A video has emerged of the continued presence of militia groups in the Evros region. It shows a man wearing dark glasses, his friend, and the four people they have forced to the floor, one of whom looks like he has been beaten. These groups’ hunt’ people on the move and ask, with apparent impunity, for support for their actions on social media. Previous documented incidents record the use of hunting rifles.
Racist and anti-migration public and political discourse is exacerbating the danger people face and allows for circumstances that range from the outright bizarre — a group of 49 people, including children, being forced to sleep for four days on a flight of steps on Kastelorizo without access to food, water, or hygiene facilities — to the outright illegal — the kidnapping, imprisoning and beating of 13 people by a vigilante militia group.
The militia took these people to the police and claimed they had committed a citizen’s arrest of arsonists. All 13 have now been released, as there was no evidence.
This climate has also created an increasingly deadly environment in Greece for people on the move, with one person killed and four injured near Doriko in Evros on Saturday and five lives lost at sea off Samos and Lesvos on Monday.
People continue to make the journey because they have no choice but to. Yet the situation means their lives are still at risk even when they reach Greece. Families hide in the woods from the police despite severe medical conditions for fear of pushbacks and beatings. Their fates are hard for people in solidarity to track as their phones and possessions are so often taken, and communication can cease suddenly. This is the case for 13 of the 43 people who arrived on the islands this weekend. Another group of 13 were recently known to be in Evros, including one woman with a broken arm, but now they are uncontactable, while the death toll from the fire in the same region has risen from 18 to 20.
Some people are never found; if they are, many bodies are never identified. It is far too easy for a person to disappear in Greece and to be buried with no name, far from what was once their home, and without their family’s knowledge.
This is the true face of Europe and the reality of Greece.
The article first appeared in Are You Syrious?
Image: Aegean Boat Report