Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘Afghan Refugees’

Afghan refugees in Greece on the Patissia bomb explosion.

Posted by clandestina on 1 April 2010

Yesterday, Wednesday 31, at 8:00 pm circa 200 Afghan refugees made a silent and peaceful protest in front of the Greek Parliament in Syntagma Square, lighting candles and honouring the 15 year old Afghan refugee’s memory (traditionally) on the third night after his tragic death .  This is a translation of the text calling to the protest. The original text has been posted at  As athens indymedia users have reported this critical text was not reported by mass media and mass circulation newspapers.

Call for a peaceful and silent protest

We choose a silent protest, not because we are not hurt by the unjust and tragic loss of our innocent fellow Afghan, who perished just as bad as he might have perished in Afghanistan, if he had not fled the country with his family. If we choose a silent protest, its not beacuse we are not angry with the state of refugees in Europe in general and especially in Greece. Its not as if we are not angry with the medieval conditions at concentration camps of refugees and immigrants, which entrap our children and our families; its not as if we are not angry with the daily opppressive treatment in the street, in squares, in our homes, in government services for foreigners, for all  we are subjected to for the crime of being refugees.

We choose a silent protest because we respect our fellow man who died, and we protest against the conditions he lived under with his family as refugees. We respect his family, especially his mother, a woman who experiences the shock of the tragic loss of her son and probably the loss of her daughter’s sight. And finally, we respect the Holy Week and Easter holiday period of our fellow citizens in the country that “hosts” us. All those that the corporate media and the government institutions did not observe by ridiculing all human dignity and by encroaching and violating fundamental human and refugee rights respectively.

Najafi family with the tragic loss of their 15 year-old son and the loss of her 11 year old daughter’s sight in the bomb explosion of March 28 in Patissia adds to the long list of victims of the Greek-European inhuman and repressive policy towards economic and political refugees . There is no doubt that the young Afghan refugee Hamidoullah killed in the bomb explosion at Patissia and his little sister who is in danger of losing her sight suffered these due to the lack of asylum system in the country.  We believe that there are political responsibilities, and we urge the Government to assume them to prevent such tragedies of innocent people from happening again.

We wonder, how comes that suddenly all the ministries now show their “interest” for the family, offering gifts and promotions and making (false?) promises? Or is it that the government is only trying in this way to disguise their zero policy, which is implemented in the daily sweep operations, expulsions, hellish torture and detention of refugees and immigrants everywhere? We also wonder how comes that suddenly for all the media yesterday’s “illegal immigrants [lathrometanastes=clandestine immigrants]” are today’s “refugees”?

We are refugees of a war that has been exported against us and we demand all the rights we are entitled to in accordance with international treaties on refugees. Those rights are: asylum for all refugees, protection of our lives, shelter for families and for unaccompanied minors, medical care for all etc.

We also demand:

  • that the government stops playing the philanthroper and assumes its obligations towards refugees and immigrants.
  • that particualr media stop disturbing the troubled and shocked family in the hospital and respect their situation.

March 31, 2010, Athens

Afghan refugees in Greece

Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

(Update on) Illegal deportation of refugees.

Posted by clandestina on 22 January 2010


After a week of illegal detention at the old detention space of the Elliniko Airport premises, and much pressure at media and the parliament and legal struggle the Iranian refugees were released.



source: athens indymedia

6 Iranian political refugees were transported illegally from the refugee detention center of Samos island to Athens Airport(El Venizelos) where they were  in custody until yesterdaypending their  illegal deportation.

On Thursday, January 14, 24 people (among them 6 Iranians, 10 Afghans, 1 Palestinian) were transferred from the Samos refugee detention center by boat to Piraeus and then to El. Venizelos airport where they were until yesterday (Friday 15), pending their eventual deportation.   They had no information on where  they were being transferred.

The 6  Iranians had requested to file asylum applications at the Samos center but their request was rejected by the Samos police.  Refugees are entitled to appeal on an appeals committee and must be given a margin of one month to do so.  Expulsion in a period less than that is illegal.

The Iranian refugees spent at least one month under imprisonment and incommunicado conditions at the detention center on Samos and they were not informed about their rights.

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Short Reports, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Released from Pagani, now trying to survive Athens…

Posted by clandestina on 15 November 2009

Published on 13. November 2009 at

We have to sleep in 3 hour shifts

M. is an Afghan unaccompanied minor who was released from Pagani.
He was in the group of 130 refugees released the last day and who left for Athens with the boat and since then he is in Athens trying to survive. Actually M. like most other minors in Pagani,got released with a paper saying that he is staying in the villa Azadi the minors house in
Mytilini. But he has never been informed about this ,he has never been brought up to the villa and he doesn’t know his right to be protected as a Minor. Most minors that have been in Pagani the last two months have been release with this paper without having been informed about their right to be taken to the minors house.

We met in the centre of Athens . He came with a little Afghan boy of about 7 years with whose family they share a room. We sat in a coffee place and orders something to eat. M. eat very little and very slowly and explained to me that he had not eaten since two days and that when you have no money for food ,but you get food you have to be careful to eat little otherwise your stomach is hungry soon again because it got used to food. He also mentioned that he doesn’t go out from the place he stays,one room shared by 36 persons among them two families. They have to sleep in a 3 hours shifts on the mattresses. They are lucky that the family of one of them gives them shelter. Most others from Pagani are sleeping in the scare in Athens in the park. He doesn’t go out because when you are in the treats you all he time see people eating and drinking and this makes you even more hungry and thirsty. I asked him if he could speak about the situation after they came out of Pagani:

What happened when you arrived in Athens?

M: When we arrived we were 190 persons ,we went to the ministry and the ministry told us go to the gsr (Greek council of refugees) but gsr did not pay attention to us. After that we come to Attiki park and we pent two days there.

After those two days we find some relatives we are living together we are sleeping 36 persons, four families are with us and twelve boys, minors,like us.
All people from Pagani. All refugees.
We are just sitting after one, two days we are eating little bread. Its bad for people. That they pay not attention the government to us.

I told them in the GSR. I said they want to give us food? They said no!

We don’t have enough home to give you If you want you can only be in the Pagani. We said no! we don’t want to be in the Pagani! We want to live in the centre. Because of that we are here.

What do you think to do now?

I am thinking that after two days I want to left this place but I cant because I don’t have money I don’t have anything to go.

Where do you want to go?

I want to go to Germany,all the people want to go to Germany you ask them where you want to go all of them want to go to Germany. There was a family here they where deported from Austria they where deported. They where with us in the church . So one day we go to the church and eat something the other day we don’t go. Because the police is coming taking our papers,we have a lot of problems,they beat us.

You know their are places you can go to eat?

Yes! the church.But the police is beating us saying :go! its finished food! Its a lot of problem.

They beat us when we go for food!

The Greek government is not giving attention to any refugee. Some guys have been here 4 months 6 months. So they have red card. But the Greek government don’t give attention to them they just leave us like this and our families don’t know where we are, they are saying if we are alive or we are dead they don’t know. Its very  difficult.

A., also a unaccompanied minor in Greece is in Athens six  since  months, trying to get out of Greece. He is registered by the Greec police about five or six times now.

A. is trying since half a year ,M. just starts now, thousand others unaccompanied minors who should be protected and families, single men and women are only wishing to be able to leave Greece as soon as possible and to arrive in some european country where their rights being refugees are respected.

But Greece doesn’t let them go!!!!!

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

EU plans joint ‘charter flights’ to deport immigrants

Posted by clandestina on 5 November 2009


source: EURACTIV

5 November 2009

EU plans ‘charter flights’ to deport illegal immigrants

Published: Wednesday 4 November 2009

EU leaders have for the first time asked for the creation of joint charter flights to deport illegal immigrants. These flights would be financed by Frontex, the European agency in charge of the EU’s external borders.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The situation in Turkey: a text by Oktay Durukan from the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly

Posted by clandestina on 1 November 2009

This is the text Oktay Durukan presented at the Public Event, Open Discussion in Thessaloniki: “People in mid-air: between deportation and asylum”.

Oktay Durukan from the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (HCA) in Istanbul, Turkey.

HCA is an Istanbul-based Turkish human rights organization, working on a diversity of issues. Since 2004, protection of refugees and vulnerable migrants in Turkey became one of our priority areas of activity. We run a relatively extensive, specialised program to provide free legal counselling and assistance to individuals who want to seek asylum protection in Turkey. We litigate to intervene in situations involving prolonged arbitrary detention and risk of refoulement. We also monitor state policies and practices, write reports on protection gaps. We organise trainings for lawyers and other professionals.

Who are asylum seekers present in Turkey

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Survivor of boat-accident imprisoned in Pagani!

Posted by clandestina on 28 October 2009

Report from Lesvos antira ’09.  Links to posts of this blog with frequent updates and photos on Lesvos situation are on the right sidebar.

10 people survived boat accident

Published on 27. October 2009.
A boat with 18 refugees drowned tonight close to Lesvos, Greece. This is what the Media reports about.
18 refugees crosed the sea between Turkey and Greece with a Boat. The sea was very stormy tonight. The boat crashed against a rock and the boat drowned. Some fisherman rescued them, for eight people the rescue came to late.
The Media makes it look like there has been a storm tonight. But in fact the sea was very calm around Lesvos.
Our source in Lesvos reported that some of the survivors are still in the hospital, the minors are accommodated in a Hotel in Mytilini, Lesvos and one man is in Pagani.
My name is Arif Khani Soldier. My wife, my daughter and me survived the accident. My family is in the hospital but they brought me here to the prison. I can not see or talk to them.

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

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.

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

Toddler behind bars

Posted by clandestina on 11 October 2009

Toddler behind bars

Issue No. 13358
Three-year-old Rozita and her mother, Zahra, have spent nearly a year in prison
ROZITA has spent one-third of her life in prison. She’s three years old.

Her parents, undocumented migrants from Afghanistan, were arrested in Greece and sentenced for forgery and immigration violations. They had illegally entered the country last year and were caught trying to leave on forged passports.

A court in Kilkis, a town in central Macedonia, sentenced the couple to six months in prison and fined them 3,000 euros. The sentence was indefinitely suspended on the grounds they would be deported.

This was in December 2008. They are still awaiting deportation.

They are still behind bars. To be deported, they need passports, which they do not have. This is why Rozita and her mother, Zahra, remain locked up.

Rozita is with her mother in a women’s prison in Thiva, about 50km outside Athens. The father is being held in a separate facility. Over the past 10 months, mother and daughter have been shuttled around the country: from a jail in Kilkis to a detention facility in Thessaloniki and the Korydalos prison in Athens.


According to Electra Koutra, an Athens lawyer and founder of the non-governmental organisation Hellenic Action for Human Rights, the family was unlawfully denied a lawyer and interpreter when they first appeared before the Kilkis court.

A second judicial blow came last week when a court in Thiva rejected a petition to release Rozita and her mother on the grounds they are seeking asylum in Greece and do not pose a threat to public order. The court rejected their petition and ruled they must remain in prison until deported.

“Not only is it inhuman to keep a child locked up, but it’s also a gross violation of human rights,” Koutra tells the Athens News. “The little girl came down with scabies and is always getting sick. She had to be taken to hospital twice.”

If mother and daughter are not immediately released, Koutra warns the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.

According to Asan Sukuri, president of the local Afghan association Noor, Zahra’s life is in danger if she is returned to Afghanistan because she belongs to the Hazara ethnic minority group. He also said she is from a region that is under Taliban control.

Sukuri says he told the Thiva court that if the mother and daughter were released they would be hosted by relatives legally residing in Greece and that his association would help them find employment while their application for asylum is being processed. The court denied his proposal.

“Zahra cries all the time when we speak on the telephone,” Sukuri told the Athens News on September 29. “She cries and tells me that she cannot stand the situation any more. She has been in prison for almost a year. Something needs to be done.”

Asylum in Greece

Greece has one of the lowest refugee recognition rates in the European Union. Last year, Greece granted refugee status to 379 people out of nearly 20,000 applications reviewed.

By law, authorities must process all claims for asylum immediately. Asylum seekers should be fingerprinted and issued a so-called pink card (rose karta).

Holders of this card are entitled to free medical treatment and the right to employment. Authorities, by law, have three months to examine the asylum claim and render a decision. This is seldom the case.

New legislation passed in July has severely undermined the appeals procedure, according to local and international human rights groups like Amnesty International and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

The new rules force rejected asylum seekers to take their case to the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court. This requires them to hire a lawyer – something which few can afford.

Greece has faced a barrage of Europe-wide criticism since November 2007 when the German non-governmental organisation Pro Asyl published a shocking report accusing the Greek coastguard of “systematically abusing newly-arrived refugees”.

Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hunger strikes, pickets and urban guerillas in Greece before critical weekend

Posted by clandestina on 4 September 2009

Article by taxikipali at on latest developments.

Hunger strikes, pickets and urban guerillas in Greece before critical weekend

In the run-up to the huge protest marches of the coming weekend in Salonica, Greece sees immigrants’ hunger strikes, Wind workers take up pickets for national strike, as well as the Athens Stock Market and one Ministry hit by guerrillas.

Tension is building across Greece in expectation of the International Exibition of Salonica, the annual start of the protest season in the country when the PM usually announces the new year’s programme. As this time around the PM is expected to either announce the dissolution of his government and immediate elections or make some life-saving surprise move, the stakes are high. Huge protest marches which traditionally swamp Salonica in the first weekend of September are expected to be militant, while even police unions having announced they will march…in uniform…

In the run-up of the weekend, a series of social and labour struggles as well as the ever-surprising re-emergence of urban guerrilla attacks have been setting the pace. More specifically:

In Pagani, the notorious immigrants’ detention camp in Lesbos island recently brought to the public spotlight after UN condemnations of barbarity and No-Border actions, 47 minors from Afghanistan, Somalia and Palestine have started a hunger strike on Tuesday 1st of September. The hunger strikers announced: ”We don’t need anything but freedom no food, no medicine. We are in hunger strike.” For of the minors are in a “dry” hunger strike, refusing to take any liquids, and already suffering medical consequences. The hunger strikers have already been imprisoned in the camp for 60 days with no sign of their release.

At the same time workers of the international telecommunication corporation Wind have declared a national strike for Thursday 3rd of September picketing all the central premises of the corporation. The industrial action has been taken in response to the recent lay-off of a female worker in the company which the strikers have denounced as a “antiunionist terrorist measure”.

Meanwhile on the urban guerrilla front, Athens was rocked by a big explosion on Wen. 2/9 which destroyed the facade and two floors of the newly built Athens Stock Market setting off a fire in the inside that was controlled by the fire brigade. The explosion was caused by a bomb in a parked van outside the Stock Market and was pre-announced to the press to avoid injuries. Nevertheless due to police incompetence one woman was slightly injured by broken glass as officers failed to evacuate the area properly. From the explosion several car-expos around the building were also damaged. Earlier the same morning another bomb caused small damaged to the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace in Salonica. Speculations on the culprits fall on the usual range of left-wing guerrilla groups, yet as of this moment no organisation has claimed responsibility for either of the attacks.

update: The government finally made its surprise move: resigning even before the International Expo in Salonica. Yesterday the PM came live to announce the dissolution of parliament and early elections (2 years before scheduled) due to “the political climate not allowing him to do his work”. Meanwhile the left-wing daily eleftherotypia has estimated that the Stock Market bomb is the largest ever to be set off in greece, and part of the Revolutionary Struggle’s demolotion campaign against symbols of Capital. Still no organisation has claimed the attack.

Posted in Action & Struggle Reports, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »