Just before I went on my trip to Mytilene I saw in Germany the news about refugees in Greece. On TV it was reported on how aggressive and angry the refugees were in Greece (Mytilene). After I saw these news in Germany about the refugees I started to think and worry a bit. Would it all go alright? Would it be right to travel to Mytilene and help the people who require support? Would I endanger myself or not? These questions formed in my mind. I travelled nonetheless as I had already booked my ticket and had promised the group that I would come and participate.
When our ship dropped the anchor in the harbour of Mytilene, I saw from above used rubber vessels and many people (men, women, and children) who did not look well and who had to wait in the heat for their registration. When we went to our camping site (Charamida), somewhere far away from the harbour and the city, we saw families and men, who were lying on the street as they could not walk anymore and were tired. We stopped and gave them water and information. We then quickly went to our camp and unloaded our car. When the cars were empty we drove back to bring the refugees to the harbour to register.
Wednesday, 6th August – 7 PM – Welcome to Europe: Party in Pikpa with Food and Music
Pikpa is a selforganised Welcome Centre for Refugees. We will join with the newcomers and some refugees who stay already for a while in Pikpa and with local supporters.
Thursday, 7th August 9 PM – Platia Sappho
Pagani: A Museum of resistance, voices from inside and outside – Return and Remember (+ Film-screenings). Stories from the former prison Pagani and of resistance against all prisons at Europes outer borders. Some of us have been imprisoned in Pagani themselves others struggled for their freedom from outside. We will exchange our memories.
Hello I am Jawad and I live in Hamburg now for the last three and a half years. I am from Afghanistan and I want to tell the story of how I came to Hamburg. It is a long story. That I had to leave my country was not my decision and it was also not my decision that I was born in this country.
When I was four years old I had to leave my village and country because of the war in Afghanistan. We fled to Iran. The situation in Iran for refugees was not good. We got a paper to stay only for a short while. We were not allowed to go to school or to work and we could not buy anything in our name. They put a lot of pressure on us so that we would leave quickly again. When they saw us on the street we were always controlled and it also happened that men, when they got back from work, were arrested and deported. In Maschat at the border there was a concentration camp for Afghan refugees. There was no food but a lot of torture. I was not in the camp but my friends told me about it. They had to stand the whole day in the sun or in the winter in the cold. They had to do forced work and when the guards found out that one had been to Iran before, they tortured them. Nearly all of those who left the camp became mentally ill and were deported to Afghanistan. Still today there are people who get shot by soldiers at the border. Many are afraid of that and do not try to escape to Iran. Continue reading Jawad’s Journey→
It is my first time in Mytilene. My friend Selinia told me to come to be part of the gathering. They have relations to CCR and nothing to do with the government. I was very happy when she asked me to come here as I will make new friends and because I will get to see the island that I have heard is very nice. It was the opportunity to leave Athens, a city that is packed with racism and problems with the police.
When the ferry was on its way to Mytilene I swam with my thoughts. I thought how nice the island will be. But suddenly, when we arrived in Mytilene, the police disturbed us at the exit of the ferry. And all the thoughts that I had disappeared. They controlled us. We are not criminals, the only problem is that we are refugees. There is a law here in Mytilene that refugees are being kept until they can prove that they are free to go. Here the rule that one is innocent until proven guilty never exists. In this country it is normal to treat refugees badly because there are no controls of those who do bad things to refugees. These forms of racist behavior against us are similar to those that we have experienced in our country, they only wear different clothes now!
We came together today. Here in the harbour of Thermi we gathered for remembering the dead of the European border regime.
In the last years about 20.000 people have been killed by these murderous borders – here in the Aegean, at the street of Gibraltar and many have been lost in the Mediterranean between Lybia and Italy. The numbers of deaths at the European borders have increased tremendously.
Since the Lampedusa tragedy with more than 300 dead a few days ago and yesterday another tragedy happend in front of the Italian island. All over Europe there is an outcry: this senseless death at the border has to be stopped! There should be safe ways for refugees to reach Europe!
I am an Afghan girl who lives in Hamburg, Germany for 2 years. I am 18 years old, I go to school, and am in the 11th grade. Right now I am in Mytilini, the capital city of Lesvos to particpate in the conference of the initiatives Youth Without Borders and Infomobile to help the refugees who arrive in Europe. When I was in Germany and I knew I would come to Mytilini I was very excited and happy. I thought to myself: “everything is good, and everything will work out well for the refugees.” But unfortunately it was not as I thought to myself!
All of the refugees where very sick and they were homeless. Everyone was tired and they had no drive. Some people slept on the street, some in the harbour. Nobody is able to sleep. Everbody is stressed out. Some lost their families during the journey or even through death. While some were physically present, their minds and souls were somewhere else. If I have to summarise my thoughts I would say that everyone was alive but their souls were already dead.
For hours, days and nights, they were on the streets or at the harbour so that the police could come to arrest them. The people were disoriented and just waiting for the police to arrest them. But the police did not want to arrest them. Nobody wanted to offer them food or something to drink. Nobody tried to understand them. Me and the others felt helpless because we could not do more than provide food, drinks and clothes, organise demonstrations or get in touch with the media. Nonetheless, thank god that we are at least able to do that and show our solidarity with them. They are not alone, there are people who think about them. We invited all of the young people who live at the Villa Azadi to a party and we brought them into our group to show that they are not alone. Also there were young people who were just released from the Moria centre who we invited as well. We prepared food for them and gave them clothes that they could wear. They opened up to us and told us stories about their fate and the sorrow in their hearts. All of them were very intelligent and multifaceted and two of them performed for us and sang beautiful songs. Below we post the link to the song they sang.
Ich bin Arash, ich komme aus Afghanistan und momentan lebe ich in Kiel in Deutschland. In 2006 bin ich nach Europa gekommen und am 16. Oktober 2006 war ich auf Mitilini. Zweieinhalb Tage war ich in Pagani und danach bin ich nach Athen mit der Fähre gefahren. Dort war ich zwei Tage und ich hatte keinen Schlafplatz. Ich musste im Alexander Park schlafen. Danach bin ich nach Patras gefahren und wollte weg. Zwei Wochen lang habe ich versucht weg zu kommen aber habe es leider nicht geschafft. Dann habe ich entschieden nach Athen zurück zu gehen.
I am Arash, I am from Afghanistan and I live in Kiel in Germany at the moment. I came to Europe in 2006, on the 16th of October I arrived on Mytilene. I stayed in the detention centre Pagani for two and a half days and then went to Athens by ferry. There I stayed for two days and had no place to sleep. I had to sleep in the Alexander Park. I then went to Patras and just wanted to leave. I tried for two weeks to leave but unfortunately it did not work. I decided to go back to Athens.
today, on the 10th of October 2013 we had an appointment with the mayor of Mytilene, Greece. The goal of this meeting was to negotiate the closing of the prison of Moria. We wanted to thank the city of Mytilini which helped us to set up the camp in Tsamakia beach of Mytilini for a short time. We also invited the mayor and his staff to join us for our welcome party which will take place tonight.
Because the mayor is a nice and friendly person he accepted our invitation.
He told us that he agrees with us about closing Moria. He does not like the prison of Moria. He told us that he could open Pikpa.
Pikpa could be an open and welcoming place for the refugees arriving in Mytilene.
Pikpa could be a better alternative to Moria. Pikpa is a symbol for freedom and hospitality while the prison of Moria symbolises imprisonment and unfreedom.
In the end the mayor wished us well for our project and journey!
Sunday night, arrival in Mytilene. We, a little group of 10 people were really exited when we arrived at the beach of Tsamakia. With the feeling: Finally we did it again!
Here in Mytilene we were looking forward to meeting people who were in solidarity with us. We were glad to see the Mediterranean Sea and at the same time Turkey which is the place that is for a lot of people the last step on the journey to Europe. All of us brought hope and expectation but we also felt sadness because we know that a lot of people lose their lives when fleeing. Some of us also had to take the same route of escape and arrived back then in Mytilene.
The nice sight of the island is still connected to our painful memories
. Some of us were unable to sleep in the first few nights. We had hopes and expectations on the one hand but we were also personally affected on the other hand. Just imagine seeing the sun and sea and then suddenly seeing the refugees standing at the sea front… Continue reading Traces back 2013: Arrival in Mytilene→
On a journey back to the border, we track back our traces to Europe.
Letter to the people in Mytilene
Dear people in Mitilini and on Lesvos island,
We came via Lesvos and/ or Greece to Europe, most of us some years ago and we are living now in different cities in Germany and Sweden. We finally got a right to stay and arrived. And we want to start a journey back to the border to track back our own traces to Europe.
A lot of us have made our first steps on European soil on your island. And many of us have been in Pagani, this very bad place on your island that is now history – after a long and hard struggle from inside and outside. We have made a lot of bitter experiences in Greece – but we have also met you and others who had been in solidarity with our struggle.
Also today refugees arrive on Lesvos, among them unaccompanied minor refugees, like us. They are like we have been, without help and support. As we said already we have made a lot of bitter experiences: we have survived the dangerous trip on the small boats, we have seen prisons and violence by the police. We have experienced homelessness and push-backs and racist attacks also on our further journey and with the fingerprints the border followed us until our countries of destination.
But we have also seen you and many others who helped us, sometimes with seemingly very small things like giving us a pair of shoes or food or just a friendly welcome. Many of us came to the island in a time when a lot of things were different than usual: during Noborder 2009 we stayed in the circus tent in the harbour of Mitlini directly after our arrival. In the very first moment we found friends from all over Europe. Others have spent some time in Agiassos, among us also known as the “Villa Azadi”, the villa of freedom. We come to meet you again and to thank all those on the island, who set their welcoming against the cruel borderregime. You gave us the hope that was necessary to reach our right to stay. For many of us this has been a starting point of a common struggle for the vision of another, a welcoming Europe, that maybe exists in the future. Continue reading Traces back 2013: Letter to the people in Mytilene→