Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘Aegean’

Testimony from Pagani (and Athens after it)

Posted by clandestina on 11 November 2009


“We really didn’t feel like refugees!”

Athens, 25th of October 2009 | Reflections on Lesvos two months after Noborder:

Hello, my name is Milad. I am 17 years old. I was for 23 days imprisoned in Pagani in Mitilini and first I want to define how was the situation inside this prison and how was the behaviour of police and doctors with us.

Some guys were sick for weeks, they were calling for a doctor, but nobody was ready to listen to our voices. There was no treatment for sick persons and the drinking water had a bad smell. If we asked for a doctor, for clean water or anything, mostly nobody was even listening.

They also did not have a good behaviour to the families with the small kids. One day I saw the kids had their ten minutes time to go out. They were playing football and one policeman was beating a small kid, he was about 8 years old, his mother was crying.
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Hunger strike in Pagani

Posted by clandestina on 9 November 2009

Hunger strike in Pagani

Published on 8. November 2009 at lesvos antira 09

We will not eat in a place like here!!

The 30 people in Pagani are angry. Most of them are families with a lot of kids. The people refused the food because of the horrible ambiance. One woman is disgusted about the circumstances inside the “open centre” of Pagani.

Our close are all wet, we have nothing dry to wear. The sheets and beds are used, dirty and hideous. They will not give us fresh sheet our dry clothes. It is ridiculous, they bring us to the hospital to check f we are ll or something but they let us sleep in sheet full of virus and with wet clothes!?

Close down Pagani and every detention centre, now and all about!!!

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Pagani detention centre in Lesvos to close down (for now?)

Posted by clandestina on 1 November 2009

source: After the Greek Riots blog

#119 | One Less Prison: Pagani detention centre in Lesvos to close down (for now?)

The “migrant welcoming centre” (that is a prison in the government’s doublespeak) of Pagani in Lesvos was one of the main targets of the No Borders camp that took place in the island last August, with activists calling for the immediate closing down of a detention centre in which, “living” conditions were a disgrace, even by greek prison standards… On 22.10, a government official (Sp. Vougias) visited the prison to inspect living conditions there. Astonishingly, only hours after his visit, a 17-year old migrant detainee was severely beaten before being offered 350 euros by police, to keep silent about the attack…

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At least eight refugees drown in the Aegean – one more unspeakable tragedy

Posted by clandestina on 27 October 2009

source: associated press

8 Afghan immigrants drown as boat sinks in Greece

Associated Press Writer

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A small boat loaded with Afghan families smashed onto the rocks and sank off an island in the Aegean Sea on Tuesday, causing three immigrant women and five children to drown.

The deadly accident highlighted the plight of thousands of migrants who risk their lives every year to reach the European Union.

Athens accused neighboring Turkey, from where the vessel set off, of doing little to stop thousands of illegal immigrants from arriving in Greece. Human rights groups, however, urged Greece to improve its treatment of migrants and its handling of asylum applications.

The coast guard said high waves swept the flimsy boat with 18 on board onto a rocky shore on Lesvos. Seven men, a woman and a child – all Afghans – swam ashore and were hospitalized for observation.

One of the 10 survivors, only identified as a Turkish man, was arrested on smuggling charges.

Under Greece’s tough immigration laws, traffickers involved in fatal accidents face life terms and a minimum euro500,000 ($750,000) fine.

Later Tuesday, the coast guard rescued another 45 illegal immigrants found abandoned on an uninhabited islet off the island of Anafi in the southeastern Aegean.

Lying only five miles (eight kilometers) from Turkey’s western shore, Lesvos is one of the main points of arrival for illegal immigrants, who use rickety boats to slip through a porous sea border dotted with hundreds of islands.

Deputy Citizen’s Protection Minister Spyros Vougias said the incident merited an official complaint to Turkey.

“We need a solution to the problems Turkey causes by tolerating the actions of human traffickers,” he said. “There must be an end to this slave trade.”

Greece also wants more support from other EU members and has begun receiving assistance from the bloc’s new border protection agency, Frontex.

“Every day, Greek authorities have to handle the security of 300-400 people seeking a safe destination in Greece,” Citizen’s Protection Minister Michalis Chryssochoides said. “We lack sufficient infrastructure, funds and cross-border cooperation.”

Some 5,500 people were detained on Lesvos in the first eight months of this year, compared to more than 13,000 in 2008.

Often fleeing war zones in Asia and Africa, the migrants pay thousands of dollars to smuggling gangs for a long and perilous journey to the west. Accidents at sea are frequent, while migrants trying to enter by land from Turkey face border minefields that have claimed at least 82 lives since 1994.

A spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday’s drownings showed that migrants from war-torn countries are not deterred by strict anti-migration policies.

“As long as there are wars and violations of human rights, people will continue to be desperate and risk their lives,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman Ketty Kehagioglou said.

Kehagioglou urged the government to improve the screening process for asylum seekers and create better migrant holding facilities.

She said UNCHR officials who visited the Pagani center on Lesvos last weekend saw some 700 people held in “appalling, outrageous” conditions.

“In one ward, there were more than 200 women and children with only 2 toilets,” Kehagioglou said. “Their mattresses were soiled with water from the toilets and the smell was unbearable.”

The Socialist government, elected three weeks ago, has pledged to improve migrants’ rights.

Associated Press Writer Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki contributed to this report.

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Frontex, Turkey and a 47% increase in refugee arrests…

Posted by clandestina on 15 October 2009

source: Kathimerini

Frontex seeks Turkish cooperation

A senior official of the European Union’s border-monitoring agency Frontex yesterday said the organization’s efforts to curb a wave of illegal immigrants seeking to enter the bloc through Greece would be much more effective if Turkey were to cooperate.

Addressing reporters in Athens during an official visit, Frontex Deputy Executive Director Gil Arias Fernandez was careful not to condemn Turkey, noting that the role of his organization is to help EU member states monitor their borders, not to apply pressure on transit countries, but he stressed that Turkey’s cooperation “would be very welcome.”

Meanwhile, fresh Frontex statistics revealed a 47 percent increase in detentions of illegal immigrants in the Aegean in the first six months of this year, with 14,000 migrants detained on the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Patmos as compared to 9,500 in the same period of 2008. Statistics for illegal arrivals to Italy and Spain however show a decrease of around 60 percent. Fernandez attributed this dramatic drop partly to the enforcement of repatriation pacts drawn up between Italy and Libya and between Spain and Senegal and to intensified Frontex patrols around the borders of these EU states.

Similar patrols along Greece’s land borders have been effective, Fernandez said, stressing that the islands of the Aegean remained a problem area. The Frontex official said this was partly because of the porous nature of the sea border but also partly because of Turkey’s refusal to honor a bilateral repatriation pact.

Questioned about reports regarding Frontex aircraft in the eastern Aegean receiving warning signals from Turkish radar while conducting patrols, Fernandez stressed that the interception had been unjustified as the organization’s aircraft had not entered Turkish air space. He added that Frontex has invited Turkey to participate in patrols of the Aegean but has never received a positive answer. Of 11,309 appeals lodged by Greece this year for the return of migrants to Turkey, only 108 were approved, Frontex statistics show […].

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Tied and beaten: “humanitarian treatment” of refugees by police in Pharmakonisi

Posted by clandestina on 14 October 2009

Photos taken this summer at Pharmakonisi, Aegean, published at Athens Indymedia by Syspeirosi Anarchikon.


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Human Rights Watch on Greece: Unsafe and Unwelcoming Shores

Posted by clandestina on 14 October 2009,,


Greece: Unsafe and Unwelcoming Shores

October 12, 2009

Between August and September 2009, Human Rights Watch interviewed 16 migrants who had been arrested on Samos, Symi, and Chios Islands, and the port towns of Patras and Igoumenitsa. The Greek authorities transferred them to detention centers close to the land border with Turkey and held them in the border police stations of Soufli, Tichero, and Feres, as well as in the Venna and Fylakio-Kyprinou (Fylakio) detention facilities. Two detained migrants described to us how Greek police forcibly pushed them across the river into Turkey from where Turkish authorities sent them back to Afghanistan.

One of them is a 17-year-old unaccompanied Afghan boy who told us over the phone that he was arrested on Symi Island, transferred to Fylakio detention center, and expelled with 11 other persons to Turkey:

We were one group of 12 persons they took out [from the detention center]. They drove us in a car…. for maybe one and a half hours. We arrived in the forest around 9 p.m.; 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. The Turkish police came back to that place with us and said we should sit and that more persons might be coming. But the Greek police didn’t send more people.

We were for 12 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 didn’t care.

Near our house are Taliban; they are close…. I’m scared all the time. I’m a tenth grade student but I can’t go to school.[1]

The other person pushed back told us he was arrested on Samos Island, transferred to Fylakio detention center, expelled in a group of 45 or 50 persons, arrested by Turkish police, and taken to a detention center in Edirne: “I stayed for one week in Edirne. There were a lot of persons who had been deported from Greece. There were Afghans, Pakistanis, and Sri Lankans.”[2] Human Rights Watch visited that detention center in 2008 and found conditions there to be inhuman and degrading.[3]

Another eight people said they witnessed Greek police taking migrants out of detention centers at nightfall in trucks or vans. Four of them told us that those taken from the detention centers later got in touch with detainees who stayed behind and told them that the Greek police had expelled them. One Afghan boy who was arrested on Symi Island described the scene he witnessed from his cell at Fylakio detention center:

Forty three persons were taken away from my group [of 91 persons]. One Iraqi had a friend among those [taken away]. He called Iraq from the detention center, and that friend said he had been deported. That Iraqi was part of our group. We were all in the same cell.

First [Greek police] asked them to sign something. … it was around the evening time, around 6 p.m. maybe. Then they searched them… the police took away everything they had: toothpaste, papers written in Greek, they took it from their pockets… After that they were taken into a truck without windows. It was completely closed, an army-colored truck. People entered from the back. I saw the truck with my own eyes and I saw how people entered.

Each time a new group [of detainees] arrived the truck came…. 67 persons arrived in one group and they took away 57 persons from that group….  Six or seven times new groups arrived…. For a small group the white van came, for a big group the truck came.[4]

Another person told us he had been arrested in Patras ahead of the authorities’ destruction of a large makeshift camp and then transferred with a group of 120 persons to Fylakio detention center. He told us that four of his friends had been deported from there: “They asked us, ‘Do you have relatives or friends?’ I said I had an uncle. Four friends of mine said they didn’t have family and they were deported. One of them called my friend and told him he was in Afghanistan…. They deported them after about two weeks. They were taken away in a small white car.”[5]

Greece’s Dysfunctional Asylum System

Greece effectively has no asylum system. It recognizes as few as 0.05 percent of asylum seekers as refugees at their first interview. A law adopted in July abolished ameaningful appeals procedure. The effect of the new law is that a person who is in need of international protection as a refugee in Greece is almost certain to be refused asylum at the first instance, and having been refused has little chance of obtaining it on appeal. The new law leaves asylum seekers with no remedy against risk of removal to inhuman or degrading treatment, as required by article 39 of the EU’s procedures directive and articles 13 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. As a result of this legislative change, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) withdrew from any formal role in Greece’s asylum procedure.

Many of those we interviewed said they did not want to apply for asylum in Greece because they had heard that Greece rejects everyone. Some believed mistakenly that they could apply for asylum in other European countries. Access to legal counsel or interpreters is virtually impossible in detention centers in the north and those in need of protection may be unable to access asylum procedures. An Afghan detainee held in Soufli border police station, for example, was informed about her rights in English, a language she does not understand.

Apart from sporadic visits by a lawyer from the Greek Council for Refugees operating under a government agreement, no lawyers or organizations offer pro-bono legal aid in Greece’s northern region. Athens-based lawyers who offer pro-bono legal aid told us they are not able to access and speak to detainees in the north unless they present to authorities the names of persons detained. Even when they have the names of detainees, police in the Evros border region might ask them to obtain an additional permit from central police authorities to see persons detained; or police may not respond to their query whether a certain detainee is still held there. Conversations between lawyers and detainees furthermore are rarely confidential and lawyers said that police interrupted their talks and asked them to finish their conversations with detainees.[6]

Even those with access to legal aid and wanting to apply for asylum are not necessarily able to access the minimal procedures that do exist. According to the Greek Council for Refugees, on July 30, Greek police handed over 40 Turkish citizens, among them 18 asylum seekers, including four unaccompanied children, to their Turkish counterparts under a bilateral readmission agreement. Police on Crete, where the group initially arrived, refused to receive their asylum applications despite interventions by local lawyers. The asylum seekers were deported even though the Greek Council for Refugees intervened with the responsible Ministry.[7] In addition, on July 17, Human Rights Watch saw more than 1,000 asylum seekers lined up all night at Athens’ main police station trying to file asylum claims, largely in vain.

Greece is bound by the international legal principle of non-refoulement not to expel or return a person to a place where he or she would face persecution, torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment. This obligation applies not only to direct returns into the hands of persecutors or torturers, but also to indirect returns to countries from which persons are subsequently sent to a state where they face such threats. The circumstances of what constitutes inhuman or degrading treatment for an unaccompanied child may differ significantly from that of adults and Greece is obliged to take “measures and precautions” against such treatment when returning a child.[8]

Inhuman and Degrading Detention Conditions

Greece is also bound under European and international law to protect migrants from inhuman and degrading treatment while in Greece.  Persons held in detention centers in the north described to us conditions that would violate these obligations. Furthermore, unaccompanied children were detained jointly with adults across detention centers in the north, itself a violation of binding international standards.

People detained at the Soufli border police station, for example, told us that two detainees have to share one dirty mattress and that they are never allowed to go outside. One detainee, a 16-year-old girl in the company of her husband, told us that she felt constantly intimidated in a cell with more than 20 adult men.[9] People detained at Tichero border police station told us they slept on dirty mattresses or on the floor without blankets, and that the bathroom was filthy, with an unbearable smell.[10] Those held in the Venna detention facility said the place was infested with cockroaches and mice, and they complained about a lack of enough warm clothing. Those detained included a disabled man who had lost one arm and could not fully use his other arm but was subjected to the same regime. With the exception of Fylakio detention center, the conditions were compounded by a lack of access to medical care. Except for those held at Venna, those interviewed said they received only two meals per day, which they said was insufficient.

Detainees held at Fylakio detention facility spoke of comparatively better, albeit overcrowded, detention conditions. All persons who had been held there, however, said they experienced or witnessed violence and ill-treatment by guards. Two described an incident in which guards allegedly beat up an Arabic-speaking detainee after he tried to escape.

I saw an Arab who tried to escape. Police caught him and beat him up badly. They took him to the telephone room and covered the window with black plastic. Afterward I went to make a phone call and saw that guy with blood on his head and in handcuffs.[11]

Police also allegedly used violence when intervening in fights among detainees or to punish those who did not stay quiet at night:

I saw once with my own eyes that three policemen beat one person. They beat him in the corridor because he quarreled [with others]. They beat him for a short time with batons, with their hands, and they also kicked him.[12]

We received additional allegations of police violence from persons detained at Tichero and Feres border police stations, and from a person held at an unknown location near Komotini.[13]

Several persons interviewed said it was forbidden to make phone calls from Soufli and Tichero border police stations. One detainee at Soufli told us: “One detainee said if you have a lawyer you might get released but we don’t have a telephone so how can we contact our family to get us a lawyer?”[14] Another person said that although detainees held at Fylakio detention centers were permitted to make phone calls on Mondays and Thursdays, no calls were allowed during the first ten days.[15]

Asked whether they tried to file a complaint, one detainee told us: “I never complained to anybody. We didn’t complain. It wouldn’t have helped if we’d said anything. The captain would have told us to stay quiet.”[16] Although the police chief in charge of the Fylakio detention facility assured us he would investigate any allegation of ill-treatment brought forward by detainees, he added that he has never received any complaints.[17]

The EU’s Failure to Hold Greece Accountable

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the European Union to hold Greece accountable for its violation of European asylum standards, including while recent arrests and transfers were still ongoing. Yet, despite having a mandate and a duty to enforce member states’ implementation of EU legislation, the European Commission  has not spoken out against Greece’s effective abolition of the right to seek asylum or to appeal rejected asylum claims, or its abusive detention and expulsions of migrants, including children. In fact, Jacques Barrot, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for justice, freedom, and security, was on an official visit to Greece when the new presidential decree was published that effectively eliminated the appeals procedure in violation of binding EU standards.

The European Commission’s failure to call publicly for Greece to remedy these serious violations of EU standards and European and international human rights and refugee law sends a worrying signal that abuses may go unchecked. It is vitally important for the Commission to take the opportunity of a new administration in Athens to press in the strongest terms for immediate and fundamental reform of Greece’s asylum system, meaningful access to protection, and an end to abuse.

The Commission should without delay issue a reasoned opinion on Greece’s current breaches of EU standards on asylum and migration, identifying the steps needed to bring Greece back into conformity with EU and human rights law. It should also make clear to Athens that unless the new government takes those steps, the Commission will refer its failure to uphold EU standards to the European Court of Justice.

In two reports published in 2008, Human Rights Watch further called on European governments to stop sending migrants and asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, back to Greece under the Dublin II regulations. We concluded that Greece violated both EU standards and international human rights law by holding migrants in unacceptable detention conditions, by preventing persons in need of protection from seeking asylum, and by failing to protect unaccompanied migrant children.

Under the European Union’s Dublin II regulations, the country where a person first entered the EU is generally held responsible for examining that person’s asylum claim, whether or not the person applied there. While the Dublin II regulations are premised on the notion that all EU member states have comparable asylum and migration practices, there are wide disparities, with some countries like Greece effectively offering no protection at all. This disparity underscores the importance of reforming the Dublin system while at the same time ensuring that EU member states are held to account for their failure to respect their obligations under EU law.  Only then can the EU take meaningful steps toward creating a common European asylum system.

New Greek Government Should Take Urgent Action to Stop Abuses

Human Rights Watch calls on the new government in Greece to take urgent steps to end abuses against refugees and migrants, including children. We reiterate the recommendations we made to the-then Minister of Interior in August:

Issue a public statement committing the government to treating migrants apprehended in Greek territory in a humane and dignified manner. Guarantee all migrants unhindered access to the asylum procedure and protection from refoulement.

Immediately ensure that the practice of illegal expulsion across the Evros River be stopped; carry out an investigation leading to identification and levying of appropriate sanctions of officials involved in such illegal acts.

Rescind Presidential Decree 81/2009, create a functioning asylum system in which trained staff assess asylum claims on the basis of confidential and private interviews, and allow for a fair and independent review of appeals.

Refrain from detaining unaccompanied migrant children and from summarily deporting them without prior assessment of the risks they face upon return. Create sufficient number of care places for all unaccompanied migrant children in Greece. Consider the granting of temporary residence for unaccompanied children on humanitarian grounds, as provided for in article 44(c) of Law 3386/2005, to protect them from repeated arrest and detention until a durable solution in their best interests is found.

Close substandard detention centers and open new facilities ensuring adequate space, cleanliness, recreation, access to health care, and legal and family visitation necessary for humane conditions of detention. Migrants should only be detained as a last resort, when actual proceedings for their deportation are ongoing, and when it is the only method necessary to secure persons’ lawful deportation, and when the necessity of detaining them is subject to regular review, including by the judiciary. Asylum seekers should not be detained.

Ensure full access for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Human Rights Watch, and other reputable organizations to all migration detention facilities, Coast Guard vessels and facilities, and to entry and border points and the border region.

[1] Human Rights Watch telephone interview (S-15-09), September 28, 2009. (name withheld)

[2] Human Rights Watch telephone interview (S-16-09), September 29, 2009. (name withheld)

[3] Human Rights Watch, Greece/Turkey: Stuck in a Revolving Door: Iraqis and Other Asylum Seekers and Migrants at the Greece/Turkey Entrance to the European Union, November 2008, ISBN 1-56432-411-7,, p.6.

[4] Human Rights Watch interview (S-3-09), September 8, 2009. (name and place withheld)

[5] Human Rights Watch interview (S-5-09), September 8, 2009. (name and place withheld)

[6] Human Rights Watch interview with Marianna Tzeferakou and Danai Angeli, Athens, September 6, 2009.

[7] Email correspondence from Greek Council of Refugees to Human Rights Watch, August 21, 2008.

[8] Mubilanzila Mayeka and Kaniki Mitunga v. Belgium, (Application no. 13178/03), October 12, 2006, available at, para. 69.

[9] Human Rights Watch interview (S-11-09 and S-12-09), September 10, 2009 (names and place withheld). Human Rights Watch interview with (S-13-09), September 11, 2009 (name and place withheld). The European Court of Human Rights held in a recent judgment that detention conditions at Soufli border police station amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment. S.D. v. Greece, (Application no. 53541/07), June 11, 2009, available at, paras. 53-54.

[10] Human Rights Watch interview (S-2-09), September 7, 2009 (name and place withheld). Human Rights Watch interview (S-6-09), September 9, 2009. Human Rights Watch telephone interview (S-14-09), September 28, 2009 (name and place withheld).

[11] Human Rights Watch telephone interview (S-1-2009), August 20, 2009. Another detainee referred to the same incident (S-4-09).

[12] Human Rights Watch interview (S-3-09), September 8, 2009 (name and place withheld).

[13] Human Rights Watch interviews (S-2-09) September 7, 2009 (name and place withheld). Human Rights Watch interviews (S-6-09, S-7-09, S-8-09), September 9, 2009 (names and place withheld). Human Rights Watch interviews (S-11-09, S-12-09), September 10, 2009 (names and place withheld).

[14] Human Rights Watch interview (S-13-09), September 11, 2009 (name and place withheld).

[15] Human Rights Watch interview (S-3-09), September 8, 2009 (name and place withheld).

[16] Human Rights Watch interview (S-5-09), September 8, 2009 (name and place withheld).

[17] Human Rights Watch interview with Giorgos Salamagas, chief of police Orestiada, Fylakio detention center, September 10, 2009.

© Copyright 2008, Human Rights Watch

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

“Help us close down Pagani” campaign

Posted by clandestina on 11 October 2009

source & more info at

_ _ _ _

Help us close down Pagani

Published on 26. August 2009


If you have been following our actions of the last days, you are aware about the immediate necessity to close down the detention centre of Pagani here in Lesvos. Now we call all on everybody out there, wherever you are, to take action. It is quick and easy, and you can really help to make a change: you just need to send a fax or an email.

Participate in the struggle for the immediate closure of Pagani by sending a fax or an email to the Greek Ministry of Health and Social Care as well as to the Ministry of Interior Affairs, demanding the immediate closure of Pagani and the release of the people detained inside. You can also call them. These ministries are the authorities responsible for Pagani, and they have not been willing to move. Let us force them to do so.

If you have sent the fax, leave a short comment on this site that you did so. It will show the force of people behind the demands. Also, spread this campaign and get more people to be involved.

We formulated a sample text you can send, but of course feel free to write your own text. Here are the addresses:

Ministry of Interior Affairs

  • email:
  • telephone: ++30 2131364931 / 2131364932 / 2131364933

Ministry of Health and Social

  • email:,
  • fax: +30 2105235749
  • telephone: +30 2105233798 / 2105233573 / 2105232821 / 2105232829 / 2105249011 or 2105235703

To the
Ministry of Health and Social Care
Ministry of the Interior

concerning the disastrous situation in the Detention Center of Pagani, Lesvos, I want to express my deepest concern to you as the authorities responsible. The circumstances for refugees detained in Pagani, as they were presented in many greek newspapers recently, are not bearable at all. At present, more than a thousand refugees are detained in Pagani. Amongst these are many women detained with their children and babies and numerous unaccompanied minors, whose imprisonment is illegal under greek law.

During his last visit to Pagani on the 24th of August, 2009, the director of the greek UNHCR branch, Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, stated that the Pagani prison doesn’t match neither greek nor internation standards. He also stated that there are numerous breaches of greek law.

People are imprisoned for many weeks, even month. They are forced to share a room with aproximately hundred people! Sanitary and medical conditions are beyond any possible imagination. It is not even necessary to describe the further consequences of forcing people to live under these circumstances, since the absolute lack of human rights is all too obvious.

My protest also concerns the praxis of discharge. By releasing people from Pagani in huge numbers without further sustain, they are forced to live on the streets without any support by the Greek state. Without the possibility to catch a boat to Athens or any place to stay, they are forced to sleep outside not even having access to food or water.

Therefore, my demands are:

  • Immediate closure of the detention center of Pagani!
  • Freedom for ALL prisoners of Pagani!
  • Accommodation with food and water, as well as medical treatment and support!
  • Infrastructure for refugees arriving to or released from Pagani, while waiting for the ferry!
  • Immediate access to travelling papers, so they can continue their journey!
  • Freedom of movement and papers for everyone!


Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The situation at the Samos refugee detention center

Posted by clandestina on 30 September 2009


Tuesday, 29th of September 2009.

The situation at the Samos refugee detention center

After one more summer of great influx of immigrants and refugees
to the Samos island, the situation has not improved at all.  In short, we want to share three incidents, which we believe adequately describe the theater of the absurd that is stagede at the expense of these people.

Right now in the center at Samos there are at least 500 people. Many of them sleep outside the facility with not even a bed sheet … Many families, many children!The staff is absolutely inadequate and the living conditions deplorable.
For these reasons, and other reasons, it is not difficult for anyone
to undestand why the single social worker of the Center
resigned a few days ago.   How can anyone resist the inhuman
and blatant indifference of all pertinent authorities?

At the same time in the detention center there are 15-20 (maybe more)
unaccompanied minors, who have benn illegally detained for more than 15 days in there.  In addition, 9 of them have been already there for 55 days virtually forgotten by the authorities after many of their peers had been transported to the Hospitality Center for Children in Mytilene more than 3
weeks ago.  It is well known that minors in accordance with the law should not be considered detainees, so situations such as these defy all legality.

Let us finally understand that we are dealing with people and not inanimate ‘packages’.

Right now at the port of Vathi you can see several refugees, with the paper of administrative deportation issued by the police in hand, but no tickets for Athens. This is because, for some unknown reason, the police didgave them the paper in order to go the Center, but the Prefecture, arguing that there is no money, did not give them  tickets.   One can reasonably ask:
What is the rationale behind this? What can these people, whose only asset is their despair, do?
Who would like to have “‘indignant’ citizens on top of  the  desperate refugees?

Let us be side to side with refugees and immigrants and not let anyone turn us against them!

There are no illegal lives!

Movement for Human Rights – Solidarity with Refiugees – Samos

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Human Rights Watch: Halt Crackdown, Arrests of Migrants

Posted by clandestina on 28 July 2009

source: human rights watch article


Moving Detained Migrants to North Raises Fears of ‘Pushbacks’ to Turkey

July 27, 2009

Greek authorities are arresting large numbers of migrants and asylum seekers in the country’s cities and islands and moving many of them to the north, raising fears of illegal expulsions to Turkey, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch received reports from a credible source that, in mid-July 2009, police transferred a group of Arabic-speaking people from Chios Island to the Evros border region, where they were secretly forced to cross the border into Turkey. On July 23, local human rights activists prevented authorities from transferring 63 migrants from Lesvos Island to the north by blocking access to the ferry. On July 25, the police took most of them to Athens under heavy police escort.

“These operations and transfers are very worrying,” said Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch. “We fear that people are being prevented from seeking asylum, that children arriving alone are not being protected, and that migrants are kept in unacceptable detention conditions and possibly even being secretly expelled to Turkey.”

In another recent episode, in a large-scale police operation from July 16 to 18, police in Athens surrounded what appeared to be several hundred migrants and locked them inside an abandoned courthouse. The police arrested anyone who left the building. It is feared that some of them may have needed protection and did not have a chance to file a claim for asylum, the police prevented Human Rights Watch from speaking to the people held inside, and Human Rights Watch does not know the whereabouts of those who were arrested when they tried to leave.

In a November 2008 report, “Stuck in a Revolving Door: Iraqis and Other Asylum Seekers and Migrants at the Greece/Turkey Entrance to the European Union,” Human Rights Watch documented how Greek authorities have systematically expelled migrants illegally across the Greece-Turkey border, in violation of many international legal obligations. These “pushbacks” typically occur at night from detention facilities in the northern part of the country, close to the Turkish border, and they involve considerable logistical preparation. Human Rights Watch at that time interviewed 41 asylum seekers and refugees – all privately and confidentially – in various locations in both Greece and Turkey, who gave consistent accounts of Greek authorities taking them to the Evros River at night and then forcing them across.

Human Rights Watch also documented how Greek authorities miscategorize unaccompanied children as adults and detain them for prolonged periods of time in conditions that could be considered inhumane and degrading. (See the December 2008 report, “Left to Survive: Systematic Failure to Protect Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Greece.”)

Undocumented Afghan migrant children sleep in a forest on the outskirts of Patras, Greece.  © 2009 Moises Saman/Panos Pictures

Undocumented Afghan migrant children sleep in a forest on the outskirts of Patras, Greece. © 2009 Moises Saman/Panos Pictures

In yet another recent incident, on July 12, police destroyed a makeshift migrant camp in Patras, on the Peloponnese peninsula. In the days before the camp was destroyed, the police reportedly arrested large numbers of migrants there, and according to credible sources, transferred an unknown number to the northern part of the country. On July 17, Human Rights Watch met with several Afghans in Patras, including 12 unaccompanied migrant children now homeless as a result of this operation, who were in hiding in abysmal conditions out of fear of being arrested.

A 24-year-old man told Human Rights Watch: “We’re living like animals in the jungle … we can’t take a shower and we don’t have proper food … before I lived in the camp, but all of my things and clothes were burned. Now I have a shirt and a pair of pants, nothing else.”

A 14-year-old Afghan boy who arrived in Greece one year earlier said: “The worst situation during the past year is now, in Patras – now that I’m living in this forest …. There’s not enough food and we only eat bread with water.”

Human Rights Watch also observed on July 17 how more than 1,000 migrants lined up all night, largely in vain, trying to file asylum applications at Athens’ main police station. Greece recognizes as few as 0.05 percent of asylum seekers as refugees at their first interview and passed a law at the end of June that abolishes a meaningful appeals procedure, making it virtually impossible for anyone to obtain refugee status. It also extended the maximum length of administrative detention for migrants to 12 months – and under certain circumstances, up to 18 months – from previously 90 days.

“It appears Greece is doing everything it can to close the door on persons who seek protection in Europe, no matter how vulnerable they are,” said Frelick. “The European Union must hold Greece accountable for acts contrary to international and European human rights and refugee law, and it needs to act fast, as the lives of many are at risk.”

© Copyright 2008, Human Rights Watch

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