Please read, spread and sign this Communiqué from activists of the international No Border Camp 2009 on Lesvos concerning the Dublin II regulations and deportations to Greece. You can sign using the comment form. Let’s build pressure!
As activists of the international No Border Camp 2009 on Lesvos, we are witnessing a policy of systematic human rights abuse against migrants and refugees. As a crucial symbol for this policy stands Pagani, a detention centre, situated in the outskirts of the city of Mitilini, for migrtants and refugees, women, men, minors and children, who arrive in Greece without documents. People are imprisoned in Pagani for many weeks, even months. They are forced to share a room with approximately 100 people. About 1000 people are constantly locked up in a place normally designed for only 280 people. Sanitary and medical conditions are beyond any possible imagination. It is not even necessary to describe the further consequences of forcing people to under these circumstances, since the absolute lack of human rights is all too obvious.
During the week of the No Border Camp, partly as a result of the political pressure created by solidarity actions and media reports scandalising the terrible situation, one part of those detained in Pagani have been released and a temporary open camp set up next to the airport of Mitilini. International pressure is vitally important now to force the Greek state to release all the Prisoners at Pagani, to close down the detention centre and to provide a permanent solution where refugees and migrants can stay as free persons when they arrive in Greece. Furthermore, the problem doesn’t end there. Even if they are released from the horrors of Pagani, the futures of the Migrants passing through Lesvos are often bleak. The reason is: The Greek state strictly excludes the great majority of refugees to get asylum or a regular stay. For those who claim asylum, the rate of success in asylum procedures is almost zero. Most refugees don’t receive any support for housing and daily survival. Released from detention in Lesvos, the refugees receive nothing but a ticket for the next ferry to Athens and a white paper telling them that they have 30 days to leave Greece. After this time, many of the refugees end up in Athens, Patras or other Greek cities, as undocumented and homeless people, living in unbearable conditions in slum camps or in public parks, always in danger to be arrested and detained again by the Greek police. The white paper doesn’t offer any possibility to travel further to other European Union countries.
Having no chance to find living conditions in human dignity in Greece, the refugees are also excluded from claiming asylum or settling down in other European Union countries under the “Dublin II” convention. The determining factor is that they are very often digitally fingerprinted after the first contact with the Greek authorities. As these fingerprints are stored in the Europe wide “EURODAC”-database, the authorities in any other European Union country will immediately find out if a person who claims asylum has been in Greece before. Who the Greek authorities chose to fingerprint and who they do not is completely arbitrary, it is a kind of human rights lottery. Under “Dublin”-rules, migrants must be returned to the so-called “safe first country” of the European Union, which means that people whose fingerprints have already been taken in Greece will be deported to there.
The “Dublin”-rules mean that the borders are truly carried everywhere with the migrants, haunting him or her at every turn. This means for the migrants that their fingers, their own bodies, become their enemies. As the most extreme consequence of this situation, some migrants in Calais, who make their last attempt to get to Britain after having been chased away from all other EU-countries, go as far as to attempt to burn off their fingerprints with hot knives or acid so as not to be identified. Similar examples of self mutilation have also been reported from the Netherlands.
So we can see that the “Dublin” system is built to exclude migrants and refugees from Europe, starting in Greece with its zero tolerance asylum policy. “Dublin”-rules are built so that the migrants’ rights and their possibilities of living a decent life are destroyed and they are left to the mercy of unscrupulous employers who exploit the situation of undocumented people. Greece has the role of watchdog for the European Union, “Dublin II” serves the racist agendas of the more powerful states of the European Union who, while claiming to respect asylum rights, never cease to fund externalisation projects to prevent refugees from entering their territory. In this sense, the European Commission provided funds for the Greek system of handling asylum and migration control. While there is criticism from human rights organisations like Amnesty International and even the UNHCR has criticised the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers in Greece after considering how the Greek government, instead of improving its asylum system, dismantled it, the European Commission has remained silent. The Commission, in fact, also accepts that a lot of money has been syphoned off by the Greek state. Crucially, the Greek state is paid 4000 Euro for each person returned through the Dublin II agreement. This means that the European Union is in effect sponsoring a policy of the total refusal of asylum and daily human rights abuses, with Greece playing a core role in implementing the conditions of the “Dublin II” – convention.
Moreover, a core part of EU migration control policy is blackmail: In return for possible accession to the European Union, Turkey is obliged, under the “6 point plan” which it has signed with Greece, to accept readmission agreements. Thus, “refoulement”, the systematic return of people without being given the opportunity to claim asylum, even if their lives and human rights are put in danger, has become the official mechanism for the deportation of refugees.
As activists of the No Border Camp 2009, the aim we are struggling for is global free movement for every person living on this planet and the end of any form of migration control.
As first necessary steps, considering the systematic human rights abuse against refugees and the total denial of asylum right taking place in Greece, we demand:
- The immediate stop of all deportations to Greece based on the “Dublin”-convention
- The right to return for all people who have been deported to Greece from other European Union countries based on the “Dublin”-convention
- Shut down Pagani and all detention centres in Greece!
- Suspend the “Dublin”-convention!
- An end to the EU’s blackmailing of poorer neighbouring states to inforce readmission agreements and externalised migration control
We don’t accept little improvements and modernisations of legal standards as a legitimation to continue the externalisation of border controls and deportations based on the “Dublin”-convention. We want an end to all forms of repressive border regime!
Some activists of the No Border Camp in Lesvos, 31st of August 2009