On Sunday December 16th 2018, members of the feminist organization ‘Mauve’ visited with the immigrant (migrant, EIE)and refugee women detained at the Directorate of Immigration, located on Petrou Ralli street, in Athens. The conditions of detention we encountered were inhumane, considering the cold winter weather and the lack of heating in the space where the women were detained. In contrast, we witnessed that the offices of the employees, which are in the same building, were fully heated. The insufferable problem of the cockroach infestation is still present as we are waiting the health inspectors to assess the complain we filed last time we visited the facility.
Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.
We also condemn the fact that among the detainees was a victim of gender-based violence. The woman, a Ukrainian national, had a bruised face and one of her eyes was not even able to open, as the result of the violence she endured. She had been initially detained at a police station along with her husband, who was eventually released. The woman ended-up in immigration detention due to the fact that her residence permit had expired. We proceeded to a series of actions for this woman and we hope to have a positive outcome very soon.
During our visit, the refugee and immigrant women were 22 and came from the following countries: Afghanistan (1), Iran (2), Kazakhstan (1), China (1), Congo (2), Morocco (1), Nigeria (2), Ukraine (1), Somalia (1), Syria (3), Turkey (1), Philippines (2). We met with them in the corridor and the yard where we had conversations. We provided each and everyone of them with a phone card, shoes and clothes, which were donated by members and friends of our organization, whom we would like to thank for their solidarity.
The story of how women end-up there remains the same: they are arrested in the middle of the street as they have no papers on them, while others face charges such as using an invalid passport. The length of their detention spans from just a few days to months. Some of them have been living in Greece for a long time and others are detained because they applied for asylum or because their deportation is not possible at this time (this applies to the Syrian women). Often they are not aware of their legal status nor the processes that must be followed. They usually ask for a pro bono lawyer and help with establishing communication with their families. They desperately ask how long they will be detained and what will be the final outcome of their case.
The authorities do not inform the detainees of their rights. Not only information is not printed and handed out as it should, so that the women would be aware of their rights and asylum processes, but even the basic information about the rights and responsibilities of detainees which used to be on the wall in multiple languages has now been removed.
Moreover, many women told us that they have little or no communication with the outside world, especially the ones who have no money to buy a phone card. As a result they cannot maintain contact with families or their legal representative. They solely depend on visits by organizations and solidarity activists.
We talked to the detained immigrant and refugee women in order to find out the issues they are dealing with so that we would be able to publish them and inform the public. In general, we summarize the following: the conditions of detention are unacceptable, medical care is needed, insufficient legal protection and a great amount of bureaucracy, insufficient information on the part of the state and insufficient communication.
Our long term demand remains the same: shut down all the detention centres, open decent reception and housing centres, abolish geographical restrictions, inform people at all times and respect their rights.
Solidarity to all the refugee and immigrant detainees.
P.S. There is great need for phone cards and blankets and we are taking donations of those items before our next visit on the 13th of January 2019, which will also include a celebration for the new year along with cutting a new year’s cake and giving presents to the prisoners. You can bring your donated items in the open event of our organization at Romantso, Anaxagora street 3-5, Omonoia, Athens.
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