Put a Stop to the Shame, Put a Stop to the EU Turkey deal!

The horrible conditions for refugees on the Greek islands is a consequence of the deal made between Turkey and the European Union four years ago. This deal put the lives of refugees in grave danger, and now a global pandemic further compromises their health and safety.

On Monday, at least one girl lost her life in a fire that broke out in Moria camp. By letting people live in a completely horrid, overcrowded, unsanitary and dangerous camp, the EU and all of its comprising governments are directly responsible for this tragedy. 

Today, 18 March 2020, marks the 4th anniversary of the criminal agreement between the European Union and Turkey crafted to prevent refugees from reaching Europe, and once inside Greece to further prevent them from reaching the more western and northern countries. This agreement, which consists of a simple press release from the European Council, provides that all people who arrived illegally on the islands can be deported to Turkey, violating the right to seek international protection. From the western and the northern parts of Europe, the Dublin Regulations deport refugees to Greece—and to the others peripheric countries of Europe such as Spain and Italy—and from the East the EU-Turkey deal traps refugees in Greece, and worse, on the islands. But people cross anyway.

They put their lives in danger in order to reach a safe place to live in dignity and to apply to be considered for human rights. The island of Lesvos has been transformed into a prison full of refugees trying to survive, but it also became fertile ground for ultra-right wing ideologies. And these fascist groups aim to prevent refugees from obtaining their right to asylum and living a life where human rights are respected. There are members of the Greek police and the Greek army that have joined the fascist movements, and it is clear that an unprecedented level of violence is being deployed. At sea and along the river Evros, their agents block the way for boats causing ships to capsize. They shoot into the air, wound and kill. All of this only emboldens the burden that the Dublin agreements and the externalisation of borders puts on the populations of the peripheral countries of the European Union. 

The very opaque agreement between Turkey and the EU in 2016 is part of this externalization policy. In this situation to some locals it seems easier and more effective to attack migrants and NGOs than to organize a network of crossings to the continent or to attack the strong states of the European Union. It is not only a problem that the European Union does not condemn these extremely serious acts, but supports and encourages them. While our world leaders should be reminding the Greek authorities that both international and European law prohibit refoulment at the border, instead the President of the European Council Charles Michel, welcomes the efforts of the Greeks to "protect Europe's borders", while the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen calls Greece a "European shield" as if Europe were threatened by an enemy. We must put pressure on Europe to finish with the EU turkey deal, to stop the Dublin agreements, ask for solidarity between European countries and to implement the human rights and Geneva conventions that the world has been promised. We ask for safe passage, for the freedom of movement, and for the right to choose where to live. 

No to the violence at the border, no to the EU-Turkey deal.

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