clandestina

Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘Chios’

Money for detention centers until “screening centers” come…

Posted by clandestina on 27 December 2009

source: athens news

THE GOVERNMENT has announced it will pay back all the money spent last year by the country’s border prefectures – including Samos, Lesvos, Chios, Chania and the Dodecanese – to maintain and operate the detention centres for undocumented migrants and asylum seekers. The prefectures have accrued some 8.5 million euros in debt.

The decision was announced by Deputy Interior Minister Theodora Tzakri during a meeting with the prefects in Athens on December 7.

“We are very pleased with the minister’s announcement,” Manolis Karlas, prefect of the island of Samos, which lies just off the coast of Turkey, told the Athens News immediately following the meeting. “She promised we would receive all the money owed by the end of the year. A first instalment will be paid next week. This money has been spent to feed and clothe the migrants and to pay for their transportation to Athens.”

Karlas, like the other prefects, is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the detention centres for illegal migrants.

“We have about 80 [migrants] on the island today,” he explained. “But during the summer months the number exceeds 800. And they all need food, clothes and shoes. We feed them three times a day. All this costs money.”

He and the other prefects informed Tzakri that the current situation has forced them to shop on credit and run up huge debts with local merchants.

The number of migrants sneaking into Greece has skyrocketed in the past few years. Official data compiled by Greece’s interior ministry show more than 146,000 migrants were arrested for entering the country illegally in 2008. This is more than double the number recorded three years ago. The government has repeatedly stressed the need for more EU help.

To provide a permanent solution, the Pasok government is planning to transform migrant detention centres into so-called screening centres, where undocumented migrants and asylum seekers will stay for only a few days as their status is being decided. A similar system exists in other European Union countries.

This is a major detour in policy pursued by the former New Democracy government, which had announced the creation of dozens of additional migrant detention centres across the country. It had planned to transform dozens of disused military facilities into detention centres and to detain undocumented migrants for as long as a year or until they were deported.

However, the conditions at many of the country’s existing migrant detention centres have been harshly criticised by representatives of local and international human rights groups, and the current government itself.

During a visit of the overcrowded facility on the island of Lesvos, Spyros Vouyias, the deputy minister for the protection of citizens, condemned the condition of the overcrowded facility on the island of Lesvos and ordered its immediate closure last month.

Using language surprisingly harsh for a cabinet member, he told reporters that conditions there were “appalling, inhuman, a violation of basic human rights”.

Last week, the government announced plans to overhaul existing asylum legislation in order to increase the number of people who may secure refugee status. Greece currently has the lowest rate of refugee recognition in Europe. According to Michalis Chrysohoidis, the citizen protection minister, it is currently 0.03 percent.

Chrysohoidis has also announced that the police will no longer be the sole decision-maker on asylum applications. This will be assigned to a new committee of government officials, legal experts and members of non-governmental organisations. As many as 40,000 asylum applications are currently pending.

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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…

Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Update on the continuing tension in Greece

Posted by clandestina on 28 July 2009

source

Double fascist attack against squats in Salonica in midst of continuing tension

Fascists attack two Salonica squats while struggle against anti-immigration policies intensifies

During the past week both Radio Revolt, a pirate anarchist radio station housed in an abandoned train wagon within premises of the Aristotelian University of Salonica, and Europe’s largest squat, Fabrica Yfanet, came under fascist arson attack.
The train wagon of Radio Revolt, was attacked with three Molotov cocktails in the night of Tuesday 21/07 by parastate fascist elements publicly condoned by the Ministry of Public Order currently run by an ex-junta persecutor. Radio Revolt continued to broadcast with only 3 hours stoppage. On Saturday 25/07 Fabrica Yfanet’s main gate was attacked by a gas-canister device. The fire was extinguished by member soft hw squat as well as neighbours, while police forces that unusually arrived to the scene only minutes after the attack engaged squatters and neighbours in fascist verbal abuse clearly sympathising with the attack. Fabrica Yfanet is a centre of manifold political activities and receives widespread support amongst the city’s youth and progressives.

Meanwhile in Athens, on the early morning of Tuesday 28/7, a squad of Golden Dawn members marched from the offices of the neonazi party near Omonoia square down Menandrou street in military formation, attacked black men and women uninhibited by the strong police presence in the area. The nazi scum chanted “today niggers die” while returning to their Agios Panteleimonas lair.

Arson attacks against anarchist antiauthoritarian and libertarian squats have been a repeated pattern in the last year, and is considered to be part of the Greek state’s massive counterinsurgency efforts to quench the rising social movement against the more and more dictatorial rule of the government which has been manning its civil service with ever more junta-related individuals. Parastate elements’ anti-squat activity has repeatedly led to massive solidarity marches, rendering the strategy rather counterintuitive, proving once again the readiness of the Greek state to exercise brute force, and its inability to reason even to its own interest.

Characteristic of the new blind fascism of the Greek state is the unprecedented act of censorship exercised against a short animated film by the well known leftist director Costa-Gavras, who is a nail in the eye of the Greek PM for having filmed “Z”, the story of the assassination of left-wing MP Grigoris Lambrakis by parastate thugs under orders of the PM’s uncle in the mid 1960s. Gavras’ animation commissioned by the Ministry of Culture was meant to play at the new Acropolis museum, until the Ministry obliged to curtail scenes portraying Greek Orthodox priests vandalising the Parthenon after orders by the Church. Costa-Gavras has condemned the act as a return to the darkest days of the country. The Greek Orthodox Church remains the largest land-owner in the country and an integral part of the State mechanism, waging considerable control in many policies, particularly relating to education.

Despite the rising white-terror and the mid-summer vacations, the social antagonistic movement is stepping up its response to the state-fascist collaboration and racist bigotry.

Since Friday 24/07/09 a series of blockades of boats transferring immigrants to detention camps in the Greek province of Macedonia have erupted in battles between antiracist protesters and the police.

On Friday 24/07 at midnight protesters cancelled the transfer of 60 so-called illegal immigrants on the boat Theofilos from the port of Mytilini, Lesbos Island, to the mainland city of Kavala. The protesters occupied the main entrance of the ferry boat refusing to allow the police to load the arrested immigrants of Pakistani Afghan and Somalian descent. An unverified number of detained immigrants at the Panagi camp of Lasbos have started a hunger strike against the transfers, demanding their immediate release.

On Sunday 26/07 protesters of PAME, the umbrella union controlled by the Communist Party (KKE), and of the Chios Immigrant Solidarity Committee clashed with the police and fascist civilian auxiliaries at the port of Chios Island when they tried to blockade the entry of two busloads of detained immigrants on the aforementioned boat bound for Thessaloniki. After the police beat the protesters back with use of brutal force, a member of the KKE partaking in the blockade fell into to sea between the pier and the ferry, disallowing the departure of the boat for another hour. The involvement of the KKE in the protests marks an interesting if controversial shift in its long-standing policy of verbalism and practical apathy to the plight of immigrant workers. During the clashes many protesters were injured, while according to the Solidarity Committee, the criminal and dehumanising attitude of the Chios authorities towards immigrants reached its apex in the separation of a 15 year old boy from Somalia from his mother who remains detained in the island. The detained immigrants were transferred to the mainland chained and locked in the boat’s basement inside the buses, thus directly endangering their lives.

The authorities claim the reason for the transfers is the overpopulation of the islands’ camps. In Chios, the Mersinidi camp has a capacity of 120 while detaining 220, whereas the Panagi camp in Lesbos has a capacity of 250 persons while detaining 400. Protesters however argue that the transfers are a first step of “pushing” immigrants illegally though the minefields of Evros River towards Turkey. Claiming that the camps are dehumanising and that the transfers comprise punishing measures for people who have never been convicted for anything other than not having papers, the protesters demand that the detainees are held in hotels, after releasing all underage individuals.

In the diffuse-guerrilla front, a bomb device targeting the Chilean Consulate was dismantled last week by the police, while Tuesday night saw within 30 minutes a barrage of low intensity attacks on State targets, with some 7 local offices of anti-immigration parliamentary parties (New Democracy, PASOK, and LAOS) bombed with gas-canister devices across Athens. Responsibility for the attacks has been claimed by the Shining Paths of Solidarity in response to the “nazification” of the State and nazi-police collaboration. The offices of a LAOS MP were also attacked, causing no human injuries.

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Human Rights Watch: Halt Crackdown, Arrests of Migrants

Posted by clandestina on 28 July 2009

source: human rights watch article

GREECE: HALT CRACKDOWN, ARRESTS OF MIGRANTS

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.”

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/07/27/greece-halt-crackdown-arrests-migrants

© Copyright 2008, Human Rights Watch

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