Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘Patras port’

A protest letter from British academic members regarding the recent attack on refugee camp in Patras Greece

Posted by clandestina on 22 July 2009


We are concerned about the British media silence regarding the recent attack on a refugee camp in Patras Greece as a reflection of the idea of Fortress Europe.

As trade unionists and academics who research issues of human rights and social inequality we strongly condemn the recent use of violence against migrants in Patras, Greece.

Greece has been repeatedly condemned by international organisations over maltreatment of migrants and asylum seekers. In recent weeks we have witnessed further demonisation and victimisation of migrants and asylum seekers. Punitive police operations are presented as the answer and the authorities fuel the media with xenophobic rhetoric and images. As a result there is a dramatic increase in cases of brutality against migrants. The authorities not only seem to tolerate attacks of fascist groups on individuals and families, but also orchestrated a brutal and unlawful operation against the refugee camp in Patras.

Thousands of migrants have been living in this makeshift camp for over the last eight years without any support and protection from the Greek state. The Greek authorities made it impossible for most of them even to apply for asylum, by not providing access to the necessary services. During this period the migrants were systematically harassed by the police and coast guard and were labeled as “clandestines”. Nevertheless, nothing could prepare the local community of Parts and the groups of citizens who voluntarily support the migrants, for what was about to happen last week.

In the early hours of Sunday 12/7/2009 and without any previous warning, hundreds of fully armed riot police engaged in an inhuman and appalling operation. As the UNHCR, International Human Rights Organsations and local support groups highlight, major streets were blocked and access to the area was banned. The state authorities, arrested hundreds of migrants, demolished and burned down the makeshift accommodation, including personal belongings, travel documents and the camp mosque. The migrants who had travel documents were temporarily directed to a local hotel. The rest of them were arrested and there seems to be no further information concerning their whereabouts. It is highly likely that a number of unaccompanied minors were among the group, as the decision on who was minor solely lied upon the “judgment” of riot police during this inhuman operation. We also express our concern about the possibility of forcible repatriation of the migrants to Afghanistan.

For the lucky ones who escaped arrest things are not any better. Without any facilities to offer protection and support, hundreds of migrants live dispersed and terrorized in the city centre without being able to meet their very basic human needs.

We demand answers to the following questions

  • The operation lacked any legal, ethical and moral basis. Who decided it?
  • Why did the operation take place without any previous warning and most importantly without ensuring that access to other reception facilities would be available?
  • How many migrants were arrested and where exactly are they being detained?
  • How did they ensure that unaccompanied minors were not maltreated and abused?
  • Why migrants were not offered an opportunity to apply for asylum?
  • Are there plans to forcibly repatriate them without any prior access to the asylum process?
  • Will Greece keep tolerating the racist and xenophobic attacks against migrants and their families?

In the absence of an official answer we reserve our right to visit the area and make use of any means at our disposal to ensure that the authorities and individuals involved will be held accountable of their actions.

Prof. Alex Callinicos, Kings College London

Dr. Karen Evans, University of Liverpool

Dr. Iain Ferguson, University of Stirling

Prof. Emer. Chris Jones, University of Liverpool

Dr. Vasilios Ioakimidis, Liverpool Hope University

Dr. Michael Lavalette, Liverpool Hope University

Mr. Peter Marsden Blackpool Local Government Unison (personal capacity)

Mrs. Julia Orry, Blackpool Branch Secretary (personal capacity).

Mrs. Laura Penkenth, University of Manchester

For more information please contact Dr. Vasilios Ioakimidis:,


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Médecins Sans Frontières on the destruction of Patras settlement.

Posted by clandestina on 18 July 2009

source: msf website

Patras, Greece: “All these people have lost their homes and safety overnight”

JULY 17, 2009


Micky van Gerven, Head of Mission

A makeshift migrants’ camp in Patras, Greece, was demolished on July 12 during a police operation that ended in fire. Micky van Gerven, Head of Mission for the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) project for migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees in Greece, talks about the situation in the city and expresses MSF’s concern over the medical and mental health conditions of the people who lost all their belongings and were left homeless.

Five days after the demolition of the camp what is the situation of migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees in Patras?

The demolition of the camp has left all the people who were previously living there homeless. Most of them have lost everything, all their belongings, during the clearing of the camp or the fire. Asylum-seekers—those who are registered and have papers—have been offered shelter at a hotel, but it is unclear how long they will be able to stay there. Unaccompanied minors—children under the age of 18 without their parents—have been offered to be brought to a reception center. Some of these children are only 13 or 14 years old and they are afraid to accept this offer, because they think they will be sent to jail.

All undocumented migrants either have been arrested or have fled into Patras, or are somewhere in hiding. The people who are now in the streets do not have access to hygiene and cooking facilities; they have no water or food. All of these people have lost their home and their relative safety overnight. For every human being, this is a traumatic experience.

How is MSF responding to their needs?

The team in Patras is following their patients where have gone. They are giving medical and psychosocial assistance to those who have gathered in different parts of the city and are monitoring the health situation of other groups. Over the last three days, the team has distributed hygiene material, sleeping bags, and food to those who have nothing left.

Do you have any information about the undocumented migrants who were arrested? Where were they taken?

As far as we know, the people who were arrested were taken to police stations in and around Patras, where they are kept with other undocumented migrants who have been arrested by the police before the demolition of the camp. We have witnessed undocumented migrants being kept in police stations for up to 20 days. The team has managed to visit one of these police stations and has seen that the police cells are not suitable; many people are cramped in one cell, having to sleep on very dirty floors, as there are no mattresses. They also lack direct access to showers and toilets. We are concerned that many of these people have medical and mental health needs that are not addressed and we have even seen people in custody who were injured during their arrest.

When they still lived in the camp, many of these people were our patients and we are concerned about their mental and physical health. Many of them come from war-torn countries; many have made a difficult journey under harsh circumstances, so they are in need of support and care and they need a roof over their heads.

What about the minors?

The minors need special attention. They went through similar hardships, but are obviously more vulnerable. We know that the Ministry of Health is in principle taking care of them by providing care and accommodation for them in special centers, but we also know that these centers are already overcrowded and that many of the minors are being held in detention centers or end up in the streets without any protection.


MSF Calls For Humane Treatment, Medical Assistance to Migrants Displaced in Greece

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UN criticises Italian, Greek asylum policies

Posted by clandestina on 15 July 2009

UN criticises Italian, Greek asylum policies

By Judith Crosbie
14.07.2009 / 13:29 CET
Refugee agency warns of maltreatment, failure to accept asylum applications and changes to legal system.

The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, today (14 July) criticised Italy’s treatment of would-be asylum-seekers and Greece’s decision to close down a camp housing asylum-seekers and change its laws on asylum.

The UNHCR said it feared that Italy’s new policy of intercepting migrants at sea may has resulted in failures to honour its obligations to asylum-seekers and in maltreatment of migrants. It says that, since May, Italy has picked up 900 people at sea and returned them to the north African coast from which they sailed.

In a statement, the UNHCR said it had “expressed serious concerns about the impact of this new policy which, in the absence of adequate safeguards, can prevent access to asylum and undermines the international principle of non-refoulement”, which is intended to prevent refugees being returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened.

The UNHCR cited a case on 1 July when the Italian navy picked up 82 people 30 miles from the southern island of Lampedusa. A “significant number” of the group wanted to claim asylum but were sent back to Libya on a Libyan ship and placed in detention centres, the UNHCR said. It has asked the Italian authorities to provide information on those sent back to Libya.

It added that it had been told “disturbing accounts” of Italian personnel using force to transfer the migrants onto the Libyan ship, resulting in six people needing medical attention. Their belongings, including documents, were taken from them and have not yet been returned. “Those interviewed spoke of the distress they were in after four days at sea and said that the Italian navy did not offer them any food during the 12-hour operation to return them to Libya,” UNHCR said.

Of the group of 82, 76 were from Eritrea, including nine women and at least six children. A recent report by Human Rights Watch said Eritrea was “one of the most closed and repressive states in the world”, and the government stands accused of repression and abuse of its citizens, including detention, torture, forced labour and restrictions of freedom of movement and expression.

Greece was similarly criticised on a number of counts, including its decision to close down a makeshift camp in Patras on 12 July, which left many of its residents, including registered asylum-seekers, without a roof over their heads.

An unknown number of undocumented residents of the camp were arrested and taken to a police station in Patras, where, according to the UNHCR, translation and interpretation services may be inadequate. The organisation also voiced concern about the decision to transfer 44 unaccompanied minors to a special reception centre in Konitsa, northern Greece.

The statement was issued just after Greece adopted a law decentralising asylum decisions to over 50 police directorates and abolishing the existing appeals process in favour of a judicial review that will address only points of law. “These new developments are likely to make protection even more elusive for those who need it in Greece,” it warned in a statement.

Almost 20,000 applications for asylum in Greece were lodged in 2008. During that year, Greece awarded international protection to just 379 people.

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Fascism on the rise: the last few days in Greece…

Posted by clandestina on 13 July 2009


Nazi Greek state: Kristallnacht in Patras, bullets in Athens, torture in Simi.

source: article

Submitted by taxikipali on Jul 13 2009

The rapid nazification of the Greek state took off last weekend with the violent evacuation and torching of the large Afghan immigrant settlement in Patras, shooting of immigrants in Omoinoia square and institutionalised torture of Pakistanis in the island of Simi.

The nazification of the Greek state which is endorsing parastate groups to ‘clean and patrol’ areas comes in a climate of acute social antagonistic upheaval. Besides the continuing resistance locals of Grammaticos villages who rose against the construction of an open refuse dump in their area, erecting barricades and clashing with the police, last week saw a series of dynamic antifascist antiracist protest marches against State-nazi attacks against immigrants. At the same time, on the early hours of Saturday the house of the ex-Minister of Public Order (active during the December Uprising and Alexis Grigoropoulos assassination by the police) and ex-chief of the Greek Army, General Hinophotis, was bombed with a strong explosive device after prior warning call to the press. A few hours later earlier yet another armed attack against riot police forces occurred near the HQ of PASOK with no victims On the early morning Sunday, following the surge of State-fascist attacks the HQ camp of the riot police (MAT) in Athens came under attack by protesters which piled the riot policemen with stones leading to a half hour battle.

The Greek state’s response to the December Uprising and the politicisation of immigrants across the country has solidified in a programme of nazification that includes open endorsement of neo-nazi vigilante combat groups, a series of the most repressive laws seen since the junta, and open attack against both the social antagonistic movement and immigrants across the country.

On early Saturday 11/7 morning armed nazi scum riding a car drove by the heavily policed Omonoia square in down town Athens and opened fire on bystander immigrants near the offices of the Golden Dawn neo-nazi party. Three wounded immigrants were taken to hospital and are out of danger. Later the same night nazi scum set fire on Palio Efetio, the Old Appeal Court opposite their offices which is being squatted by immigrants and is being vilified by the bourgeois press.

The same day, the Pakistani Community denounced yet another incident of institutionalised stripping and torture committed by the fascist greek police in the island of Simi. For 8 hours Wassim Sanjat, Mazhjar Ali and Mohamet Ali were tortured: cops tortured Wassim by “placing a gun on his head, beating him with a glob and iron stick on the soles of his feet (a torture loved by the junta called phallanga) and on his bottom and stripping him again and again. The other two persons were severely beaten. The Pakistani Community demands the immediate punishment of the torturers-policemen.

In the early hours of Sunday 12/7 strong riot police forces surrounded the big Afghan immigrant settlement in Patras, cordoning off the area. The riot policemen then moved to evacuate the thousands of asylum seekers using maximum force, while bulldozers moved in to demolish their houses.During the evacuation operations, the settlement was ‘mysteriously’ set on fire, and torched to the ground. The settlement is believed to have been housing more than 2,000 Afghans and has been repeatedly targeted by fascists receiving the solidarity of a wide spectrum of progressive social forces in the city of Patras. The Red Cross has condemned the evacuation and torching of the settlement as ‘terrorist’. The Communist Party (KKE) has condemned the attack as barbaric and the Coalition of Radical Left as ‘beastial’ and ‘criminal’. The evacuated immigrants are held in concentration centers of zero hygienic facilities, host to continuing greek police torture and brutality.

[clandestinenglish note: minors from the camp are said to be transferred to Konitsa, Epirus, at a center for unaccompanied minors.   At this center young Afghans had been hunger striking for better condiutions – see  Afghan adolescents hunger-strike for better conditions at Konitsa, Epirus care center.]

The nazification of the Greek state which is endorsing parastate groups to ‘clean and patrol’ areas comes in a climate of acute social antagonistic upheaval. Besides the continuing resistance locals of Grammaticos villages who rose against the construction of an open refuse dump in their area, erecting barricades and clashing with the police, last week saw a series of dynamic antifascist antiracist protest marches against State-nazi attacks against immigrants. At the same time, on the early hours of Saturday the house of the ex-Minister of Public Order (active during the December Uprising and Alexis Grigoropoulos assassination by the police) and ex-chief of the Greek Army, General Hinophotis, was bombed with a strong explosive device after prior warning call to the press. A few hours later earlier yet another armed attack against riot police forces occurred near the HQ of PASOK with no victims On the early morning Sunday, following the surge of State-fascist attacks the HQ camp of the riot police (MAT) in Athens came under attack by protesters which piled the riot policemen with stones leading to a half hour battle.

19 Pakistani detainees in Glyfada police station go on hunger strike

translation from athens indymedia article with info

19 Pakistani refugees detained in Glyfada, Athens police station have gone on hunger strike since 4 days.

They go against the common decision of  the Pakistan embassy in Athens and the Greek Ministry of Public Order to expell them.  They say their lives are at risk in Pakistan.

One of the hunger strikers, Mohammed Abbas, says that the Police beat him vehemently for refusing to sign his deportation documents.

Sweep operation in Tripolis, Peloponnese

Meanwhile, “sweep operations” are now a diffuse practice of the police even in smaller cities.  According to athens indymedia article there are 30 immigrants detained in the Tripolis, Peloponnese police stations.

Big Brother state

New Police State Regulations are introduced.   A new law has been proposed in the Parliament  introducing  DNA “banks”, the collection, that is, of DNA indices from even minor traffic offences, and the use of public space surveillance cameras data not only for the regulation of traffic, as was ostenslibly the reason for planting them in the first place, but for the prevention of crime.

info from this athens indymedia article.

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Patras Refugee Camp Burned to the Ground

Posted by clandestina on 12 July 2009

Patras Refugee Camp Burned to the Ground

source: Occupied London Blog:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

(to be updated)

In the early hours of Sunday, July 12 the refugee settlement adjacent to the port of Patras was “mysteriously” set on fire during a police operation. According to eye-witness reports, the police cordoned off the area surrounding the settlement at about 5 a.m. Four greek citizens in solidarity who were near the settlement were immediately detained. Moments later the cops started ID’ing and arresting the refugees inside the camp. At the same time, a fire “mysteriously” started from one end of the settlement  – while the police were present in the settlement. The fire burnt for a few hours, destroying a large part of the settlement. The houses not burnt were demolished later.


The smoke of the fire makes it evidently clear: The greek state is resorting to totalitarian, fascist practices as a last resort to cover up the lack of whatever legitimacy it previously enjoyed – and to desperately grip control of the situation. Through the flames, we can see: The state’s “social peace” is war; the tranquility and quiet safeguarded by the ”ordinary people just doing their job”, is death.

relevant bbc video at

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No Concentration Camp Nowhere! Demo at Patras against the construction of refugee camp

Posted by clandestina on 22 May 2009


no to concentration camps in MOMA, in Drapano, nowhere... no to the destruction of refugees'last resorts

no to concentration camps in MOMA, in Drapano, nowhere... no to the destruction of refugees'last resorts

A demo took place yesterday in Patras called by Antiauthoritarian Movement, ΝΑΡ, νΚΑ & ΕΕΚ against the under construction refugee concentration camp at the area MOMA at Patras and the demolition of the Patras port refugee camp (this means that the police today attacked both Afghans at the Port refugee camp and Roma people at the new camp construction site area, source: patras indymedia).  Here is the call for the demo in Greek.   A report from the demo said it was a succesfull one and lasted almost 4 hours covering a long distance in Patras.  Despite the constant attacks by the police, the tightening of surveillance and the pressures by various sides which have made many immigrants reluctant to fight against this development, many immigrants joined the demo.  

Below is a text in English from Patras indymedia about the demo and the developments there, source: here.

What is happening and will happen these days and weeks with Immigrants and Refugees in Patras

Until the end of this month, the government has announced new decisions for Patra and Immigrants. After pressure from local authorities, media, racist people, police and port police, the government decided to clear the city from immigrants, from you, in order to satisfy all the previous. So, for the next days and until the end of this month the police forces are planning arrests of migrants/refugees without papers and to transfer them in a army-camp, about 6-8 kilometers out of Patra. This camp will be closed with fences, controlled by the police, meaning that the immigrants will be like prisoners, until the time to deport them. At the same period, the places/camps where Afghans, Somalians, Arabs and other immigrants live now, will be destroyed. The authorities promise that in the new camp they will provide food, water and cleanness. But what’s the worth of that, neither papers and job nor freedom they give to immigrants. And referring to the conditions inside the new prison camp, it is just lies. As we can see from other detention centers in Greece, after some weeks the arrests are increased, the prisoners inside the camp are increased, with final result the immigrants to be piled on each other, like animals. Also, the police and the port police will be increased, in order to make more arrests and locate the immigrants that go inside the port and the tracks.

It is obvious that all these decisions are against you. They just want to make you disappear, because for all these people you are just a problem in their feet. Not only in Greece, but also in every country in Europe. Most countries have started the same effort to get rid of the immigrants, by jailing and deporting them , by denying to offer them any type of help. All countries, and Italy and France and England and Germany…..ALL! So, the war for you is everywhere, not only in your homeland.

a refugee hit by car.  despite his condition he followed the demo.  in the background the barbwire fences of Patras port

a refugee hit by car. despite his condition he followed the demo. in the background the barbwire fences of Patras port

What we propose to do these days and weeks

Because of all these things, we must finally react, fight, if we want to hope for a better tomorrow for us and for our children. To react all together, Afghans, Somalians, Palestinians, Iranians, Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians, Iraqis, Africans, Greeks, all. Not each one alone, no more fighting between immigrants. All together we stand, we are many, we have common needs, we are equal. We react all together, because if we not, then we are all going to lose. This is what we propose for the next days: We propose to have a meeting all together, to discuss and to take decisions on how we will react to the future that they prepare for immigrants without asking them. We have nothing to lose, neither you nor we.

Who are we that we say these things and what we have done in the past.

We are students, workers, unemployed, common people that we have papers, but our freedom is half freedom, when the people next to us are like prisoners, without freedom, like immigrants are. As you don’t have home, job and rights, in the same way our home, jobs and rights are in doubt every day. These people who chase you, put you in prisons, make laws against you, deny you every right in decent and respectful life, these are the same people who put in doubt and attack our rights and needs. So this is a common struggle for our rights, our needs, our lives against those who contestate and steal them. We want equal rights for all, and for you also. The enemy is common, the needs are common, so and the fight must be common. We believe that we are not different from you, that you deserve the same rights (education, work, insurance, medical care). We are against human to human exploitation, we express our solidarity to/with anyone who gets oppressed and resists to this oppression. We do not ask for your votes and we do not aim to take votes by helping you. We are common young people, workers and unemployed, ready to stand side by side with anyone who resists, reacts and fights. We will stand next to you, not behind you, not in front of you. We are equal, we decide all together.

Last year we resisted together with the Afghan Camp against its destruction, we provided as much material, medical, educational and legal support as could. We tried through demonstrations, open discussions, concerts to make the voice of the immigrants for dignity and freedom gets heard.

DEMONSTRATION ON 21st of May, meeting at 7.00, Olgas Square

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I, the Afghan minor who was returned three times from Italy to Greece…

Posted by clandestina on 12 May 2009


This is a Fortress Europe article.  Italian version here, Greek version here.  For a relevant development see here.


ROME, April 19 2009.

Minoan Lines ferry dock, Venice. Eight o clock in the morning, some day in August 2008.  Juma K. does not recall the exact date. It was the first time he reached the port after months of failed attempts. He had embarked in the truck trailer three days ago, at night.  The truck was parked at the port of Patras.  There is enough time to climb on it from the moment the port gates open until the police comes.  When they counted themselves, they were 15; 10 out of them were minors. The stocks of water and biscuits lasted for 24 hours. The summer sun made everything more difficult.  On the third day, at last, somebody turned on the engine and the truck embarked. Upon arrival in Italy, the trailer disembarked and no one took notice of their presence. It was only in the evening, around 19:00, at the port’s square, when some agents of the security forces opened the doors for inspection. 
Juma K. tried to escape.  But he was stopped by an agent who hit him in the back. Nobody asked him what was his name, what country he had come from, how old was he. No one asked him where were his parents and why he had left Afghanistan, crossed the mountains of Iran, risked his life in the Aegean Sea, and why now he had confined himself in 

that truck. The police got everyone again on board, and locked them in a bathroom, with a little water and a plate of spaghetti al pomodoro.  A few hours later, at midnight, the Minoan Ferry sailed back to Patras again.   At the time Juma was 16 years old.   Today he lives in Rome. We meet him at the Italian school that is attending, Asinitas.  He lives in the Italian capital since the 26th  of November, 2008. Thanks to the support of a Greek organization, he could legally join there his older brother, Adel, who lives in Rome for three years, with a residence permit as a political refugee and has an assistant cook job in a restaurant of  the city center. 

He is just one of the thousands Afghan and Iraqi refugees who are repulsed each year from Italian ports back to Greece, on the basis of a readmission agreement signed by both countries in 2001. But in his case there is an even more aggravating circumstance.  He is a minor. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with a note dated 15 April 2008, has asked that readmissions to Greece of all potential refugees are suspended, because Athens is not able to ensure adequate protection for them, especially in the case of minors unaccompanied by family members. By law, them should enjoy an exception status.   And not only that. According to the Article 19 of the Legislative Decree 25/2008 on the procedures for recognition of refugee status – which was endorsed by the European Union – it  is clear: “The unaccompanied minor who has expressed his/her willingness to seek international protection must be provided with the necessary assistance to aplly for that” .   But all this is mere theory.  The practice is that of repulsion, of everyone, including minors.  Gian Antonio Stella complained about that on the 31st of March with a Corriere della Sera article.  But the Interior Minister Roberto Maroni denied the situation, calling the journalist to present”the necessary evidence”. We did this for him. And we discovered that the repuslion of the Afghan children from Italian ports is a [standard] practice. Juma K. himself was rejected three times; the fourth time he almost suffocated to death. 

The second time Juma K. embarked alone on a Superfast ferry to Bari.  He succeeded to hide himself under the chassis of an English truck, while the other Afghan boys were scattered by the police. The ship reached Puglia at 18:00. The driver  noticed him and pulled him out with force, then handed him to the  Port Police agents asking him to calm down.  Juma K. showed me a scar on hiselbow, inflicted by the clash with iron frame of the truck when the driver snatched him out of his hideout. The only thing that the police asked was if he had paid the driver and how much. They did not pay attention to anything he was saying. He kept repeating the only words in Italian that he had memorised: “My brother Roma.” He also tried his English, which is definitely good, but no agent spoke any. They gave him a small bottle of water.  He was soaking in sweat. This time they locked him in a room near the engine. Upon his return to Patras, like the last time, he was locked up in a container placed next to the headquarters of the Greek police in the port and used as a detention facility for refugees found on the ferry to Italy. I had already seen a video on Youtube, filmed inside the container, from an Afghan boy with a his mobile phone cam. Juma, however, adds frightening details.  During his detention, seven days, with four other people, he had his wrists handcuffed.  He was released only to go to the bathroom, but still handcuffed to another person. 

From the first of September 2008 to November 30, according to the Ministry of the Interior, 1816 people have been repulsed on the ports of Venice, Ancona, Bari and Brindisi.  Most of them towards Greece, most of them Afghans.  We do not know how many out of them were children, since many repulsions take place without any notification of the associations working at the ports in agreement with the Prefecture for the protection of the right of asylum. This is confirmed by the Italian Council for Refugees (Cir) itself.  In 2008 about 850 people were found on ships in the port of Venice, Cir was informed only about 110. What about the other 740? 

After his third refoulement – again from the port of Bari, along with five other children hidden in a truck – at the end of August Juma tried for the last time.  Together with a same-age Tajik they hid inside a tight compartment below the chassis of the trailer of a truck. When the ship departed, at 18:00, the heat was still intense.  A few hours later, the oxygen was running low. The door could not be opened from the inside.  They began beating with their fists on the walls. When one of the men on board pulled them out, the two fainted and fell to the ground.  One hour more in the truck would be fatal.  They would be found dead, as 13 year old  Zaher Rezai was last December, under the truck where he was hidden in order to reach Italy.  Or  the Iraqi boy crushed by the axles of a vehicle, on March 29th, again in the port of Venice, three days after another lifeless body was found on a ship in Ancona.  It is not difficult to die trying to demand political asylum in Italy.  Not even for a minor. Perhaps this is what the government should provide “the necessary evidence” for.

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Patras: The European Court of Human Rights will trial the Italian state for the cases of 35 refugees it returned to Greece

Posted by clandestina on 10 May 2009


This is a Fortress Europe article – in Italian.  See the original post for more in-text URL links.  Here is the Greek version.

NOTE of 12 MAY: This post had a different title, which read “The European Court of Human Rights declared admissible to Italy 35 refugees who had been returned to Greece”; unfortunately, the refugees habe not been declared admissible to Italy, but their unjust repulsion will be brought to court.  This was a translation mistake.  Let’s hope the outcome of the trial will make us restore the original title…


PISTOIA, 29 April 2009 –

The European Court of Human Rights accepted the complaints made by the refugees of Patras. The Italian government will be brought to court for violating the fundamental rights of 35 Afghan and Sudanese asylum seekers, including many minors, who were repulsed without any formal procedure at the Adriatic ports and were deprived of the opportunity to apply for political asylum in the two countries. The appeals were submitted by lawyers Luca Alessandra and Ballerini Mandro, in collaboration with Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, who collected the proxies after a visit to Patras in Greece with a delegation of the Committee Tuttiidirittiumanipertutti, a network of associations established in Venice about the issue of refusals of potential refugees in Greece. Once rejected, the refugees are being arbitrarily detained for several days in a container at the police station in the port of Patras. They are often released and returned to the slums where thousands of refugees live on the outskirts of the city, trying every night to climb in secret on the trucks about to embark for Italy. In addition to Italy, the European Court has decided to charge the Greek government in order to ascertain possible violations of fundamental rights of the applicants, although the lawyers had made no such request.

Readmissions to Greece in 2008

  • Ancona 2106
  • Bari 1198
  • Brindisi 730
  • Venice 1610
  • Total 5644

Since years, the ports of Venice, Ancona, Bari and Brindisi have become one of the main points of entry for asylum seekers in Italy. During 2008, the readmissions to Greece reached 5644, according to data from the Ministry of Interior. Most of them come from Afghanistan and Iraq. Many are minors. At the ports, some groups are working alongside the police to guarantee the right of asylum. But those same groups are often not even informed about the presence of refugees on board ships. The data leave no space of doubt. During 2008, in Venice, the Italian Council for Refugees (Cir) states that it has assisted 138 people, including 42 Afghans and 64 Iraqis. During the same period the Port Police states that it has intercepted and returned to Greece 1610 people. Which means that 92% of those who have illegally shipped to the capital of Veneto were returned without any access to asylum procedures. The same happens in other ports, although to a lesser extent. Ancona in a year were turned down 2106 people, compared with 259 assisted between November and December 2008 from the Cir. In Brindisi, the ratio is 184 against 730. While in Bari, also in 2008, 1198 were rejected. Not even all applicants assisted by associations decide to apply for asylum in Italy. The reason is simple. Their goal is to go to England or northern Europe, and if they leave fingerprints on the Italian border, they will be forced to reside in Italy.

Among those repulsed are many Afghans. One of them was Zaher, the thirteen-year-old who died last December 13 in Venice, crushed under the truck which was bound to enter Italy.  Upon dismembering from the vessel, he did not reach the police, because he was afraid of being rejected in Greece.  Rejection apllies to children as well. As it apllied to Juma K., rejected three times from Venice and Bari, at the age of sixteen. the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  has many times expressed its concerns against readmissions of asylum seekers to  Greece.  In a note dated 13 April 2008 UNHCR asked the EU Members to abbey the EU Dublin II Regulation about the repulsion of Refugees to Greece.  And the UN High Commissioner Guterres has spoken of the border with the Adriatic Minister Maroni, in their recent meeting. On 24 June 2008 the Tar Puglia organization blocked the readmission to Greece of an Afghan refugee on the basis of this position of the UNHCR.  A decision that the Norwegian government had independently taken in February 2008, blocking thus the readmission or refugees from Norway to Greece.   The European Parliament adopted a resolution on Iraq on 15 February 2007 which also made references against Greece, albeit in an indirect way, without ever mentioning the country,.

Greece has the lowest rate of recognition of refugee status: around 2% against a European average of 20%. Tragic fact: no Iraqi has ever been recognized as a refugee. So Greece denies protection to thousands of applicants who are recognized refugees in the EU. Complaints about lack of recognition of the right of asylum in Greece are also made by civil society. The German NGO Pro Asyl, after a recent visit to the country 20-28 October 2008 wrote:” Greece is not able to guarantee the minimum requirements of an asylum system”. Out of 10,165 applications filed in the first half of 2008, 8387 were examined, and all  of them have received a negative response. Human Rights Watch also took over the case. In the report “Stuck in a revolving door” reads: ” Greece denies protection to those vulnerable and abuses those in detention”.   This is why HRW has called “…the Member States of the European Union to suspend readmissions of asylum-seekers to Greece.”

See also
I, the Afghan teenager who was repulsed three times to Greece

Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

“We Need Help” – The direct testimony of the refugees in the Patras camp

Posted by clandestina on 28 April 2009

nologoBelow is research material in English about the Patras Refugee Camp (relevant clandestinenglish posts about recent developments there are here, here and here) from the Melting Pot Europe Project. We noticed the project through


Yasser ‘s voice seems to come from another planet: “Help us, we need someone fight for our rights”. Haji, the representative of the Afghan community in the Patras slum-camp, reports what happened during the rebellion.
Thousands of Afghan citizens, whose stories we have already reported, barricaded themselves inside the camp. Police doesn’t intervene, but keeps under surveillance the entire place. The refugees are afraid to walk outside the camp. They are terrorized by the policemen, but also by the Greek citizens. The 2nd March 2009 Greeks joined security forces to disperse with tear-gas the spontaneous demonstration of the Afghan refugees.
They were at the port, as they did each afternoon, trying to get on the ships directed to Italy, hoping to obtain the international protection which is completely denied in Greece against any national and European law. Even though the ports on the Adriatic sea reject them almost indiscriminately, they have no other choice except keep trying. This is the only way to get out this situation, risking their own lives in order to find any kind of dignity for being humans.
That afternoon, one of them had almost managed to hide himself inside one of the departing trucks, but something went wrong and he fell. The witnesses affirm that the truck behind him accelerated instead of stopping. His friends thought him dead, when they saw him laying unconscious in his own blood. They were mad with rage and began throwing stones against the truck. Then in just a second the strife began. The charitable associations supporting Patras refugees arrived, but also the organized groups which have always been against them. The strife stopped late into the night.
Greece, member of the European Union, is violating every day the rights of these people. The requests for asylum have been suspended since September 2008. Yet each of these young boys, many of them are under 18 years old and even children, have terrible stories behind them. Bombs and conscription for the Afghanistan war, violence of the Iranian police, Turkish prison, detention centers in Greece, mass rejection from Italy. The boy who has been knocked down by the truck is in coma in the hospital. Yet none of his friends could personally make sure if he is still alive. Twenty-five afghan citizens at the port on the 2nd of March have been arrested and nobody knows anything about them.

Uncut version of Yasser’s interview
- Listen in English ]
- Listen in Italian ]

Uncut version of Haji’s interview
- Listen in farsi ]
- Listen in Italian ]

- Watch the video on the strife at Patras Port
- Read the testimony of Marianne, who is working for Kinisi Association

Transcript of Yasser’s interview

My name is Yasser.
Hi Yasser, do you remember me? I was in Patras some weeks ago…
Yes of course I remember…

We would like that you tells us what happened those days. Could you tell me something about what happened at the Patras Port, but also about what is happening right now? Where are you now?
Now I am at the camp.

What can you tell me about the camp at this moment? Are you surrounded?
There is the police, not quite close but still here. The camp is surrounded by the police.

And they do not allow you to go outside?
It is difficult for us to go out.

Why are they behaving like this?
I don’t know but I think because of the incident happened few days ago. Since the incident the police have surrounded the camp and we are afraid of going out because the police is here.

Can you tell us something more about what happened at the port few days ago?
Yes, there was this boy who was trying to get on the truck, hide himself, then another truck arrived and knocked him down. His mouth was bleeding and he also badly hit his head. After few minutes we thought him dead, then he was taken to the hospital. The doctor says he isn’t dead, but he is in a coma. Yet none of us saw him, and we know nothing about what is happening to him.

Why did you get angry that day at the port anyway?
Because we are human beings as well, we have human rights too. Nobody must kill us in such manner, it wasn’t the first time however. Last year another driver killed a boy at the port. Police beats us every day at the port, but also on the streets. We are human beings and we have human rights.

Therefore this is quite normal, is police normally behaving like that? Is it always violent with you?
Yes it is. Anyway at the moment the Greek community represent another problem. Some Greek citizens joining the police attack us that night at the port too.

Why is this happening?
I don’t know why this is happening, I don’t know why they are angry with us. We don’t do anything bad, we didn’t harm they, we simply try to enter the port during evening. Yet lots of Greeks joined the police that night and attacked us, while the police was throwing tear-gases at us. There weren’t one or two persons. There were lots of them.

Could you explain the reason why you try to reach Italy each night passing through the Patras port? What is for you the problem in Greece? Our condition in Greece is terrible difficult because we cannot obtain asylum and we cannot find a job. We can’t do anything, therefore we try to reach Italy in order to seek asylum and find a place where to live.

Did you ask for asylum in Greece?
Not me, but other persons in the camp did. Here if you ask for asylum they say you are a liar. What changes if you do ask for asylum? The lawyer explained us that they admit asylum for less than 1% of the requests. Actually it is impossible to obtain political asylum here.

Did they confined you or not in a detention center the first day you arrived to Greece?
No, I came directly to Patras, I have already known that I had to try to continue my journey.

Therefore you go to the port each night and try to hide inside the trucks departing for Italy?
Yes, each night.

Now after the incident what do you think will happen in Patras?
We don’t know yet. The police is here surrounding us, but none of us knows exactly what is about to happen.
We are afraid for our lives. Since days we have been barricaded inside the camp without doing out.

You do not only fear the police, but also the Greek citizens?
Each of us retard going out the camp because we don’t know what might happen. Now we are afraid of simply walking on the streets.

How old are you?
I am 19.

What is the average age in the camp?
Almost everybody is less than 20 years old.

How many persons are there in the camp at the moment?
More than one thousand.

What can you tell us about the life in the camp?
Life here is dreadful. We are living in hell.

Is there anything that you would like to ask the Greek and the Italian government?
I don’t ask for anything to the Greek government, as I already know that it would never help us. I would ask the Italian government instead to open its gates because here life is like living in war. I would say to the Italian government that we are refugees, that we didn’t come here to harm anybody, we came here only to live and have a better life, we came here to survive. I would say to the Italian government please open the gates. You know how we are living. During these days lots of journalists came down here and reported to us what is happening in Patras. We cannot live this way any longer.

Would you like to tell us something of your life? Explain us why are you a refugee?
I am a refugee because my country is in war, but as far as I am regarded the problem goes beyond this. My story is quite different from the other ones. One day as I came back home, I found my father that had just killed my mother. At that point I killed my father. My entire family is against me. I had no other choice but running away.

Do all of you inside the camp have such difficult story?
Yes, all of us have such stories.

Have you tried to tell your story to anybody from Greece?
No, I don’t even try. Only two friends of mine know the story, and nobody else.

Are you going to try to go inside the port again this night?
I don’t, and like me neither many others in the camp. We are afraid. If now after the incident the police arrests us, who knows what might happen to us.

What happens usually when the police arrests you at the port?
They take us to the police station and they leave us there for 24 hours with no water nor food.

Do they beat you?
Is normal that they beat us. They beat us, shout at us, insult us, abuse us.

Thank you very much Yasser. We promise you that we are going to make your voice heard. We join you in your battle for your rights.
Thank you, we need somebody to fight for our rights, we need help.

Last question: do you organize any demonstration for the next days?
Yes, I know that they are organizing some demonstrations, but I don’t know precisely what are you going to do.

Are there any Greek association supporting you?
Yes, they came down here and ask us to join them in a demonstration. I am not quite sure if we are going to join them, but maybe next week. There are some groups, not many actually. Hope that works.

What do you think, is it important to make a demonstration right now?
Yes, I think so. I don’t know what the other one thousand refugees might think, but I think it does.

Were you there that day during the strife?
I arrived five minutes later. I was there when there were throwing tear-gases at us. They arrested 25 persons and we know nothing about where they are, nobody knows anything.

Are there children among them?
Yes of course, there would be children too.

Transcript of Haji’s interview
It was 4 pm when a seventeen years boy named San tried to get out the port by hanging on behind a truck. Then another truck arrived and he got smashed between the both of them. At that point the boys who were there got angry with the truck drivers and the strife began.
The boys threw stones against the windows of the trucks. Then some Greek persons began arguing with the boys that were protesting and the strife extended. At that point the police intervened with tear-gases.
When I saw what was happening, I approached the boys together with a Greek friend of mine and we promised them that we would go and see how San in the hospital was doing. There were 4 of us going to the hospital and we found out that San was in a coma and that the doctors decided to operate him: therefore it was impossible for us to see him. We know nothing about him, not even his brother could see him. Doctors are still saying that he is in a coma and that they have to operate him because of the injures he has at his head and arms.
For almost 12 hours there was some sort of war between migrants and police. At this point a group of fascists tried to burn down the camp. All the people inside the camp had to go out because the situation was very dangerous.

This interview was made by Basir ad Haji in the Patras camp.

Alessandra Sciurba, progetto Melting Pot Europa

Translated by Oprea Mihaela

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