Memorial 24th of April 2018

Foto: Marily Stroux

On 24 of April 2018 one year had passed since 22 people among them two children lost their lives in the boat accident north of Lesvos. Rescue teams managed many hours later to rescue two women alive, one of them pregnant in the 8th month.

Sylvie and Joelle and the little girl Victoria, born in Mitilini just one month later, came again to Lesvos to remember this year. Together with the rescue teams of Refugee Rescue / Mo chara and with the activists from Watch the Med Alarm Phone and Welcome to Europe they returned to the place the rescued women and also the dead bodies had been brought one year ago.

 

Foto: Marily Stroux

Also the spotting teams who still care every night at the beaches to spot boats on the way from the Turkish to the Greek side, Lighthouse relief and The Hope Project, joined the invitation to the three women.

On 22nd of April we travelled with the survivors on the ferry to Lesvos. At the ships restaurant we introduced them and their story to the crew who have been really touched to have survivors on board.

During our dinner officers of the crew came at the entrance of the restaurant obviously to see with their own eyes the survivors. We got very positive wishes from the crew for the future and an appreciation for making a memorial.

 

Foto: Marily Stroux

We all met in the morning of 24th of April in Skala Sikaminias. The rhib of Refugee Rescue, Mo Chara, drove out with a floral wreath to put it in the sea exactly at the place where the women have been found and the dead bodies collected.

In the meantime all people went to the beach and enrolled a 30 metres long list of all known names of people who died in the European borders the last years. 33.305 names, 33.305 stories, 33.305 deaths that should never have happened.

 

Foto: Marily Stroux

The following text was read in Greek and English and then Joelle sang a song of her home-country that she was singing in the sea while trying to keep up the hope to be rescued.

 

Sylvie made a prayer to thank god for giving them a new life.

After we had a minute of silence to remember the 22 dead travellers.

Returning to Skala Sikaminias promising to ourselves not to give up supporting the newcomers and continue rescuing.

 

Foto: Marily Stroux

It is now 8 years ago, that we from Welcome to Europe made the first memorial for dead Afghan people in Korakas, thanking the fishermen for rescuing a baby and her parents that day.

 

Since then many more people arrived on Lesvos and the other islands oft the Aegean. But also many died and never arrived to their dream. In Europe they wish to find peace and a respectful life.

 

Foto: Marily Stroux

The fisherman continue to rescue – but there are also the rescue and spotting teams to support and work together now. As long as the European borders remain closed and militarised, the only option for fleeing people will be to risk their lives and we all have to be there for them.

One week later we returned to Piraeus with the same ferry and hand over in the bord-restaurant the memorial speech from Skala Sikaminias to one of the crew members we know. He thanks and disappears and returns some time later. He says he read it loud in the kitchen and everyone was crying and that they all thank us for doing it. Even he adds the people from the second bord-restaurant called him to read it also to them.

 

Memorial speech Skala Sikaminias

24 April 2018

Today, we come together here in Skala Sikaminias to remember the dead of the European borders.

Foto: Marily Stroux

We come here together with Joelle, Sylvie and Victoria. They survived when their boat sank in the North of this island on 23rd of April 2017. In the many hours that they spent in the sea, before they were rescued, they both asked themselves where the others had disappeared.

22 travelers did not survive that day, among them 2 Syrian children, and were later collected by the authorities’ vessels and the rescue teams.

Only one month later, Joelle gave birth to Victoria here in Mitilini – and this little girl reminds us that life continues.

Foto: Marily Stroux

Still, every year the dying continues due to the Europe’s border regime. And every year we renew the promise to remember those who have died. We will work to ensure safe passage until the deaths at Europe’s borders stop.

 

Because it has not stopped – even though many of us have tried hard. In 2018, to this day, more than 559 people have been killed in the Mediterranean Sea. We have been in touch with many people who have survived shipwrecks – as well as people who have given testimonies of death on the routes, before people even reach the sea.

Today, we are here together with people who still have eyes on the water, spotting. People who are still on the sea, with Search and Rescue boats. People who were fishermen and became rescuers, who had to take the dead bodies from the sea. People who started a hotline for open communication, to try avoid all these deaths. People who held the relatives and friends of the drowned after they discovered the loss. People who shared parts of the way with the survivors.

 

Foto: Marily Stroux

All of us have not shut our eyes. We remember and we won’t forget.
We all feel shame, because these deaths highlight our failure in our attempt to stop this murderous regime and to create a welcoming Europe.

We remember our friends, whose lives were lost after they had managed to escape war, after they risked death when crossing one border after the other clandestinely, and after finally reaching Europe.

Here and today, we want to stop for a moment and create a space for all those who lost their lives. Remembering here means we save the stories of the uncounted who died at the borders of Europe. They died in the sea, they died at the deadly inner-European borders.

Foto: Marily Stroux

They had left their homes to change their lives. Their death is a death in search for freedom. And that concerns us all.

 

There have been, and will be, many more names and many more stories.

We will never forget all of them and today we want to remember especially the friends of Joelle and Sylvie.
We will remember them. All of them have families and friends they left behind – who cannot be here with us, because these borders separate them even now.

So let us speak out their names:

– Maman Nicole – she lives!
– Chochou – she lives!
– Gilaine – she lives!
– Sylvia – she lives!
– Tedy – he lives!
– Fati – he lives!
– Mali – he lives!
– Pider – he lives!
– Peter – he lives!
– Junior – he lives!
– The Syrian family with two children – they live!
– And the unidentified other 8 travellers that lost their lives in that boat – they live!

We will never forget them.
We promise to do our best to tear down the borders that caused their deaths.
We invite you to have a quiet moment in memory of them – and then to move on: to tear down the borders and to build a new, more welcoming Europe.

Refugee Rescue – Lighthouse Relief – The hope project – w2eu – Watch the Med Alarmphone

 

Memorial text in Greek: Μνημόσυνο 24.4. 2018-Greek

Memorial text in French: Memorial speech Skala Sikaminias-français

Video of the memorial ceremony: https://youtu.be/ZPF4bfqFvJc

 

Foto: Marily Stroux

Μνημόσυνο στη Θερμή Λέσβος 25 Οκτωβρίου 2017

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.

copyright: Marily Stroux

΄΄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.

Μνημόσυνο στη Θερμή / Λέσβος

25 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Σήμερα, συγκεντρωθήκαμε όλοι εμείς, εδώ στον κόλπο της Θερμής για να θυμηθούμε τα θύματα του ευρωπαϊκού καθεστώτος των κλειστών συνόρων, της Ευρώπης Φρούριο.

Σήμερα, συκεντρωθήκαμε εδώ μαζί με την Joelle, τη Sylvie και  την μικρή Victoria, οι οποίες επέζησαν όταν η βαρκα τους ναυάγησε στα βόρεια του νησιού, στις 23 Απριλίου του 2017. Η Joelle και η Sylvie αφού πάλεψαν για ώρες με τα κύματα, τελικά διασώθηκαν. Ένα μήνα αργότερα η Joelle γέννησε εδώ στη Μυτιλήνη τη Victoria, θυμίζοντάς μας πως η ζωή πάντα συνεχίζεται.

copyright: Marily Stroux

Από το 2013, όταν ξεκινήσαμε αυτή τη τελετή μνήμης, κάθε χρόνο συγκεντρωνόμαστε εδώ. Κάθε χρόνο τα θύματα του Ευρώπης-Φρούριο αυξάνονται. Κάθε χρόνο συναντιόμαστε εδώ και ανανεώνουμε την υπόσχεσή μας ότι δεν θα σταματήσουμε να παλεύουμε μέχρις ότου σταματήσουν οι θάνατοι.

 

Και δεν σταματούν –παρότι οι περισσότεροι από εμάς προσπαθούμε πολύ. Τη χρονιά αυτή, μέχρι σήμερα περισσότεροι από 2.600 άνθρωποι πνίγηκαν στη Μεσόγειο. Τη χρονιά αυτή ήρθαμε πολύ κοντα με ανθρώπους που επέζησαν από τα ναυάγια, ανθρώπους που μας αφηγήθηκαν επιπλέον θανάτους στις ερήμους, πολύ πριν προλάβουν να φτάσουν στη στεριά.

copyright: Marily Stroux

Είμαστε εδώ σήμερα, μαζί με ανθρώπους που πηγαίνουν ξανά και ξανά στις παραλίες που φτάνουν οι πρόσφυγες για να βοηθήσουν, με ανθρώπους που καθημερινά  διασώζουν πρόσφυγες με τις βάρκες, με ανθρώπους που δημιούργησαν το Alarm Phone για τους πρόσφυγες που βρίσκονται σε κίνδυνο μέσα στις βάρκες. Είμαστε εδώ σήμερα, μαζί με τους ψαράδες που έγιναν διασώστες, με τους ψαράδες που περισυλλέγουν τους νεκρούς πρόσφυγες από τη θάλασσα, που συνδράμουν τους συγγενείς και τους φίλους όταν αντιλαμβάνονται την απώλεια. Είμαστε εδώ σήμερα όσοι μοιραζόμαστε κομμάτια αυτή της εμπειρίας με τους ανθρώπους που κατάφεραν να επηζήσουν.

 

Όλοι εμείς σήμερα εδώ, δεν κλείνουμε τα μάτια, θυμόμαστε και δεν ξεχνάμε. Όλοι εμείς αισθανόμαστε ντροπή για αυτούς τους θανάτους, γιατί αποτύχαμε στην προσπάθειά μας να σταματήσουμε την Ευρώπη-Φρούριο και να δημιουργήσουμε μια φιλόξενη Ευρώπη.

copyright: Marily Stroux

Τη χρονιά αυτή δεν θα θυμηθούμε μόνο όσους πνίγηκαν στη θάλασσα. Το κλείσιμο του Βαλκανικού δρόμου στις 8 Μαρτίου του 2016 και η υπογραφή της συμφωνίας ΕΕ-Τουρκίας, λίγες μέρες αργότερα στις 20 Μαρτίου, δημιούργησαν απάνθρωπες συνθήκες εγκλωβισμού για τους πρόσσφυγες που βρίσκονταν εκείνη τη στιγμή στην Ελλάδα.Πολλοί θάνατοι σημειώθηκαν στα χρηματοδοτούμενα από την ΕΕ hot spot στα νησιά αλλά και στα κέντρα πρώτης υποδοχής στην ενδοχώρα.

 

 

Ενώ περισσότεροι από ένα εκατομμύριο πρόσφυγες πέρασαν από την Ελλάδα το 2105 και διαμέσου της βαλκανικής οδού έφτασαν στις χώρες του ευρωπαϊκού βορρά, όπου οι περισσότεροι έλαβαν καθεστώς διεθνούς προστασίας, οι συγγενείς τους, λίγους μήνες αργότερα, εγκλωβίστηκαν στην Ελλάδα  όπου και προσπαθούν να επιβιώσουν μεσα σε σκηνές, σε άθλιες συνθήκες, χωρίς πρόσβαση σε περίθαλψη και νομική υποστήριξη. Χιλιάδες οικογένειες με μικρά παιδιά κοιμήθηκαν για μήνες καταγής χωρίς να έχουν πρόσβαση σε παροχές όπως οι καθαρές τουαλέτες, τα ντουζ, το ζεστό νερό και το αξιοπρεπές φαγητό.

copyright: Marily Stroux

Όταν έρχεται ο χειμώνας, οι συνθήκες χειροτερεύουν, και τον Ιανουάριο του 2017, η τραγωδία κορυφώθηκε με δεκάδες θανάτους που οφείλονται στο δριμύ ψύχος και την απουσία επαρκούς θέρμασης. Άνθρωποι πέθαναν στην προσπάθεια τους να ζεσταθύν με αυτοσχέδια μέσα, μέσα στα παραπήγματα που διαμένουν στη Μόρια ή όπου αλλού αναγκάστηκαν να καταφύγουν.

 

– Θυμόμαστε την   xx(66 ετών) και την εγγονή της xx(6 ετών), Κούρδοι από τη Συρία

Πέθαναν στις 24 Νοεμβρίου του 2016, όταν εξερράγει το γκαζάκι με το οποίο μαγείρευαν μέσα στη σκηνή τους στο hot spot της Μόριας, στη Μυτιλήνη. Η 30χρονη κόρη της, μητέρα ενός ακόμα 4χρονου κοριτσιού τραυματίστηκε σοβαρά και υπέστη εγκαύαματα 3ου βαθμού στο 55% του σώματός της και μεταφέρθηκε στην Αθήνα για θεραπεία.

 

– Θυμόμαστε τον 29χρονο πρόσφυγα

που έχασε τη ζωή του με τραγικό τρόπο όταν αυτοπυρπολήθηκε τον Μάρτιο του 2017, στη Χίο.

 

– Θυμόμαστε τον 22χρονο αιγύπτιο πρόσφυγα

που πέθανε στον ύπνο του μέσα σε μια σκηνή στη Μόρια, στις 24 Ιανουρίου του 2017. Μια μέρα αργότερα, στις 25 Ιανουαρίου στο hot spot της Σάμου βρέθηκε νεκρός ένας άνδρας 41 ετών από το Ιράκ. Στις 28 Ιανουαρίου στην ίδια σκηνή στη Μόρια βρέθηκε νεκρός ένα 45χρονος πρόσφυγας από τη Συρία, πατέρας 6 παιδιών. Δυο μέρες αργότερα, στις 30 Ιανουαρίου, πάλι από τη Μόρια, μεταφέρθηκε σε κρίσιμη κατάσταση στην μονάδα εντατικής θεραπείας του νοσοκομείου ένας αφγανός πρόσφυγας, όπου και νοσηλεύτηκε για αρκετές μέρες.

 

Θυμόμαστε το 5χρονο κοριτσάκι που πέθανε σε μια σκηνή της Μόριας.

Παρότι ήταν βαριά άρρωστο, παρέμεινε στο κέντρο κράτησης και πέθανε ζώντας στις σκληρές συνθήκες του hot spot.

 

Θυμόμαστε τον άνδρα που πέθανε από έμφραγμα το περασμένο Σάββατο κατά τη διάρκεια επεισοδίων στη  Μόρια.

 

Στην ηπειρωτική χώρα, πρόσφυγες χάνουν τη ζωή τους σε αυτοκινητιστικά ατυχήματα, στους αυτοκινητόδρομους πλάι στα κέντρα διαμονής, τραυματίζονται από τα αυτοσχέδια μέσα που δημιουργούν για να ζεσταθούν και δεκάδες πεθαίνουν περιμένοντας τα ασθενοφόρα που δεν φτάνουν ποτέ.

 

Ο αριθμός των προσφύγων που δεν καταφέρνουν να συναντήσουν τους αγαπημένους τους μας είναι πραγματικά άγνωστος, όμως κάθε ζωή που χάνεται είναι για εμάς σημαντική. Κάθε τέτοια απώλεια είναι το τίμημα για το όνειρο μιας ζωής με αξιοπρέπεια και ασφάλεια. Σήμερα θυμόμαστε και τους φίλους μας, που έχασαν τη ζωή τους αφού κατάφεραν να δραπετεύσουν από τον πόλεμο, αφού ρίσκαραν περνώντας τα σύνορα και τελικά κατάφεραν να φτάσουν στην Ευρώπη.

 

Θυμόμαστε τον Ισμαήλ από τη Συρία που πέθανε χτυπημένος από τον καρκίνο στο καμπ του Σκαραμαγκά, ενώ περίμενε να ταξιδέψει στη Σουηδία όπου ζει ο γιος του.

 

Θυμόμαστε τη δύο μηνών Νουρσάν από τη Συρία που πέθανε στο δρόμο για το νοσοκομείο από το καμπ της Ριτσώνα.

 

Θυμόμαστε την ενός έτους Σάφα από τη Συρία που πέθανε περιμένοντας στο καμπ του Κατσικά. Η μητέρα της ήταν στη Γερμανία και ενώ χρειαζόταν μεταμόσχευση καρδιάς ούτε οι ελληνικές ούτε οι γερμανικές αρχές κινητοποιήθηκαν για να καταφέρει να φύγει. Σήμερα η οικογένειά της βρίσκεται στη Γερμανία αλλά χωρίς τη Σάφα.

 

Θυμόμαστε τον 57χρονο σύζυγο της Φατίμα από τη Συρία, που πέθανε από έμφραγμα στο καμπ της Φιλλιπιάδας. Η Φατίμα και η κόρη τους περίμεναν 7 ακόμα μήνες πριν συναντήσουν τα αγόρια τους στη Γερμανία και πενθήσουν όλοι μαζί τον σύζυγο και πατέρα που έχασαν.

 

Θυμόμαστε τον 7χρονο Νουριάν από τη Συρία που πνίγηκε στο καμπ του Σκαραμαγκά λίγες μέρες πριν καταφέρει ο πατέρας του να τους επισκεφθεί από τη Γερμανία.

 

Ας μην ξεχάσουμε τους φίλους από το City Plaza, με τους οποίους δεν μοιραστήκαμε μόνο το σπίτι μας αλλά και τον κοινό αγώνα για ένα καλύτερο κόσμο.

 

Θυμόμαστε τον Χαμίντ από το Αφγανιστάν που πνίγηκε στο Ελληνικό ενώ περίμενε να ταξιδέψει στη Σουηδία που ζούσε η κόρη του. Άφησε πίσω του την λατρεμένη του γυναίκα, δυο μικρές κόρες και ένα γιο. Στο City Plaza όλοι τον θυμόμαστε με αγάπη, όπως και οι φίλοι του στο ελληνικό που συχνά επισκεπτόταν.

 

Θυμόμαστε την 62χρονη Φατίμα από τη Συρία, τη λατρεμένη μητέρα του Μουσταφά και του Σαλάχ, που πέθανε λίγες μόνο βδομάδες πριν ταξιδέψει για τη Γαλλία όπου ζούσε η οικογένειά της.

 

Σήμερα όλοι εμείς εδώ θέλουμε να δημιουργήσουμε ένα χώρο για όλους όσους έχασαν τη ζωή τους. Το να θυμόμαστε σημαίνει ότι σώζουμε τις ιστορίες όλων όσων πέθαναν στα σύνορα της Ευρώπης. Όσων πέθαναν  στην έρημο, στη θάλασσα, στα εσωτερικά σύνορα της Ευρώπης. Πέθαναν ενώ πάλευαν να αλλάξουν τη ζωή τους.  Ο θάνατός τους είναι ο θάνατος στο ταξίδι προς μια αξιοπρεπή και ασφαλή ζωή. Και αυτοί οι θάνατοι μας αφορούν όλους μας.

 

Φυσικά υπάρχουν πολύ περισσότεροι νεκροί πρόσφυγες και πολύ περισσότερες ιστορίες. Εμείς δεν θα ξεχάσουμε ποτέ κανέναν από όλους αυτούς του ανθρώπους. Σήμερα θυμόμαστε κυρίως του φίλους της Joelle και της Sylvie που χάθηκαν, τους θυμόμαστε και είμαστε εδώ, ενώ οι δικοί τους άνθρωποι, η οικογένεια και οι φίλοι τους δεν μπορούν να είναι μαζί μας. Τα σύνορα τους εμποδίζουν για ακόμα μια φόρα.

 

Ας θυμηθούμε τα ονόματά τους:

 

Maman Nicole – ζει!

Chochou – ζει!

Gilaine – ζει!

Sylvia – ζει!

Tedy – ζει!

Fati – ζει!

Mali – ζει!

Pider – ζει!

Peter – ζει!

Junior – ζει!

 

Δε θα σας ξεχάσουμε ποτέ!

Σας υποσχόμαστε ότι θα συνεχίζουμε να παλεύουμε για να γκρεμίσουμε τα σύνορα που σας σκότωσαν.

 

Σήμερα, είναι για όλους μας μια μέρα μνήμης, όμως μετά από αυτή τη τελετή οφείλουμε στη μνήμη των νεκρών προσφύγων να συνεχίσουμε να παλεύουμε για να γκρεμίσουμε τα σύνορα και να δημιουργήσουμε μια άλλη Ευρώπη, μια ανοιχτή Ευρώπη.

copyright: Marily Stroux

Memorial for the Dead of the European Borders, Thermi/Lesvos 25th of October 2017

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.

copyright: Marily Stroux

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.

Memorial speech

25th of October 2017

We came together today here in the harbour of Thermi for remembering the dead of the European border regime.

Today we came here together with Joelle, Sylvie and Victoria. They survived when a boat was sinking in the North of this island on 23rd of April this year. Joelle and Sylvie asked themselves where the others disappeared when they drifted for many hours in the Sea until they where finally rescued. Only one month later Victoria was born here in Mitilini – and she reminds us, that life continues.

copyright: Marily Stroux

Since we started to remember here in Thermi in 2013 every year we had to come back. Every year the death by the border regime continued. Every year we came and we renewed the promise not to give up until the killing stops.

It did not stop – even if many of us tried hard. This year until today more then 2.600 people have been killed in the Mediterranean Sea again. Also this year we have been in touch with many people who survived shipwrecks – as well as people who give us testimonies of death in the deserts even before people reach the sea.

We are here together with people who went again and again to the beaches. Who went with boats at the Sea to rescue. Who started an Alarm Phone hotline for boat people. Who just went to the sea for fishing and became rescuers and who had to take the dead bodies from the sea. Who held the relatives and friends of the drowned after they discovered the loss. Who shared parts of the way with the survivors.

copyright: Marily Stroux

All of us did not close our eyes. We remember and don’t forget.

We all feel ashamed in the moment of these deaths because we failed in our attempt to stop this murderous regime and to create a welcoming Europe.

This year we have to remember not only the death at Sea.

Ever since the closure of the Balkan Corridor on March 8th 2016 and the implementation of the dirty EU-Turkey Deal in March 20th inhuman conditions for refugees in Greece have caused death both in the EU-funded so-called hotspots on the Aegean Islands as well as in the newly established emergency reception sites all over the mainland.

While almost a million refugees had crossed through Greece and over the Balkans in 2015 and not few of them even got a protection status in countries of the European North, their relatives got caught up in limbo trying to survive in tents, without access to doctors, lawyers and under deplorable conditions. Thousands of families with small kids, slept on the mere floor and had no access to sufficient and clean toilettes, showers, warm water or eatable food for months.

When winter came the situation escalated and in January 2017 the tragedy peaked in a dozen of deaths all connected to the harsh weather conditions and the lack of proper heating in the makeshift and provisory housing people in hot-spot Moria or else were forced to stay.

– We remember a 66 years old Kurdish woman and her granddaughter (6 years old). They died on November 24th, 2016 after a portable cooking gas stove exploded inside a tent, setting on fire parts of the Moria hotspot on the island of Lesvos in Greece. The 30-year-old mother of the child, and her other 4-year-old child, (the family are Syrian Kurds) were seriously injured with third degree burns to about 55% of their bodies and were transferred to Athens for medical treatment.

– We remember the 29-year-old refugee who tragically lost his life in Chios after putting fire on himself in March 2017.

– We remember a 22-year-old Egyptian man. He died on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 in a tent at Moria in his sleep. The day after, on January 25th, a 41-year-old Iraqi man was found dead at the Samos hotspot. On January 28th, a 45-year old Syrian father of six children, died in the same tent at Moria where the Egyptian had died four days earlier. On Monday, January 30th, a 20-year-old Pakistani man lost his life, again at Moria, and an Afghan man was transferred to an intensive care unit in a critical condition and remained in a life-threatening condition for several days.

– We remember a 5-year-old child that died in a tent in Moria, she was seriously sick and the last she saw from this world was a hot spot made to detere people.

– We remember also the man who died last Saturday during the riots in Moria after having a heart-stroke.

At the mainland, refugees lost their lives on the highways next to their camps in traffics accidents, they got severe injuries from the makeshift heating they tried to use in order not to freeze in their tents, and dozens lost their lives when the ambulances arrived to late in the marginalized camps.

We remember our friends, whose lives got lost after they had managed to escape war, after they risked death when crossing one border after the other clandestinely, and after finally reaching Europe.

– We remember Ismail from Syria, who died from cancer in Skaramangas camp before being able to join his son in Sweden.

– We remember 2-months-old Noursan from Syria, who passed away on the way from Ritsona camp to the hospital.

– We remember one-year-old Safa from Syria who was enduring in Athens childrens hospital after more than 10 months in Katsikas camp in Northern Greece in order to get the permit to leave the Germany for the so much needed heart transplant. Both German and Greek authorities did not react fast enough to let her join her family. In the end her father and the three other sisters and brothers moved to Germany to her mother and other sisters and brothers leaving her small body back in a graveyard in Athens.

– We remember also the 57-year-old husband of Fatima from Syria, who passed away in Filipiada camp after a heart attack. His wife and daughter were forced to wait seven more months to join their two sons in Germany in order to be able and grief for their father and husband together.

– We remember 7-year-old Nourian from Syria, who drowned in Skaramangas the days his father finally could come from Germany and visit him and his mom after months apart.

copyright: Marily Stroux

Lets not forget also our friends who stayed with us in City Plaza and with whom we shared not only a home and food but also a common struggle for a better world.

– We remember Hamid from Afghanistan, who drowned in Athens while waiting for months to reunite with his daughter in Switzerland. He left his beloved wife Feruza, two daughters and a son back. He stayed for months in Elliniko camp where he would always return even after moving to Plaza in order to visit friends and help cleaning the areal in front of the camp.

– We remember 62-year-old Fatima, the mother of Mustafa and Selah, from Syria, who passed away shortly before they were scheduled to join their family in France through relocation.

copyright: Marily Stroux

Here and today, we want to stop for a moment and create a space for all those who lost their lives. Remembering here means to save the stories of the uncounted who died at the borders of Europe. They died in the desert, in the sea, they died even at the deadly inner-european borders.

They had been on the way to change their lives on their own. Their death is the death in search for freedom. And that concerns all of us.

There would be many more names and many more stories. We will never forget all of them and we will today remember especially the friends of Joelle and Sylvie.

We will remember them because all of them they have families, they have friends they left behind – who cannot be here with us, because these borders even separate them now.

So let us speak out their names:

 

Maman Nicole – she lives!

Chochou – she lives!

Gilaine – she lives!

Sylvia – she lives!

Tedy – he lives!

Fati – he lives!

Mali – he lives!

Pider – he lives!

Peter – he lives!

Junior – he lives!

 

We will never forget them.

We promise to give our best to tear down the borders that killed them.

We invite you to have a rest in memory of them – and then to move on: to tear down the borders and to build another, a welcoming Europe.

 

copyright: Marily Stroux

Can’t stop a movement! Impressions from eight years of struggles against inner-European borders, the so called Dublin-deportations

 

 At 15th of January 2011 more than 20 afghan refugees died, when their boat came into distress and capsized, while they continued their flight from Greece to Italy. A 16 years old young man, who was saved, asked us to write down this story not to get forgotten[1]. The most of these dead people would be still alive if the Dublin-III-regulation would not exist. Most of them started their journey again and again after they have been deported back from other European countries. We dedicate this article to commemorate the forgotten dead people of the internal borders of EU. May this injustice – as it happens at the external borders of EU – as soon as possible become history.

 

The struggles against deportations back to Greece, Italy, Hungary or Bulgaria are strongly connected with the fights at the external European borders. The struggle against Dublin was significantly fought out along the Balkan route: first until the temporary deportation stop to Greece in the beginning of 2011 and in a second round mainly in Hungary with the break-through by the march of hope in September 2015.

 

Contested spaces – every centimetre progress tenaciously achieved from a multitude, which stood up individually and collectively to this regulation und still do it until today. Without listening to these manifold stories of resistance it seems to us impossible to understand the political conflict on Dublin. It was and is a social process of erosion and of continuous undermining the border regime, in which the not-granted right to freedom of movement was asserted. It was and is supported by structures, which exist everywhere in Europe in the meanwhile: an underground railroad for freedom of movement.

In February 2014 Eritrean and Somalian refugees announced in a public event the foundation of the selforganised initiative „Lampedusa in Hanau“. They mourned the dead persons and they reported about the bad experiences of their flight through the Sahara, through Libya and through the sea – and about their subsequent homelessness and non-protection in Italy. They wanted to resist against the threats of Dublin-deportations and they were in search of support from civil society: „Who is honestly mourning the death, should protect the survivors.“ A few months later the first church asylums have been established. All friends from Lampedusa in Hanau finally could achieve their right to stay and they formed the base for a sustained cycle of successful resistance against „Dublin“.

 

In reference to Greece and the Balkan route or to the central Mediterranean route and Italy – this article will try to tell the stories of resistance against Dublin-deportations. It`s one of many narratives about struggles for freedom of movement, in manifold fragments and based on moments, in which we (with no one is illegal Hanau and with the network Welcome to Europe) were involved as supporters or testimonies.

 

The Dublin regulation was adopted already in 2003. In general it establishes the rule: the country, which „causes“ the entry of an asylum seeker – because its embassy has issued a visum or because it could not prevent the entry at its borders – should be responsible for the assessment of the asylum application. If a refugee applies for asylum in another country and s/he will be recognized in the fingerprint database EuroDac or because of other proofs, the deportation to this responsible country should be carried out. Obviously such a system cannot function and this regulation mainly should serve to the interests of the central-European governments to keep the refugees in the European border countries. All European countries enforce deportations to the border countries, which are overburdened with logistics and accommodation.

 

Greece:

Lesvos, October 2009

Our storyline starts in October 2009 on the Greek island Lesvos, at the fence of the infamous detention Pagani. Smog is in the air from the last revolts, which will finally wipe the slate clean from this prison at the external borders of EU. A few weeks before protests from inside and outside against the inhuman conditions have created images, which went around the world. At the fence – still before the release – next steps are in preparation. Everybody wants to go on as all know, that the situation in Greece will not offer a better life. They also know about the curse of the fingerprint, which all of them have been forced to provide and which burned in their bodies the risk of deportation back to Greece. Here at the fence they discuss with activists from other European countries, who hand over addresses through the wire, which can be contacted after arrival. The idea of w2eu.info is born in this situation, in the smog of the revolts and by the conviction that freedom of movement is the right for everybody.

 

The web guide w2eu.info

The idea was already developed during the nobordercamp, but these face to face encounters on the fence in Pagani in October 2009 became the final starting point for the web guide w2eu.info[2]. Initially handed over as slips of paper through the wire, quickly it was clear that the need of information and mainly of reliable contacts is huge. In 2010 the web guide went online as an attempt to present a transnational quadrilingual guide for freedom of movement, first of all with contacts in all important European countries of destination and mainly including information about the chances to counter the Dublin-deportations to Greece successfully on a legal level. Step by step the website developed further and the network around have grown up to a more and more stabile structure as a backbone for daily struggles.

 

´Schengendangle`:

On the bottom side of a truck back to Europe, Igoumenitsa, Springtime 2010

When we reached after seven hours bus-tour from Athens in Igoumenitsa, it is cold and the darkness of the mountains gives a feeling of isolation. We see that small groups of people disappear in the hills, the wind carries their voices to us. Igoumenitsa is the second biggest ferry-port of Greece and thus also a starting point for all the invisibles, who try to continue their journey to northern Europe.´Schengendangle` they call it, when they clamp themselves on the bottom side of the trucks, between the tires, to arrive perhaps some day. It is not without risk and we see some people with broken arms and legs. The two prisons in the ferry-port are all the time overcrowded, because the control is strict and every day between 10 and 40 refugees are deported back from Italy. Who was deported might have bad luck. We listen to stories about detention camps at the albanian border, or about refugees, who have been kicked out 100 km away nowhere, and even about clandestine deportations back during the night to Turkey in the region of Evros. After a wave of raids this winter, when many nylon-tents and small belongings were burnt down, most people change the sleeping place every night: from a construction site to the forest and back to the street. Small tents out of nylon-tarps hidden under branches and everyday waiting on a good opportunity: that is the world of the invisibles in Igoumenitsa.

Almost all people here were imprisoned in Greece more than one time and every second person we meet is a „Dublin-II-case“. Some refugees have been deported back to Greece already several times. J. was deported from Germany in March 2009. He shows us his expulsion order from Greece: ´Since my deportation I was 10 times imprisoned and every time I get another order to leave Greece within 30 days. But where should I go?` S. is coming from Palestine and he is already since six months in Igoumenitsa; ´I forgot to be hungry, I am not thirsty anymore and i do not know, if I am tired.` He wears a jacket, which is five numbers to big for him, on his three pullovers: ´Everybody gets sick here. We try find food in the garbage cans. Warm water is not existing and nowhere a chance to recharge our mobile phones or to keep contact with my family.` When we started to say good bye, a young Somali turned to us: ´Do net let us alone! Do not let us alone!` It sounds as it is not directed to us personally but as a general appeal to the society.[3]

 

Athens, July 2010

Athens is the hub of transmigration in Greece, from the islands as well as from the Evros region. Usually Athens is the next station to organize the further journey. During last years Athens became additionally the hub for Dublin-deportations. From all European countries Dublin-deportees arrive in Athens, where they are imprisoned at the airport in inhumane conditions. Not a few people turn the loop several times and try to leave Greece again and again. And not a few end up in the streets of Athens, when they lost their hope some day and all options to get money. Many refugees in Athens are caught in a trap, often even a voluntary return is not possible anymore. Massive homelessness of refugees is an increasing problem. The precarious support system from NGOs collapsed in the course of the economical crisis. In summer 2010 the most staff of NGOs was not paid for months and subsequently they stopped their work entirely for some periods. Around the Attiki-square, where in the daytime many Afghan refugees stayed, massive racist attacks happened for several months. The situation of minors in Athens is particularly dramatic: countless young people are exposed – beside all other problems – to sexual assaults in the parks. In the same time the protests of refugees increase: 2010 several hunger strikes of refugees took place for their recognition and legalization, often sharpened as the strikers stitch up their mouths.[4]

 

These descriptions from the squares in Athens summarize the situation in summer 2010, the first report of the Infomobile in Greece was a „Dublin-II-deportation-diary“[5], a report full with the voices of the Dublin-deportees from Athens. The documentation of all individual stories is a crucial method in this period. The documented cases have been used as written testimonies to prevent deportations to Greece in front of the courts in other countries and in general to illustrate the situation of Dublin-deportees and to scandalize the inhuman living conditions in the transit countries at the external borders.

 

Deportation stop to Greece in January 2011

In January 2011 the European Court for human rights decided in an individual case, that Greece violated the human rights of a person, who was imprisoned in inhuman conditions and became homeless after his release. This decision also affected Belgium as the deportation to the mentioned conditions in Greece also had violated the human rights there. As a consequence of this decision the deportations to Greece have been suspended in more and more EU-countries as probably hundreds of similar „Greek“ cases might have been decided in the same way. Thus the deportation stop was a court decision of last resort. But this temporary deportation stop, which lasted at least seven years, first of all was the result of the struggles of the refugees themselves and their supporters. After their deportation back to Greece they started again and again to go back to the places they want to stay. They themselves have documented over and over again the unacceptable conditions in Greece and pushed it into the public. Longterm lawsuits in each singular case and mainly the tenacity of the affected persons themselves led to a situation, in which the deportations had to be suspended.

Just now, when we have to develope new strategies to stop again the deportations back to Greece, we should learn from these experiences. Since March 2017 it was announced in the frame of the overall roll back, that Dublin-deportations to Greece will be restarted.

 

Hungary:

In Hungary the human right violations at first have been much less public – not because it was less massive but because it have been more hidden forms of violence. Imprisonment during the asylum procedure was and still is the norm and not an exception in Hungary. When we started to be engaged in the situation in Hungary, we mainly heard about the reports on the unbearable conditions of detention. The circulation of tranquilizer have been standard and many people were released after months of arrest with strong psychological problems and often also with addiction to pharmaceuticals.

 

First notices about the indefensible conditions inside the Hungarian prisons for refugees trailed away without attention. Already in December 2010 first considerations came up to research on the Hungarian situation as we could expect similar serious failings as in the Greek asylum system. First research journeys started and affected refugees have been informed about useful contacts in their destination countries through the web guide w2eu.info, while experiences about Dublin-deportations have been exchanged. Already in this stage many have told their stories.

So one young Afghan man, 17 years old, gave us an interview by phone from inside a detention center.[6] We never saw each other, but a friend of a friend brought us into contact. He felt very bad, he said, but he wanted to give testimony about the situation of refugees deported back to Hungary. He reported that he is arrested since nearly three month as a minor. He hoped, that the deportations to Hungary might end, when the practice of imprisonment becomes public. He said it is too late for himself, but perhaps it will help all others, who afterwards will go the same way, not to experience the same. In this period we made numberless interviews and many used these testimonies, which they had given still in Hungary, in their next attempt of continuous flight for the documentation in court cases and against another deportation to Hungary.

 

Already in 2012 and 2013 bordermonitoring.eu in cooperation with Pro Asyl tried to document in the German-speaking countries the general situation of refugees in Hungary „between homelessness and detention“ and thus to win influence on procedures in various courts.[7] In 2016 another updated report on Hungary was published and got attention in several courts in Germany.[8]

 

Hungary for a long time was known only as place of quick transit. With increasing Dublin deportations many affected refugees could not keep their strength for a second or third attempt and mainly families with children stayed and tried to get organized in Hungary and to struggle for an improvement of their living conditions. From late summer 2012 until early summer 2013 mainly Afghan families went on protests in Budapest and Bicske, supported from the new developed group MigSzol[9]. But all efforts failed and the most families – even with a residence status – could not find any perspective, rather they were confronted with the eviction from the refugee camp and subsequent homelessness. Against this background they decided collectively to leave and more than 70 refugees together boarded a train at 12.06.2013. All of them had a protection-status in Hungary, so they could be controlled at the border, but with their documents they have been entitled to move through Europe and thus they reached their destination. At the train station in Munich they finally decided for the end city: Karlsruhe. There some of them had relatives and one of them got the information, that a chance might be given. In Karlsruhe they went to the first reception center, put all their Hungarian documents on the table and asked for asylum as in Hungary a live in humanity and dignity was not possible.

 

“We, the refugees previously living in the Bicske Reception Centre (Hungary) decided to leave Hungary and apply for asylum in Germany. (…) The fact, that approximately 100 of us left Hungary will not change anything in Bicske. The new people who will be granted the

refugee status by Hungary will face similar problems. We saw no other choice than staying together and seek a common solution abroad. We have seen that the European rules on asylum are not working, there is no common treatment and care for asylum-seekers and refugees in Europe. We will not accept this system. Our political resistance is movement. We have to do that for our Children.”[10]

 

This declaration was published together with a detailed list of all their attempts in Hungary to change and to improve their situation (in negotiations with immigration offices, camp administration, politicians and UNHCR, and by protest-actions in front of the parliament). It was the first collectively organized leave and the families organized common events also later in Germany. Until today nearly all of them still live in Baden-Württemberg (the federal state, in which Karlsruhe is located).

 

Italy – the curse of the fingerprint

 

We are escaping the whole time, you know? Our life is homelessness, we sleep on a big street of hope. We could not see any hope until now. We only live, breathe, sleep. They decided for us, that we have no rights. Thats the meaning of Dublin for us. We should not have other options than to live on the street.

O. from Eritrea, Oberursel (near Frankfurt) in July 2011

 

Without Dublin it would mean that I would be a bird and could fly. I simply would continue my studies, I would marry and live a better life.

S. from Eritrea, Oberursel in July 2011

 

The Italian islands Lampedusa and Sicily are the places, where the stories cumulate, in which refugees tried to resist from the very beginning against the curse of the fingerprints. Most people know before their arrival in Italy, that the fingerprint – sometimes even taken on the boats of the coastguards – will be a trap. Thus forms of resistance are manifold. If the opportunity is given, they escape directly after the arrival in the ports in Augusta, Pozallo or Catania. Some even could get away from Lampedusa, hidden in a truck in the ferry, to avoid the fingerprinting. Others treated their fingertips with glue before the arrival, or they vitriolized or burned them. Many opposed the taking of fingerprints and experienced massive violence by the Italian police, partly through counter insurgency units against refugees, who just were rescued from boats at sea. As testified people were broken their hands and fingers to force the fingerprint procedure, in several times electric shockers were used to break resistance. Often any food was denied, before people did not give fingerprints.

 

In July 2013 one of the collective protests has been finally successful:

 

In the last couple of weeks new boat people – refugees and migrants mainly from East African and Sub-Saharan countries – are arriving via Libya on the Italian island of Lampedusa. There they are detained in an overcrowded camp and registered before their transfer to Sicily or the Italian mainland, which includes having their fingerprints taken. Many of the persons involved know from friends and family who went through the same procedure, that due to these fingerprints their residence will be bound to Italy, that they may obtain a protected status there, but that socially this is worth nothing. This because in general they will then find themselves homeless and without an income on the street and any continued journey towards North-Western Europe is threatened with immediate deportation back to Italy in accordance with Dublin II.
Against this background impressive protest actions occurred on Lampedusa in mid-July. About 250 refugees, mainly from Eritrea, refused to give their fingerprints and demanded from the responsible authorities their immediate transfer. After protests and controversies with the police in the camp, they held a more than 2-hour demonstration in the streets of the small tourist town on 20 July 2013. “No Fingerprints” was their main slogan, a collective protest against the Dublin II injustice. Then a 24-hour sit-in on the square in front of the church was organized and in selfdetermined negotiations with the local authorities they even could carry through their main demand to leave without fingerprints.[11]

The fingerprint in Italy became also a trap for refugees, who continued their flight after the deportation stop in Greece via Italy as the story of N. demonstrate. It was an almost endless odyssey through the European Dublin-jungle.

 

“My flight from Afghanistan via Iran and Turkey to Greece took me several months. In late November 2011, I crossed the Evros River. But in Greece you can not survive as a refugee. In December 2011, I’ve been hiding in a truck to get onto the ferry to Bari / Italy. When moving out at the port Italian police caught us and deported us directly back to Greece with the same ferry – directly into jail. On the second try, I went by foot across the border to Macedonia and continued via Serbia to Hungary. I was there for six weeks in custody and then deported to Serbia. The Serbian police beat us, took our money away and pushed us illegally back at the Macedonian border. From the Macedonian police we were left in the forest and hunted with threats towards Greece. I went the same way to Hungary a second time – with the same result: imprisonment and illegal refoulement to Greece. The fourth time I went in a small boat with 72 people to Italy. After days at sea I arrived in July 2012 in southern Italy. Via France and Belgium, I tried to go to Germany. In Brussels I was checked by the police and taken to a detention center. Out of fear of deportation to Italy I went on hunger strike. They have silenced me in February 2013 with a sedative injection and four Belgian police officers accompanied me to Rome. After the deportation I did not get any accommodation and had to flee from Italy again. A couple of months I remained in France, without any support, then I tried to come to Germany. After a second deportation from Belgium I was sent back into homelessness at the airport in Rome. I went on a hunger strike in front of the airport in Rome. Eventually I gave up and lived again homeless with other Afghans in a kind of tent.”[12]

N. escaped once more at the end of his odyssey through Europe, this time to Germany. He spent several weeks in a church asylum in Frankfurt until the transfer-deadline to Italy was over and he finally did not risk another deportation anymore. He is living and working today in Hanau.

 

There are people, who became nomads, who go and return in Europe many times and many years to find finally a place to stay. We met a Somalian refugee, who had to give fingerprints in at least nine European countries. From everywhere he was deported back to Italy or he escaped before his deportation to a next country.

 

Also after the arrival in Germany many refugees vitriolize or burn their fingers, mainly in the years 2011 and 2012. But this kind of resistance soon went into space: the asylum procedures have simply been suspended, because of „non-collaboration in the identity verification“. Often the affected persons fall into the Dublin-trap years later, when they were not prepared in another fingerprint procedure. But many make it, they layaway from step to step until – for example – they get married by a friend, who already held a long term residency in Germany.

 

Resistance against Dublin-deportations in air planes

Several refugees defended themselves against deportations to Italy. Between 2011 and 2014 according the official statistics concerning the Frankfurt airport the most deportations have been interrupted by Eritrean refugees, who should have been forced back to Italy.

K., an Eritrean friend in Oberursel near Frankfurt (who achieved after many years of struggle his blue passport and in the meanwhile even a flat), was one of them. After he prevented his deportation on 6.12.2011, he was detained in the prison in Frankfurt-Preungesheim. He said:

„I will not accept another deportation to Italy quietly and secret. If we remain silent, nothing will change. The situation of refugees in Italy is a constant violation of our human rights. I escaped as many other young people because of permanent human rights violation in Eritrea. Here in Europe we experience again, that we have to live in inhuman conditions.“

 

After his deportation to Italy he met there with a journalist from the magazine „Stern“[13], who documented the story of K. at full length and as a representative example for many others.

 

In 2014 S. and two other Eritrean friends resisted against their deportations in scheduled flights even repeatedly. The responsible immigration authorities in Darmstadt decided to make an example of their case to try to discourage the Eritrean community. All of them should know that resistance will be broken by any means necessary and by any costs. The authorities chartered a small plane exclusively for the three Eritreans and they were deported like criminals and accompanied by policemen, one even sedated by an injection from a collaborating medic:

 

„On June 17th 2014 I was woken up at 6 clock in my cell in the deportation prison in Ingelheim. It was the third attempt to deport me back to Italy after I had resisted two times. I said that I did not want to fly to Italy and they then brought more forces. Six men in the whole entered the cell and I screamed for help. They have levered my left hand and kicked me repeatedly against the legs. They have tied up the hands with handcuffs on my back and also gave me leg irons and transported me tied up in the police car. Besides me two more Eritreans were deported. I was the first who was brought onto the plane. I have said already in the police car that the deportation I done against my will. On the stairs was the pilot and I told the police, I want to talk to him. When I was inside they brought the second man. I have only heard him scream from inside: “Uuyuuyuuy” – cries for help. He does not speak English and he would scream in this way for help. They carried him to the plane. The third Eritrean shouted in this way and fought back and they dragged him onto the plane. On the plane, we then cried all three, and the aircraft did not start about 30 minutes. The police squeezed my ear when I cried, I got scared because I should actually have an operation on the ear, which was not done because they have picked me up before for deportation. The police have tried to shield us from each other, so I could not see exactly what happened with the friend behind me. He certainly did get a shock and had foam coming from his mouth. There was a doctor with us in the plane she was very tall and thin. She gave him an injection and then we have not heard from him, he was made quiet by her injection. We started to fly and we continue to scream me and the other friend. The policeman next to me says ´Byebye Germany! Ciao!` And I ask him how he can do in such a situation jokes, if he still has a remnant of humanity.“

 

A few weeks later all three were back in Germany – and after years of struggles and tenacious judicial conflicts S. today has his recognition as refugee.

Shortly after his selforganised return he held a speech during a demonstration against deportations in Darmstadt. Exactly in front of the building of the administration, who chartered his extra-flight and executed his deportation, he accused the responsible authorities for human right violation

K. and S. both were arrested for several weeks in detention after they successfully resisted against their deportation in the air planes. But shortly after the deportation charter in June 2014 it became much more difficult for authorities to detain asylum seekers. After successful legal interventions it was forbidden to keep asylum seekers in the same prisons as criminals and most federal states had no capacities anymore. And longterm juridical efforts by lawyers could achieve decisions from higher courts, that particularly Dublin-refugees should not be detained anymore.

 

Mainly at the Frankfurt airport, the biggest deportation airport in Germany, but also at other airports support-groups developed to prevent deportations. They tried to intervene – by sensibilization of travellers and staff of air lines, but also by protests against deportation air lines. In March 2012 simultaneous actions took place at the five biggest german deportation air ports. In the common call it was written:

„Let us support this resistance! Lets take a look into the flights to Rome, Budapest or Valetta! Lets stand up against deportations! In its literal sense: because as passengers on board we can prevent deportations, when we refuse to belt on but stand up and bring our complaints to the pilot. The Dublin.II-system has to be abolished immediately! No deportations into the social misery at the margins of Europe! Asylum seekers should have the right to search for protection, where they want to do! For an Europe of welcome.“[14]

 

In several cities (the protests were different according to the different practices of authorities in different federal states and districts) groups developed blockades in front of refugee camps to stop deportations, which have been announced in advance. Mainly Göttingen and Osnabrück became stronghold to prevent deportations from outside – until the authorities decided: deportations should not be pre-announced anymore.

 

Germany and the places of struggle to stay

 

Never before was the resistance against the restrictions of the freedom of movement for refugees and migrants and especially against deportations within Europe so loud and convinced. In Germany and all over Europe, initiatives call for self-organized resistance such as the „Lampedusa Groups“. European borders have never been more contested. Almost everyweek migrants collectively pass the borders in Ceuta and Melilla, thousands arrive on the shores of Sicily. On Lampedusa, hundreds of people reject their registration and in the Aegean Sea boats arrive daily on the Greek islands.“

Time to Act. Dublin has to be abolished! – Call in June 2014[15]

 

Lampedusa in Hamburg is the first group, which was founded in explicit reference to the first place of arrival. In difference to many following self organized groups is Lampedusa in Hamburg composed by people, who already got documents in Italy and who now try to find a living and mainly a work in Hamburg.

 

„In Lampedusa we were 7000 persons in a camp, which was build for 900. Nevertheless the people there tried their best, but they did not get support from the EU. The Dublin-II-system – you have to stay in the country of first arrival – is violating our human rights. It forces us to live and die on the streets. After the recognition of our refugee status Italy kicked us on the street in winter 2012. They asked us to leave Italy. They said: the EU is big, go and find your way. Here is nothing for you. And so it happened and with nothing in snow and ice we set off to France, Scandinavia, Switzerland and Germany. We are recognized refugees from a war, in which the european states have participated, but they ignore our existence. When we show up and when we make our conditions visible, they want to deport us. In Italy we can beg, starve, steel, become guttersnipes or simply die. The main issue remains to keep the Dublin-II-system implemented. It is painful, after we could stabilize our life in Libya, that we once again have to struggle to survive – in countries, which name themselves as big democracies.“[16]

 

Lampedusa in Hanau was founded in March 2014, after more and more Somalian and Eritrean refugees in Hanau and the district around were threatened by deportations back to Italy:

 

„We escaped from a dictatorship with forced recruitment and political persecution in Eritrea and from a 23 years long civil war with forced recruitment and raping of women in Somalia.

We survived to cross the desert with little food and too less water and we faced kidnappings for blackmailing our relatives or even to misuse our bodies for trade with organs. Arriving in Libya we experienced strong racism on the streets and systematic imprisonment, partly for years. Crossing the Mediterranean Sea we again had to risk our lives in overcrowded boats. Some of us experienced shipwrecks and the death of relatives or friends on sea, before we arrived on the coasts of Lampedusa, Sicily or Malta. Most of us were forced to give our fingerprints in Italy or Malta, although we never want to stay in these countries. (…) In Italy we went through overcrowded camps with inhuman conditions and internal fights. We experienced homelessness and racist violence and sexual harassment on the street, we were without any income, perhaps one time per day food by caritas and without medical provision. Against this background we travelled to Germany to ask for asylum and protection. But here we face again insecurity and threat of deportation

back to Italy and Malta. German authorities refuse to allow us the access to a fair asylum procedure. (…) We know that many of our friends and relatives from Hamburg to Frankfurt

are in similar situations. (…)The system of Dublin cannot grant us the protection and safety we need. It stops us from building a future after all this hardship we had to go through. We are in solidarity against deportations and exclusion and for the rights of refugees and migrants in Germany and Europe. We need the freedom to choose the place to stay. We ask to delete our fingerprints from the European Data-System because these fingerprints are like a prison to us. No Fingerprints – no Dublin II and III. We are here to stay!“[17]

 

Lampedusa in Hanau consisted mainly in a mutual promise: no one will be left alone with the fear of deportation. And even if we cannot prevent all deportations, we know: from Italy a quick travelling back to Germany is possible. In Frankfurt simultaneously the group Refugees for Change was founded. During manifestations against deportations affected refugees confirmed to each other in speeches: after they deport us, we will come back again.

Parallel the active refugees approached church communities and tried to get their direct support. Church asylum is one successful option against Dublin-deportation and many use it to overcome the transfer-deadlines. According the Dublin regulation the German authorities are obliged to deport the people back within six months (after the Dublin country got responsible). As soon as this deadline is over, Germany get responsible for the asylum procedure and the refugees can stay. Only if people disappear and go underground, the transfer-deadline can be prolonged to 18 months. But in church asylum the authorities are informed about the address of the refugees under protection, theoretically an access by police is possible and the people are not disappeared. But it is a political decision, if deportations will be executed against refugees under church groups protection and usually church asylum is respected by authorities in Germany. The few times, when church asylums have been broken by police, it brought even a boomerang effect. In the case of a Chechnyan family in Augsburg, who was hauled off by police from a church asylum, it led to a big scandal and even more churches offered their protected spaces afterwards. The established regional church was in full support of the local church group and finally even the interior minister of Bavaria had to row back.

 

Even if several hundred refugees – mainly against Dublin-deportations and to overcome the transfer-deadline – are in church asylum in Germany every year, these are still individual cases and not so many in comparison to the general numbers of Dublin-cases. Nevertheless the hardliner in the ministries and in the authorities try to push a debate, that church asylum should be classified as disappearance and thus to prolong automatically the transfer-deadline on 18 months in future. It is still and again a contested field.

In most other European countries the practice of church asylum to overcome the six months did not work, probably because the churches did not have enough negotiation power. In Sweden church communities support again and again refugees, but they have to hide for 18 months, before their procedure will be conducted in Sweden.

 

The Dublin-system collapsed in Hungary – in the summer of migration 2015

 

16.09.2015 Hanau – Welcome to trains of hope: in seven days from Izmir to Hanau

Still in August we countless times answered the question in Lesvos, what will happen with our fingerprints in Hungary, and now – only one month later – nobody is asking anymore. We said to the people: ´Go on, you will arrive. The route is hard, but never refugees and migrants have been quicker than today.` We have waved at the extra-ferries, about 2500 people in departure in direction to the macedonian border. They were as quick as never before. Record time was seven days from Izmir to Hanau. Ten days from Homs.

Now we stay in Hanau at the train station during nights and say welcome on a stage of the journey, together with many others from various communities and their associations. Many just want to say hello. Here in the emergency accomodation, in gyms and tents still for many refugees it is open, where the traveling will end. Also here is still not a serious registration, at least for some moments the old rules and restrictions have been suspended. Many will continue, to the aunt to Schwerte, to Leipzig to the bride-to-be or to Hamburg, because there are living more Afghans. Or from there to further north, some want to reach Sweden, Norway or Finland. After some days several people decide to stay, because they met friendly people, because the city is in the middle of Germany or because they are simply tired and finally want to arrive somewhere. Welcome!

 

About the break-through on the Balkan route, which led to such scenes in September 2015, a lot of other texts are published.[18] It was not a sophisticated strategy, which pushed the Dublin-system into a temporary collapse. It was a vote by feet in its literal sense. It was courage of despair mixed up with experiences of resistance in the Syrian uprising combined with the right moment, that the decision had to be made to open the borders. It seems to us important to remember it, when today we want to counter the ongoing roll back.

 

Roll Back

Since the break-through in September 2015 we followed the attempts on all levels to win back control as we all know: The closure of the formalized corridor along the Balkan route, the EU-Turkey deal, the mass-internment on the Aegean islands, the increase of push backs between all the Balkan states.

Simultaneously the debate went on to reorganize the Dublin-regulation. Dublin IV will even include the abolition of the transfer-deadlines. It is not a surprise as the overcoming of these timelimits of deportations have been the main method for thousands of refugees to escape from the Dublin-trap.

Even the re-installation of Dublin-deportations to Greece is coming back now:

 

One step forward, hundreds back…’ seems to be the motto under which EU experts implement refugee policy, as currently also demonstrated in Greece. On 8 December 2015, the European Commission published its fourth recommendation on the resumption of Dublin Returns to Greece, this time stating that they could be gradually re-installed, as according to them, refugee rights would be adequately protected in Greece. At the same time, images of people who fled war and are now staying in tents covered in snow are spreading through the global media. Once more, the EU is using Greece to make a point: Dublin has to survive, not matter what, thats the plan. But in reality, this failed plan has significant consequences, causing one more massive human tragedy in Europe for thousands of people who are escaping war, conflict, disaster, hunger and poverty.[19]

 

Just before its starting the information circulate already in Greek refugee camps, in which way to deal and to respond against these new threads of deportation. Welcome to Europe published a detailed info sheet.[20]

 

Outlooks:

Relatively simply to anticipate: Despite and against the reorganization of Dublin-deportation Greece will experience another vote by feet:

 

But Dublin will fall again! Deportations to Greece were already once stopped back in 2011 following the decision of the European Human Rights Court in the case ‘MSS v. Greece’ – and as a result of a long struggle during which many, many refugees escaped from Greece, were deported and escaped again. Some had to flee through Europe 5-6 times. But finally it was over, they succeeded often, and stayed.
Dublin Returns to Greece will be strongly contested in national and international courts again now. As we have seen, the Dublin-regulation has been overrun many times before by the struggles for freedom of movement of individuals and groups.
Mouzalas had to correct himself. We politely suggest the European Commission to do the same.

Refugees are no numbers on a tent, no fingerprints, but people with faces, names and stories!

The Dublin Regulation has to be abolished now.
Human rights violations have to end now.
People have to join their families now.
People have to be in safety and in dignified conditions now.

We therefore demand:

Equal rights for all!
Freedom of movement to all refugees in Greece and elsewhere!
The right to stay for all!
Stop deportations!

No one is illegal!

w2eu – a network born out of the struggle against Dublin returns in 2009[21]

 

The struggles against deportations developed further all the time. Since in Osnabrück the deportations are not pre-announced anymore and it is not possible to stop it from outside mobilization of supporters, refugees inside the camps got self organized and took the prevention of deportations in their own hands. They patrol during the night at the entrance of the camp and with whistles the whole camp will be waked up as soon as police try to execute early morning deportations. Then hundred and more refugees approach the police cars – peacefully and whistling – and the police has to leave without having achieved anything.

 

The example from Osnabrück demonstrates a process of vivid learning and adapting to new challenges. It is impressive, what is possible, when people talk with each other and develope collective strategies. The whistle became already the new symbol for the resistance against Dublin-deportations. We created now a huge version – a two meters big whistle, which will be presented during the We`ll Come United parade at 16th of September in Berlin in front of the interior ministry. Then it will be carried further on to Oranienplatz and other places, where affected refugees will meet and gather, who are not willing to get arrested and to accept this injustice. A symbol to tell the (hi)story of resistance, that it will be retold and new ideas appear. That the right for freedom of movement and the right to stay will finally win through!

 

[1] Dublin-Deaths between Kerkyra/Greece and Bari/Italy (15th of January 2011), http://infomobile.w2eu.net/2011/07/28/dublin-deaths-between-kerkyragreece-and-bariitaly-15th-of-january-2011/

[2] http://w2eu.info/

[3] Excerpts of a report by Salinia Stroux and Regina Mantanika, February 2010: „Schengendangle – Undocumented Refugees in the City of Igoumenitsa“, http://infomobile.w2eu.net/files/2010/03/schengendangle_small.pdf

[4] Infomobile report 2010 (in German language): http://infomobile.w2eu.net/files/2011/03/Infomobil-Bericht-2010.pdf

[5] http://infomobile.w2eu.net/files/2011/03/deportation-diary.pdf (englisch)

http://infomobile.w2eu.net/files/2011/03/athenbericht_dt_web.pdf (deutsch)

[6] http://w2eu.net/2010/10/26/hungary-imprisons-minors-after-dublin2-deportation/

[7] http://bordermonitoring.eu/berichte/2013-ungarn/

[8] Gänzlich unerwünscht, Oktober 2016, http://bordermonitoring.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Web_Ungarn_Bericht-2016.pdf

[9] http://www.migszol.com/who-we-are.html

[10] http://www.migszol.com/blog/-statement-of-the-refugees-who-left-hungary

[11] Kompass Antira Newsletter August 2013,

More reports can be found here: http://siciliamigrants.blogspot.it/search/label/Lampedusa-de

Short Video: https://vimeo.com/70781121

Italian YouTube-Clip:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JFu0h8CYfUM&list=UUDsP5wVi6kSQUs5SzvlCkww&feature=share&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DJFu0h8CYfUM%26feature%3Dshare%26list%3DUUDsP5wVi6kSQUs5SzvlCkww

[12] Exhibition of the group Lampedusa in Hanau, http://lampedusa-in-hanau.antira.info/austellung-2/

[13] Der Fluch des Fingerabdrucks, stern Nr. 43, 18.10.2012.

[14] Aus dem Aufruf von März 2012: Aktionstage an den 5 größten deutschen Abschiebeflughäfen: http://dublin2.info/2012/04/459/

[15] http://dublin2.info/files/2014/06/dublin-call-2014.de_.pdf

http://dublin2.info/files/2014/06/dublin-call-2014.en_.pdf

 

[16] http://lampedusa-hamburg.info/de/informationen/hintergrund/

[17] Declaration of Lampedusa in Hanau, http://lampedusa-in-hanau.antira.info/uber-uns-about-us/

[18] Especially we refer to a report by bordermonitoring.eu that follows the existance of the formalised corridor along the Balkanroute (unfortunately only in German language): http://bordermonitoring.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/report-2017-balkan_web.pdf.

[19] w2eu Statement 22.01.2017: No Dublin Returns to Greece!, http://infomobile.w2eu.net/2017/01/22/no-dublin-returns-to-greece/

[20] w2eu.info on Dublin > Greece, März 2017, http://w2eu.info/greece.en/articles/greece-dublin2.en.html

[21] w2eu Statement 22.01.2017: No Dublin Returns to Greece!, http://infomobile.w2eu.net/2017/01/22/no-dublin-returns-to-greece/.

“The snow ruined our international image” – but what about the refugees?

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.

International volunteers initially wanted to create a blacklist of hotels that refused to rent out to refugees so that no one would accidentally enjoy their summer holiday in the company of racists. Instead, they are now creating a whitelist with hotels that defy the ban.

The day before the snow hit Greece, immigration minister Mouzalas proudly announced that there were no refugees living in tents any more. Then the pictures went around the world and immediately a ban on taking photos in the hotspot Moria was issued, and journalists – who had never been able to access the centre anyway – were officially banned.

The local NGO Iliaktida, tasked by the UNHCR with finding hotel accommodation, managed to find room for 400 people. Fortunately, not everyone in the hotel business is racist, and sometimes money talks louder than political persuasion, as the example of a hotel in Thermi shows which only weeks before had hosted the Golden Dawn fascists.

Due to the weather and the fact that cars couldn’t go, only a small number of people were able to reach their hotels on that day. But while the hotel association insists on its racist policy, the local education department suggests opening empty school buildings, and calls on teachers and parents to welcome refugees. Finally a moment of warmth in these cold times.

A few months ago, it was Spiros Galinos, the mayor of Lesvos,  who also supported the idea that hotels should not rent out rooms to NGOs for refugees. But since he and the mayor of Lampedusa have been awarded the Olof Palme Prize (a prize awarded for work against racism), he wants to save his reputation as the mayor of solidarity. There has been a public call to alert the prize committee to Galinos’ previous racist views, so he announced that he would donate the prize money to the fishermen  of the village of Skala Sikaminias who had lost their boats in the storm the day before – the same boats that had saved thousands of lives in the last two years. The fisher folks had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. This way the mayor can save them and his reputation at the same time.

Meanwhile immigration minister Mouzalas is back pedalling on his earlier statement. He meant that on the mainland no refugees were living in tents, of course on the islands the situation was really bad. In his view, it’s all the fault of the hotel owners who are refusing to let to refugees. However, we know that the situation is as bad as it is mainly because Mouzalas had interpreted the EU-Turkey agreement to mean that no refugees should be transferred from the islands to the mainland. On one morning Mouzalas tries twice to fly to Lesvos. The first plane gets to Mitilini, but can’t land due to fog and returns to Athens. He then tries a helicopter, which also fails to land. Maybe it’s a sign of the gods that he is not welcome there.

The government decides to send a navy ship to Lesvos to provide accommodation for 500 people, so they say, while the cold spell lasts. The ship arrives the next day, but instead of 500 it only has capacity for 250. But not even that many people are keen. The refugees are afraid to board a ship, scared that they will be taken to Turkey. A justified fear, because for years navy ships have been secretly taking refugees from the islands to the prisons in northern Greece, from where they were taken back to Turkey.

On 13 January, one of the regular deportations to Turkey is taking place. Ten refugees are on board. Left behind is only Mohamed A. from Egypt who has been on a hunger strike since 13 December to protest his deportation.

Frontex calls for tenders to lease ships for two years to do these deportations on a large scale. The conditions are that the ships must be covered, a doctor must be on board, staff are prohibited from publishing anywhere what happens on board and the seat covers have to be plastic. The Frontex unit for deportations has just been increased by 600 staff.

A psychologist from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) offers sessions against burn-out for volunteers and NGO staff. An insult for anyone who knows that the IOM has been part of organising the “voluntary return” trips, as the deportations are cynically called, since 2013.

The EU publishes figures that show how much money Greece has been given to administer the refugee crisis.

Amnesty International is collecting signatures for a petition to allow those who are being reunited with their families to leave quickly.

And the UNHCR itself publishes its concerns for the health and safety of refugees in Greece.

At the same time, it is announced that from 15 March onwards, refugees will again be returned from other EU countries to Greece under the Dublin accord.

If all those who have been waiting for months for a decision on their asylum applications were accepted by the countries where they have family, and if the European countries would live up to their promised relocation figures, things would be very different.

So, remember the white list of hotels when you book your accommodation on Lesvos, so that the others know that their racism affects their business more than the temporary stay of people who are fleeing.

The snow is melting on Lesvos. Life goes on, but I am afraid that it will be ice cold, even in summer.

JOURNEY BACK TO LESVOS 3: EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT – AUGUST 2015

Journey-Back-2015-Doku
Doku-Mitilini-Journey-back-to-the-borders-2015

Here you find the documentation: Doku-Mitilini-Journey-back-to-the-borders-2015

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.

Impressions from Mytilene – October 2016

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

MEurope_mediano
On the shores of Lesvos, October 2015. Photo: Fishinwaters

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’.

At the shores, October 2016

korakas1
Inside Korakas Lighthouse. Photo: Marily Stroux

We can still see and feel the remnants of last year. When we went to Korakas in the north of Lesvos, to visit the place of the memorial-plaque which we had erected there in 2010, there still is a watch-post run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in cooperation with volunteers from Lighthouse relief. Inside the lighthouse, there are still remains, left behind during the time of so many arrivals.

In the beginning of 2016, authorities began to pressurise activists and volunteers working at the beaches to get registered with them. Since then, only NGOs who cooperate closely with the coastguards and Frontex are allowed to be present there. Nonetheless, some others remain present, such as the Greek NGO ERCI in the south, and Proactiva Open Arms, the Spanish life-guards, in the north. Boat-arrivals have significantly decreased since the borders to Macedonia were closed and since the EU-Turkey deal forced those arriving on the island to remain there, in unbearable conditions and continuously threatened by deportations back to Turkey. NATO warships patrol the entire coast. While they hardly ever intervene directly, their radars will detect a lot of the movements at sea, and once detected, they alert the Turkish authorities to intercept the boats. Interceptions and transfers back to Turkey occur daily. Those who finally make it across report that they had to attempt to cross the sea several times until they made it. Some of our friends from Izmir, who join us on Lesvos, give us impressions from Basmane/Turkey, where up until the beginning of this year, thousands passed through hotels while waiting to go to Cesme or other places, to then get onto the boats from there. Basmane now is a quiet place. No life jackets are sold in the shops. Today’s crossings are prepared in a completely clandestine fashion. Nothing is visible anymore, which means also that sea crossing are becoming increasingly dangerous.

 

Moria, October 2015

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Outside Moria, October 2015. Photo: Salinia Stroux

Exactly one year ago, in October 2015, it was the time of the highest number of arrivals that Lesvos had ever seen. At its peak, 10,000 people reached the island in one day. In October 2015 we spent days mainly near Moria, mainly at night. Back then, the so-called “hot spot” was officially opened, during a time of heavy rainfalls. We were there while the UNHCR and all official NGOs had declared the area too dangerous for their staff. During these nights, only activists and volunteers, mainly women, tried to carry unconscious people out of the mud, covering at least the smallest babies with blankets. The situation last October was described as a humanitarian catastrophe. At the same time, we witnessed then already how EU border regime was trying to re-establish its control. In a common statement between Welcome to Europe and WatchTheMed Alarm Phone, we analysed and described the situation.

Moria, October 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Outside Moria, October 2016. Photo: Marily Stroux

100 cars wait in a line, and all sorts of international NGOs work inside the overcrowded “hot-spot”. They keep it running, in close cooperation with EASO, Frontex and the Greek Police.

The prison became its own world, with its own rules, a machinery of separation. In the ‘inside’ of the inside, all those are detained in this closed part of the camp who newly arrived and wait for registration. Latest after 25 days, they will leave to the ‘outside’ of the inside, to the open part of the camp. The unaccompanied minors are detained in an own section of the prison and longer, for their own ‘protection’, until a place in a youth accommodation is found for them, sometimes months later. Detained are also all those who are “ready to be deported”, and, in another closed section, those who have in desperation signed the agreement to be “voluntarily returned” to Turkey. In every corner of the camp you feel how the management of this self-created crisis has turned into a huge business. While volunteers are still present, everyone who enters, even the open part of the camp, is registered properly with one of the NGOs. It is forbidden to take pictures. It is forbidden to distribute information. Three of us got controlled by the police when distributing the Welcome to Greece guide. The refugees stuck in Moria keep asking desperately about their future – and there are few answers to all their questions. Apart from those who have families in other EU member states, there is no legal way to leave the island. They are fed up with so many NGOs passing by while nothing changes afterwards. Nearly every day there are outbursts of violence – among different ethnic groups, often related to the use of the limited space in the overcrowded camp. Regularly there are also riots. Twice, Moria was burning already – but there seems to be no response, hardly any signs of solidarity, and so these upheavals end with several arrests. What we found particularly depressing this year was witnessing how the suffering of refugees seemed to be produced in such an “ordered” fashion. This technocratic system of dispersed violence becomes ever-more difficult to contest. There still is violence, but it seems more invisible now. NGOs present there create the illusion of assistance and support, but they have become part of a system that covers up the ways in which it administers and reinforces the misery of all those who are denied the possibility to find the protection they so urgently need.

 

The harbour of Mytilene, October 2015

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Mytilene Harbour, October 2015.

Over the last years, we took uncountable pictures at the harbour of Mytilene! Farewell pictures of those who left, who were excited to take the next step toward their desired final destination. Welcoming those who are in transit means wishing farewell to them, and hoping to meet soon again, hopefully in a safer place somewhere in Europe. For us, the harbour of Mytilene was a symbol, one crucial leg in the journeys of thousands.

The harbour of Mytilene, October 2016

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Mytilene Harbour, October 2016. Photo: w2eu

Fences surrounding the harbour have destroyed this Aegean point of arrival and farewell. It is not a lively space anymore. Police and Frontex are everywhere. There now are strict controls at the entrance leading to the ferries leaving for mainland Greece. Police vans carry prisoners from the mainland to be deported back to Turkey from here. At the end of our journey back to the border, the friends who joined our travelling group from Athens could not board the ferry to return on Saturday morning. Just as all those who have official registration papers which allow them to travel inside of Greece, they were denied the right to board the ferry, simply because the checking of their papers had to wait until Monday – and then again to Tuesday.

Ferries not Frontex acquires another meaning when ferries are used by Frontex to deport.

This was the island of welcome – will it now transform into the island of deportations?

This question concerns to all of us who have been part of welcoming networks.

We wish the residents of Mytilene the strength to resist being eaten out and spat out by the EU’s politics of closure and of denial of protection. The wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have not ended, they keep on raging. Pakistan and Iran are not safe. People from Eritrea and Ethiopia continue to flee from the oppressive regimes. Somalians run from recruitment by Al Shabab. And so many people have to leave their countries of origin because they cannot survive without the ability to find an income.

As long as this suffering continues to exist all over the world, and is created and reinforced by EU policies of exploitation, we cannot be silent when Europe closes its gates.

For the Freedom of Movement for All!

Lesvos turns into a deportation hub to Turkey

Uprisings in Moria on 24th October, EASO-containers burned down once again

Already for weeks, tensions on the Aegean islands run high after the Greek government announced to open three more so-called “hot-spots” only for “pre-removals” on the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Kos. They are, in fact, deportation prisons. Local residents and municipalities oppose these plans. At the same time, the atmosphere within the camps is boiling over. After months of waiting, the entire time threatened to be deported to Turkey, people have repeatedly protested against the imprisonment in inhumane conditions. It has been announced that, from November onward, weekly deportations to Turkey for 200 persons each time will take place, coordinated by Frontex. This would turn Lesvos into a deportation hub.

Noborder Protest in Mytilene. Photo: Marily Stroux
Noborder Protest in Mytilene. Photo: Marily Stroux

Last Monday, the 24th of October: Once again a fire destroyed containers where registrations and asylum-interviews were being conducted by EASO, an agency of the European Union. This agency, composed of about 20 officers sent by the different EU member states, coordinates to “facilitate” the registration procedures in the “hot-spot”. The most recent fire damaged 2 and completely burned down 6 of the 12 EASO containers. In reaction, EASO announced to cease their asylum operations for an unspecified period of time, suggesting that their staff’s safety could otherwise not be guaranteed. On the Friday before Monday’s fire, a ferry had been used again to deport people to Turkey. On Saturday, a Pakistani man who had escaped from the closed part of the detention camp got seriously injured when he was beaten up by police. The unconscious man was brought to a hospital but returned into the camp only one day later. This was probably the last straw and people began to revolt. At the same time, migrant uprisings occur continuously and are signs of desperation and suffering in a state of unfreedom. Being denied the freedom to move, these people have to endure in unbearable conditions, always threatened to be deported.

Already a month ago, a large section of the Moria camp had burned down. Regularly revolts and outbursts of tensions take place also on the islands of Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros – at places where people are stuck for months. These islands are being used as prisons, and its inmates are not allowed to leave to continue their journey. More than 15,000 people are now stuck on the Aegean Islands (nearly 6,000 on Lesvos, 4,200 on Chios, 2,000 on Samos, 1,900 on Kos and about 750 on Leros).

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Statue of Liberty in Mitylene Harbour. Photo: Marily Stroux

The deportations from Friday, the 21st of October were coordinated by the Greek police and Frontex. Frontex has been actively involved in all deportations from the Greek islands, following the EU-Turkey-deal. Initially, they had announced to deport 162 people, but 103 applied for asylum shortly before, so that, in the end, 59 people were deported to Turkey (49 from Iraq, 3 from Afghanistan, 2 from Iran and 5 from Syria). The Syrians were taken as usual by an airplane chartered from Astra Airlines to Adana, after picking up another 13 Syrians from Kos. Another 54 have were picked up from three different prisons on the mainland (15 from Korinthos, 40 from Peloponnese, 2 from Petrou Ralli); only two of them were directly deported from Lesvos, all others were brought by large police vans onto the ferry from Athens to Mytilene and were then pushed in harbour onto one of the ferries that connects Mytilene with Dikili (Turkey). With the announcement to start weekly coordinated deportations from November onward, Lesvos is meant to become a deportation hub for deportations also from the Greek mainland.

Another deportation followed on 27th of October with 41 people being removed to Turkey: 22 of them within the framework of the EU-Turkey deal (13 from Algeria, 4 from Pakistan, 1 from Iraq, 1 from Morocco, 1 from Bangladesh, 1 from Nigeria, 1 from Lebanon, all men). There were 17 negative asylum decisions in second instance, one negative in first instance without appeal and 3 persons resigned from their asylum requests. Another 19 people were deported within the framework of the Greek-Turkish readmission agreement (all of them men from Pakistan, they had not expressed desire for international protection).

Since the EU-Turkey-deal came into effect on the 20th of March, and up until the 27th of October 2016, these are the figures for the deportations that occurred, following different agreements:

– 1158 deportations to Turkey took place under the bilateral agreement between Turkey and Greece.

– 55 people were deported based on the readmission agreement between EU and Turkey.

– 716 deportations were based upon the EU-Turkey-deal.

– Another 716 people “voluntarily” returned to Turkey, facilitated by IOM.

The new announcement of weekly deportations from Lesvos means that there will be transfers of prisoners from the Greek mainland to Lesvos on a daily basis. Lesvos will turn into the main deportation island of Greece. This is happening silently, without any public attention, since local attention is mostly paid to attempts to remove more of the refugees still stuck on the island. At the same time, the Greek coastguard has hindered even tourists who visited the island for a few days, from returning to Athens.  Having visited friends or relatives, many people seem to be stuck for days and keep waiting for checks of their papers, while the authorities need days to verify whether their papers are valid. It is a self-inflicted crisis. The negative image of the situation is produced by the authorities and not by the presence of refugees on the island.

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Refugee boats in the harbour of Mytilene. Photo: Marily Stroux

For a long time, Lesvos was a place to welcome those newly arriving. This was the case especially last year, when at peak times, 10,000 people arrived daily on the island as part of their journeys to find safety in other European countries. Throughout the world, Lesvos has become known for the openness and hospitality that its inhabitants demonstrated and for their courageous efforts to help those in transit who had stranded on the island. Collectively we should resist EU authorities who try to turn this island into a symbol for Europe’s deterrence policies and stand against these attempts to turn Lesvos into a deportation hub.

Frontex’s Prison Island Lesvos: Apartheid in the tourist paradise

Since 2013, Welcome to Europe (w2eu) and Youth Without Borders (JOG) organise journeys for young refugees, to make it possible for them to return to the place where they had first reached Europe: The Island of Lesvos/Greece. This year, the ‘back to the border’ journey turned into a horror trip, especially, for all of us who were without European identity cards. Twice, the police and coast guard didn’t let us take the ferry to Piraeus (Athens) and leave the island as they said they had to re-check the asylum seekers cards for their genuinity – a paper issued by the Greek government itself. We observed dozens of people who were pulled out of the passengers queues at the airport while providing for passports or Greek aliens documents and dozens more who were unsuccessfully trying to leave from the island from the port along with us even though some of them were living and working in Greece for years.

First travel day at the port of Mytilene: Along the heavily fenced entrance to the ferry terminal, travellers get controlled by port police forces and police in uniforms and plain clothes. While we walked towards the ferry the special forces of the coast guard emerged from the dark and came to the entrance of the ferry where first passengers had started entering. The well-trained and big officers wore military clothes and black facemasks while they were equipped with different weapons. We already entered the vessel. Security staff from the ferry asked the non-European looking among us only for their passports. As soon as they saw the asylum seekers cards, they immediately told their holders to step out of the ferry. Special forces of the coast guard told us we had to leave the port and wait for Monday where authorities in the Hot Spot detention centre Moria would work to go and confirm that the documents were real. They informed us only persons whose name is on a list submitted to the port authorities by police authorities in Moria would be allowed to travel. While we were heading out of the port, special forces were checking each truck aiming to travel searching it with 5-6 officers with torches from all sides for stowaways.

Second travel day at the port of Mytilene: We entered the first gate to the parking area of the port and reached to the ticket selling kiosk. Another 30-40 refugees were standing at the gate hoping to travel. They had been transferred from Moria to the port for the purpose to leave the island after their documents had been checked by the aliens police during the day. We asked if the list with the names of our friends, which had been send in the morning during our visit in Moria had arrived, but civil port police and special forces denied. After some minutes of waiting in front of the ticket kiosk, the officers started shouting on the refugees waiting there and pushed them by force out of the port area. After they started also shouting on our friends who were standing aside while we tried to find a solution making some phone calls. We told the officers that we are a travelling group and they are with us. Then a police officer started shouting like crazy we should exit immediately the port area. They escorted us with 5-6 officers until the gate of the port that night – even though we all had official documents and even though we had followed their request completely and had checked the documents by police in Moria.

This year we returned to Lesvos to support the more than 6,000 people who are stuck, since months, in the prison labelled nicely “Hot Spot” in EU-jargon and in Kara Tepe, an open tent camp run and controlled by the local government. These people cannot leave the island due to the dirty EU-Turkey deal and simply because they are humans who do not possess the right papers.

Nowadays, all those travellers who are not white and not European are being subjected to racist controls. Even a member of the European Parliament, who is black was controlled for two hours recently. Lesvos Island was turned into a prison since March 20th and has become as a whole a border with heavy controls and high fences, which is the opposite of a cosy and beautiful tourist attraction.

The youngest member of our group, who is not even for years old asked: “Why don’t they let us go on the ferry?” Despite having a German passport, she demonstrated solidarity and stayed on the island with all those who could not travel. Happily, she didn’t notice when ferry staff upon our final boarding at the third travel day, tried repeatedly to convince us we had to sit in this special corner where later all non-European (documented) travels (who had purchased their tickets) were seated. What would you answer the child, if it asked why?

No borders!
Freedom of movement for all!
Stop turning Lesvos and Greece into a prison and a depository for the unwanted of Europe!

Welcome to Europe and Youth Without Borders (JOG)

Mahdi and his mother say goodbye at the Airport in Mitilini

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Photo: Marily Stroux

Mahdi needs to return, back to Germany. Back to his Father and to his smaller brother, he has to take care of. He leaves his mother on Lesvos, waiting for an unkown period of time for finally being together again when their family refunification will be accepted. Behind them a huge picture to advertise for the famous hospitality of the island. The inhabitants of Lesvos have been nominated for the Peace Nobel Price.

Now hospitality is not the en vogue any more. Instead all newly arriving refugees will first be imprisoned and even after their release from the hot spot Moria they are not allowed to leave the island that became a big prison for refugees with this new policy.

6.000 people are waiting, some since many months. Waiting for the EU-policy to change. Waiting to finally manage to go and reach their final destinations.

Mahdis mother belongs into the arms of her son. She should be part of his life that he has built up in Germany. She should not be stuck in here, waiting for months for the burocracy to finish their job and to finally allow her to reunify with her family.

Freedom of movement!

Meeting at the Lesvion Hotel with social workers from different organisations working with minor refugees in Lesvos

Tuesday 25.10. 2016

On Tuesday evening we met some social workers, lawyers, teachers and other people who work with minor refugees on the island. We started with an overview about the system in Germany: what happens when the unaccompanied minors arrive in Germany, the situation of the housing, the guardianships and the school system.

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The people were very interested, had a lot of questions and we started the discussion. They told us about the problems in Greece and we exchanged about the different possibilities and difficulties in both countries. The situation in Greece, especially on the islands, changed a lot because many people arrived here and cannot move on. But when they left their countries they wanted to live in better conditions, planned to go to other countries for example to join their families and it’s hard for them to see that’s impossible to move on now.

The first reception for the unaccompanied minors is in the prison in Moria. They are only allowed to leave the prison a few hours per week. They have to stay there until a place in a youth shelter is found. But the problem is that there are not enough places for all of them so they are imprisoned often for months.

Also the school situation is very complicated. Most of the minors don’t go to school. In some cases where they tried to send children to school there were also protests from some local parents against it.

The guardianships for all the minors on the island are in the hand of three judges/ prosecutors. The minors never see their guardians and the social workers need to invest a lot of time to get signatures for sport activities, medical treatments and so on. They don’t get a general authorisation which would make the daily work a lot easier.

In the cases where a minor has for example an uncle in Athens either the prosecutor has to agree or the uncle has to pay a fee of 200 Euro to get the private guardianship. Due to the high amount of guardianships one prosecutor has, it’s not so easy to get the agreement.

Naturally we also talked about family reunification and exchanged about the experiences.

Because to the lack of information a lot of people in Germany are afraid of bad consequences in their asylum procedure if they do family reunification. The communication with the lawyers, social workers and family members in Germany is also often complicated.

We all could profit a lot from this meeting. We are planning to keep in contact with the common wish to support the minors in their arrival in Europe.

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Welcome to Greece guides arrived and we started to hand them out on Lesvos

guideOn Tuesday we finally got the guide! We were really happy and started to hand out them at the same day. We went to Moria and Kara Tepe and gave it to the people we met. This year it is much more difficult, we are not allowed to enter the camps and we can only reach some refugees. If we can speak with them they are happy to get informations – like we know it from the last years. In the last time there have been organisations which tried to hand out bibles and religious things. Because of that there is a big mistrust against everybody who is handing out paper. In Kara Tepe we have not been allowed to hand out the guides between the cantinas which are in front of the camp and where the people are sitting. We had to stand close to the dangerous road – outside the ground which belongs to the camp. In Moria they check identities of two of us – the cantinas are on the other side of the road, so that we could stay there and continue.

When we started to hand out the guides we realised that this year the French version is missing because there are many more people from (western) Africa here in Lesvos. Many of them are French speakers. We will try to speed up the French translation to at least have an online version.

What is really clear this year: everything is controlled very much. Many big NGOs are working in the camps, networks like us are not welcome and they don‘t let us in. This was really frustrating, although we met people, spoke with them and spread the guides.

You can find the online-versions here:

Arabic: http://w2eu.info/greece.ar.html

Farsi: http://w2eu.info/greece.fa.html

English: http://w2eu.info/greece.en.html

PDFs in all languages:http://w2eu.info/greece.en/articles/greece-guide.en.html

Journey Back to the Border 2016 on Lesvos – Part I

In October we, Welcome to Europe (W2EU) and Youth Without Borders, return again to Lesvos to the place of our first encounters, our first arrivals to Europe, the place that reflects the current EU border regime like no other. Many things have changed since our last “Journey back to the Border”: the infamous EU-Turkey deal has “helped” to decrease the numbers of arrivals of boats drastically compared to “the long summer of migration 2015”. Moria has been transformed into a “hotspot” with an immense number of NGOs providing their visions of humanitarian and financial aid.

The next week we want to inform on this blog about our actions on the island. It is especially for all those from our group who were not able to join the “Journey back to the Border” of this year.

You are here with us in our thoughts!!

19th of October

Photo: Marily Stroux

After days of preparation we started on Wednesday with visiting our Memorial in Thermi that we set up in 2013. The memorial commemorates 27 people that drowned in 2012 representing all the people that lost their lives at the border of Fortress Europe. We wanted to renew the stone to resist the harsh weather conditions of the Sea. First, we cleaned the place and met with local people to discuss the materials, design and ways how to maintain this place in the future. Then, we planned a ceremony that we want to hold on Monday to commemorate the ongoing death in the Mediterranean.

After Thermi we went to Moria to see how the place has changed. Approaching the prison we couldn’t believe our eyes: It was hard to find a parking space with very long lines of parked cars around the entrance. Mostly they had signs of car rentals or NGOs. It was very clear that the owners of the cars are somehow working inside the prison – as you can’t enter without a permit.
Moria has been further “fortified” with fences and barbed wire, more containers have been built to increase the number of detainees. It looks like, it sounds like, it tastes like a prison even though some people can partly go out after being registered. There was no sign of the recent fire. The flames have been extinguished with daily business taking over.
Around the entrance little businesses have emerged, a taxi line waiting to bring people to the city and a handful of canteens where you can buy food or drinks with the jolly company of civil cops or other mysterious figures… Not a good place to get in contact with people.

Photo: w2eu

Then, we went to Kara Tepe, the former open camp for Syrians and Iraqis. It is now for people of mixed nationalities. We had the impression that there are more families and women than in Moria. Again, this place was full of NGOs that were going in and out.
We sat with Mahdi, his mother Fatima and her friends outside. Mahdi is a friend who lived for many years in Villa Azadi in Agiassos on Lesvos as a minor. He has arrived to Germany (six years ago), learned the “Hessen” accent of German and would like to marry his girlfriend there. For this he wants his mother living at his side – which is why he came to Mytilini to organize and speed up the family reunification procedure. It is a scandal that Fatima is in Kara Tepe since four months being sick while her whole family is in Germany waiting for her. She is one of thousands of refugees who are stuck in Greece due to policies following the EU-Turkey deal.

After this we went down to the beach where the No Border Kitchen is currently located after having been evicted several times and have again an ultimatum until the 1st November to leave their “social centre”.

Slowly people from our group arrived this day and dropped in. Also there arrived Hassanjan to visit his small brother whom he hadn’t seen for four years.
Among us there are two people here to speed up their family reunification. It shows again that we can make things short while administration takes way too long!!

In the evening we all sat down and ate in a Taverna to celebrate that we are together again even though we miss all those who were not able to come this year.

In the night we went to visit people from ERCI (European Rescue Committee International) on their night shifts. Next to the airport we found two volunteers sitting and watching the sea for new arriving boats. We made a bonfire and talked about their and our work also with Watch the Med Alarm Phone. ERCI has two boats to assist in rescue operations, they work in close cooperation with the Greek Coastguard and Frontex.

 

20th of October

On Thursday we went in the morning to accompany Siniparxis on their excursion with unaccompanied minors from Moria. Siniparxis is a long-existing local solidarity network. They organise this kind of excursion since half a year every week to give the imprisoned youth the chance to get away from prison for a few hours. As it was an excursion from prison there were also “social workers”/ guards with us. This was strange for us.

This week it was the turn of the Afghan minors. Two of us went to take the young guys from prison and the others later joined in at the end of the harbour where there is a “Luna Park”. Here, there is a place for bumper cars (“Autoscooter”) which specially opened for the visit in the morning. It was a surreal scenery as we watched them singing, dancing, shouting and crashing into each other with the bumper cars being decorated with all kind of national flags. Of course the car with the EU flag was the only that didn’t work…

Photo: w2eu

They were having a lot of fun even though there were still in a context of prison. As the place was directly at the seaside you could see Turkey in a clear view which made the whole situation even more absurd.
From the “Luna  Park” the youngsters were transferred to a place where they could watch a local master of handmade pottery doing his job. In the end we went to a café in Kagianni, a village with a splendid view over Mytilini and on the side towards Turkey where everyone took a lot of obligatory selfies.
The last two weeks we talked with the young people about their dreams and wishes for their future professions. They made drawings out of this which we aim to make an exhibition out of them.
In the end, we shared our thoughts that we understand that now it is very difficult to think about their future but the situation they are in will not last forever. For this it was very good that Hassanjan was there, too and who has been in their situation some years ago and lives in Germany now. It was cool when everyone realized that they knew Hassanjan’s little brother. Finally, everyone departed back to prison and left us behind with mixed feelings.

After this we welcomed Reimer and Ömer, a Alarmphone member from Izmir (Turkey), and had a plannery in Café Pi. In the evening we ate together and went to dance in Bobiras to the DJ-music of our friend Leonidas from the band Alcalica.

 

21th of October

On Friday some of us went with the second group of minors from Moria to do the trip like on Thursday.

Afterwards we had planned a farewell party in Panagiouda for Mahdi and his mother Fatima.
Because of the extremely slow Greek bureaucracy, Fatima has already waited about two months to get an appointment to apply for family reunification even though her whole family is in Germany. Mahdi, her truly awesome son, had come from Hessen (Germany) to visit her for two weeks and to help organizing the legal process for family reunification. In Kara Tepe Fatima has met other Afghan women and appears to be very warm-heartingly socializing.

Photo: Marily Stroux
Photo: Marily Stroux

With about 10 afghan women and their children who left their husbands at the gate of Kara Tepe we went to eat fish in Panagiouda. We sang, played guitar, danced with the children and made a nice farewell party for Mahdi and his mother.

To their future reunification in Germany, so they can be together for the future marriage of Mahdi!!

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Photo: Marily Stroux

We all exchanged contacts and talked how to be in touch to speed up the legal procedures. It was hard to say goodbye but the evening left us with hope that we all could meet in a better situation in Germany or elsewhere.

 

22th of October

Photo: Marily Stroux

On Saturday we went to the beach to swim as we were brave enough to resist the cold water.

Photo: w2eu

In the evening we joined the weekly demonstration against the current EU policies and especially the situation in Moria (every Saturday evening at 6 pm) supported by people from the No Border Kitchen. Approximately a hundred people crossed the harbour of Mytilini two times, shouting and demanding the end of the EU-Turkey deal and open borders.

Later we cooked different dishes with pumpkin and sat together to eat. Irem and Valerio who had joined us from Izmir (Turkey) talked to us about the current complex and hard situation in Turkey after the EU-Turkey deal. It was a warm evening and it was very nice to exchange while sitting together.