[ 01. Aug 2011 ]

Police raids in Patras

Following the huge eviction of the jungles of Igoumenitsa at the 9th of June, Patras became the second war region in the governments cruel fight against the sans-papiers who are trying to leave the country.


The government seems to set a clear sign that the ports of exit towards Italy are now a no-go for refugees and migrants. Will the Apartheid ruling Igoumenitsa come to Patras now? It seems so. The eviction of the informal settlement of refugees in the marshalling-yard of St. Andreas is another example of the cruelness of Greek authorities. Dozens of African, Asian and Arabic sans-papiers used to live there in provisory huts, inside and under the old trains under miserable conditions just in order to survive until they would reach the day of their successful departure from Greece. Many others lived in Patras just because they had nowhere else to go, no support and no money. Among the many sans-papiers are also asylum seekers. Just like in Igoumenitsa the government has made itself clear that nobody of them is wanted in Patras. Newly issued Pink Cards (asylum seeker temporary residence permit) include the order that they are not allowed to stay neither in Igoumenitsa nor in Patras – a restriction that is already included in all deportation orders (paper valid for 30 days for sans-papiers). Asylum seekers also cannot get anymore a renewal of their cards in the two port cities.

The police raids in Patras show the same brutality and cruelness as the one in Igoumenitsa. The sans-papiers have not only been beaten, not only their belongings and plastic huts were destroyed, not only have they no access to their basic rights and needs and suffer from homelessness and mere hunger but they have been deprived of the last thing they had – their dignity. In these days the clear message of the government that they are illegal and not wanted is showing once again its ugliest face.

Hundreds thousands of asylum seekers are waiting since many years for their cases to be proceeded. The Greek government has to deal with a backlog of 47.000 open asylum procedures – the appeals procedure usually takes place after more than 8-10 years. Meanwhile, the very limited 850 places of reception centres can not answer the needs of thousands of homeless refugees. There is no welfare support and no integration procedure neither for asylum seekers nor for recognised refugees. More than ever refugees are stuck in Greece without any support and confronting daily violence of the authorities or right wing extremists. For this reason most newcomers to Greece do not want to stay but try to leave in places like Patras and Igoumenitsa. The ones who live there are the poorest, the ones lacking other resources to leave the country. They live from the rubbish, from the support of solidarity groups, from looking for 50 Cents at the shopping-trolleys outside of supermarkets. The police raids take them even this small existence they managed to have. They get beaten, the police takes their money and mobile phones and destroys their blankets, clothes and huts, cuty off the water supply, they are arrested and transferred to prisons in Athens or elsewhere in order to brake their will and their struggle for a better and safe life. The result: Hundreds of sans-papiers walking back to Patras from the prisons where they were released; people without a blanket, without clothes, without food, without even one Cent in their pocket.

In 2009 police had proceeded a similar eviction of the informal settlement of Afghan refugees in Patras. The consequence: illegal push-backs (forced deportations over the land borders to Turkey) of hundreds of refugees. Among them also asylum seekers and other highly vulnerable persons! This raises the question: What happens to the masses of arrested now?

This point of desperation is where the Greek government wants to have the sans-papiers and then they will promote their new programmes for voluntary return funded by the European Union. This is protection a la Grece!

We demand from the Greek government to stop the police raids and the ongoing brutality and instead invest in the construction of a functioning protection system!


Chronic of a wave of police raids in Patras

1. 8th until 20th of June 2011: Police raids in the trains in St. Dyonisios and in St. Andreas marshalling-yards: more than 300 arrests! Some refugees were released others transferred to prisons in the region of Achaia prefecture or to Athens; destruction of baracks and belongings; cutting of water, beatings, police burned some personal belongings.
:: 210611: PR Solidarity group of Patras (pdf in greek)

2. 26th-27th of July 2011: At least 150 arrests daily. Only the ones with Pink cards were released, most others transferred to Athens. The arrests continued also in the jungles where the Afghan refugees live.
:: pr solidarity group patras 29th July 2011 (pdf in Greek)

See also: PR by Doctors of the World 28th of July 2011

Short summary:
The Doctor of the World have declared their strong concerns about the ongoing use of violence against migrants – independently from their status – who are stuck in Patra trying desperately to leave Greece. They have been hit with clubs even on their arms, legs, heads and their genital organs are only some examples of the violence by authorities that have been registered by the doctors of the organisation. The use of violence without any declaration about the reasons for the arrest are illegal and inhuman misuses of power.
The Doctors of the World also report the technical exclusion of the refugees and others in need from the medical support of the organization, which constitutes a violation of the right on medical support. Thus, bodies of the government undermine programmes that are being paid by the Greek state.

:: Press Release in Greek.

Article published first on 28. Jul 2011 in ::