Accompanying the Moria trial through hopelessness

Sometimes sitting in the courthouse in the belly of the beast feels useless, but we can smile and we can support and we will always stand in solidarity
a banner of solidarity outside the courthouse that reads "The crime was not the fire, the crime was Moria!"

In the last few weeks since 4 March, CPT – Aegean Migrant Solidarity team members have been present in the courtrooms of Lesvos in solidarity with four young men from Afghanistan. These four young men, after fleeing their country and leaving behind family and friends, had to cross the lands and mountains of Iran and Turkey to reach what they were told would be their way out of poverty, wars and fundamentalism. But no! Sometimes it feels like the world will never be fair to some. Once the young men reached Lesvos, they had to stay in the infamous Moria camp which is often described as a living hell. Violence was a daily occurrence in Moria, stemming from the authorities but also between the people trapped there. The camp was designed to dehumanize and devalue human existence. This was the camp that was burned to the ground in September 2020 when the people who lived there cried out loudly, “THAT’S ENOUGH.” Although everyone, from the detainees to the local communities, to the human rights organizations, and even the majority of the authorities, expressed their relief at its dissolution, someone still had to take the blame. But no one was to blame for the existence of this concentration camp, the blame was squarely placed in order to justify and redeem these structures of violence. 

It was these four young men from Afghanistan who, together with two other minors, were initially charged for it. Three years ago, they were sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment, with no evidence of criminal acts. Young men looking for a life of dignity and hope were met in Europe with only the hell of Moria and the nightmare of Greek prisons. And they had no one to support them. 

And this is where we find ourselves today. Is there really anything we can do? Is what we actually do enough? There are so many times when we have felt incompetent at their appeal trials, while we must observe a process that can only be described as a kangaroo court. We sit back as if watching a film on Netflix, listening to the prosecutor shamelessly repeat all the racist narratives that we are fighting against and we feel powerless to do anything more for these men. 

It was probably important for the young men that we were present with them in the courthouse. Obviously, it was significant that the solidarity movement supported them throughout the time that they were in prison. We were able to smile at each other. We could encourage each other. But will it ever be enough?

All we are left with is each other. All we can do is support each other. In solidarity, for a world of peace and justice.

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