078237575028736
[/quote]

MariennaPW

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MariennaPW on February 12, 2016

Mark, thank you so much for your diligent posting on this thread. Really excellent and vital work. I have poured through every single entry and am half way through writing an article on the subject, while liasing with volunteers on the ground. Will post here once it's published, and would welcome any more info/comment from you or anyone else in the meantime. You can check out some of my work from Greece here:
http://mariennapw.com/category/articles/refugee-crisis/

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 13, 2016

Thanks Mya, I've sent you a pm. I'll look forward to reading your article. As I'm only following events from the UK I probably don't have so much to add to what's already on the thread. One thing I haven't mentioned though is the Golden Dawn mobilisation against the building of the hotspot in Kos, and against the planned camps in Athens and Thessaloniki. On Kos this also reflects the anti-refugee attitudes of the mayor, who is reportedly planning to hold a local referendum on the issue. One difference between Kos and the other islands (Rhodes is the only other one) is that it still has a Muslim minority that escaped the 1923 population exchange because of the Italian occupation of the Dodecanese. I've wondered if there's a link here between local issues and anti-refugee feeling. I'm not sure about this though and I could be on the wrong track. In any case the possibility of an ugly racist response is always there. If, as seems likely, hundreds of thousands of refugees are left stranded in Greece as the borders close then this could become a real issue.

Edit: Statement on the situation in Kos from Kos Solidarity (in Greek)

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 14, 2016

NATO has launched naval patrols in the Aegean sea between Turkey and Greece ... The war ships will be backed by planes monitoring the flow of people trying to reach Greece by crossing the Aegean sea. According to NATO statements, the operation involves the systematic deportation of refugees found at sea back to Turkey. British defense minister Michael Fallon confirmed: “They will not be taken back to Greece. The aim of the group is to have them taken back to Turkey. That is the crucial difference,” Fallon said. “This is the first time we have seen a group tasked with returning migrants. That has not happened before. So that is quite an important development.”

source

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 15, 2016

Mouzalas posing for photos on Lesvos in a life jacket.

[quote=Anthony Verias]
"We live in an age where citizens find solutions while politicians make symbolic protests"
https://twitter.com/mpaountolino/status/698952303756361733
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 16, 2016

[quote=No Borders]

#Leros Pikpa shelter for #refugeesGr in danger to close so hotspot opens. The most interesting story for a journalist to search

Though solidarity invested huge amounts (90.000) on creating a shelter at #Leros & give it to state as registration center...

... state prefers to turn into a hot spot an area with black history; A psychiatric asylum known for human rights violations...

...where 200 patients are still detained. So that #refugeesGr arriving, are away from solidarity or sight. Behind fences. All for profits.

Case of #Leros is no1 example of militarization of #RefugeeCrisis . + solidarity faced as problem 4those who make profits out of #refugeesGr
[/quote]

More about Pikpa here

The hot spots are supposed to up and running this week

The situation on Samos

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 16, 2016

Criminalising solidarity: when helping refugees becomes a risk

The influx of refugees to the shores of Greek islands has generally been met with overwhelming support from locals, eager to provide much needed aid to the refugees. However, on the island of Lesbos, volunteers have seen their compassion met with resistance, even to the point of seeing their efforts criminalised in a bid to deter them.

In Greece in 2015, and especially in the North Aegean, we saw an amazing wave of solidarity among Greeks and foreigners working together to help to manage the huge wave of refugees arriving on the shores. In recent days in the Greek islands we are seeing things change as paranoia emerges along with cries to “control” the volunteers and the NGOs. This common sentiment, which is echoed throughout the European Union, is expressed in headlines reading: “Our Islands Are an Unfenced Vineyard” and “Volunteers and NGOs Roaming Free.”

In Molivos-Petra, the touristic heart of the island and also the place where the majority of the refugees are arriving, groups of business people and other individuals have demanded that the Municipal Council of the island forbid any activities to help the refugees “within the settled areas” of the island. The problem is that boats will continue to arrive in these areas. These groups also asked the Municipal Council to forbid all but a few of the major volunteer groups from working in the island because, they said, the presence of many volunteers creates a bad impression for tourism.

Cracking down on aid

There is no doubt that the refugee crisis has affected tourism on the island. Nor is there any doubt that groups of volunteers working to save lives have had little extra time to meet to co-ordinate their efforts. At the same time, to diminish the numbers of volunteers will most likely result in death and could return the island to the situation of chaos it experienced last summer when refugees were camping on street corners and walking along the side of the roads to reach the capital city. Instead of blaming the volunteers, efforts should be made to help them to coordinate their efforts so that they can do an even better job.

Instead, the Greek government authorities with the support of Frontex have begun to assert legal control over the volunteers. Last week the Building Department sent inspectors to visit the emergency camps set up along the north coast of Lesbos to provide medical assistance, dry clothing, food, and temporary shelter to refugees arriving along the shoreline. The inspectors indicated that they would be issuing fines for any structures built without permission from their offices. In the same days, the Coast Guard with the aid of Frontex arrested seven foreign volunteer lifeguards patrolling the sea in order to save refugees when their boats capsize or their boat’s motor fails. They were charged with aiding the illegal immigrants to enter Greece. Following a twelve hour preliminary hearing, they were released on bail and ordered to return for a trial that could lead to fines or imprisonment. At the same time, three volunteers were apprehended by the police for removing abandoned life jackets from the town dump in order to use them to make mattresses for the refugee camps. Though charges were not pressed, the volunteers were informed that everything in the town dump belongs to the Municipality.

This process, if continued, will only demonstrate the inability of the Greek government and the European Union to manage the refugee crisis in appropriate ways. If the letter rather than the spirit of the law is followed, all of the volunteer efforts and all of the volunteer groups can be declared illegal. Given the archaic nature of the legal system of Greece, it is likely that ways can be found to block every effort to aid the refugees.

Criminalising the provision of basic human rights

Fishermen who rescue refugees from the sea can be charged with aiding illegal immigration. Volunteers who cook in public spaces can be charged for not having secured public health permits. Volunteer doctors can be charged with working in Greece without having their licenses to be reviewed and approved by the national government. Volunteers who pitch tents in public spaces can be charged with violating laws forbidding camping in public spaces. Volunteers who help to change the wet clothes of shivering children might be charged with molesting them. Photographers could be charged with violating military space on the coastlines. Those who donate food, clothing, and other supplies could be charged for not providing receipts. And finally, volunteers choosing to work in small groups without large donor bases, high overhead, bank accounts, and tax numbers can be prohibited from offering to help.

Instead of looking for ways to deter the volunteers, the Greek and European Union authorities ought to consider the illegality of their own activities. They are required by European law to offer asylum to refugees of war. Is it ethical to close the Schengen borders? Should they be harassing and arresting volunteers, whose work is necessary to save the lives and dignity of refugees protected by European law?

It is short-sighted to blame the refugee crisis on the volunteers or to imagine that the refugees will stop coming if there are no volunteers to meet them. The refugees are leaving their homes because their homelands have been made unsafe by war. It is time for all of us, Greeks and other citizens of Europe, to stop complaining about what the refugees are taking from us and to join together with others to help them. Then, when this crisis is over, even if we are still poor as when it began, we will be able to say that in the time of a great humanitarian crisis, we did what we could to aid those who were suffering.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 16, 2016

[quote=Zoe Mavroudi]

4 refugee "hotspots" complete, ordered by the EU under threat of Schengen expulsion. Syriza once again an enabler. Next up:mass deportations

The EU "hotspot" is, essentially, the place where authorities will decide whether to send people back to death or abject poverty.

Refugees 2b sorted out inside new Greek "hotspots". No clear EU policy of who or when will receive the "good" ones. As for the "bad",oh well
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 18, 2016

[quote=Platanos Refugee Solidarity]

The refugees that arrived yesterday at Platanos Camp, were soaking wet and in shock, because as they explained to us, the Turkish coastguard tried to force them to return to the Turkish coast with the use of threats, by creating artificial waves and by the extensive use of water cannons. Two of the boats returned to the Turkish coast with all the passengers in shock. The remaining two boats managed to break through and reached Skala Sykamias, Lesvos.

Today at 3 o'clock in the morning, the Greek Coastguard attempts to stop a new boat from reaching the coast at Skala Sykamia resulted in a havoc and the boat almost crashed on sharp rocks. The accident was prevented at the last moment by the intervention of the rescue boat belonging to the team 'Sea Rescue'.

This morning: Turkish coastguard was sighted from the 'Korakas' Observation Post to repeat its deliberate attacks to boats in the middle of the sea, again by the use of water cannons.
[/quote]

The use of water cannons in winter temperatures is extremely dangerous. Hypothermia is a risk in any case with overcrowded dinghies taking on water on night crossings. This led to the death of a five year old boy from Afghanistan on a boat to Chios on Tuesday. This isn't the only case of children dying of hypothermia on boats that made it across without sinking.

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 19, 2016

Posted on facebook a couple of hours ago

[quote=Platanos Refugee Solidarity]
Urgent- Spread out!
Greek police gave a deadline of 1 hour to No Border kitchen camp in Lesvos to leave, otherwise they will remove them by force. People needed in Tsamakia Mytilene now
[/quote]

Edit: some updates

[quote=The Hope Centre, Elpis]
We stand in solidarity and support with our friends No Borders Kitchen in Mytilene who have been given one hours notice by police to shut down. They are human rights defenders providing food to the hungry. International law supports what they do, humanity supports what they do, we support what they do. We must all be strong together for refugees. If you are in Mytilene, or can get there, please go and show support
[/quote]
[quote=Doc Provocateur]
People in solidarity w @noborderkitchen gathered @ Tsamakia beach after eviction threats by cops
#refugeesgr https://twitter.com/redswallow23/status/700729746443776000
[/quote]
[quote=NoBorderKitchen]
#NoBorderKitchen was threatened with eviction tonight. Many people r wih us, we re discussing the situation. More soon.
[/quote]
[quote=Thomas Mavrofides]

@blacktom1961 any news about the eviction threats?

@refugee_supp no news yet, the cops seem to reconsider their stance, although nothing is certain. No cops on site at the time though.

@refugee_supp it seems that there's a pressure put onto the cops, by the local municipality that supports the NGOs (and their subsidies...)
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 19, 2016

The hotspot on Chios - for now only being used for refugee registration as food provision for refugees depends on volunteers who are refusing to be registered and so aren't allowed in. That hotspots are in place doesn't mean they are workable or that they can cope with the numbers of refugees. An obvious problem is what happens to people detained for deportation if Turkey drags its feet on accepting them. When this happens it won't take long for camps to fill up.

[quote=Theurgia Goetia]

Οι πρόσφυγες πάνε στο Hot Spot μόνο για καταγραφή.
Δεν έχει λυθεί το θέμα της σίτισης.
*Χωρίς αλληλέγγυους δουλειά δε γίνεται..

So,#refugeesgr can't live into #Chios HotSpot 'cause nobody distribute food there.The social kitchen of the ppl in solidarity is NOT allowed

>b/c the locals don't accept to be registered (they are not an NGO).

The #refugeesGr in #Chios are still living into the old camp at Souda (near the port).
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 21, 2016

[quote=Live Ticker Eidomeni]

21.02.16

On the 20th of February the police authorities of the states making up the ‘humanitarian corridor’ introduced a single biometric registration document for refugees wanting to enter the corridor. This document is now being issued at one single point on the whole route – the Greek-Macedonian/FYROM border – restricting and controlling the access to the corridor even further. Additionally, it is only being given to the people who can present a valid passport or ID.

As a result of this new policy, chaos has unfolded at numerous border crossings where people have become stuck in an administrative no man’s land. 617 Afghans remain stuck in Tabanovce, Macedonia at the time of writing. Whilst in Dimitrovgrad, on the night of the 20th of February a group of 40 people were denied registration papers by the Serbian authorities. They took a bus to Presevo were they were again refused. They then travelled to Sid, with no papers or passports: it is unclear how these cases are going to be dealt with now on the route. The new measures are certainly designed to criminalise and banish access to the corridor to those arriving from any other point than Idomeni.

At the Greek-Macedonian/FYROM border police have started narrowing down even further the nationalities who are able to enter the corridor as Afghanis have been removed from the nationalities allowed to travel onwards. Now, only Syrians and Iraqis are being issued the new travel document. In the joint statement released after the press conference of the police chiefs of Austria and the Balkan countries, only Syria and Iraq are mentioned as examples of provenance countries for refugees deemed worthy of international protection. This points towards an explanation to the new racist and illegal segregation which is being implemented at the entry to the corridor.

It remains to be seen now, how such implementations can effectively be held out in the next few days. With new arrivals at the islands higher than they have been in the past days and Afghanis constituting a large number of these, it can be predicted that large amounts of people – including many families with young children – will become stuck at the northern border of Greece. We expect the struggle against these racist and illegal measures to start very soon.
[/quote]

Edit: Serbia 'denying entry' to Afghan refugees

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 21, 2016

[quote=Platanos Refugee Solidarity]
Update from the "No Border Kitchen" camp in Mytilene. Everything is all right at the moment. The police didn't show up. The mayor is denying his involvement to evacuate the camp. People from the "Self-organized camp of Platanos" and from the "Solidarity initiative of Lesvos" gathered for 2 days at the camp to stand in solidarity with those who have repeatedly been intimidated by the authorities for the "crime" of offering food and support to immigrants.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 22, 2016

Statewatch: NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control

....
Now the Greek state at the behest of the EU is seeking to get all volunteers to "register" with the police and hand over lots of personal data including previous "activities" - they are being asked to spy on themselves. And NGOs are being asked register their organisations and hand over personal details of all their volunteers/members to the police.
....

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 23, 2016

Idomeni today - Afghans forcibly removed and put on buses back to Thessaloniki and Athens. This looks like the start of a new phase in the crisis with arrivals increasing on the islands while only Syrians and Iraqis with the correct documents are allowed to travel on, leaving other nationalities stranded in Greece.

Afghan refugees turned away at Europe's doorstep

AJE video

'There was lots of crying as Afghan families were separated and put on buses'

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 24, 2016

Declaration from today's Austria and Balkan states meeting

Meet the heroic Greeks rescuing the refugees the EU has abandoned
Kia Mistilis

....
But just as the volunteer and NGO efforts on Lesbos grew stronger and better coordinated, the EU-Greek crackdown on humanitarian volunteers began. On January 14, the Greek Coast Guard arrested three Spanish and two Danish nationals from Proem-Aid and Team Humanity on suspicion of human smuggling, as they were approaching a sinking boat that authorities claim was in international waters. They were released without charge after 36 hours and posting €30,000 in bail, but the case remains open pending investigation. In the same week, three British and two American volunteers were arrested for theft as they collected life vests from the municipal dump to use for making mattresses for the refugees. Greek volunteer groups report being threatened with eviction from their aid-distribution points, and they are increasingly angry that after a year of ignoring its responsibilities, the EU is now, as they put it, “criminalizing solidarity.”

The crackdown is intensifying as the European Union centralizes border security. EU border agency Frontex has deployed Rapid Border Intervention Teams, a land- and sea-border patrol with unprecedented independent powers, to work alongside Greek authorities. And on February 11, NATO—with the full support of the United States—deployed a naval force under German command to combat people-smuggling in the eastern Aegean and to reduce the number of migrants entering Europe via Turkey. Asylum seekers “saved” from boats intercepted in the Aegean can be returned to Turkey, which Greece has now formally declared a “safe third country.”

The deployment of NATO warships to stop the exodus from Turkey came just as some 70,000 refugees were amassing on the Turkish-Syrian border and 300,000 Aleppo civilians prepared to flee in the wake of a massive assault by the Assad regime, aided by heavy Russian bombing.

Last November, the European Union started classifying asylum seekers by nationality. Those not from Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan are deemed economic migrants and cannot register to have their claims heard. The EU now wants to reintroduce the Dublin regulation, which mandates the return of asylum seekers to the first EU country they entered. These policies, alongside five new “hot spot” detention centers on the Greek islands and two refugee camps near Athens (due to open by the end of February, just as Macedonia prepares to permanently close its southern border) will trap thousands of people and ring-fence Greece, transforming it into a holding bay and deportation point—a permanent buffer zone against refugees trying to reach northern Europe.
....

[quote=Manos Moschopoulos]
16-22 Feb: 21593 #refugeesGr arrived at Greek islands, only 4598 allowed to cross to #Macedonia. #Refugees are now stranded all over Greece.
[/quote]
[quote=Sarianna Nikkola]
Military camp Anagnostopoulos turned into a "hotspot" for #refugeesGR opened this morning in #Diavata North Greece. https://twitter.com/seleogr/status/702456092698148864
[/quote]
[quote=Teacher Dude]

100s of #refugees being sent to Diavata, Thessaloniki. Volunteer groups struggling to provide aid

Just dropped off supplies at Diavata camp. Thessaloniki. 1000s of #refugees from Iraq, Syria, there. Strong police presence
[/quote]

Video: refugees arriving at Diavata camp

Video: refugees in Plateia Victorias, Athens

Photo: refugees in the rain, Plateia Victorias

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 26, 2016

Europe braces for major 'humanitarian crisis' in Greece after row over refugees

Two refugees try to hang themselves in Plateia Victorias --- edit: report here

In Athens, thousands of Afghan refugees are living in public parks as their path north is blocked

Radio interview with a volunteer back from Lesvos

Ferries taking refugees from the islands halted until port at Piraeus is cleared

Thousands of refugees are stuck at Piraeus with nowhere to go. Kammenos has announced that five new camps are being set up, I think all at former army camps. Many refugees in northern Greece have set out walking towards Idomeni along the main roads.
[quote=MSF Sea]
Greek media are reporting that camps for 20,000 #people will be built in northern #Greece before the EU-Turkey summit on March 7.
[/quote]
[quote=Andrew Connelly]

There are multiple exoduses of #refugees all across #Greece heading to a border that is barely open twitter.com/tempodiaframma

#Greece #Macedonia border getting bad fast. Driving out of #Idomeni, the road to the highway full of hundreds of #refugees walking, sleeping
[/quote]
[quote=Asteris Masouras]

Call for aid to infants at #Diavata by @eleannioannidou facebook.com/eleanna.ioannidou "army & UNHCR didn't provide for their nutritional needs"

@asteris @eleannioannidou I wouldn't really expect the army to be supplied to take care of babies, but you'd think the UNHCR would.

@warmwelcomeeu I'm sure not gonna pull any punches on these things, things are dire. Eleanna's a friend & veteran activist, I trust her word

@asteris Oh I believe it, I'm just griping about UNHCR.
P.S.: docs.google.com/spreadsheets

@warmwelcomeeu I'll be griping about it a lot too, if this keeps up. More army/UNHCR-operated camps will be opening up in coming days
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 26, 2016

[quote=Daphne Tolis]

Greek Shipping Min. announced plan to slow down transfer of refugees from the islands by suspending ferry services from Lesbos, Chios&Samos.

Ferries in Lesbos, Chios & Samos will house registered #refugees from today until Sunday and will then resume services, acc to the minister.
[/quote]
[quote=Andrew Connelly]

Yesterday UNHCR say #Macedonia let 107 #refugees enter. There must be over 4000 here and rising #Idomeni

At #Greece/#Macedonia border many fled #Syria v.recently. Fleeing: shelling by #Turkey in Afrin, #Russia/Assad in Aleppo, ISIS in Raqqa...

BREAKING: #Slovenia, #Croatia announce entry limit of 500 #refugees per day, according to #Serbia interior minister

My latest @AJEnglish report with @zolinphoto from the #Greece #Macedonia border on the plight of banished Afghans http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/02/europe-closing-borders-afghans-160225151702251.html
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 26, 2016

Report from yesterday
[quote=Live Ticker Eidomeni]

The situation in northern Greece has changed in an almost unprecedented way. According to MSF, 12 000 refugees are currently stuck in Greece. They want to travel on and their immediate goal is to be as close to the border as possible. Today has shown, that the Greek government’s strategy to split up groups of refugees and lock them up in different camps along the way does not work. In northern Greece, thousands have started to walk towards the border: that is, Idomeni. The whole region seems to be on the move.

Hundreds stuck in the newly inaugurated former military camp in Diavata near Thessaloniki broke the fence today and started to walk towards Idomeni (70km). The camp in Diavata is completely closed off by police and military. No NGOs, no media and of course, no independent people were allowed to enter the camp. Also, no one was allowed to exit. However, the refugees could not be restrained by police, military and fences. They forged a way out and moved on, northbound.

In the meantime, those stuck at the Polykastro gas station decided to walk to Idomeni as well. Around 800 people were on the highway towards Idomeni this afternoon. There were further unconfirmed reports about other spots along the way, where people decided to walk.

Meanwhile, the camp in Idomeni is overcrowded. According to the UNHCR statistics of today, no one has been able to cross from Macedonia onwards. Macedonia, in accordance with the other Balkan route northern states and Austria, have declared mores thorough identity checks. This will mean further slowing of the registration processes and travelling speed of the refugees.

Whilst the camp in Idomeni remains overcrowded, protests and escalations can be expected there in the coming days. And as the recent developments have shown, thousands more can be expected to continue their journey onwards on foot along the highway towards Idomeni. The sight of hundreds walking along the highway are impressive and evoke the images of Keleti, Hungary in September 2015. They show the will of the refugees to reach the border and travel on. Once more, the different governments have made their plans without considering the agency and determination of the people on the move.

We have decided to change the format of our liveticker, in order to better accommodate the fast-pace changes happening simultaneously in many different locations in northern Greece. The several newly opened spots where people will be held back in the region around Thessaloniki as well as the highway from Athens now widen the geographical range from where people are setting off on foot, revolting and protesting. From now on, we will write one update per day in the evening, which will summarize the different events that occurred during the day between Thessalonki and the border in Idomeni. Short updates can be found during the day on our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/MovingEurope
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 26, 2016

[quote=Live Ticker Eidomeni]

26.02.2016

The situation in Greece is further intensifying. Today again, people started to walk from Polykastro, Diavata and even further south towards Idomeni.

This morning the last ferry arrived from Lesvos before the temporary stop of transport from the islands to Piraeus port. The Greek authorities announced that ferries will be held back on the islands and used as temporary accommodation. Apart from the overcrowded camps close to the port there are also several hundred people accommodated in the ferry terminals of Piraeus. The people have been there for up to 3 days, staying on cardboard in the terminal halls.

Around 150 people started a sit-in protest at the entrance of the port, demanding on a banner „We want to go out of Greece“.

Meanwhile, the Slovenian authorities have announced to limit the daily influx of people to only 580 per day. The countries south on the Balkan corridor are expected to follow. With only 168 people passing to Macedonia/FYROM yesterday, according to the UNHCR statistics, the bottleneck in Idomeni is not expected to clear up soon.

With heavy rain this evening, the situation in the overcrowded and muddy camp in Idomeni, where many go without tents, is becoming worse. Rising tensions among the people who have been stuck in the camp now for days can be expected.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 28, 2016

[quote=Marianna Karakoulaki]
Two former military camps that were supposed to become #RefugeesGR hotspots on fire in northern Greece. Rumours that fascists burnt them.
[/quote]

Report in Greek

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 28, 2016

Los Muros de Europa - Spanish produced documentary about the refugee crisis on Lesvos. It includes some interviews in Spanish but a lot of it is in English

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 29, 2016

Yesterday
[quote=Live Ticker Eidomeni]

28.2.2016

This morning, another big protest took place in Idomeni. Around 400 people blocked the train tracks during the entire day, keeping cargo trains from crossing the border. The police intended to blackmail the protesters by stating that they would open the border if they left the train tracks. However, for the protesters it was clear: “They are lying to us! They say that the border will open, but nobody passed today and yesterday only 50 people passed. They are lying to us!”

The situation is getting tenser; people are questioning whether they will ever be able to pass this border. Many have figured out that the small number of people passing is a strategy of the authorities: “They only let some people pass to keep our hopes up, to keep us waiting calmly.”

There have been new camps opening in the surrounding area of Polykastro, where reportedly the few remaining people from the gas station in Polykastro have been taken. However, it has also been reported that these camps are not really ready to accommodate the said 2000 people. Whether the authorities’ containment strategy works with this camp remains to be seen. Possibly, many will make their way to the border in the next days anyways.

Meanwhile, the camp in Idomeni is extending steadily across the surrounding fields. More people keep arriving, on foot and with taxis. All day long there has been a steady trickle of new people, packed with their heavy bags, blankets and small children in their arms. They try to find their way around the already overcrowded camp, hoping to find a tent and a spot to set it up. The number of people exceeds the camp capacity by at least a fourfold. It is only a matter of time until the daily protests become no longer appeasable.
[/quote]

.
Today
[quote=Marianna Karakoulaki]

More than 8000 #refugeesGR in the camp today. #Idomeni
....
Police blockade just broke 1000s #refugeesgr head to the border to protest. Calm at the moment

Chaos at the the border. #refugeesGR to break the fence! They want safe passage - some have been trapped for days

Macedonian police/army have placed barricades as fenced door opened for a bit. 1000s in front of the fence. Train line closed.

Macedonian police just teargassed us. NOT on the air - directly to #refugeesGr !!! Loads of children teargassed !
[/quote]
[quote=MSF Sea]

BREAKING: The #FYROM authorities have just used tear gas on the protesting #people waiting to cross the border which includes many children.

UPDATE: The @MSF medical teams in #Idomeni are treating child after child for exposure to tear gas.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on February 29, 2016

[quote=Damomac]
Greece's migration minister says TV and journalists will not be given access to refugee centres until further notice
[/quote]
[quote=Teacher Dude]

Greek government forbids media access to refugee camps on order of #SYRIZA minister
....
Now at meeting. Volunteer groups from Thessaloniki coordinating efforts to help #refugees in city and #Idomeni These guys get things done.

Lots of groups and individuals want to help at Diavata refugee camp in Thessaloniki, people trying to coordinate efforts

Lots of other refugee camps opening up across northern Greece. Local communities trying to help #refugees
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 1, 2016

[quote=Nick Barnets]

Reports of 10,000 #refugees at #Idomeni now and many heading there on foot today.

A few of the #refugees I met in #Idomeni tell me they've been stranded there for 10 days.

Most are #SyrianRefugees. By what I've observed more than half are women/children.
[/quote]
[quote=Daniel Trilling]

Trapping refugees in Greece, as is happening now, may slow the passage of people to north-west Europe, but it's unlikely to stop them coming

A few reasons why: 1. Refugees keep moving until they find somewhere they are confident they can settle - Turkey is not that place.

2. Regardless of the way it's being treated, Greece is still in the EU and many refugees will have an expectation of fairer treatment.

3. "Dublin system" returns to Greece have been suspended since 2011, so if refugees can pass further into EU, they won't be sent back.

4. The Balkan borders will be closed, but this means refugees will go back to using smuggler routes, as they did before summer 2015.

5. Despite much-vaunted negotiations with Turkey, my guess is it's unlikely large numbers of refugees will be sent back there.

(Because a) what's in it for Turkey, b) conditions in Turkey often don't meet EU standards, so the policy could be open to legal challenge)

So, the likely effects are going to be i) humanitarian crisis in Greece ii) refugees taking slower, more expensive, more dangerous journeys

and iii) a containment plan, where people are put into temporary-seeming camps that become large, poorly-run holding centres

This is pretty much what happened in Greece on a smaller scale from 2008-2014. Can't see any political will from the EU to do different now.
[/quote]

Don't know, don't care - how Afghans won't be deterred by Europe's border restrictions

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 1, 2016

[quote=Asteris Masouras]

The Syriza govt issued a media ban on refugee centers, claiming coordinators asked for it. @UNHCRGreece & the army? http://apne.ws/1OIqifP
....
True, but I'm also wondering if UNHCR requested the media ban at refugee reception centers https://twitter.com/KatalystProds/status/704744068857929729

@asteris any reason you wonder this?

@keeptalkingGR govt claims coordinators asked for it … army & UNHCR are coordinating response at the camps

@asteris i see. i thought it was rather the army

@keeptalkingGR I bet the army would prefer to permanently ban the media. Also, read this https://twitter.com/northaura/status/704404044060688384
....
"At Piraeus today, coast guard cop demanded I stop filming, while private media are filming unperturbed" https://twitter.com/kinimatini/status/704717207587168256

The media ban only hurts independent reports, the ones actually showing the reality on the ground" https://twitter.com/kinimatini/status/704717734123278336

Volunteers protest abusive mainstream media at refugee centers, state bans media from centers, mainstream media keep filming
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 1, 2016

[quote=Benjamin Julian]

The hotspot in Leros is a badly run prison

On Friday, a hotspot was opened in Leros for incoming migrants. What is a hotspot, you might well ask, and there are many possible answers: An identification factory for migrants. A prison. A refugee camp run by the police and military, enclosed in barbed wire. An Empire of Identification. Everyone gets registered here: migrants, workers, NGOs and volunteers. Everything in it is square; the paper forms, the people-containers, the walkways and the wire mesh.

There are three camps already on Leros, with humane staff, proper facilities, varied activities and open doors. This does not suit the border regime of Europe. For months it has demanded of the Greek government, and twisted its arm relentlessly, so that it finally builds hotspots. And now they’re here, in all their horrifying glory. Shining metal, immaculate concrete, white gravel and rows of square boxes for The Anonymous Unidentified to stay in until they get their papers and can finally have an actual verified existence in the merciless eyes of the European Union. Unless they’re of the wrong nationality, in which case they’ll get no papers, except for a ticket back to Wherever. Getting papers takes three days, but nobody knows how long one has to wait for deportation.

On the day the hotspot opened, no volunteer or NGO was alerted. They just got a random call a good while after the first arrivals, saying that baby milk was needed. Volunteers immediately came over, and there the refugees sat, huddled in blankets on the concrete floor of the camp entrance. That is where newcomers are made to wait while, one after the other, the human beings are digitized and fingerprinted, their bodies are transformed into verifiable, printable, transferable identities.

The refugees asked if anyone had brought water. It turned out the army had given them a little to drink in plastic cups, but when a few people threw them on the ground, instead of in the garbage can, the army gave them no more.

Talking with refugees was forbidden. “Find out what they need and go,” the men in uniform said. That is how an camp under the police and military operates. The rules are made on the fly by a man in uniform, habitually on a soaring power-trip, maybe even wearing blue-mirror sunglasses in addition to the uniform to underline his privileged anonymity in this dictatorship of identification. Volunteers that try to help here without having registered risk being interrogated about their purpose and threatened with imprisonment. (This is no idle fantasy, it actually happened.) Western volunteers often feel ashamed about their privileges over refugees. Here, the migrant-hating machine of Europe has finally and accidentally created some twisted sort of equality.

What it has not created is a functioning processing facility. The shivering new arrivals on Friday were not supplied with food or clothes, medicine, information, doctors or legal aid. Nothing. The reception they got was as cold and stark as the concrete they sat on. The military seems to just expect volunteers to do their bidding, to feed and clothe their prisoners.

And so we did.

This is what volunteering has come to. Shipping meals into prisons so that the Greek military doesn’t have to cook them. And it gets worse. The uniformed masters of the camp have told us that we have to collect the garbage as well.

We can’t be codependent like this. Today we clean up the prison and feed the prisoners, because the military can’t be bothered. What will humanitarian work look like tomorrow?

We should have been prepared for this. These hotspots have been planned openly and publicly for months. They’re already being used to horrible effect in Italy, where MSF has withdrawn its cooperation due to “unacceptable conditions”. We should take the same stand here. There is a risk that the state will then starve people for a while, but if we fold and allow these hotspots to just carry on with our assistance, things won’t get any better. These places may look like an excel document come to life, a registration form built of concrete, but they are in reality chaotically and incompetently run arbitrary dictatorships of the least compassionate institutions in society. We can’t do humanitarian work there any more than a kitten can play in a rottweiler cage. Compassionate people will be bullied out or coaxed into complicity. We’re already the crutches of a spiteful, savage institution that has no humanitarian purpose. Let’s draw a line and stop our cooperation.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 1, 2016

[quote=NoBorders]

Meanwhile,we forget detained immigrants. Deportations to Turkey from Greece. It's horrible.

308 deportations from #Greece in 2 days for nationality, from detention centers
[/quote]
[quote=Refugee Support]

No more registration for Pakistani refugees in GR. Thus impossible to buy ferry ticket, stuck on islands #refugeesGr https://twitter.com/bjokie/status/704321063858130944

Just like refugees from Morocco and Algeria. Question now is if they will be detained as well in detention camps like #Corinth.
....
#Deportation of #refugees from #Corinth detention center started yesterday. Corinth almost empty now.

According to reports only those who were able to register as a refugee on the islands won't be deported.

The registration was closed for Moroccan and Algerian refugees end of last year.
[/quote]

whirlwind

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by whirlwind on March 2, 2016

Good thread Mark, keep us posted

littleton.kk

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by littleton.kk on March 2, 2016

This story is so sad..What's happening??..

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 8, 2016

[quote=Samos Refugees]

Stuck on Samos

Over the past month we have spent some time in travelling on planes and in airports. These are places which are far removed from the realities of the refugees we know and meet on Samos. Airports and passenger planes assume and portray a world of freedom to roam. Posters and magazines suggest the world as an open space to explore and enjoy (if you have the money). You will see no warning messages on the bill boards which encourage you to spend time in London, Rome or Paris that only people with the 'right' papers/passports/visas will be allowed to enter. Most of the passengers in these places never question their right to travel freely. It is taken for granted.

But this is a world apart from the realities confronting refugees in places such as Samos. For most of them the world is becoming smaller day by day.

The authorities have been busy in the past month trying, under massive EU pressure and threats, to get the hotspot up and running by a mid February deadline. It is located next to the existing Detention Centre on the hillside above Samos town. If it resembles its neighbour it is set to be another cage. It was of course a ridiculous target: to provide the infrastructure for and build adequate accommodation for up to 2,000 people in a matter of weeks in a ruined country where the authorities are by and large incompetent and on an island whose leaders have, from the beginning, made clear their reluctance to provide anything for refugees. So of course the hotspot is not finished, or at least the buildings are not; the refugees, however, have been moved, and crowded into cabins and two-man tents set on concrete in and around the old detention centre where they are fingerprinted, questioned and processed. At least for Europe this is what probably counts more.

The local elites on the island, both political and economic, have from the beginning made clear that they did not want refugees on Samos; for them, this spelt disaster for an already fragile tourist industry. It was a stupid argument, but was fed by stories of refugees as carriers of disease, thieves, and now of course terrorists. We and others trying to do something over the past year found ourselves constantly obstructed and frustrated, because to provide anything, however minimal, to refugees was argued by some as an encouragement for more to come. They came anyway.

Despite the opposition of the local authorities and elites to the creation of the hotspot, they have little leverage on policies made far beyond their reach in Berlin and Brussels. The hotspot also signifies that the refugees can no longer be seen as a short term inconvenience but something that is now a fixed feature of Samos life. Refugees on Samos is now one of our realities, over which the island has no control and which is determined by its geography and the politics of borders. It is a reality that the island authorities are reluctant to embrace. For them the presence of refugees and the Camps in which they are held deters tourism. It is that simple. These same authorities NEVER comment that it is the deaths in the Aegean – which requires a different sort of solution – which might be the biggest deterrent to tourists; after all who wants to swim in a graveyard, even when it is azure blue? Nobody we know here now looks upon the sea in the same way as they did before.

Incidentally why don't they listen to the restaurant owner in Lampedusa who said that what harmed tourism in his town was not the presence of refugees but the militarised response of the authorities. Tourists can't relax in the bars and eating places with so many uniforms and guns around them.

As far as the Samian authorities are concerned there are only negatives associated with the arrival and presence of refugees. There is never any acknowledgement that the refugees and its associated caravan of NGOs and international volunteers have brought income and jobs to the island, and through the winter too. Restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, hotels and not least taxi drivers amongst others have all benefited significantly from the refugees this winter when there are no tourists on the island. And with the hotspot developments now taking place and additional EU cash to be made available over the next 2 years (700 million euros in total for Greece) we can expect to see job creation at a level on the island not seen since the crisis began six years ago.

In every aspect of the ongoing and ever shifting reactions of the European authorities to the on going flow of refugees to the Greek islands the voices of the refugees is absent. Of course nobody has asked the refugees what they regard as being important in the creation of the new camp. We have no idea now whether Samos is going to be a place where refugees are held for months or just for weeks. But whatever the length, lines of cabins crowded together up a Samos hillside surrounded by barbed wire fences could never be described as welcoming and safe.

Listen to the refugees and you seen realise how having your life on hold and depending entirely on others for everything eats away at your well-being. In particular many of the refugees are rightly angry and upset about the lack of information. This extends to never knowing how long they are going to have to wait to be processed and allowed to move on to other parts of Greece. Many of the younger refugees under 18 who are not traveling with their families, but often with friends of a similar age find themselves being held back without any information as to what is to happen next.

For the north Africans who are detained in the police cells (there are others in the camp, but there are not enough cells to lock up all the Algerians and Moroccans) it is even more agonising. They are told nothing. But the police know that after around 20 to 30 days they will be taken under escort to Athens and then on to a closed detention centre for up to 3 months pending deportation. According to one activist who regularly visits the cells, the police consciously avoid giving any information as it is so depressing that it could lead to disturbances with the detainees. Moreover when any information is given it is often unreliable. So for example last week it was announced that there would be no refugees allowed on the ferries to Athens due to the conditions there. The next day over 400 refugees left on the ferry to Piraeus.

Such has been the story all along: decisions are made, then overturned, ignored or forgotten; the unreliability of information means that confusion and frustration is inevitable. Initially it was announced that the hotspot would be created at the port. But within 6 months its offices, sleeping cabins, showers, and so forth are all being dismantled. In February it was announced that the feeding, clothing and care of the refugees was now – with much publicity and applause- going to be taken over by the Church. An institution which on Samos at least has been conspicuous by its absence in helping refugees. MSF (Doctors Without Borders) who had finally managed to overcome official hostility and reluctance and begun providing one meal a day were told to stop what they were doing. As a consequence MSF announced that given the new arrangement they would cease being a major food provider. But the Church came from Athens, reputedly distributed some bread and tinned tuna and left. It seems that it is not ready! Why and by whom was it decided to replace something working reasonably well with something untested and unprepared? In the end, as on many occasions, it was left for others to provide a solution, in this case the Open Eyes kitchen teams at the port and in the camp, who cook and provide food for free.

Meanwhile, as always, the fall-out of the inadequacy, incompetence and lack of humanity of the official response lands on the refugees themselves. The lack of information and the unreliability of what they are told reinforces the despair of dependency on authorities that don't fundamentally care for them. It's scary. They can't plan for the next hour let alone the next day. They never know when their name is going to be called over the tannoy to come to the office, so they have to hang around. Doing nothing. There is no school. There are no places to sit, have a coffee, a game. There is no bulletin board letting them know the latest news on the border closures. But their sense of being blocked and of having fewer opportunities to travel on is profound as is the awareness that it is going to get worse which makes being stuck on Samos even more intolerable. One of the most common questions we are asked by the newly arriving refugees is what news we have on the borders – what are closed, what restrictions are being applied and so on. Clandestine travel is always going to be possible especially if you are young and male. But now we are seeing more older people and more children. They are the ones who are going to find the routes out of Greece more difficult.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 8, 2016

[quote=Live Ticker Eidomeni]

The Balkan Corridor will officially close from midnight on. Slovenia and Serbia announced that they will re-introduce the Schengen regime meaning only people with visas can enter their territory. Consequently, Macedonia will keep its border shut for good. Again, racist and inhuman decisions have been made on fancy conferences tables over the lives of thousands of refugees and migrants. With the definite closure of the corridor, Europe is destroying the hopes of thousands of people. All the amazing people we have met during the last weeks, who have shown an incredible amount of strength and resilience are now facing the walls of re-fortified Europe.

Germany’s decision to suspend family reunifications a few months ago forced so many women to take the perilous journey across the sea with their children by themselves. This decision is the second massive blow for them. Many have their husbands in central Europe who have been desperately waiting for their arrival for months. Their hopes of joining them quickly have just been shattered in the mud of Idomeni, giving way to despair and anger.
[/quote]

whirlwind

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by whirlwind on March 11, 2016

Who can afford to run will run
But what about those who can't... they will have to stay

Untold Stories, Mark Anthony Myrie

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 11, 2016

Yannis Christodoulou, Evie Papada, Anna Papoutsi & Antonis Vradis - Crisis or Zemblanity? Viewing the ‘Migration Crisis’ through a Greek Lens

See also http://www.transcapes.net

About Transcapes

Transcapes is a collective research project using the introduction of hotspots in Greece in order to understand wider transformations in the geopolitical body of Europe itself. Situating ourselves in the island of Lesbos, we examine the key actors on the island - humanitarian, social, political - and their relationship to the Moria hotspot. Broadening our scope, we also look at hot spots introduced across Greece; we read the country a vector of its own contradictions and as the object of political decisions which will inevitably compromise its already weak position within the EU. In the third and largest of our cognitive concentric circles (Lesbos, Greece, the EU), we try to understand the crisis of Europe’s own decision-making and executing mechanisms as a whole.

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 19, 2016

MariennaPW

Mark, thank you so much for your diligent posting on this thread. Really excellent and vital work. I have poured through every single entry and am half way through writing an article on the subject, while liasing with volunteers on the ground. Will post here once it's published, and would welcome any more info/comment from you or anyone else in the meantime. You can check out some of my work from Greece here:
http://mariennapw.com/category/articles/refugee-crisis/

Here's MariennaPW's article:

Refugee crisis: the EU cracks down on volunteers

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 24, 2016

[quote=Platanos Refugee Solidarity]
A few time ago the "no border kitchen" that is standing for all that time next to the refugees arriving on the island far away from economic profits and systemic organizing, faced another threat of evacuation from the police. More specific, after the demand of the police to the solidarity people there for ahowing their id's, something that tbey denied, they informed them that they will return with more forces to evacuate the camp. There is needed people immediately at the beach of tsamakia to resist massively to that threat.
[/quote]

Serge Forward

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on March 24, 2016

Mark, thanks for keeping this thread going. The stream of news and info you're supplying is much appreciated.

fingers malone

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on March 24, 2016

Agreed

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 24, 2016

Thanks!

For anyone who reads Spanish here's a report on the situation following the EU-Turkey deal from Hibai Arbide Aza, one of the better journalists reporting on the refugee crisis:

Atenas: nadie sabe cómo aplicar el pacto

Hibai on twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/Hibai_

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 24, 2016

Call to action from Soli Cafe

Call to action from Soli Cafe

24 March 2016

The implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement, currently happening in Greece and Bulgaria, has gone ahead with scant regard for human rights and dignity. It breaches the Geneva convention for refugees, the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, according to human rights lawyers and charities.

Automatic deportations of immigrants are illegal. Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia director has stated that «Turkey is not a safe country for refugees and migrants, and any return process predicated on its being so will be flawed, illegal and immoral». Human Rights Watch’s executive director said the EU’s deal with Turkey represents «a disturbing disregard for international law covering the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants».

Many of us have already witnessed breaches of national and international law, committed against people moving across borders. We’ve been fighting against this for months and years. But now there is a whole new dimension of violations. Even the diplomatic and reticent UNHCR has noticed and partly withdrawn its cooperation with European states.

All of the groups supporting refugees on their flight, especially in Greece, have to decide how to react to these developments. We will do so most effectively by acting together. We have to find a way to keep supporting refugees and to apply pressure on the European governments to break the deal with Turkey and to improve the situation of all people searching for a safe future.

This is an appeal to all refugee-supporting groups, to all independent volunteers, to all media and to every European civilian, to no longer tolerate the breaking of laws and the maltreatment of migrants by European authorities.

Do not look away from what is going on. Fight against it, fight together and fight purposefully.

-Here’s a Facebook platform for volunteers, working with refugees on the ground, to find ways to fight for freedom of movement : https://www.facebook.com/groups/974732812562764/

-A mailing list and announcement page for radical action against borders: https://actionsagainstborders.wordpress.com/

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 24, 2016

[quote=Principia Marsupia]

Hablando con una mujer cuyos 4 hijos fueron degollados por ISIS. Ahora duerme sola sobre las vías del tren al norte de Grecia.

A las puertas de Europa hay miles de víctimas de ISIS. Volverán a pasar la noche en el barro.

Que haya gente tratando de enfrentar a las víctimas de ISIS en Bruselas y las víctimas de ISIS en Idomeni... Resulta repugnante.

Llevo 2 días entrevistando a familias q huyen de ISIS. Historias de hijas violadas, hermanos degollados... los horrores más absolutos

Ahora duermen en el barro junto a frontera. Que haya gente en Europa que se atreva a acusarles de terroristas es la humillación última.

"Somos una familia de ingenieros y abogados. Una mañana apareció ISIS y degolló a todos. Yo conseguí escapar. Ahora bloqueado en Grecia"

"He visto cómo secuestraban a amigas mías y luego las vendían a hombres mayores por 200 dólares"

Ha seguido lloviendo durante toda la mañana y esta noche sopla un viento helado. Un mes ya en el barro. Idomeni se transforma en un infierno

Todas las mañanas visito a algunas familias q conozco bien. Es terrible ver cómo van decayendo física y emocionalmente día a día

Como cuando visitas a alguien q está muy enfermo y de un día para otro percibes su degradación. Es terrible lo q está ocurriendo aquí

Gente q te cuenta cómo ISIS degolló a sus hermanos. Ellos consiguieron escapar. Pero ahora bloqueados sin poder seguir ni volver atrás.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 24, 2016

[quote=Kia Mistilis]

Not even 1 week into EU-Turkey deal & flagrant abuse of rights occurring. In #Greece #Asylum seekers detained w/out access to lawyers 1/3

#Greece also denying #asylum seekers right to claim asylum; no electricity, hot water, or adequate food, beds, heating, toilets at camps 2/3

Volunteers (doing lion's share of humanitarian work) denied access to camps. Media also banned. Deportations 2 #Turkey under armed guard 3/3
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 24, 2016

[quote=Teacher Dude]

Greek govt squandering in days the good will Greece has garnered during the refugee crisis.

Greek people have been working in groups and/or individually to help #refugees whilst govt has been absent (cops excepted) for months

Do not judge the Greek people by the the shameful efforts of their govt to gain favour with EU over #refugees

The Greek govt's response to #refugees changing gear, was utterly indifferent, now changing to actively hostile

Greek SYRIZA govt selling out #refugees right in return for what exactly from #EU?Since Brussels rarely fulfills promises it doesn't like

For years I marched alongside #SYRIZA groups demanding better treatment for migrants/refugees now their govt violating its own basic values

Just how f**king stupid am I? Won't be fooled again by their rhetoric.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 25, 2016

Benjamin Julian

An interview some friends recorded yesterday with a refugee imprisoned in the Vial hotspot, Chios. He describes the conditions and needs of people inside. Just after recording the interview, they were registered and forbidden from speaking with the refugees there again.

Listen to the interview

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 26, 2016

Idomeni today

[quote=Marianna Karakoulaki]

Now: A woman is giving birth in the camp in #Idomeni.

#refugeesGR are trying to protect the woman who is giving birth from all TV crews that have gathered around her tent.

Activists are attacking journalists who try to document the newborn baby

The newborn is a girl #refugeesGR #Idomeni

Greek journalists ask doctor if the woman felt pain.. 101 Greek journalism #morons

A happy and sad event at the same time took place in #Idomeni today. Hopefully the baby and mother will be safe https://twitter.com/d_tosidis/status/713757807649165316
[/quote]
[quote=Fotomovimiento]

Mujer pariendo ahora mismo en la tienda. Y la prensa no deja ni sitio. Un poco de respeto joder!

Y parir en una tienda. Dos médicos atendiendo sin ambulancia ni casi medios. Esto es una locura.
[/quote]
[quote=Enough is Enough!]

Disgusting scenes from camera crew of German #ZDF tv as baby was born at #Idomeni camp earlier today. They have no respect for #RefugeesGR

#ZDF tv crew continued filming after family asked to stop filming birth of the baby several times.
[/quote]

Meanwhile at the tea tent...
[quote=Teacher Dude]

Two reporters walked to head of our queue and tried grabbing tea, 'but we're Press' they cried when I stopped them #Idomeni
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 26, 2016

[quote=Our friends from Vial]
Dear friends, this page tells the story of the 1275 people who are at this moment detained in the Camp on Chios, named Vial. Listen and find out first hand what is actually happening inside a Greek detention centre.
[/quote]
[quote=Our friends from Vial]

23 March at 16:04

Last night there was a protest in Vial. It was a protest against the bad conditions in the camp and the horrifying prospect of being deported to Turkey, a country deemed ''safe'' by the EU.

28st of Februari: Monira Jafari and her husbands were in Cesme, Turkey. They were hiding in the ''woods'' the place where everybody who is going to Chios, is awaiting the boat. There was a random police raid, which was unusual, since most of the time the police cooperates openly with the smugglers. Monira who was pregnant and her husband were severely beaten by the Turkish police and taken to a prison cell, were they ended up staying for 24 hours. Monira had severe abdominal pain whilst in detention. On 1st of March, as a direct result of the beating Monira and her husband lost their child.

They are just two of the 1500 people detained on Chios and awaiting their deportation back to Turkey...
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 27, 2016

A Greek human rights lawyer on the limitations of the UNHCR's reaction to the EU-Turkey deal. This deserves more attention and looks like something of a token show of non-participation. The IRC's reaction looks similar (stopping running buses to Moria basically). Some other NGOs seem to be making more of a genuine effort to avoid being part of the new set up.

[quote=Electra Leda Koutra]

UNHCR, which is fully aware of the fact that all these refugees cannot all at once have access to asylum in Greece, MUST INTERVENE URGENTLY and act CONSISTENTLY TO ITS MANDATE to characterize as PRIMA FACIE REFUGEES (refugees unless is proven otherwise) all those refugees currently stuck in Greece, to protect them from their IMMINENT DEPORTATION to Turkey.

Cancelling a bus service to Moria is NOT what the refugees expect from their legal representative. Not becoming an accomplice to the loss of their lives and dignity IS.
[/quote]

See also Ingvald Bertelsen's timeline for more questioning of the role of the UNHCR.
[quote=Ingvald Bertelsen]

@owebb According to their spokespersons, UNHCR are still active inside. Just stopped transporting to/from

@owebb Yes, they are doing exactly the same as before, except for the transport. They presented this as a big change, and media bought it :)

@owebb But also, since these camps probably will hold people until they are are returned - this may be a change in UNHCR's policies >

@owebb > They have earlier abstained from being present in detention camps of the pre-removal category
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 27, 2016

Refugees at Idomeni have marched to the border following rumours that it would open this morning. Follow Marianna Karakoulaki for updates.

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 28, 2016

Idomeni - disputes between volunteers and activists?

Video from Idomeni protests yesterday

[quote=Live Ticker Eidomeni]

Saturday was reigned by the rumours that on Sunday the border to Macedonia/FYROM will be opened.

On Sunday morning several hundred refugees gathered to eventually cross into Macedonia/FYROM. Protest were also reported in Cherso camp. Tensions grew in Idomeni during the morning hours when Greek police increased its presence massively and made clear that there is no border opening to be expected. Meanwhile the police blocked a solidarity aid convoy on the highway. Apparently they were afraid of a possible disturbance into the permanently existing chaos at the camp.

Once again the authorities’ reaction to self-organized protest was to blame activists and volunteers for inciting and instrumentalising protests. In doing so, they denied political subjectivity to refugees and forget that the situation in Idomeni and Greece in general is reason enough to organize protest and to embrace every chance to leave.
....
[/quote]

Greek media coverage of the protests yesterday morning. ERT is the state TV station closed by the previous government and reopened under Syriza:
[quote=Teacher Dude]

On Greek state @ErtSocial journos trying to blame NGOs as a smoke screen to avoid talking about govt policy of returning #refugees to Turkey

Greek TV reporters now coming up with extreme conspiracy theories about role of NGOs in Greece, no evidence given, of course @ErtSocial

Reality is that Greek state has failed to provide even basic services for #refugees for over a year, NGOs and volunteer groups doing hard work

It's obvious 4 hacks on @ErtSocial TV programme have the faintest clue what's going on in places like Moria and #Idomeni,

One particular noxious hack even suggesting that Macedonian NGOs behind unrest at #Idomeni, talking about them as if they were enemy agents

@teacherdude Except for that - they are not blaming anyone in particular on the Greek side?

@ingbertelsen Basically, creating a negative climate for NGOs and volunteer groups in general, but failing to back up claims with proof

@teacherdude Good you are updating on this,. I see now this Proto Thema claims "major concerns have been raised" for four of 15 NGOs

@ingbertelsen But no evidence on what exactly they are supposed to have done, this is character assassination posing as journalism
....
Shameless appeals to viewers baser instincts by Greek hacks on panel show on #ERT1 TV now.

A**holes are just mindlessly repeating whatever conspiracy theory they've heard recently,not shred of evidence presented to back up anything

TV show is Akirvos at 10 (At 10 Exactly) on state run #ERT1 Shameless example of gutter journalism at expense of groups helping #refugees

Strong backlash in some sectors of Greek media against #refugees and those helping them, often openly racist in tone

Some hacks trying to curry favour with govt pols by attacking NGOs as way of drawing attention away from mass deportation of #refugees
....
Classic example of far right conspiracy theories propagated by Greek press. Note no concrete evidence at all in this https://twitter.com/eprotothema/status/713990742688006145

It talks about maps (no pics), it talks about "suspect" NGOs (no names given, or reason for suspicion given) - typical far right BS

So basically @protothema is spreading unfounded rumours, exactly the same charge it's levelling at NGOs/volunteer groups

[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 28, 2016

[quote=Teacher Dude]

Large sections of Greek media still attacking NGOs/Volunteer groups helping #Refugees as way of deflecting criticism from govt

Reality is that many Greek journalists attacking those helping #refugees in order to curry favour with politicians in govt and opposition

Few institutions more corrupt & so easily bought in Greece as mainstream media. For decades hacks have been political systems's hired guns.

There has been a swing door between Greek media and political parties, often reporters work in multiple positions in both media and parties

But don't worry Greek MSM has the same kind of future as VCR manufacturers and typewriter repair schools - Good riddance

Rare to see any Greek under 40 reading a newspaper and young people no longer watching TV except on certain occasions.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 28, 2016

In Spanish

Hibai Arbide Aza on solidarity from ordinary Greek people

[quote=Principia Marsupia]

Tras un mes esperando, esta noche hay muchísima tensión en Idomeni.

La policía ha intentado sacar a la fuerza a los refugiados de la vía y se ha empezado a liar. Noche cerrada en Idomeni. Mucha tensión.

Los voluntarios nos cuentan q han detenido a varios de sus compañeros. Llegan más antidisturbios. Cada vez más tensión en Idomeni

La situación se ha calmado bastante. Un grupo de refugiados forman cadena para evitar roces con policía

Situación mucho más calmada ya. Antidisturbios han intentado desalojar vías tren y ha habido minutos de tensión. Ahora todo más tranquilo
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 29, 2016

It looks like the number of refugees making it across is rising again after a few days of bad weather and aggressive policing on the Turkish side. If this continues conditions may get very bad in the island camps.

[quote=Michael Räber]
Hellenic coastguard brings in 500 detained #refugeesGr to port #Mytilini #Lesvos t/d. More ppl being rescued and detained on sea right now.
[/quote]
[quote=Proactiva]
Llegaron 40 personas costa Norte,150 costa Sur y 500 interceptadas por HCG-Frontex. Seguiremos asegurando el Egeo
[/quote]

Numbers of arrivals over the last week

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 6, 2016

British Navy on Lesvos? (I'm not sure the identity is confirmed)

Edit: ^This in fact seems to be the UK Border Force which comes under the Home Office and I think is technically a police rather than naval or military unit. They are acting as part of Frontex and are reportedly one of the most abusive units involved. The patrol vessel off Lesvos is the HMC Protector.

Lesvos: waiting for the containers

European border crackdown kickstarts migrant smuggling business

[quote=Asteris Masouras]
Another move against refugee solidarity in Lesvos. No longer useful to EU now that hotspots turned into gulags https://twitter.com/noborderkitchen/status/714878208320151556
[/quote]
[quote=Filio Kontrafouri]

Tmrw #Greece will pass legislation pertaining to refugee crisis, will designate what a 'safe country' is but will NOT name #Turkey as one

@filiopk and that will suffice?

@YanniKouts Absolutely not. Only makes this EU-Turkey deal more complex bc deal is nothing but tiny band-aid hastily put on a bleeding wound
[/quote]

Turkey as a safe third country?

Turkish deportations to Iraq

Pleiades report on living conditions at refugee camps

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 30, 2016

[quote=Samos Refugees]

MSF Start Working Again

MSF have re-started their beach rescue service where they will again offer immediate medical and material support (clothes, tents, shoes, water, and food) to refugees arriving on the beaches of Samos. At this moment in time they are running 2 nightly teams including a doctor, translator, nurse and welfare worker who will patrol the north and south coasts of the island between 10pm and 6am.

Given MSF's opposition to the recent EU/Turkey pact on the grounds of its inhumanity, MSF will not collude with the authorities by transporting refugees from their landing places to the locked Detention Centre ( the Camp). Neither will they work directly with the police. So unlike past practice MSF will no longer take calls from the authorities asking them to go to landing places to help and transport the newly arriving refugees. It will be up to MSF and its supporters to find the refugees and hope that they will arrive before the police so some basic humanitarian aid can be provided before the police come to take the refugees to the camp.

MSF have provided the following telephone number 6971963987 to call either in Greek or English if you see refugees arriving. They will then respond.

Although it is still not clear how and if the new pact will operate in practice one thing is already obvious. It is now much harder to be close to the refugees on Samos and to show our solidarity and support. Their immediate landings are one of the few opportunities to embrace and care for the new arrivals.

So keep your eyes open and take a note of this number
6971963987

Updates

Around 8 boats of refugees have arrived since the pact came into force on March 20th. We have contact with some of the young Pakistani refugees locked in the camp and they continue to despair at the absence of any information and fearful that they are soon to be deported from Samos back to Turkey.

It would appear that some refugees have succeeded in keeping out of the camp.

Refugee flows here have always been unpredictable and it is too early to read anything into the fact that some boats have been arriving since the Pact. Not the least we have just had a period of very stormy seas which always reduces arrivals.

Refugees rarely have much choice in the precise routes they take into Europe once they place themselves in the hands of the smugglers. How this agreement affects the smugglers will certainly be a key influence in whether the routes through the Greek islands will continue to be busy.

There is talk on the island that deportations will start from Samos at the beginning of April. We will see.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 31, 2016

Suggestion here of misleading official figures on arrivals since the deal came into operation.

[quote=Louis Dowse]

Good morning: approx. 94 arrivals this AM to #Chios

Curious to see if there is sig. contrast between police stats and shoreline rescue stats again. Dubious official records...

Update: 217 people have arrived since last night
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 31, 2016

[quote=cam]

Vial detention centre on #Chios is now so overcrowded, the 200 new arrivals are being kept at the port.
....
Protest at #Vial, detained ppl burst out through the gates

After 30mins, cops make ppl return 2 Vial det.cntre. Worst are these guys frm charity MetAction, herding ppl inside.

METaction are an interpreter group - so why are they doing the work of the police. Scum
[/quote]
English language site for the scum in question: http://www.metadrasi.org/eng/

Welcome To METAction

The Non-Governmental Organization “METAction” was founded in December 2009, its primary aim being to promote a rational system for managing mixed migration flows, while encouraging respect for human rights, national and international legislation, through the development of actions for the reception and integration of immigrants and refugees in Greece, as well as of actions of support for their voluntary return and reintegration in their countries of origin.

More on their interpretation services here. This comes across to me as an NGO being run as a business.
[quote=cam]
Oh yeah, and who else was at #Vial? UNHCR. So much for their 'refusal to participate in detention'
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 31, 2016

[quote=Nikolia Apostolou]

The EU-Turkey deal has not deterred #refugees to cross the Aegean Sea. It has made the passing more dangerous.

As the TR police stops them, #refugees now have needed up to 4 attempts to successfully reach Greece

5 boats arrived in the south of Lesbos today #refugees. Despite the Turkish coast-guard pulling many boats back, hard to stop the migrant flow

New GR gov rhetoric concerning the refugee crisis:"the NGOs are making people riot". Imagine you were stuck in Idomeni or Lesbos for months?
[/quote]
[quote=Eric Kempson]

Just had one boat of 50 people come in at Kia beach north Lesvos

Another 2 boats just came in at chapel north coast Lesvos 70 people

5 boats landed north coast lesvos
[/quote]
[quote=Natasha Tsangarides]
Contacts inside #moria say there are about 2000 people inside. Not enough food. Minors unit full. #refugeesgr #lesvos
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 31, 2016

Greek asylum system reaches breaking point

....
“Insufferable pressure is being put on us to reduce our standards and minimise the guarantees of the asylum process,” Maria Stavropoulou, who heads the Greek Asylum Service, told IRIN. “[We’re asked] to change our laws, to change our standards to the lowest possible under the EU directive [on asylum procedures].”

Under the terms of the 18 March agreement, Greece must screen all new arrivals from Turkey as quickly as possible and return those deemed not in need of international protection on the basis that Turkey is a “safe third country” or “first country of asylum” where they were already protected.

Most of the pressure, according to Stavropoulou, is coming from “countries that are very invested in the deal with Turkey working.”
....

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on March 31, 2016

[quote=Benjamin Julian]

Today a protest was organized outside the Vial hotspot in Chios. Refugees took part by clapping and shouting and then broke out to join the protest outside. As they rushed out, they chanted “FREEDOM! FREEDOM! FREEDOM!” and continued chanting against deportations, for their asylum cases to be taken and appealing to Angela Merkel to improve their lot. The dozen or so policemen present, seemingly flabbergasted at this turn of events, put on helmets and positioned themselves between us and the refugees.

This faintly ridiculous setup was only symbolic. A friend of mine, whom I’d only talked with through a fence, just walked around the officers and shook my hand. “How are you doing?” he said with a beaming smile, as if we were meeting in a public park on a weekend stroll. People talked, walked around. Refugees enjoyed looking at their prison from the outside.

However, there wasn’t much for them to do outside. They’ve had some opportunities to leave the prison by climbing over the fence and walking the several kilomteres to town, but they can’t leave the island and are easily identifiable here. This is the genius of keeping them on the islands, which were cleared of refugees before they arrived. This also exposes how ludicrous their imprisonment is. If they can break out and still have no place to go, why lock them up in the first place?

As it turned out, most went inside again. A committee of local people visited the facility to check out conditions there. Police split off the more vociferous protesters, presumably to bring the protest to an early close, and because they had absolutely no capacity for a greater action.

Refugees mostly reacted with bemused indifference. They slowly went inside again at their leisure, underlining what an absurdity the locked door policy is.

At the end of the protest many interviews were given. People inside still haven’t got hot water, so they can’t clean themselves or their clothes. They’ve been there for 11 days, by and large, are still unhappy about the food, tensions inside are still running high and people seem more and more to reply “I’m not doing good” when asked how they feel. Asylum processing has finally started, with numerous problems and delays, but people are desparate. They didn’t come to Greece to remain in this country of economic disaster. They know people in the north of Europe. They want to go there. And the fact is that even if they apply for asylum here, they probably won’t get it.

But they have been through plenty, and this will not break them. There are other ways into Europe, other ways to get by. The walls may seem impregnable, the authorities unbeatable, but most of the time this is all an illusion. Sometimes all it takes is just shaking open the fence and walking around the policeman, and freedom is yours.
[/quote]

Video of the break out

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 2, 2016

Refugees broke out of Vial camp again yesterday and are occupying Chios port. See Benjamin Julian's timeline: https://mobile.twitter.com/blidfinnur

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 3, 2016

Video: MAT riot police clashing with locals on Chios earlier tonight

... and with Afghan refugees in Vial, I think following this

Deportations from Lesvos and Chios are due to start tomorrow morning.

Edit: Report in Greek on the clashes in Chios town - these seem to have been over a protest against the transfer of refugees to a building there in advance of being deported. Another video of the same incident here

Meanwhile...

[quote=Bruno Tersago]
In the past 24 hours, 888 #refugees arrived on #Lesbos, 462 on #Chios & 31 on #Samos
[/quote]

The situation on Samos

Plans for deportations from Lesvos

Advice for volunteers observing the deportations tomorrow morning

returnwatch.org

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 4, 2016

Solidarity structures in Greece confronted with criminalization and control

BBC World Service interview with asylum lawyer Electra Koutra

Deportations from Lesvos and Chios started this morning
[quote=Patrick Kingsley]

The people being deported today are supposedly those who chose not to apply for asylum in Greece. Key Q: did they have the opp to do so?

Vast majority of those on this first boat are people from Pakistan, Morocco – only 2 Syrians. IE not really a test of the deal.

To repeat, this is not really a test of new deal. We understand the deportees are mainly Pakistanis, who were already deported prior to deal
[/quote]
[quote=Nick Barnets]

136 deported from #Lesvos, 66 #Chios, all taken to #Dikili. Mainly Pakistanis, 2 Syrians all left voluntarily, didn't apply for asylum -spox

Told there is no quota for deportations right now, just to return those that did not wish to apply for asylum.
[/quote]
[quote=Benjamin Julian]
Inmate in #Vial prison for #refugeesGr, #Chios, says people deported this morning requested asylum, didn't get interview
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 6, 2016

[quote=Will Horner]

Today's returns to #Turkey were purely symbolic. #Refugees in #Moria told me all deportees had arrived BEFORE #EUTurkeyDeal

(contd.) Not to mention the fact that 124 of 136 deportees today were from Pakistan and Pakistanis were already being deported since 1 Jan

@PatrickKingsley Pakistani asylum seeker in Lesbos told me they thought claiming asylum would harm chances of getting to mainland

@PatrickKingsley He also said that Pakistanis who tried to claim asylum at last minute were refused and held in detention section of Moria
[/quote]

One thing this does indicate is the dishonesty of the UNHCR in all this. See this statement from Melissa Fleming

ajjohnstone

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ajjohnstone on April 5, 2016

Just want to express my appreciation to Mark for all his information links and updates.

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 6, 2016

Thanks.

[quote=Daphne Tolis]
Today's & tomorrow's planned deportations from #Chios to #Turkey cancelled as "100 to-be-returned refugees disappeared" says @tovimagr.
[/quote]

Apostolis Fotiadis - So the Greece deportations are going ‘smoothly’? Take a closer look

Greece may have deported asylum seekers by mistake, says UN

[quote=Natasha Tsangarides]
2 men deported from #lesvos and forcibly returned to #turkey have attempted suicide #refugeesGr http://www.politikalesvos.gr/dyo-aftoktonies-meta-tin-apelasi-ton-metanaston-stin-tourkia/
[/quote]
[quote=Eric Reidy]
Pakistani committed suicide inside #Moria detention center today - source inside. Confirmed w NGOs.
[/quote]
Edit: The report of a suicide has been denied - I'm not sure which is true.
[quote=Eric Reidy]
Clarification: no suicide in Moria yesterday. Attempt on Sunday night, not successful.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 6, 2016

Anti-refugee protest on Chios, still going on.

See Oscar Webb's timeline: https://mobile.twitter.com/owebb

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 6, 2016

Earlier tonight:

[quote=Souidos]

#athens #now cops detain #refugees who attempt to reach the center from the port of Piraeus. Anarchists organize spontaneous solidarity demo

#now Anarchist demo on its way to #athens police hq in solidarity with #refugees

According to officials, detained #refugees from #athens center will be released soon. Concerns about police raid in the port of Piraeus
[/quote]
[quote=Benjamin Julian]

Fights break out as #Chios municipality discusses #refugeesGr
....
Right wing protests in #Chios over, council meeting goes on
....
#Chios municipal council decides to request the Greek government make #Vial open, otherwise permission to use the place will be withdrawn

Molotov cocktail thrown at Soli Cafe, #Chios, after right wing protests against #refugeesGr
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 7, 2016

[quote=Oscar Webb]

People who've set up a kitchen in Chios town to feed refugees say their house was attacked last night by 20 men who threw a molotov cocktail

They say the men came and went between 11pm and 3am, started a fire nearby, threatened to burn the house down, until the police arrived
[/quote]
Golden Dawn were involved in the racist protest last night so they're likely suspects for this.

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 7, 2016

[quote=Gunilla von Hall]

Around hundred refugees broke out from camp in Samos. Reportedly had knives. Police and military waiting for orders.

Syrian woman in wheelchair among refugees who broke out of prison camp in Samos. Many women and children here too.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 7, 2016

[quote=damomac]
In #Vial detention centre, #Chios, the one asylum worker has processed 10 of 833 asylum applications, rejecting 9 pic.twitter.com/VdCkHIRTsv
[/quote]

[quote=Patrick Kingsley]

Across the Aegean in Turkey, aid workers and journalists were denied access to the 13 asylum seekers allegedly deported from Chios by mistake on the first day of the EU-Turkey deal, raising concerns that they could be expelled from Turkey without legal recourse.

The UN says the 13 were not given the chance to apply for asylum before their deportation to Turkey on Monday – undermining EU claims that all asylum seekers would be given the chance to claim asylum in Greece.

The 13 are being held in a remote detention centre in Pehlivanköy, north-western Turkey, built in recent weeks with EU money – and now await deportation from Turkey to their home countries.

On Wednesday, Ankara refused to allow the UN high commissioner for refugees access to the asylum seekers, and also turned down a request from the Guardian to interview them. A police officer guarding the facility told the Guardian that those inside could be deported “within two weeks – or two days”.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 7, 2016

[quote=Benjamin Julian]
Locals threaten refugees in the Chios port with violence. People here are very tense, some crying, many protesting, police tells them to go to Souda for their own safety. After yesterday's violent attacks on Soli Cafe, refugees are scared. They're being offered a bus to Souda, people are afraid it will take them to the Vial prison. Alleged fascists stand nearby and watch the scene unfold. Evacuation of the port is a possibility, though a remote one.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 7, 2016

[quote=Oscar Webb]

Clashes between refugee and right-wing crowd- crowd chases him. Crowd surrounds port. Police just walked away #Chios

It's mob rule here. Right wing crowd braying for violence on edges of port. Women and kids running and screaming away. No police.

Chaos in Chios - accurate now

Refugees penned further into the port, mob outside. Ferry coming in. Small number of army have arrived

Women just taken away in ambulance for shock.

Mayor of the island here trying to convince refugees to move out of the port for their own safety.

Refugees adamant that they will not move

Right wing crowd and refugees silent as mayor negotiates, asking ppl to go to an open camp nearby.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 7, 2016

[quote=Oscar Webb]

Discussion amongst refugees as to whether to move going on #Chios

Some families packing up and leaving #Chios port for what they're told is Souda camp, an open facility nearby

One family just left port 'we're the first, the others will follow', says father

Voluntary leaving turns into eviction of port: police take two men out. Standoff now

Police saying: 'no more negotiations, you have to leave now'.

Fireworks thrown into port by right wing crowd. women/kids crying.Still resolute they're staying.More arrests

And all of the refugees have left the port and are walking to Souda refugee camp, also in Chios town, nearby #Chios

Crowd outside give police and mayor round of applause.
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 8, 2016

[quote=spyros gkelis]
Big mobilization of the NeoNazi #GoldenDawn with sticks / helmets in #Piraeus. GD leaders Michaloliakos-Kasidiaris are there.
[/quote]
[quote=kinimatini]
Golden Dawn members gathering with helmets below the police station of Piraeus. chanting antiislamic xenofobic racists nazi slogans
[/quote]
[quote=Souidos]

After attacking #antifa, riot cops in #Pireaus in friendly negotiations with nazis https://twitter.com/dromografosNews/status/718456400767225856

Again riot cops and nazis together #Pireaus #antifa #refugeesgr https://twitter.com/kinimatini/status/718458350560755712
[/quote]
The authorities have been trying to pressurise refugees to leave Piraeus for camps outside Athens. tbh it's getting harder to see Golden Dawn, the police, Syriza, Frontex, the EU and the UNHCR as being on different sides.

Video from Chios last night

Deportations took place again this morning.
[quote=Andrew Connelly]

2nd day of mass expulsions on #Lesbos this morning ~50 awaiting embarkation on boat to #Turkey Nationalities unknown

Four protesters at #Mytilene port of #Lesbos just jumped into the sea, swimming to the #Frontex deportation boat

#Frontex: 45 Pakistani males on today's deportation boat to #Turkey. None requested asylum, allegedly.

Today's deportees #Lesbos-#Turkey who 'didn't claim asylum' not be confused w/ those that 'didn't claim' on Monday, which UNHCR claim 13 did

Second deportation. 50 from #Kos 29 from #Samos brought by ferry to #Lesbos then onto #Frontex boat. Nationality tbc
[/quote]

Mark.

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on April 8, 2016

[quote=kinimatini]

Syriza says that refugees cannot organize themselves against state & Europe brutality so they blame the anarchists/volunteers

Syriza "forgets" that we are all humans & that we communicate with each other. Refugees are friends in need. We stand with them

#RefugeesGr deny to go to the camps Syriza gov proposed.Some of them went to the camps and there are no facilities there so they came back.

they took pictures of the camps with their phones and then they spreaded the info to each other.

Most of the camps Syriza proposes to the refugees to go are empty spaces, away from the city with few transportations. >>

so Greece proposes to asylum seekers, children & mothers who survived war to go camp in rural areas away from the city... !?!?!

Greece is evacuating all camps of Refugees at the ports because the tourist are coming for vacations.

TOURISTS GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY.
WE PREFER THE REFUGEES.

URGENT CALL TO COMRADES ALL OVER THE WORLD.
WE NEED YOUR HELP IN GREECE
WE NEED TO BUILD A STRONG SHIELD AND PROTECT THE REFUGEES.

Already comrades from all over the world are here helping and occuping empty spaces to host refugees.

If you cannot come here plz help by spreading the right info. This tag #refugeesGr providew critical info everyday
[/quote]