Category Archives: Prozess

[Griechenland] Solidaritätsaufruf: Berufungsverfahren gegen Hamza Haddi & Mohamed Haddar

Ein Solidaritäts-Statement unserer Freund*innen von borderline Europe (https://www.borderline-europe.de/unsere-arbeit/berufungsverfahren-gegen-hamza-haddi-und-mohamed-haddar?l=de):

Berufungsverfahren gegen Hamza Haddi & Mohamed Haddar

am 01. September in Komotini, Griechenland – Solidarisiert euch!

Die systematische Inhaftierung Schutzsuchender an Europas Außengrenzen muss enden!

Hamza und Mohamed wurden am 04. Februar 2020 von einem griechischen Gericht infolge ihrer eigenen Flucht als “Schmuggler” und wegen “Beihilfe zur illegalen Einreise” zu 4 Jahren und 1 Monat Haft verurteilt. Sie waren aus Marokko geflüchtet und auf der Suche nach einem Leben in Sicherheit gemeinsam mit weiteren Personen an Bord eines provisorischen Bootes nach Griechenland gekommen.

Als sie dort ankamen, schoss die griechische Grenzpolizei auf sie. Sie wurden verhaftet und geschlagen. Doch damit nicht genug. Hamza und Mohamed wurden des Schmuggels der anderen Personen – einer davon Hamzas eigener Bruder Yassine – beschuldigt und verurteilt.


Lest mehr zur Geschichte von Hamza & Mohamed und dem ersten Prozess.


Der Fall der beiden steht dabei emblematisch für eine systematische Praxis der massenhaften Kriminalisierung und Inhaftierung Schutzsuchender. Nicht nur kriminalisiert die Europäische Union strategisch diejenigen Menschen, die sich solidarisch mit Migrierenden verhalten; auf Druck der Europäischen Union hat Griechenland die gesetzlichen Voraussetzungen dafür geschaffen, auch Schutzsuchende selbst für ihre eigene Flucht zu verhaften.

So verhaftet die griechische Küstenwache per ankommenden Boot 1 – 2 Menschen und beschuldigt sie willkürlich des Schmuggels und der Beihilfe zur illegalen Einreise (mehr Infos hier). Verhaftet unmittelbar nach ihrer Ankunft, haben Betroffene keinerlei Zugang zur Außenwelt und werden meist unbemerkt, namenlos und ohne Unterstützungsstrukturen zu drakonischen Gefängnis- und Geldstrafen verurteilt. Nach offiziellen Angaben des griechischen Justizministerium macht diese Gruppe inzwischen die größte Gruppe der Gefängnisinsassen in Griechenland aus.

Hamza und Mohamed stehen dabei stellvertretend für eine weitere menschenverachtende und brutale Facette Europäischer Grenzpolitik.

Die Anschuldigungen gegen sie sind offenkundig unbegründet. Die beiden sind Schutzsuchende, keine Schmuggler.

Europaweit solidarisierten sich im Februar Gruppen und Menschen, u.a. Carola Rackete und die Vereinigung europäischer demokratischer Anwält*innen (EAD), mit den beiden und damit stellvertretend für die vielen anderen Betroffenen (siehe unser gemeinsames Solidaritätsstatement), am Verhandlungstag war der Gerichtssaal bis auf den letzten Platz gefüllt mit lokalen und internationalen Unterstützter*innen wie den iuventa10 und der EAD.

Mit Erfolg – es waren die Aufmerksamkeit und der öffentliche Druck, der nach Einschätzung des Anwalts letztlich dazu führte, dass die beiden zu einer vergleichsweise “milden” Strafe verurteilt wurden: 4 Jahre und 1 Monat (Durchschnittsstrafe in diesen Prozessen sind 44 Jahre).

Die einzige richtige Urteil ist jedoch ein Freispruch!

Die beiden sind unschuldig und haben nichts verbrochen.

Sollten sie im Berufungsverfahren nicht freigesprochen werden, können sie außerdem kein Asyl mehr in Griechenland beantragen, weil sie dann als “verurteile Straftäter” gelten.


  • Macht den Fall von Hamza und Mohamed bekannt und damit die menschenverachtende Praxis, für die er stellvertretend steht und forderet mit uns die Freiheit für die beiden!
  • Kommt zum Berufungsverfahren am 01. September 2020 in Komotini, Griechenland!
  • Schreibt euren Freund*innen in Griechenland!

FREIHEIT FÜR HAMZA UND MOHAMED
und für all jene, die das gleiche Schicksal erleiden und in griechischen und italienischen Gefängnissen eingesperrt sind, weil sie ein besseres Leben suchten.Montag, 17. August 2020


Weitere Informationen:

[Chios/Griechenland] Solidarität ohne Grenzen gegen die Repression gegen Proteste Geflüchteter in Griechenland während der COVID-19 Pandemie

SPENDENAUFRUF der Kampagne Cant evict Solidarity: Solidarität ohne Grenzen

Repression gegen die Proteste Geflüchteter in Griechenland während der COVID-19 Pandemie

 

Gewalt und Repressionen gegenüber Menschen auf der Flucht wird immer brutalter und repressiver. Die aufgrund der Pandemie angeordneten Ausgangsbeschränkungen treffen diese Menschen besonders hart. Zusätzlich legitimiert die Pandemie der Politik und der ausführenden Organe noch brutalere repressivere Maßnahmen. Exemplarisch drei Spotlights:

  • Die Wut der im Lock-down aufgrund der Covid-19 eingesperrten Menschen hatte sich im Camp Vial auf der griechischen Insel Chios in Protesten entladen, nachdem eine 47-jährige, aus dem Irak geflüchtete Frau am 18. April 2020 an einem Herzinfarkt starb.
    .
    Zwei Tage zuvor war sie mit Herzrhythmusstörungen ins Krankenhaus gebracht, dort negativ auf Covid-19 getestet und rudimentär mit Medikamenten versorgt worden. Anschließend wurde sie außerhalb des Camps in einem Container als präventive Isolation eingesperrt, wo sie eine Panikattacke erlitt und einen Tag später tot aufgefunden wurde.Auf die Nachricht ihres Todes folgten spontan wütende Proteste hunderter Campbewohner*innen. Als die Polizei eintraf, um die Proteste zu beenden, setzte sie Tränengas und Schlagstöcke ein. Berichten zufolge verteidigten sich einige Protestierenden durch das Werfen von Steinen. Hunderte Menschen versuchten vor den Polizeieinheiten und dem Feuer in die umliegenden Felder zu fliehen, wagten jedoch nicht das Lager zu weit zu verlassen, da die griechische Regierung seit der Corona-Pandemie eine Strafe von 150 Euro für Verstöße gegen die Ausgangsbeschränkungen eingeführt hat. Bei Nichtzahlung droht eine Gefängnisstrafe.Aufgrund des brutalen Einsatzes der Polizei gab es Dutzende Verletzte. Vor allem aber sitzen nun neun Geflüchtete in Untersuchungshaft und sind aktuell wegen Brandstiftung, Sachbeschädigung, Landfriedensbruch und Verstößen gegen das Waffengesetz angeklagt. Für weitere sechs Personen wurde eine Untersuchungshaft beantragt. Ihnen allen drohen nun mehrere Jahre Haft.
    .
  • Anfang April wurde ein Hungerstreik inhaftierter Geflüchteter gegen die Bedingungen im Abschiebegefängnis im Lager Moria auf Lesbos sowie im Abschiegefängnis Paranesti in Nordgriechenland durch Polizeigewalt beendet.

    Mit dem Hungerstreik protestierten Häftlinge gegen die grundlose Inhaftierung, die menschenunwürdige Unterbringung und den fehlenden Schutz vor Covid-19. Auf den griechischen Inseln werden Menschen nicht nur nach Ablehnung des Asylverfahrens inhaftiert, sondern viele Menschen gleich bei ihrer Ankunft nach der gefährlichen Überfahrt auf Grundlage ihrer jeweiligen Nationalität. Obwohl Abschiebungen aus Griechenland durch die Covid-19 Beschränkungen auf unbestimmte Zeit ausgesetzt sind, werden die Menschen nicht aus der Abschiebehaft entlassen. Im Gegenteil, Menschen werden gezielt weiter verhaftet.
    .
  • Nachdem der türkische Präsident Erdogan Ende Februar 2020 aus machtpolitischen Gründen den EU-Türkei-Deal aussetze und Menschen an die Grenze brachte, eskalierte die Welle von Rassismus und rechter Gewalt gegen Geflüchtete weiter. Hierbei fielen tödliche Schüsse durch EU-Grenzbeamt*innen am Grenzfluss Evros. Auch hier fand eine massenhafte wahllose Inhaftierung Schutzsuchender statt.
    Nun schürt die Regierung eine ablehnende Stimmung in der Bevölkerung mit Ängsten und begründet ihre migrationsfeindliche Politik zusätzlich mit Präventivmaßnahmen gegen die Pandemie. In den letzten Wochen wurde zudem vermehrt von illegalen Push-backs der griechischen Küstenwache auf dem Weg zu den und inzwischen sogar von den griechischen Inseln berichtet. 

Eine gewaltvolle Bekämpfung von Protesten Geflüchteter in den griechischen Lagern, sowie deren anschließende oft willkürliche Inhaftierung und Kriminalisierung ist fester, struktureller Bestandteil der menschenverachtenden Migrationspolitik der EU. Dieses allgemeine Vorgehen ist während der gegenwärtigen Pandemie wieder verstärkt zu beobachten.
Bereits frühere Repressionsfälle gegen Protestierende zeigten, dass einzelne Personen beispielhaft verhaftet und angeklagt werden, oft vollkommen unabhängig von einer tatsächlichen Beteiligung bei den Protesten. Damit soll jeglicher Protest in den Lagern gegen die katastrophale Situation verhindert werden. In den letzten Jahren wurden mehrfach Proteste von Bewohner*innen des Lagers Moria auf Lesbos gewaltsam niedergeschlagen und wie im Falle der Moria35 monatelang ohne jegliche Beweise inhaftiert.

Die Antwort der Kampagne „You can`t evict Solidarity“ auf die immer brutaler werdende Repressionspolitik ist eine Solidaritäts-Kampagne. Diese schließt Öffentlichkeitsarbeit und finanziellen Support von Gerichtsprozessen der Inhaftierten ein. 

Solidarischen Spenden gern auf dieses Konto:

Rote Hilfe e.V./ OG Hannover
IBAN: DE42 4306 0967 4007 2383 57
BIC: GENODEM1GLS
GLS Bank
Verwendungszweck: Cant evict Solidarity

Kontakt:

cantevictsolidarity(at)riseup(dot)net

https://cantevictsolidarity.noblogs.org

[Ellwangen] Polizeieinsatz in Ellwangen – Letztes Verfahren gegen Geflüchteten eingestellt.

published by Refugees4Refugees: Polizeieinsatz in Ellwangen ! Letztes Verfahren gegen Geflüchteten eingestellt:

Bild ElwangenIn den frühen Morgenstunden des 3. Mai 2018 hatten etwa fünfhundert Polizisten in Kampfausrüstung die afrikanischen BewohnerInnen im Geflüchtetenlager Ellwangen überfallen und dabei mehrere Menschen verletzt. Einige der afrikanischen Geflüchteten wurden in Untersuchungshaft genommen. Innerhalb weniger Wochen erhielten etwa zwanzig Geflüchtete einen Strafbefehl von bis zu neunzig Tagessätzen, einige wurden sehr schnell zu Gefängnisstrafen bis zu sechs Monaten verurteilt.

Einige Geflüchtete akzeptierten die Strafbefehle nicht und legten Widerspruch ein. Alle mit Erfolg. In der zweiten Februarwoche 2020 wurde ohne Begründung das letzte Verfahren eingestellt. Zuvor waren zwei Verfahren im Rahmen des Jugendstrafrechts ohne Verhandlung eingestellt worden (Diversion). Ein Verfahren wurde wegen einer – inzwischen aufgehobenen – Abschiebeanordnung eingestellt. Für die erste Verfahrenseinstellung im Januar 2019 war noch eine Verhandlung beim Amtsgericht Ellwangen notwendig gewesen.

Hintergrund der Verfahrenseinstellungen und damit der Rücknahme der Strafbefehle ist die fehlende Rechtsgrundlage für den Polizeiüberfall. Im März 2019 äußerte selbst Amtsgerichtsdirektor  öffentlich Zweifel an der Rechtmäßigkeit des Polizeieinsatzes. Er forderte die Staatsanwaltschaft zu Nacharbeit und Belegung der Rechtsgrundlage auf. Das ist dieser offensichtlich nicht gelungen. Die Verfahren mussten eingestellt werden.

Beim Amtsgericht Stuttgart ist die Klage eines Geflüchteten gegen den Polizeieinsatz anhängig. Seit bald eineinhalb Jahren schweigt das Amtsgericht Stuttgart dazu. Will es warten, bis sich die Öffentlichkeit nicht mehr daran erinnert, wie der Polizeiüberfall von den meisten Medien und vielen Politikern einschließlich Winfried Kretschmann bejubelt wurde?

Wir fordern die Aufhebung aller Urteile im Zusammenhang mit dem Polizeiüberfall am 3. Mai 2018 und eine Entschädigung der verurteilten Geflüchteten. Dies wäre jenseits der wohlfeilen Reden zu Hanau eine konkrete Maßnahme gegen den Rassismus in dieser Gesellschaft.

[Greece] Solidarity statement: Freedom for Hamza & Mohamed!

first published on https://www.borderline-europe.de/unsere-arbeit/gemeinsames-solidarit%C3%A4tsstatement:

Solidarity statement: Freedom for Hamza & Mohamed

The European Union must stop the arbitrary incarceration of refugees and migrants

We express our solidarity with Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar who are currently being held in pre-trial detention in Komotini, Greece. Both are facing long prison sentences because they are being wrongfully and arbitrarily accused of “smuggling”.

Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are Moroccan citizens who fled their country searching for protection and better living conditions, Hamza Haddi in particular is a known political activist who was hoping to be granted political asylum in Europe. In Morocco, he is facing political persecution for his activities during the Arab Spring as well as for his engagement with the Moroccan Human Rights Association L’Association Marocaine Des Droits Humains AMDH. He has been imprisoned three times and, together with his family, been constantly targeted and intimidated by Moroccan authorities. Hamza is a political refugee.

With Europe’s ever-increasing closure of borders and the impossibility for refugees to legally enter Europe and claim asylum, they were forced to embark and risk their lives on a makeshift boat. Hamza, who had fled from Morocco together with his brother Yassine went on to meet two companions on the way; Reda and Mohamed in Turkey. There, they spent only a few days before attempting to cross the Evros river that marks the border between Turkey and Greece in July 2019.

In Greece, the four arrived, only to be immediately arrested by Greek border police. But not enough. Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are now accused of and are facing trial for the “smuggling” of two persons – one of them being Hamza’s own brother Yassine!

The accusations against Hamza and Mohamed are clearly unfounded. They are refugees, not smugglers.

Their companion Reda was coerced into signing a testimony that is now being used to wrongly accuse Hamza and Mohamed as being the smugglers. Reda can neither speak nor read Greek and later confirmed that the written document does not match his statement.

Consequently since July 2019, Hamza and Mohamed have been held in pre-trial detention in Greece and are facing more than ten years of imprisonment each. The basis of their trail is placed upon a testimony signed under pressure and without an interpreter.

We are calling for their immediate release!

The case of Hamza and Mohamed is unfortunately not an isolated case but paradigmatic for yet another facet of Europe’s policy of closing borders and deterrence. While European supporters or so-called “human rights defenders” such as Carola Rackete or the iuventa10 have recently received a lot of attention and support after having become the target of increasing criminalisation, there is hardly any information nor support for those without a European passport facing the very same accusations. However, it is them who constitute the majority of those being arrested and imprisoned in Italy and Greece on grounds of alleged “smuggling” and “aiding illegal immigration”. Arrested immediately upon arrival, a lot of them disappear unknown and unheard of and with no access to support from outside.

The basis for this is Greek legislation that considers any person found to have driven a vehicle across Greek borders, entering Greece without required documentation, as a smuggler.

The arrests as well as trials that follow these often-unfounded accusations of smuggling are arbitrary. Police officers might accuse the person holding the tiller to steer the boat, or the one who communicated with the coast guard to call for help or simply someone who speaks English, to be a smuggler. In Greece, the average trial lasts only around 30 minutes, leading to an average sentence of 44 years and fines over 370.000 Euro. Suspects, or what we would deem ‘victims’ of this unjust legislation, usually have limited access to legal assistance, most of them relying on public defenders. Observers voice concerns about a “shocking lack of deep processing”, reporting that judgements are pronounced despite lack of evidence and poor quality of translation.

This statement is to express our solidarity with Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar and all those criminalized and deprived of their basic rights in the European Union’s proclaimed fight against “smugglers”. We call on everyone to condemn the arbitrary application of anti-smuggling laws against people on the move, who are often already in fear of their lives. We denounce the exploitation of the vulnerable situation of asylum seekers by the EU member states, leaving them without the means to properly defend themselves.

Together with the Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar support committee we demand:

• The immediate release of Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar.
• All charges against them to be dropped, and their innocence to be recognized.
• Hamza’s asylum application to be accepted and his asylum granted.
• Regularisation of the situation of Hamza and Mohamed, and freedom of movement for all.

We further demand:

    • Freedom for all those that are suffering the same fate, being imprisoned in Greek and Italian prisons because they were looking for a better life.
• A change in the Greek and Italian law in order to remove the legal grounds for these arbitrary arrests and convictions.

    –>  Attend the trial of Hamza and Mohamed on February 4th 2020 in Komotini, Greece!
–>  Donate for their legal defence: https://www.lepotsolidaire.fr/pot/94duqw1k

– ADIF Associazione diritti e frontiere, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, Italy
– Adopt a Revolution
– Alarm Phone Watch the Med
– Prof. Dr. Annita Kalpaka, University Hamburg
– Antina Plath, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland, Germany
– ARCI Porco Rosso, Palermo
– Prof. Dr. Astride Velho, Germany
– borderline-europe e.V., Germany
– Borderline Sicilia Onlus, Italy
– Carola Rackete
– Centre for Peace Studies, Zagreb
– Clandestina Thessaloniki, Greece
– Christian Peace Maker Team Lesvos, Greece
– Délinquants solidaires, France
– Demokratische Juristinnen und Juristen e.V., Germany
– Esc-Infomigrante, Rome
– European Civic Forum, Switzerland
– European Democratic Lawyers – Avocats Européens Démocrates
– Harald Bauder, Ph.D., Ryerson University Canada
– Il Comitato di Base No Muos di Palermo, Italy
– Institute of Race Relations, Anya Edmond-Pettitt, United Kingdom
– iuventa10
– Judith Gleitze, borderline-europe, Palermo
– Kontakt- und Beratungsstelle für Flüchtlinge und Migrant*innen e.V., Germany
– La FASTI, Fédération des associations de solidarité avec tou-te-s les immigré-e-s, France
– L’Association Marocaine Des Droits Humains, Morocco
– Loubna Messaoudi, CEO Founder BIWOC* Rising, Berlin
– Marie Amoyi, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland, Germany
– Migreurop, Observatoire des frontières, France
– mediale pfade, Germany
– Mobile Info Team, Greece
– Münchner Flüchtlingsrat, Germany
– Observatory of Solidarity, Milan
– Refugee Law Clinic Berlin, Germany
– Republikanischer Anwältinnen- und Anwälteverein, Germany
– Rete Antirazzista Catanese, Italy
– Sea-Watch, Germany
– Seán Binder
– Seebrücke, Germany
– Solidarité sans frontières, Switzerland
– Solidarity Watch, Belgium
– Statewatch, United Kingdom
– TPC Maison Solidaire, France
– You Can’t Evict Solidarity, Germany

[Greece] Free Nour – criminalization of refugees as human traffickers

The source of the following article is the petition in change.org: (https://www.change.org/p/european-court-of-human-rights-free-nour-al-sameh) as well as the picture which is taken from this petition too.

Cases of state repression against refugees arriving with boats on greek islands by criminalizing their act of eventually conducting a boat as human trafficking as written below, are no single cases. It is a systematicly policy of deterrence and arbitrariness. We want to make these cases visible. Nour is an exemplary case for this:

Free Nour Al-sameh! 

Nour Al-Sameh is 29 years old ٍSyrian who is unjustly imprisoned in Greece for 4 years now because he flee to Europe for refuge. Just like the Captain of the Sea-Watch Carola Rackete, he acted to save the lives of people on a boat in the Aegean Sea who would otherwise have drowned in the water.

Nour studied Business Management in Syria, he fled his country due to persecution and war that burst in. He stayed in Turkey in an unbearable situation without shelter or job until he managed to leave Turkey, in July 29th 2015. The only possibility for him to seek refuge in Europe was crossing the Aegean Sea in small sailing boat. He was the only person on the boat who could speak English, when the boat was about to sink he called for help using the walky-talky on the boat.

People on the boat were taken by The Greek coast guards accompanied by military forces (according to Nour,this forces were in military uniform, and he thinks that they were speaking in German)
The boat was taken to the harbor of Perya Island in Greece, he was handed to the Greek coast guards. Being blindfolded and handcuffed, Nour was beaten, insulted and humiliated by the Greek police.

He was accused with Human Trafficking and sentenced for 315 years and a fine of 3150000 Euros in June 2016. Similar cases have shown that the court counts prison year by the number of people on the boat. With the support of his friends he managed to get a lawyer and appeal against this decision in November 2017, the judge of  Perya court dismissed the appeal. In another attempt for justice Nour’s lawyer brought the case to the highest court in Greece, the Supreme Court, to win the opportunity for an appeal and to explain his story properly. Since the hearing in the Supreme Court in February 2019 Nour is waiting for an answer on his claim.

Nour’s case is not an exception. Many refugees have been criminalized, arrested and are currently detained in Greek prisons simply because they were fleeing. The Legal Center Lesvos has documented https://legalcentrelesvos.org/category/news/).

“The individuals charged are denied the basic rights to a fair trial, guaranteed under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, as they are routinely denied adequate interpretation, are denied a fair hearing, and convictions are based on the sole fact that the individual was driving the boats attempting to reach Europe from Turkey” In Nour’s case it was simply making a call to ask for help. The Christian Peacemaker Team also documented a trial against refugees concluding

“No one in the courtroom supported the business of human smuggling of refugees—making immense profits by charging huge prices for transporting refugees in very dangerous conditions, usually crowding too many people in unsafe boats, often not giving them life jackets that actually work, or not putting enough fuel in the motor to reach the shore of the Greek island. It’s a horrendous crime against these vulnerable and desperate people. But the people being tried in this courtroom were not the people running these illegal businesses and getting rich.”

https://cptmediterranean.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/seeing-in-the-greek-courtroom/

Here is another article tackling the unjust sentencing of many more people, most likely there are many more like Nour that we haven’t heard of.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/241858/article/ekathimerini/news/three-arrested-for-migrant-smuggling-in-as-many-incidents

Nour is still arrested without any help and his case is forgotten

please sign his petition and share it, Nour deserves our solidarity

Saving lives is not a crime!

We demand Nour’s immediate release!

 

[Roeszke11/Ahmed H.] Ahmed is back home!

We are happy to tell you that 4 years after the brutal attack of the Hungarian state on the protests after the closing of the Roeszke border crossing and the arrests of the eleven people, the so called Roeszke 11, the last person Ahmed H. was finally able to leave the country to Cyprus, back to his family, on the 28th of September 2019.

After several years in prison and through the court instances, the Hungarian state ignored the European wide protests and convicted Ahmed in a fake trial of “terrorism” to prison for 5 years in the end in 2018. Since January 2019 he we was meant to be released from prison but had to stay in deportation detention as Cyprus didn`t want to let him return to his family there.

We wish Ahmed and his family all the best!
Thanks to all people supporting Ahmed and his family and the Roeszke 11 – solidarity will win! Lets fight injustice and the border regime!

Read the statement of Amnesty International:
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/09/hungary-syrian-man-unjustly-jailed-finally-allowed-home-to-cyprus/

[Ahmed H.] 4 years after the Röszke11 riots: The Cyprian government denies Ahmed’s return to his family

The Cyprian government denies Ahmed’s return to his family

Today four years have passed since the “Röszke riot”, the attack of the
Hungarian riot police and TEK (counter-terrorism unite) on protesting
migrants against borders and limitation of freedom of movement in
September 2015. During and after this riot eleven people were arrested
and later faced a court trial.

Ahmed H., one of the arrested eleven people was convicted for terrorism
and sentenced first to 10, than to 7 and on the last court instance to 5
years prison.

On the 19th of January 2019 he was supposed to get released on parole,
after he finished two third of his sentence. But instead of returning
home, he was transferred to the immigration prison in Nyirbátor, in the
east of Hungary. He was waiting for months there for Cyprus to renew his
visa, which expired during the time he spent in prison . He used to live
in Cyprus before his arrest for more than ten years together with his
wife and children. He left the country and ended at Hungarian-Serbian
border, because he accompanied his parents from Syria to Europe.
Although the authorities promised him that he can return home with his
renewed visa after the administration procedure is over, after months of
waiting he learnt, that the government of Cyprus refused his return. The
interior ministry of Cyprus stated that he is a security threat and
cannot get visa.

There is apparently no state willing to let Ahmed enter, so he remains
trapped in the Hungarian jail. In the last months we could not publish
anything about the case because his family did not want to go public
with this further developments until now. We were silent, but we did not
disappear.

During the trial, there was very strong criticism against the Hungarian
state. The liberal media, international organisations, and even the EU
parliament were accusing Hungary of not respecting european values.
Cyprus’ refusal to renew Ahmed’s visa prove, that his situation is not
exclusively the
fault of an ‘undemocratic’, ‘dictatorial’ regime. The racist
anti-immigrant and anti-terrorist
discourse is an essential part of the idea of ‘Europe’ and the european
border regime,
that all european states follow.

This is a call for solidarity actions targeting this time the Cyprian
state and its institutions. A strong international public pressure is
needed for Ahmed’s release and return home. The government of Cyprus has
to let him join his family again and be finally free from the
imprisonment! Spread the news, spread solidarity!

Let us not forget the prisoners of the Fortress!
Freedom for Ahmed H.!

“Free the Röszke 11” solidarity group

freetheroszke11@riseup.net
https://freetheroszke11.weebly.com

[Ägäis] Interview on theEU`s fight against “smuggling” – Wieso es nicht nur um Carola Rackete geht

Interview zur Situation der “smuggling cases” – zuerst veröffentlicht von dm aegean:

Not only European sea rescue organizations are criminalized. Hundreds of migrants seeking protection in Europe are immediately arrested after their arrival by boat on the Greek Islands. They are accused of human smuggling.

The police is looking for the people who were driving the boat. These people are either refugees who could not afford their journey in a rubber dinghy and accept to steer the boat or Turkish citizen not knowing the risk they occur.

One trial against a “smuggler” lasts less than half an hour. In nearly all cases, the accused migrants are found guilty. Their average sentence is about 44 years in prison that is to be served for about 19 years. The average fines imposed are over 370.000 Euros.

[Ägäis] The war against smuggling

Artikel zuerst veröffentlicht von dm aegean und V.H.

The following short report is based on data collected by the organization Christian Peacemaker Teams Lesvos (CPT-Lesvos) who has been monitoring smuggling trials since 2014. All graphs have been made by CPT-Lesvos. An in-depth analysis of the data collected will be published in autumn 2019.

Criminalizing Migration and Escape Aid

Many people who reach the Greek islands in rubber dinghies have been travelling for months or years to find freedom and safety in the European Union. But surviving the crossing of the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece does not mean that they eventually reached safety.

On the Greek hotspot islands, some migrants are regularly arrested from their boats and directly detained and accused of human smuggling. The European Union claims:

“Fighting and preventing human smuggling and trafficking is one of the priorities of the European Union and crucial to address irregular migration in a comprehensive way.”

European Union, 15.10.2018[1]

Jamil from Afghanistan (name changed) experienced what this means. He was sentenced to 90 years in prison of which he will have to serve 25 years and was also convicted to a 13,000 Euro penalty. Jamil was captured driving a refugee boat from Greece to Lesvos. He could not afford to pay for his wife’s and his own journey, so he accepted the offer from the smuggler who asked him to drive the boat and return to get a free ride with his wife. He did not know that driving a boat would be considered a crime. While his wife now lives in Germany, he is still imprisoned – he appealed the court decision but was again convicted.

His example shows that the maxim of fighting human smuggling is not only used to criminalize civilian sea rescue as in the cases of the recent accusations against the captain of the Sea Watch 3 and the crew of the rescue boat Iuventa. It however impacts people who do not hold European passports much more directly. Many of them come as refugees themselves, intending to seek asylum in Europe. While European sea rescuers have so far only been accused for crimes but not convicted, hundreds of migrants have been sentenced to decades in prison with excessive charges.

Arresting “smugglers”

The organization Christian Peacemaker Teams Lesvos (CPT-Lesvos) has been monitoring the smuggling trials since 2014. They found that most of the people accused of smuggling are Turkish citizens and some of them migrants from other countries seeking protection in Europe. All people arrested are male. CPT-Lesvos member Rûnbîr Serkepkanî explains:

“What is common among most of them is that they are poor, they are students, they are migrants who couldn’t afford paying for the travel to the Aegean islands. (…) If you are a Turkish citizen – we have many migrants who are Turkish who have applied for asylum here in Greece – you are automatically accused of being the smuggler or the driver of the boat.”

Rûnbîr Serkepkanî, CPT-Lesvos, March 2019

Dariusz Firla from CPT-Lesvos describes how people labelled as “smugglers” are often identified:

“When the Coast Guard or FRONTEX pick up refugees at sea, they usually ask directly: “Who drove the boat?”. Sometimes people even say, “That was me,” because they don’t know it’s a crime. In some cases, it is simply a matter of refugees who paid less and drive the boat for this, but often it is Turks from poor regions who, for example, had no work and were hired by the smugglers for some pocket money to go and return the boat. Sometimes they are beaten bloody after their arrest until they arrive at the port.”

Dariusz Firla, CPT Lesvos, June 2017

The Greek Coast Guards in the port of Mytilene, Lesvos. Photo: March 2018

CPT-Lesvos interviewed Tarek (name changed) from Syria who has been detained in Chios prison for 14 months. He explained: “I was beaten from the moment I was arrested at sea until arriving at the police station. I was bleeding.”

After their arrest, people are held in pre-trial detention. CPT-Lesvos found that migrants are on average detained for 7 months before their first trial. There were also cases where the trial was postponed twice, leading to 29 months of pre-detention.

A farce of a court case

One of the major problems in court is a shocking lack of deep processing. CPT-Lesvos timed the duration of 28 trials and found that the average duration of an individual trial was only 28.5 minutes, while the average duration of a joint trial was 43 minutes. Obviously, this makes a thorough investigation of the question of guilt impossible. Furthermore, the translation within the trials is extremely poor.

Table 1: Duration of Trials

In many cases, the defendants are sentenced even if there is hardly any evidence against them. Dariusz Firla explains:

“Sometimes there is only the Coast Guard as witness. For the judges, it can be sufficient if the witness identifies the defendant as the driver of the boat. In one case, the Coast Guard even stated that he had not been present at the rescue operation himself, but that his colleague had told him that the defendant was guilty.”

Dariusz Firla, CPT Lesvos, June 2017

On top of the lack of deep processing by the judges, the quality of the court-appointed lawyers poses a major problem, especially since most lawyers are only appointed at the day of the trial and have no means to do any investigation for the defence. Sometimes, state or private lawyers also do not appear before the court, as in the case of Tarek (name changed), who had spent 14 months in pre-trial detention. Tarek’s family sold whatever they could to pay for a Greek lawyer, but the lawyer failed to show up on the day of the trial and he was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Life long sentences

In nearly all cases, the accused migrants are found guilty of human smuggling and in some cases also of entry to Greece without permission and disobedience. Rûnbîr Serkepkanî states:

“The punishment of people who are accused with or charged with smuggling is higher than murder in Greece. So it is more serious to drive a boat which carries migrants to the Greek islands than murdering people.”

Rûnbîr Serkepkanî, CPT-Lesvos, March 2019

The sentences are calculated adding factors such as the number of people transported, transport without life vests, and if their lives were put in danger (e.g. through capsizing of the boat), which is why the sentence can exceed 100 years. Since the maximum period of factual imprisonment in Greece is 25 years, the sentences is then reduced accordingly. In some cases, mitigating circumstances are taken into account, reducing the penalty to about ten years. Sometimes the deportation of the convicted person is ordered directly after the release. In fact, looking at 41 cases between 2016 and 2017, CPT-Lesvos found that the average sentence of the trials they monitored was about 44 years in prison with an expected actual duration in prison of about 19 years. In addition, there are huge fines imposed, on average more than 370.000 Euros.

Charge Average Sentence
(41 cases)
Average time the sentence is to be served (41 cases)
(1) human smuggling (illegal transportation in order to earn money) 48 years 18 years
(1) human smuggling (illegal transportation in order to earn money)
(2) entry to Greece without permission
51 years 19 years
(1) human smuggling (illegal transportation in order to earn money)
(2) entry to Greece without permission
(3) disobedience
32 years 19.5 years
Table 3: Sentence and incarceration
Table 4: Sentence, Incarceration and Money Penalty

The European incarceration of the marginalized

The necessity to prevent human smuggling has been normalized in the European Union. Arrests are supported by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX and hardly any politician would question the necessity to prevent human smuggling at the EU external borders. The actions of the Greek state and courts are either tacitly supported or ignored.

The EU Commission, FRONTEX and interior ministries tend to mention the need to fight human smuggling in one breath with the necessity to save lives and ensure protection of humans. This was especially made possible through the convergence of discourses around human trafficking, human smuggling and escape aid.[4] The EU claims:

“While trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling are two different crimes subject to different legal frameworks they are closely interlinked.”

European Union, 15.10.2018[5]

Trafficking and smuggling may overlap in some cases, however, they are in fact two completely different issues. Trafficking is a forced transfer of people, connected to kidnapping, exploitation and modern slavery, while human smuggling is a response on the restrictive border policies preventing even refugees to be able to cross borders in a legal way.

For the majority of the worldwide population, there is no safe passage and no legal way to enter an EU country and seek asylum or receive a working visa. People are forced to embark on illegalized deadly routes and have no other option but to use the service of facilitators that are in many cases excessively overpriced and risky. The facilitation of people’s journeys is illegalized even if their right to stay is approved through an asylum decision afterwards. Destroying smuggling networks will not save lives – people rely on them to save their own lives.

As the example of Greece shows, the people who are arrested in the fight against human smuggling are exactly those already suffering most from the EU border policies. In many cases, they had no choice and are themselves seeking protection. The anti-smuggling policies at the external border of Greece only hit the smallest link in a chain. Since people often have neither information on the risks they undergo nor a choice, these policies do not even have a deterring effect and only follow a senseless ideology of punishment. Without any need, the lives of marginalized people are destroyed in devastating ways. It is migrants and refugees seeking protection – unheard and without any lobby – who have to pay with their lives and dreams for these misguided and inhumane European policies.


[1]European Union (2018): The EU’s global engagement to counter smuggling and trafficking networks, 15.10.2018.

[2] For a recent arrest, see e.g.: Ekathimerini.com, 11.07.2019: Three arrested for migrant smuggling in as many incidents.

[3] See also: CPT Europe, 01.12.2016: Seeing in the Greek Courtroom.

[4] For an in-depth analysis see: Bellezza, Sara; Calandrino, Tiziana, March 2017: Criminalization of Flight and Escape Aid. Borderline-europe.

[5]European Union (2018): The EU’s global engagement to counter smuggling and trafficking networks, 15.10.2018.

 

[Ahmed H.] Let Ahmed return home!

We are sharing a text by Amnesty International with the call to let Ahmed H. of the Röszke11 finally return home:

“Cyprus: Ahmed H. must be allowed to return home

Ahmed H. has been separated from his Cypriot wife and two daughters for almost four years. In September 2015, he was imprisoned in Hungary and wrongfully convicted for “complicity in an act of terrorism” in a blatant misapplication of Hungary’s counter-terrorism laws. Ahmed H. was conditionally released on 19 January 2019 and is being held in immigration detention in Hungary. As he is a Syrian national he is at risk being forcibly returned to Syria, a country that is not safe. Cyprus must allow his return home to be reunited with his family.”

Support th ePetition: https://www.amnesty.ie/urgent-action-reunite-ahmed-h-with-his-family/

Fight the border regime, solidarity with all Ahemd and all affected!