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!