Outrageous story from Kalamata

More than one thousand and one of the outrageous stories European Policies are forcing to face to the refugees population

Europe policies are not working, refugees are being mistreated every day throughout our countries and thousands of us are getting #SickOfWaiting. Here is the testimony of our friends’ story.

On the 28th April me and Bea received a phone call from one of our friends (they are nine members of the same family). They have been arrested in Kalamata after trying to take a boat to Italy along with another 40 people. Their first attempt at the crossing, on the 23rd of April, was unsuccessful due to bad weather conditions and so they eventually took shelter in an abandoned house where the police found them. They were taken to the Kalamata Police Headquarters Office and made to sleep in the basement with no ventilation and dead rats. They were not told when and if they would be released.

Due to the inhumane conditions they were transferred, after a demonstration within the building, to an abandoned hospital behind Kalamata’s Council House. After two to three days (numbers are unsure) the majority of those held were released, but 19 people from Iraqi Kurdistan, 9 of them minors, the youngest of which is two years old, were still detained.

In there, they were charged for bottled water, given only two meals per day, not given access to a shower and made to live in unhygienic conditions with no pampers for the children and out of date milk. At that point, one child was taken to hospital due to flea bites and another because she was vomiting whenever she ate. A woman with a fractured foot was sharing crutches with another person with mobility problems. They were fingerprinted and made to sign a document in Greek with no translation, and no understanding of what it said, of which they were not given a copy.

On the 29th we rented a car and drove to Kalamata with one Arabic speaker lawyer volunteering at Khora Community Centre in Athens to visit them and find out more about their situation. Once there we contacted with one Greek lawyer willing to help the families.

The 3rd of May was the paradigm of the unfair European policies and system. Our friends were (mis)informed via an official document in Greek (not translated at all) by the police they will be transferred to Athens, and from there “someone” will consider if they will have to come back to Samos. Actually, that was a double lie; first of all that was not the information given to the lawyer that very same morning. She was told they will be taken to the ferry port in Athens and from there to Samos, even though they had papers allowing them to travel to Athens for medical treatment. Secondly, that document was not related with their transfer, it was the detention document the police should have given the day they were arrested and not 9 days later!!! On the top of that, the document assured that the families had had access to the document in Arabic (another lie!!) even when their mother tongue is Kurmanji/Sorani!! It was the lawyer the only official figure facilitating them the truth.

They were devastated by the decision and began crying, screaming and shouting that they would rather die than return to Samos. As all of us already know, the conditions at the detention centres in the Greek islands are unhuman, no quality legal support whatsoever, overcrowding, fires, poor hygienic conditions…

A bus arrived at around 3pm to take them to the ferry along with about 20 police officers. Solidarity groups from Kalamata came to show their support to the families. The situation became so intense that two women fainted. This led to a clash between us trying to help our friends and police who were pushing us to make us go away. Two ambulances arrived and took three women to the hospital while the other people in the group were held inside the building.

Me, Bea and the Greek lawyer were contacting people from solidarity groups in Athens, UNHCR and the Police Headquarters in Kalamata to try and change the decision to remove the families to Samos.

At around 6.30pm the bus left without taking any of them. Information given through Kalamata’s Police Officer to the Greek lawyer on the ground and from the UNCHR to us assured that the transfer will not happen that day and from now on the last decision will be considered from an upper establishment. The situation was covered live by local media.

What seems a small achievement, was nothing more than the recovery of the rights that had been violated. The conditions in which they were, were still terrible. The days passed and although the atmosphere was more relaxed, we continued fighting so that they were released as soon as possible. We contacted UNHCR again, asking them to please intercede in some way. The lawyer in Kalamata, meanwhile, contacted a representative of the Parliament, who visited our friends who were no longer nine, now we were 19!!

Finally, a commission of UNHCR visited the place on 11th May (17 days of their detention and 13 days since the first news arrived) with several lawyers and one interpreter. Thanks to the collaboration, participation and involvement of many people on a personal and totally voluntary level and the organisations responsible for protecting the rights of refugees, these three families were released, island restriction lifted and transferred to a refugee camp in Myrsini near Patras.

This is one of the thousands of stories that happen day after day and that, between all we have to denounce so that the European authorities stop this shameful chapter in the XXI century. Let it not be written in the History that we didn’t do everything we could to prevent this from happening!

Comentarios (1)

We must speak up what's going on, otherwise we are responsible for the inaction of the society we live in. The surveillance of the authorities cannot go ahead without the individuals they should be protecting. Thanks so much for sharing Daniel!

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