Farmakonisi Incident – A letter from Athens
This is an email sent by one of Reinform’s members who is at the moment in Athens, Greece. Yesterday she participated in the protest against the Greek Coast Guard which is allegedly accused of the drowning of 12 migrants (3 women and 9 children) off the coast of Farmakonisi island.
Yesterday I attended the interview that 3 of the 16 survivors gave to several political organizations for the rights of immigrants and Greek journalists at Sintagma Square.
I was shocked to hear what the 3 men, Abdel Sabur Azizi, EHsanula and Fada Mohumad Ahmadi, experienced during the night of 21st January . They were exhausted and shocked by the loss of their own family members but they had summoned the courage to be able to answer all the questions.
I heard one of them saying that his wife and his child jumped into the water after they got panicked when their boat was towed by the Greek Coast Guard which was heading at high speed for the Turkish coast. When the man saw his wife and his child sinking into the water, he started screaming and asking for life-jackets but the Coast Guards were just swearing at him and ignored him. “Other Coast Guards were shooting in the air with their guns trying to intimidate us and they shouted back to us: Fuck you, we will kill you all”, said the same man.
One journalist asked the 3 migrants, how it is possible that only men managed to survive. The answer was that they managed to climb on the vessel of the Greek Coast Guard which could not move because its engine was stopped. While they struggling to climb on the vessel, the Guards were trying to kick them back but in the meantime Turkish boats approached and the Greek Coat Guards were panicked.
Afterwards the survivors were brought to a posh restaurant on the nearby island of Leros. Later on they were transferred to the Police Station of Leros where they spent the night with their wet clothes still on and also without any food and water. At the Police Station they were asked to sign several papers with the help of a translator who spoke Farsi but not their language. When members of the UNHCR showed up at the Police Station, then the Police officers changed their attitude and they were pretending that they following the process in order to help the migrants.
“They only thing we want now is to find the bodies of our family members and bury them”, said another migrant.
After the interview was finished, several representatives of the political organizations talked about the responsibility of the Greek Government to this crime and asked the Greek authorities to take under consideration the testimonies of the survivors during the judicial process in order the perpetrators of this crime to be punished. Afterwards all demonstrators walked to the Police Station of Omonia where official declarations were submitted by the organizations demanding the immediate judicial process for those ones who are behind this crime as well as the application of the law for the rights of migrants .
I am wondering now who is really responsible for this crime? Who is allowing Coast Guards to behave like that? Isn’t Prime Minister Antonis Samaras who is blaming the migrants for the hunger of the Greek people and at the same time he is boosting for the fact that EU has now accepted officially the term “illegal migrant” ? Isn’t Merchant Marine Minister Militadis Varvitsiotis who is trying to deny that a crime has been committed by saying that all these testimonies is an exaggerated and made up story to stain the honour of Greece?
26 January 2014, Athens