At around noon today, two Palestinian men were arrested at the immigration centre at Bæjarhraun 18. Eyewitness reports told of police beatings, and the police confiscating the phone of one witness who was documenting the incident, later deleting the material.
This was first reported on by the advocacy group Refugees In Iceland in a Facebook post about the incident.
“They came to Bæjarhraun in good faith, since the immigration office had told them that their vaccination certificate had been issued and that they could come and pick it up,” the post reads in part. “At their arrival at the immigration office the staff there called the police, which came with six cars, along with the special forces, eye witness say. They were then told that they were now ready to be deported to Greece.
“The two young men, afraid for their lives if they go back to Greece, were then violently arrested and beaten. One witness tried to record on phone how the police and immigration were treating the men, but the police then took the phone from the person and deleted the content. These are photos taken by people standing outside,” referring to the photos in the banner image above.
Another eyewitness account was sent to the Grapevine, confirming that the refugees were led to the location with assurances of their safety, only to be surprised by police arriving shortly thereafter. They also seconded the report that police had taken away someone’s phone and deleted video and photos they were taking of the arrest.
“Immigration told them at first that if they get vaccinated they will not be deported and this is only for the safety of the country,” the witness says. “When they refused to cooperate with the police, they resorted to violence against them. They beat them and threw them to the ground and used excessive force against them also they were electrocuted by the police. One of them has epilepsy and is mentally ill. He was bleeding. The police stayed an hour trying to control him and called more police cars and an ambulance. In the end it looked like they were injected with tranquilizers to prevent them from resisting. Police took them to an unknown place, and no one knows anything about them now.”
As the Grapevine has reported, these deportations to Greece are not only highly contentious, but also quite possibly illegal. Article 42 on the Law on Foreigners specifically states “it is not permitted to send a foreigner or a stateless person to an area where he has reason to fear persecution” or other inhumane treatment. Numerous human rights orgs, as well as the personal accounts of refugees who were forced to stay in Greece, all attest that even those refugees granted “protection” in Greece face inhumane and degrading treatment.
Further, even refugees hoping to immigrate elsewhere in Europe are nonetheless forced to apply for asylum upon arrival in Greece.
“As soon as we landed [in Greece], we were told ‘You have two choices,’” one of the refugees the Grapevine spoke with explains. “‘You either claim asylum here, or you get sent back to Turkey.’ We took the asylum. We didn’t know what else to do. We got put in an isolated camp, fenced in and surrounded by armed guards, police or the military. It’s exactly like a prison.”
Being granted “international protection” in Greece, they say, offers nothing in terms of being able to have a normal life.
“In most European countries, when you get a residence permit, you get a chance to learn the language, integrate with society, learn about the culture—we had none of that,” another told us. “We were secluded all the time. Even after we got the permit, we had no idea what to do or where to go, we got no information.”
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