Press Release: Unaccompanied minor severely self-injured himself in Moria “first reception” detention centre in Lesvos

PRESS RELEASE 21.07.14 Lesvos

Unaccompanied minor severely self-injured himself in Moria “first reception” detention centre in Lesvos

On 17/7/2014 a 17-year-old Afghan who had been detained for many days in Moria awaiting his transfer to a special reception centre for minors cut his arms in an act of despair and protest as he could not stand anymore being closed up for many days and under such conditions. He was transferred to the psychiatry department of the local hospital.

In Greece there are 10 reception centres for unaccompanied minors with about 330 places in total that need to cover the needs of thousands. At the same time that a vast number of reception places are lacking many minors fear long detention upon arrival in Greece in so called First Reception Camps (detention centres) if they register with their real age and register themselves as adults. The background: Unaccompanied minors arriving in first reception centres have to undergo a number of medical examinations and then wait for a place in one of the overcrowded reception centres in order to be released. The detention duration varies and can reach one month or more months, while delays depend on the crowdedness in the reception facilities.

As a consequence hundreds of unaccompanied minors register as adults. They are being transferred to Pre-removal Detention Centres at the mainland, such as Amigdaleza, Corinth, Komotini, Xanthi, Fylakio or Drama / Parenesti where legal aid is not existing. When they realise that they end up facing 18 months detention or more due to their changed age all of them try to find ways to proof that they are minors.

Anyhow, if age-assesment has taken place already in First Reception Detention it is unlikely if not impossible (without the help of a lawyer) the authorities will approve a second age-assesment later. Age-assesment procedures have been recently defined in a Ministerial Decision for First Reception but not for Pre-Removal Detention Centres. As a result the procedures vary in the different places and more than that the ways and methods carried out are highly questionable. For this reason among others many unaccompanied minors end up in 18 month detention.

We demand for the immediate creation of sufficient special reception centres for unaccompanied minors. In this frame the Reception Centre for Unaccompanied Minors in Agiassos, Lesvos, which was closed earlier this year despite the huge need should be re-opened with the necessary funding to allow for its functioning.

And we demand for the immediate release of all unaccompanied minors in first reception detention centres, pre-removal centres or any other form of detention. As provided for in the Guidelines on Policies and Procedures in dealing with Unaccompanied Children Seeking Asylum from UNHCR (1997) “(T)he child should be given the benefit of the doubt if the exact age is uncertain” and “the main guiding principle in any child care and protection action is the principle of the ‘best interest of the child’”.

Village of all together
Welcome to Europe

Contact:

Efi Latsoudi 6976234668
Marily Stroux 6949933150

210714 Press Release (in English and Greek)

11.07.14 Shipwreck near Samos: 6 dead, 23 survivors and more than 8 missing

On the early noon of Sunday 11th of July a refugee boat got in distress 10nm North East of Karlovasi, Samos. The refugee boat carrying approximately 35-40 people was a sailing boat according to the testimonies of the survivors.
The causes of the shipwreck are not yet clear. The media speak about bad weather conditions, overloaded boat, panic, sudden movement of the passengers etc as possible causes.

On Sunday there are 15 survivors in the Greek side (9 were brought to Chios, 6 to Samos) and 8 survivors on the Turkish side (2 near the shipreck area and 6 norhernof this area). In Samos Hospital (ICU) there is a minor in intensive care. They were trying to transfer him to Mytilini ICU but his severe health condition made the transfer impossible.

2 corpses were found Friday on the Greek side: a dead man and a dead woman and 2 more bodies (of a man and a boy) were found on Saturday also on the Greek side. Another two corpses were found on the Turkish side.

At least 8 persons are still missing.

The rescue operation was carried out with 4 Greek coast guard boats, 1 helicopter and 5 boats that were sailing in the area that day.

Until now there was no information about the nationalities of the survivors or their health condition.

tromaktiko (in greek)
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i-samos 2 (in greek)
cundemelazig (in turkish)
hellenic coast guard (in greek)
e-kathimerini (in english)

LESVOS: VOICES FROM INSIDE MORIA – THE NEW PAGANI OF TROIKA

‘First reception’ practices of refugees in Greece: The example of Moria on Lesvos island

“We didn’t come to Europe to get beaten, insulted and imprisoned.”

In September 26th, 2013 the new so called “first reception center (KEPY)” opened in Moria on the island of Lesvos. It is the second of its kind in Greece following the example of the KEPY in Fylakio, Evros that opened earlier in the same year.
The Pagani of the Troika – as it is called to remind of former prisons and to disconnect it from nearby Moria village, is a prison where only a few selected NGOs have access under the precondition not to share any information with the outside world. Civil society gets presented the term ‘first reception’ that gives a false impression of an open, accessible place while it is nothing else than another new prison in the tradition of Amigdaleza’s fenced containers the only difference being the detention duration – at first sight. As prescribed by law, detention does not exceed 25 days maximum in this place BUT detainees might just be transferred to (pre-removal) detention centers such as Fylakio, Komotini, Xanthi or Chios for example, where they might stay up to 18 months or more if they are not readmitted to Turkey, deported or sign voluntary return in the meanwhile.moria2

Currently the detention center in Moria is being constructed directly next to the “first reception” center, and build within the same fences and with the same containers. It is about to be opened in beginning of July 2014 with a capacity of 750 people while the capacity of the “first reception” screening center is supposed to reach 250 places. Nonetheless, only detention is what has marked the character of Moria since the beginning.

It is our aim to show from the very beginning of its functioning the real face of the ‘first reception’ detention center and to insist that this has to be closed. We do not argue for better detention conditions but for freedom!

We asked refugees having passed through Moria prison one single question:

‘What was your worst experience inside Moria detention?’
Continue reading

Kayiki Press Release: End death at border now! Respect human life and death!

KAYIKI Press Release

20.06.2014

End death at border now! Respect human life and death!

We, the inhabitants of both sides of Aegean Sea, express our anger and our shock about the thousands of deaths of refugees and migrants in their effort to cross Europe. They are a direct result of the Europe Fortress policy: The sealing of the borders and the lack of any other way for these people to seek protection.

Dozens of tragic shipwrecks have taken place on both sides of the Aegean Sea since August 2012 after the completion of the border fence in Evros, the land borders between Greece and Turkey: In Farmakonisi, in Lesvos and in Samos, near and some along the border river Evros.

Small children, women and men; refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea died in the Aegean Sea and in Evros trying to escape war, poverty and political persecution in their effort to cross the European borders. Their dead bodies were either found near the coastlines either they disappeared in the Aegean. Many of them were never identified, buried in unmarked graves in remote cemeteries and not according to their cultural and religious traditions. Family members who survived are weeping silently for the loss of their beloved. Others are still trying desperately to locate their missing ones. Continue reading

Call for solidarity: PIKPA (german)

PIKPA – das vom „Dorf der alle zusammen“ selbstorganisierte Welcome Center für Flüchtlinge in Mitilini /Lesvos Griechenland, wird im Dezember 1 Jahr alt!

Als im Winter 2012 Flüchtlinge rund um den Hafen von Mitilini im Regen auf der Strasse schliefen, weil weder die Polizei noch die Küstenwache bereit war, sie vor der Weiterreise zu registrieren, wurde ein leerstehendes Kinderferienlager von Freiwilligen umfunktioniert und mit Einverständnis des Bürgermeisters genutzt, um neu ankommenden Flüchtlingen ein Dach über dem Kopf und Essen geben zu können. Seitdem sind in Pikpa immer wieder Flüchtlinge untergekommen, getragen allein auf Spendenbasis und durch die Bereitschaft der örtlichen Bevölkerung, die Leute nicht allein zu lassen. Continue reading

Call for solidarity: The story of Pashtu

Download here: The story of Pashtu

Pashtu and her four children arrived this summer in Lesvos, Greece. Even though the finally succeeded in reaching Europe they had to encounter a great loss: their daddy! He is one of many refugees who have been arrested and charged for alleged human smuggling while their only fault has been to escape war and death while lacking any legal ways to save their lives but also lacking sufficient financial means to take the unofficial and dangerous paths.

The family nowadays lives in PIKPA and awaits the trial of the father. They need all available support.

This booklet was created in solidarity and together with the family and with the aim to collect money for the lawyer of the father.

Please help with your donations.

Contact: lesvos.w2eu@yahoo.gr

Thanks to the people in Mitilini!

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To
The village of all together
Siniparxis in Aegeais
ERGATIKI LESXI – Workers Center in Mitilini
ERA AEGAIOU – Radio Era
Club of the fishermen of Thermi-Poseidon
3 whales who showed up shortly after the memorial in Thermi
The mayor of Mitilini
The administration of Tsamakia beach- ADEL
Hotel Votsala
Epimelitirio for giving the possibility to show the exhibition
Web for the printings
The boys from Agiassos
And all who have welcomed us on Lesvos and supported us in so many ways…

20th of October 2013

Dear people in Mitilini,

we have left the island – many of us with the feeling of having left a place where we all felt at home somehow. This feeling is mainly dedicated to all of you: without you this journey back to the border would have never been possible! We want to thank all of you. We will never forget the warm welcome you gave to us. We left with the feeling of a great experience and with a lot of strength for all coming struggles.

We left also with worries for all those we had to leave behind.

Our worries are with all those who are still imprisoned in the detention centre close to Moria. We wish all of them that they will overcome this horrible place and that they will arrive safely at their destination, in the country they wish to arrive and settle.

Our worries are with all those who will start tomorrow or in the following days, weeks and months from Turkey with a boat. We wish to be able to stop the senseless border regime of Frontex that risks their lives soon.

Our worries are with all those who are still in Agiassos and struggle for some hope for their future. We hope the new period of Agiassos will establish proper conditions for all minors arriving on the island and will give them a home like many of us had found it for a period of time in Villa Azadi, the house of freedom. We hope that all those who have to leave this home will always be able to count on the hospitality of the people in Mitilini who have proved with Pikpa that a village of all together is possible.

Our worries are with all of you, who remain in this place that is so full hopes and dreams but also tragedies. We thank all of you for having shared your experiences of being pressed by the Troika, of being unpaid in your workplace or having lost it and who have to struggle the same struggle for survival than us on a daily level.

For us it was not easy to leave this place. With some of you we could not even say good-bye. We would have liked to stay with you. In our hearts the idea of a welcoming island at the entrance of Europe remains. We want to give you a promise: we will return again! Until then we will do our best to spread all the stories about incredible encounters with people who gave us the strength to continue.

We hope we can leave some memories for you and to have been able to express properly what belongs to all of you who have been involved to keep alive the idea that humanity is possible. That it is possible even when there are forces who try to put pressure on your island to host all these ugly forces of a deadly border regime.

We want to continue together with you. May Lesvos be known as a place full of memories of successful struggles against prisons and walls and the war against refugees at sea. We want no more victims of this regime. We want to stop this senseless loss of lives.

In our heart and mind we are still here with you. We want to continue the struggle together with you and we will reach finally what we are longing for.

Against all prisons and walls!

For another, a welcoming Europe!

Welcome to europe and JOG-Youth without borders

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No to a new Pagani: The detention camp on Lesvos/Greece near Moria is the Pagani of the Troika!

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In front of the detention center. Copyright: Azadi

On Thursday we finally received the answer from Athens: With a short “no” the headquarter denied the access for “Youth without Borders” a selforganisation of young refugees who had applied at the Police Department Lesvos for an official delegation to visit the newly built detention camp on Lesvos close to the village of Moria. Many of us had been in the past imprisoned as well in what was called by a Greek minister “Dantes Inferno”. This old detention centre Pagani had to be closed after we struggled all together from inside and outside shouting for weeks and months “Azadi! Freedom!” until the last refugees had been released in the end of 2009. The very short negative answer to our official application proves what we already knew before: on the old military base close to Moria they try to hide again an inhuman prison. The official plan to treat refugees on this island remains the same: to keep them behind barbed wire, isolated from the society. The only thing that has changed is the amount of money coming from the EU to finance it.

At the fence inside of the detention center. Copyright: Azadi

At the fence inside of the detention center. Copyright: Azadi

Also without giving us access to speak with the detainees they cannot hide it any more. We have not been waiting for any bureaucratic procedures. In all our struggles to go further we have already learned that rights are nothing to beg for but to take them by ourselves. If you don’t want to close your eyes you just see what is happening – and you feel the need to get active.

Entering the detention center near Moria. Copyright: Azadi

Entering the detention center near Moria. Copyright: Azadi

We have already been inside the new detention camp on last Saturday, 12th of October 2013. After having met the first people released from this prison and having heard their sad stories we decided to go there and to have a look. When we went to the prison we found the door open and so a spontaneous Go-In-demonstration took place. About 50 activists, many of them selforganised refugees, went to the fenced containers with about 80 detainees on an old military area near the small village of Moria (10 km from Mytilini). Usually a gate should avoid direct contact, but as the door was not locked, we all went inside to talk to the jailed migrants and to put some banners on the fences. Obviously the police was surprised. Direct communication between the new arrived and the old-experienced refugees could happen in many languages. Visitor cards from www.w2eu.info and flyers were distributed through the fences.

Welcome to Europe through the fence. Copyright: Azadi

Welcome to Europe through the fence. Copyright: Azadi

The authorities tried to make the local population believe that they build a welcome and reception centre. They tried to hide the plans with dozens of container blocks also for long term detention with finally more than 700 detainees who can be held there up to 18 months. When we left the area of the detention centre on Saturday we went on to the small village of Moria to make another demonstration, to distribute our flyers (see below) and to come into a lot of discussions with the people on the street and in the cafés. Beside the main slogan – “No to a new Pagani, yes to a real welcome centre” – we used also a smaller banner with the text: “Pagani tis Troika, Pagani of the Troika!” – as the “modern” container style of detention is financed and forced by EU. A lot of people in Moria expressed their worries that the name of their village will become a shameful meaning like Pagani had it in the past. An old men sitting in a café chatted with others: “Before when I said to you that they will build secretly behind the wall a big prison you were laughing. Now you see all these young people: they know it from their own experience! When finally they will put also you in a prison you will not laugh any more.”

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In the village of Moria. Copyright: Azadi

We don’t need any permission to come and see. Our networks and friendship have been growing since 2009. They go beyond fences and borders. The first people who were released from the new prison, we knew already. They have stayed in the open selforganised welcome center in Pikpa before they were brought to Moria. An absurd situation: to register they had to spend many days in prison. They were welcomed by us after their release with a spontaneous freedom party, so we had a very clear picture about what was going on inside even before our short visit on Saturday. Inside we found friends who will tell us afterwards. The time of a hidden prison on this island is over – because you can never forbid our longing for freedom for the friends inside!

In the village of Moria. Copyright: Azadi

In the village of Moria. Copyright: Azadi

The more “No”s you give us, the more you try to press us down by racist controls (and we experienced several this week, in the port when some of us arrived, in the airport when some of us left and even directly in front of Tsamakia beach as a provocation) – the more you water the plant of our rage the more energy it gives us to tear down the walls and fences and to break your cages.

Everybody in Lesvos remembers the detention camp of Pagani, which conditions became an international scandal and which had to be closed soon after the Nobordercamp 2009 and mainly because of the continuous revolts from inside. Local authorities are afraid that the new detention will cause again international attention and solidarity. Last Saturday’s action is the beginning for this!

No one is illegal! Copyright: Azadi

No one is illegal! Copyright: Azadi

Flyer distributed in Moria:

No to a new Pagani!
Yes to real Welcome Center!

We are returning to the island of Lesvos four years after the succesful struggle to close Pagani. We are here to demonstrate against the new detention centre near the village of Moria, with the support of local and international activists. Migration is not a crime! We were in the detention centre of Pagani and we don’t want anybody else to have the same experience. The new detention centre will imprison up to 700 people for up to 18 months. The experience of an open centre such as the one in Pikpa shows that it is possible to register and welcome refugees without detention. The EU is wasting money on building new prisons and turning Europe into a big fortress.

Close the new detention centre! No to a new Pagani of the Troika!
Yes to a REAL welcome centre such as Pikpa! Yes to solidarity with migrants and refugees!

The Refugees Returning to Lesvos
Village of All Together
Welcome2Europe (lesvos.w2eu.net)
Youth Without Borders (www.jogspace.net)