Wednesday, April 13, 2016

War against refugees in idomeni

Without more words, we share with you the photos, taken by A., a photographer and syrian refugee in Idomeni camp who is among the people to get mass-deported to Turkey. He asked us to share these photos with the people in Europe, to share the pain, and to understand which way is europe going.

Voices of Vial prison on chios (Greece): Michael

I am here since two weeks and two days. We were the first people that came here. We came here on the 19th, before the deal with Turkey. But we were 46 people who came here and to 42 they gave the registration paper to go to the city. But us four people, they left us out here and we were asking them why did they left us here and all of them don’t talked to us. Because we are black, that’s why. If we call them to talk to them, they don’t talk to us, they keep on doing that, for three days or four days. I saw a lady, she was asking questions to them about our story, then she was trying to help us. I don’t know if the police later caught her. Since that day we have never seen her no more. If we try to talk to the police, nobody wants to talk to us, we don’t know if it is because of our color or something like that.

And since yesterday, they closed here and we can’t go out and they are treating us like we are not human beings. Even today they wanted to give us food at two o´clock but we didn’t get it until four o´clock. They don’t care about us. Then if there is fighting among the people in front of the police, they let us, don’t come. The people are scared. If they really want us to stay here they should send us back to our country. Because if they take us back they take us back to Turkey and this is not a good thing. Because Turkey is not a good country, they don’t like blacks. If you are a black person in the streets, they just come to you with a gun. When I lived there, in Turkey, I was fighting with one in my room. He came to my house with a knife and told me, if I don’t give him my money he will kill me. I gave him my money. Then the next day he came again and took all of our clothes and my passport. Here it is not good for us. We don’t know whether it is because of our color.

This bracelet that they gave us when we arrived is the proof that we came before the 19th. But we told it to the police. They said they know about it but they said they can’t do anything. The manager of the asylum here told us we have to apply for asylum in Greece so we applied and now we are waiting what will happen. Because of the asylum process, two of our friends ran away. They were scared and said they didn’t understand why they keep us here.
Foto: Ufuk Atasoy

Refugee Movement Journey to Greece
We, a group of -so called- refugee activists, are traveling through Greece for two weeks, from the 24th of March to the 8th of April. to meet people on the ground. We will also have info panels on the bus, displaying maps and legal advices about Greece, the destination and transit countries. Most of us have also experienced the situation of coming to Germany as a refugee and are able to share this with people who aim at going there.

African Survivors' Testimonies and Victims of Everyday Racism, Organized Crimes and Mafia Structures in Ukraine

Documentation on Racism and Discrimination of Louis Oseloka Abutu, his family and his Struggle in the Nigeria Community against racism in Ukraine 
"On one evening, towards the end of April 2014, when I came back to my house after work I felt traumatized of the degrading humiliation and intimidation which continued with the perpetrators of racist violence and harassment in Ukraine, and most especially the possibility of my being arrested by Ukraine Defense Intelligence Agency was very high. It often came to my mind then, that the best thing I could do was to leave the country after deserting from the Army as „Military Deserter.“ This was actually the most critical decision for me that I had to escape the racist persecution or death by the regime if I wanted to be sure to survive and to seek for the protection of my life with my family in Germany."
My name is Louis Oseloka Abutu. I was born in the city of Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. I left Nigeria in 1997 for Ukraine. In Ukraine I joined the BILIE-Movement (Biafra Indigene Land in Exile) and became their representative for Eastern Europe some years ago.
I have Ukrainian citizenship. I lived in Ukraine for 17 years. Since my arrival in Ukraine I have been exposed to racism by ordinary people, Mafia and state authorities like every other black person in Ukraine.
Racism against Blacks is a common problem in Ukraine
Every day racism and organised crimes and Mafia structures
In many occasions I was exposed to racism and threats by the organised crime and Mafia. Nevertheless I always had to fight for my life due to the pressure by the organized crimes of the racist Mafia, the right-wing fascist and Nazis. There was never any concrete help by the police or state authorities. As a foreigner and as black person my position to challenge them was even weaker than that of others.
As it was impossible for me as a foreigner to get work in my profession as an engineer I opened a shop for fashion accessories products.
Almost every day people would just come and insult me in the street in a racist way, for example asking if I have tail or asking me if I lived with monkeys in my place or if I lived in trees. Or people would just tell me that they would not like me and I should go to Africa and eat banana. Things like that almost happened everyday publicly.
More dangerous turned out to be the threats by the organized crime. One day I got involved in a threatening incident. Three young men suits and sunglasses entered my shop to threaten me with racist offences and with arms and to force me to accept their demand to pay a certain amount of money in order to get a „godfather“ to protect me. The police handled that case in very negligent and ineffective way which made me suspicious of their connection to the people threatening me.
One night in August 2004 my first car, an Opel Vectra (model 1991) was stolen by some young people from a filling station where I used to leave it over night for washing. These boys, who were working at the place, had been harassing me for a long time by calling me racist names and demanding from me to sell my car to them. The car was found because they crashed it in an accident. The car was beyond repair. The thieves were only fined with a sentence less than the usual minimum for that sort of crime. I never saw any compensation for my loss. There was no serious attempt by the state of forcefully executing the payment money, although I went to the court three times to demand for it.
One may say that this is just criminal and not racist. But I perceived it as a racist act. The boys had called me racist names before, they had bothered me frequently. They did not do it to others, my car was not nicer than somebody elses. They insulted me as „monkey“ and asked me how I could leave Africa, come to Ukraine and drive their cars and marry their women. So the message was very clear: A black person is not entitled to have a car who gives you the right to take it.
One evening around 2010 I was attacked by some young people when I came home together with Cynthia from her gymnastic class. Cynthia had to witness all the racist assaults and dirty names they were giving me. They threatened to kill me and started to beat me. Although my wife or her mother called the police, they did not show up. I later had to go there and make report but nothing happened.
The sufferings of my children
The most painful and dangerous thing was how the daily racism affected my children. All my children witnessed traces of racism and bullying in school but especially David, my youngest child in Ukraine suffered a lot from it and until now he has not fully recovered.
Already as a young child he had to face a lot of isolation in the kindergarten.
When the children were playing they would make fun of him, teasing him because of his black father. Children isolated him and would e.g. take toys from him so that he couldn't play any more.
He always kept very quiet and was scared to talk to the children.
Anytime we got to the Kindergarten in the morning he started to cry. I tried to convince him to go as I thought it is just a usual reluctancy as children sometimes have, but his sufferings continued every day.
When I wanted to talk to the kindergarten teachers, they didn't take it seriously. When the children were playing outside, the teachers would even leave him inside the room. Once another child took his eyeglasses from him, when he was playing alone, and threw it over the fence. When David complained to the teachers they did not believe him but they believed in the other boy.
After this event I took him out of this kindergarten and changed him to a private kindergarten. This was in 2012. There he improved speaking and started to express himself but with the age of six years it was already late.
About five month later, the 31st December 2012, he had a complete breakdown on a train trip to Kiev where we were going for the new year celebration which almost lead to his death.
Because of Davids weakness we returned to Vinnitsa immediately and took him to the hospital where they gave him glucose because he was so weak. In the morning, he was already unconscious.
According to the advice of one nurse, he was taken to the emergency hall of a clinic for diabetes by ambulance. There, they diagnosed it was diabetes. In the interview we were asked if there was any diabetes in the family, as there was not, the doctor saw it is a result of the psychological stress he had suffered. David was in Koma for three days.
About half a year later there was another traumatizing incident when David was playing outside our house, his grandmother was sitting nearby. A young boy came along, started to call David „negro“ and threatened to kill him. Then he broke a bottle on David's head, the grandmother could not intervene. She had to call the ambulance, and David and his mother went to the hospital where his wounds were stitched. This was on 28th May 2013
After the incident, David was very scared and did not want to go outside any more. It was very difficult for him to associate with people. He always stayed indoors. Even when he went out with me, he was afraid. He wouldn't like to leave the house with me. Even here in Germany during the first days, he wouldn't like to stay in the school alone, his mother had to stay with him for the first days.
My socio-political engagements
Since the formation of the Nigerian Community my personality became exposed to various forms of racist threats and insecurity.
The association of Nigerians in Vinnitsa called „Nigerian Community“ was founded by me together with other fellow Nigerians in the year, 24. November 2002, I was elected the president.
The initial focus was to have the possibility of uniting the children with Nigerian origin because of the every day racism. As the president of the Nigerian community I was also involved in many different social activities. As time went on, the „Nigerian Community“ expanded beyond Vinnitsa and became more political. We developed a regular forum to inform the community and the public about the victims of racist attacks which were often ignored by the state authorities without the pressure from our community.
We organized ourselves in solidarity with one another, that we can overcome the societal and institutional obstacles to improve the difficult situation of being an African refugee, student or migrant in Ukraine as there also were people who did not have a residential stay or who were coming from other countries like Russia and Eastern Europe.
All in all I was well known by the African community as well as the Ukrainian authorities, and in my position I was quite influential.
The danger such a position can lead to could be seen in the case of Patrice Nshimiyeumuremi (2000) from Ruanda who was the chairman of the „African Union“ which existed long before I came. He was butchered in the elevator of his own house. The political background of the crime has not been detected until now. His death had put a lot of fear in the members of the black community in Vinnitsa and also in me going to the extend that I was afraid to come to my house every day. I would not leave my car before phoning my wife to find out if I was safe and before she put on the security light.
The attacks on my person became more and more concrete and dangerous after I started getting active in the case of the murder of a young Nigerian in a nightclub in Vinnitsa and other victims of racist attacks.
(Zank Adams) a student of Piragov Medical University and a member of the Nigerian community died due to excessive bleeding in the 2010 or 2011 after he was beaten by the guards of the disco „H2o“. The owner of the club was Vladimir Produc, a big Mafioso who controlled a lot of businesses in Vinnitsa and had big influence on the authorities. He was also a friend of the mayor then, Grossman who is now the head of the parliament. Janukovic tried to make Produc become the mayor of Vinnitsa which didn't work out.
As one year after the murder there was still no justice in this case and the murderers were still moving around freely, the cousin of the victim came to me as the head of the Nigerian community. I went to the police together with him to address the issue. Finally, the case was recalled back in the court of appeal. After the murderers were taken into custody during the investigations, serious threats against my person began and became more and more dangerous. They started with verbal threats, continued with several attacks on my car, with physical attacks on me, my wife, stalking of my children.
First one of their relatives began to threaten on the road me to withdraw the statement that I had made to the police. If I didn't do so they would get me wherever I am.
As I refused, they started to continue their threats, insults and harassments which continued until we left the Ukraine.
Once I came back to my house, insults and threats were written on my balcony, like [„prick“]
After that, there were serious attacks on my car.
When I came to garage one morning, it was open although I had locked it the night before. The four spare tires with titan rims were stolen and shit was sprayed everywhere. The whole place was smelling.
After that I sold the garage and left my car in surveilled car parks – except when I had to travel the next day I parked the car nearby. One of these days as I went out early to travel, I found that my car was sprayed green all over.
Another morning the windscreen was broken.
We reported those cases to the police but nothing was done about it. After some time I went to the office of the chief (Division Police Officer DPO) of the station in my district in Kievskaya, to find out from him about the development of my cases regarding the stealing of my car spare tyres and the destruction of the windscreen, including the racist violence attack against me by fascist. Surprisingly to me the police chief (DPO) responded very unfriendly with threats and harassment by telling me that" I should not forget that I am a foreigner here and if I do not like what they do me I should go back to your country. At that moment I felt I had lost everything – especially the confidence in the authorities and the justice.
One day in late 2013, they met my wife outside the house who was already pregnant in her seventh month and beat her up to the extend that she had to go to the hospital. While she was in the hospital, Sintija phoned her one evening and told her that she had been followed and touched by a unknown man on the street who was saying something about her father.
This immediate threat on one of the children was the sign for my wife to leave the country to protect the lives of the children. After signing a paper that she is leaving the hospital on her own responsibility she left the hospital the same day. She packed David and Sintija and arranged their escape from Ukraine.
I stayed because I didn't want to run away from the problem. I also didn't want to give up my business and I wanted Veronika, our eldest daughter, to finish her school and somebody had to monitor her. Nevertheless, because of the threats I rented a small house for myself and she stayed with the grandmother in the hope that she would not be affected by the terror against me.
Military Deserteur
After my wife had already left I was forcefully recruited by the paramilitary fascist group „Samaja aboronaja“ („self defence“) which is now part of the Ukrainian army. When I later realized that they were recruiting for the war in Slavjansk in Eastern Ukraine, I became very scared. Due to my earlier racist experiences this was another serious threat for me as a black man and father of three kids and a husband to a pregnant wife. I was especially worried about my 15 year old daughter Veronika who, if anything would have happened to me, would have been alone as an under aged black child in Ukraine. Under these circumstances the insecurity of my life became more and more unbearable for me.
On one evening, towards the end of April 2014, when I came back to my house after work I felt traumatized of the degrading humiliation and intimidation which continued with the perpetrators of racist violence and harassment in Ukraine, and most especially the possibility of my being arrested by Ukraine Defense Intelligence Agency was very high. It often came to my mind then, that the best thing I could do was to leave the country after deserting from the Army as „Military Deserter.“ This was actually the most critical decision for me that I had to escape the racist persecution or death by the regime if I wanted to be sure to survive and to seek for the protection of my life with my family in Germany.
This was actually the most critical decision for me that I had to escape the racist persecution or death by the regime if I wanted to be sure to survive and to seek for the protection of my life with my family in Germany." LOUIS OSELOKA ABUTU Video:

Friday, April 01, 2016

Greece: Refugees escape prison and occupy the port of Chios

Written by 
Yesterday, refugees broke out of Vial to join protests outside. After more than a week of overcrowded imprisonment, insufficient food, bad facilities, degrading treatment and a humiliating lack of information and access to asylum processing, people felt awful. Fights have repeatedly broken out and the police has been powerless or unwilling to stop them. “These fights never happened in the open camps,” a local commented today. But now they do, and last night they boiled over. Fights started in the evening and went on late into the night. Stones were thrown, people wielded iron bars. It goes to show that if you starve, humiliate and isolate people sufficiently, they can turn on each other.
Broken windows in Vial this morning.
Refugees had already planned yesterday, after seeing their overwhelming numerical advantage over police, to leave the prison today. These fights hardened their resolve. “Noon tomorrow” they said, and at noon they broke out. Hundreds marched down to Chios town, to the port, where they want to take the ferry.
Refugees at the port in Chios.
Police isn’t happy about any of this, but is not sufficiently staffed to do much about it. Riot police may be brought here, but that will take at least a day. The mood at the prison is tense and nobody is allowed near the fences. “Yesterday was yesterday. Today is today. Go away now,” a uniformed man told me as I approached to hotspot today, shortly after the breakout. Very solemn faces were behind the fence, looking out. They seemed not to want or not to dare to speak. Gates between partitions of the camp, that had been open yesterday, are closed now. There are plenty of people inside who missed their chance of escaping, some because they had sickly relatives to take care of.
Vial yesterday, after the protest, when people were locked up again.
Most of those who broke out today want to stay on the dock until the ferry comes, it seems to me. The police wants the port cleared so ferries and legal passengers can go about their business unimpeded. But refugees want to go to, too, law and order be damned. (It is not surprising, after the treatment they’ve gotten, that their respect for European law and authorities has diminished somewhat.) A few hours after refugees occupied the port, a representative of the authorities walked in with an announcement: The open camp at Souda, a stone’s throw away, would be opened to them. The port might then be cleared, everything could go on as before. By and large, refugees said no.
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Man in uniform announces idea.
Their thinking is simple. They were told before that they were stuck in a prison. Now they’re not. They are now told they can’t go on the ferry. Why not? What’s there to stop them going further? It may not work out, but at least they have choices now. They can occupy the port or they can go to an open camp. These are choices won by their raucous disobedience.
From the protests yesterday.
This shows the essential flaw of the advice constantly given to refugees by NGOs, UNHCR staff and detention center volunteers: That they should stay calm. The simple truth is, you don’t beat injustice by accepting it. On the contrary, you gain concessions and protect your rights by defying it, by disobeying, by doing what is right even though you’re told you can’t. The people who yesterday were being told they couldn’t leave prison are now being begged to move to an open camp. This is the power of direct action.
Civilly disobedient.
It is hard to believe the police will allow refugees to board the ferry tonight. But the authorities will be in a tight spot. Refugees have been imprisoned here for two weeks without reliable information or food supplies, without access to an asylum process. They have every right to be allowed to move on, rather than suffer this humiliation. They know this. It will be hard to stop them.