Some 50 people assembled in front of Parliament yesterday to peacefully protest against deportations; in particular, to Greece. Many of those who attended were refugees themselves who face deportation to a country widely criticised by international organisations for their inhumane treatment of refugees, and where the coronavirus is still rampant.
This demonstration is a follow-up of the one which happened at the start of this month. The Grapevine spoke with some of the attendees, including three refugees, who told us why they are demonstrating, and what kind of conditions await them if they are deported to Greece.
Part of their desire to not be sent to Greece is that numerous international organisations have reported that refugee camps there are in deplorable condition, and even those granted “protection” in Greece are cut off from services, more often than not end up homeless, and are subjected to violence—all of which is a matter of public record.
In addition, Albert Björn Lúðvígsson, the lawyer for Mohammed Alsweirki, who also faces deportation to Greece, pointed out to The Grapevine that authorities had paused deportations to Greece last spring due to the pandemic, only to resume them again last autumn.
“The strange thing is that last spring, when the pandemic started, the Appeals Board and ÚTL stopped all deportations back to Greece, citing the uncertainty of the situation,” he told us. “But last autumn, they resumed the process of sending individuals back to Greece, citing that the uncertainty had dropped. The reason for this was vaccinations were on the horizon, and that the Greek government had managed to handle the outbreak. It’s not quite logical, at least in my view.”
Indeed, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control shows Greece to be considered a coronavirus hotspot.
“What I’ve argued in my legal arguments is that the uncertainty is still there,” he says. “We still don’t know whether these vaccines will provide immunity to coronavirus variations. There are a lot more infections going on right now in Greece than last spring. So the uncertainty hasn’t decreased; if anything, it’s increased.”
You can watch the video from the demonstration here, or in the header of this article. Below is a gallery from the event:
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