Monthly Archives: June 2022

[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