• Rory O'Keeffe, Koraki

Have you been to Samos? Which Samos have you been to, Mr. Prime Minister?


Have you been to Samos? Which Samos have you been to, Mr. Prime Minister?


‘Since no journalist has asked you since March 2020, we as residents of Samos would like to ask something. As you are talking about aggressive border guarding and a ‘tough but fair’ immigration policy:


· How can we have such low numbers of officially recorded arrivals of immigrants in Samos, when we who live here have witnessed countless arrivals?


· How is it possible to talk about hundreds or even thousands of daily rescues and in Samos that there has not been a single record for a year and a half that results from the rescue of the port?


· What actions are being taken for all the boats with migrants that have been located in Greek territorial waters? Can you confirm that the arrivals have been taken to a safe place to be recorded? Why does this not appear in the official records?


· What actions are taken for all the boats with immigrants that have arrived on a Greek island? Have they been officially registered and if so, why do they not appear in the relevant reports?


· If in these last two cases the arrivals have been abducted, robbed, abused and towed back to Turkey, then isn’t this the biggest, most massive, most lasting crime of the Greek state by its hierarchically structured criminal organisation, or have we done even bigger?’


We have been talking for eight months (and others for much longer) about the illegal actions of the Greek government, whose operatives in the Aegean Sea and on the Aegean islands have beaten, robbed and pushed back men, women and children who have arrived to find safe, decent places to live, learn and work.


The people of one of those islands – Samos, where the government has built the first of its prison camps: closed centres with barbed wire, locked gates, restricted access and exit, and drone surveillance – yesterday spoke out.


The lines above are from the letter sent to Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis by the Samos Open Assembly on Friday afternoon (12 November 2021).


They also note:


‘Let us inform you that the new Closed Controlled Structure of Samos is not perfect, it is not clean and it does not have a standard playground for children. It is an installation inside a bare plateau of Samos made entirely of barbed wire, metal containers, concrete, gravel, police, checkpoints and private security officers.


‘Damage caused by use is never repaired. Being able to travel to and from the city is financially impossible for people who - if you paid them even what you said you would - would receive a maximum of €75 per month. The playground, to which you so proudly referred, is surrounded by surveillance roads and barbed wire and does not accommodate children because you force them every day into unmanned inflatable boats and push them into Turkish waters.’


‘Have you been to Samos? Which Samos have you been to, Mr. Prime Minister?’


We will publish the letter in full, below, and we hope you will read it and share it with others.


We just wanted to say a couple of things as well:


1) We know that these pushbacks are taking place. Other organisations know that they are taking place. Kiriakos Mitsotakis knows that they are taking place, because he either ordered them himself, or he runs the government which ordered them. Now, the people of Samos confirm that they, too, know they are taking place. It is time they stop. Immediately, and forever.


2) Mitsotakis’ government itself – as well as large parts of the media which, we are sorry to say, seem to serve it – claims that the people of the islands are angry. That they are fed up with refugees, that they want them sent home. Some aid organisations, unfortunately, have been tricked into thinking the same. Moments like this prove the reality: the people of the islands are angry. But not ‘because of refugees’: because of the behaviour of their own government.


We stand with the people of Samos. And of Lesvos, Leros, Kos and the other islands where men, women and children travel hoping to do no more than live decent lives in safety. And we stand with those men, women and children.


And it’s important. As we have said from the start, alone we may not prevail, but together there is almost nothing we cannot achieve.


The letter in full:


Open letter to the Prime Minister.


Have you been to Samos? Which Samos have you been to, Mr. Prime Minister?

Because we live in Samos, we would like to inform you about two or three events from the countless ones that we know well, for which, although you gave the order to take place - in KYSEA of March 2020 - you may not have happened to be in Samos so to see them happen.


On the first of April 2020, a boat with immigrants arrives at Mourtia beach. Sami people in the area confirm the arrival and presence of the people and a journalist is called to take photos. A day later, the same migrants are in inflatable lifeboats without a motorboat sailing abandoned in danger in Turkish waters.


A few days later the same happens to immigrants who arrive in the village of Kallithea and ask for help, until the same night they are in unmanned boats in danger in Turkish waters. A resident of the area confirms on the radio - the testimony recorded at your disposal - the arrival in every detail.


In Marathokampos in April 2021, residents confirm the bullying of the hooded men of the security forces and the violent abduction of people who had just arrived at Psili Ammos beach. Almost all the arrivals, instead of being taken to a safe place to file an asylum application, are in a lifeboat without a motor, in Turkish waters. Journalists report which not only provides photographic evidence of arrival but also confirms all complaints. Unfortunately for you, a woman with her children from Palestine, hides and manages to reach the reception and identification center, where not only does she apply for asylum, and later she is obviously recognized as a refugee, but she also shares her experience with her. per day as well as a lawsuit with a lot of material in the prosecutor's office.


In November 2021, a boat with 24 people arrives in Zoodocho Pigi. 19 of them are disappearing. Unfortunately for you, the other 5 are frightened and hidden in the area by an MEP who visited the island as an observer of a relevant committee of the European Parliament. The committee member denies its leader and insists that he caught and saved five people from a deportation that had already begun. The chief says he neither learned of this relapse nor heard of another involving a ninth-month pregnant woman. Because, according to the testimony of her partner in a relevant question of the head of the committee during his visit to the Closed Controlled Structure of Samos on 3/11/2021 with dozens of eyewitnesses, the 9-month pregnant woman had not managed to hide when she arrived, and so the security forces abducted her and pushed her into an inflatable boat back to Turkey where she gave birth immediately after the rescue operation by the Turkish port. Some put a ready-made boat in an unmanned boat and left it in the middle of the sea. Some have ordered them to do so and some are hiding it.


From these practices, which you requested in KYSEA of March 2020, thousands of people have been abducted, abused, robbed in Samos alone. A 9-year-old child has drowned with them, according to the lawsuit filed by his father for criminal acts and omissions of the Coast Guard. Of course, these are not called rescues, as you claimed, or boat stops, as you admit you do.


You may turn a blind eye to your far right by not denying deportations and the other to a raging Europe that would like to fully legitimize the crackdowns, but the country you rule in has not surrendered to either the far right, fear or hatred.


And since we know very well about your visits to Samos from 2019 when you shared seats and general secretariats, in 2020 when you distributed empty promises to the earthquake victims, and from there in 2021 when you inaugurated photogenic areas before the transfer of immigrants, let us to inform you that the new Closed Controlled Structure of Samos is not perfect, it is not clean and it does not have a standard playground for children. It is an installation inside a bare plateau of Samos made entirely of barbed wire, metal containers, concrete, gravel, police, checkpoints and private security officers.


Damage caused by use is never repaired. Being able to travel to and from the city is financially impossible for people who - if you paid them normally - would receive a maximum of € 75 euros per month. The playground, to which you so proudly referred, is surrounded by surveillance roads and barbed wire and does not accommodate children because you board them every day in unmanned inflatable boats and push them into Turkish waters.


Since no journalist has asked you since March 2020, we as residents of Samos would like to ask something. So since you are talking about aggressive border guarding and a tough but fair immigration policy:


How can we have such low numbers of officially recorded arrivals of immigrants in Samos, when we who live here have witnessed countless arrivals?


How is it possible to talk about hundreds or even thousands of daily rescues and in Samos that there has not been a single record for a year and a half that results from the rescue of the port?


What actions are being taken for all the boats with migrants that have been located in Greek territorial waters? Can you confirm that the arrivals have been taken to a safe place to be recorded? Why does this not appear in the official records?


What actions are taken for all the boats with immigrants that have arrived on a Greek island? Have they been officially registered and if so why do they not appear in the relevant reports?


If in these last two cases the arrivals have been abducted, robbed, abused and towed back to Turkey, then can we talk about the biggest, most massive, most lasting crime of the Greek state by its hierarchically structured criminal organization or have we done even bigger?


Υ.Γ. We should not leave without comment Mr. Mitsotakis and your second admission, as you let another truth escape you, in fact to an international audience.


Since when is it a Dutch peculiarity for journalists to ask straightforward questions and is it not a debt and an acquis in any country that wants to operate in a fundamentally democratic way?


So although the incense of power is very important - we also have interesting experiences from Samos - without the slightest sense of self-control or dignity from the dominant and systemic media for two years, we will not dwell on it at this time.


People are in danger, people are lost, they are drowning in Samos and we have to put an end to that.


Samos Open Assembly - 12/11/2021


www.koraki.org/end-pushbacks

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