25. April 2018 · Kommentare deaktiviert für ‘One of the Hardest Nights’: Violence Erupts Between Greeks and Migrants · Kategorien: Griechenland · Tags: ,

New York Times | 24.04.2018


ATHENS — After a violent clash between Greeks and migrants seeking asylum in Europe, the Greek authorities and human rights groups say they fear rising tensions and more conflicts on the eastern Aegean Islands that house tens of thousands of refugees who have arrived via Turkey.

The confrontation, which lasted for hours on Sunday and Monday, took place on the island of Lesbos, where tolerance of the growing refugee population has worn thin, and where members of far-right, anti-immigrant groups have been exploiting the frustration. Tensions in the overcrowded migrant camps often erupt into brawls and riots, but major clashes with Greeks have been rare since the flood of refugees from Asia and Africa began three years ago.

About 200 Afghans had been camped for several days in a central square of Mytilene, the main port city of Lesbos, to protest living conditions in the government-run camps and delays in processing their asylum applications. Lesbos is one of the areas most burdened by the refugee crisis; about 8,700 of the 60,000 migrants living in Greek camps are housed there.

On Sunday, local residents gathered in Mytilene to object to the presence of the Afghans, a demonstration that escalated into violence. Some of the protesters pelted the migrants in the square with flares, firecrackers and stones broken off sidewalks, and some chanted “burn them alive,” according to local news media.

The Afghans formed a protective circle around the women and children in their group.

After several hours of upheaval, riot police officers intervened early Monday, transporting the migrants by bus back to the overcrowded camps. The police briefly detained 120 migrants and two Greeks, but did not immediately charge anyone with a crime.

Thirty people were taken to a hospital, mostly for breathing difficulties and dizziness.

Officials on the Aegean Islands have warned for months that conditions there were untenable and tensions could boil over, and have called on the government to move some of the migrants elsewhere. The police have reported an increase in hate crimes across Greece.

The upheaval on Sunday was “one of the hardest nights on Lesbos in years,” said Spyros Galinos, the island’s mayor.

“The anger of citizens and of trapped migrants is to be expected,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that there should no tolerance for “far-right elements nor for lawlessness and anarchy.”

Greek political parties issued statements blaming the violence on far-right groups. The local office of the leftist Syriza party, which leads the country’s governing coalition, said Sunday’s attack was not because of the frustration of locals, but was “a well-organized act, with murderous intent, by specific groups of extreme-right criminal and hooligan elements that have nothing to do with the island or its traditions” and that are “known to local authorities.”

Amnesty International’s Greek chapter released a statement saying, “we demand an immediate investigation and the protection of all the victims and all the refugees on Lesbos.”

The upheaval on Lesbos came a few days after a Greek court ruled that migrants reaching the Aegean Islands from Turkey should not be prohibited from traveling to the mainland. That decision angered many refugees who are already in the island camps, who remained under “geographical restriction,” meaning that they could leave the camps, but not the islands.

Amid fears that the court ruling would undermine an agreement between Turkey and the European Union to curb the flow of refugees across the Aegean Sea, the government scrambled to respond. The state asylum agency reimposed travel restrictions on new arrivals, and Dimitris Vitsas, the migration minister, told Greek radio that refugees would be obliged to wait on the islands for their asylum applications to be processed.

A ministry official noted that a parliamentary committee on Tuesday started reviewing draft legislation aimed at speeding up the processing of asylum applications — a main reason for overcrowding in the migrant camps.

Addressing that parliamentary committee, Mr. Vitsas said that arrivals to Lesbos had almost quadrupled since 2017, noting that although daily arrivals were 54 on average last year, 206 migrants arrived on the island on Tuesday, which was “worrying.” He added that arrivals over the Greece-Turkey land border had also increased, with 340 arrivals on Tuesday.

Over all, from January to April, there were more than 7,000 arrivals to the Aegean Islands, with just 112 returned to Turkey during that period, Mr. Vitsas said.

Theodoros Alexellis, the Lesbos representative of the United Nations refugee agency, said that action should be taken immediately to ease pressure on camps, which are at triple their capacity on Lesbos. Geographical restrictions should not apply for “vulnerable” refugees, like unaccompanied children, pregnant women and victims of torture, who should be transferred to the mainland, he said.

“If the current situation continues, frustration will keep growing in the local community and in the refugee community,” he said.

The flow of refugees across the Aegean is far lower than it was at the peak of the crisis in 2016, when thousands of people tried to cross daily. But they continue to arrive faster than the government processes asylum claims, so the already cramped camps have continued to grow.

As the weather improves, the number of refugees trying to reach European shores has begun to rise again, with dozens arriving every day. Six boats reached on Monday alone, Mr. Alexellis said.


Keep Talking Greece | 23.04.2018

League for Human Rights expresses “dismay” over the racists attacks on Lesvos”

The Hellenic League for Human Rights condemns the racist violent attacks against refugees and migrants on the island of Lesvos on Sunday.  Expressing its particular concern, the HLHR said in a statement issued on Monday,  the attacks ’cause dismay’, the ‘no arrests of perpetrators pose serious questions and requite further investigation.”  The HLHR urges the Greek state to

Press Release

The Hellenic League for Human Rights expresses its particular concern about the incidents of racist violence that occurred yesterday at Sappho Square in Mytilene. There were refugees in the square who complained about the process of examining their asylum claims and their long encroachment on the island. Attacks by extremist groups, by throwing crackers and other objects on protestors, and racist slogans such as “Burn them alive” are causing dismay. The fact that, despite the presence of strong police forces at the scene of attack, no arrests of the perpetrators of the attack pose serious questions and requires direct investigation.

The HLHRhas repeatedly stressed that the persistence in the implementation of geographical restrictions is likely to irreparably damage the social and political cohesion of island regions. The link between the rise of xenophobia and racist incidents and the long-standing overcrowding population in the islands as a consequence of the implementation of the EU-Turkey Deal  has already been highlighted by the Network for Recording Incidents of Racist Violance in its annual report.

For these reasons, there is an urgent need, instead of the lack of care from the State Mechanism, to give due importance to avoiding extreme right-wing expressions and further social destabilization. This, irrespective of the fact that nothing “justifies” the manifestations of  apparently organized racist violence. The state has to safeguard the legitimate safety that is jeopardized and accredit responsibility to those responsible for yesterday’s assault.


Spiegel Online | 23.04.2018

Polizei stoppt Migrantenprotest auf Lesbos

Flüchtlinge haben auf der griechischen Insel Lesbos ein Protestcamp errichtet, weil sie auf das Festland weiterreisen wollen. Nachdem Rechtsextreme das Lager attackierten, wurde es gewaltsam geräumt.

Nach Ausschreitungen zwischen Rechtsextremisten, Migranten und der Polizei haben Einheiten der griechischen Bereitschaftspolizei am frühen Montagmorgen Dutzende Migranten gezwungen, einen zentralen Platz der Hauptstadt der Insel Lesbos, Mytilini, zu räumen. Bei den Ausschreitungen seien mehrere Migranten leicht verletzt worden, berichtete das griechische Staatsradio ERT-Nord-Ägäis.

Vorangegangen waren Attacken von überwiegend rechtsextremistischen Gegendemonstranten, welche auf die seit vergangenen Mittwoch auf dem Sappho-Platz von Mytilini ausharrenden Menschen losgingen.

Die Migranten wurden mit Steinen und Flaschen beworfen. Auch eine Leuchtkugel sei gegen die Besetzer geschleudert worden sein. Die Polizei setzte Tränengas und Schlagstöcke ein, um die beiden Seiten auseinander zu halten, berichtet ERT.

Die überwiegend aus Afghanistan stammenden Migranten forderten, zum griechischen Festland gebracht zu werden. Die Registrierungslager auf den griechischen Inseln sind überfüllt. Im größten Lager von Moria auf der Insel Lesbos, das für etwa 3000 Menschen ausgelegt ist, harren nach Angaben des Migrationsministeriums mehr als 6500 Menschen aus.

Für die Menschen in den Inselcamps gilt seit März 2016 ein Weiterreiseverbot auf das Festland. Auf griechischen Inseln warten etwa 15.000 Asylbewerber in fünf Aufnahmelagern auf ihr Verfahren. Den Behörden zufolge reicht die Kapazität eigentlich für die Hälfte.

Vor zwei Jahren hatte die EU mit der Türkei auch das Flüchtlingsabkommen vereinbart, mit dem die gefährliche Seeroute weitgehend geschlossen wurde. Teil des Abkommens war auch, dass Griechenland die Asylbewerber auf den Inseln festsetzt, bis ihre Verfahren entschieden sind. Die Türkei erhält dafür, dass sie Überfahrten nach Griechenland verhindert, Geld von der EU und soll damit die Lebensbedingungen für syrische Flüchtlinge verbessern.

Ein griechisches Gericht hatte vergangenen Donnerstag entschieden, dass neu ankommenden Migranten die Weiterreise nicht mehr verweigert werden darf. Neue Asylbewerber dürfen demnach nicht mehr auf Mittelmeerinseln festgehalten werden. Die Einschränkung der Bewegungsfreiheit könne nicht mit einem öffentlichen Interesse oder der Einwanderungspolitik gerechtfertigt werden, teilte der griechische Staatsrat mit, der das oberste Verwaltungsgericht des Landes ist.

Die in dem Fall gegen den griechischen Flüchtlingsrat unterlegene Regierung hat angekündigt, das Urteil zu prüfen. EU-Vertreter hatten nach dem Urteil erklärt, man sei ob der Entscheidung beunruhigt. Befürchtet wird, dass das Gerichtsurteil das EU-Türkei-Abkommen gefährden könnte.


Il Fatto Quotidiano | 23.04.2018

Grecia, estremisti di destra aggrediscono migranti a Lesbo con lanci di pietre e bottiglie. Decine di feriti

di Francesco De Palo

Era nell’aria da settimane ma negli ultimi giorni, complice la stagione favorevole a nuovi sbarchi, la tensione è sfociata in violenza. Domenica 22 aprile, la piazza centrale dell’isola greca di Lesbo è stata trasformata in un campo di battaglia con 35 feriti tra cui pare ci sia anche l’avvocato Ariel Ricker, che collabora con i gruppi di solidarietà.

L’isola più orientale della Grecia, che di fatto è il primo approdo dei migranti via Turchia, ha vissuto momenti di scontro fisico tra un gruppo di estrema destra che si è scagliato contro una carovana di 60 migranti che occupava da alcuni giorni la capitale dell’isola, per protestare contro le lunghe procedure di asilo. Gli attivisti di ultradestra hanno lanciato petardi, bottiglie e pietre contro i richiedenti asilo, poco dopo è intervenuto il gruppo dei Mat, le teste di cuoio greche, che hanno ingaggiato uno scontro fin nei vicoli della cittadina. In seguito li hanno diradati con lacrimogeni e manganelli.

Il gruppo si era riunito in centro in segno di solidarietà ai due militari greci detenuti da due mesi in Turchia, ma subito la protesta si è spostata alla questione migranti: da alcuni giorni infatti sia a Lesbo che a Salonicco una carovana di rifugiati si trova in pianta stabile nel centro città in attesa delle procedure di asilo. L’hotspot isolano di Moria è al collasso, ospitando già 6500 persone, mentre la capienza massima è di 3000. Il partito comunista greco, il Kke, condannando l’episodio di stampo razzista, ha chiesto al governo di utilizzare i nuovi fondi che Bruxelles invierà ad Atene, circa 180 milioni, per trasferire i migranti dalle isole di Lesbos, Chios e Kos a siti nell’interno del Paese.

In questo modo potrebbe essere più agevole ridurre la tensione delle popolazioni locali, che con l’avvicinarsi della stagione estiva vedono minacciato il loro unico sostentamento economico (il turismo), e al contempo avere un controllo più diretto dei centri con la regia del ministero degli interni ellenico. Lesbo, infatti, si trova a 2 ore di volo ad Atene, in nave è raggiungibile dopo 15 ore, mentre a est è vista come primo approdo dalle coste turche da cui dista solo 2 chilometri.

Da mesi ormai a Lesbo i migranti chiedono migliori condizioni di vita, procedure burocratiche più veloci e la possibilità di lasciare l’isola trasformata in un centro detentivo dopo l’accordo tra l’Ue e la Turchia. E proprio su questo punto, il 17 aprile si è espressa la Corte suprema greca, che con una sentenza ha annullato la decisione del governo di imporre limitazioni geografiche a chi arriva sulle isole greche. Una decisione che però non è retroattiva, e quindi non riguarda chi è già sbarcato. Per questo Amnesty international, pur accogliendo con favore il provvedimento della più alta corte greca, ha sottolineato come questo non “risolva il problema del sovraffollamento”, e per questo ha fatto di nuovo appello al governo perché interrompa la politica adottata finora e permetta a tutti il trasferimento sulla terraferma.

Nel solo mese di aprile gli arrivi dal confine turco sul fiume Evros sono arrivati a 1500, mentre nello stesso periodo di dodici mesi fa erano stati solo 400. Nel frattempo oggi a Chios verrà celebrato il processo a 35 immigrati accusati di aver causato disordini nell’hotspot di Moria lo scorso 18 luglio: dovranno rispondere di incendio doloso, tumulti, lesioni agli ufficiali di polizia e distruzione della proprietà privata e pubblica, resistenza e disturbo della quiete pubblica. Per la liberazione dei 35 migranti si stanno mobilitando associazioni di volontariato, ong e riviste online.

I video delle manifestazioni sono stato girati da Ariel Ricker, dell’ong Advocate abroad

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