On August 13th 2022 the HUMAN RIGHTS LEGAL PROJECT are celebrating one year after our first successful intervention to stop #Pushbacks in #Samos.
This is a small thread of how a small number of people can stop the illegalities of the government:
In April 2020 the Greek Government began its systematic and brutal pushbacks against refugees.
For a year, due to the pandemic restrictions, their actions went almost unnoticed.
@ABoatReport was trying to reveal what was happening but no one on the ground could do anything.
We were witnessing his posts feeling incapable of intervening: to protect both #AsylumSeekers and the #RuleOfLaw and #HumanRights.
On the 21st April 2021 another pushback took place in Marathokampos, Sámos. 4 days later one Palestinian woman with her three kids came to our
office for help (amp.theguardian.com/global-develop…).
Her description fits what @ABoatReport was describing. We tried with different ways to mobilize the competent authorities and organizations to act and #StopTheCrimes. We saw that they were failing both us and the people that needed them
We decided to act, even if we had to risk our safety. We had a moral obligation as #HumanRightsDefenders, to protect those whose rights were being denied. We recently talked about these legitimate activities with @MaryLawlorhrds
Firstly, we informing by mail the authorities
to try to encourage them to uphold the law and #HumanRights. Any attempt to approach the area was unsuccessful because armed police and port police officers were stopping us.
On the 13th August 2021, we refused to leave the area. The threats from the authorities were direct:
we will arrest you. But we heard and then saw some Africans. The port police officer denied that there was anyone there. We stayed there so they could not take them and asked UNHCR @Refugees to come there.
It was the first time that @Refugees came to a landing site on #Samos.
36 of the people were saved,but the others had already been pushed back.
We were just three people acting as individuals and we decided to continue pressuring those with responsibility. Soon #CivilSociety began responding to the need to provide first aid& #HumanitarianAssistance
to the people. Unfortunately, @frontex never came to help or protect #EUvalues.
We contacted journalists like @g_christides @katymfallon @f_grillmeier to raise awareness. With their amazing work&cooperation with other actors like @LHreports they managed to use our informations
from the ground.
From the “alleged” pushbacks of 2021, in 2022 pushbacks are a reality that everyone admits. This is partly because we decided to act and reveal what was happening in the external borders of EU.
From April 2020 until 12/8/21,very few people registered in Samos
In 18months only around 50). The rest were pushed back.
From when we stepped up on 13/08/21 till the 20/11/21 (when we had to stop after direct attacks from the minister of migration @mitarakis) from the 489 that communicated with us we found and secured the safety of 274.
the rest were taken and pushed back before we managed to reach them.
In 2022 so far, with other civil society actors, we managed to directly help 404 out of 583 that reached out to us and secure a successful registration at the #Samos #CCAC.
While we do this, in a year, we have filed 5 lawsuits of pushback victims that manage to come back and decided to speak up against the authorities and we succeed in showing to everyone that the #RuleOfLaw in the islands is in grave danger. We have also represented more than 50
individuals who have been criminalised by the Greek state for seeking safety, supported by @SW_Legalaid& @BorderlineEurop @GeorgoulisLAW (like #samos2)
On our journey we have been lucky enough to cooperate with these and others committed journalists,we had an important visit from
@IBeugel (who has been to Samos and specifically to our office) and to gain the trust of important organizations and MEPs like @Tineke_Strik who met the Palestinian woman and @ErnstCornelia who actually escorted us to an intervention arrival site, finding 5 people hiding
from masked armed men. We led them to #Safety.
One year later the situation in #Sámos and also #Chios and #Lesvos is way better.
Organizations have followed our determination and started intervening and preventing pushbacks always according to the law.
In our one year anniversary we look back happy for our actions and the results of them. But also we look to #Evros where organizations cannot intervene because of the extended military zone. People are dying and legitimate #HumanRightsDefenders like @GCRefugees @rights360
in the area are prevented from successfully intervening and decisions of @ECHR are ignored. This needs to stop and will stop only if all of us decide to protect the law, the people in need and our dignity. #Together we have the power to stop them. The HRLP team thanks everyone
that has trusted us and we urge for a quick solution to #Evros &to #StopPushbacks in Greece. Moreover, make #FortressEurope one of safety for the persecuted, #EndPushbacks of the vulnerable, stop criminalize refugees and solidarity, guarantee the rights of #RefugeesGR in #Greece.

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