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AYS Daily Digest 23/6/2021 — Greece: #Vial15 under trial

Are You Syrious?


Jun 24 · 6 min read

Spain: National authorities attempt to stop solidarity in Ceuta // UK: Five people climb in to Napier Barracks // Central Mediterranean: LCG don’t intervene but ban available rescue ships from doing so // France: More evictions in Croatia

Solidarity banner at Mytilene’s court, Lesvos, 22/06/2021 (Credit: Can’t Evict Solidarity)

Featured — Greece: #Vial15 under trial

On Tuesday, 22 June, the trial against the #Vial15 started in the court of Mytilini, on Lesvos Island. Fifteen people from different countries stand accused of starting riots and arson within the EU Hotspot Camp Vial on Chios Island on the night of 18–19 April 2020. The arrests followed protests against the inhumane conditions of Vial camp after a woman died in an isolation container. No one has been held responsible yet for her death.

Can’t evict solidarity is reporting about the trial on twitter. Follow their updates.

On Tuesday, one of the major witness against the 15 defendants failed to show up in court. The defence lawyer filed an application for the release of one of the defendants, who is a minor, which was ultimately accepted. While this is good news,

“this person stayed illegally in pretrial detention for 14 month! It is inhuman to keep anyone in prison! And it is illegal to detain minors longer than six months in Greece!” (Can’t Evict Solidarity)

On Wednesday, the second day of the trial, defence witnesses were only given the time to speak for three to five minutes each. Two prosecution witnesses were instead heard at length and the written testimony of a third witness was read aloud. One could not identify the defendants for the arson, while the other was asked to identify them with a controversial procedure:

At the end of the day, a defence witness testified that he was with the 15 defendants and that they are innocent. The verdict is expected next Tuesday, but all elements points towards yet another pre-determined outcome.


Another pushback in the central Mediterranean?

Sea Watch reported that 20 people in distress were spotted by its plane, Moonbird, near oil platform Bouri. The Libyan Coast Guard stated that they don’t have the capacity to carry out the ‘rescue’, whilst also denying permission to two Italian tankers in nearby waters to save the people in distress.


Ceuta: National authorities tell citizens to stop distributing food

No Name Kitchen report that the national government delegate for Ceuta has asked citizens to stop distributing food to minors. As No Name Kitchen point out, “it is precisely these individuals, along with self-organized Associations that have been filling a preoccupying gap that the state has been ignoring for the past month.” In the north African enclave, 3,000 people remain homeless, half of them minors and ignored by authorities. They rely only on the solidarity of grassroots groups and individuals, which the government is now trying to stop.


More proof of pushbacks to Bosnia and Herzegovina

ARD and Spiegel published videos of pushbacks to Bosnia and Herzegovina carried out by Croatian authorities. ARD journalists filmed six groups being illegally deported across the countries’ green border, for a total of 65 people, including 20 children.

Read more HERE (in German).


Evictions in Grande-Synthe

Utopia56 report of two more brutal evictions in Grande-Synte, Pais du Nord.

“This morning, the second expulsion from a camp of exiled people in two days in Grande-Synthe. Knives cut the canvas of the tents while some people are still sleeping there. We have no more tents to distribute.”

Three CRS policemen were sentenced to a suspended prison sentence and a ban from public office for perjury and violence after having pushed a volunteer in Calais to the floor in 2018, as stated in a local media report.


More denial from Frontex’s director

After the publication of Amnesty’s report on pushbacks as being de facto Greek border policy, which stressed the responsibilities of Frontex in such illegal and criminal acts, and on the very day of the final meeting of the fact-finding Frontex Scrutiny Working Group of the European Parliament, the EU border agency carries on with its campaigns of white-, green- and now pink-washing:

During the final meeting of the EP’s Working Group, Frontex’s Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri continued to show his unwillingness to comply with human rights and recommendations from EU institutions. In brief:

  • He confirmed that Frontex is still supporting Hungary with deportations to non-EU countries, despite the decision of the European Court of Justice and the recommendation of the EU Commission to stop all operations in the country.
  • Asked about how he intends to follow up on pushbacks in Greece, he replied that Frontex had already followed up. Apparently “a denial by the Greek authorities is sufficient to ensure accountability.”
  • Asked if he still believes he is the right person to improve respect for human rights within Frontex, he replied that “he still has not seen any evidence of involvement in pushbacks”.


Proposal for a new EU-Turkey deal

Media report that there is a proposal for an additional €3 billion of EU funding for Turkey to continue hosting Syrian refugees until 2024. This is part of a total €5.77 billion package for Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, which goes to humanitarian projects and not governments, with an unspecified part of the money for Turkey earmarked for border control.

Over the next days, negotiation meetings are going to be held between the EU and Turkey, where the parties will move to ‘renovate’ the shameful deal signed in 2016. Unlike five years ago, it is reported that this round of funding will come entirely from the EU’s common budget and so the European Parliament will need to give its approval.

Turkey will pressure EU institutions to maintain their side of the bargain, that is, the liberalisation of Schengen visas for Turkish citizens and the direct funding of Turkish migration policies. Up until now, the EU has never followed through on this.

The authoritarian turn in Turkey is far from being new, with years-long imprisonment of political opponents, suppression and military actions against minorities inside and outside the country’s borders, violent discrimination against people on the move and widespread use of pushbacks on its southern and eastern border with Syria, Iraq and Iran. The EU has expressed concern countless times about the situation in Turkey; will they fund even more criminal policies in the name of border security?


Two people charged with racially-aggravated offences after climbing into Napier barracks

Media report that five were arrested earlier this month after climbing into Napier barracks at night. Three were released without charged but two have been charged with racially aggravated public offences aimed at people seeking asylum, once again prompting concerns about the safety of the residents of the structure which should have been closed down weeks ago.


Deadly practice of migrant ‘pushbacks’ must cease — UN Special Rapporteur

After publishing their report on pushbacks, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants said yesterday that “states must immediately cease the cruel and deadly practice of pushing back migrants”. He demanded that “governments abide by international law which prohibits collective expulsions and refoulement to a country where a migrant may face death, torture, ill-treatment, persecution, or other irreparable harm.”

Read the full statement HERE.


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