We are deeply concerned about the in-correct information “Lesvosnews.gr” blog is spreading in the internet about the info-flyer for refugees and migrants which was edited and published by the Welcome to Europe Network in summer 2014 and which is used by the civil society in Lesvos to inform newly arriving refugees and migrants in their own languages about their situation and their rights.
The local news blog with its article is criminalising the information provision. Access to information is a basic right and in this frame its provision is an act of solidarity and should be common sense of equal treatment of all human beings. The news blog falsely stated that Turkish human traffickers were producing the leaflet and handing it to the most paying as extra service. The article is obviously based on a great lack of knowledge on the English language, is not investigated journalistically and highly unprofessional in its perspective and intention. As a matter of course usually it is the provision with wrong information which is part of the tactics applied by human trafficking networks and not the provision of reliable and detailed iformation on their rights, as included in the mentioned leaflet.
We would kindly suggest the author of the article to:
1. Improve its English knowledge in order to understand the whole leaflet and read the whole material before writing and article about it;
2. Learn to be exact in the information provision and not arbitrary to a degree, which is defaming acts of solidarity, as he has even decided to re-print images of specific pages of the leaflet he wants to highlight and leave out the ones where we exactly describe who we are and what this leaflet is for, thereby achieving the distortion of its content.
We expect a public excuse of the author and the responsible of the news blog and the withdrawal of the false and defaming information from the www.
The article shows once more, how the reality is being distorted arbitrarily. Benevolently, one might say we have to do it with a highly unprofessional author. But in fact it is a right wing if not fascist attempt of local media to criminalise solidarity and the right to seek asylum.
There is an ongoing humanitarian crisis on the Islands of the Aegean and there are thousands of refugees and migrants in need of support. They are forced to cross the borders clandestinely as there are no legal ways to seek asylum in Europe or to migrate. European migration policies are oriented towards the concept of security at the expense of human rights protection. They focus a.o. on the externalisation of the borders, on militarising the borders and bombing potential refugee boats. It is European migration policies that foster clandestine migration and which lack to treat people on the move respectfully.
One of the huge gaps in Greece during this humanitarian crisis is the information provision for the newly arriving – information they need in order to understand their rights, possibilities and obligations in Greece and Europe as well as the situation they find themselves in upon arrival. In this light Welcome to Europe Network is currently updating the information leaflet to have a new version within June 2015. It will be again published in different languages. We invite all people who want to support refugees and migrants that arrive in Greece to freely download, print and share it out where needed. We also invite the civil society to read it in order to better understand the situation of the people who arrive just in front of our eyes, on the beaches and in the ports and whom you see walking exhausted in the heat towards the police stations or identification detention centres.
For the ones lacking information on the Welcome to Europe Network and the Welcome Info Flyer:
Welcome to Europe is a self-organised network, which had its beginning in 2009 when activists from Greece and different other countries had created during no borders in Mytilene an Info-point for newcomers. The idea was to provide newly arriving refugees and migrants with information and contacts to human rights organisations and/or to their own communities, which can support them. Access to information is a basic right. For this purpose the w2eu.info internet guide was created in 2010 (in four languages) and in this frame we developed also printable info-leaflets such as the one spread in Lesvos, which is based on the information section about Greece. Refugees and migrants through the leaflet receive information such as on the documents they receive, on detention, on procedures of family reunification, or simple things like how much costs a ticket of the ferry to go to Athens. It aims thereby also to struggle against any form of human rights abuses or exploitation, i.e. by smugglers who sell normal ferry tickets for horrendous prices to the ones who just don’t know better. The leaflets are printed with the expenses of activist groups such as Infomobile, Whatch the Med / Alarm Phone and No One is Illegal, which solely are based on donations of supporters. Welcome to Europe Network has received the Taz-Panther price in Germany in 2013 for its’ activities in refugee and migrants support in Greece.
We see this poor medial attack as a part of the wider attempt to criminalise the growing solidarity networks and their support to refugees and migrants.
We continue to say: Welcome to Greece!
Equal rights to all!
No criminalisation of solidarity!
Freedom of movement is everybodies right!