Lesvos. Greece. People on the move being held at Moria marched from the camp towards the town of Mitilini but were stopped on the road near Kara Tepe Camp by police wielding tear gas and batons.
The protest, made up mostly of Afghanis, was against the horrendous conditions in Moria, which they refer to as hell, but also for freedom from the inhumane and arbitrary nature of the asylum system (Warning Facebook Link).
Many have been stuck on the island for months and even years while the asylum process drags on. Others have been rejected for asylum and face deportation to dangerous countries, where they were tortured and raped (Warning Facebook link) . The official asylum service and interpreters have been caught lying during the asylum process and forcing people to sign deportation papers against their knowledge (Warning Facebook link) . There have also been rumors about the Greek government not registering new arrivals, holding them for a week, and then deporting people back to Turkey under the cover of night (Warning Facebook link) . Although the rumors are not confirmed yet, they are plausible given the xenophobic and repressive nature of the Greek government.
Police reacted to the peaceful protest with violence. They fired flashbang grenades and tear gas at protesters, including children. Families had to take shelter from the smoke. They also physically assaulted people, causing many bloody injuries that are not properly treated because the victims fear arrest if they go to a hospital. Medics, journalists, and solidarity members were arrested when they tried to help injured people (Warning Facebook link) . There are also reports of journalists being beaten for trying to document the violence, but they are not confirmed yet.
All people were asking for was dignity and a chance at a life lived in safety, as this father explains. Yet, police and EU governments react with violence to basic demands for shelter and security.
For more information and photos, check out Latitude Adjustment Podcast’s Instagram.
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A protest March was organized by #Afghan residents of #MoriaRefugeeCamp to protest conditions in the camp and deportations. The March was blocked by police along the road between Moria Camp and the town of #Mitilini, near the smaller camp of #KaraTepe. #Police threw #teargas at the mixed crowd of men, women and children. I was not at the protest. These images and accounts were shared with me by camp residents who were present. Moria camp, with a capacity to temporarily accommodate about 3,000, has exploded to a population of about 19,000 including roughly 1,000 unaccompanied children. Conditions are filthy, cold, and access to basic medical care, sanitation, and basic necessities is limited. Camp residents commonly wait months or even years in the camp before being moved to the Greek mainland or facing #deportation to Turkey and from there possibly back to #Afghanistan. Look for our upcoming podcast series on the conditions of #refugees and other communities on the borders of the #EuropeanUnion over the next couple of months, a collaboration between Latitude Adjustment Podcast and @syriousareyou #latitude_ays_greece #latitude_ays_eu_border_report
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