The past six months have seen more xenophobic and racist reactions by parts of the local societies against the presence of refugees and the creation of new hotspots on the islands of Lesvos and Samos. These reactions ranged from extreme and violent language used by local politicians and police to self-patrol groups checking houses for the presence of refugees on Lesvos.
A large-scale racist pogrom against Afghan refugees including children protesting for their prolonged stay on Lesvos took place last April and resulted in many of the refugees seeking hospital treatment. Activists trying to protect them were also injured. Criticisms were raised for the stance of police authorities as arrests of alleged perpetrators happened some days later. A monument dedicated to refugees who perished at sea was also destroyed by a far-right group on Lesvos and local journalists were threatened for their positive coverage of refugee issues. Other xenophobic manifestations included local parents’ extensive reactions to refugee children attending classes in Chios schools. Footage showing police officer making a shockingly vulgar verbal attack against an elderly refugee woman in Moria hotspot attracts led to a disciplinary investigation by the Greek Police.
See also RSA’s previous timeline presenting a series of illustrative xenophobic incidents and hate crimes on the North Aegean islands. The timeline covers the first two years after the implementation of the EU-Turkey “deal”.
Xenophobia and racism in the island communities: yet another loss caused by the EU – Turkey “Deal”
22-23 April 2018 Lesvos
In the evening of 22 April and the early hours 23 April 2018, many Afghan refugees including families with children are subjected to a violent and organized attack by a large group of persons led by figures of the far right on the island of Lesvos. The refugees were protesting in the island’s main square for delays in the examination of their asylum claims and being trapped on the island as a result of the Eu-Turkey ‘deal’. Activists trying to protect the refugees are also attacked. Extreme racist slogans are heard by the perpetrators such as ‘Burn them alive!’. At least, twenty-eight refugees are transferred to the local hospital to receive first aid for injuries such as head injuries and breathing problems. Despite the presence of a prosecutor and his reported orders for arrests, police did not apprehend any of the perpetrators that night. Instead, refugees were arrested for occupying a public space. On 26 April, the authorities charged 17 locals in relation to the attack.
Videos from NOBORDER twitter: Youtube: video 1 video 2
May 2018 Samos
The Ministry of Migration Policy announced plans to move the hotspot to the Moschona army camp, which is situated near the village of Mytilinioi. However, parts of the local society and local politicians protested over the establishment of the hotspot near the village and xenophobic and aggressive rhetoric was used.
In English ekathimerini.com
June and July 2018 Chios
The parents’ association of various villages on Chios votes against refugee children attending afternoon reception classes in the island’s schools and proposes segregated education in the Chios refugee camp of “Vial”. Several other parent’s associations adopted the same position and asked from the Chios Union of the parents to adopt a similar position.
14 June 2018 Lesvos
Lesvos Legal Centre expresses serious concerns over the racist denial of entry to nationals of non-Schengen countries in Tsamakia Beach in Mytilene. An announcement outside the beach requires for nationals of these countries to show their passports in order to enter the beach.
keeptalkinggreece.com/, racistcrimeswatch.wordpress.com , www.efsyn.gr
28 June 2018 Lesvos
During a meeting with Migration Policy Deputy Minister in the General Secretariat of the Aegean, one of the Lesvos Deputy Mayors expresses threats in a discussion about the creation of a second hotspot on the island. He says: ‘I will go out with a gun and whoever dares, I will kill him…”.
August 2018 Lesvos
In Gera, locals create “patrol groups” checking houses and whether asylum-seekers had been/would be transferred there. They also evacuated a house where activists from Czech Republic and five African asylum seekers lived. The xenophobic reactions followed ‘fake news’ that an abandoned factory in the area would turn into a refugee camp.
August 2018 Lesvos
Attacks, insults and threats against journalist, Stratis Balaskas of the state Athens News Agency. He received a coordinated online attack by people in the far right and was warned by hardliners to stop writing about “illegal apes.” Following two lawsuits, 17 persons were charged including three police officers and an army officer. The hearing of the case against them has been postponed for May 2019.
August 2018 Lesvos
The Nationalist Organization Krypteia, an extreme far-right group that mostly operates underground claimed responsibility for the complete destruction of the memorial in Thermi that was dedicated to the refugees who have lost their lives in the Aegean Sea. Last year black paint was poured on the same memorial.
w2eu.net, https://www.middleeasteye.net, www.keeptalkinggreece.com
September 2018 Lesvos
Local journalist and AFP contributor Anthi Pazianou said that she had been threatened after writing about the Greek girl attacked by far-right militants for wearing a headscarf. She said local journalists had been requesting police protection since last May but the authorities didn’t take any measures.
During the same month, the journalist and head of the ERT station on the island Anastasia Spyridaki said that she received insulting and threatening telephone calls .
17 September 2018 Lesvos
The majority of Lesvos Association of Secondary State School Teachers (ELME) board affiliated to the conservative party of Teachers (DAKE) decided to favor the use of the offensive and degrading word “illegal migrant” by teachers in the schools of the island. The decision contradicted an August circular by Greece’s Supreme Court Prosecutor urging for measures that deter the use of the term “illegal migrant”.
4 October 2018 Chios
In a non-judicial document bearing the signatures of at least 1,130 people the parents ask that refugee children do not attend mainstream school. Reportedly the document was instructed and drafted by a so-called “Pan-Chios Struggle Committee”. Despite these xenophobic protests in the middle of October a total of 40 refugees children from Vial camp started attending classes in five of the island’s schools and with symbolic welcome actions by locals.
http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com, https://astraparis.gr 1, 2
10 and 12 October 2018 Chios
Racist rhetoric and language used by local counselor during Chios municipality meeting and in a subsequent radio interview. In his interview the counselor claimed “… they are not migrants, there is a plan to destroy the Greeks… Most of them (speaking about refugee women).. are pregrant… There will be intermarriage…..“.
10 October 2018 Lesvos
Shockingly vulgar verbal attack by police officer against an elderly refugee woman in Moria hotspot. Three other policemen watch the brutal incident without reaction. The recorded footage has been widely circulated on social and mainstream media. After reactions from international NGOs and public opinion, Head of Greek Police orders and disciplinary investigation. One officer is suspended from duty and three others are transferred away from Moria.