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Refugees blocked the street and attempted to burn themselves to death in response to the police action against their tent camp

28 December 2010 / 09:12:19  GRReporter
2652 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

The operation of the Greek police for the removal of Afghanian, Iranian and Palestine refugees, who had built a tent camp about three months ago requesting political asylum in Greece, continued from early morning until late afternoon. Around 100 men, women and children pitched tents on the sidewalk in front of the UN representation in Athens to protest that the political asylum committees that determine which immigrants are entitled to international protection are not functioning.

Police forces arrived in the area early in the morning. In the presence of a prosecutor they removed about 30 refugees who lived there while Paleo Psychico mayoralty officials and crane removed the tents. The prosecutor ordered the refugees who have sewn their mouths and were on a hunger strike to be taken to hospital, while the others were taken to the foreigners’ office.

The refugees reacted sharply to the police intervention. They blocked Kifissias Avenue – one of the main streets of Athens – in protest, and two of them scaled two trees near the sidewalk.

According to Petros Constantinou from the party of Antarsia, who was elected city councilor in Athens in local elections, "candidates for political asylum are not within the competence of the police." He urged the leadership of the Ministry for Citizen Protection to meet and talk with the refugees and members of leftist organizations to join protesters in solidarity.

Municipal employees washed the sidewalk at noon. Only around 30 people were left further down who continued to protest against the police. The two men were standing on the trees and one of them was holding a broken glass in his hand. Shortly afterwards several men with sewn lips, visibly weary from the hunger strike, laid on the sidewalk in front of the riot police. Two of the immigrants flooded themselves with petrol and threatened to burn themselves to death. The police intervention prevented their intentions and several protesters were arrested.

According to the police, the prosecutor ordered the camp to be removed after complaints from residents that the area has become an outbreak of diseases due to the lack of sanitary facilities for the physiological needs of the protesters.

Over 47,000 applications for asylum should be considered in the second instance in the last eight years and 7000 applications – in the first instance. The presidential decree that is expected to establish the commissions to consider the applications was passed by Parliament on November 22 this year.

Tags: Refugees from Iran and AfghanistanPolitical assylmIllegal immigrationHunger strike
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