In September 2022, Homayoun Sabetara, a native of Iran, was handed an 18-year prison sentence for “aiding unauthorized entry into the EU from third countries.” Having driven a car from Turkey to Greece with six others seeking refuge, he was apprehended by the police in Thessaloniki. For the past two years, the almost 60-year-old has remained behind bars, while his daughter, Mahtab Sabetara, has been tirelessly advocating for his release, along with other refugees detained in Greece under charges of “people smuggling.”
In a somber announcement, the human rights monitoring group Mare Liberum has announced its withdrawal from Lesvos island, the end of its operations, and the dissolution of the association. The decision came after five years of operation in the Aegean, during which the group faced multiple forms of sabotage, obstruction, and repression.
The return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan has been a disaster for the country’s people, particularly women. For instance, restrictions on women’s education and work have been imposed, leading to the closure of high schools and universities for women. There have been protests against these restrictions at some universities, and some male students have refused to take classes or avoided exams because of the them.
The brutal reality of refugee camps in Greece has been exposed by the EODY workers’ union, who have issued a damning statement about the conditions faced by asylum seekers. According to the union, the government is turning Reception and Identification Centers into real prisons, complete with double NATO-style military fencing, card and fingerprint entry gates, and surveillance systems. Asylum seekers are being forced to live in these structures, with their freedom severely restricted, even though they have committed no crime.
In recent years, Greece has seen a reconfiguration of its migrant concentration camps, with new camps being erected on islands and existing camps being converted into “closed controlled centers” surrounded by walls. These military-style camps are part of a broader racist-colonial system operating within Greece and throughout Europe.
In 2016, the European Union (EU) and Turkey reached a deal known as the EU-Turkey Statement, aimed at managing the large influx of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe from conflict zones in the Middle East and North Africa. Under the agreement, Turkey agreed to take back all refugees and migrants who arrived in Greece illegally, while the EU pledged to provide Turkey with financial assistance and visa liberalization for Turkish citizens.
The new Immigration bill. What a fascinating piece of work. It’s like watching a magician perform a sleight-of-hand trick, distracting us with one hand while the other is doing something entirely different. In this case, the government is proposing to overhaul the legal framework governing immigration in Greece, while simultaneously erecting insurmountable barriers to the protection of the rights of immigrants who have been living in the country for years.
Yuliya, a Ukrainian expat, recently had a challenging encounter with some Greek leftists. We met last summer and had interesting conversation and sharing thoughts about the global left. We shared this point that it is crucial for the left to recognize the complexities of political situations in countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Iran, and not fall into the trap of blindly supporting regimes that claim to be anti-imperialist. The left must acknowledge that there can be authoritarian and oppressive regimes that are not aligned with the West.
The Greek railway network has been on a countdown towards a serious accident for some time now. The last 15 years have been marked by neglect, with infrastructure and services constantly deteriorating. Projects on the Athens-Thessaloniki axis have been delayed, and contracts were only aimed at patching up the imperfections and poor workmanship of previous ones. The lack of staff has been dramatic, a result of the memoranda that have effectively cut the railway, and it has been clear that a major disaster was waiting to happen.
A large crowd of beneficiaries of international or subsidiary protection have not been able to renew their residence permits, and are only receiving a 6-month certificate confirming that their renewal is pending. This can cause serious problems in many areas, including employment and insurance. Although they have these certificates, many refugees have complained that they are taken to police stations and held for hours while the police claim to be checking their validity.
Greece has been facing accusations of illegal pushbacks of migrants and asylum seekers for several years. However, the country’s Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, recently denied that there is any truth to these claims. Despite this denial, evidence of illegal pushbacks has continued to surface in increasing numbers in 2022.
Waris Ali and Tsiona Nzita are two resent examples of individuals who have died in the refugee camps due to lack of access to medical care. The reason for the death of both of them was the long delay in the arrival of the ambulance.