January 2016 has been the deadliest month ever in the Aegean: 257 migrants have died in the cold sea. A dozen more migrants died either after reaching Europe or traveling to a launch point in Turkey and 26 migrants died trying to reach Italy.
On Saturday (30/1) 39 migrants died trying to reach the island of Lesvos.
On Thursday (28/01) 26 migrants died near the island of Samos.
On Wednesday (27/01) 7 migrants died near the island of Kos.
At least 34 people, including three children, have drowned off Turkey’s Aegean coast after their boat capsized in rough seas.
On Sunday, a two-year-old boy became the first known refugee to drown in 2016 after the dinghy he was travelling in crashed into rocks.
Τhe state of siege and the massive police operation in Idomeni marks the turn from the publicly advertised “humanitarian governmental policy on the refugee crisis” to the “obligatory” and by tacit consensus brutality: “The country is in line with its commitments”.
Physical brutality was there before, but the whole situation was presented in the mass media as a combination of the valiant efforts of our left government and the philanthropic concerns of the Greek Volk (this was the way that the humane attitude of a large number of people was presented, mixed with the bureaucratic profit-making of various NGOs and the selfless made by various “first-world” citizens who, being attracted by the tragedies of the ‘others’, addressed the issue as if they were in a safari in Africa).
Under the new tactics, minister Mouzalas can be photographed posing as an activist together with the radical superstar Susan Sarandon (the last remaining, along with the comic actor Slavoj Žižek, to reaffirm the radicality of the Greek Government) ignoring the small detail that in the first weeks of December 100 migrants died in the Aegean sea.
Many of the dead belonged to the “good category”, they came from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, they were “refugees”. The rest belonged to the “bad ones”, they were migrants. If they had survived, they would have been imprisoned in the Moria detention center in Lesvos, waiting to be transported to some concentration camps in the mainland (after protests and hunger strike of Maghreb migrants, the Greek police returned to the policy of giving to the sans-papiers a 30-days permit to leave Greece by their own means, but the final Greek Police decision is that all Maghreb migrants “after being recorded in Hot Spots, will be detained”).
Under the new tacit consensus brutality, the concentration camps that were supposed to be shut down have started being filled up again: in mid-December over 200 migrants were transferred form Tae-kwon-do stadium (they were brought there after the evacuation of Idomeni) to the concentration camp / detention center at Corinth. In the mass media the reason for these arrests was supposed to be the migrants “criminal activity”, but what happened were “collective responsibility” mass arrests on the legal basis that … the migrants have violated police orders prohibiting them to be in Athens, although they were moved by force to the Greek capital by the Greek police itself, after the evacuation of Idomeni!
Brutality is there on all sides of the borders: human smugglers receive large sums to pass migrants from an opening in the fence to the Republic of Macedonia, where mobsters and soldiers are waiting to rob them, beat them and return them to Greece. Cops in Idomeni then return the migrants to Athens, ignoring the fact that they are usually injured, with broken arms, limbs, injuries to the genitals etc. The ideal space after all for medical treatment is the “open centre of hospitality” in Ellinikon, in Athens (open centre indeed, as it is an open stadium…).
Brutality is there on all sides of the borders:
Dec.24/2015: New shipwreck with 18 dead migrants
Dec.23/2015: 13 people dead in the Aegean – among them 7 children
Dec.22/2015: Turkish coast police reports: 11 refugees drowned off Kuşadası shores
Dec.20/2015: Two dead migrants near Ikaria island
Dec.19/2015: New shipwreck in the Aegean – 18 drowned migrants
Dec.19/2015: New Tragedy: 1.5 years-old girl dies in a shipwreck near Oinousses island
Dec.18/2015: Anothes shipwreck near Bodrum: 4 dead, 4 survivors
Dec.16/2015: A little girl and a man dead in another shipwreck near Lesvos island
Dec.16/2015: Two children dead near Çeşme
Dec.15/2015: Three dead and three missing in a shipwreck near Kastelorizo island
Dec.13/2015: Two refugees missing east of Lesvos
Dec.10/2015: Pharmakonisi: 16 migrants dead in another shipwreck
Dec.09/2015: 400 riot policemen evacuate Idomeni
In 2015, there were 632 deaths in the Aegean up to December 14.
09.00: The border is still closed. All nationalities are stuck now. Conflicts are rising among those who could pass, and those who cannot. People are trying to walk to other border crossings. UNHCR has left the camp tonight. Europe’s strategy of divide et impera has worked out so far.
24.00: Update: It’s not ten buses waiting, it’s twenty. Additional 1000 persons will have to sleep outside tonight.
23.00:The border crossing is still blocked by protestors. Greek police has completely left the border zone. Right now around ten buses are arriving. UNHCR reports that they have no clue how to accommodate the newly arriving persons. Obviously they have enough stored goods, but no staff to distribute it.
19.00: Still hundreds of protesters in front of the fence. The border crossing is blocked, nobody can pass right now. The camp is getting crowded as new people still arrive.
17.00: Protesters shout ‚Etihad‘ (United) to gather all nationalities in front of the fence.
16.00: Protesters have teared down the fences of the crosspoint. Situation tense. Greek police doesn’t intervene.
15.00: Hundreds gather at the crosspoint as rumours have spreaded that border would be opened in 2 hours. Macedonian police/army has strengthened its presence with water cannons and riot units. We have no confirmed information about border opening.
13.30: Hundreds of refugees tried to pass the fence at its end and just came back to the camp. They reported, that Macedonian army/police was entering Greek territory and shot on them with rubber bullets. Furthermore, they told about warning shots in the air.
13.20: Yesterday evening, about 30 buses arrived. This resulted in chaos this morning at the crossing point. The cage surrounding it, was destroyed.
Tension increasing in Idomeni. Today, early in the morning -3:00 am-, and at 4:00 pm in the afternoon, hundreds of migrants tried to cross the border by pushing Rep. of Macedonia riot police and soldiers.
One person was injured and taken by ambulance to the hospital of Kilkis. Some people managed to cross the border, but after a wile 7 of them (perhaps all of them) were returned to Greece.
The hunger strike continues, as the 10 Iranian hunger strikers are guarded by other immigrants from Iran. Right now the number of hunger strikers with sewn mouths is reduced to six.
One Iranian has sewed his mouth. The total number of migrants participating in the hunger strike is still unclear.
The number of migrants who are not allowed to pass the borders is from 1,500 up to 2,000, as more migrants who are not allowed to pass keep arriving with buses from Athens. In order to return them to Athens, the drivers ask to be paid a 50 euros ticket.
Tension has gripped the neutral zone between Greece and Rep. of Macedonia since yesterday, as the refugees and migrants there have been informed that only citizens of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq will be entitled to pass freely from now on.
This morning about 100 Iranians were near the neutral zone and begged to be allowed to cross the border, resulting in the Macedonian authorities closing the border shortly after 8:00 am.
Croatian Minister of Interior Ranko Ostojić confirmed on Thursday, November 19, 2015 that Croatia is closing its borders for economic migrants. Refugees from Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Afghanistan will still be accepted and registered before they continue their journey to Slovenia and further on to their final destination.
This decision comes as a chain reaction since the same measure was implemented last night and early this morning by Serbia and Macedonia. Slovenia has also closed its borders for economic migrants and already tried to send 162 people back to Croatia, all of them coming from countries that are not considered war zones (Morocco, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Liberia). Croatia denied the request so those migrants are still in Slovenia.
Rep. of Macedonia has started to place barbed wire along the border with Greece in implementing the decision of the security council.
The workers are preparing the terrain with bulldozers and tractors, opening holes in which iron columns for the wire fence will be placed. This will close the main passage for those refugees and migrants who arrive in the country from Greece. The fence will be erected on the railway line in the village of Idomeni, near the shore of the river Axios, and it will cover a distance of 1.5 km. The installation work is carried out by members of the military.
According to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, a possible permanents closure of the border between Greece and Rep. of Macedonia will direct the refugee flood to the “route crossing the Danube”, which includes Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia. He recalls that the Prime Ministers of the three countries have recently met in Sofia and announced that, in the presence of such a possibility, they will close their state borders too.
Thessaloniki: Huge banner by the “No Lager” assembly on the facade of the Labor Center during todays general strike.
On the banner is written: ‘Drownings at the borders are murders committed by the Greek state and Fortress Europe. Stop war on migrants”.
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!
At least 18 people lost their lives today in the Aegean… In the morning, 14 migrants died 4 miles from Lesvos. In the afternoon, in another shipwreck, near Izmir this time, 4 more migrants died and two are missing…
Yesterday, November 10, members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), playing the role of the Riot Police, evacuated by force a squat for temporary accommodation of refugees/migrants. The former “workers’ center” building was occupied on November 7, 2015 by refugees and greeks in solidarity to them. It had been empty for many years, but the Communist Party (who controls Mytilene workers’ center) was using it as storeroom.
Refugees and immigrants are obliged to sleep in the streets of Lesvos island, while they are waiting for the papers to travel to Athens and from there to the north of the European Union.
On this video you can see the reactions of the people in solidarity following the evacuation of the squat.
Fourteen people drowned off Turkey’s western coast when a boat packed with refugees sank in the early hours of Wednesday. A Turkish Coast Guard patrol found the sinking boat off the coast of Ayvacik district in Canakkale province – around 10 kilometers (4 miles) from Lesbos. Among the dead were seven children. 27 people were rescued.
Yesterday (7/11) in Mytilini migrants occupied one building in the center of the town close to the port. The building was the old “workers’ center” of the town, but the last years was closed. The last days thousands of people were living in the port and in the streets waiting for the ships (the ships workers were on strike).
This is a self-organized initiative by migrants and local groups are there to support them.
…and some more news from Greece
As you probably know, the days before the protest against Evros fence have been the deadliest ever in the Aegean, with 86 people dead or missing. During the first ten months of 2015 more than 454 migrants have died or gone missing in successive shipwrecks in the Aegean…
So, all that we do appears so little, but so necessary in the same time.
The Greek government is determined not to take the Evros fence down. Instead, they want to start negotiations with the Turkish government, in order to come into an “arrangement”, that has been suggested by high EU officials.
Three days ago, prime minister Alexis Tsipras escorted Martin Schulz (President of the European Parliament) to a visit in Lesvos island.
Local anarchists occupied the city’s town hall and raised a big banner saying: “The Aegean is full of migrants’ dead bodies. Europeans too are peoples’ murderers” (paraphrasing a well known leftist “anti-American” slogan: “Americans, you peoples’ murderers”).
When Tsipras and Schulz arrived in the island, other protesters were also waiting them.
The movement in Lesvos island had also joined the October 31 protests: Anarchists and radical leftist had a big demonstration in which many immigrants participated. In this protest the same as in the Evros one happened: Syriza members were not accepted.
In the next photo, the anarchist banner: “Aegean is a cemetery. Murderers will pay!”
Last Friday, in another “front”, Athens, a crowd of 400 comrades canceled the protest that a fascist “neighborhood committee” has called against the presence of immigrants in Victoria square. Many immigrants use this square as an one or two day stop on their way out of Greece. Athens fascists have tried to create anti-immigrant hysteria among the neighbors, but with little success: yesterday only 40 people responded to the fascist call, while the antifascist one was joined by more than 400 comrades.
Now the next “big thing” (after Evros protest) will be a demonstration in Athens, on November 21. In the same time, local protests and info events are organized all over Greece (yesterday in the city of Veroia, on November 10 in Patras and Herakleion, but also in neighborhoods of Athens and smaller towns, like Edessa).
According to an announcement by Amnesty International (November 2, 2015) “during the first ten months of 2015 more than 454 refugees and migrants have died or gone missing in successive shipwrecks in the Aegean. Only between 28 and 30 October, 86 people, including children, died or were declared missing in seven shipwrecks off the coasts of Lesvos, Samos, Kalymnos and Rhodes islands.”
“Tough security measures at the land borders with Turkey and the erection there of a 12.5 kilometer long fence in 2012, has forced refugees and migrants to choose the more dangerous route through Greece’s sea borders with Turkey. Amnesty International has also collected accusations about illegal police operations and push-backs of refugees and immigrants in the Evros region.”
Around 500 people, from various towns, participated in today’s protest against Evros fence.
At a blockade close to the border, police announced that the demonstrators could not reach the fence because it is in a militarized area. After this, the demonstrators clashed with the police in the village of Kastanies, just some hundred meters away from the fence. The police used lots of tear gas, but the demonstrators managed to stand firm.
Some hours earlier, in the morning, in Thessaloniki, members of the ruling SYRIZA party tried to infiltrate (sic!) the protest (the Youth of SYRIZA and the “department for civil rights” of the ruling party, just half a day before the protest, publicized an announcement stating that they support the protest!). Anarchist groups didn’t allow SYRIZA members to participate in the protest.
Up to 350 migrants were aboard the wooden boat that sank north of the island of Lesbos on Wednesday 28 Oct. 242 migrants were rescued. Nobody knows how many exactly are missing.
Ten dead bodies have been found so far.
Seven more immigrants died yesterday in 3 different shipwrecks, neat the island of Samos.
(Athens) – Armed masked men have been disabling boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea and pushing them back to Turkish waters, Human Rights Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch spoke to nine witnesses who described eight incidents in which masked assailants – often armed – intercepted and disabled the boats carrying asylum seekers and migrants from Turkey toward the Greek islands, most recently on October 7 and 9, 2015. The witnesses said that the assailants deliberately disabled their boats by damaging or removing the engines or their fuel, or puncturing the hulls of inflatable boats. In some cases, the boats were towed to Turkish waters.
Ankara, Turkey: Twelve migrants drowned today when their boat sank off the Turkish coast as they were seeking to reach Greece, while around 25 others were rescued, the Anatolia news agency reported.
The Turkish coastguard recovered the bodies from the wooden boat, which had sailed from northwest Turkey’s seaside town of Ayvalik headed for the Greek island of Lesbos, the Turkish news agency said.
The rescuers managed to save about two dozen others on board the sinking boat who had called for help on their cellphones, Turkish media reported.
Anatolia did not indicate the migrants’ nationalities.
Hungary has closed its border with Croatia in an effort to stem the flow of migrants through the country en route to western Europe.
Croatia said it would begin directing migrants to Slovenia instead.
Hungary has been a major transit country for migrants, many of whom aim to continue on to Austria and Germany.
It announced the closure on Friday after EU leaders failed to agree a plan backed by Hungary to send a force to prevent migrants reaching Greece.
The border, reinforced with a razor-wire fence, closed at midnight (22:00 GMT) on Friday.
A group of several hundred migrants who arrived near the village of Zakany minutes before the deadline were the last to be allowed through.
“Closure!” a soldier shouted after the last travellers had passed across.
“We know that this is not the best, but only the second-best solution,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said, announcing the closure earlier. Migrants could still apply for asylum in Hungary at two border transit zones, he added.
The border posts at Beremend and Letenje are also open for anyone with valid documents.
Hungary has already sealed its border with Serbia.
There are fears in Slovenia that closure of the Croatia-Hungary border will channel many more migrants through Slovenia.
Early on Saturday, migrants began arriving in Slovenia by bus from Croatia, news agencies reported.
Ranko Ostojic, Croatia’s Interior Minister, said Croatia was “turning the route, the corridor, towards Slovenia”.
Croatia has not struck any agreement with Slovenia, according to Mr Ostojic. “This is (purely) a Croatian plan,” he said.
In response, Slovenia stopped all passenger rail transport from Croatia, the country’s national railway company announced.
Slovenia’s Interior Minister, Vesna Gjorkos Znidar, said extra police had been deployed to the border with Croatia.
But she said the country will keep accepting refugees as long as neighbouring Austria and Germany keep their borders open.
Earlier on Friday, Turkish officials stressed that a plan agreed by EU officials for joint action with Turkey on the migrant crisis had not been finalised.
EU leaders have agreed to speed up visa liberalisation talks for Turks if Turkey stems the influx, as well as to “re-energise” talks on Turkey joining the EU and supply more aid.
An immigrant, believed to be from Afghanistan, was shot dead by Bulgarian police while trying to enter the country at an unrecognised crossing point.
The Bulgarian interior ministry said police tried to intercept a group of men who then resisted arrest. Warning shots, were then fired and a ricochet is said to have hit one of the men who died on his way to hospital.
The EU has agreed to open new chapters in Turkey’s long-stalled accession talks in return for cooperation on the refugee crisis. Bloc members are also considering billions in financial aid for Ankara.
The two sides are now in agreement on “the exact content of a joint action plan” to stem the flow of refugees arriving to Europe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said after the refugee summit in Brussels early Friday.
The EU and Turkey also agreed to “speed up” the talks on easing visa restrictions for Turkish citizens, according to Juncker.
At midday Thursday, October 15, near the island of Lesvos, a Coast Police boat collided with a wooden boat carrying migrants, killing seven of them, including three children and a baby … The circumstances of the “accident” will be investigated …
On Wednesday, October 14, in a shipwreck in the Aegean, two children and one woman died.
These new murders in Aegean coincide with an EU summit on the “immigrant issue” in Brussels and the statement by the Croatian government that “The security closure has been completed on the Hungary-Croatia border, the government is now able with the help of the police and army to seal the border”.
Today, a group of anarchists occupied a building in central Athens to be used as an open refugee shelter. Demos in solidarity with refugees/immigrants will take place in the cities of Thessaloniki and Patras on September 24.
The summer is coming to an end. The weather here on Samos continues to be sunny and in the midday the temperatures can be in the low 30s. But the evenings and nights are getting cooler. In the past 10 days six refugees that we know of have died whilst trying to get to Samos from Turkey. In a few weeks we can expect this number to rise as the weather and sea cools. We regularly meet with refugees when they land on the beaches. They are nearly always soaked through. The rubber inflatables are so overloaded that they quickly flood. They are not good quality which leads to them being easily punctured by a sharp buckle or belt. The engines, already under powered, often run out of fuel. The result is that the sea journey is nearly always wet, terrifying and arduous when you have to paddle with your arms and hands to keep moving on. This journey is bad enough in the summer but in the winter ……?
On Sunday morning, a boat with more than 100 immigrants capsized in the Aegean, near the island of Pharmakonisi. 34 immigrants lost their lives, among them 15 children. Port police saved 68 immigrants, 29 others managed to swim to the shores.
EXCLUSIVE: Migrants claim rogue Greek coastguard are ROBBING them at gunpoint and puncturing their dinghies in the Mediterranean
Migrants claim that they have have been robbed of their life possessions while on the perilous crossing to Greece by pirates
They claim that the masked, armed men may be a rogue element of the Greek coastguard and claim their descriptions fit
The UNHCR, Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children are told MailOnline they are looking into the claims
Greek coastguard deny the claim, adding pirates are ‘posing as authorities’… but admitted last month that one was a government employee
By Hannah Roberts In Kos For Mailonline
Masked gunmen from the Greek coastguard’s special forces have turned pirate and are robbing refugees in boats in the middle of the Mediterranean, migrants and aid-workers claim.
Migrants have told MailOnline shocking stories of how ‘commandos’ wearing balaclavas and armed with guns have struck in dozens of attacks between Turkey and Greece during July and August.
In some instances, the pirates made off with tens of thousands of euros in cash that the migrants had taken with them to find a better life in Europe – as well as mobile phones.
Victims say the mysterious assailants, who are light-skinned and speak in English and Greek, beat them with sticks and cut off their clothing and underwear to find any hidden phones and money before stealing the boats’ motors.
They then allegedly slice a hole in the rubber boats abandoning them to their fate. At times, the migrants have even been forced into the water.
Migrants, who call the gunmen ‘commandos’ because of their masks, have told MailOnline they believe the attacks are racially motivated and have pointed the finger at a rogue extreme right wing element of the Greek coastguard.
It is a claim supported by some aid organisations.
ISTANBUL — Just off the Turkish coast Tuesday morning, 40 Syrians were crammed on a rubber dinghy, desperate to reach Europe.
On board was Tanya Ibrahim, a high school art teacher from Aleppo, her 3-year-old son, Mohammed Jan, and her husband Abdeqaden, who filmed their dangerous journey. CBS News correspondent Holly Williams and her team first met them in Turkey before they set out.
They fled Syria two years ago, after their home was bombed, but they told Williams there was no regular work for Syrians in Turkey, so they borrowed $2,000 to pay a smuggler.
“We can’t live in Syria, and we can’t live here,” Tanya told CBS News. “For the sake of our son we need to leave.”
The family gave Williams and her team permission to follow them as they tried to reach Greece. They had good luck to start, with fairly calm waters, though their boat was overcrowded.
About five miles from the Greek coastline, however, an unmarked speedboat arrived from Greek waters. Abdeqaden said five men dressed in black pointed guns at them. He quickly hid his camera.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – At least 11 migrants believed to be Syrians drowned as two boats sank after leaving southwest Turkey for the Greek island of Kos, Turkey’s Dogan news agency reported on Wednesday.
It said a boat carrying 16 Syrian migrants had sunk after leaving the Akyarlar area of the Bodrum peninsula, and seven people had died. Four people were rescued and the coastguard was continuing its search for five people still missing.
Separately, a boat carrying six Syrians sank after leaving Akyarlar on the same route. Three children and one woman drowned and two people survived after reaching the shore in life jackets.
Contrary to the claims made by the port police (that the young refugee died because of suffocation), the doctor in charge of Symi medical centre stated that the young refugee death was most probably caused by the gunshot he received.