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16 décembre 2013 1 16 /12 /décembre /2013 15:38

Open initiative against detention centers : a coordination comity has been created. After a first initiative in front of Omonia's police station in Athens, it planned an initiative on December 18, the global migrants' action day.




In 21st century Greece, an operation has been set into motion whose aim is to terrorize, torture and humiliate thousands of people, while insulting us all: refugees are being held in concentration camps. This is about real storehouses for human beings, located all over eastern continental Greece, on the Greek islands and even in Athens and Corinth. The only “offence” committed by the thousands crammed into these spaces is that they are here without papers – no matter if they come from war-torn Syria, occupied Palestine or African countries ravaged by extreme poverty. The Greek state is violating both European treaties and its own constitution, without showing a trace of humanity or sensitivity when it sentences thousands of immigrants (including minors, people who require medical assistance and torture victims) to an 18-month imprisonment in the most deplorable conditions: no yard time, a complete lack of hygiene, inadequate food and medical care, no communication with friends and family. The goal is to discourage new immigrants from entering Greece. The Greek state has the arrogance to describe immigrants as a “health time-bomb”, while dismantling the public health sector and ignoring the inhumane conditions of the refugee detention centers, thus putting the health of both Greeks and immigrants at great risk.

Although the EU allocates funds for detention centers, the Greek state either does not use them, or uses them to finance the oppression of economic and political refugees. The disgrace only gets worse if we consider that the vast majority of detainees in concentration camps cannot be deported, making their imprisonment nothing but a punishment for having tried to escape war and extreme poverty. This is the epitome of hospitality! (Police “sweep” operations have been named “Operation Xenios Zeus”, after the ancient Greek god of hospitality.) “Greece is no longer an open door when it comes to immigration”, the Minister of Public Order has announced. The Greek government, though, has opened the country’s doors wide to the Troika and to local or foreign capital, which are responsible for the memoranda that have impoverished millions of Greeks and immigrants and have created zones of absolute social degradation within Greece.

At the same time, we are observing European leaders trying to transform Europe into a huge fortress. Europe first devastated whole continents, through financial plundering and imperialist wars, and is now building walls to protect itself from its own victims. This policy causes more and more “Lampedusa” incidents, increasing the misery of hundreds of thousands of people who are simply looking for a place in the sun. The incidents near Lampedusa, near the Greek island Leukada, the people who die on a daily basis in the Ionian, the Aegean and the Mediterranean are parts of the same immigration policy implemented all over Southern Europe. It is a policy based on fortified states and the exclusion of immigrants.

Faced with this brutality, we have taken the initiative to organize a nationwide campaign against detention centers and detention in police cells, where the same appalling conditions are found. The campaign is open to any collective and to any individual willing to resist to the illegitimacy of concentration camps and European and Greek immigration policies. It is a long-term campaign and we are well aware of the fact that its main goal (the closure of detention centers) will not be achieved without struggle and persistence. The campaign is meant to cover many levels both in institutions and within the movements. We discuss and plan our actions every Thursday at 20.00 at the “Steki Metanaston” (13 Tsamadou, Exarchia, Athens).

Our goal is to make Greek society aware of the issue of detention centers in many ways and through different interventions, such as protesting in police stations (e.g. in Omonia) and concentration camps (e.g. in Amugdaleza and Corinth), using the institutions and spreading the word through the internet. Our first goal is a big demonstration on December 18th in the centre of Athens, for the International Migrants Day. On that day we are going to condemn the government’s immigration policy and demand, together with the immigrants, what is self-evident.

Enough with the disgrace of concentration camps and of the thousands of immigrants detained in police station cells all over the country under even more deplorable conditions. None of our social problems has been solved by imprisoning those people (who actually believes that immigrants are responsible for mass unemployment, the dismantling of the public sector and the hundreds of thousands of dismissals?): on the contrary, lives are being destroyed, racism is increasing, immigrant-exploitation rings are gaining power and corrupting Greek people, while any idea of democracy is being dishonoured.

Let’s fight, by extending the open initiatives that already exist in many cities to all of Greece, so as to give medical and legal organizations free access to detention centers, to free all immigrants without papers and to get travel documents for all refugees who want to move to the west.


Everyone in Omonia Square
on Wednesday, 18th December, at 17.00

Open Initiative Against Detention Centers

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15 décembre 2013 7 15 /12 /décembre /2013 13:34

A petition from the Greek network "Expel racism" to suppport an activist sued by somebody closed with the Golden Dawn party :

"On 16th December 2013, Thanasis Kourkoulas, member of “Expel Racism” movement and militant of the antifascist and antiracism movement is to be tried in the 4th Single Judge Misdemeanor Court of Athens, as a result of the provocative and slanderous lawsuit of an extreme rightist who accuses him of “giving orders to a group of men bearing bats”, a group which he claims attacked him in 2009. This trial is a part of a whole scheme of prosecutions set up by the neonazis in the last few years, which aims at intimidating and targeting people and organizations who are giving a fight openly, collectively and in broad daylight in order to bring down the Golden Dawn gang as well as their collaborators in the state mechanisms. We condemn the unprecedented attempt to criminalize the antifascist action and we demand that Thanasis Kourkoulas be acquitted. Those who belong in prison are the neonazis of Golden Dawn, not the antifascist movement militants. Fascism never again!"

More information on the blog (in Greek and in English) :
http://www.ksm.gr/%CE%BA%CE%B1%CE%BC%CF%80%CE%AC%CE%BD%CE%B9%CE%B1-%CE% B3%CE%B9%CE%B1-%CF%84%CE%B7%CE%BD-%CE%B1%CE%B8%CF%8E%CF%89%CF%83%CE%B7-% CF%84%CE%BF%CF%85-%CE%B8%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%AC%CF%83%CE%B7-%CE%BA%CE%BF%CF% 8D/

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7 décembre 2013 6 07 /12 /décembre /2013 23:33

In Greece, the Afghan refugees initiate a petition against detention and destitution :


You can sign it and circulate it widely.

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5 décembre 2013 4 05 /12 /décembre /2013 10:01

The coming of winter, but especially the first echoes of the situation in the national and international media, pushed the Serbian government to act: a first shelter for asylum seekers and refugees was requisitioned in Obrenovac two others must be in Sjenica and Tutin.


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1 décembre 2013 7 01 /12 /décembre /2013 23:48

As in Serbia, the coming winter brings in light the situation of asylum seekers in Bulgaria. The capacity of existing centers are saturated, especially since the arrival of some thousand Syrian refugees, some asylum seekers have been installed in tents beside buildings awaiting rehabilitation of an old barracks. Unsatisfactory solution, which becomes untenable at this time of the year. Especially as information and legal support are absent from these makeshift camps, which are not more than storage facilities.

With the strengthening of controls at the border with Turkey and the erection of a fence, the government wants to make it more difficult access to the territory. By reception conditions unworthy deter to come. A bill widespread detention of asylum seekers in closed centers, supplementing arsenal deterrent in the assumed goal of becoming a repeling country, like Greece. Behind the wall, the rest of Europe will hardly bedisturbed by unwanted request from solidarity.

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30 novembre 2013 6 30 /11 /novembre /2013 21:28

Both reception centers forasylum seekers have insufficient capacity. The approach of winter highlights the situation in Bogovadja, where is the second of these centers, 250 to 300 asylum seekers living in the surrounding woods.

The situation was the same two years ago in Banja Koviljaca, where asylum seekers who were not welcomed in the center, according to their financial means were camping in the woods or rented rooms to local people. Tensions had arisen, virulent anti-refugee events took place, which led to the opening of the center Bogovadja, displacement of some asylum seekers and placed under police surveillance of the small town .

The problem has only been moved, and the second center was quickly saturated. The opening of a third ran into opposition from the local population. Since then, things have remained at the same point.

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28 novembre 2013 4 28 /11 /novembre /2013 20:00
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24 novembre 2013 7 24 /11 /novembre /2013 14:10

In a statement, Doctors Without Borders conditions for reception of refugees in Bulgaria:


Appalling conditions in reception centres following influx of Syrian refugees : Médecins Sans Frontières responds in the Bulgarian capital

Brussels, 21 November 2013 -- In Sofia and Harmanli (in Haskovo province) Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have witnessed appalling conditions in reception centres and a disastrous lack of medical assistance for the refugees. As a matter or urgency, MSF has started medical activities and distributions of relief items in three reception centres in the Bulgarian capital and in the south-east of the country. The organisation calls on the Bulgarian and European authorities to find rapid and concrete solutions for improving the reception conditions of asylum seekers.

Since January, nearly 10,000 migrants, the majority Syrian, have arrived in Bulgaria. Many Syrian families fleeing the war arrive exhausted because they had to find ways around the border controls along the Bulgaria-Turkey border. “Today access to Europe has become virtually impossible for refugees, including Syrians fleeing the horrors of war,” says Ioanna Kotsioni, head of mission for MSF in Bulgaria. “Walls are being built in Greece, and soon in Bulgaria, forcing the most desperate to seek ever more dangerous routes such as the islands in the Aegean sea.”

On arrival in Bulgaria, hundreds of people find their only option is to sleep outside in unheated tents, while others crowd together in disused school classrooms because the reception centres are unable to cope with these numbers of people. “Despite some measures taken by the Bulgarian authorities, the reception conditions remain unacceptable,”says Kotsioni. “These people live in overcrowded centres, sometimes with just one toilet for fifty people. Even more worrying is the concern for families who do not receive enough food to eat.”

According to European standards, Bulgaria has the responsibility to ensure access to medical and psychological care for asylum seekers, as well as specialised care to particularly vulnerable groups such as victims of torture, victims of sexual violence or people with a disability. Nevertheless, medical care is not systematically provided for aslyum seekers.

To respond to this lack of assistance, MSF teams have started up activities in two reception centres in Sofia and will shortly open a health post in a reception centre in Harmanli. These teams will provide free primary healthcare and psychological support for the refugees. “There are many people with chronic diseases who need regular medical follow-up,” says Colette Gadenne, coordinator of MSF’s assessment visit in Bulgaria. “These reception conditions will only deepen the psychological suffering of these victims of a terrible war.”

In the coming days, MSF will organise the distribution of relief kits, including blankets, clothes and hygienic items. These actions alone will not solve the crucial problem of the reception conditions for asylum seekers in Bulgaria. “Winter is coming and the situation could get a lot worse,” says Gadenne. “Bulgaria and the European Union must urgently take steps to ensure adequate and humane reception conditions for people in distress who continue to flee the war.”

MSF activities in Europe

In Italy, MSF provides technical support to help with the control of infectious diseases in several centres in Rome and Sicily. Supporting the Italian health authorities, an MSF team is on call 24 hours a day to provide emergency assistance for migrants arriving at the port and reception centre in Pozzallo (Sicily). The team also provides free consultations for migrants in an out patient health centre in Ragusa.

In Greece, MSF provides medical care for vulnerable people in Athens and for migrants detained in the Evros region. Since 2012 the organisation has been carrying out medical activities as and when needed for migrants who have recently arrived from the Aegean Islands, particularly from Lesbos."

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19 novembre 2013 2 19 /11 /novembre /2013 12:40

When the report of the German Association Pro Asyl about the push-back of migrants at the Greek-Turkish border is published, the International Federation of Human Rights, the network Migreurop and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network led a mission to the same border.

Waiting for their report, to be published in early 2014, their common press release on the situation:


Greece - Turkey: ‘The route is dangerous, people are dying’
The tragic limits of European migration policies

Tighter controls at the border between Greece and Turkey are forcing many people fleeing conflict to use increasingly dangerous routes. Migrants who manage to reach the EU border have been victims of push-backs and those who cross over into Greece are systematically detained on arrival, in inhuman and degrading conditions. The response of the European Union is to strengthen means of surveillance and interception. There is an urgent need to shift the focus away from criminalisation to the conditions of reception of migrants.

These are the conclusions of a fact-finding mission to Greece and Turkey, where our delegation was able to interview refugees and migrants and access several Greek detention centres. The delegation observed widespread violations of human rights at the borders, which cannot be ignored by the various bodies involved in migration control at the Greek-Turkish border.

In Greece, many victims report having been pushed back by Greek coastguards at sea or even upon reaching European soil*. These victims do not find their way into statistics. The delegation was able to meet with some of these invisible people, who gave details of acts of violence perpetrated by coastguards: ill-treatment (including of pregnant women and children), theft (jewellery, money, mobile phones), confiscation of identity papers which are often thrown overboard and boats pushed back towards Turkish coasts.

Reforms to migration and asylum laws are under-way, aimed at addressing systemic failures which have been repeatedly condemned by European courts. Yet, confusion reigns over responsibility for intercepted migrants. Those who manage to remain on Greek territory are systematically detained by the authorities, including unaccompanied minors awaiting identification – a practice for which Greece has recently been condemned. Migrants who are released are given an order to leave within 30 days. They have no rights on Greek territory. The rate of acceptance of asylum claims is very low and racist attacks are steadily increasing.

Afghans, Iraqis, Somalis, Sudanese, Eritreans, Syrians, Palestinians are trapped between Greece and Turkey. Both countries, with Europe's support, use the presence of these populations as a justification for increasingly repressive border control policies.

In Turkey, the adoption of a new law on immigration and international protection, which will come into force in April 2014, has done little to alleviate concerns regarding violations of migrants' human rights. Turkey maintains geographical reservations to the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees, which exclude non-Europeans from asylum claims. Although it has been heralded as a sign progress, the new law reproduces many of the legal shortcomings of European law (increased use of accelerated procedures for asylum claims; detention of persons pending return for up to 12 months). These reforms are a sign that Turkey is taking a 'European turn', without meeting international human rights obligations. Among the most serious violations: difficulty in accessing asylum procedures in particular for persons in detention centres, absence of laws on the protection of personal data, detention of minors and families, lack of access to legal aid. Since the first arrivals, the Turkish authorities have forcibly returned hundreds of Syrian refugees to Syria. The impact of the reform has been limited by structural failures to meet international obligations, but also by the fact that Turkey is forced to bear final responsibility for people who have no legal possibilities to enter the EU.

What is Europe doing? What is the position of the European Agency for border management, Frontex, and the European institutions behind it, as they witness and participate, at least indirectly, in these violations?

The EU's support to Greece over the past several years on migration issues has been primarily focused on strengthening the presence of Frontex, at the sea and land borders between Greece and Turkey. However, the presence of Frontex has made no difference to the reception conditions of migrants. Nor has it addressed the risks for migrants taking this route, while human rights violations persist at the border.

The gravity of the situation of migrants in Turkey appears to be no obstacle to the EU's negotiation of a readmission agreement with Turkey, the funding of detention centres, or future cooperation opportunities between Turkish authorities and Frontex.

Over the past few weeks, the tragedy that took place at the shores of Lampedusa seems to have raised awareness about the distress faced by migrants trying to reach the European continent. To address this situation, the EU is now considering increasing the capacity of Frontex. However, our organizations have tirelessly warned that the misery of migrants and the risky nature of the routes they take are linked to the lack of alternatives to access EU territory and to unsatisfactory reception conditions within European borders.

Increased border control does not save lives but leads instead to grave human rights violations and even deaths of women, men and children.

The mission report will be released in the first quarter of 2014.

FIDH, EMHRN, Migreurop.

NGOs supporting this press release: ABCDS Oujda (Morocco), AMDH (Mauritania), AMDH (Morocco), AME (Mali), ARACEM (Mali), ARCI (Italy), CIRÉ (Belgium), CNCD 11.11.11. (Belgium), Fasti (France), GADEM (Morocco), GISTI (France), GRAMI AC (network based in Cameroun), Justice Without Borders for Migrants (Euro african network), La Cimade (France), LDH Belgium, Progress Lawyer Network (Belgium)

* « Pushed back, systematic human rights violations against refugees in the Aegean sea and at the Greek Turkish borders”, Pro Asyl, November 2013

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18 novembre 2013 1 18 /11 /novembre /2013 09:32

Bulgarian activists already said it two years ago: the entry of Bulgaria into the Schengen area would cause the arrival of a large number of refugees, which would lead to violent reactions from the extreme right. In fact, we will not have to wait entry into the Schengen area, the arrival of a few thousand Syrians was enough.

On the one hand, a government weakened by protests and social movements, government in which the extreme-right-wing Ataka party is involved. And the increase in xenophobic speaches by ministers and the construction of a fence along the border with Turkey are obtained.


On the other hand, far-right groups ready for violence.


Or villagers hostile to the presence of foreigners perceived as dangerous beside them.


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