Monthly Archives: June 2019

[Greece] Death of the dreams – a voice from prison

Published on 13th May 2019 by dm-aegean

Many people who come to Europe looking for freedom and safety find themselves imprisoned. While the EU politics forcibly keep people trapped in overcrowded and barbed wired camps on the Greek islands, the Greek police uses harsh crack down strategies in order to suppress conflicts and protests arising from the unbearable living conditions in the camps.

Migrants on the Greek islands find themselves in a situation of detainability – regardless of whether they committed an offense or not, they do not only have to bear the constant insecurity of the camp but have to live under the constant threat of being arrested and detained.

Below, we reproduce the account of Aftab Mohammadi (name changed) who was arrested in Moria camp in July 2018 and has since then been held in the prison of Chios Island. It is one of many stories of a senseless and cruel detention practice beyond any reason.

Nine months ago, it was a night like other nights. There was a fight in the camp between a few people that lasted for more than two hours. The fight started between two people and after a while others in the camp got involved. It all started because of the bad conditions of the people who have to live in the camp. Some have mental issues, because they live in these terrible conditions and do not have any mental support.

The police was present and they saw what happened. I felt terrible this night, especially when I saw that the children were holding onto their moms, they were very scared and crying. But for the police it was a special night. They were laughing at the people. For them it was like a watching an online movie. We were asking them for help but they were only laughing at us, taking photos and recording us.

Finally, they rushed in the camp but to the people who were not involved in that fight, and they attacked the innocent people. We did not have any place to go, we were about 18 persons and I was one of them. The police took us to the police station, hit us, treated us very badly and called us aggressors. For several hours our hands and our feet were handcuffed. We could not communicate with them because we did not know their language and they opened a file for each of us for no reason. After the paperwork they separated us and put us in different cells.

Before going into the cell, I thought we were the only people there for no reason, but when I went inside, I saw many people who were there for the same reason. The prison was full of refugees. The Greek police does this to people like us in order to show their power, to show that justice does not exist here. I asked the other people why they are in the prison.  ​It was because of small things. Most of them were not Greek. We only committed the crime that we were born in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. I also saw plenty of other people who were arrested for the same reason like me and they had been in the prison for many years.

Afterwards, the court recognized them as innocent. I do not know if is fine to put innocent people in prison and open a file for them in the police station or in the court, when in the end it was for nothing, for no crimes.  I do not know what the Greek government will achieve with this kind of thing.

The European Union and the people who are in power are always talking about human rights and they are going around the world to ‘protect’ human rights. They say that everyone should have freedom and everyone has to be free. I find it very strange that they are not looking at Greece which is a part of them. In this country that is part of the European Union you can see the most vulnerable people who have been forced to leave their home country and are seeking for asylum and looking for a shelter. But this country is using them for their benefits and they are taking the people’s freedom to do their business. They are keeping the refugees here because they think they can improve their economy. I am sure this plan will not work.

Whatever you read here, it came from my heart. The people lost their freedom because of being a refugee and they lost their dreams inside the democratic prison. And we know that there are some nice humans who are trying to help others. Those people who are helping the others, they do not care where people come from, where they have been born, what are their religion and believes. They believe that we are all the same and we should help each other. In the end I hope they are going to stop making business with the humans. I hope one day I can see that everyone is equal. It is a shame to see what is happening with people’s life.

[Macedonia] “Invisible migration” in Macedonia

Like Serbia, Macedonia is one of the main transit countries on the Balkan route. Thousands of people passed through this country on their way fleeing towards the EU. But this route from Greece over Macedonia, Serbia and more north doesn’t only exist since 2015.
After all, with the so called “long summer of migration” and the by that forced short opening of the borders it has become much more visible. In this time one could see thousands of people walking next to the railway line and the highway. The geography of Macedonia is very mountainous, but both of those routes cross the land from South to North and run mainly through the valley of the river Vardar, so in comparison to the rest of the country they are easier to pass. In 2016 the borders of the so called state-run “corridor” over the Balkan route have been closed and basically hermetically sealed by radical militarization which led to making the migration nearly invisible. Repression and criminalization by the state towards refugees and those, who offered support in any way, increased heavily. Macedonia as a transit country became a huge and dangerous challenge for many.
Also, the self-organized and independent activist groups, that were active in Macedonia for months, moved back because of the repression. Only NGOs like Legis still can work at the official transit camps Gevgeljia and Tabanovce. The people crossing Macedonia on their flight don’t want to stay there but move on as fast as possible.
Since 2015 only few people asked for asylum in Macedonia and even less were approved for it. There are still illegal pushbacks to Greece or imprisonments of refugees. In spite of the unfavorable circumstances, people manage to pass the country unseen. On their way, they risk their lives. In March 2019 a person died when a group of refugees had to jump from a driving truck to avoid a police control. 14 more were hurt. Tragedies like that were more frequent especially before the opening of the “legal corridor” through the country.
Besides the situation for migrants, the social-political situation in Macedonia is tense and repressive in general and many people live daily in precarious conditions. Next to Bosnia, Macedonia is one of the poorest countries in Europe. The social system doesn’t offer any financial support, so everyone depends on wage work. In the same time, the wage is so low that people need to work an extremely high number of hours every month to be able to afford the life. For left activists that means, that next to wage work there is only very few time for political work. Additionally, the financial resources for the political work are missing: money for the monthly rent for the Social Centre, for printing flyers, posters, the travelling expenses to important meetings or the organization of actions and protests. Most of the spending is covered by crowdfunding campaigns or supported by other European groups that show their solidarity. Because of that, the left movement in Macedonia is mainly based on single persons that manage to be politically active besides their jobs. According to them, the number of active people, apart from NGOs, is sinking. For example, one of the few radical left groups in the Macedonian capital Skopje lost several members in the last years. With that, the few activists especially get in the focus of the police and the repression from the state. In spite of everything, they manage to maintain structures like the Social Centre Dunja in Skopje. Right now, there is crowdfunding campaign running to support this project: