Just over a year ago – on the 4th August 2012, Operation Zeus commenced – rounding up migrants from the streets of Athens and transporting them into detention camps. Within days 1,500 were interred – over the past year that has now grown to over 5,000 in the official camps alone, with Dendias the Minister for Public Order announcing that camp capacity was to double. The conditions in the camps are dreadful and are routinely condemned by international human rights agencies but little changes. On Saturday, the inmates of Amygdaleza had had enough.
The Amygdaleza camp on the outskirts of Athens is one of the largest holding camps in Greece with over 1600 people being held there. Conditions are dreadful, with no soap or other personal hygiene items and no accessible facilities to clean clothes. Over 300 cases of scabies – a highly infectious skin disease have been treated there in the past few months. Inmates with tuberculosis, diabetes and kidney infections are also held there with little access to healthcare, where there are a number experiencing severe psychiatric problems.
The Amygdaleza is one of the most modern camps in Europe. And I think that is excellent
Dendias, Minister for Public Order, July 11th 2013
On Saturday 10th August, the detainees rioted. The official police report states that suddenly the detainees attacked the prison guards without provocation, throwing stones and waterbottles filled with gravel however the Greek Police are not known for their veracity when reporting what goes on with people who have been detained.
One explanation for the riot is reported to be alternatively the discovery that they were now to be held for 18 months rather than the original 12 under the conditions that they were initially detained under. If this is the first that they have heard of a decision that was made in October, it is a shocking indictment of the legal support that detainees are receiving within the camp – with not only no recourse to legal support to progress their refugee claims, but not even explanations of the conditions that they were held under being given to them, but more sinister is the other reported reason.
It would seem that the migrants managed to operate the air conditioning systems without the permission of the guards. In Athens at the moment, when temperatures are reaching the mid-30s, air conditioning is essential in crowded confined conditions. The shipping containers sit unsheltered in the sun, drawing heat to them, raising the temperature inside even beyond the natural temperature. The authorities responded by cutting off all power to the shipping containers in which they are held – effectively plunging them into the boiling darkness.
Concentration camps filled with dark ovens?
Heard that one somewhere before?
When the detainees responded with banging and shouting, the police charged announcing “We do not care if you die“. Detainees responded to the violence by setting fire to mattresses and destroying the camp to the best of their ability. Eight shipping containers were completely burnt out, while substantial damage was done to windows and doors of other containers. Forty one migrants have been charged for participation in the uprising, while in the confusion, twenty four managed to escape, only ten however made it outwith the Amygdaleza area without being picked up. Migrants are reporting that there are a number of serious injuries and that there are also deaths that have resulted from the heavy handed intervention, including the police opening fire. There is as yet no official confirmation, however KEERFA, an anti-fascist monitoring organisation are confirming the death of at least one migrant, Sultan Ahmed in Block 10, who was shot by police.
No-one should be held in these conditions,
No-one should be in Amygdaleza at all.
No-one is illegal.
Video of fire at the Camp
Video Showing the Aftermath of the Uprising