Σήμερα το απόγευμα 50 περίπου άνθρωποι συγκεντρωθήκαμε στον κόλπο της Θερμής στη Λέσβο σε μια τελετή μνήμης για τους θανάτους στα σύνορα της Ευρώπης – Φρούριο. Αναμεσά μας βρέθηκαν οι επιζήσασες του ναυαγίου της 23 Απριλίου 2017 στα βόρεια του νησιού, αλλά και οι άνθρωποι που τους έσωσαν τη ζωή. Η τελετή αυτή μνήμης πραγματοποιείται κάθε χρόνο, από τον Οκτώβριο του 2013 και οργανώνεται από το δίκτυο Welcome to Europe.
΄΄Τη φετινή χρονιά δεν μνημονεύουμε μονάχα τους πρόσφυγες που πνίγηκαν στη θάλασσα αλλά και όσους χάθηκαν στη στεριά, αφού διέσχισαν τα σύνορα και εγκλωβίστηκαν στην Ελλάδα από τις πολιτικές της Ευρώπης-Φρούριο. Σήμερα θυμόμαστε τους φίλους που πέθαναν στο hot spot της Μόριας, στην προσπάθειά τους να ζεσταθούν με αυτοσχέδια μέσα. Θυμόμαστε όλους αυτούς που πέθαναν, χωρίς να προλάβουν να ταξιδέψουν για να συναντήσουν τους δικούς τους ανθρώπους. Σήμερα όμως, δεν θυμόμαστε μόνο όσους χάθηκαν, αλλά τιμούμε και τους διασώστες, που καθημερινά δίνουν τον καλύτερο εαυτό τους σε μια δύσκολη μάχη. Ο μόνος τρόπος για να τελειώσει αυτός ο συνεχής εφιάλτης των θανάτων στα σύνορα είναι να δημιουργήσουμε ένα ασφαλές μονοπάτι και να δώσουμε σε όλους τους ανθρώπους το δικαίωμα να μετακινηθούν ελεύθερα. Παράλληλα, όμως θα πρέπει να σταματήσουν τα νησιά μας να είναι φυλακές για όσους κατάφεραν τελικά να φτάσουν στην Ευρώπη. Για εμάς η σημερινή τελετή μνήμης αποτελεί και μια υπόσχεση ότι θα συνεχίσουμε να παλεύουμε για να γκρεμίσουμε τα σύνορα και να δημιουργήσουμε μια άλλη, ανοιχτή Ευρώπη’’.
Το μνημείο επισκευάστηκε και επανατοποθετήθηκε φέτος στο κόλπο της Θερμής. Πολλές συλλογικότητες και μεμονωμένα άτομα συνέβαλλαν και τους ευχαριστούμε: οι ψαράδες της Θερμής ΝΕΣΕΑΛΘ “ΠΟΣΕΙΔΩΝ“, ο Στέλιος και το Ναυπηγείο στη Κουντουρουδιά, οι σιδηροκατασκευές Μωυσής Γιάννης, ο Χρύσανθος, οι Alcalica -ALM e.V., ο Σίμος και το τυπογραφείο WEB copy shop.
Today in the afternoon more then 50 people gathered in the harbour of Thermi/Lesvos in commemoration of the dead of the European border regime. Among them were survivors of a shipwreck on 23rd of April of this year in the North of Lesvos as well as people active in rescue. The memorial happens once every year since October 2013 and was initiated by the Welcome to Europe network.
When we started to remember this year, who we have to mourn for, we realized that we are more and more confronted with death even after people have survived the sea. We had to commemorate today also friend who died last winter in the hot-spot of Moria, because they had been left during winter in terrible conditions. We are in close contacts with families that they waited too long to be reunited with their beloved even if they had the right for family reunification and died before. If you really want to mourn the dead of the Sea, you have to respect also the survivors. The only solution to end their suffering is to create safe passages, to give the people their right to move freely – and for those who are stuck here to finally open the islands. This is why every memorial for us is combined with the promise to tear down the borders that killed them and to create another, a welcoming Europe.
This year the memorial plate was renewed and fixed. We thank to: the local club of the fishermen ΝΕΣΕΑΛΘ “ΠΟΣΕΙΔΩΝ“, Stellios from the shipyard in Kontouroudia, metal work Gianis Moisis, Chrisanthos, Alcalica-ALM eV, Simos and Web copy shop.
Lesvos, 14 January, 2017 – the snow is melting, but the weather forecast is for another cold spell for Greece. The following is an attempt to get across what has been happening on Lesvos in the last ten days.
Snow storm in Greece, including on Lesvos! Of the 6500 refugees currently on the island, 3500 have been living in tents in the so-called hotspot Moria. None of them have been evacuated. Snow gets into the tents, onto the beds, onto blankets, into clothes – there is nowhere to dry off or to warm up.
While photos start spreading on social media, the UNHCR and NGOs try to rent hotel rooms in order to evacuate people from their tents.
However, the president of the Lesvos hotel owners association, Periklis Antoniou, re-iterates the organisation’s decision from three months ago not to rent out any rooms to refugees or to NGOs. The Syriza MP for Lesvos, Giorgos Pallis, has tried unsuccessfully to change that decision.
The hotel owners justify their policy saying that if they rented out rooms to refugees, then Lesvos would no longer be a tourist destination but a giant registration centre. This is the same organisation that made sure that the “Hope Centre” could never open and instead was even fined €10,000. The “Hope Centre” was a derelict hotel in Eftalou. Philipa and Eric Kempson, together with hundreds of volunteers, had spent months renovating it in order to turn it into refugee accommodation – all the time paying rent to the owners. Anything seems justified to prevent refugees from getting too close to the tourists.
2017 just started – and the documentation of our journey back to the borders 2015 is ready.
It is more then one year later now – and what happened in 2015 already became history. When we read now, the texts and the pictures of 2015, we read it also to understand our own history.
A lot has changed since then, especially on Lesvos. After the EU-Turkey-deal and the closure of the Balkanroute, 60.000 people got stuck and are blocked under inhuman conditions in Greece. They are blocked from continuing their journey into another future. Lesvos, the island of solidarity has changed into the island of the trapped. Most deportations to Turkey are carried out via Lesvos. We will soon document what we experienced in October 2016.
Again there is the plan to build new detention centres on the Aegean islands, not much hope for a positive change this year. Even more resistance is needed and the history of the struggle for freedom of movement should be made public.
The border was never open – and it was never closed. Also today, under very difficult conditions, people manage to continue their journey and to arrive. Today, in times where EU-migration-policy again means mainly deterrence and deportation, we need more then ever another, a welcoming Europe, safe places where noone will be asked for a passport, but is just a friend among friends.
OUR EUROPE DOESN’T NEED BORDERS,
INSTEAD IT HAS OPEN DOORS AND PEOPLE CAN ARRIVE ON REGULAR FERRIES, LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
When we returned to Mytilene in October 2016, during the same week the citizens of Lesvos finally did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize for their courageous support of refugees both at sea and after arriving on their island. Everywhere in the media still reviews of the last year – and not much about the changes and the current situation.
We returned to the place that we had visited only a year earlier, in October 2015, and our memories of that time are still fresh. We want to reflect on the transformations that we witnessed and share some of our impressions.
At the shores, October 2015
What happened in 2015 along the shores of Lesvos was extraordinary. Many of the boats that landed on the beaches in the north and the south-east of the island had to be assisted. They were welcomed not only by the local residents of Lesvos, whose laudable efforts gained attention worldwide, but, latest from August 2015 onwards, also by people from all over the world, who came to Lesvos to help. In summer 2015, more and more initiatives became involved also in rescue operations, including anarchist groups from Athens, life-guards from Spain, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) who cooperated with Greenpeace, a German boat from Sea-Watch, and many others. Activists from Denmark and Spain were later criminalised for their courageous effort to save lives at sea. At that time, push-backs and violence at sea seemed to have disappeared in this part of the Mediterranean. Through the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone we were in contact with more than 1000 boats in the Aegean Sea. In the majority of the cases, we worked in close cooperation with networks composed of Syrian and Iraqi activists, who accompanied thousands of boats via WhatsApp and other digital technologies. At the same time, many people drowned in the waters before the northern coast of Lesvos in October 2015. Without all of these solidarity networks, many more would have lost their lives. While the crossing was still risky, and many suffered severely on the boats, it was clear that once they had overcome the sea, their journeys ahead would be less dangerous. Their movements opened the Balkan route and most of the people we had met last autumn arrived already weeks later in Germany and Sweden. October 2015 was the peak of the ‘long summer of migration’. Continue reading Impressions from Mytilene – October 2016→