Wanted by the Police! The RefuComm Team
RefuComm is surprised to find themselves on the front page of Politico Greece today on Chios.
Although we are very grateful for the publicity for our amazing micro SD card project, which has been rolled out on Chios this week, following our research in June and July where we tested it’s effectiveness, we find it slightly disturbing, and also slightly amusing that we are the subject of police scrutiny, by no less than a “top official” in the Greek police force.
The article is here in Greek.
Τον τρόπο με τον οποίο δρα, ακόμα και εξ' αποστάσεως, μερίδα των Μη Κυβερνητικών Οργανώσεων, επιχειρώντας να αναδειχθο…www.politischios.gr
“NGO Teaches refugees how to overcome the interview hops to get asylum. Claims to have distributed 200 Micro SD cards to refugees in Vial, CHios.
“The way in which the non-governmental organizations act, even at a distance, in attempting to emerge as regulators of the refugee situation in Chios, highlights the case of the Refucomm organisation.”
“The Organisation, which operates only through the Internet and social media, promises enclaved immigrants to Souda and VIAL, o help them, regardless of nationality, at the stage of preparing their interview to have a successful asylum interview.”.
“How is this done? According to the Organisation it is very simple, following the instruction for inserting the SD card and distribute to refugees in Vial and Souda.”
“According to the website, Refucomm team members we on Chios Island in June and July to research the problems that immigrants and refugees have to accessing information and to test the use of micro SD cards.”
“On the SD cards, as informed online, there are several important documents, films and detailed instructions for the asylum interview that they will need to attend with the Greek authorities. All the asylum seekers have to do is place that card on their mobile and start preparing for the interview.”
“The cost to the refugee, according to the Organisation, is zero, since all that migrants have to do is to add themselves to a “whatsapp” group managed by RefuComm and Infobus.”
“The whatsapp groups, as explained in refucomm.com, are created by language and gender, in in the groups are interpreters who can provide legal help in their language.”
“Indeed, Refucomm, through its profile on facebook, notes that thanks to the excellent success of her test in July, on August 21, she managed to channel to VIAL. 200 micro SD cards for people who had not yet had their interviews so that they could access information on Greek procedures and how to prepare for interview. “
“They are also preparing to distribute on other islands”
“The card price is to join our teams in whatsapp. […] We have created a deportation line with our amazing associates at Refugee Infobus so that these people can report possible expulsion. Including counseling and deportation numbers for support teams in Turkey. We can watch what happens to all refugees. If their phones are seized by the authorities, they still have the SD card containing support numbers for them and a record of their important documents, “he explains.
“The organization says it will try to extend its plans to other Greek islands, so it is calling for its funding to be funded by volunteers around the world.”
“We know their moves …”
“However, this tactic seems to be known by the Police, with a top official of the local Police Department, pointing to the “p” that the movements of this organization have entered the Microscope of the Authorities.”
“And advertising through … Youtube”
The Organisation does not stop there. Through a video on Youtube, posted on August 22, she presents the story of Abrar from Pakistan, who thanks her for the help she provided through a micro SD card. The young refugee notes that he is particularly pleased to have been granted asylum because he knows that if someone is from Pakistan it is difficult to get asylum for Europe because his country is not at war. “I have been afraid of returning for a long time. Today I am very happy. That’s why I thank Refucomm very much, “he confesses himself.
Obviously, the badass, anarchic, law breaking team at RefuComm were keen to respond, we even responded in Greek…
Dear Politicos and the ‘top official’ of the Chian police,
Thank you so much for your article about the great work we are doing with SD cards on Chios and on other Islands around Greece.
In reference to the comment that we are being ‘watched’ by the police with a microscope we have the following response.
We are not breaking any laws.
Freedom of information is an extension of freedom of speech, which is a basic and fundamental human right recognized in international law, which is today understood more generally as freedom of expression in any medium, be it orally, in writing, print, through the Internet or through art forms.
The Greek Asylum service has approved elements of our work and the rest has been checked by professors and lawyers, some of them members of the Greek bar association.
We are compensating for the lack of information provided by the Greek governments and larger NGOs to refugees.
We would argue that giving refugees access to asylum benefits both refugees and islanders in that it would encourage refugees to leave the island, go to the mainland and rebuild their lives, contributing to Greek society as they do so and leaving Chians to live in peace, so we are actually doing you a service as well as helping refugees.
We feel this is an opportunity they deserve.
As for the information on the cards itself? There is nothing suspicious here. The information includes a guide to the Greek asylum procedures which are not clearly provided by the Greek asylum service and should be. Many human rights organisations have decried the lack of information provided by the Greek authorities on procedures for the Islands due to the consequences it has for asylum seekers, which mostly results in deportation back to their country and to life threatening situations.
The SD cards also include guides and films to encourage asylum seekers to prepare well for the complicated interviews, one of which has very dubious legal origins since the creation of the EU Turkey deal. This especially is important for refugees as EASO interviews have been reported to be highly irregular. ECCHR have presented a report to the the EU Ombudsman and the case has been accepted.
On the SD cards is an animation, which describes the asylum interview process, this was checked by the Greek Asylum Service and their lawyers and GAS and its lawyers are currently checking our admissibility interview document. The content of the SD cards can be found here on our website and GAS and other organisations are fully aware of the content.
There’s nothing secret going on — just a small NGO providing essential and verified information on SD cards ,where there is little or no internet connectivity, to people in dire need.
Finally, regarding the law, it is worth noting that under article 38 (8 of the directive) in law 4375 the Greek authorities are obliged to provide refugees in their care with information about how to claim asylum. So we are in keeping with Greek law. I would doubt very much if Greece, as the seat of democracy for the world, has a law which prevents the provision of information to refugees.
We also had full permission from the municipality to conduct our research in Souda camp. Not that we needed permission to talk to other human beings.
Yours with warm affection
The RefuComm Team