Tag Archives: Moria

press release / village of all together: Morias’ prison in Lesvos has opened

Morias’ prison in Lesvos has opened
The first migrants have already been transferred there!

When you take a closer look you are stunned, you can’t get used to it. A naked space, that has been recently digged up,with four turrents around, crammed wth containers and with a high fence that seems to compress everything further more. The scenery of interdiction even here it’s made of the same, identical materials likewise in Amygdaleza, Corinth, Orestiada and in Pagani before.

Cement, wires, raised outposts, guns pointed at helpless people. Refugees and migrants sentenced to deprivation of their liberty for having committed no crime and without being taken to trial, are called to cope with their detention for an unspecified period of time.

The Minister of Public Order had already pre-announced the “work” in many occasions; in his last statement he precised that it will be completed by the end of 2013, but it will partially start operating in the end of August 2013. So, here we are in the end of September, where only some days before, workers were still trying to close up the holes in the empty prefabbricated and obviously used containers, from where water was already puring into them after the first rain of the season. There are 14 containters, of 33 square meters each, with 7 bunk beds, a small toilet and a small kitchen area. Till now, no aircondition or any other heating system was installed.

The outdoor space, which would serve as a courtyard, practically is a long corridor of 3X4 meters infront of each cointainer. There’s not a shelter to protect people from the sun or the rain. The temporary solution with the olive sheets raised in front of the containers, does not make things any better.

With some quick calculations we come to the following conclusions:

Interior spaces

7 bunk beds = 14 persons

33 sq.m – 3 sq.m for the kitchen and the bathroom = 30 sq.m

14 persons / 30 sq.m = a little more than 2 square meters for each person.

In this space, the refugees or migrants who will have the “luck” to be transferred there, will have to figure out how to cover all their needs and endure these conditions for weeks or even for moths.

Outdoor spaces

3X4= 12 sq.m for 14 persons, that is 0,85 sq.m of outdoor space for each person.

Based on the aforementioned elements, it is clear how Morias’ prison will function from now on. Even if the numbers improve, the policy of repression won’t change.

There’s only one demand, shared by even more people nowadays

NO to closed detention centers – YES to open reception centers with a short stay for migrants and free access for the volunteers

P.s The palestinian family shown below, stayed in Pikpa Lesvos for 11 days without being registered by the police or the port authorities. They just remembered them on Wednesday 25/9 when they emptied up PIKPA. Together with 8 afghans they are the first persons to be detained in Morias prison.

A Palestinian family and some Afghans (among them unaccompanied minors) first detainees in Moria

On September 25th Moria started to function with its first detainees. The Palestinian family of Mr. Kamal and his wife Wafaa and their daughters Dalia and Nour-Al-Huda with her husband Ali – already hosted since the 15th September in PIKPA – had not been registered along with the other families from Afghanistan who left on the 24th from the island despite the fact that the authorities had received a list of all refugees in PIKPA only one day later (16.9.13). On 23.9.13 Frontex had screened the family and in the same night the police had taken all the other families to the police station in order to release them the next morning after a night without food and water in the filthy police cells.

The Palestinian family was transferred to Moria along with seven Afghan men and underage boys who arrived on the island a few days ago.

Registration and numbers…

Things change. On Lesvos island one thing that seems to be changing constantly is the perception of who is responsible for the new arriving sans-papiers. Once no authority wants to deal with them, once one of them, than again none. Meanwhile the civil societies’ hands are tied if it comes to i.e. transporting undocumented persons in private vehicles (which is illegalised).

In December 2012 when PIKPA was first opened by the activist network “Village of all together” as a welcome centre for refugees, the authorities were ignoring the presence of the new arriving for some days until they had to register them due to the pressure of the civil society. Practically for this meant:
– That upon arrival, being wet from the sea, hungry and exhausted, families, children, elderly, pregnant women, sick people and the rest had to walk from the place where they arrived until Mytilene. This could take some of them 2-3 days, when they got lost in the hills and forests. Police was denying to transport them even if they met them somewhere on the island during their patrol.
– The undocumented had to wait many days until being registered.
– The local society and activists had to take care of the basic needs of up to 150 new arriving sans-papiers – which is according to law the responsibility of the state.

In May 2013 the authorities had decided the coast guard was responsible for the arrest and first registration of the new arriving migrants and refugees. Thus, they were arrested (upon arrival in Mytilene or on the sea) and “detained” inside the port area. This areal was never thought to be a detention place. It is a fenced area, where the ferries from turkey arrive with one container which is the office of the coast guard and another which is used by Frontex for screening. There are no places to host / detain persons, there are no beds, no shelter, no sanitary infrastructure, no protection from the weather…

In September 2013 again no one wants to be responsible for the sans-papiers who manage to arrive by themselves on the island (without being intercepted on the sea by the coast guard). Again they have to walk all the way to Mytilene. The local society is taking care of them in PIKPA with their own means (no support from the state again). And again they wait for days until being registered. If it comes to the authorities the ones who have not been arrested “don’t exist”. This goes for all refugees, also the Syrians.

– 17.9.13: the 12 survivors of the ship in distress were registered
– 19.9.13: 14 Afghans were registered
– 20.9.13: 19 Afghans were finally registered by the authorities and arrested from PIKPA

– 18.9.13: the Coast Guard in a press release stated that they had arrested 45 “illegal migrants” in the area of Mandamados, Lesvos island. Yet, there appeared no newcomers on that day. We have to come to the conclusion that the authorities published an “arrest in Mandamados” referring to the older arrivals whom they registered on 17.9.-20.9. in PIKPA, Mytilene and who had already spent some days on the island being consciously ignored.

– 23.9.13: 17 of 18 Afghans – all families – who had arrived on the 15th September along with a Palestinian family – were arrested in the late evening, detained without receiving water or food and released the next day
– 25.9.13: 13 Syrians of whom some arrived on the 13th September others on the 15th were finally registered by the police and released
– 25.9.13: 8 Afghans of which 7 arrived on the 22.9.13 – among them minors – were transferred from PIKPA to the new detention centre in Moria. With them the Palestinian family which had arrived on 15.9.13 on the island.

– there is no press release of the Hellenic Coast Guard concerning the arrest of any people since the 18th.
– Frontex has screened all these persons in PIKPa before they were registered by the police.

Now, who is responsible for what?

New “Pagani” to be opened soon in Moria, Mytilene (Lesvos island)

The official opening date was 20.09.13. Until today many people believe the new “camp” – officially announced to consist of one “first reception centre” and one “pre-removal centre” – will be the better alternative to detaining new arriving refugees and migrants in the open space of the port or in the overcrowded police stations of the island. But, is it really better? And what exactly has been constructed in Moria?

Moria: First reception or prison?
Moria: First reception or prison?

A look into the past:

2009 the local detention centre Pagani was strongly criticised. It was called “Dantes Inferno”. It closed following a wave of protests from the detained and from no border activists who were outside.

Pagani 2009
Pagani 2009

2013 the Greek government announces to build at least 10 mass detention centres with an overall capacity of 10.000. Shortly before the elections Amigdaleza opens as the first in a series of openings that occurred during the summer of the same year. It is used as the showcase of the new government presenting a new modern type of prison for the undocumented. Even though the first look showed “better detention conditions” it soon became clear that this would be the Greek Guantanamo. What started as a massive police operation called “Xenios Diaz” in August 4th, 2012 was the beginning of thousands arrests that followed. First it “only” affected the undocumented, later also sex workers, drug addicts, homeless and tax evaders. In the following another four detention centres open in Corinth, Xanthi, Komotini and Drama, Parenesti. The total capacity of the five new prisons: 5.000. And more is to come.

Currently the law allows for up to 12 months of detention of undocumented migrants and refugees (Syrians are the only exemption). The two “camps” to be opened soon in Moria will complete the picture of a broader Greek Guantanamo for migrants. Be they called “centres of hospitality”, “first reception centres” or “pre-removal centres”, the reality is the same. They are all prisons.

The only alternative is: No prisons but welcome centres!

No prisons but welcome centres!
No prisons but welcome centres!

With PIKPA, Mytilenes’ civil society has created a strong alternative which has proven to work under principles of solidarity, respect and self-organisation. Despite the fact the government has chosen to proceed with its plans.
PIKPA  - welcome centre, run by the local solidarity group  "village of all together"
PIKPA – welcome centre, run by the local solidarity group “village of all together”