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?
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.
– 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!
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.