Just a mother can understand me. My baby got sick and she started vomiting and having Diarrhea for three day. I was seeing her crying, but I could do nothing. I was seeing her vomiting, but I could do nothing.
This is the third day that I am going to doctor waiting for four hours in the back of the door, but no one cares. In one day I had to bring her about 14 times to the toilette and every time I had to wait 10 minutes in the queue.
In Moria we have no place to stay. We are without shelter among thousands of adults and strangers. We sleep on the floor, in tents and anywhere we can find until we may get a place in a overcrowded container.
The way from Afghanistan to Greece; stories of unsafe border crossings
The reasons for my people of escaping their home are different according to their individual stories, their families, jobs and the situation in their villages / towns or origin, but the main factor is the internal and cross-border war – not just for us Afghans but for most of the refugees.
“Put yourself in our shoes! We are not safe in Moria. We didn’t escape from our homelands to stay hidden and trapped. We didn’t pass the borders and played with our lifes to live in fear and danger.
Put yourself in our shoes! Can you live in a place , that you can not walk alone even when you just want to go the toilette. Can you live in a place, where there are hundreds of unaccompanied minors that no one can stop attempting suicides. That no one stops them from drinking.
No one can go out after 9:00 pm because the thieves will steal anything you have and if you don’t give them what they want, they will hurt you. We should go to the police? We went alot and they just tell that we should find the thief by ourselves. They say: ‘We can not do anything for you.’ In a camp of 14.000 refugees you won’t see anyone to protect us anywhere even at midnight. Two days ago there was a big fight, but util it finished no one came for help. Many tents burned. When the people went to complain, no one cared and and even the police told us: ‘This is your own problem.’
In this situation the first thing that comes to my mind to tell you is, we didn’t come here to Europe for money, and not for becoming a European citizen. It was just to breathe a day in peace.
Instead, hundreds of minors here became addicted, but no one cares.
Five human beings burned, but no one cares.
Thousands of children didn’t undergo vaccination, but no one cares.
I am writing to you to share and I am hoping for change…”
“They demand us to struggle and to invent a Europe of solidarity, overcoming the deathly migration regime.”
When we came together on Sunday in the harbour of Thermi to remember the dead of the European border regime, we could not know what would happen only shortly afterwards again: that people would lose their lives, when a fire broke out and many containers burnt down inside Moria camp.
Faride Tajik, an afghan mother lost her life. Whether she died together with her child is still unclear.
It was no surprise and no accident, it is not the first time and not the last time. This cruel system of deterrence and blocking of the European migration regime killed them. We face again the cruelty and the deadliness of this border regime in these days. On Tuesday 24 September, during the memorial in Korakas , we learned that a 5-year-old boy had lost his life when he was run-over by a truck in front of the hot-spot Moria. On Friday 27 September a boat was sinking close to Chios and 7 people, among them two children lost their lives.
On Sunday, when several containers already burned in a huge fire with a lot of smoke, those imprisoned and locked in the closed sector of the camp, started in panic to try to break the doors – and the response of the police was throwing tear-gas to add it to the smoke to a toxic mix.
The spontaneous speech Kashef held in the end of the memorial can be seen in a way as a comment on this before we all knew it.
We came together here in the harbour of Thermi for remembering the dead of the European border regime.
Together with family members and friends of missing people we started to build memorials, first in Korakas on Lesvos, then in Evros, later again on Lesvos. We wanted to build a space where we can mourn for a certain time with the relatives and show our concern and anger about these lives lost. Lost because European politicians are not willing to find solutions in human ways to welcome fleeing people. Now we look back at 10 years during which we remembered all these human lives, lost for nothing.
We wish that such memorials don’t have to exist anymore, that people don’t lose their lives senselessly crossing borders.
The memorial in Thermi was destroyed in August 2018 by fascists who proudly announced it in an anonymous phone call to a local newspaper. But destroying a memorial cannot erase the memories of the people and we will continue building memorials and keeping the names
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.
Sylvie who survived when a boat was sinking in the North of Lesvos on 23rd of April 2017 was with us in the memorial again – it was the third time she commemorated together with us. Sylvie and another woman from Congo who was 8-months pregnant had drifted for many hours in the sea until they where finally rescued. Sylvie held a speech in the memorial and she spoke also during the festival the day before about her experience. The main message of her speech:
“When I was in the water for so long, I just believed that I would survive. It was this strong belief that helped me to hold on for so long until rescue finally came. I want to share with all of you that there is hope to survive, even in the hardest moment and I want to encourage all those who suffer not to stop to believe that there will be a way.”
Baris a Kurdish Violin player who was in Belgium before and had returned to Istanbul was on the same boat sinking on which only Sylvie and Joelle survived. When he had asked for a visa to continue his studies in Belgium and continue playing with his music group in Gent, he was refused the visa. Because of this, he was obliged to try the dangerous way through the sea to get back to Belgium.
His body was found embracing his violin case. His family has buried him in Istanbul. His music friends in Belgium played a Kurdish song in his memory that we want to share. In Baris memory and for all humans who lost their lives trying to reach a safer life in Europe. We will never give up remembering all these lives lost on the European borders.
video by Ehab Onan
Since the EU-Turkey-deal in March 2016 the European border-regime caused death also in the “hot-spots” on the Aegean islands. In 2019 again we are aware about people who died in the sea and caused by the inhumanity of the living conditions.
We remember today Jean-Paul Abouateng, 24 years old from Cameroun. A radio-journalist and father of a baby. He died in January this year in the hot-spot Moria during the cold season.
In April 2019 the family of a nine-year-old afghan girl, missing near the shore of Lesvos, searched with many people for weeks the beaches until she was found dead.
In June 2019 a boat with people from Cameroun and Congo sank near Lesvos, nine people died, among them two little girls.
We remember today:
Cele Nsanga Tesi
In August 2019 a 15-year-old Afghan minor was killed during a violent fight among minors inside the so-called “safe space” in the hot-spot Moria. He was travelling with his two younger brothers to join their family in Europe.
On Tuesday, while we were down in Korakas to renew the memorial there, we learned about a 5-year-old afghan boy, who just died being run-over by a truck in front of Moria, when he played inside a cardboard. Only a few days after authorities have shut down the kindergarden of “teamhumanity” were hundreds of children had played safely before.
This Europe is not safe, human rights and refugee rights have lost all relevance! The victims ask the ones alive to take action against this Europe of Frontex – borders and walls. They demand us to struggle and to invent a Europe of solidarity, overcoming the deathly migration regime.
We invite you to have a moment of silence together with us – and then to move on: to tear down the borders and to build another, a welcoming Europe.
Αιτία θανάτου: Η πολιτική αποτροπής και κράτησης της Ευρώπης!
Χθες, Κυριακή 29 Σεπτεμβρίου 2019, ξέσπασε πυρκαγιά στο λεγόμενο hotspot της Μόριας στη Λέσβο. Μια γυναίκα και πιθανώς και ένα παιδί έχασαν τη ζωή τους στη φωτιά, ενώ παραμένει ασαφές πόσοι άλλοι τραυματίστηκαν. Πολλοί άνθρωποι έχασαν στη φωτιά όλα τους τα υπάρχοντα, ακόμα και τα χαρτιά τους. Οι άνθρωποι που βρίσκονται εγκλωβισμένοι στη Λέσβο έφύγαν λόγω των πολέμων και των συγκρούσεων και τώρα βιώνουν τη βία στην Ευρώπη. Πολλές και πολλοί τραυματίστηκαν ξανά από αυτά τα τραγικά γεγονότα, ενώ αρκετές και αρκετοί αναγκάστηκαν να διανυκτερεύσουν στο δάσος φοβούμενοι για τις ζωές τους.
Τις τελευταίες εβδομάδες, είδαμε δύο ακόμη θανάτους στο hotspot της Μόριας: Τον Αύγουστο ένας 15χρονος Αφγανός ανήλικος σκοτώθηκε κατά τη διάρκεια μιας βίαιης διαμάχης μεταξύ ανηλίκων μέσα στον αποκαλούμενο «safe zone» του στρατοπέδου. Στις 24 Σεπτεμβρίου, ένα 5χρονο αγόρι έχασε τη ζωή του όταν το πάτησε ένα φορτηγό μπροστά από την πύλη του στρατοπέδου.
Η φωτιά χθες δεν μας προκάλεσε έκπληξη, δεν ήταν ένα τυχαίο περιστατικό. Δεν είναι η πρώτη και δεν θα είναι η τελευταία. Πυρκαγιές στο hotspot της Μόριας έχουν ξεσπάσει ήδη αρκετές φορές στο παρελθόν, με πιο τραγικό το περιστατικό του Νοέμβριο του 2016, όταν μεγάλα τμήματα του στρατοπέδου είχαν καεί ολοσχερώς. Το σκληρό καθεστώς αποτροπής και κράτησης της Ευρώπης αφαίρεσε και πάλι ζωές.
Εν τω μεταξύ, στα μέσα μαζικής ενημέρωσης, αμέσως εφευρέθηκε μια ιστορία, λέγοντας ότι οι ίδιοι οι πρόσφυγες έβαλαν τη φωτιά. Αναφέρθηκε ακόμα ότι εμπόδισαν την είσοδο στην πυροσβεστική. Έχουμε μιλήσει με πολλούς ανθρώπους που ήταν μπροστά στα γεγονότα. Μας λένε μια πολύ διαφορετική ιστορία: Η πυροσβεστική έφτασε πολύ αργά, πράγμα που δεν εκπλήσει κανέναν, δεδομένου του υπερπληθυσμού αυτού του τερατώδους hotspot. Παρά την επίσημη χωρητικότητά του για 3.000 άτομα, τώρα διαμένουν τουλάχιστον 12.500 ανθρώποι υποφέρωντας κάτω από φρικτές συνθήκες διαβίωσης. Στα βίντεο από κινητά τηλεφώνα που τραβήχτηκαν από τους εγκλωβισμένους στο στρατοπέδο, μπορεί κανείς να δει πως σε αυτό το χάος, οι κάτοικοι και η πυροσβεστική έκαναν μαζί ό,τι μπορούσαν για να αποτρέψουν τουλάχιστον μια ακόμη μεγαλύτερη καταστροφή.
Είναι προφανές πως δεν μπορεί να υπάρξει ένα σχέδιο έκτακτης ανάγκης σε ένα στρατόπεδο που έχει υπερβεί την χωρητικότητά κατά τέσσερις φορές. Όταν αρκετά container άρχισαν να καίγονται από μια τεράστια φωτιά που δημιούργησε σύννεφα καπνού, οι εγκλωβισμένοι που βρίσκονταν κλειδωμένοι στον κλειστό τομέα του στρατοπέδου άρχισαν να πανικοβάλλονται προσπαθώντας να σπάσουν τις πόρτες για να γλιτώσουν. Η μόνη ενέργεια από τις αρχές ήταν να φέρουν αμέσως την αστυνομία η οποία έκανε ρίψη δακρυγόνων, κάνοντας την ατμόσφαιρα ακόμα πιο τοξική.
Θυμός και θλίψη για όλους αυτούς τους παράλογους θανάτους και τραυματισμούς προστέθηκαν στην ήδη εκρηκτική ατμόσφαιρα της Μόριας, όπου χιλιάδες υποφέρουν περιμένοντας για μακρύ χρονικό διάστημα να αλλάξει κάτι στη ζωή τους. Εκείνοι που ποινικοποιούν και καταδικάζουν την κατακραυγή με τη μορφή ταραχών κόσμου που μένει στη Μόρια δεν μπορούν ούτε να διανοηθούν την εντελώς απάνθρωπη ζωή που βιώνουν καθημερινά. Η πραγματική βία είναι η ίδια η Μόρια, οι συνθήκες της οποίας δεν είναι παρά αποτέλεσμα του καθεστώτος συνοριακής πολιτικής αποτροπής της ΕΕ.
Υψώνουμε τις φωνές μας αλληλέγγυες και αλληλέγγυοι με τον κόσμο της Μόριας και απαιτούμε ξανά: Η μόνη πιθανότητα να τερματιστεί αυτός ο πόνος και ο θάνατος είναι να ανοίξουν τα νησιά και να υπάρξει ελευθερία μετακίνησης για όλους και όλες. Όσες και όσοι φτάνουν στα νησιά πρέπει να συνεχίσουν το ταξίδι τους μήπως και καταφέρουν να βρουν κάπου ένα μέρος ασφάλειας και αξιοπρέπειας. Απαιτούμε τα πλοία της γραμμής να μεταφέρουν άμεσα τους εξαντλημένους και εκ νέου τραυματισμένους ανθρώπους στην ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα. Χρειαζόμαστε ακτοπλοϊκά δρομολόγια, όχι την Frontex. Χρειαζόμαστε ανοιχτά σύνορα, έτσι ώστε όλες και όλοι να συνεχίσουν να κινούνται, ακόμα και πέρα από την Ελλάδα. Εκείνοι που ξεφεύγουν από τα νησιά δεν πρέπει να φυλακίζονται για άλλη μια φορά σε στρατόπεδα στην ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα, με συνθήκες ίδιες με εκείνες που υπάρχουν στα νησιά.
They died because of Europe’s cruel deterrence and detention regime!
Yesterday, on Sunday 29 September 2019, a fire broke out in the so-called hotspot of Moria on Lesvos Island in Greece. A woman and probably also a child lost their lives in the fire and it remains unclear how many others were injured. Many people lost all their small belongings, including identity documents, in the fire. The people imprisoned on Lesvos have fled wars and conflicts and now experience violence within Europe. Many were re-traumatised by these tragic events and some escaped and spent the night in the forest, scared to death.
Over the past weeks, we had to witness two more deaths in the hotspot of Moria: In August a 15-year-old Afghan minor was killed during a violent fight among minors inside the so-called “safe space” of the camp. On September 24, a 5-year-old boy lost his life when he was run-over by a truck in front of the gate.
The fire yesterday was no surprise and no accident. It is not the first, and it will not be the last. The hotspot burned already several times, most tragically in November 2016 when large parts burned down. Europe’s cruel regime of deterrence and detention has now killed again.
In the meantime, in the media, a story was immediately invented, saying that the refugees themselves set the camp on fire. It was also stated that they blocked the fire brigade from entering. We have spoken to many people who witnessed the events directly. They tell us a very different story: In fact, the fire broke out most probably due to an electricity short circuit. The fire brigade arrived very late, which is no surprise given the overcrowdedness of this monstrous hotspot. Despite its official capacity for 3,000 people, it now detains at least 12,500 people who suffer there in horrible living conditions. On mobile phone videos taken by the prisoners of the camp, one can see how in this chaos, inhabitants and the fire brigade tried their best together to at least prevent an even bigger catastrophe.
There simply cannot be a functioning emergency plan in a camp that has exceeded its capacity four times. When several containers burned in a huge fire that generated a lot of smoke, the imprisoned who were locked in the closed sector of the camp started in panic to try to break the doors. The only response the authorities had, was to immediately bring police to shoot tear-gas at them, which created an even more toxic smoke.
Anger and grief about all these senseless deaths and injuries added to the already explosive atmosphere in Moria where thousands have suffered while waiting too long for any change in their lives. Those who criminalise and condemn this outcry in form of a riot of the people of Moria cannot even imagine the sheer inhumanity they experience daily. The real violence is the camp itself, conditions that are the result of the EU border regime’s desire for deterrence.
We raise our voices in solidarity with the people of Moria and demand once again: The only possibility to end this suffering and dying is to open the islands and to have freedom of movement for everybody. Those who arrive on the islands have to continue their journeys to hopefully find a place of safety and dignity elsewhere. We demand ferries to transfer the exhausted and re-traumatised people immediately to the Greek mainland. We need ferries not Frontex. We need open borders, so that everyone can continue to move on, even beyond Greece. Those who escape the islands should not be imprisoned once more in camps in mainland Greece, with conditions that are the same as the ones here on the islands.
On Saturday 28 of September 2019 we organized a small Concert in an old Olive Factory on the road to Panagiouda, close to the refugee camp of Moria. The Event lasted from 16 to 23 o clock. We had an exhibition of 10 years w2eu in Lesvos. 10 years of solidarity and struggles for freedom of movement. The Movies from the night before where screened again in den small Room. In the main Room played Live Music with Renovatio, Kashef, No Tunes, Musikarama, RAD featuring Shajan, Hot Band and many more. One day they before the Concert we went to Moria with Music activity to invite all the children and the adults to the Concert. Finally we where surprised to see so many families with their children to followed our invitation to the Event.
Our hope for Saturday was to come together in solidarity, people from inside and outside of Moria so called “Hot Spot”, and celebrate continuity and stubbornness we have learned together in these migrant struggles.
Finally the Event exceeded our expectations without comparison.
In the following days, more movies and pictures will be added to this post, so keep looking for more.
In the evening of 27th of September, an open event took place in the city of Mytilini, with short-movies about the hot-spot prisons of Lesvos and Samos – but also about reasons to flee and about daily experiences of discrimination. So many people came to see the screening that the place was finally so overcrowded that it was difficult for everybody to fit in.
The film-makers commented on their own movies. It was the first time they did a screening of their work all together and it brought together movies from different islands and time-periods. There will be a second chance to see the movies. Tonight they will be shown during the festival “melody and the rhythm of freedom for all“ in the old olive factory near to Panagiouda at the sea side.
The olive-grove besides Moria hot pot is huge. More the 13.000 people stuck are under horrible conditions inside and outside the monstrous hot spot prison Moria. In the olive grove, the informal camp behind the official one, the tents with plastic-covers grew to an own village. With several self-constructed bakeries, street vendors selling vegetables and other stuff along the main street, barbers and various other small businesses… Everywhere dust and the smell of wet clothes, electricity cables, paletts of wood,. Overcrowded and hard to imagine and to describe, if you did not see and smell and feel it live. Everywhere children in all ages. Most of their time people spend cueing for food, water, showers, toilets, clothes – and waiting and hoping for a chance to get a transfer to the mainland to finally continue their journey.
And then there is the sound of music. Appearing first in one corner within the tents. Then in the next and in the next… Small groups walk up the hill, mixed teams of musicians and people making connections and chatting in various languages. Many among us who crossed this rocky path before three years, before 10 years – remembering and feeling shared pain with the ones now here. Moving among the tents; through the tiny roads jumping over ropes. Stopping, being invited for tea. Meeting friends from the days before and meeting relatives. And then starting to play, to bring people together. We want to share this moment in which you can just forget for some minutes this whole shit. In teams as mixed as our group to show that solidarity has no borders.
The kids understand it immediately: “You know `hurriya´? No Moria – we want hurriya, freedom,” is what a small boy says when we walk a while together. A family father tells us how important it is to see the different communities dancing together, while only yesterday he saw a fight in front of his tent. An afghan lady, grandmother of a family here with three generations expresses her joy: “My heart is growing in this moment of joy to see all of you together and to hear this music. It is becoming big enough to go on and to know I can reach everywhere.”
The idea for this music-flashmob around the hot-spot of Moria was born with the restless question how to act under these conditions when the islands became big prisons and no form of protest seems strong enough to change it. Even when Moria burnt down several times, even after hundreds of protests, the islands were still kept closed. Governments changed, but freedom of movement for everyone never was considered an option. Instead the infamous “EU-Turkey ´Deal´ built more walls, enforced more deportations. Back under a right-wing government, nowadays things get even worse. We have seen revolt after revolt – and also a lot of violence among the people when the pressure on the people held under inhuman conditions was so much that daily problems could cause huge conflicts.
When musicians and friends finally gather all on the top of the hill, the crowd dances together and then starts to move. We walk down the hill, singing songs and playing rhythms about freedom in all of our languages. There is a moment when the beat starts growing, we reduce the speed. The sleeping anger and the desperation are too strong and we feel it is not the right moment to get louder. But we can all feel it, this sleeping lion of anger and the natural strive for freedom to break the chains, that is as old as oppression exists.
We invite everybody we meet to come together for a festival the next day. Because today we will continue. We will break isolation and come together for a festival in the old olive factory near Panagiouda, a spot between Moria and the camp “Kara Tepe”. We will continue to share our thoughts and dreams and tell each other stories about these struggles – and we will dance to the rhythms for freedom for all to make our hearts strong enough to go on until freedom of movement is everybody’s right.
In the afternoon we sit together and share some thoughts and feelings about the day:
“First I went to visit my aunt and when I saw her together with her family stuck in these miserable condition it was a shock for me. I wanted so much to get my relatives out of there or at least improve their situation there. Many of us have family members and friends in the camp in Lesvos. And then I looked around and saw all the others, in even worse conditions because they had no one to visit them – and in this moment I felt so powerless and scattered. It feels so huge the problem.”
“When I went up the hill of Moria-camp I was remembering so much the time when I had been arriving and was stuck in Samos. My mind was full of memories – also of so many bad moments. And I could really feel the people. And I told them: ´I am one of you, just some steps further.´”
“I saw the camps on the Aegean islands the first time when I was working as a translator as I arrived from the land. Working for this organisation inside a hot spot, it was forbidden for us to be in contact with the people – even to say hello on the street. And now this was the first time to be able to talk and to just behave like normal human beings with each other – a relieving experience.”
“I was playing music for many times in camps on the greek mainland. Again and again it is shocking that I am often the first greek person the people meet and speak to. It feels like a huge hug when people in poorest conditions invite you to sit with them. I felt this here again.”
“My first experience of the day was to be forced to queue again like in the past when waiting for my permit to leave the island by boat from EASO – which is one of the crazy ways to try to control us. Even when we are allowed to travel, with our asylum seeker cards they put us again in this dehumanising situation of queuing and feeling powerless, just waiting for being accepted or denied. I thought I give a shit on your decisions, in the worst case I will just stay with the people. And then we started playing music. And I forgot all this horror immediately. It was the first time when I was not only playing music but also singing in Farsi since I arrived in Greece in 2016. I think I did it because it felt so normal at this shared moment. Not like a music-show, but I was singing with my people, my family.”
“The moments of music we shared are a message by themselves. A message of freedom. But we need to move on more steps, come back and do it again, so that the moment of freedom turns into a condition of freedom, where the imagination overcomes the repression and one can dream and hope again.”
When we walk down to Korakas’ lighthouse the sky is cloudy. Already from up you can see the colours of life-vests, probably from the last landings tonight and yesterday. We find leftovers that create a feeling as if there are still many more people with us. Those who continued to go towards their destinations and those whose journey ended here and their voices were silenced by the sea. Tonight 335 newcomers on nine boats arrived safely on the island – seven of the boats here in the north, with many very small children on them, picked one by one by the friends who are constantly here assisting in rescues and landings.
Together we renew the memorial we had set up here 9 years ago when we came with little Marila and her parents in October 2010. We remembered together with them the night on 27 October 2009, when they had been on a boat together with Afghan women, their small children and some minors. Short before landing at Korakas, the boat turned over and all people fell in the sea. Yalda (8), Neda (10), Mehdi (4), Zakia, Tsima, Sonia (6), Abdulfasl (3) and Zomaya lost their lives. The baby Marila and her parents were rescued by Stratis, a brave fishermen who jumped into the water to save them. One year later they came together to meet again. And we put this memorial on the lighthouse to commemorate.
Now we came back – most of us not the first time since 2010. So the air is also full of memories of the time in between, in 2015 and 2016 when so many people climbed up this road and went on to reach other places in Europe. Also Marila and her family finally arrived in Sweden.
We renewed the memorial, where the names within 9 years in the hot summer sun and the sea-salt had nearly become invisible to bring them back into the memories. We then read out a text of Khaled Hosseini, a letter of a father to his son. He wrote it after the picture of small Alan Kurdi went around the world on 2nd of September 2015. He dedicated it to all the families torn apart when forced to flee and to all those who lost their lives at sea.
While we are down in Korakas we receive the news about a 5-year-old afghan boy, who just died being run-over by a truck in front of Moria, when he played inside a cardboard. Only a few days after authorities have shut down the kindergarden of “teamhumanity” were hundreds of children had played safely before.
Later on when we speak about our impressions of the day, Ehab remembers his own trip when he went to the island of Samos:
“When we entered the boat, we thought we are all alone and no one thinks of us. Nobody knows that we face the danger of death. I realised in this moment when we stand all together there in Korakas in all our sadness that this was not true. There are people who care. This is maybe the moment in which you feel that there is humanity. We have never been alone.”
“When I went down to the shore, I started to pick up the leftovers of those who arrived recently. I found an asylum seekers card of a child in Turkey. And when I picked it from the ground I had the feeling as if I would destroy somehow a museum. As if it has to stay there because it belongs to a documentation of what was and the next person should find it there to understand. In this place down there, immediately you can feel the people, it seems you can see them in front of you and hear them how they talk. You can feel the continuity of all this and that people will continue to be on the move. You can feel them all as if they are with you. These memorials are a very strong part of this struggle not to forget.”
μικρή συναυλία και μουσικές δραστηριότητες μνήμης με το Welcome to Europe
Θέλουμε να κοιτάξουμε πίσω στους μεταναστευτικούς αγώνες του παρελθόντος, αλλά και να αντιμετωπίσουμε την σημερινή πραγματικότητα στα νησιά. Την πραγματικότητα μιας οργανωμένης μόνιμης κρίσης με hot-spots, όπως η Μόρια, φτιαγμένα για να αποτρέπουν ανθρώπους και να σπάνε τη θέλησή τους να μετακινηθούν ελεύθερα –όμως οι άνθρωποι συνεχίζουν να μετακινούνται. 10 χρόνια μετά το Noborder ’09 στη Λέσβο θέλουμε να γιορτάσουμε την επιμομή και το πείσμα που μάθαμε μαζί σε αυτούς τους μεταναστευτικούς αγώνες.
Οι θάνατοι στη Μόρια και στα camps της ηπειρωτικής Ελλάδας μένουν στην αφάνεια. Θέλουμε να μνημονεύσουμε αυτούς που έχασαν τις ζωές τους και να ανανεώσουμε την υπόσχεσή μας να συνεχίσουμε την προσπάθεια μας να καταργήσουμε αυτά τα θανατηφόρα σύνορα που μας χωρίζουν.
27.09.19 – ΠΑΡΑΣΚΕΥΗ
Ώρα: περίπου 20:00 / Μυτιλήνη (προσεχώς η ακριβής τοποθεσία)
Ανοιχτή προβολή μικρού μήκους ταινιών, γυρισμένων από προσφυγες σχετικά με τις φυλακές των hotspot σε Λέσβο και Σάμο. Θα ακολουθήσει συζήτηση
28.09.10 – ΣΑΒΒΑΤΟ
Ώρα: 16:00 / Μέρος: Ελαιοτριβείο Παναγιούδα
“η μελωδία και ο ρυθμός της ελευθερίας για όλες και όλους”
– Φεστιβάλ με μουσική (ανοιχτό μικρόφωνο για μουσικούς και συναυλίες με μελωδίες και ρυθμούς απο διαφορετικά μέρη), μεταξύ άλλων: musikarama, no tunes, rennovatio, kashef feat. boza tracks
-Εκθέσεις και προβολές βίντεο προηγούμενων αγώνων στη Λέσβο και σύντομες ομιλίες φίλων που συμμετείχαν σε παλαιότερους αγώνες. Τοπικές ομάδες συντρόφων είναι ευπρόσδεκτες να φέρουν τα υλικά τους.
29.09.10 – ΚΥΡΙΑΚΗ
Ώρα: 12:00 / Μέρος: Θέρμη, στο λιμάνι
Μνημείο για τους νεκρούς: Πριν 6 χρόνια χτίσαμε στη Θέρμη το μνημείο για τους νεκρούς στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα. Φασίστες το κατέστρεψαν δύο φορές. Κατά τη διάρκεια της τελετής θα τιμήσουμε τους νεκρούς στα σύνορα και στα hotspot μαζί με επιζήσαντες και συγγενείς.
small concert and musical activities in memory with welcome to europe
We would like to look back on migrant struggles and we want to face the reality today on the island. A reality of an organized permanent crisis, with the hot-spots like Moria made to deter people and break their will to move freely – but people continue moving. 10 years after Noborder ‘09 on Lesvos we want to celebrate continuity and stubbornness we have learned together in these migrant struggles.
The deaths in Moria and the camps on the mainland Greece are kept in silence. We want to commemorate those who died and to renew the promise to continue in our try to tear down these deadly borders that separate us.
27.09.19 – FRIDAY
Time: around 20:00 / Mytilini city (exact place to be announced)
Open screening of refugee video makers short-movies about the hotspot prisons of Lesvos and Samos followed by a discussion.
28.09.19 – SATURDAY
Time: 16:00 / Place: Olive fabric Panagiouda
“the melody and the rythm of freedom for all“
– Festival with music (open mic for local musicians and concerts with melodies and rhymes from different places), among them: musikarama, no tunes, rennovatio, kashef feat. boza tracks
– exhibitions and screenings of video-clips of former struggles on Lesvos and short speeches of friends who had struggled on this island before. Local groups of comrades are invited to share their materials.
29.09.19 – SUNDAY
Time: 12:00 / Place: Thermi, seaside at the port
Memorial for the dead: In Thermi we built 6 years ago the memorial for the dead at the European borders. Fascist destroyed it twice. During the activist ceremony we will commemorate the dead of the borders and the hot spot system together with survivors and relatives.
On Friday, 11th of August 2018 some vandals completely destroyed the memorial for the dead at the European borders on Lesvos.
It was standing since October 2013 in Thermi next to the fishermens club. Reminding the death of people fleeing war and trying to reach safety in Europe. The memorial was set up also to thank the fishermen who risk their lives in saving people in the sea and collecting dead bodies. We went there once a year since then, together with survivors and friends.
We are disgusted by the brutality of those destroying the memorial now for the third time and their missing respect to dead humans and the fishermen.
We will reinstall the names and dates in this place. It is not possible through acts of violence to erase the facts and the memory to the dead.
We will continue welcoming people who arrive seeking safety. We will continue to finally tear down the borders and to build another, a welcoming Europe.
Την Παρασκευή 11 Αυγούστου 2018 ορισμένοι βάνδαλοι κατέστρεψαν το μνημείο για τους νεκρούς στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα στη Λέσβο.
Το μνημείο αυτό βρίσκονταν από τον Οκτώβριο του 2013 στη Θερμή, δίπλα στο στέκι των ψαράδων, υπενθυμίζοντας το θάνατο των ανθρώπων που φεύγουν από τον πόλεμο και προσπαθούν να φτάσουν στην ασφάλεια της Ευρώπης. Το μνημείο δημιουργήθηκε επίσης για να ευχαριστήσει τους ψαράδες που διακινδυνεύουν τη ζωή τους για να σώσουν τους ανθρώπους στη θάλασσα και να συλλέξουν νεκρά σώματα. Μια φορά το χρόνο από τότε, συναντιόμασταν μαζί εκεί με επιζώντες και φίλους.
Είμαστε αηδιασμένοι από τη βιαιότητα αυτών που καταστρέφουν το μνημείο για τρίτη φορά και από την έλλειψη σεβασμού στους νεκρούς ανθρώπους και τους ψαράδες.
Θα επανεγκαταστήσουμε τα ονόματα και τις ημερομηνίες σε αυτό το μέρος. Δεν είναι δυνατόν, μέσω πράξεων βίας, να διαγραφούν τα γεγονότα και η μνήμη των νεκρών.
Θα συνεχίσουμε να καλωσορίζουμε ανθρώπους που φθάνουν αναζητώντας ασφάλεια. Θα συνεχίσουμε να προσπαθούμε να γκρεμίσουμε τα σύνορα και να οικοδομήσουμε μια άλλη, μια φιλόξενη Ευρώπη.
Σήμερα το απόγευμα 50 περίπου άνθρωποι συγκεντρωθήκαμε στον κόλπο της Θερμής στη Λέσβο σε μια τελετή μνήμης για τους θανάτους στα σύνορα της Ευρώπης – Φρούριο. Αναμεσά μας βρέθηκαν οι επιζήσασες του ναυαγίου της 23 Απριλίου 2017 στα βόρεια του νησιού, αλλά και οι άνθρωποι που τους έσωσαν τη ζωή. Η τελετή αυτή μνήμης πραγματοποιείται κάθε χρόνο, από τον Οκτώβριο του 2013 και οργανώνεται από το δίκτυο Welcome to Europe.
΄΄Τη φετινή χρονιά δεν μνημονεύουμε μονάχα τους πρόσφυγες που πνίγηκαν στη θάλασσα αλλά και όσους χάθηκαν στη στεριά, αφού διέσχισαν τα σύνορα και εγκλωβίστηκαν στην Ελλάδα από τις πολιτικές της Ευρώπης-Φρούριο. Σήμερα θυμόμαστε τους φίλους που πέθαναν στο hot spot της Μόριας, στην προσπάθειά τους να ζεσταθούν με αυτοσχέδια μέσα. Θυμόμαστε όλους αυτούς που πέθαναν, χωρίς να προλάβουν να ταξιδέψουν για να συναντήσουν τους δικούς τους ανθρώπους. Σήμερα όμως, δεν θυμόμαστε μόνο όσους χάθηκαν, αλλά τιμούμε και τους διασώστες, που καθημερινά δίνουν τον καλύτερο εαυτό τους σε μια δύσκολη μάχη. Ο μόνος τρόπος για να τελειώσει αυτός ο συνεχής εφιάλτης των θανάτων στα σύνορα είναι να δημιουργήσουμε ένα ασφαλές μονοπάτι και να δώσουμε σε όλους τους ανθρώπους το δικαίωμα να μετακινηθούν ελεύθερα. Παράλληλα, όμως θα πρέπει να σταματήσουν τα νησιά μας να είναι φυλακές για όσους κατάφεραν τελικά να φτάσουν στην Ευρώπη. Για εμάς η σημερινή τελετή μνήμης αποτελεί και μια υπόσχεση ότι θα συνεχίσουμε να παλεύουμε για να γκρεμίσουμε τα σύνορα και να δημιουργήσουμε μια άλλη, ανοιχτή Ευρώπη’’.
Το μνημείο επισκευάστηκε και επανατοποθετήθηκε φέτος στο κόλπο της Θερμής. Πολλές συλλογικότητες και μεμονωμένα άτομα συνέβαλλαν και τους ευχαριστούμε: οι ψαράδες της Θερμής ΝΕΣΕΑΛΘ “ΠΟΣΕΙΔΩΝ“, ο Στέλιος και το Ναυπηγείο στη Κουντουρουδιά, οι σιδηροκατασκευές Μωυσής Γιάννης, ο Χρύσανθος, οι Alcalica -ALM e.V., ο Σίμος και το τυπογραφείο WEB copy shop.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today in the afternoon more then 50 people gathered in the harbour of Thermi/Lesvos in commemoration of the dead of the European border regime. Among them were survivors of a shipwreck on 23rd of April of this year in the North of Lesvos as well as people active in rescue. The memorial happens once every year since October 2013 and was initiated by the Welcome to Europe network.
When we started to remember this year, who we have to mourn for, we realized that we are more and more confronted with death even after people have survived the sea. We had to commemorate today also friend who died last winter in the hot-spot of Moria, because they had been left during winter in terrible conditions. We are in close contacts with families that they waited too long to be reunited with their beloved even if they had the right for family reunification and died before. If you really want to mourn the dead of the Sea, you have to respect also the survivors. The only solution to end their suffering is to create safe passages, to give the people their right to move freely – and for those who are stuck here to finally open the islands. This is why every memorial for us is combined with the promise to tear down the borders that killed them and to create another, a welcoming Europe.
This year the memorial plate was renewed and fixed. We thank to: the local club of the fishermen ΝΕΣΕΑΛΘ “ΠΟΣΕΙΔΩΝ“, Stellios from the shipyard in Kontouroudia, metal work Gianis Moisis, Chrisanthos, Alcalica-ALM eV, Simos and Web copy shop.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2017 just started – and the documentation of our journey back to the borders 2015 is ready.
It is more then one year later now – and what happened in 2015 already became history. When we read now, the texts and the pictures of 2015, we read it also to understand our own history.
A lot has changed since then, especially on Lesvos. After the EU-Turkey-deal and the closure of the Balkanroute, 60.000 people got stuck and are blocked under inhuman conditions in Greece. They are blocked from continuing their journey into another future. Lesvos, the island of solidarity has changed into the island of the trapped. Most deportations to Turkey are carried out via Lesvos. We will soon document what we experienced in October 2016.
Again there is the plan to build new detention centres on the Aegean islands, not much hope for a positive change this year. Even more resistance is needed and the history of the struggle for freedom of movement should be made public.
The border was never open – and it was never closed. Also today, under very difficult conditions, people manage to continue their journey and to arrive. Today, in times where EU-migration-policy again means mainly deterrence and deportation, we need more then ever another, a welcoming Europe, safe places where noone will be asked for a passport, but is just a friend among friends.
OUR EUROPE DOESN’T NEED BORDERS,
INSTEAD IT HAS OPEN DOORS AND PEOPLE CAN ARRIVE ON REGULAR FERRIES, LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
When we returned to Mytilene in October 2016, during the same week the citizens of Lesvos finally did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize for their courageous support of refugees both at sea and after arriving on their island. Everywhere in the media still reviews of the last year – and not much about the changes and the current situation.
We returned to the place that we had visited only a year earlier, in October 2015, and our memories of that time are still fresh. We want to reflect on the transformations that we witnessed and share some of our impressions.
At the shores, October 2015
What happened in 2015 along the shores of Lesvos was extraordinary. Many of the boats that landed on the beaches in the north and the south-east of the island had to be assisted. They were welcomed not only by the local residents of Lesvos, whose laudable efforts gained attention worldwide, but, latest from August 2015 onwards, also by people from all over the world, who came to Lesvos to help. In summer 2015, more and more initiatives became involved also in rescue operations, including anarchist groups from Athens, life-guards from Spain, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) who cooperated with Greenpeace, a German boat from Sea-Watch, and many others. Activists from Denmark and Spain were later criminalised for their courageous effort to save lives at sea. At that time, push-backs and violence at sea seemed to have disappeared in this part of the Mediterranean. Through the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone we were in contact with more than 1000 boats in the Aegean Sea. In the majority of the cases, we worked in close cooperation with networks composed of Syrian and Iraqi activists, who accompanied thousands of boats via WhatsApp and other digital technologies. At the same time, many people drowned in the waters before the northern coast of Lesvos in October 2015. Without all of these solidarity networks, many more would have lost their lives. While the crossing was still risky, and many suffered severely on the boats, it was clear that once they had overcome the sea, their journeys ahead would be less dangerous. Their movements opened the Balkan route and most of the people we had met last autumn arrived already weeks later in Germany and Sweden. October 2015 was the peak of the ‘long summer of migration’.
At the shores, October 2016
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
Freedom of movement for all!
Stop turning Lesvos and Greece into a prison and a depository for the unwanted of Europe!
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.