Migration and Struggle in Greece

Archive for the ‘Interviews and Testimonies’ Category

Pushed Back – refoulement of refugees at the Greek-Turkish land and sea border

Posted by clandestina on 8 November 2013

On the Greek-Turkish land border refugees are systematically refouled with brutal, shocking and systematic violations of human rights: ‘When they left us in the Turkish waters they made waves again and six of us – all men – fell into the sea. The Greeks saw that, but they didn’t help, they just left.’ PRO ASYL documents these systematic pushback in the report “Pushed Back – systematic human rights violations against refugees in the aegean sea and the greek-turkish land border”. With few exceptions, all documented pushback took place in the area of ​​operations of Frontex. PRO ASYL raises the question of the involvement of Frontex on the human rights violations and calls: Frontex must end its operations in Greece.

Summary (in German):

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Wasim’s story and the cruel fate of refugees in Greece

Posted by clandestina on 5 October 2013

Many men, women and children continue to die at the borders of Europe as they flee their homeland. If they survive, they will be treated as criminals.

By Sofiane Ait Chalalet and Chris Jones

Wasim is a refugee from Syria. In late July he was dropped by boat on a remote, densely wooded and rocky shore of Samos island, with his wife, young son and baby daughter. Without enough water or food, he swam to find help. Ignored by passing boats, he eventually found help, and from there went to the police. He was immediately arrested and held for a subsequent six weeks. Throughout this time and despite, from the beginning, pleas that someone look for his wife and children, he heard nothing from or about them. Six weeks later he would find them dead.

We first met Wasim Abo Nahi at the beginning of September. He had just returned to Samos island in the eastern Aegean from Athens, where he had been held for processing as an undocumented refugee. He was accompanied by his nephew, Abdalah and Mohammed, a friend from Athens. All of them are Palestinian refugees. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Interviews and Testimonies, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Fire in refugees’ home in patras

Posted by clandestina on 13 September 2011

Source: Infomobile

Around the 8th of September unknown people set fire on a barack where asylum seekers were temporarily living in the transit-port of Patras. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Undeclared War news | Leave a Comment »

Phone-call from a detention center

Posted by clandestina on 13 September 2011

from Infomobile

Yesterday we received a phone-call from relatives of Syrian refugees, who have been prisoners in Fylakio (Northern Greece) since a few days:

Today I talked with somebody who was released a few days ago from Fylakio prison about his experiences there. He didn’t want to talk about it first. He said he didn’t want me to feel sorry for something that happened to him, and make me suffer, me and my family. But I said to him: “Tell me the whole truth. The people have to know what happens in there!” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Interviews and Testimonies, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Undeclared War news | Leave a Comment »

Last winter Corfu shipwreck sans papiers death toll: a 16-year-old afghan refugee testimony

Posted by clandestina on 23 July 2011


Dublin-Deaths between Kerkyra/Greece and Bari/Italy

The following testimony of Amin Fedaii, a 16-year-old afghan refugee, is alarming. On January 15th 2011 more than 20 refugees (mainly from Afghanistan) died while trying to flee from Greece and to reach their relatives and friends in other European countries.

The asylum system in the crisis-ridden Mediterranean country has entirely collapsed. Refugees cannot find protection neither any income and often even no accommodation. Against this background deportations to Greece according the Dublin II-regulation have been stopped in many European Countries, but the affected persons got stuck in unbearable conditions in Athens or in the harbour-cities of Patras and Igoumenitsa. While EU-citizens can travel without any problems, refugees are trapped: a regular exit is refused, although they have – particularly if they come from war-zones like Afghanistan – good chances to receive a residence permit on humanitarian grounds in many EU-countries.

Amin survived and is now living in an accomodation for minor refugees in Hessen, Germany. But he had to experience the meaningless death of 20 persons by drowning, because firstly entry and afterwards their rescue has been refused: 20 more victims of a merciless european border regime, which obviously is calculating with the death of refugees. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Interviews and Testimonies, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fascist anti-migrant pogroms continue at Attica square in Athens

Posted by clandestina on 18 October 2010

During the night of October 16th, Attikis square in Athens became the setting for yet more pogrom-like attacks against migrants in the area. A group of fascists and so-called “enraged citizens” attacked a local Bangladeshi-owned mini-market. The people there, in their attempt to escape, ran toward the local mosque, only 30 meters away. They were under siege in the mosque for 1,5 hour. In the clashes, two Bangladeshi migrants were injured.

Attica square was where a hugely successful anarchist migrant solidarity demo took place only days ago. Yesterday’s sad events, however, show clearly that only our permanent, systematic presence in the area can act as a response to the poison of fascism.

See also: “The battle for Attica square”

See also: Solidarity demonstration in Attiki Square (Athens)

Athens: riot police violently attack migrants after demonstration

Posted in Interviews and Testimonies, Short Reports, Undeclared War news | Leave a Comment »

Italy: revolt for life and dignity 2

Posted by clandestina on 13 January 2010

More texts on the situation in Southern Italy.

“We Are Not Animals!” Italy’s Racial Riots and Their Aftermath

MARIA RITA LATTO (January 11, 2010)

Rage and fear. This is what comes out of the images from Rosarno, a small town near the western coast of Calabria, where violent clashes broke out after two African immigrants were wounded by a pellet gun attack by white youths in a car.

“Those guys were firing at us as if it was a fairground,” one of the men told La Repubblica newspaper. “They were laughing, I was screaming, other cars were passing by but nobody stopped them.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Photos, Videos, Audios, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

More testimonies of abuse and humiliation at the Acropolis Police Station Torture Chamber

Posted by clandestina on 4 January 2010

source: movement “united against racism and the fascist threat”

On December 23, the same day that the Chilean immigrant Pedro Navarro was arrested and tortured, African street vendors received the same treatment by police officers who participated in operations coordinated by Greek Police and the Municipality of Athens at the down-town Athens commercial streets.

One of them, Joe Usman said:

I was arrested by three police men and a police woman at Ermou str.  They handcuffed me, then took me to a dark spot near the church of Kapnikarea  and one of them hit me with his knee  at the stomach by pulling my head down.   Then they took me to the police station, I was in great pain and ponaga much and I vomitted.   They then took me to hospital.  When we left the doctors gave me some document but the police took it from me. Within the Police Station I saw one more Senegalese guy being beaten very hard.
They left me free on December 30 “.

Gil Dawa said:

“Police arrested me on December 29 at 6 to 7 pm at Ermou str.  I was on my way home, I was not selling  anything. I asked them ‘do you need to see my papers and they said ‘ no ‘. They threw me down and raised my leg to my head. They handcuffed me and took me on foot at the Acropolis Police Station.  On the way they hit me on my mouth.  I was forced to go up the stairs with handcuffs and with my hands on my back; they kept shouting and kicking me.   They told their superior that they did this because  I was making fuss.
In my cell they stripped me off my clothes while I still I had the cuffs on and then beat me on my head, feet and hand with their arms and clubs.  They photographed me naked and they were laughing shouting  “Fuck you black asshole, this is  Greece,  leave,  go to Africa.” After laughing they were teasing my dick and put a finger in my ass. They let me go the next day; I went to hospital and the doctors gave me some paper [apparently about beating marks etc] “

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Short Reports, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Europe’s murderous borders: report by Migreurop

Posted by clandestina on 26 December 2009


“A report published by Migreurop (a Euro-African network of 40 organisations from 13 countries working on issues of immigration policy, externalisation and their consequences within and beyond the EU’s borders) in October 2009 paints a vivid picture of the effects of the EU’s migration policies by focussing on three regions in which a number of common denominators are identified in spite of the significant difference between them (the Calais region and the north of France, the Greek-Turkish border and the Oujda region in eastern Morocco). These are added to by a case study on events on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where practices have been adopted for the sake of expediency that confirm the suspicion that legal guarantees and human rights conceived as minimum standards for the treatment of all human beings are becoming a luxury that is not meant for migrants who have been criminalised and de-humanised as “illegals”.”\

The themes that run through all the sections from specific areas are those of controls and attempts to stop migrants, their detention in awful conditions that often entails abuses by guards, and a de-humanisation that goes so far as to result in deaths and in the use of legal and illegal dissuasive practices, among which the Dublin II regulation and illegal repatriations are identified as being particularly harmful. Instances of resistance against policies enacted by government by migrants themselves and local populations that express solidarity for them are also examined. A special emphasis is placed on how some French policies are officially justified as seeking to prevent “a draught” that would encourage others to migrate towards Europe, that the authors interpret as people being made to endure dreadful situations not for their own sake, but for the message to reach their home countries and particularly those who might be tempted to follow them in the future.

Surprising parallels are drawn, such as those between the “tranquillos” in northern Morocco and the so-called “jungles” in France, which are both make-shift shelters self-managed by those attempting to escape the attention of the police, immigration authorities, in short, to become invisible while they try to plan the next stage in their journey after hitting a dead end. In Morocco, they face the choice between trying to cross a heavily guarded stretch of the sea in which thousands have died en route to Spain, trying to climb the six-metre-high fencing erected around the Spanish north African enclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla, or to reach them by swimming around the border, again, risking death. In France, they have the Channel blocking their way into the UK, the Dublin II regulation stopping refugees among them from claiming asylum in case they are sent back to the countries they first entered the EU from (most often Greece, where the level of successful applications is well below 1%), resulting in a likelihood of them never being able to obtain asylum regardless of whether they fulfil the requirements for it.

Everywhere, the police are on their tracks, and capture involves the risk of detention, sometimes entailing violence as well as terrible living conditions, and expulsion, except for those who come from countries to where some European states will not expel them (unlike the UK, France does not usually repatriate Afghans), although this is not an issue if they are captured in Morocco or in Greece, where night-time returns to Turkey in perilous conditions across the river Evros are commonplace. The Italian practice of directly returning intercepted boats to Libya without identifying the people on board or their nationalities since May 2009 is a classic example of how the wish for expediency is trampling even the limited guarantees provided by increasingly harsh national immigration laws- expulsion without a judicial authority issuing a formal order; the presence of likely refugees disregarded; returns to presumed transit countries where they are likely to experience further abuses.

There are many excerpts of first-hand accounts from migrants’ experiences, ranging from a complete lack of understanding of the situation in which they are forced, for instance an Afghan youth in Calais who wonders how it is possible that he is not allowed to stay, nor allowed to leave and is thus condemned to roaming aimlessly, feeling as if he were “in a cage”, to harrowing descriptions of spiteful and mocking treatment at the hands of border guards that went so far as to lead people to perish, both on the Moroccan-Spanish border and the Greek-Turkish one.

The lasting impression caused by the report is that thousands of people are facing incredible ordeals as a result of policies, that awful living conditions from poorer countries are entering the EU as a result of exclusion and the creation of categories that are permanently forced to live in a condition of invisibility. On the other hand, to help them “regulate” immigration flows, the EU and its member states are funding a vast expansion of the internal security apparatus in bordering countries and of tough laws that are often implemented on the basis of skin colour.

This often means that visits by authorities from European countries and EU institutions for negotiations with third-country governments in this field result in indiscriminate round-ups in neighbourhoods in which large numbers of migrants live and in the spread of racism, both by security and police forces as well as by members of public, for example in north African countries against sub-Saharan migrants suspected of seeking to emigrate to Europe.The report is available on the Migreurop website:

Les frontières assassines de l’Europe (French, original)

Europe’s murderous borders (English)

Fronteras asesinas de Europa (Spanish)


Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Unwelcoming shores

Posted by clandestina on 23 November 2009


Unwelcoming shores

21 NOV 09

Simone Troller of Human Rights Watch describes the plight of migrant and refugee children in Greece and how Greek authorities are doing the dirty work for other members of the European Union – giving them the opportunity to get rid of migrants, including potential refugees.

“We were one group of twelve persons they took out from the detention centre. They drove us in a car, for maybe one and a half hours. We arrived in the forest around 9 PM. They kept us there until midnight, they told us not to move, otherwise the Turkish police would find us. It was next to a small river. This side was Greece, the other side was Turkey… The boat was a metal boat, a long metal boat. Inside the boat there was one policeman. He started the engine and after we arrived to the other side he told us to get out quickly and the boat went straight back. When the Turkish police arrived two of us explained what happened. We were, for twelve days, in Turkish detention. They beat me too much… When the Turkish police beat me they said I should call my family to send me money to return to Afghanistan. I asked them not to send me back to Afghanistan, because I had problems. I asked them to keep me. But they did not care.”

This was how a seventeen-year-old Afghan boy described his secret expulsion from Greece to Turkey and ultimately back to Afghanistan. Unfortunately, his experience is typical of the fate of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers who have been expelled from the European Union at the hands of Greek authorities. As a result, many people who need protection are sent back to danger, abuse or inhuman detention conditions.

In 2008 and 2009, Human Rights Watch investigated the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, in Greece and published its findings in three reports. In late 2008, when we first presented our findings to the Greek government about systematic illegal expulsions of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to Turkey, we were given the cold shoulder – they ignored our findings.

When we presented them to EU policymakers in Brussels and also described the total absence of protection for migrant children who arrive without a parent or caregiver, there was recognisable disbelief and even shock in people’s faces. When I summarised in a meeting with a policymaker in Brussels that an unaccompanied migrant child who enters Greece is either detained or left to survive on the streets, I was told: “I don’t believe this.”

It may be hard to believe that such callous and illegal acts are taking place in the heart of Europe that has long committed itself to respect basic human rights standards. It may also be hard to believe that Greece offers no safety net for unaccompanied children. Those who are not expelled are either detained in filthy and overcrowded conditions or released onto the streets where they face a miserable struggle for survival and exploitation, including as child labourers.

Yet, ignoring the reality on the ground means such acts will continue to take place. Greece’s treatment of migrants and refugees, including these children, violates binding European Union directives for asylum seekers.

Despite the shocked reactions in Brussels when we described what we had found, our call to the European Commission to take Greece to the European Court of Justice for these violations has so far gone unheeded.

We also expected a stronger signal from other EU member states. In late 2008, in a meeting with EU member state delegations, we urged them to stop sending migrants and asylum seekers back to Greece under the so-called Dublin II regulations, because of the ill-treatment, detention and unfair asylum procedures. They told us, in the words of one diplomat: “If we stop doing that, more migrants will arrive to our country.”

There is no doubt that Greece is on the frontline of migration to Europe and that it carries a heavy burden for the rest of the EU under the Dublin II rules. But that reflects a wider failure of Europe’s asylum and migration policy that puts pressure on countries at its borders instead of ensuring equitable burden-sharing across the continent.

Under Dublin II regulations, the country where a person first enters the EU is generally held responsible for examining that person’s asylum claim, though for unaccompanied children the rule applies only if the child has made a claim there. The regulations are premised on the notion that all EU member states have comparable asylum and migration practices. Yet, there are wide disparities, with countries like Greece effectively offering no protection at all.

Greece gives refugee status to 0.05% of asylum seekers after a first interview and recently abolished meaningful appeals. This prompted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to withdraw from a formal role in Greece’s asylum procedure. Yet, EU member states continue to return migrants, asylum seekers, and even unaccompanied children to Greece, simply pretending that everything is perfectly fine.

It is hard not to get the impression that these EU member states are perfectly happy with Greece doing the dirty work for them – giving them the opportunity to get rid of these migrants, including potential refugees among them. In mid-2009, six months after we brought our findings to both Greek and EU attention, the Greek government began a new crackdown against migrants – arresting hundreds across the country, bulldozing a make-shift camp in Patras, evicting them from run-down dwellings in Athens, and detaining new arrivals on its islands.

Human Rights Watch returned to Greece in September 2009 and collected evidence that Greek authorities have arrested persons all over the country, and summarily expelled some of them across the river to Turkey, though previously it only sent those who had just entered from Turkey back that way. This means that no part of Greece is now safe for anyone in need of protection.

While the EU has largely remained silent on Greece’s abusive record or has focused on blaming Turkey for refusing to take migrants back, there are some encouraging signs from the newly elected Greek government. It announced in mid-October that Greece would no longer be a hell pit for migrants. The government also pledged to release 1,200 migrants from detention, where most are held in inhuman conditions, and to create a special police unit to investigate allegations of abuse.

Fixing the system will be a tall order, though. The new government inherits an asylum system that no longer deserves that name, a police force that commits abuses against migrants both in broad daylight and in secret nighttime operations, and detention facilities that are a hazard for detainees and staff alike. Fixing this will require more than promises and symbolic acts.

Despite the overwhelming agenda, there are obvious priorities. The Greek government can protect the most vulnerable migrants, especially unaccompanied children, and get rid of the stark alternatives in the current system of either detaining them or abandoning them to the streets and to exploitation. Greece should give them decent shelter, food, clothing, health care, and, of course, protection from traffickers.

Not all of the more urgent reforms even require more resources. An unambiguous commitment to stop the illegal expulsion of migrants to Turkey is essentially a matter of political will to operate according to the rule of law. The new police unit should immediately investigate these secret expulsions and levy sanctions against those responsible. Accountability for these acts is paramount for meaningful police reform.

Greece also needs to come to terms with the reality that many undocumented foreigners, adults and children alike, left their countries because their lives were in danger and have a legitimate claim for protection. The government needs to put its broken asylum system back on track, take the asylum procedure away from the police, create a special body that assesses claims fairly and promptly and institute a fair, workable appeals process. Otherwise, the adults and children the Greek government releases from detention now will end up again in a dead-end situation: unable to leave Greece, unable to return to their countries, and unable to be recognised as refugees.

Halting human rights abuses that have gone unchecked for too long should be urgent priorities both for Athens and for Brussels. The European Commission should make clear to Athens that unless the new government takes steps to bring its laws and practice in line with EU and human rights standards, the commission will refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. In addition, the EU needs to ensure that EU member states are held to account when they fail to respect their obligations under EU law, and ultimately to reform the Dublin system. Only then can the EU take meaningful steps toward creating a common European asylum system that offers equal level of protection across the continent and supports the countries on the frontline.♦

Simone Troller is Researcher, Human Rights Watch. For more on migrant and refugee children in Greece, see: Greece: Unsafe and unwelcoming shores and Left to survive: Systematic failure to protect unaccompanied migrant children in Greece, available at

Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »