Category Archives: Griechenland

[Press release 9.12.2022] Delayed “justice” in appeal trial: Amir and Akif will finally be freed!

Press release 9.12.2022

Press release of the initiatives Legal Centre Lesvos, Aegean Migrant Solidarity, borderline-europe e.V., You can’t evict Solidarity and Deportation Monitoring Aegean on 8 December 2022

Delayed “justice” in appeal trial: Amir and Akif will finally be freed!

Yesterday, 8 December 2022, the twice postponed appeal trial of Amir Zahiri and Akif Razuli took place in Mytilini, Greece. At the end the three judge Appeal Court acquitted Akif, but found Amir guilty of “boat driving” and sentenced him to 8 years in prison. Compared to the first instance decision, his sentence was substantially reduced, which means that he is eligible for early release on parole. The initiatives Legal Centre Lesvos, Aegean Migrant Solidarity, borderline-europe e.V., You can’t evict Solidarity and Deportation Monitoring Aegean observed the case of the two on Lesvos and welcome their upcoming release from prison.

After a day of suspense as to whether the trial would take place or again be postponed, the trial finally started late on Thursday afternoon. Four witnesses testified for the defendants, who were represented by lawyers from the Legal Center Lesvos and Human Rights Legal Project Samos.

At the close of the trial, the prosecutor proposed that Akif be found not guilty, due to the lack of any evidence that he was driving the boat, and the judges agreed.

Despite doubt being raised as to Amir’s guilt, the Court found Amir guilty of facilitating illegalised entry – i.e. “boat driving”. They rejected the argument that Amir was forced to drive the boat out of necessity to save the life of his family and others on the boat – a legal reason for acquittal. However, the court did reduce his sentence to 8 years based on mitigating circumstances, so he now can apply for early release, given his time earned working and studying while in prison. This result, while insufficient, is welcome news for his family.

Although there was never credible evidence against them, both defendants have now been in prison for almost 3 years.

The Coast Guard witness – the State’s sole witness against Akif and Amir – failed to appear once again to testify in court yesterday. In their scheduled appeal trial in April of 2022, said witness didn’t show up, which was used as an excuse to postpone the trial.

This is unfortunately a common occurance in these “boat driving” cases, where the Coast Guard or police are the only witnesses against the accused. Just this Monday, in the case of A.B.,[add citation to our joint press release about the case], the Mytilene Court posponed A.B.’s trial until May 2023, because the Coast Guard witness did not show up for trial, and did not give any excuse for his absence. While the Court fined the Coast Guard officer 200 Euros for failing to show up, this is a mere slap on the wrist, while A.B.’s life is again kept in limbo for another six months.

Yesterday, the Coast Guard witness who had given written testimony against Amir and Akif again failed attend the trial. This time, fortunately, the case went forward.

It is important to recall that the defendants testified in the first trial that when they reached Greek waters in their journey from Turkey in March 2020, the Hellenic Coast Guard attempted to push them back to Turkey, and in the process damaged the boat causing it to start sinking. According to the defendants’ testimony, the Coast Guard was then forced to take all the passengers on board and bring them to Greece. Of particular importance, yesterday it was the Prosecutor who raised the issue of whether or not there was an attempted pushback by the Coast Guard during Amir and Akif’s crossing, in his questioning of the defendants. The continued absense of the Coast Guard witness is also of note, given the implications that he may have been involved in this attempted pushback – the real crime in this case.

About 40 people from solidarity groups and the press were present inside the courtroom and gathered outside following the trial. At 7pm, when the verdicts and sentences were announced, the two were greeted with banners and chants celebrating their freedom.

“Yesterday’s acquittal of Akif Razuli, and reduced sentence for Amir Zahiri was a small victory. But this is a very small step in the context in which there are still thousands of people who are imprisoned in Greece with the same charge, simply because they were looking for a better future. We will stand by all those who are in prison for crossing borders and fight with them for their freedom.”, said Kim Schneider from the initiative You can`t evict Solidarity.

Vicky Aggelidou, from the Legal Centre Lesvos, who represented Akif Rasuli stated: “After almost three years, this result is the bare minimum of what Akif deserves. He came to Greece as a refugee and found himself in prison without any evidence against him. We hope that the unjust anti-smuggling law that he and Amir were charged under will be abolished and that the persecution of refugees in the cogs of the Greek justice system will come to an end”.

Annina Mullis, Trial Observer from European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights & Swiss Democractic Lawyers: If I only consider this one trial, I have nothing to criticise from a procedural point of view. However, the prosecution of Akif Razuli and Amir Zahiri is not made of this one trial. Even if previous violations were corrected by acquitting Akif Razuli, he will not get back any of the nearly three years he spent in prison for no reason. And we must not forget that Amir Zahiri was again found guilty. Although the sentence was drastically reduced and Amir Zahiri now can hope to soon be released on parole, it still is a politically motivated conviction in a trial that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

CPT-AMS team stated: “Yesterday’s trial partially restore a great injustice against Amir and Akif. We hope that in the future we will never again see similar cases of people being convicted without evidence and witnesses and without adequate interpretation, as was the case in the first trial of Amir and Akif.”

Press contacts:
Lorraine Leete
Legal Centre Lesvos
@legalcentrelesvos.org
Phone: +30 695 5074725

Home

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

[Press release] Twice postponed appeal trial of Amir and Razuli to be continued this

Press release of the initiatives Legal Centre Lesvos, Aegean Migrant Solidarity, borderline-europe e.V., You can’t evict Solidarity and Deportation Monitoring Aegean on 6 December 2022

Twice postponed appeal trial of Amir and Razuli to be continued this week – Demand to drop the charges and release the accused

The two Afghan migrants Amir Zahiri and Akif Razuli were sentenced to 50 years imprisonment in September 2020 for “facilitating the unauthorised entry of undocumented migrants”, i.e. accused of being smugglers, despite a lack of evidence, and the fact that both are themselves refugees seeking asylum. Their appeal trial, which has already been postponed twice, will take place in Mytilene on Lesvos on 8 December 2022. The appeal trial was first interrupted on 18 March 2022, and later postponed on 7 April 2022, on questionable grounds. The request to release the two accused until the next trial date was also rejected by the court at that time, despite the proposal of the prosecution to accept their lawyers’. Several initiavives demand to drop the charges and immediate lrelease of the accused.

Amir Akif and Akif Razuli 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.
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 “unauthorised entry”, blatantly contradicting EU law and the Geneva Convention.
In their first trial, Amir and Akif 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. 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 Akif, 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 Zaheri and Akif Razuli were separated from the rest of the group and brought to the police station. 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, both defendants have now been in prison for almost 3 years and are awaiting their appeal.

Despite the abundance of evidence of systematic push-backs by the Greek coast guard, attempts have been made to shift the blame onto migrants by criminalising them. This is in stark contrast to the complete impunity of violence against migrants at the Greek borders.

The cases of Amir and Razuli are not unique.
“People charged with smuggling offences form the second largest prison population in Greece. Finally these unjust procedures are being brought into the spotlight. Many of these migrants are put into the prison system and sentenced without credible evidence and without anyone knowing or caring who they are.” CPT-Aegean Migrant Solidarity

All observers, relatives and people showing solidarity hope that this week will see an end to the illegal and political trial of Amir Zahiri and Akif Razuli.

Lorraine Leete from Legal Centre Lesvos, who is defending Akif Razuli, states:
“Amir and Razuli should never have been arrested, let alone convicted and imprisoned without evidence of the alleged crime. Even though the two will never get back the nearly three years they spent in prison, we hope that this miscarriage of justice will be corrected as their appeal continues.”

borderline-europe: “Long prison sentences for refugees because they dared to arrive in Europe? The European Union’s treatment of people on the move in the 21st century is nothing but shameful and pathetic and we must fight it together.”

Legal Centre Lesvos, Aegean Migrant Solidarity, borderline-europe e.V., You can’t evict Solidarity and Deportation Monitoring Aegean have been following the trial since it began. We continue to stand in solidarity with the defendants, no matter how long it takes for how long it takes for Amir Zahiri and Akif Razuli to be free again.

We demand the release of Amir Zaheri and Akif Razuli and acquittal on all charges!

We demand freedom for all those imprisoned as “boat drivers” and an end to the criminalisation of people on the move!

The European Union must end the arbitrary detention of refugees and migrants!

Press contacts:
Lorraine Leete
Legal Centre Lesvos
@legalcentrelesvos.org
Phone: +30 695 5074725

Home

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

[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!

[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

 

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.

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!)

[Vial 15] Freedom for the Vial 15 on Chios!

(Ελληνικά, Deutsch, Italiano, Español, فارسی, below)

On Tuesday, 22 June, the trial against the Vial 15 will take place in the court of Mytilini, Lesvos Island. 15 people from different countries have been accused for riots and fire within the EU Hotspot Camp Vial on Chios Island on the night of 18-19 April 2020. The arrests followed protests against the inhumane conditions of Vial camp after a women died in an isolation container.

The 15 defendants are charged with arson with risk to human life, destruction of private property, causing injuries to people and forming a criminal group. As we have seen in many cases such as the recent trial against the Moria 6, they have been arrested without thorough investigation.

The only evidence against most of the defendants is that a police officer claimed to have recognized them in the police data base on his computer based on their appearance such as heigh and hair colour. However, the protests happened at night. The police heavily attacked the protestors with teargas and the people had their faces covered – with masks because of the Covid-19 pandemic and scarfs because of the teargas grenades and the heavy smoke coming from the fire. Only few people were arrested on the same day simply based on the fact that they were carrying lighters or knifes – which are commonplace objects in a camp, needed for cooking and smoking.  The majority of the defendants were arrested between two and twenty days after the fire.

At the time, about 7000 people were living in Vial, a camp whose infrastructure is only designed for 1000 people. Most of the people live in an informal area in self-built huts and shelters under fatal hygienic conditions. The 15 people were arrested during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a period of great insecurity how the virus would affect the camp residents. The Greek and European authorities managing the camps reacted mainly by trying to quarantine the residents in the camps through strict curfews and fines. While people were unable to leave the camp, hardly any medical or hygienic precautions were taken within the camps, making the people feel even more abandoned.

After the death of a 47-year old woman from Iraq, the situation escalated and protests broke out. The woman died, reportedly from either a heart attack or an obstruction. She had been to hospital two days previous with bradycardia and arrhythmias where she was tested for COVID-19 and given  medication. Once she returned to Vial, she was locked in one of the new containers outside the camp, as an isolation precaution, and had a panic attack. Her husband found her dead in the container.

No one has been held accountable for the death of the women in Vial camp and all the unknown death within the camps and at sea as well as for the suffering of the people. Instead, 15 people selected on flimsy evidence will now be punished for the destruction of the camp facilities. They have already been punished without any court procedure, being held in pre-trial detention for one year and two months. The court has been postponed twice because of COVID-19, it is the third time that they are transferred in handcuffs to Mytilene Police Station.

Although there is no credible evidence, we are afraid that they will be convicted and criminalized as the scapegoats for the European and Greek migration policies, creating unbearable living conditions in camps on the Greek Islands. We have seen how the Moria 6 were sentenced to 5 and 10 years imprisonment, although the procedure was full of flaws and the only witness of the accusation did not appear in court.

We are tired of watching this senseless destruction of peoples’ lives. The criminalization of migrants’ protests has to stop.

The crime is not that Vial and Moria were burned, the crime is their existence!

Free the Vial 15!


Απελευθέρωση στους 15 της ΒΙΑΛ!

Την Τρίτη, 22 Ιουνίου, θα πραγματοποιηθεί η δίκη εναντίον των ΒΙΑΛ 15, στο δικαστήριο της Μυτιλήνης στη Λέσβο. 15 άνθρωποι από διαφορετικές χώρες κατηγορήθηκαν για ταραχές και πυρκαγιές στο χοτ σποτ της ΒΙΑΛ στη Χίο, τη νύχτα από τις 18 στις 19 Απριλίου 2020. Ως αποτέλεσμα των συλλήψεων, ακολούθησαν διαμαρτυρίες από τους μετανάστ(ρι)ες ενάντια στις απάνθρωπες συνθήκες του καμπ της ΒΙΑΛ, μετά από τον θάνατο μιας γυναίκας που έχασε την ζωή της σε ένα κοντέινερ απομόνωσης.

Οι 15 κατηγορούμενοι κατηγορούνται για εμπρησμό με κίνδυνο την ανθρώπινη ζωή, καταστροφή ιδιωτικής περιουσίας, προκαλώντας τραυματισμούς σε ανθρώπους και για συμμετοχή σε εγκληματική συμμορία. Όπως έχουμε δει σε πολλές αντίστοιχες περιπτώσεις, όπως και στο πρόσφατο δικαστήριο εναντίον των 6 της Μόριας, συνελήφθησαν χωρίς να έχει πραγματοποιηθεί καμία έρευνα.

Μόνο δύο άτομα συνελήφθησαν την ίδια μέρα, απλά με βάση το γεγονός ότι κουβαλούσαν αναπτήρες ή μαχαίρια – που είναι κοινά αντικείμενα σε ένα καμπ που απαιτούνται για το μαγείρεμα και το κάπνισμα. Τα υπόλοιπα 13 άτομα συνελήφθησαν μεταξύ δύο και είκοσι ημερών μετά την πυρκαγιά. Τα μόνα στοιχεία εναντίον των περισσότερων είναι ότι ένα αστυνομικός ισχυρίστηκε ότι τους αναγνώρισε στην βάση δεδομένων της αστυνομίας στον υπολογιστή του με βάση την εμφάνιση τους όπως είναι το ύψος τους και το χρώμα των μαλλιών τους. Ωστόσο οι διαμαρτυρίες συνέβησαν τη νύχτα. Η αστυνομία επιτέθηκε έντονα στους διαδηλωτές με δακρυγόνα, και ο κόσμος είχε τα πρόσωπα τους καλυμμένα – με μάσκες λόγω της πανδημίας covid – 19 και με μαντήλια λόγω της ρίψης των δακρυγόνων, των κρότων λάμψης και τον βαρύ καπνό που προερχόταν από τη φωτιά.

Ο θάνατος μιας 47χρονης γυναίκας από το Ιράκ, ήταν ο λόγος που ξεκίνησαν οι διαδηλώσεις στο καμπ της ΒΙΑΛ. Σύμφωνα με πληροφορίες, πέθανε είτε από καρδιακή προσβολή είτε από απόφραξη. Βρισκόταν στο νοσοκομείο, δύο ημέρες πριν με βραδυκαρδία και αρρυθμίες. Την έλεγξαν για covid – 19 και της έδωσαν φάρμακα. Μόλις επέστρεψε πίσω στη ΒΙΑΛ, ήταν κλειδωμένη σε ένα από τα καινούρια κοντέινερ έξω από το καμπ, που χρησιμοποιούνταν ως χώροι απομόνωσης, και κατέληξε να παθαίνει κρίση πανικού. Ο σύζυγος της την βρήκε νεκρή στο κοντέινερ. Εκείνη την περίοδο, περίπου 7000 άτομα διέμεναν στο καμπ της ΒΙΑΛ, που έχει σχεδιαστεί μόνο για 1000 άτομα.

Οι περισσότεροι από τους διαμένοντες μένουν σε μία άτυπη περιοχή γύρω από το καμπ σε καλύβες με άθλιες συνθήκες υγιεινής. Τα 15 άτομα συνελήφθησαν κατά το πρώτο κύμα της πανδημίας του COVID – 19, μία εποχή που επικρατούσε τεράστια ανασφάλεια για το πως η πανδημία θα επηρεάσει τους διαμένοντας στο καμπ.

Οι ελληνικές και ευρωπαϊκές αρχές που διαχειρίζονται τα καμπ, αντέδρασαν κυρίως προσπαθώντας να βάλουν σε καραντίνα τους διαμένοντες επιβάλλοντας αυστηρές απαγορεύσεις και πρόστιμα. Ενώ οι άνθρωποι δεν μπορούσαν να φύγουν από το καμπ, κανένα μέτρο προστασίας δεν λήφθηκε μέσα στα καμπ, κάνοντας τους ανθρώπους να αισθάνονται ακόμη πιο απομονωμένοι. Μετά τον θάνατο της Ιρακινής, ο φόβος αυτός μετατράπηκε σε διαμαρτυρία.

Κανείς δεν έχει θεωρηθεί υπεύθυνος για τον θάνατο της γυναίκας στο καμπ της ΒΙΑΛ και όλους τους υπόλοιπους θανάτους που δεν γνωρίζουμε μέσα στα καμπς όπως και για τα βάσανα που έχουν υποστεί αυτοί οι άνθρωποι εκεί μέσα.

Αντ’αυτού 15 άτομα επιλέχθηκαν σε μία τελείως τυχαία βάση, για να τιμωρηθούν για την καταστροφή των εγκαταστάσεων του καμπ. Έχουν ήδη τιμωρηθεί χωρίς καμία δικαστική διαδικασία, έχοντας κριθεί ήδη προφυλακιστέοι εδώ και ένα χρόνο και δύο μήνες. Το δικαστήριο έχει αναβληθεί δύο φορές λόγω της πανδημίας, είναι η τρίτη φορά που μεταφέρονται με χειροπέδες στο αστυνομικό τμήμα Μυτιλήνης.

Αν και δεν υπάρχει κανένα αξιόπιστο στοιχείο, φοβόμαστε ότι θα καταδικαστούν ως ο αποδιοπομπαίος τράγος για τις ευρωπαϊκές και ελληνικές πολιτικές μετανάστευσης, δημιουργώντας αφόρητες συνθήκες ζωής στα καμπς στα ελληνικά νησιά. Είδαμε πως καταδικάστηκαν οι 6 κατηγορούμενοι για την Μόρια,
σε 5 και 10 χρόνια φυλάκισης αντίστοιχα, ενώ η διαδικασία ήταν γεμάτη κενά και ο μόνος μάρτυρας κατηγορίας δεν εμφανίστηκε καν στο δικαστήριο. Έχουμε κουραστεί να βλέπουμε αυτή την παράλογη καταστροφή των ανθρώπινων ζωών.

Η ποινικοποίηση των διαμαρτυριών των μεταναστ(ρι)ών δεν μπορούν να συνεχίσουν. Απελευθέρωση στους 15 της ΒΙΑΛ.


Freiheit für die Vial 15!

Am Dienstag, den 22. Juni, findet der Prozess gegen die Vial 15 vor dem Gericht in Mytilini auf der Insel Lesbos statt. 15 Menschen aus verschiedenen Ländern werden beschuldigt, in der Nacht vom 18. auf den 19. April 2020 im EU-Hotspot-Camp Vial auf der Insel Chios randaliert und Feuer gelegt zu haben. Die Festnahmen folgten Protesten gegen die unmenschlichen Bedingungen im Lager Vial, nachdem eine Frau in einem Isolationscontainer gestorben war.

Den 15 Angeklagten wird Brandstiftung mit Gefährdung von Menschenleben, Zerstörung von Privateigentum, Körperverletzung und Bildung einer kriminellen Vereinigung vorgeworfen. Wie bereits in vielen vorausgegangenen Fällen, wie z.B. kürzlich im Prozess gegen die Moria 6, wurden auch sie ohne stichhaltige Ermittlungen und auf der Basis zweifelhafter Indizien verhaftet.

Der Großteil der Angeklagten wurden erst im Verlauf der folgenden 3 Wochen nach dem Feuer verhaftet. Der einzige „Beweis“, der gegen die meisten von ihnen vorliegt, ist die Aussage eines Polizeibeamten, der sie in der Polizeidatenbank aufgrund ihres Aussehens, Größe und Frisur erkannt haben will. Die Festnahmen stützen sich auf diese zweifelhafte Grundlage, obwohl die Proteste bei Nacht stattfanden und die Demonstrant*innen ihre Gesichter mit Schals und Masken bedeckt hatten – einerseits als COVID-19 Prävention, andererseits aufgrund der Rauchentwicklung im Lager und um sich vor dem massiven Tränengasbeschuss durch die Polizei zu schützen. Nur wenige der Angeklagten wurden noch am selben Tag des Feuers verhaftet, einzig aufgrund der Tatsache, dass sie Feuerzeuge oder Messer bei sich trugen – Gegenstände, die in einem Camp alltäglich sind und zum Kochen und Rauchen benötigt werden.

Zum Zeitpunkt der Festnahmen lebten etwa 7000 Menschen in Vial, einem Lager, dessen Infrastruktur nur für 1000 Menschen ausgelegt ist. Die meisten Menschen sind gezwungen in einem inoffiziellen Bereich in Zelten oder selbstgebauten Hütten unter fatalen hygienischen Bedingungen leben. Die 15 Personen wurden während der ersten Welle der COVID-19-Pandemie verhaftet, einer Zeit großer Unsicherheit und Unklarheit, wie sich das Virus auf die Situation der Lagerbewohner*innen auswirken würde. Die griechischen und europäischen Behörden, die die Lager verwalten, reagierten auf die Pandemie vor allem mit Versuchen die Bewohner*innen der Lager durch strenge Ausgangssperren und Geldstrafen unter Quarantäne zu stellen. Während die Menschen über Monate im Lager eingesperrt waren, wurden kaum medizinische oder hygienische Vorkehrungen getroffen, wodurch sie sich noch mehr im Stich gelassen fühlten.

Nach dem Tod einer 47-jährigen Frau aus dem Irak eskalierte die Situation und Proteste brachen aus. Die Frau starb Berichten zufolge an Herz- oder Lungenversagen und war zwei Tage zuvor mit Bradykardie und Herzrhythmusstörungen ins Krankenhaus eingeliefert, auf Covid-19 getestet und mit Medikamenten versorgt worden.  Nach ihrer Rückkehr ins Lager Vial wurde sie als Isolationsmaßnahme in einem der neuen Container außerhalb des Lagers eingesperrt und erlitt eine Panikattacke. Ihr Ehemann fand sie später tot im Container.

Niemand wurde bisher für den Tod der Frau im Lager Vial zur Rechenschaft gezogen. Auch die zahlreichen anderen bekannten und unbekannten Todesfälle in den griechischen Lagern und die Todesfälle auf See kamen nicht zur Anklage.

Stattdessen sollen nun 15 Personen, die aufgrund fadenscheiniger Beweisgrundlagen inhaftiert wurden, für die Zerstörung der Lagereinrichtungen den Kopf hinhalten und als Schuldige markiert werden. Bereits seit einem Jahr und zwei Monaten werden sie in Untersuchungshaft festgehalten. Zweimal wurde die Gerichtsverhandlung wegen der aktuellen COVID-19 Situation verschoben. Bereits zum dritten Mal werden sie nun für den Prozess in Handschellen zur Polizeistation in Mytilini gebracht.

Obwohl es keinerlei glaubwürdige Beweise für die Schuld der Angeklagten gibt, ist zu befürchten, dass sie verurteilt werden. Sie werden als Sündenböcke für die europäische und griechische Migrationspolitik kriminalisiert, die unerträgliche Lebensbedingungen in Lagern auf den griechischen Inseln schafft. Auch in den kürzlich stattgefundenen Prozessen gegen die Moria 6 mussten wir erleben, wie die Angeklagten in einem politischen Schauprozess voller Fehler und mit mangelhaften Beweisen zu fünf bzw. zehn Jahren Haft verurteilt wurden.

Wir sind es leid, diese sinnlose Zerstörung von Menschenleben mit anzusehen. Die Kriminalisierung der Proteste von Migrant*innen muss aufhören.

Das Verbrechen ist nicht, dass Vial und Moria in Flammen standen, das Verbrechen ist die Existenz dieser Camps!

Freiheit für die Vial 15!


Libertà per i Vial 15!

Martedì 22 giugno, presso il tribunale di Mytilini, nell’isola di Lesbo, si svolgerà il processo contro i Vial 15. 15 persone provenienti da diversi paesi sono state accusate di disordini e incendi all’interno dell’hotspot Vial sull’isola di Chios nella notte dal 18 al 19 aprile 2020. Gli arresti hanno seguito le proteste contro le condizioni disumane del campo di Vial dopo che una donna è morta in un container di isolamento.

I 15 imputati sono accusati di incendio doloso e rischio per la vita umana, distruzione di proprietà privata, lesioni personali e di essere parte di un gruppo criminale. Come abbiamo osservato in molti casi, vedi il recente tribunale contro i Moria 6, gli imputati sono stati arrestati senza un’indagine approfondita.

Solo due persone sono state arrestate il giorno stesso e semplicemente per il fatto di avere con sé accendini o coltelli, oggetti comuni in un campo e necessari per cucinare e fumare. Le altre 13 persone sono invece state arrestate tra i due e i venti giorni dopo l’incendio. L’unica prova contro la maggior parte di loro è un agente di polizia, che ha affermato di averli riconosciuti nel database della polizia sul suo computer in base al loro aspetto, principalmente all’altezza e al colore dei capelli. Tuttavia, le proteste sono avvenute di notte. La polizia ha attaccato pesantemente i manifestanti con gas lacrimogeni e le persone avevano il volto coperto – con maschere a causa della pandemia di Covid-19 e sciarpe a causa dei lacrimogeni e del fumo pesante proveniente dal fuoco.

La manifestazione nel campo di Vial è nata in seguito alla morte di una donna irachena di 47 anni. È morta, secondo quanto riferito, per un attacco di cuore o per un’ostruzione. Era stata in ospedale due giorni prima con bradicardia e aritmie. L’avevano sottoposta ad un test Covid-19 e prescritto dei farmaci. Una volta tornata a Vial è stata rinchiusa in uno dei nuovi container fuori dal campo, per precauzione in isolamento, dove ha avuto un attacco di panico. Suo marito l’ha trovata morta nel container.

A quel tempo, circa 7000 persone vivevano a Vial, un campo la cui infrastruttura è progettata solo per 1000 persone. La maggior parte delle persone vive in aree non ufficiali, in capanne autonomamente costruite e in rifugi con condizioni igieniche fatali. Le 15 persone sono state arrestate durante la prima ondata della pandemia di COVID-19, un periodo di grande insicurezza su come il virus avrebbe colpito i residenti del campo. Le autorità greche ed europee che gestiscono i campi hanno reagito cercando di mettere in quarantena i residenti nei campi attraverso rigidi coprifuoco e multe. Non solo non era possibile lasciare il campo ma al suo interno non è stata presa quasi alcuna precauzione medica o igienica, facendo sentire le persone ancora più abbandonate. Dopo la morte della donna irachena, la paura si è trasformata in protesta.

Nessuno è stato ritenuto responsabile per la morte delle donne nel campo di Vial né per tutte le morti sconosciute nei campi né per la sofferenza della gente. Al contrario, 15 persone selezionate in base a criteri sospetti dovrebbero ora essere punite per la distruzione delle strutture del campo. Sono già stati puniti senza alcuna procedura giudiziaria, essendo stati trattenuti in custodia cautelare per un anno e due mesi. Il processo è stato rinviato due volte a causa del COVID-19, è la terza volta che vengono trasferiti in manette alla stazione di polizia di Mitilene.

Sebbene non vi siano prove credibili, temiamo che vengano condannati e criminalizzati come capri espiatori delle politiche migratorie europee e greche, creando condizioni di vita insopportabili nei campi delle isole greche. Abbiamo visto come i Moria 6 siano stati condannati a 5 e 10 anni di reclusione, nonostante la procedura fosse piena di vizi e l’unico testimone dell’accusa non si fosse presentato in tribunale.

Siamo stanchi di assistere a questa distruzione insensata della vita delle persone. La criminalizzazione delle proteste dei migranti non può continuare così.

Il crimine non è che Vial e Moria siano stati bruciati, il crimine è la loro esistenza!

Libertà per i Vial 15!


¡Libertad para los 15 de Vial!

El martes 22 de junio tendrá lugar el juicio contra los 15 de Vial en el tribunal de Mitilene, Lesbos. 15 personas de diferentes países han sido acusadas por los disturbios e incendios ocurridos en el campo de Vial, parte del sistema de “hotspots” diseñado por la Unión Europea, y situado en la isla de Quíos, durante la noche del 18 al 19 de abril de 2020. Las detenciones se produjeron tras las protestas contra las condiciones inhumanas este campo, después de que una mujer muriera en un contenedor de aislamiento.

Las 15 personas están acusadas de incendio con riesgo para la vida humana, destrucción de propiedad privada, causar lesiones a personas y constitución de un grupo criminal. Como hemos visto en muchos casos, como el reciente juicio contra los 6 de Moria, estas personas fueron detenidas sin una investigación en profundidad.

La única prueba contra la mayoría de ellas es la declaración de un agente de policía que afirmó haberlas reconocido a partir de una base de datos policial. Este reconocimiento se basó en elementos de su aspecto, como la altura o el color del pelo. Sin embargo, las protestas ocurrieron por la noche, y la policía había atacado con dureza a los manifestantes con gases lacrimógenos. Por lo tanto la gente tenía sus rostros cubiertos, no solo con máscaras debido a la pandemia de Covid-19, sino también con bufandas, para protegerse de las bombas de gas lacrimógeno y el fuerte humo procedente del incendio. Algunas pocas de entre las personas acusadas fueron detenidas el mismo día por el simple hecho de llevar mecheros o cuchillos, objetos necesarios para cocinar y fumar, y por lo tanto habituales en un campo como el de Vial. Las otras 13 personas fueron detenidas entre dos y veinte días después del incendio.

En ese momento en Vial vivían alrededor de 7.000 personas, a pesar de que el campo está diseñado para 1.000. La mayor parte de las personas viven en una zona informal en chozas autoconstruidas, y las condiciones higiénicas son potencialmente mortales. Las 15 personas fueron detenidas durante la primera oleada de la pandemia de COVID-19, un periodo en el que existía una gran inseguridad sobre cómo afectaría el virus a los residentes del campo. Las autoridades griegas y europeas, responsables de la gestión de los campos, reaccionaron principalmente intentando poner en cuarentena a los residentes de los campos mediante estrictos toques de queda y multas. Mientras las personas no podían salir del campo, apenas se tomaron precauciones médicas o higiénicas dentro, lo que hizo que la gente se sintiera aún más abandonada.

Tras la muerte de una mujer iraquí de 47 años, la situación se agravó y estallaron las protestas. Al parecer la mujer murió de un ataque al corazón o de una obstrucción. Había estado en el hospital dos días antes con bradicardia y arritmias. Le hicieron la prueba de COVID-19 y le dieron medicación. Al regresar al campo de Vial la encerraron en uno de los nuevos contenedores a las afuera del campo, aislándola como medida de precaución. Durante el encierro tuvo un ataque de pánico y su marido la encontró muerta en el contenedor.

Nadie ha rendido cuentas por la muerte de esta mujer en el campo de Vial, ni por ninguna de las muertes que no se conocen, dentro de los campos pero también en el mar.  Nadie rinde cuentas por el sufrimiento de las personas que viven en estos campos. En lugar de eso, 15 personas seleccionadas a partir de una base turbia deben ser castigadas ahora por la destrucción de las instalaciones del campo. Ellas ya han sido castigados sin ningún procedimiento judicial, estando en prisión preventiva durante un año y dos meses. El tribunal ha sido aplazado dos veces por culpa de COVID-19, y es la tercera vez que son trasladadas esposadas a la comisaría de Mitilene.

Aunque no hay pruebas creíbles, tememos que estas personas sean condenadas y criminalizadas como chivos expiatorios de las políticas migratorias europeas y griegas, que crean condiciones de vida insoportables en los campos de las islas griegas. Hemos visto como los 6 de Moria fueron condenados a 5 y 10 años de prisión, aunque el procedimiento estuvo lleno de irregularidades y el único testigo de la acusación no compareció ante el tribunal.

Estamos cansadas de ver esta destrucción sin sentido de la vida de las personas. La criminalización de las protestas de las personas migrantes no puede continuar así. El crimen no es que Vial y Moria hayan sido quemados, ¡el crimen es su existencia!

¡Liberen a los 15 de Vial!


آزادی برای ویال 15!

روز سه شنبه مورخ ۲۲ جون، محاکمه ای به علیه ویال 15 در دادگاه میتیلینی، جزیره لسوس اتفاق خواهد. ۱۵ فرد به تاریخ ۱۸-۱۹ اپریل سال ۲۰۲۰ متهم به شورش و به آتش کشیدن کمپ ویال اتحادیه اروپا در جزیره خیوس شدند. این دستگیری ها تظاهرات علیه شرایط غیر انسانی کمپ ویال بعد از مرگ زنها داخل کانیترهای ایزوله شده را دربر داشت.

۱۵ فرد متهم به آتش سوزی و خطر برای زندگی انسانها، تخریب ملک شخصی، زخمی کردن مردم و تشکیل یک گروه جنایت کار شده است. همانطور که ما دیدیم در موارد زیادی مثل دادگاه علیه موریا 6, آنها بدون کدام تحقیقات دقیقی دستگیر شده اند.

تنها مدرکی که علیه اکثر متهمان وجود دارد اینست که افسر پولیس ادعا کرده که آنها را از روی شکل ظاهری مثل قد و رنگ موی از داخل داده های کامپیوترشناسایی کرده است. اگرچه، این تظاهرات در شب اتفاق افتاده است. پولیس به شدت به تظاهرات کننده گان همراه با گاز اشک آور حمله کرد و مردم صورت شان را با ماسک بخاطر کوید 19 و دستمال بخاطر گاز اشک آور و دود زیادی که از آتش برخواسته بود  پوشیده بودند. فقط تعداد اندکی همان روز بخاطر داشتن چاقو و فندک که اشیا عادی داخل کمپ  که بخاطر آشپزی و سیگار کشیدن است، دستگیر شدند. اکثر متهمان بین دو تا بیست روز بعد از آتش سوزی دستگیر شدند.

و در عین زمان، حدود ۷۰۰۰ نفر داخل ویال زندگی میکردند، کمپی که فقط برای  ۱۰۰۰ طراحی شده بود. بیشتر مردم در یک منطقه غیر رسمی در کلبه ها و پناهگاه های خودساخته تحت شرایط مهلک بهداشتی زندگی می کنند. این 15 نفر جریان موج اول بیماری همه گی دستگیر شدند، یک دوره ناامن در مورد تأثیر ویروس کوید 19 بر ساکنان کمپ. مقامات یونانی و اروپایی که مدیریت این کمپ ها را بر عهده داشتند، عمدتاً با تلاش برای قرنطینه کردن ساکنان این کمپ ها از طریق مقررات منع رفت و آمد و جریمه های شدید واکنش نشان دادند. در حالی که مردم قادر به ترک اردوگاه نبودند، به سختی اقدامات پزشکی یا بهداشتی در اردوگاه ها انجام می شد و باعث می شد مردم حتی بیشتر حس ترک شده گی را داشته باشند.

پس از مرگ یک زن ۴۷ ساله از عراق، اوضاع بالا گرفت و اعتراضات آغاز شد. گفته می شود این زن در اثر حمله قلبی یا انسداد جان خود را از دست داده است. وی دو روز قبل به دلیل برادیکاردی و آریتمی به بیمارستان رفته بود و در آنجا برای کوید 19 آزمایش شد و دارو دریافت کرد. پس از بازگشت به ویال، وی بخاطر احتیاط در یکی از کانتینرهای جدید خارج از کمپ حبس شد و دچار حمله وحشت شد. شوهرش او را در کانتینر مرده پیدا کرد.

هیچ کس در مورد مرگ زنان در کمپ ویال و تمام مرگ های ناشناخته در اردوگاه ها و دریا و همچنین درد و رنج مردم پاسخگو نبوده است. در عوض, ۱۵ نفری که براساس شواهد ضعیف انتخاب شده اند، اکنون به دلیل تخریب امکانات کمپ مجازات می شوند.  آنها قبلاً بدون هیچگونه دادگاهی مجازات شده اند و به مدت یک سال و دو ماه در بازداشت موقت به سر می برند. دادگاه به دلیل کوید ۱۹ دو بار به تعویق افتاد، این سومین بار است که آنها با دستبند به ایستگاه پلیس میتیلینی منتقل می شوند.

گرچه هیچ مدرک معتبری در دست نیست، اما ما می ترسیم که آنها به عنوان قربانی سیاست های مهاجرت اروپا و یونان محکوم و جرم شناخته شوند و شرایط زندگی غیرقابل تحملی را در کمپ های جزایر یونان ایجاد کنند. ما دیده ایم که چگونه موریا 6 به ۵ و ۱۰ سال حبس محکوم شده اند، با وجود اینکه این روند پر از نقص بود و تنها شاهد این اتهام در دادگاه حاضر نشد.

ما از تماشای این نابودی بی معنی زندگی مردم خسته شده ایم.  جرم انگاری اعتراضات مهاجران باید متوقف شود.

جرم این نیست که ویال و موریا سوخته باشند، جرم وجود آنهاست!

ویال 15 را آزاد کنید

 

[Press release from 26.4.2021] Scandalous sentencing of a Syrian refugee on the Greek island of Lesvos to 52 years imprisonment +++ Trial observers strongly criticise the criminalisation of flight

Press release from the initiatives “You Cant Evict Solidarity”, Christian Peacemaker Teams – Aegean Migrant Solidarity and borderline-europe, 26 April 2021
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Scandalous sentencing of a Syrian refugee on the Greek island of Lesvos to 52 years imprisonment +++ Trial observers strongly criticise the criminalisation of flight
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On Friday 23 April 2021, the trial of K. S., a young man who fled Syria, took place in Mytilini on the Greek island of Lesvos. He was sentenced to 52 years imprisonment for “illegal entry” and “facilitating illegal entry”. Trial observers from the initiatives “You Cant Evict Solidarity”, Christian Peacemaker Teams – Aegean Migrant Solidarity and borderline-europe consider the verdict a scandal. They criticise the unfair trial and once again demand the immediate release of the accused.
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As he described in the trial, the defendant K. S. fled with his family from the civil war in Syria to Turkey. There, he refused to participate in the Turkish military operation in the civil war in Libya and was subsequently imprisoned and tortured. He managed to flee further to the EU with his wife and three small children. When the family reached the Greek island of Chios in early March 2020 they were denied the right to asylum for one month, like all people arriving in Greece at that time. The background, which was also described in testimony from CPT – Aegean Migrant Solidarity at the trial, is that the Greek state had unlawfully suspended the right to asylum as part of a political dispute between Turkey and the EU, and systematically brought criminal charges of “illegal entry” against migrants seeking protection in Europe. In addition, upon arrival, K.S. was falsely accused of steering the boat in which he and his family arrived on Chios and additionally charged with “facilitating illegal entry”(human smuggling) and “provoking a shipwreck”(endangering life).
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A trial observer explains about the background of the charges: “The filing of such charges against migrants arriving on the Greek islands, allegedly identified as boat drivers, has been a systematic approach of the Greek state for several years. It is based on the absurd notion that anyone who drives an inflatable boat carrying people seeking protection is a smuggler. Often the accused are themselves protection seekers and have been coerced into driving the boat. In practice, prosecuting “smugglers” means accusing someone from an arriving inflatable boat of driving the boat, whether they were or not. They are usually arrested on the spot without sufficient evidence and held in pre-trial detention for months. When their case finally comes to trial, their trials last an average of only 38 minutes, and they are sentenced to long prison terms, in some cases over 100 years in prison with very large fines. For the charges brought against K.S., the average sentence is 93 years. These proceedings are not conducted fairly or according to the rule of law. We know of hundreds of such cases of people in Greek prisons on these charges, as a report by CPT – Aegean Migrant Solidarity, borderline-europe and Deportation Monitoring Aegean shows (1). Most recently, last year, among others, Amir and Razouli, two refugees, were sentenced to 50 years imprisonment in such a trial and are now in Greek prison awaiting their appeal hearing in March 2022 (2).”
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After more than a year of pre-trial detention and after the trial had been postponed at short notice until Friday, 23 April 2021, the defendant K.S. was sentenced in just a few hours and in camera for “unauthorized entry” and “facilitating illegal entry” to 52 years imprisonment. He was sentenced to 10 years plus one year for each person on the boat. In addition, the court fined him 242,000 euros. This high sentence was imposed even though he was acquitted of the charges of “endangering human life” and “disobedience”. 
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K.S. was judged not on his guilt for the particular crimes for which he was accused, but as a proxy to condemn migration to Europe in general. K.S. was subject to derogatory statements by the court and jury, being questioned about his Muslim faith and asked why he did not stay in Syria to fight for his country. The trial was riddled with major irregularities. For example, the prosecution’s case was based on contradictory lists of the number of people on the boat. The prosecution’s main witness, a coastguard officer, testified in great detail, but he made no statement on the important question of whether he had seen the defendant driving the boat. In turn, the defendant’s wife testified as a witness and confirmed that he had not driven the boat. When the coastguard officer stated at the end of his testimony that K.S. should be released because he was fleeing a warzone, the prosecutor replied that he could have stayed in Turkey – unbelievable, as K.S. had been imprisoned and tortured there. 
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His lawyers from the Legal Center Lesvos appealed immediately after the verdict. Until then, K.S. must spend the time until the appeal hearing (presumably in about a year) back in the infamous Korydallos prison on the Greek mainland. 
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Johannes Körner from the campaign “You cant evict Solidarity” said about the verdict: 
    
“We as well as the initiatives CPT – Aegean Migrant Solidarity and borderline.europe will continue to support the accused in solidarity. We call on Greece and the European Union to immediately end the arbitrary detention of migrants and for the acquittal and immediate release of the accused. In addition, the pending comparable cases must be dropped, or trials must take place elsewhere than the biased court of Mytiline.”
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A member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams – Aegean Migrant Solidarity added:
    
“Migrants seeking sanctuary in Europe who are accused of the crime of facilitating illegal entry cannot expect to receive a fair trial in Mytilene court. K.S. was convicted with no evidence positively identifying him. This is indicative of a justice system catering to the vocal section of local society seeking a scapegoat for migration to the island.”
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Press contact:
Johannes Körner: cantevictsolidarity@riseup.net
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[Lesvos] Outrageous court decision – Two people arbitrarily convicted for setting fire to Moria camp

Justice for the Moria 6!

For a detailed outline of the trial procedure see post of the lawyers by Legal Centre Lesvos: https://legalcentrelesvos.org/2021/03/09/justice-for-the-moria-6/

On 9th of March 2021, A.A. and M.H. were found guilty for “arson with risk to human life” and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, of which they will have to serve two and a half years in Avlona prison on the Greek mainland.

The two young men from Afghanistan had come to Lesvos seeking asylum as unaccompanied minors and were 17 years old at the time of their arrest. They were arrested after Moria camp burnt to the ground on 8th of September 2020 and held for six moths in pre-trial detention.

The court procedure was permeated with irregularities and failed the core standards of fairness – it was obvious that the two defendants had been determined guilty long before the procedure had even started. It is clear that both of them have been used in a politicized game, made to serve as a scapegoat for the events on 8th September, when the camp burned down.  Their conviction should distract from the disastrous situation in the European hotspot camps and the failure of the Greek state to provide adequate protection for refugees that became once again obvious through the fire.

During the trial supporters and friends were sent away by the police, fined or threatened with further repression. For “security reasons” they were not allowed to enter the court room – allegedly in order to protect the identity of defendants in the juvenile court – while 5-7 police officers were constantly present. The supporters were also harrassed while waiting in front of the court. Some were fined 300 Euros for their mere presence. The day before, when the trial was supposed to start but then postponed, one person was even taken to the police station and had his personal belongings searched.

Many people had come from the new Kara Tepe camp to testify in support of the defendants in order to give an alibi, however only two defense witnesses were allowed to participate in the trial. Meanwhile, the prosecution brought 17 witnesses to testify against the defendants. They did not present any credible evidence against them. 

The core witness – an Afghan community leader – who had caused their arrest through his testimony failed to show up at the trial and could not be located by the authorities. Nevertheless, his written testimony was considered credible.

Most of the other witnesses only testified about personal losses caused by the fire that were not focused on positively identifying the defendants. Only two police officers claimed to have identified the defendants based on a video showing two people with similar clothes from behind. However, the officers contradicted themselves in their testimonies, describing one of the defendants as “tiny and short” while he is in fact much taller than the testifying police officer himself. 

In the end, the defendants were at least aquitted of the charge of ‘membership of a criminal group’ – which could have together with the charge of “arson with risk to human life” resulted in a sentence of up to 15 years. Their lawyers from Legal Centre Lesvos will also appeal the conviction

Nevertheless, the conviction of the two is another outragous example of how people on the move are criminalized in order to divert attention from those who bear responsibility for the existance of a camp such as Moria and now its successor Kara Tepe. We are sick and tired of watching one case after another of migrants being arbitrarily arrested, beaten, humilitated, detained and sentenced to jail by the so-called “justice system”. This game is as transparent and ridiculous as it is violent, racist and disgusting. Those who have to pay with their lives are the people who enact their right to freedom of movement and are therefore disenfranchised and punished. 

As on so many occasions before, after following court procedures against people on the move, we are sad and angry. The 9th of March was a terrible day for anyone struggling for justice and equality. But we have to keep fighting. Four more people accused for setting Moria on fire will probably have their trials soon. The two sentenced people, A.A. and M.H., will appeal the decision. 

We have to spread the news, scream in the face of those responsible: those who created the hotspot camps and the EU-Turkey deal, those who keep the camps running and those who profit from this system of racism and inequality.

Freedom for the Moria 6!