23 May 2017
GREECE: Arc of
voices. The work of resistance of CPT partners on Lesvos.
by Rûnbîr Serkepkanî
boats, of people with arms stretched out for water, of children getting
barbecued by the midday sun at the port, hunger strikes and many other
unpleasant things—these are the images which I associate with Mytilene, and for
a very good reason. Nearly 1,000,000 people have passed through this island in
the last three years. As a part of Christian Peacemaker Teams on the island, I
have witnessed all of that and more. For me, these tragedies are not merely
some news story happening in a far away country, but something deeply personal.
When someone gets deported from this island to a future of insecurity,
potentially facing incarceration and death, it is personal for me. If I have
not actually met that person, I certainly know someone who is a friend of
We who are
bearing witness to what is happening now know who is responsible. It is the
vampiric tendencies of capitalism, the weapons industry and the
profit-worshiping corporations. It is the sultans, emirs, presidents and lords
of war with their armies. Our main partner Lesvos Solidarity was founded by
local mothers from Mytilene as Village of all Together several years ago.
Lesvos Solidarity has been the main obstacle standing in the way of the total
exploitation of refugees and the oppression against them.
powers-that-be have built an infrastructure of separation and subjugation. At
the same time Lesvos Solidarity has been working in the opposite direction.
They occupy an abandoned summer camp and have renovated it step by step,
transforming it into a shelter for refugees. Here the local people of Mitylene
host the refugees and help them recover from the bombs that fell on them, the
boats that capsized under them, the memories of their comrades who became
martyrs for the freedom of movement.
I sang in the choir. Every week a group of people gather in the upper room of
the Mosaik Support Centre and sing together. I went there for the first time. I
was surrounded by some unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan. A friend of mine
from a country in eastern Africa was there as well. I have seen him singing
Ottoman-Greek songs over beers with Salones, a Greek singer, here in Mytilene.
The old and the young were there, the activists and the marginalized, and the
ordinary and abnormal were there. We gathered to sing, to smile, to play with
the tones and move to the waves of melodies.
come to Mosaik. You can learn new languages there. You can sing songs in Greek,
Kurdish, Arabic and other languages. You can find legal counsel that volunteer
lawyers provide pro bono. They help the refugees with the asylum application
process and sometimes prevent deportations. They gather information about each
case and treat their clients with respect and dignity that every individual
All this is
the result of courageous women who, empowered by their compassion, dedication
and hospitality, have built an infrastructure of love and solidarity. We as CPT
are here to play our small part in easing their burden and accompanying them in
their struggle to build a community that is as open, welcoming and full of joy
as the choir.
To read the
original version, please click here