Migration and Struggle in Greece

Archive for September, 2013

Amygdaleza Concentration Camp: “Well, sorry to bother you, but we thought we’d revolt here…”

Posted by clandestina on 12 September 2013

Reporter: You live in a container. Is it nice here or would you like to return to your country?

Immigrant: No here it’s a mess, but I don’t want to go back.

Minister of Police and Suppression Dendias (smiling ironically): It takes time. In a month, a month and a half, he will have changed his mind.

September 2012, Amygdaleza concentration camp


And indeed the incarcerated immigrants soon changed their minds. But they didn’t ask to return back because they couldn’t endure the unlivable conditions of detainment and the inhumane means the greek state so eagerly uses. They turned their despair into rage and revolt.

On the night of August the 10th 2013, at the isolated and enclosed concentration camp for immigrants without papers in Amygdaleza, the biggest of its kind in Greece and after a year of psychological and physical torments, the damned set fire on walls and consciousness and become visible even for a while with their bodies and voice.

25 kilometers far from the center of Athens, at a vast, unapproachable and desolated land, where barbed wire succeeds cops and cops succeed barbed wire, the insurgent immigrants set containers-cages on fire, attack their prison guards with plastic bottles and gravel, try to break the iron doors and fences. Ten of them –temporarily- find the way to freedom, outside what they call “the greek Guantanamo”.

“For an hour and a half we gave battle, 8 people against 1000. All of us took a very hard beating and we are nearly crippled. If they wanted and had a better plan they would have killed us”. (An obviously false testimony of a police officer from the team of direct intervention.)

Nobody saw a “crippled” cop. But we saw battered immigrants dragged around court in chains. Nobody managed to meet the heavily wounded on whom prison guards took vengeance and who remain “missing” inside the camp. On the outside, cops of all forms and fascists patrol the area for days. Lowlife scumbag “greyhounds” chase after human-preys with dark color skins who pose a threat to none and nothing, except for S. Douros the mayor of Acharnon (municipality where Amygdaleza belongs to) and his keen who are “locked inside their houses because they fear the runaways”. They can stay there as long as they want. Let them stay there forever.

Revolt and solidarity inside and outside the walls will crush brutality

Immigrants, who are arrested as responsible for the riot, are taken to the foreigners’ center at Petrou Ralli and at a local police station, where they are “greeted” with beatings and humiliations. The detainees of Amygdaleza’s camp aren’t allowed to come out of the containers, which due to the very high temperatures get extremely hot. In a place where it still reeks of tear gas, most of the containers don’t have electricity or water. They aren’t allowed to communicate with lawyers; instead they are forced to clean the grounds of the concentration camp, even the cops‘ cars. An immigrant, who had nothing to do with the events, gets bruised legs just because a few minutes earlier he had managed to talk to his lawyer.

At Petrou Ralli torture and racist terror is next. Every night. “And now for some love”, says the perverted being which is called a cop, as he gives a scarce and awful portion of food, waiting for the immigrants to finish so that he can take them out of their cells, one by one, and kick the hell out of them with 6-7 of his colleagues.

On Monday August 12th, 57 immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Morocco are transferred to Evelpidon courthouse in Athens. Without lawyers -except for two who came on their own without being able to participate at the procedure-, without translators, with one appointed translator, without being able to understand what’s going on or what is going to happen; the immigrants are accused with felony crimes: stance with aim to violently escape, violent unprovoked physical injury, attack to guards, escape attempted and finite, arson, unprovoked damage of property, insult.

In reality the “charge” is only one: revolt against their daily living hell.

After two days 24 of them are held under police custody, which means that they are held in isolation at the basements of Petrou Ralli. Shortly after, they are sent to various prisons around they country.

The rest will be sent back to Amydgaleza or other detention centers. The case remains open. Until now 65 immigrants remain under prosecution. Of the ten that managed to escape, 4 have been arrested.

For three days, immigrants thirsty, hungry and beaten, some barefoot but with dignity and standing, are dragged from building to building inside a courthouse packed with cops but empty of solidarity and support.

The district attorney forbids the solidarity turnout. Police squads drive out with force a team of 30 people anti-authoritarians, anarchists, and autonomists, people from local assemblies that came to show their solidarity. These people remain outside the courthouse where the put up banners and shout slogans when the immigrants arrive.

A lawyer is needed in order for a few bottles of water and some orange juices to reach the immigrants. The straw is not allowed. “They could escape using that”, says the commanding officer of this hideous operation. “Apart from that, it’s an insult to greek police. We provide them with whatever they need”.

(Indeed… Amygdaleza and all the other detention centers are, among other things, a huge business, with direct committals to certain providers… who prey on European funding. For the 1600-2000 detainees on Amygdaleza –their exact number is not known- EU pays everyday 120.000 euro!, money which is turned into miserable portions of food and nonexistent cleaning supplies.)

There’s no law. The accused have no “rights”. There are no reporters, sensitive but absent pen pushers, there are no teams, no networks or organizations “for the rights of immigrants and refugees”, suddenly there is an absence of hundreds of organizations with heavy names and even heavier mouthfuls. There are no “immigrant communities”, no NGOs which are fund to be silent. NOONE. The desolation and the barbed wire have expanded everywhere. There are only some “orders from above” and plain mockery. There are only the orderly lies of authority, the inversion of words, which make way for the horror of deeds, that name “Xenios Zeus” the daily manhunt of immigrants around the cities and the countryside, that name “hosting centers” the crypts of abolishment for people whose only “fault” is their existence. There is also the pounding of the dominant media and mainstream shapers of public opinion, who aim consciously and systematically at the most “dangerous” enemy of the greek society, the “intruder”, the “uncivilized”, the “impure”, the immigrant, those men and women, with or without papers.

But despite all, the tortures, the humiliations, the defective and shallow solidarity shown to them, at the courthouse the immigrants seem to have strength and courage, when they can, make the sign of victory when they can and smile.

It’s not even the prolongation of their detainment from 12 to 18 months, without having committed any “criminal offence”, not even the blockage of their legalization by all means, not even the miserable conditions of their lockup and hygiene, it’s not even the despair of isolation or the lack of a rudimentary hopeful perspective that constitute the causes of their revolted dignity. All the above may be really important, but the main reason is the thirst and the will for life and freedom, the spontaneous resistance to modern fully armed brutality.

Amygdaleza, Corinthos, police departments…. Revolts, hunger strikes, suicides

On April 13th 2013, hundreds of immigrants held at various concentration camps and police departments (aka hellholes), stand up by starting a hunger strike, which within 24 hours spread out to confinement centers all over the country and around 1800 people participate.

On April 24th 2013, 12 Afghans, 4 Syrians start a hunger strike at the port of Mytelene, Lesvos by denying the food brought to them by local volunteers, who care for and feed immigrants and refugees that live at the port.

On June 23rd 2013, a twenty year-old immigrant from Ivory Coast commits suicide inside a police station at Grevena, where he was been held waiting to be send back to his country.

On Friday 12th of June, a 26 year-old immigrant from Pakistan is found hanged inside the toilet of the police department at Servia-Kozani. He was arrested because he didn’t have the appropriate papers for his stay in Greece.

On Saturday 27th of July, an Afghan refugee Mohammed Hasan, a prisoner at Corinthos concentration camp, with respiratory infection and respiratory failure, dies, or to be more precise, he is being murdered from a regime which forbid him to be transferred to a hospital for 11 months. At the hospital, after his death, he was given parole with a 6-month suspension of his deportation for “technical reasons”. Truly free, not even in death.

On Saturday 24th of August, a refugee from Afghanistan climbs on the railings of his window on the 2nd floor of the same camp and falls into the void from 5 meters, resulting in multiple fractures and heavy wounds.

On Wednesday 28th of August, 400 immigrants, held for more than a year at a detention center at Orestiada proceed to hunger strike. All of them demand one and only thing: their freedom.

On the last 3 or 4 months there have been multiple suicide attempts at various concentration camps, while many incidents of protest and resistance, followed by hard suppression are being systematically concealed by the police and the government.

And the long line of these murderous anti-immigration policies grows even longer. Immigrants, in their attempts to cross the borders without having the necessary papers find tragic deaths either from drowning at the Aegean sea and the river of Evros, or from the harsh conditions of their tormenting journey. Bit even if they manage to get into the country they face police pogroms, the knives of the fascists, the shotguns of various bosses and the filthy racist “everyday people”.

Minister Dendias: “When you arrest them, you clean them, you vaccinate them, you confine them and you give them the option to return home. Which “option”? Even the immigrants that ask to return to their countries remain prisoners for months without any explanations, because the main aim of the rulers are to make them “disappear” from public space and isolate them on faraway and unreachable facilities.

And he continues: “We closed down Evros. And what to we tell them? If you come to Greece you will not be free, you will not walk around here and there as you wish, you cannot go anywhere else, we will catch you, we will put you in the center, you will stay there and the only way to get out is to sign a form and return to your country, or we send you”. Dead or alive, he “forgets” to add.

Are we with the death that sovereignty carries or with the life that struggle promises?

The revolt of the damned in Amygdaleza, the insurrections that came before that and all that will follow besides all the implicit reason that cause them, clearly show the determination of immigrants not to be “buried alive” inside these confinement facilities, as well as the vigor to stand up to prison guards with all their means. It’s an attack against the racist state, its police deputy Dendias, the diffused racial and social racism that is integrated in the thought and actions of the mainstream right-wing parties, from the constituent of “Democratic Left” to the spineless gang members of Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), to all who hail and press for the expansion of these hellholes.

Solidarity to the insurrected immigrants, the only part of this society that fights during the “summer still air and the movements’ slackness” is a two-way relation of a fight against exploitation, humiliation, slavery, death, in other words, against sovereignty, bigger or smaller bosses fascists and their lot represent and believe.

Immigrants that revolted defend that part of society that hasn’t still been demoralized. We have to defend them in their daily fight.

We are and we will be on their side.




initiative no lager

August 2013



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