On the fifth day of refugees protests at Lesvos, Greek cops threatened to arrest the protesting refugees. But the refugees continued their protests and demand to be allowed to leave the island and travel to the main land. A report and video by Arash Hampay.
Lesvos: Cops Threatened to Arrest Protesting Refugees
Today is the fifth day of the protest of refugees from Moria. When the refugees started protesting on the first day, the police tried to prevent them from reaching the city using any means they could, including blocking the road and threatening refugees with arrest. The refugees continued their struggle through all those obstacles and they finally reached the city centre.
The first night that the refugees occupied Sapfous square, all of those in power appeared; the Police, The head of Moria, the head of Kara Tepe. They came as they had done before. “Go back to the camp,” they said. “We shall act in accordance to your demands”, they said. But the refugees have already experienced the empty promises of the authorities. The refugees did not let themselves be lured by their false promises. They did everything they could to silence the voices of the protesting refugees. Beside the ill-treatment of the heads of the camps and the police, even representatives of the hospital and emergency services in Mytilini acted in a an immoral and callous manner. One example was when some children and one woman got sick. We called the ambulance. “Tell them to take a taxi and then come to the hospital” they responded. There was another situation when an ambulance was needed because some women and children who had become ill. “Talk to the police” they said. “We only come by the command of the police” they said. When one woman and a child left the hospital at around 2 am, they had walk all the way back to the location of the protests in the middle of the night.
Today the police gave us an ultimatum of 10 minutes to leave the square, in a very threatening way. When we declined, the police threatened that they would arrest me first and then every one else at the square. We did not leave the square and they could not arrest us as we are committing no crime. Around one hundred refugees have stayed continuously at the square during these last days. They have protested. They have demanded justice. They have demanded a fair treatment. But they have not been received in a dignified way.
The police, the Greek government and the UNHCR have not had any positive reactions. They do not seem to be willing to look into the eyes of these vulnerable people, these heroic refugees. I am a representative and one of the protesting refugees. We demand that you will follow your own laws. We demand that you will treat refugees in accordance with dignity and morals. We demand that you will see us as your fellow human beings.
I will be more clear: We demand that we will be released from this big and beautiful prison of Lesvos Island. We want to go to another country where vulnerable refugees are accepted. I hope that not only those in power but also the beloved people of Greece and Europe will open their eyes and see all those women, children, those victims of war, who have been spending five days on the street. Look! Look into our eyes!