By Dave Sewell
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Syrian refugees in Greece speak out – ‘We’ve decided to live like humans’

This article is over 7 years, 10 months old
Issue 2499
Refugees join protests against deportations
Refugees join protests against deportations

Refugees in Greece are resisting attempts to drive them into camps.

Under a European Union (EU) agreement with Turkey, refugees who arrive after 20 March can be deported.

The mass deportations face legal challenges after it emerged that some deportees hadn’t been given the chance to apply for asylum.

Border closures mean those not deported are trapped with nowhere to go.

Hundreds of people tried to break down the fence at the border with Macedonia at Idomeni in northern Greece last Sunday.

Syrian refugees marooned at Idomeni told journalists from Socialist Worker’s sister paper Workers Solidarity that they wouldn’t be turned back.

Masloum, a young English teacher from Aleppo in Syria, was part of a sit-in blocking the railway line.

“We want to pressure governments on both sides of the border,” he said. “They tell us it is pointless—but there’s no going back for us. We’ve decided to live like humans and we will succeed.”

Noura and Antan from Latakia were in the nearby refugee camp with their young children—the youngest is just eight months old and running a high fever.

They abandoned Syria after Russian planes bombed their home.

Antan bore the scars of six months in dictator Bashar al Assad’s jails where he was tortured horribly—including by crucifixion.

Noura said, “They tell us to go to reception centres, they say it will be better there. But it’s a lie.

“Many people who went in because they believed the lies are now coming back. Supposedly they can apply for asylum using Skype there.


“But there is only one hour’s internet connection and thousands of people.”

Greek painter Pavlo had been helping the family.

He said, “The other day I took Noura to the United Nations High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR) tent so they could tell her about her rights to get asylum.

“The Swiss bureaucrat told her to ‘go back to Syria’.”

Abdullah, a graduate from Aleppo, said, “What I want is to be able to choose my future.

“There’s nothing left for me in Aleppo—my home has been destroyed.

“It isn’t fair that I can’t choose what to do in my life because I don’t have the right passport.”

Abdullah was one of several thousand who waded across the Suva river over the border last month.

“We decided to cross the river and pass the border because a rumour was circulating that they would deport us all back to Turkey,” he said.

“Those who say that Turkey is a safe country don’t know what they are talking about.”

The EU wants to block the flow of refugees by force. But refugees won’t go without a fight.

All anti-racists must stand with them.

Thanks to Andriána Sotiris for translation

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