A.ot the Greek island of Chios, a closed trial against four men from Afghanistan began on Friday for arson in the former Moria initial reception center on Lesbos. The camp, which had been overcrowded for years, went up in flames in September 2020 and had to be abandoned. The Greek police had already claimed that the fire had been started by inmates of the camp in order to force them to be moved to the mainland. From there, most migrants, but also recognized asylum seekers, travel via the Balkans to Germany in order to apply for asylum there again, although this is formally inadmissible according to current European regulations.
In March, two underage Afghans were found guilty of the life-threatening arson in Moria based on cell phone videos and testimony in a separate trial and were sentenced to five years imprisonment in the first instance under juvenile law. In the case of the two men, who were 17 years old at the time of the offense, an appeal procedure is currently underway. Greek media reported that one of the defense arguments was that the accused, as members of the Afghan Hazara ethnic group, were the victims of false testimony by alleged Pashtun witnesses.
Athens does not shy away from breaking the law
The action taken by the Greek judiciary fits in with the tough course of the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which does not shy away from breaking the law. For example, on the Greek-Turkish land border in Thrace as well as at sea off the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, there are evidently systematic returns that are not legal under current European law, as they deny potential asylum seekers the opportunity to do so Request to present. However, they have long been widely accepted in the EU.
Greek ministers have indirectly confirmed several times that this practice is used by the police and border guards in their country. At the land border, not only the recently massively expanded border installations should help enforce Athens policy, but also so-called sonic cannons, which are also known as LRAD (“Long Range Acoustic Device”) and are used, among other things, by hand-held ships to ward off pirate attacks. These devices can literally cause deafening noise and reportedly physical pain if the ears are not protected.
Urged to travel on to Germany
For those who make it to Greece, asylum procedures have also been greatly accelerated. Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis was recently quoted as saying that asylum applications will no longer be accepted in principle from people from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia arriving from Turkey on the Aegean islands or in the Greek part of Thrace. For these people, so the reasoning, Turkey is a safe third country. As a result of this course, the number of people in the initial reception camps in the East Aegean islands of Greece has fallen sharply, from more than 40,000 a year ago to around 9,000.
Athens’s tough migration policy is rounded off by the fact that migrants as well as recognized asylum seekers from mainland Greece are indirectly urged to travel to Germany as soon as possible. In addition to a lack of state benefits for recognized asylum seekers in Greece, general economic circumstances also contribute to this so-called “irregular secondary migration”. Although the Greek economy is on the upswing again after the crisis decade between 2009 and 2019, unemployment is still high. Of course, this applies even more to applicants with insufficient language skills.