Iason Athanasiadis, from Moria, Mytilene

13 Sep

(See FB post for larger image.)

“The Greek government has a humanitarian crisis on its hands in Lesvos, but it has decided to isolate thousands of vulnerable migrants behind riot police units. As is well-known, the riot police unit’s main mode of interaction with the world is violence, something they’ve proven repeatedly in Greece by indiscriminately beating elderly people and women in demonstrations all up and down the country.

“They did it again a few hours ago on the coastal road where hundreds of men, women and children who’ve been sleeping rough for five days with limited food and water, are sheltering. Stun-grenades, teargas and truncheons were deployed on very vulnerable populations.
I witnessed one person, who was taking in food for a 5-member family (three of whom have medical conditions) being called by a riot policeman “filth”, presumably for seeking to alleviate the difficulties these people are experiencing.

“Older people in wheelchairs, small children clutching their teddy bears, pregnant women, young families, men, women and children all push their way down the sparsely lit road toward Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos. But they don’t get far. The march comes to an abrupt end at a roadblock set up by riot police from Athens. They are there to ensure that nobody from the immediate vicinity of the camp can escape. “Get out of here! Go back!” a policeman yells at a family with a baby. When a group of migrants lights an adjacent field on fire in protest, the police fire off tear gas. Hundreds of migrants are left with no other choice than to make their way back toward the inferno. The people stumble over each other, coughing and crying, as they wander around aimlessly in the acrid cloud of tear gas. No form of organized aid is in sight, no agency officials and no emergency personnel. Shahrzad and her family, like thousands of others, are left with no other choice but to lie down for the night on the side of the road.”

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