Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Report from Moria

I realize I'm not writing these days; I don't feel like there's much to say. But I still keep up with events in Mytilini and Moria through a Whatsapp group.

Conditions inside Moria have been getting progressively worse. I think I told you all about the hunger strike a couple of weeks ago. Many issues have revolved around food. There hasn't been enough of it, the police running the camp apparently don't really know how to distribute it, and judging from the photos uploaded to the group, the food has been less than satisfactory.



pile of rejected food from the hunger strike. they look like hot dogs.
photo by someone known only to me as Secoady in the group



meals in moria: bread and potatoes, bread and pasta
photos by Sham Jutt


One of the refugees who used to stay at Better Days for Moria, a Pakistani, Sham, has been regularly reporting from inside about the worsening conditions. A few days ago he reported that after asking a policeman why he put two people in front of him in the food line, the policeman kicked him and said "Fuck you, I'm an officer and management and who are you? Garbage Pakistani?" and our friend didn't get food. 


photo of the police coming after Sham with his nightstick out
photo by Sham Jutt

Though food has been a point of contention, it's certainly not all about food. The following short video, also taken by Sham I think, captures part of one of the protests inside Moria this month. 



As I told you before, most NGOs pulled out of Moria when it became a detention center, though EuroRelief was still inside. Amnesty International was granted access in early April, just after the first deportations started on the fourth. Human Rights Watch went in shortly thereafter, I think. I know they went in, but not sure exactly when. However, it doesn't seem to have made much difference to conditions inside. Where it may have made a difference, though I'm not sure, is that a few days ago Moria, and the camp VIOL on the Greek island of Chios, opened their gates, allowing refugees some freedom of movement.

However, there were many people still locked up. A majority of the Pakistanis (who have been treated especially badly throughout this whole mess) and for some unfathomable reason the unaccompanied minors who are supposed to be under the aegis of the UNHCR.

Sham reported this morning that there was a riot or near riot around food distribution again. He said that Syrian and Afghan men with rocks and iron (I'm not sure what the iron was) started a big fight in the distribution line, that the stones were "coming like rain", and that many people were injured. Sham also said there were only three or four policemen there, and two or three army men, and that very few people got food.

Then around 5:00 this afternoon, reports started coming in from volunteers who were near the camp that there was another riot situation, that people were throwing stones at the police and that police had responded with tear gas. 

Apparently, the riot started when the unaccompanied minors (I'm certain my friend--the trauma victim of an earlier post--was in on this, possibly one of the instigators) broke out of their cells. I don't blame them at all for breaking out; the fact that they were locked up at all is unconscionable. 
Reports said a fence was torn down, fires started, and offices broken into. EASO (European Asylum Support Office), EuroRelief, Moria's director, and refugees receiving medical care were all evacuated. The latest reports say that the refugees are now in complete control of the camp and were apparently broadcasting "Freedom, Freedom" over the loudspeakers.

I hope they get their freedom. All of them.

UPDATE

The refugees are still in control of the camp, but there have been many injuries. Ambulances did arrive to take out wounded people. Apparently there are many fires as well, and the police were being driven out of camp. It's inspirational that they were able to stand up for their rights, but I'm terrified of what will likely happen tomorrow. The authorities are apparently already talking about mass deportations without redress, but I fear there will be much violence. Below is a photo taken inside the camp this afternoon. 








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