Greece Cracks Down on Refugees

Bill Frelick Op-Ed, Euronews:


(Lesbos, Greece, March 3, 2020)

Policeman: Go back! Go back! Take her and go back. Take her and go back, now. Go back! I don’t care, go back now!

This is a scene today of a great deal of tension, as police have been pushing and shoving refugees who have been trying to plead their cases to be able to leave the island.

The backdrop for this is that the Greek government has announced that it will no longer allow people to lodge asylum claims here, that they will criminalize people who enter the country irregularly, and that they will actually push people back into Turkey or send them summarily back to their countries of origin without examining their asylum claims.

Countries have the right, of course, to manage their borders and to control them, but they don't have the right to send people back to persecution.

People who are seeking protection, people who are seeking asylum, have the right to have their claims heard, and they have the right to be kept in safety and dignity while those claims are being heard.

Today we've seen refugees being told to go back to the Moria camp here in Lesbos, but this is a camp where the humanitarians have had to withdraw because thugs with baseball bats have been threatening them and they are not able to continue the services in this severely overcrowded camp that, in less tense times, is already a place where the conditions are inhuman and degrading.

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