Chronology of incidents on Lesvos

January to May 2020

How 20.000 refugees just want to leave and conservative islanders, as well as solidary people want them to travel forward – Everybody for very different reasons.


06.01.2020: Suicide of a young, Iranian man, who was caged in the deportation section of Moria without medical and psychological care. On the next day: protest of many residents of Moria who blame the public authorities and the degrading conditions for this suicide.

17.01.2020: Arguments at night. Knifing because of cell phones, with several injured and two death young refugees. The uncertain future, the poky and awful living conditions result to more aggressions between the young men. One of the deaths was a survivor of the shipwreck in June 2019.

22.01.2020: Conservative politicians, parties, businesspeople call out for a general strike with the demand “We want our island back”. All stores follow the strike, thousands are on the streets.

30.01.2020: Demonstration of women groups from Moria/Kara Tepe and Mytilini with call for mobility.

31.01.2020: Mayor of South-Lesvos, Verros, closes ‘Stage 2’. The transit camp outside of Skala Sikaminias was managed by the UNHCR.



03.02.2020: Demonstration of refugees from Moria in Mytilini, also demanding for mobility and the permission to leave the island. The demonstration is blocked by an MAT special police unit, to stop the protestors from entering the city. Teargas is shot even directly towards babies. Arresting of doctors while they were medicating. Many injured. The government announces the building of closed centers for at least 5.000 refugees on the Aegean islands. Selected locations were announced. Starting with a boundary net in the ocean. Announcements for Lesvos: Building of a locked camp in the north of the island, inside of a nature-sanctuary, where a luxury campsite is planned for a long time. Another locked camp in Kavathas near to Mantamados, a left side stronghold. Protests and village-gatherings everywhere to plan the resistance. The protest of the politicians and of the general public starts. They don’t want the islands to become prison islands. Demands of all of the politicians (many are supporting the Nea Dimokratia (ND)): All of the refugees should leave the islands to the mainland. The mayor of South-Lesvos, Verros, announces resistance and is threatening to resign.

04.02.2020: Antifa demonstration in the night as an answer to the racist attacks, vigilantes and the street blockades.

25.02.2020: During a nightly mission MAT-Units from Athens were sent to the island to force the building of the prison. Many people were waiting in front of the gates all night to block the arrival. Among them the crafts of the garbage disposal. Anyway, the police manage to break through with a lot of teargas.

26.02.-01.03.2020: Two-day demonstration in Kavathas. The general public goes to the place to blockade the MAT (special unit) and the machines. Long fights with teargas, even against the pastor and elderly people. The far-right protesters manage to block the MAT units for these two days over two routes and prevent the building. Despite of a huge amount of teargas the mighty and ranting special units move back into a casern in Mytilini, where again thousands are protesting all night. It says that they have more than 50 injured. Parts of the local public resisting brought weapons in the end, and used them. In Chios the MAT was attacked in their hotel, their clothes and stuff were thrown out the window, probably by local far-rights. They couldn’t find a hotel on Lesvos to stay overnight. The entire hotel keepers refuse to let them in. On the third day they have to move back to the military caserns in Pagani for their protection, before they go back to the ferry. There are statements from the military that says they don’t want to take action against our public. The government calls back the MAT special units and claims in the media, that the first step of the building already took place. A lie, but necessary for paying the construction firms. There are three construction firms who get orders, each for one island and the owners all are close to the ND, some of them actually are relatives of the ND politicians. The retreat of the MAT off the island, actually a collective achievement of the public, soon is occupied by Fascists: starting with street blockades by vigilantes, around Moria, then attacks against people and cars and houses, who are in contact with NGOs. Also attacks on NGO staff, who are thereby forced to leave the village and to seek shelter.

27.02.2020: Attack by the vigilantes against a car of the social center for refugees ‘One Happy Family’ (OHF) and residents of Mytilini. The Turkish president Erdogan declares the borders towards the EU as open and intentionally brings refugees to the borderland around the Evros River and Attack by the vigilantes against a car of the social center for refugees ‘One Happy Family’ (OHF) and residents of Mytilini.the Aegean coast. Thousands of refugees who only got the information, that the borders are open, don’t know, that Greece hold close their borders. They now are in no man’s land between Turkey and Greece. For days desperate people are trying to come through but are pushed back by military. There are at least two dead persons. As reaction the Greek government decides to intermit the right of asylum for a month for everybody arriving from 1st of March. In addition the arrest and deportation of refugees. On the beaches in the south and the north of Lesvos activists are picked by the police for controls of their personal data, although all of them are registered and already know each other. So they are detained in their work. Many of them get frightened and move back from the island completely. Additionally the attacks against NGOs, cars and people on Lesvos increase.


01.03.2020: A boat with refugees arrives at the port of Thermi: racist citizens avoid the landing and are insulting and threatening at a pregnant Syrian woman with her baby and also at everybody else. Photo journalists, who are documenting from distance, are hit by fascists, cameras are thrown at the sea, a local woman helps. The Greek coastguard pulls the rubber boat to the port of Thermi and ensures the landing. The incoming don’t have any right to asylum and are brought to the port of Mytilini, were they are shut in a military ship for days. Vigilantes on their way from Panagiouda to Moria. Every car is controlled by private people armed with batons. They try to avoid that the arriving are brought to Moria. They attack journalists, NGOs and everybody they think who belongs to them. In the next days are vigilantes from Panagiouda again. They demand identification to control non-Greek people. Everybody who wants in and out will be controlled by aggressive and armed local men. Even lots of Greek people, yet the family of the mayor Verros, are being threatened and controlled. Apparently they act under protection of the mayor of Mytilini, who is reported to compliment them in social media. At Night a fire is set in transit camp ‘Stage 2’: it burns down completely. Most of the NGOs take back their volunteers and employees and leave the island. The Cash-Cards for the refugees are disestablished, so the people don’t get any cash until cash points are built into the camps.

02.03.2020: Attack and attempted arson to Mare Liberum and its crew at the port of Skala Loutron. Meanwhile European fascists call for defense of the EU-borders and reenter with Flyers, which they distribute to refugees: “Don’t come to our countries, there is no money, we don’t want you”. When their presence is published, they were expelling from the country by the public authorities of Evros. But the next ones arrive immediately on Lesbos. On the verge of their arrival local far-rights publish on their intern web pages that they will arrive and they told their own people to watch out not to mix them up with NGO employees or foreign journalists, who they in turn shall attack. Thereby they provide who are the racist culprits. Masked as journalists, German and Austrian fascists walk relaxed through the shopping street Ermou and are interviewing the general public. Not for a long time – they get recognized and have to visit the hospital before they leave in the evening with a bandage around the head.

05.03.2020: Mare Liberum is prevented from landing in the port of Mytilini by fascists and has to leave the port. Migrants, who arrive on the beaches of Lesvos, are not brought to Moria. Those, who arrive in the south, have to live outside by the coastguard at the port of Mytilini. Busses as sleeping berths and few chemical toilets. A military ship arrives at the port of Mytilini, allegedly for picking them up. But it stays at the port for days with its bow open and some of the refugees are living on the ship under degrading conditions: Pregnant women, small children, men, everybody on limited spaces. The Corona virus already is the country. In the north refugees are brought into a tent, instructed by the mayor, but which is removed again on the next day. They are camping around until they are picked up two weeks later, brought to the military ship and then brought into another tent-jail on the mainland together with the other refugees: To Kleidi next to Sidiki, where they again don’t get medical care and cannot file an application for asylum.

06.03.2020: Two accused are convicted to three months on probation for threaten Efi Latsoudi and Pikpa. 152 NGOs publish a request to the prime minister of Greece “to protect the laws and the humanity”.

07.03.2020: While an antifascist demonstration the next Austrian fascists are recognized: they have to leave the Saphos-Square, pick up their luggage in the hotel und shortly after the school of OHF is burning. In presence of the Austrian fascists, who are pretending to be journalists.

16.03.2020: Fire in the Hotspot Moria. Residents try to douse the fire, because there is no come through for the firefighters. Minimum one 6 year old child dies in the flames. We are saying “minimum”, because as always with death people in the Hotspot, there are no official data. To our knowledge this little girl is the fourth dead in the Hotspot since begin of 2020.

19.03.2020: The Hotspot Moria is declared as closed. The residents can only leave with permission of the police, only 100 per hour.

21.03.2020: The government closes all camps, for the reason of Corona prevention. Moria too, including Olive Grove. Only 100 people per hour are allowed to leave the camp, e.g. for grocery shopping. As there is absolutely no indication of a possibility of Corona prevention for 20.000 people in tight spaces, without water or sanitation, refugees organize themselves to an “Awareness group”, to inform everybody. They are standing n front of Lidl, where most of them go for groceries and explain the dangers. Other sews masks from waste fabrics for all residents of the camps. The mayor of Mytilini announces to hire three doctors, who shall be responsible for the 20.000 people in Moria.

23.03.2020: While all European visitors of the island, politicians from Brussels, journalists etc. claim to evacuate the camp Moria immediately, the government wants to decide to confiscate and communize the land on the islands, for the building of that jail nobody wants. Prosecution investigated against several persons because of racist attacks (attacked NGO employees, damaged cars, injured two German journalists, attacked Mare Liberum, threatened Pikpa, set the building of One Happy Family on fire), without a single arrest.


05.04.2020: Hunger strike of the prisoners inside of the deportation department of Moria. They claim for their immediate release, to avoid the disastrous outcomes of a virus outbreak.

08.04.20: Ein 16-jähriger Afghane wird mit einem Messer getötet vor dem Tor des Hotspots. Er lebte mit seiner Familie im Olive Grove. Vier weitere Minderjährige werden schwer verletzt ins Krankenhaus gebracht.

09.04.2020: Residents of Moria demonstrate in front of the Hotspot against the murders and the confinement under disastrous hygienic conditions.

10.04.2020: The hunger strike is interrupted by the police with force.

14.04.2020: Due to the lockdown of the camp, the residents only have the possibility to buy in a shop inside the Hotspot Moria: long waiting lines are building, distance and hygienic arrangements cannot be kept.

15.04.2020: Refugees, whose application for asylum were rejected, protest in front of the Hotspot Moria.

16.04.2020: Elderly and vulnerable migrants are housed by the UNHCR in hotels, to protect them from a possible infection with Covid-19.

18.04.2020: 47 minors fly with an extra flight of Aagean Airlines to Hannover.

20.04.2020: The lockdown of the camps is extended to 10th of May.

21.04.2020: Demonstrations of afghan refugees, who demand clearing up the murder of the 16 year old boy.

22.04.2020: Demonstrations of African refugees in front of Moria, demanding for freedom and safety.

23.04.2020: A local farmer shoots four afghan migrants, who are outside of the camps. Two of them get badly injured.

25.04.2020: The government informed that 1.500 people from Moria should be evacuated to camps on the mainland, but short-term cancels this decision.

27.04.2020: After a month in quarantine at the beaches in the north of the island, 127 migrants are finally brought to Moria.

27.04.20 The lawsuit against the man who shot four migrants on the 23rd of April begins. But the judges set him free. Villagers from Asomatos gather in front of the courthouse to show solidarity to the man, who injured the refugees.

29.04.2020: Refugees from different African countries demonstrate again in front of Moria against the inhumane conditions inside the camp.


02.05.2020: Finally at least 392 people are evacuated with the ferry to the camps of the mainland. But when they arrive they have to stay in the bus for the night, because racists block their entrance to the hotel.

10.05.2020: Already the second boat arrives on Lesvos. A few days ago also a boat arrives in Skalochori, while the government is still talking about successful border closure. The arriving people have to stay in quarantine for 14 days outdoors in the north of Lesvos. The former IRC camp is now used as camp for the refugees.

11.05.2020: Lockdown for Moria and Karatepe is extended to 21st of May.

Mare Liberum e.V.

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Mare Liberum e.V.
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