Lesvos. Greece. Some of the Enough collective are still on Lesvos to work in a self-orgainzed way with refugees on the Greek island. Apart from this mutual aid project, we also do some media work here. Riot Turtle talked with Mo, a refugee who lived in the old Moria camp that burned down in September. But before that, a short introduction about the current situation on Lesvos.
Published by Enough 14. Written by Riot Turtle.
You will find a German version of this article in Sunzi Bingfa #8: https://sunzibingfa.noblogs.org/post/2020/11/02/apropos-moria-interview-mit-mo-part4/
I had to go back to Germany for a few days to work and manage a few things. The first few days when I retuned from the Balkanroute are always difficult for me. This time it was not different. The parallel world where many people in Germany are living in is so far away from reality. While people are dying at sea and are broken in the horror camps on the outer borders of the European Union day by day, the only topic in Germany seem to be Corona. I know that Corona is dangerous, especially for so-called “Risk Groups”, but the world keeps on turning and the capitalist order is producing death and misery every day for ages now. Its strange to see that many people in Germany seem to be more worried about a virus, than about a deadly economic system that they can actually abolish. Of course people have to take care of each other and think about how to handle situations to reduce the risk of getting infected. But for many people in the world Corona isn’t the biggest threat, many people die because of our way of life. Every day. For ages.
When I arrived in Mytilini, the capital of Lesvos, again, I noticed that there were more cops than usual. One of my comrades told me that a few days earlier they had kettled a group of people on Sappho Square. Corona measures… The day my departure, two weeks ago, there were fewer cops than before, but unfortunately they only exchanged cops. It is still forbidden to distribute food and drinks on Lesvos, so the cat-and-mouse game with the cops during the distribution of food and water continues.
On the second day after I came back we discussed how to continue our operations on Lesvos. What happened in the past 13 days, what can we improve? And how? We also work together with comrades of other collectives and groups on the island. Sometimes through meetings to discuss the situation and to coordinate our efforts, sometimes with practical support. We decided to change our own distribution. We will make small packages with water, orange juice, power bars with a lot of protein and fruits and distribute them. We will also discuss the composition of the packages with refugees during the distribution to find out how we can improve them. For us its all about solidarity, not charity. We work with refugees together, we think that is essential.
In the past five years we saw many people coming and going that wanted do something good. Of course it is important to do good things. It always is. But the difference between charity and solidarity is that we also fight against Fortress Europe when we are at home. We also fight against the capitalist order that creates the misery here. And we are still there when the cops come to make trouble against refugees or other people. This is the basis on which me and my comrades work.
When we woke up in the morning of the 29th of Ocober the first thing we noticed that the Greek state once again forced us to change our plan for the day. The first reception center had called Lesvos Solidarity that to tell them that PIKPA residents will be evicted and moved to the “old” Kara Tepe. Copss, 2 buses and one military truck (to take luggage) were in and around PIKPA. We immediately left the apartment and went to PIKPA. When we arrived we saw riot cops on the coastal road and 2 buses to transfer refugees. In front of PIKPA there were more cops, some plain clothes cops as well. When we walked into the Pikpa Camp, we saw a military truck with 2 soldiers and some high rank cops. A comrade gave us an update on the current situation. He told us that the Pikpa lawyer was talking with the cops and that there is a kind of standoff as long as these talks are taking place. More and more people arrived to stand in solidarity with the residents of Pikpa. The cops didn’t seem to have all the right documents with them to proceed with the eviction. First the military truck left, than the buses to transport the refugees also left. Empty. The riot cops stayed around, but not in, Pikpa and for today the eviction was posponed. But the cops said they will come back.
This psychological warfare by the Greek state against the residents of Pikpa is going on for weeks now and it will continue. We will be there again when the cops come back (Pikpa was evicted the next day, Enough 14). As I wrote before: Solidarity, not charity! Europe is watching and is doig nothing. Apart from a few symbolic petitions and peaceful gatherings that are not battering anybody in the executive suites in Berlin, Brussels and Athens.
Interview with Mo
What was the reason for you to leave home?
I have two, three reasons. Not just one. I come from a moslim family. When I said I dont believe in God, my family ousted me. They said that’s very bad for us, some uncles said we can kill you for that. My mother helped me to flee.
When I saw people in Afghanistan… The people have this bad situation. But they don’t do anything. They go to work, continue their lives but they dont do anything to change it. To change it for the kids. Not only in Afghanistan. But also in Syria, Somalia. They don’t stop the war. I want to study astrology. In Afghanistan that is impossible. I came here because here I can say I don’t believe in God.
I worked with the US army in Afghanistan. When they left the Taliban came back. They said you worked with US soldiers, this is not good for islam and we will kill you. Afghanistan has a lot of fascists, like my uncles. People have a different thinking. I knew what I can do and for that reason I came here. For sure I can’t go back to an islamic country. In my songs I critize islamic countries, and I receive threats for that. So no I can’t go back. I don’t know if the Greek government will accept my request forasylum. They might reject me.
What did you experience on your long way from Afghanistan to Lesvos?
When I left Afghanistan. My mother helped me with documents and money and I took a flight to Iran. I stayed in Iran for about 9-10 months and I worked a lot. 12 hours, every day. Sometimes I didnt see any sunlight. It was very difficult but I didn’t spend any money because I wanted to continue. In this time I was always affraid for the police because they reject Afghans. In Iran people also asked me all the time why didnt came to the mosque. But you can’t tell them your an atheist. After 10 months I told a kurdish man that I want to go to Turkey. He said okay and took all my money. But I trusted him and he took me with him and so I came to Turkey. When I travelled to Turkey, I walked for 12 hours. When we arrived at the border, the Turkish police chased us. I was so tired and had to run into the mountains. I cried and walked about 30 hours. The police chased me with dogs. I had no food, nothing. I called my kurdish contact and he answered me. I told him „listen if you dont help me I am going to make trouble“. He called a taxi and I had to pay 300 Lira. The Taxi brought me in a city. The police catched me and I was 10 days in prison. They took everything. My cell phone, everything. This prison was really a shitty prison. 700 people in one room for 10 days. No shower, we couldn’t change our clothes. They only had one toilet.After 10 days I received a paper and they said you can go to the city on the paper.
After that I didn’t stay in that city. I went to Istanbul. I worked one month there but they didn’t pay my salary. My boss just said: Go! After that I went to another city and slept on the beach for about a week. Sometimes some people came and brought some food. A man from Afghanistan took me to his house and helped me to find a job. I stayed in Turkey for two years. From this two years I only worked seven months because I was affraid for the police. They send people back to Afghanistan.
A friend of mine gave me some money to go to Greece. It costs about 1300€ to go to Greece and I have to pay it back to him. I spend 1100€ for the dingy to go to Greece. I had to wait 20 days in a room before we could travel. No food. Nothing. After 20 days we went to the beach. We drove, the police stopped us and told us to wait. But we didn’t wait. They followed us. They hate single men. The police hit us and forced us to clean their ships. After that we had to pay them and than they let us go. We started the second round. Sixty people for one small boat. After six hours we arrived on Lesvos.
So you finally arrived in Europe. What were the first things you experienced on Lesvos?
When I arrived on Lesvos they brought me to the Moria camp. We were in the small quarantine section for registration for about 24 hours. At 10:00pm they send us in the “normal” camp without a tent, without anything. We slept in the jungle, Olive Grove, the makeshift illegal camp. The first thing I noticed all people in the camp looked like crazy. Many people were fighting, many people were drunk. That was the first thing I saw and there wasn’t any police. I asked people how long they were there and some told me that they there for two years. I though I was going to stay for a couple of days, so that was very hard for me. I asked them why they were there for two years. They said: “We don’t know.”
When I saw so many people in the camp, I thought I was back in Afghanistan. I asked people: This is Europe? And they said: Welcome to Europe. I saw pregnant women who lived in small tents in the Jungle, in cold weather. I saw women who sold their body for five euro. People were desparate. I asked one of the women, „why do you this?“ She told me that she is doing it for her children because they can’t eat the bad food from the camp and they need food. I saw a lot of young boys, like fourteen years old, using drugs. They said they need it to forget the things they saw in the camp: “Our future died in this camp.”
One day I was in the food line and I saw a refugee with a turkish tshirt. The cops started to beat him up for this. With batons. The full programm.
What are your experiences with NGO’s?
There are a lot of NGO’s working in the camps. Some NGO’s are just coming to get some money for their Business. One of the NGO’s was good and wanted to know what’s going on here. Others are only there to kill the time and make some money. That’s difficult for refugees because they don’t always know who is here to help us and who does nothing. One woman from the Netherlands spoke very bad about refugees. A refugee came and asked for another tent for her family. For her kids. The woman said no, leave or I call the police. One day I went to register for an English course, because I didn’t speak English before I came to Lesvos. I went to the class and noticed that they only teached a few words in English. I asked them why they only teached a little bit of English for the refugees. One volunteer from the USA said we don’t want you to understand everything. Its bad for the camp if you understand everything. After that I decided not to register and I went back to my tent and started to learn English with my phone. I learned for hours and hours because when I saw this situation I felt like I have to do this to help people here. After three months I started to help other people in the camp with translations. I started to speak with European NGO volunteers and asked them why are we imprisoned on this island? In the camp you need to go to an NGO for two months to see a doctor. You need to go every day.. for one visit to a doctor.
I saw also some good groups on the island. Most of them are self-organized groups. They forget their own lives, I saw people who are helping other people all the time. Sometimes they forget to eat, they cried together with me about the situation. They are almost like family and I work with some of them now. They are really differnet than NGO’S. When I saw these people, I saw another European culture. They are more human and I am happy that I learned to know these people and work with them. In the camp you get food from NGO’s, but they give it to you with an attitude that they have power over you. “I am European, I am up, you are down.” Self-organized groups don’t work like this. You are one of them, you can relax, you can speak with them about almost everything. They also communicate with refugees about what to distribute. NGO’s normally have their program and won’t discuss that with refugees. That’s a big difference. Self-organized groups also take a clear position against the European border system and how people are treated.
You also make music. Can you tell us something about that?
I told you about the camp and the situation there. I started to write a text about the things I saw there. Dead Rabbits. I had read something about the Europeans that came to the USA, refugees from Ireland. A lot of them were killed and one of the first groups that wanted to stop that were the Dead Rabbits. They managed to get some space in New York and to stop the attacks against them. Thats why I used this name. Maybe one day people here will also stand together, blacks, whites, all people. One day we will stand together and we will change the situation here and live together in solidarity. Of course I am aware that indigeous and black people were and are still being killed in the USA. And I hope one day people will put an end to that too.
The people of the Enough 14 collective that are on Lesvos at the moment, work together with other groups. Mainly with the Cars of Hope collective. You can support their work with a donation on the following bank account:
Name of the bank: Volksbank im Bergischen Land
Account holder: Hopetal e.V.
Description: Cars of Hope
IBAN: DE51 3406 0094 0002 9450 87
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