23 August 2014
GREECE: Letter of Protest against inhumane treatment of
refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos
letter has been edited for length.
The day it was published in Ephimerida
ton Syntakton and the newspaper called the Greek coast guard, which had
been dumping migrants at Pipka—rather than taking them to Moria First Reception
Center (FRC) where they could receive adequate food, medical attention and the
necessary registration papers—Greek police finally moved the migrants to Moria. The complete letter and more
information about the recent efforts of the CPT Mediterranean team and
colleagues are available here. ]
Berlin / Hamburg / Mytilene in August 2014
Dear Madams and Sirs,
|Moria Reception Centre|
We witnessed recently how refugees were exposed after their
arrival on the island of Lesbos by an inhumane treatment by the Greek coast
guard. With this letter, we are
protesting against this approach.
On Wednesday, 06th of August 2014, we planned, as part of
our summer camp on the island of Lesvos [supported by] Youth Without Borders
and Welcome-to-Europe (two anti-racist solidarity networks) to celebrate a
party with and for refugees and migrants. We chose as the place the Pipka, an empty children’s camp,
which had been converted by activists from Lesvos with the consent of the mayor
to a welcome-center for providing the newly arrived refugees with a roof over
their heads, their first legal information and food. On the same day, refugees [traveling] from Turkey had arrived
and spent the time waiting to be registered by the Greek authorities in Pipka. Finally, a Coast Guard bus arrived and
about 35 of the refugees were to be picked up.
These people, who had crossed the night before the sea
between Turkey and the island of Lesvos—risking their lives in a small crowded
boat—deserve humane treatment like anyone else. They are not guilty of any crime. The only “crime that they have committed” is to have fled
from their countries by war, violence, and hunger. The inhumane nature with which the Greek coast guard treated
the refugees is the occasion of this letter.
One official of the Greek coast guard, whom we know by name,
had a handwritten list of names. He
roared each of these names in a brusque and military tone. Expecting that the people screamed at would
immediately understand him and put their hands up, he directly became
aggressive when this did not happen. When they reacted to his screaming, they were commanded
harshly to enter immediately to the waiting bus. There was 35-degree heat; the bus was designed for 10 people,
the windows of the bus were closed. …
Overall, this procedure lasted more than 2.5 hours. In the bus, it was so unbearably hot,
that some almost lost consciousness during repeated entry and exit.
…Refugees tell us again and again of such and partly even
worse experiences. Especially at
the new EU-funded “Reception Center,” a prison near the village of Moria,
nearly all released, whom we met, reported everyday degrading treatment by the
Greek police. The members of the
Greek Coast Guard have acted in both cases under the eyes of many witnesses. When nobody is looking, the extent of
racist violence inflicted on the refugees is even greater.
With this letter, we call to your humanity. The refugees have been on a long
dangerous road and have a long journey also in front of them. They are human beings and must be
treated like human beings. We
appeal to you to respect human rights—especially for refugees.
The systematic violation of human rights must be stopped
immediately. Refugees need
protection and respect.
Nevroz Duman – Youth without Borders/ Jugendliche ohne
Margret Geitner – Welcome to Europe
Sara Ballardini, Ramyar Hassani – Christian Peacemaker Teams/Mediterranean