clandestina

Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

European Union – Turkey: hard negotiations and tough bargaining for immigrants and refugees

Posted by clandestina on 14 January 2010

This short post is long due, but still usefull for anyone to understand why Turkey is not Libya, in other words, why the externalisation of Fortress Europe borders to Turkey is a stake in a complex and hard bargaining between the EU and the regional megapower (in which money is not everything for the latter).

According to the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, the European Union is ready to offer political advantages to Turkey in exchange for signing a readmission agreement. We found out what readmission means for Turkey, when Oktay Durukan, member of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly of Turkey, analytically presented (in Greek) Turkey’s policies during the conference “Suspended people”, that took place in Thessaloniki on October 30th, 2009. It is worth pointing out a little known fact that was mentioned in the conference: Turkey can only offer asylum to European Union member state nationals!

Turkey was one of the countries that negotiated about the Refugee Status in the 1951 Refugee Convention, and was one of the first countries to sign it. However, Turkey has retained one of the Convention’s paragraphs, the so-called “geographical limitation”, thus still offering protection only to migrants involuntarily displaced “as a result of events in Europe”. Therefore and according to the aforementioned paragraph, Turkey welcomes only EU member states’ nationals as refuge applicants.

Third country nationals, also referred to as “non-Europeans”, claiming refugee status in Turkey have to apply in a Turkish police station for a “temporary asylum status” regardless of their application to UNHCR, which has to pre-exist. If they are arrested before managing to apply for refugee status, then they reach a dead end: the police will not accept an application for the temporary refugee status and consequently deny them access to any refugee status application at all.

The ”lucky” ones who are recognized as asylum seekers by the UNHCR are then dispersed across the country, hosted in 30 so-called “satellite towns”. There they live in average for two to three years while the final decisions on their requests for asylum and resettlement are pending. They are obliged to find shelter on their own and receive little assistance with regards to daily expenses or health-care. The chances for declared work are minimal thus many of them are forced into illegal work, mainly as sex workers. Last but not least, they are obliged to pay a resident fee in order to obtain a residence permit.

+ the article of last November at the Hürriyet newspaper

EU to grant visa flexibility in return for readmission agreement

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

DÖNDÜ SARIIŞIK

BRUSSELS – Hürriyet Daily News

The European Union is reportedly ready to introduce some visa flexibility if Turkey signs a readmission agreement to tackle the flow of illegal immigrants to Europe.

The European Union and Turkey will discuss the readmission agreement again Dec. 4. Visa flexibility will be introduced once Ankara agrees to sign the agreement to deal with illegal immigration to Europe, a high-ranked official from the European Commission in Brussels has revealed.

“We will start the new round of discussions between [the commission] and Turkey on the readmission agreement in Ankara on Dec. 4,” a senior official from the commission said under condition of anonymity during a meeting with Turkish journalists. “This is certainly a critical issue.”

A significant number of people fleeing their poverty-stricken or war-torn countries of origin seek an opportunity to live in Europe. Turkey is the main route for thousands of illegal immigrants coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East.

The agreement would be binding for the entire union, as no individual solution is envisioned, the official said, adding that the financial burden would be shared. “The EU will grant support to Turkey to tackle the problem. We have expressed our readiness to look into all means to help,” the official said. “Of course we have budgetary limitations, but we are ready to help you.”

EU officials held the first round of talks Nov. 5 in Ankara to convince their Turkish counterparts to sign a readmission agreement. The EU member states, which apply a common asylum policy in line with the Dublin-2 Convention, have been seeking cooperation from candidate countries. According to Chapter 24 of negotiations between the EU and Turkey, Brussels is increasing pressure on Ankara with a call to adopt more deterrence measures or grant asylum to immigrants.

The readmission bargain may result in visa flexibility for Turkish citizens, the official said, adding, “As soon as the readmission agreement is signed, we will offer a lot of new opportunities in terms of visas.”

Some EU member countries set a pre-condition of readmission in order to facilitate visa-free travel, he said. “We cannot consider any visa facilitation with Turkey if we do not have a readmission agreement between the EU and Turkey,” the official said. “Once we have a readmission agreement, we will be very open to negotiate visa facilitation. Journalists, academics, business people and scientists will be able to travel easily to the EU.”

After the European Court of Human Rights granted two Turkish drivers visa-free travel for business purposes, Turkish diplomats kicked off a campaign to widen visa flexibility in cooperation with business associations. Turkey advocates that the court ruling be applied to students, academics, artists, scientists and businessmen under the Customs Union agreement.

Germany has already introduced new regulations in line with the court verdict, but most of the other EU member states are still reluctant to take any further steps.

Last year, Turkey detained some 68,000 illegal immigrants attempting to make their way into the European Union. According to official statistics, up to 18,000 asylum seekers are waiting in Turkey for acceptance to a third country.

Existing Turkish regulations do not allow the country to grant asylum to people from outside the European Council member states.

PS: in April last year, in a case that received widespread publicity, 18 Syrians and Iranian citizens, including 5 recognized as refugees by the UNHCR, were forced by threat of weapons by Turkish soldiers to cross borders swimming through  a non-guarded  part of the river that separates Turkey from Iraq.

This is an example of a unilateral, ‘black’ expulsion of people to a third country they have nothing to do with. 4 of them died, including one Iranian of the recognized ones by the UNHCR . The latter condemned the incident in a press release, based on testimonies received by survivors. To date, however, no serious investigation into the incident has taken place.

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About the Iranian political refugees on hunger strike

Posted by clandestina on 10 November 2009

This is about the Political refugees from Iran hunger strike in Athens.

source : http://iranianrefugeesfromtipf.blogspot.com/

The Iranian political refugees are ex-members of P.M.O.I. They were recruited from countries near Iran, where they had found shelter, after being chased by Khomeini’s regime and were transported to a camp in Iraq for military training. They joined the organization believing that they would fight for political change and the freedom of their people. But, in the camp they encounter a very illiberal system, totally different with their personal beliefs, humiliations, constant brainwashing in order to exalt the organization’s leader and many times, torture and imprisonments. Now, they consider P.M.O.I. to be even worse than Khomeini himself.
In 2002, P.M.O.I. signed a secret agreement with U.S.A., which has invaded Iraq, according to which Americans had to keep for 5 years all the dissidents of the organization in a secret prison camp (T.I.P.F.), 50 kilometres outside Bagdad, and P.M.O.I. had to give information about Iran in return. In this prison, they suffered heavy torture again until they were set free in 2007, after the agreement expired. The United Nations’ High Committee for Refugees recognized them as political refugees in 2006 after interview via satellite, while they were still in prison.

The following is the testimony of one of the hunger strikers, as he wrote it:

“After the war between U.S.A and Iraq, one of the American commanders (general Odierno) came to our base, camp Ashraf near Bagdad , and told us that we can not be armed anymore and that they will help the ones of us, who want to go to other countries.
Note that this was a lie from the start because P.M.O.I. (our former organization) had secretly signed an agreement with the Americans to hold us captives for 5 years. As a result, instead of helping us leave Iraq they put as in a camp called T.I.P.F. (Temporary Interview & Protection Facility). We were supposed to stay there for 2 or 3 months but were set free 5 years later.
This “camp” was no different than Guantanamo prison. We were dressed in uniforms and we lived in tents. We were allowed to take one 3 minutes shower every 10 days and our food was M.R.E. (Meal Ready to Eat), which is provided to the American soldiers when they take part in military operations and is therefore not suitable for long-term consumption. They also used us for testing new American drugs. When we had headaches or sleeping disorders they gave us pills with false names without limitations for pills per day. I particularly remember a painkiller called oltrom which we could take 10 or 20 times per day.As a result, lots of us developed psychological problems. Some times they didn’t provide us new razors to shave and diseases were transferred from one to another through the old and common razors.
For 2 years no one knew that there was a prison in this part of the world until 5 persons escaped from the “camp” and told to BBC radio and human rights organizations, like Red Cross, United Nations High Committee for Refugees etc., that there is a top secret prison 50 kilometers outside Bagdad. When the Americans were informed about this incident they removed the black flag, which meant that this was a P.O.W. (prisoners of war) camp, they brought a generator and built other facilities in order to alter the prison image and trick human rights organizations. Then UNHCR wanted to have an interview with us but the Americans allowed it one year later. The interview took place via satellite because the Americans claimed that it was unsafe for the UNHCR members to come in Iraq. On the 5th of May 2006 we were finally recognized as political refugees.
Despite that fact, the U.S. army refused to send our case files to the countries, which accept refugees. The government of Iraq started then to push U.S. army to set us free. Finally in December of 2007 the prison gate opened and we were allowed to leave in groups of 4-5 people without any documents.
I was in the third group and managed through a lot of trouble to arrive to the Kurdish area of Iraq. There I paid a smuggler to help me enter Turkey illegally. I went to the UNHCR ‘s office in Ankara where I was given 2 papers certifying that I am a refugee and I was sent to Afion city to introduce myself to the local police. At first I was welcomed but a week later I was arrested because Turkey has signed a security contract with Iran and I was now considered a threat for Turkey’s national security. They took me to the borders with Iraq.”

To be continued…

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No Deportations to Baghdad campaigns

Posted by clandestina on 16 October 2009

source: http://no-racism.net/article/3143

No Deportations to Baghdad

On Thursday, 15. Oct 2009, early morning, a specially chartered plane provided by Air Italy deported 39 people from London to Baghdad. Activists call for a demonstration on Saturday and a campaign against Air Italy.

Message from the campaigning group Stop Deportation

The first deportation to Baghdad deported around forty people early on Thursday the 15th October on a specially chartered plane provided by Air Italy. This marks a shift in government policy which since 2005 has sent people back to Iraqi Kurdistan but not to Iraq. Now they have begun, deportations to Iraq are sure to continue putting the lives of many in danger.

Demonstrate on Saturday to build
resistance to deportations to Iraq!
Saturday 17 October 2009, 2pm
Parliament Square, London

Deporting people to a war zone like Iraq puts the lives of many deportees at risk. As recently as the 11th October, three car bombs exploded in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, killing at least 19 people. Violence and bloodshed continue throughout the country, which saw 1,891 civilian deaths in the first six months of this year alone. There are also widespread food shortages, lack of access to clean drinking water and other grave humanitarian crises in many areas.

The British government, through its participation in the war on and occupation of Iraq since 2003, is responsible for these crises and the consequent displacement of millions of Iraqis. Instead of helping accommodate refugees fleeing war and violence, it is now sending them back en masse to face their possible death. Charter flight deportations in particular limit detainees legal recourse and are especially violent – see :: stopdeportation.net for more information.

We call upon all groups, organisations and individuals opposed to this brutal action by the UK government to stand with us in calling for all deportations to Iraq to be stopped. Join us to demonstrate against mass deportations to Iraq this Saturday the 17th October, at 2pm, at Parliament Square.

If you would like to add your or your organisation’s name to a :: statement against deportations to Iraq, or for any further information, please emailstopdeportation (at) riseup.net.

Campaign Against Air Italy

Air Italy was involved in the forcible removal by a charter flight leased to UK Border Agency of 39 Iraqi’s who had sought asylum in the UK, to an unknown destination in Iraq on Wednesday 14th October from Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom.

The :: National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns call for protests against the deportation airline. :: Details and model letter here.

print version

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45 refugees reach the shore of southern Crete οn boats – solidarity campaign by the Forum of Immigrants in Crete

Posted by clandestina on 22 July 2009

a hand through a window - a photo from an action at Kissamos, Chania, where 113 refugees where detained

a hand through a window - a photo from an action at Kissamos, Chania, where 113 refugees where detained in September, 2006

Around 45 refugees reached yesterday night the shore of Palaiochora and Lafonisi οn boats.   Men, women and children.

In these times, when, according to some, the greatest evil society has to deal with are the “sans papiers”, what might be the fate of these wretched souls? The fate of those who, according to some, are not refugees, neither exiled, but clandestine, illegal, criminals, more dangerous, even than the network of gangsters-constructors-authorities who parade through TV screens the last few days, and appear to have been calling government ministers by their surname …

The sea washed 45 “utterly evil” people of this sort, refugees that is, ashore, yesterday, the 20th of July, 2009 on the south of the Prefecture of Hania.  These refugees have escaped some country of terror and death, presumably Iraq. Families with children, a pregnant woman… Wage labourers, mothers and children, who made it out of war, poverty and juntas… The politics that wants them illegal, clandestine, will detain them for months in prison cells, though they’ve commited no crime, it ‘ll keep them unemployed, it’ll force them work for 2 euros an hour. This politics goes against society’s interests.

The interests of us all working people, lay in the granting of asylum to all these people, so that they live in dignity with their families, to join unions, to join common struggles with their Greek colleagues against the real enemy: the cartel of political and economic power-holders, who set “criseis” up, who create unemployment, in order to cut down wages.

The 45 refugees are in a hotel in Georgioupolis.  The next days we will try to contact them, along with the Medecins du Monde and Amnesty International. Some first aid in clothes, especially underwear, would be very much appreciated. The office of the Forum of Immigrants in Crete (Chatzimihali Daliani 67, Chania) will be open for anyone who wishes to aid.


FORUM OF IMMIGRANTS IN CRETE

ΦΟΡΟΥΜ ΜΕΤΑΝΑΣΤΩΝ ΚΡΗΤΗΣ ,

Χατζημιχάλη Νταλιάνη 67 , Chania, Crete, 73100

tel. 00302821058851, mobile. 00306973525049- 00306982445088

forum.kritis@yahoo.gr

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Greek Government’s “Six-point plan” for the war against immigrants in the Aegean

Posted by clandestina on 23 June 2009

source: ministry of foreign affairs release

Article of Deputy Foreign Minister Valinakis in the Athens daily ‘Kathimerini’

The problem of illegal migrants is one of the 21st century’s global challenges. Europe and our country are at the heart of this global problem due to their geographical position as a gateway to Europe from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa and we are exposed to these migratory pressures. This problem is particularly acute for our country’s border regions and, more specifically, our eastern border in the Aegean Sea.

For the past few years we have persistently and methodically tried to turn our positions into EU-27 positions because this problem cannot be understood easily by all the European countries, e.g., those countries without sea borders. Since 2004, Greece has been playing a leading role in the creation of a common, integrated European policy on these issues. The problem’s labyrinthine dimensions do not allow for oversimplification based on domestic interests. In fact, they require an integrated plan; that is, a mobilization of human and other resources, use of national and European means, partnerships, synergies, and painful negotiations.

Bearing this in mind, a network of complementary actions could relieve the islands of the Aegean from these pressures and lay the foundations for successful treatment of the problem. This network of actions is based on 6 axes:

1.         A ship of sufficient tonnage to be used as a first reception and transport centre. This ship will sail near the islands of the Aegean where illegal migrants have been arrested, it will take them on board and carry them to the reception centres already in, or due to be put into, operation. The ship must be equipped with the necessary logistics infrastructure so as to ensure a complete health check of illegal migrants and to cross-check their identification data in order to ascertain their country of origin reliably and in a timely manner.

2.         An immediate relaunching of EU-Turkey negotiations on the conclusion of a readmission agreement and an immediate implementation of the existing Greek-Turkish Readmission Protocol. Given that these issues have become part of the framework of relations between the EU and Turkey, our neighbouring country is jeopardizing its European future by dragging its feet.

3.         Use of a specific port on the Turkish coast for the return of illegal migrants who have reached our country through Turkey. This will be a major step that will certainly contribute to the relief of our insular areas. The use of a Turkish harbour in conjunction with the operation of a ship as a reception centre creates the necessary conditions for the faster return of illegal migrants.

4.         Conclusion of European and bilateral readmission agreements with the countries of origin for the overwhelming majority of illegal migrants (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia). Development aid as well as political and economic cooperation can be used as leverage in speeding up the conclusion of these agreements.

5.         Intensification of joint operations on a permanent basis under FRONTEX, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union, on the way towards the creation of a European Coastguard. Our proposal for the creation of a specialised FRONTEX branch in Greece is included within the same framework.

6.         Full use of every potential for financing all the necessary actions with additional EU funds and utilization of European and bilateral programmes.

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