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The Militarization of #Lesvos: The #EU War Against Refugees

Some of the Enough is Enough team joined Cars of Hope Wuppertal to work with refugees on Lesvos, Greece. Another on the ground report by Riot Turtle about the situation on Lesvos.

Published by Enough is Enough. Written by Riot Turtle.

Read all our reports about #RefugeesGR; here.

Sometimes you don’t know where to start. Maybe that  Twitter “temporarily” warns people for my personal Twitter account because of “suspicious activities” (Hey Twitter maybe I logged in with a Greek IP adress because I am in Greece right now..)???

But to be honest that’s a typical first world problem in comparison to the war against refugees the EU member states are fighting here on Lesvos. If you walk along the harbor of Mytilini, the capital of Levos island, you still see them; the small picturesque fisher boats. But nowadays you have to focus on these beautiful small boats to see them. When you see the big canons of a British “Border Force” ship, you start to ask yourself are they going to shoot and sink the dinghy boats with refugees one day? The big navy and Frontext ships are dominating the little harbor of Mytilini.

Image: British “Border Force” ship in the harbor of Mytilini on December 28, 2017.

And yes these ships also rescued a lot of refugees, but the Greek coastguard ships were also involved in illegal pushbacks to Turkey. Something the Turkish coastguard ships were also involved in. Sometimes the Turkish and Greek coastguard ships also attack the people on the dinghy boats with sticks or even sunk them, as can be seen on footage in a documentary I made here in September (video below).

In the harbor of Mytilini I saw navy and Frontex ships from Bulgaria, Great Brittain, Greece and Italy. They are patrolling the sea between Turkey and Lesvos island. But you also see a lot of military- and Frontext vehicles on Lesvos. They come from countries like the Netherlands, Italy and Greece (just to name a few). The whole island is full of cops and military. Refugees get randomly checked in the city center of Mytilini all the time. You can observe several of these racial profiling operations when you drink a coffee on Sappho square. Day by day.

In the past days we ( Me and the Cars of Hope collective) have build up a good cooperation network with refugees inside the Moria camp. We talked with a lot of people in the camp. Sometimes they just want to tell their story. About the situation of the father with his injured leg and that the cold makes him suffer even more because he has more pain when his leg gets cold. About the family who received their papers to travel to Athens but can’t leave because they don’t know where to stay there. So apart from the mutual aid that we are organizing together with people who are stuck on Lesvos, we also try to organize accomodation for people on the main land so they can finally leave the island, when they receive their papers (many didn’t and are on Lesvos for almost 2 years now).

About 13 refugees left Lesvos 2 days ago. They protested for more then 80 days and demanded to be allowed to travel to Athens. On Thursday night the Syriza government allowed them to travel to Athens. They are staying in the City Plaza refugee squat in Athens now. Other refugees that took part in the protests are still inside the local Syriza headquarters on Lesvos. Their asylum requests were rejected and they are in danger because they could get deported. Another refugee that took part in the protests, Hesam, is still imprisoned and could also get deported soon. So there are very mixed feelings after the 80 days of protests. Some families won and got to Athens, but others are in danger.

The mutual aid work that we are doing here is one part, but we also document the situation and try to support people who are in danger to get deported. This all takes place in a hostile and militarized environment. In September I was chased by cops while taking pictures of the Moria Camp and last week a cops also wanted to check me, but I was lucky both times and was fast enough. The long days of buying food, sanitary products and other things people need for their daily life, documenting the situation and the work on legal issues and political stuff take their toll. I planned to report every day, but often I am to tired to write anything after the long days of work on the island. 

Today is the last day of 2017, many people will celebrate New Years Eve but I don’t feel like celebrating at all and I have to save energy for the coming weeks. As part of the Cars of Hope team I will celebrate a bit with some of the people who are stuck here on Lesvos. I have a lot of wishes for the coming year, but I am afraid the EU member states will intensify their war against refugees. 

Riot Turtle, December 31, 2017.

We arrived on Lesvos on December 17 to work with Refugees. We provide food, sanitary products and document the situation on the Greek island. In this video Sowmar tells that not all people came by boat to Lesvos.

You can support our work with refugees in Greece. You will find our crowdfunding campaing at

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