[Statement, 14.6.2022] Criminalisation of refugees reaches new level of escalation: Young woman faces trial in Greece for attempted suicide

Update down

Statement of the initiatives CPT Aegean Migrant Solidarity, borderline-europe e.V. and You can’t evict Solidarity 14/06/2022

Criminalisation of refugees reaches new level of escalation: young woman faces trial in Greece for attempted suicide

On 22 June 2022, a 27-year-old woman who, in desperation, attempted to self-immolate in the notorious Moria 2 camp on the Greek island of Lesvos, now faces trial for arson.

On 21 February 2021, the heavily pregnant M.M. had attempted to take her own life by setting herself on fire at the new Mavrovouni Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) (also called Kara Tepe or Moria 2) on Lesvos. The neighbouring residents in the camp rescued her from the burning tent and extinguished the fire with water bottles and towels. M.M. suffered injuries all over her body and was taken, under guard, to hospital.
However, even more cruel than the burns: instead of providing help and psychological care to the traumatised family, M.M. was charged with arson with intent, endangering life and the objects of others as well as with damage of an object of common utility by means of fire after the incident.

At the time of the desperate act, M.M. had already been living with her husband and three small children in the camp “Moria 2” for more than five months under inhuman conditions. The situation in the camp was catastrophic in the winter of 2020/21. The area is close to the sea and completely unsuitable for living: The tents repeatedly collapse or are flooded due to strong winds and heavy rain. There is a lack of medical care, privacy, electricity, running water, hot showers, functioning toilets and other hygiene facilities. As if this were not enough, on 23 January 2021, the Greek government publicly confirmed that dangerous levels of lead had been found in soil samples.

M.M.’s lawyer from the organisation HIAS Greece points out that pregnant women are on the list of vulnerable groups that should be given special reception conditions; therefore, as a pregnant woman, M.M. should have been moved to suitable accommodation.

In the meantime, the family and their now four children were able to resettle in Germany, following a corresponding application by her lawyer. M.M. is still severely traumatised and the whole family is suffering greatly from the ongoing prosecution. Even in Germany, the family has not yet received the necessary psychological care to be able to come to terms with their traumatic experiences and face the upcoming trial.

The prosecution of M.M. for her suicide attempt, which is not punishable under the Greek penal code and is now brutally classified as intentional arson, is an escalation of the criminalisation of people seeking protection. It is also a distraction from the responsibility of the Greek state and the EU to ensure adequate living conditions for people seeking protection. Following the same pattern, six young men and teenagers were charged and convicted, without any evidence, for allegedly setting the fire that led to the complete destruction of the original Moria camp in September 2020. (https://freethemoria6.noblogs.org/)

Alice, borderline-lesvos: “It is the most incredibly humiliating criminalization case we have ever heard of. A woman, a family in desperate need for help, was screaming for help months before the tragedy happened. They could not survive bringing another child into the world while still being in the camp. She saw no other option than to harm herself in order to escape the stress and pain she was in. We met her after still being in deep pain about the lives of their four children… and then the shock: Instead of helping the family, the mother of four children is charged with arson. Instead of evacuating them many many months before from the horrible conditions they were living in, giving them a safe space to care for a newborn, she was criminalized. M.M. is an example for the Greek migration managers to show no tolerance for any needs that refugees will speak out for.

Kim, “You can`t evict Solidarity” campaign: “The case against M.M. is by far not the first time that migrants in Greece have been charged on absurd grounds and without evidence. However, in the current political environment, the criminalisation of migration has reached a new level, as have the brutal pushbacks of migrants by the Greek Coast Guard and Frontex.

Christina, CPT Aegean Migrant Solidarity: “Unfortunately, the Greek authorities surprise us every time with the ever-increasing criminalisation of migration and migrants. Apart from rescuing people at sea and solidarity, the Greek authorities go one step further by criminalising desperation. Desperation that they themselves have created in the incarcerated men and women in the detention centres. The case of M.M. is a monument to inhuman treatment and devaluation of life.”

In May 2022, we celebrated the success of the acquittal of N., a young father who was charged by the Greek judiciary with endangering the welfare of a child after the tragic death of his son during the crossing from Turkey to the EU. This case also exemplified the cynical political approach under which traumatised refugees are prosecuted on flimsy grounds. Even in the case of an acquittal, these proceedings cause immense psychological damage to those affected. The systematic criminalisation of those seeking protection only serves the purpose of distraction and deterrence, to the distress of people who have already become victims of a racist system that forces them to flee and, at the same time, wants to punish them for seeking a life in safety. The young father’s acquittal was only possible thanks to the large solidarity network that fought for his release together with his lawyers, but most cases of criminalisation of migration take place away from public attention and usually result in years of imprisonment. (https://freethesamostwo.com/de/ueber/)

We demand a fair and transparent trial on 22 June! This can only lead to an acquittal for M.M.
We stand in solidarity with M.M. and her family and against the deadly European border regime!

We call on the Greek state and the EU to take responsibility for the inhumane camps!
– Stop the criminalisation of refugees and migration!
– Stop the isolation of people on the move at the borders of the EU!
– No more Morias!
– Drop the charges against M.M.!

Questions and interview requests: cantevictsolidarity@riseup.net
Contact and information about legal aspects see HIAS https://www.hias.org/sites/default/files/press_release-mm_case.pdf

 

UPDATE

The trial is postponed!!! There is no new date yet. The court in Lesvos is once again relying on the deferral of justice, demoralisation and exhaustion. This approach is now an established part of the brutal criminalisation of migrants and solidarity groups and requires a lot of energy and resources. M.M. and her family remain in uncertainty and are not allowed to come to terms with their traumatic experiences.

A witness for the prosecution, a tent neighbour of M.M., did not appear. Although his written testimony was available, the court took the opportunity to postpone the trial. We are outraged and angry!

The trial took place, once again, in a hostile atmosphere. The motion of the defence to lift the obligation according to which the severely traumatized woman must constantly report to the Greek embassy, was also rejected.

We continue to stand in solidarity with M.M. and her family!

[Press statement, 7 June 2022] Still no justice for the Moria6

Press statement, 7 June 2022:

Still no justice for the Moria6

Mytilene. Today, Tuesday 7 June 2022, A.A. and M.H., two of the six teenager charged and convicted for the fires in Moria camp in September 2020, stood before the Juvenile Court in Mytilene/Lesvos. In what was once again a very hostile and far from impartial trial, the first instance verdict was upheld despite the fact that there is still no credible evidence. Only the sentence was reduced from five to four years.

The two teenager had come to Lesbos from Afghanistan as unaccompanied minors seeking protection in Europe. They were only 17 years old at the time of their arrest in September 2020. They were arrested after the Moria camp burned down completely on 8 and 9 of September 2020 and have now been in detention for almost 2 years.
On 9 March 2021, they were found guilty of “arson endangering human life” by the Mytilene Juvenile Court in a first trial that disregarded basic procedural standards. Although no credible evidence could be brought against them, both were sentenced to 5 years imprisonment without recognition of mitigating circumstances.(1)

Today’s appeal trial was also riddled with improprieties and procedural errors, even before the trial. As the court forgot to send the first instance verdict to the Court of Appeal, the date for the appeal hearing was set at extremely short notice, leaving very little time for the team of the Legal Center Lesvos to prepare the defence.

While many supporters of the two defendants had gathered in front of the court, the injustices continued in the courtroom: the prosecutor had nominated 26 witnesses – almost all of them are police officers and residents of the village of Moria near the burnt down catastrophic camp Moria. None of them could identify the defendants. At the same time, the two witnesses for the defence, who were supposed to testify about the catastrophic conditions before the fire in the camp, were not admitted by the court.Only one defence witness was admitted, a member of M.H.’s family.
At the end of the trial, the two were found guilty again, but their sentences were reduced from five to four years because of their “good behaviour in prison”.

In the end, the release of at least one of the accused, A.A., could still be obtained today: Already at the beginning of March 2022, the lawyers filed an application for the release of the two teenager, since both had achieved the prerequisites for a reduction of sentence and release according to Greek law through work and school attendance in prison, as well as through proof of a permanent residence. However, the court will not decide on M.H.’s release until 5 July.

Christina Karvouni, CPT Aegean Migrant Solidarity: “We should note once again, two years later, that the crime is that the Moria detention centre existed. Instead of the Greek justice system investigating this crime, it has chosen, with unsubstantiated accusations, to put the burden of its destruction on 6 people, two of them recognized minors.”

Julia from borderline-europe: “While Europe has already forgotten Moria and the fire, two minors have now spent two full years in prison. Hopefully they will be released soon, but Europe has destroyed their lives. Several times.”

Luca Wolf, from the campaign “You can`t evict Solidarity” and part of the Solidarity Campaigne #FreeTheMoria6, which supports the defendants, explains: “We are angry about this renewed injustice. But we will continue to fight and demand freedom for all Moria 6 detainees!”

The appeal hearing against the other four teenager of the Moria6 will take place on the 6.3.2023. The teenager convicted as adults were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in a political trial, also without evidence. Also in this case, the only so-called witness did not appear in court. (2)

(1) On the first trial https://cantevictsolidarity.noblogs.org/post/2021/03/10/untragbares-gerichtsurteil-willkurliche-verurteilung-zweier-gefluechteter-fur-den-brand-im-moria-lager/#FreeMoria6 https://pic.twitter.com/1SAfWzybgS

(2) https://freethemoria6.noblogs.org/post/2021/06/15/13-06-2021-press-release-moria-6-sentenced-to-10-years-imprisonment-after-fire-in-moria-camp/ 

Further information and contacts:
Tina Weiß, spokesperson for #FreeTheMoria6
Phone: +49 152 194 240 14
Email: freethemoria6@riseup.net
Twitter: #FreeTheMoria6
Blog: https://freethemoria6.noblogs.org/

[Free the Moria 6] Appeal court against 2 of the Moria 6 on 7 June 2022

Appeal court against 2 of the Moria6 on 7 June 2022

On Tuesday 7 June 2022, two of the six teenagers charged and convicted for the fires that destroyed Moria camp in September 2020, will stand before the Mytilene Juvenile Court on the Greek island of Lesvos. When they were arrested in September 2020, the two teenagers, who are now 18 and 19 years old, were two of the more than 1000 unaccompanied minors in the disastrous Moria camp.

On 9 March 2021, in a trial that disregarded basic procedural standards, they were found guilty of “arson endangering human life” by the Mytilene Juvenile Court, although no credible evidence was presented against them. Both were sentenced to 5 years imprisonment without any mitigating circumstances being recognized.

The scandal continues: Due to a mistake – the court forgot to send the first instance verdict to the court of appeal, the date for the appeal hearing was set at very short notice.

But that was not all: at the beginning of March 2022, the lawyers filed an application for the release of the two youths. Both have achieved a sentence reduction in prison by working and attending school. They have also fulfilled the proof of a permanent residence. This would allow them to be released under Greek law. A decision on their release should have been made long ago. Incriminatingly, the hearing to decide on their applications for release will also take place on 7 June 2022, but in Athens. A challenge also for the team from the Legal Center Lesvos.

We are standing solidarity!

#FreeMoria6

[07.04.2022] press statement: Cruel and unjustified postponement of Amir and Razuli appeal trial 

Press statement of the initiatives Legal Centre Lesvos, Aegean Migrant Solidarity, borderline-europe e.V., You can’t evict Solidarity and Deportation Monitoring Aegean, 7 April 2022

Cruel and unjustified postponement of Amir and Razuli appeal trial 
#FreeAmirAndRazuli

The appeal trial of Amir Zahiri (27) and Akif Razuli (24) scheduled for today in Mytilene court, was, once again, postponed to a later date, 8 December 2022.

After being interrupted on 18 March (1) due to the caseload of the court, the trial has now been postponed under the pretext that a witness, an officer from the Hellenic Coast Guard, was absent in court.

This witness was already absent from the first instance trial and had provided a written report which only related to charges of “causing a shipwreck”, for which both defendents were acquitted in the first instance. It is therefore highly questionable why his irrelevant testimony was a sufficient excuse to postpone the trial once again. Furthermore, the court had the authority to read his written testimony in court, rather than postpone the trial, as they had in the first trial.

Despite a request by the lawyers to free both men until their trial date in December,  with which the Public prosecutor agreed, the Court of three judges finally denied the petition, ordering that they remain in prison.

Following today’s hearing, Amir and Razuli will thefore be forced back into prison for at least eight more months, away from their families and friends. To date they have already spent over two years behind bars, despite the lack of evidence against them. Razuli and Amir have already been transferred twice back and forth between Lesvos and detention centres in Serres and Chios respectively, each time with the hope of having a final decision in their case and being released. Causing extreme and uncessary distress, each postponement is an obstacle to the a fair and speedy administration of justice. This further delay is a denial of justice.

The repeated criminalisation of migrants, such as in this case, stands in stark contrast to the complete impunity for violence against migrants at Greece’s borders, despite the insurmountable evidence of systemic pushbacks carried out by the Hellenic Coast guard in coordination with the Greek police.

Vicky Angelidou, from the Legal Centre Lesvos, and one of the lawyers for the accused, stated “with shocking decisions such as today’s and the decision in the first trial, Greek courts are destroying the lives of people who only wanted a better future in Europe, showing their total detatchment from reality, and the lives of the people they are judging.”

A spokesperson for CPT-Aegean Migrant Solidarity said: “People charged with smuggling offences constitute the second largest prison population in Greece. We are glad that the spotlight is finally being put on these unjust procedures, but as today’s decision has shown, even this is not enough. On a regular basis migrants are swallowed into the prison system, convicted without anybody knowing or caring who they are.”

Annina Mullis, a representative of the Swiss Democratic Lawyers’ Association, who was observing today’s trial stated, “an 8 month postponement for no reason is a clear violation of procedural rights – based on the European Convention on Human Rights, courts are obliged to move procedures forward expeditiously, especially when defendants are in prison. What we have witnessed today was an arbitrary show of force in a politicised court room.”

Kim Schneider, spokesperson for the solidarity initiative You can`t evict Solidarity, pointed out: “It is unbelievable. Once again, the trial of Amir and Razuli has been postponed. We are so furious that we are speechless. We cannot explain this to the young men nor their families whose lives are being destroyed. We need to take political action now.”

The Legal Centre Lesvos, Aegean Migrant Solidarity, borderline-europe e.V., You can’t evict Solidarity and Deportation Monitoring Aegean have closely followed the trial. We will continue to stand in solidarity with the defendants, no matter how long it will take to achieve justice for Amir and Razuli.

Press contacts:Marion BouchetelLegal Centre Lesvosmarion@legalcentrelesvos.orgPhone: +30 697 761 9003@lesboslegal

Kim Schneider
You can’t evict Solidarity
cantevictsolidarity@riseup.net
Phone: +49 152 19255205
Twitter: @cantevict; #FreeAmirAndRazuli

(1) 18.03.2022 – Press release: Appeal trial against Amir and Razuli interrupted after two days of waiting till the 7th of April 2022 https://www.borderline-europe.de/unsere-arbeit/press-release-appeal-trial-against-amir-and-razuli-interrupted-after-two-days-waiting

 

The Dystopia in form of a camp – The “Closed Controlled Access Centre of Samos”

published first by  Deportation Monitoring Aegean  on 24. March 2022

The Dystopia in form of a camp – The “Closed Controlled Access Centre of Samos”

 

The so-called “Closed Controlled Access Centre of Samos” became operational in September 2021, when people were transferred from the old slum-like camp growing out of Vathy town to a remote prison-like complex between the mountains.

Sterile white containers are lined up behind barbed wire, forming a uniform complex of plastic and metal without any apparent signs of individualized or self-determined living. It is a place of total surveillance and control, yet with air-conditioned ISO-boxes, Wi-Fi and laminated floors inside the containers.

Reminiscent of border checkpoints, the entry to the camp is only possible through an elaborate security gate, guarded by private security companies and police. Camera masts surround the entire area and some are positioned to even film inside the ISO-boxes. The whole setting is the realization of a dystopian panopticon: drones are planned to be used, in addition to a software which analyses movement of people in order to avoid gatherings.

Migrants on Samos who refuse to live under total control have little choice but to to hide in the old and partly burned barracks of the old camp close to the town. In-between broken barbed wire, hills of rubbish, old children’s toys, dirty blankets and clothes, people have neither access to water nor electricity, but at least some self-determination. It leaves the small chance of living as a human being, compared to being regarded as a number in the high-security prison-like camp.

The construction of the camp site had already started at the end of 2019 but was speeded up after the fire in Moria, when the EU provided 276 million Euro to the Greek government to build five so-called “Multiple Purpose Reception and Identification Centers” on the Greek islands. The camp construction site on Samos was financed with 48 million to create the new controlled centre.

The rationality behind the multi-million camp project remains opaque, since the implementation of the EU migration-management technocrats’ wet dreams seems to be rather dysfunctional: in the face of violent pushbacks, hardly anyone arrives on the islands so that ‘only’ roughly 300 people are trapped in the facility that was designed to hold about 2000 people and is still under further construction. Since March 2020, there have been no deportations from Greece to Turkey. Consequently, the specially-designed prison in the back of the camp, the pre-removal section (PROKEKA), also seems to remain useless so far, although it has space for 960 people who can be legally held there for 18 months.

The controlled centre complex leaves no doubts on which path the European migration policies with their double standards are following: while white Ukrainian war refugees are welcomed with open arms, BIPOC racialized migrants are constructed as ‘the others’ and pushed back or locked up in clean, remote detention centers under strict surveillance. They are not only denied protection and a life in dignity, but are actively pushed back and killed in violent operations at sea. Countless fatal pushbacks have been documented, such as a recent pushback operation from Samos leading to the death of two men in February 2022.

Press Release 18/03/2022: Appeal trial against Amir and Razuli interrupted after two days of waiting until 7 April 2022

Press statement, 18 March 2022
Appeal trial against Amir and Razuli interrupted after two days of waiting until 7 April 2022 #FreeAmirAndRazuli

The appeal trial of the two young Afghan men convicted in first instance of “facilitating illegal entry” and “illegal entry” to Greece has been interrupted. The defendants Amir Zahiri (27) and Akif Razuli (24) were brought respectively from Chios and Serres prisons, to Mytilene on Lesvos and forced to wait for two days. In violation of the Greek criminal procedural law, they were seated  handcuffed in the court room while awaiting their own trial. They were not given any information about if or when the trial would happen, until it was finally opened today, 18 March at 2:30 pm- just to be halted immediately after. All witnesses and international trial observers who had travelled to Mytilene from different European countries and the Greek mainland were also forced to wait along with Amir and Razuli, among them Amir’s wife and their two children. Also three Members of European Parliament came to testify and observe the trial, as well as the sea rescuer Iasonas Apostolopoulos.

The trial will resume in 20 days, on 7 April 2022. Thereby, the chain of injustice that Amir and Razuli were confronted with over the last years continues: Amir and Razuli were arbitrarily arrested on 12 March 2020, kept in pre-trial detention for seven months and convicted in September 2020 to 50 years imprisonmment without any evidence against them. Now their appeal trial was interrupted.

A Greek trial observer from Aegean Migrant Solidarity stated: “The last two days were very difficult, especially for the people who are in detention without any evidence for so long. For these two days nobody knew if the trial will start or not. The court decided to start the trial today and continue at 7 of April 2022, because they acknowledged the fact that the trial must start in a reasonable time. Lets all be there on 7th of April!”

Marco Aparicio, trial observer from the Spanish Observatori DESC (ESCR Observatory) noted: “Prolonging the process is prolonging the suffering, Amir and Razuli, their relatives and friends have the right to know about their future. This trial, indeed, shows that Europe is used not to criminalize those who cause the suffering but the people who suffer.”

Lorraine Leete from Legal Centre Lesvos, who defended Akif Razuli, explains: “Amir and Razuli should never have been arrested, let alone convicted and imprisoned, given the lack of evidence that they committed the crime they are accused of. While Amir and Razuli will never get back the two years they’ve spent in prison, we hope this miscarriage of justice is rectified at the continuance of their appeal trial next month.”

The Legal Centre Lesvos, Aegean Migrant Solidarity, borderline-europe e.V., You can’t evict Solidarity and Deportation Monitoring Aegean have closely followed the trial. We will continue to stand in solidarity with the defendants, no matter how long it will take to achieve justice for Amir and Razuli.

Press contacts:
Marion Bouchetel
Legal Centre Lesvos
marion@legalcentrelesvos.org
Phone: +30 697 761 9003

Kim Schneider
You can’t evict Solidarity
cantevictsolidarity@riseup.net
Phone: +49 152 19255205
Twitter: @cantevict; #FreeAmirAndRazuli

 

[3.3.2022] Press release: Justice for Amir and Razuli!

The organizations Legal Centre Lesvos, Aegean Migrant Solidarity, Borderline Europe e.V., You can’t evict Solidarity and Deportation Monitoring Aegean demand freedom for two young refugees.

The two men from Afghanistan were seeking safety in Europe, but were instead arbitrarily convicted to 50 years imprisonment. The Appeal Trial will take place on 17 March 2022 in Lesvos.

Twitter: @cantevict; #FreeAmirAndRazuli

Amir and Razuli tried to reach Greece on a rubber boat in March 2020. They testified that the Greek coast guard attacked them and tried to push them back to Turkey by force. The attack caused the boat to sink and the coast guard had to take them on board. Amir and Razuli were arbitrarily charged with “facilitating illegal entry” and “provoking a shipwreck”, in addition to their own entry. On the 8th of September 2020 they were sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Amir and Razuli, 25 and 23, fled from Afghanistan trying to reach Europe in search of a life in safety. With Europe’s ever-increasing closure of borders and the lack of safe and legal ways to enter Europe and claim asylum, they were forced to embark on the dangerous journey on a rubber boat across the Aegean Sea. Amongst the other people in the boat was also Amir’s young daughter and his heavily pregnant wife.1

They made their journey in March 2020, the month in which the Greek government announced the suspension of one of the most fundamental human rights – the right to apply for asylum, and consequently charged people seeking protection with their own “illegal entry”, blatantly contradicting EU law and the Geneva Convention.

In their first trial, Razuli and Amir testified that the Greek coast guard attacked the boat as soon as they had entered Greek waters and tried to push it back into Turkish waters using metal poles. In doing so, they punctured the boat, causing water to enter and putting the life of the people onboard at risk.2 As the boat was about to sink, the coast guard eventually took them on board.

Following this deeply traumatizing experience, the coast guard proceeded with heavily beating up Amir and Razuli, arbitrarily accusing the two of being the smugglers. According to Amir’s wife who had to witness all of this together with her daughter, they only stopped when she held up their young child in front of her husband begging the men to stop.

As soon as they arrived at the Greek island of Lesvos, Amir and Razuli were separated from the rest of the group and brought to the police station. The coast guard accused them of their own entry, of facilitating the unauthorized entry of the other people on the boat and of having endangered the people’s lives.

They were since held in pre-trial detention and sentenced to 50 years in prison on 8th of September 2020. Although there is no evidence against them except for the statement of the coast guards, they were only acquitted of the accusation of “provoking a shipwreck”.

The Appeal Trial will take place on 17 March 2022 on Lesvos and lawyers from the Legal Centre Lesvos and the Human Rights Legal Project on Samos will defend Amir and Razuli in the upcoming trial.

Almost every day, people seeking protection are criminalized for their own flight and arbitrarily sentenced to lengthy prison terms and heavy fines. Recently, a survivor of a shipwreck has even been criminalized for the death of his six-year-old son, who died when they tried to cross from Turkey to Greece (see the campaign Free the #Samos2). Suspects, or what we would deem ‘victims’ of this unjust legislation, usually have limited access to legal assistance. Judgments are often pronounced despite lack of evidence and poor quality of translation. In Greece, the average trial in these cases lasts only around 30 minutes, leading to an average sentence of 44 years and fines over 370.000 Euro. According to official numbers by the Greek ministry of justice, almost 2.000 people are currently in Greek prisons for this reason. However, the fates of these people are seldom known. Arrested immediately upon arrival, most of them are locked away unnoticed, without their names known and no access to support from outside.

We demand a thorough investigation, justice and the release of Amir and Razuli, as well as the dropping of all charges against them!

We demand freedom for all those imprisoned for “boat driving” and the end of criminalization of people on the move!

The European Union must stop the arbitrary incarceration of refugees and migrants!

Press Contacts:

Legal Centre Lesvos

lorraine@legalcentrelesvos.org

You can’t evict Solidarity

cantevictsolidarity@riseup.net

——————————————————

1 Amir’s wife has meanwhile given birth to their second child. After the trial, Amir met his two-month-old baby for the first time and as he held his child for the first time in his arms, the police shouted at him to give the infant back to the mother, causing his family extreme distress.

2 In the past months, numerous reports emerged bearing testimony to the Greek coast guard’s illegal and cruel practice of violent pushbacks, destroying the engine of refugee boats, disabling the boats, and then leaving the people to their fate in the middle of the sea. Read more about this in the New York Times, the Deutsche Welle and the Spiegel.

Statement & callout from Calais: We will not let ourselves be taken away!

n short, there is
a huge building being besieged (alongside other occupied buildings), and
we are calling for support inside and outside, now and for the days to
come. Attached are images from the roof of the building, and the two
previous statements. Following is the most recent statement.

Statement – We will not let ourselves be taken away!

Since Friday 4 February, we have been occupying a building in Rue
d’Ajaccio, which has been uninhabited for a year. This occupation took
place within the framework of the commemoraction, an international day
of mobilization initiated by the families and relatives of people who
have died at the border, to denounce the murderous migration policies of
the UK, France and the EU.

In Calais, about 1500 people are living on the streets in unacceptable
living conditions. Displaced people occupy wastelands and have no access
to basic services: housing, sanitation, water, food and medical care.
The state imposes conditions of extreme precariousness and invisibility
through illegal evictions every 48 hours, the theft of personal
belongings by the police, the illegal dismantling of living sites
without the possibility of defense in front of a judge, and recurrent
police violence. The French and British governments, alongside Natacha
Bouchard and all their other friends, have deliberately turned a
political issue into a humanitarian crisis, keeping people who want to
cross the border in a context of survival.

But displaced people are not the only ones experiencing precariousness
and lack of access to housing in the Calais region. The entire housing
estate which the building is part of is due to be evicted and then
destroyed. While some people, including those in the building we
occupied, have already been evicted, others are still opposing their
eviction in the absence of any alternative proposals from the town hall.
It is in this context that, when the first police officers arrived on
Monday 7th, many residents came to show their support for the
occupation. We were thus able to express our refusal of the discourse of
war between the poor. French or foreign, with or without papers, a roof
is a right. Moreover, the police refused, on several occasions, to see
the evidence of occupation.

Since 2pm today, a disproportionate police presence has surrounded the
building. The police are not allowing anyone to enter, nor are they
allowing food, water or equipment to be provided.

We restate our demands: we demand an end to all evictions in Calais. We
demand an end to the harassment of people blocked at the border by the
police. We demand the regularisation of all squats in the city. Finally,
we demand the immediate requisition of all empty buildings in Calais,
and that sustainable solutions be provided to all inhabitants, whatever
their administrative status or vulnerability.

Until our demands are met, we will not leave these premises. We refuse
to be intimidated by this police pressure and remind you that the time
limit for ‘délit de flagrance’ is over: there can be no eviction without
an enforceable court decision. We will not let ourselves be taken away!

We call on everyone who is in solidarity with the people on the street
and those blocked at the border, and on everyone who believes in the
right to housing to come and help us defend the buildings we occupy!

The inhabitants”

Justice for the Moria 16!

 

Justice for the Moria 16!

On 10.07.2018, 16 people were arbitrarily arrested by the police after a dispute escalated in the former hot-spot Camp Moria on the island of Lesvos, with which none of the arrested had anything to do. The arrest was followed by charges of arson, dangerous bodily harm and damaging other people’s property. Now, on 07.02.2022, three and a half years later, the case is being heard on appeal at the court in Mytilini, Lesvos.

This approach of the Greek repressive organs has a system: as soon as refugees protest against the catastrophic accommodation conditions or the inhumanity of the European asylum policy, the police react with fierce violence and arbitrary arrests, as for example in the case of the Moria35 and the Moria8 – also in spring 2018.

Mostly, when there are conflicts or disputes in the camp the police does not intervene, but then, after the fact and in a brutal police operation, arbitrarily arrest people without evidence of their involvement in the incident.

The trials that follow such arrests are downright cynical caricatures of court proceedings: Exculpatory witnesses are not admitted. The defendants do not receive translation at all or only partially, so that they often cannot even understand what is happening. Finally, contradictory statements by representatives of the police, fire department or coast guard and dubious witnesses lead to convictions with extreme penalties. For example, in the Moria6 case in March and June 2021, six young people were accused as scapegoats without any evidence for the fires that finally destroyed the Camp Moria in September 2020 and sentenced to long prison terms.

Also in the first trial of the Moria16, another deterrent example should be made, regardless of what really happened in the camp on 10/7/2018. One of the defendants describes the situation of the arrest as follows:

“There was a fight in the camp between a few people that lasted more than two hours […] The policemen were laughing at the people. For them it was like an online movie. We asked them for help, but they just laughed at us, took pictures and recorded us […] Finally, they rushed into the camp, but to the people who were not involved in this fight, and they attacked the innocent people. We had no possibilities to escape, […]. The police took us to the police station, beat us, treated us very badly and called us attackers. For several hours our hands and feet were tied. We couldn’t communicate with them because we didn’t know their language and they opened a case for each of us for no reason.”

Now the previous verdict may be revised on 07.02.2022. Critical trial observation and a counter-publicity are urgently needed so that the defendants of the Moria16 case finally receive justice. The criminalization and arbitrary court cases in which people are made scapegoats of the failed migration policies and their consequences must be brought into public focus.

We will stand in solidarity with the criminalized people in this case and others, support them as much as possible and work to make their stories visible.

We demand justice and freedom for the Moria16 – and for all others who are sentenced to years of imprisonment in unfair trials, mostly innocently!

no border – no nation – just people: call for donation in December 2021

Dear friends, comrades and everyone out there who cares about the fate of people on the move and the inhumane situation at the borders,

First of all, thank you all for donating so much (again) last winter and showing your solidarity with people on the move. Again and again we are touched by this broad participation and empathy. It shows that we are many and together we can actively do something against the current conditions at the EU borders. In this letter, we want to tell you what happened at the EU borders in 2021 from our perspective, where support is needed and where we were able to support through our work.

The Moria 2.0 camp and court sentences after the fire in the old Moria camp

As you probably noticed, after the fire in Moria, what used to be the largest refugee camp in Europe, on the Greek island of Lesbos in the autumn of 2020, thousands of people lost a roof over their heads and had to live on the streets and were without any supplies in the middle of the pandemic. The glimmer of hope that a terrible camp like Moria would not be repeated after it burned down was quickly crushed when the Greek government quickly built the new Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos. Hard to imagine, yet a sad reality: the humanitarian conditions and repression in the camp, which is located on a former military training ground right on the waterfront and where people live in tents during the winter, are even worse than in the old camp. Thus, the name “Moria 2.0” was quickly born. Nevertheless, even though the solidarity support of the people on the ground is much more difficult now, the No Border Kitchen Lesbos and others support the people wherever it is possible.

After the fire in Moria, six young people from the Afghan Hazara ethnicity were made scapegoats within a few days and declared responsible for the fire. In a very short time and without in-depth investigations, the six boys (five of them minors) were placed in pre-trial detention and finally sentenced to long prison terms lasting years in March and June of this year. There is no strong evidence in their case and the trial is highly politically loaded, so we judge the whole case as unfair and not in accordance with the rule of law. We have accompanied the case together with other groups in solidarity from here and on the ground and are still in contact with the relatives of the detainees.

The situation on the Polish-Belarusian border.

Poland – Belarus – Afghanistan and Northern Iraq. The Taliban takeover this summer is currently forcing thousands of people to flee Afghanistan, after international forces left head over heels this year, leaving behind many desperate people – no matter if so-called local forces or not. The situations for FLINTA (women, Lesbians,Intersexual, Non-binary, trans. and/or asexual People), (human rights) activists, artists etc. is catastrophic and currently there is a general threat of hunger in Afghanistan.
In addition, the situation for many Kurds and Yezidis in Northern Iraq is precarious, even after the defeat of the so-called IS, so that many people from there are also trying to come to Europe, among others, to their families, while the EU is forcibly closing itself off. This desperate situation has been used by the Belarusian dictator Lukachenko to instrumentalize the fleeing people and to blackmail the EU. Thus, thousands were and are being flown visa- and quarantine-free from Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and other countries to Minsk and brought to the Polish border. Once there, they are stuck at the border and are pushed back and forth illegally by the Polish and Belarusian border guards and military with all force, with tear gas and water cannons being used against children and families at temperatures around freezing point. The EU and Germany deny them the right to asylum and watch people freeze to death in the forests, while at the same time blocking and criminalizing any NGOs, emergency medical care, press or food of accessing. The situation is reminding of the EU leaving people to die in the Mediterranean Sea. But nevertheless also at the Belarusian-Polish border activists are on the ground and try to get in contact with the people who are stuck there and support them, for example the Polish Grupa Granica.

Bosnia: Winter is coming

Heavy rains in Bosnia continue to affect large parts of the country, flooding the temporary camps that People on the Move (PoM) are setting up. Many local people, for example in the regions around Bihać and Velika Kladuša, are in need of assistance with basic needs such as drinking water and food, and medical care. On top of that, the coming winter is becoming more and more present here as well. One of the most important resources is firewood, which is also difficult to obtain here, and for which supporters must always seek new ways of financing.
Violence is made the norm here: Every day, activist groups on the ground support several PoM groups, for whom pushbacks by (border) police are an everyday occurrence. These pushbacks are illegal and make clear that the fundamental right to asylum no longer exists in the European Union. EU border guards systematically carry out this practice on a daily basis. Our contacts report about the violent interventions of the border police, during which they experience psychological and physical violence. Often, they are additionally deprived of personal items on which they are fundamentally dependent, including cell phones and power banks.

Our response is solidarity

Nevertheless, activism and resistance against the brutal border regime are continuing. There are still support structures and practical solidarity in various places where people are stuck. People are organizing together, documenting violence and pushbacks, creating their own publicity when the media stops showing events, and covering very practical things like food for cooking, medical care, costs for lawyers to defend basic rights.

Our solidarity will never end. The situation for people on the move is becoming more and more precarious, access to sometimes simple needs is also severely limited by the pandemic – and the donations are almost exhausted.
Therefore, we turn to you again today with the request to support us (again).

What did we achieve with your donations in 2021?

With your donations and a total of many thousands of euros of donations the No Border Kitchen Lesbos and other local initiatives have supported the people stranded there with hot meals, drinks, blankets and clothing in practical solidarity in 2021. We cannot give them back their dignity, but we can give them the feeling that they are not alone and that there are also people in Europe who show solidarity with them.
We have also used your donations to support the work of social initiatives along the so-called Balkan route, in Greece and Turkey, and on the Polish border with Belarus. We also support places where refugees live, which support people on the move or stand up for the rights of refugees and for freedom of movement.

We have been able to make a difference through your support. In order to be able to realize our plans now and in the future, we ask all our friends, comrades and people in solidarity to support us with donations according to their strength and possibilities or to consider how and where you can raise funds in your surrounding so that we can continue to work together.

Help us to keep the kettle steaming.
Please share this call everywhere.

With Solidarity,
You can’t Evict Solidarity as part of the campaign “No Border – No Nation – Just People”

Information on the situation at the borders:
http://balkanroute.bordermonitoring.eu
https://cantevictsolidarity.noblogs.org
https://noborderkitchenlesvos.noblogs.org

Bank account for donations:
Owner: VVN/BdA Hannover
Purpose of donation: just people
Bank: Postbank Hannover
IBAN: DE67 250 100 3000 4086 1305
BIC: PBNKDEFFXXX
(mind the purpose!)