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Greece

    October 10, 2017

    The passing of a new law reforming the legal recognition of gender identity, is an historical step forward for transgender people in Greece, said Amnesty International.

    The new law adopted today expressly states that transgender people can change their papers without the requirement of medical interventions or tests.

    “Today’s reform is a hard-won victory for transgender rights activists in Greece who have fought for equality for transgender people for years. It sends out a clear message that no one should be forced to go through medical procedures in order to be officially recognized for who they are,” said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.

    “Whilst this reform is a historic step in the right direction, the struggle is not fully won. The Greek government must make further changes in law to ensure that transgender people in Greece can be legally recognised as who they are without having to give up other rights.”

    Background:

    July 21, 2017
      The Egyptian authorities must conduct an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into allegations that police officers tortured a man to death this week at a police station in Cairo, Amnesty International said today, urging them to ensure that witnesses who testified against the suspected perpetrators are protected from any threats or harassment.   On 18 July, police officers arrested Gamal Aweida, a 43-year-old Coptic Christian man, along with a friend, from a local café and took them to Mansheyet Nasir police station for questioning in relation to a minor offence. Around 15 hours later, his family received a phone call informing them he was dead.       “The evidence strongly suggests that Gamal Aweida was tortured to death by Egyptian police. Such brutality is shocking and far too common.  Years of impunity have emboldened perpetrators of such abuses in Egypt, giving security forces free rein to torture and ill-treat detainees without fearing any consequences,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.  
    July 21, 2017
      Refugees, Greek islanders and activists today called on European leaders to heed their plight in a flash mob on a beach on the island of Lesvos symbolising the spirit of “refugees welcome”, organized by Amnesty International and Lesvos Solidarity.   The #ActionLesvos flash mob wrapped a giant fishing net with an EU flag on it around 60 refugees and activists to represent the situation of refugees and migrants trapped on the Greek islands by the EU-Turkey deal.   The flash mob comes after a week of protests in the nearby Moria camp and 10 days before the majority of the EU emergency funding for NGOs supporting refugees in Greece runs out.   “This is a protest against the EU-Turkey deal, which has been trapping people on Lesvos since 2016. Refugees are not criminals. We fled our countries because of hate and came to Europe to seek our freedom, but now we are stuck on the island. We have no option and no hope,” said Hamid Hamid, a refugee activist from Ghana, currently living in Greece, who is one of the activists taking part in the camp and came up with the concept.
    July 14, 2017
      As thousands of refugees trapped on Lesvos continue to face appalling conditions and uncertainty over their future, local and international activists will join refugee activists for a week of events and training from 15-23 July to demand action by the EU.   The “action camp”, organized by Amnesty International and Lesvos Solidarity, brings activists from eight European countries together with more than ten local campaigners and refugee activists and will include a stunt in Mytilini on 21 July.   “This camp aims to shine a spotlight on the dire situation facing refugees trapped on Lesvos due to the EU-Turkey Deal. The rise in the number of arrivals and the uncertainty about their future has been accompanied by risks to funding and poor reception conditions,” said Amnesty International Campaigner, Daniel Valls.   “By coming together we also demonstrate that islanders from Lesvos as well as people from across Europe are eager to welcome refugees and do not feel represented by EU governments’ inhumane policies.” said Efi Latsoudi, one of the founders of Lesvos Solidarity.
    May 26, 2017
    Afghan woman and children outside Elliniko camp in Greece

    Outside the unused airport in the Elliniko area of Athens, a group of Afghan women take off their sandals before sitting down on a blue blanket. Behind them is the old terminal building, which has been their temporary “home” for months, for many more than a year.

    There’s rubbish everywhere, shattered windows have turned into gaping holes and some places reek of urine.

    “I have been in this camp for 1 year and two months without a destiny”, a woman with a burgundy headscarf said, tears trickling down her face.

    The government is now starting the process of evacuating the camp. But for these women, their destiny is still unknown. No one we talk to knows exactly what will happen to them.

    “The uncertainty is killing us”,  Afghan woman.

    Amnesty has visited the Elliniko camps several times since they opened around a year and a half ago. Every time the stories have been the same and this visit is no different: appalling living conditions, lack of security, severe anxiety caused by former traumas and not knowing what the future will bring.

    “We’ve been through hell here,” one woman said.

    December 02, 2016
    Message from refugees pinned to a tent in Chios port

    Content Warning: This post includes descriptions of violence.

    By Catherine Bruce, Director, Refugee Law Office Toronto

    In September 2016, I spent two weeks working with a group of international volunteers and interpreters in a refugee camp in Greece. This is my account of my experiences.

    The trauma invaded my dreams

    Perhaps I should start by saying that after my first day working in the camps, I dreamed that I saw an airplane circle around and around in the sky.

    In my dream I was lying on the beach. And I was thinking to myself in my dream: why is that plane circling and what is the pilot in that plane watching? And then I saw that the pilot was watching a helicopter and the helicopter was coming to the ground. And as it landed, people jumped out of it, and suddenly on the ground next to me everyone was screaming and shouting, “run, they are shooting”. And I got up and ran, and then I woke up.

    October 28, 2016

    Greece has illegally returned at least eight Syrian refugees to Turkey without respecting procedural guarantees or considering their asylum claims, documentation and testimonies obtained by Amnesty International reveal.

    The Syrians, including four children under the age of five, were rescued in Greek waters when their boat travelling from Turkey to Italy encountered problems and they were taken to the island of Milos on 9 October. All eight registered their intention to claim asylum, but were returned to Turkey on 20 October. The refugees say they were falsely told that they were being transferred to Athens. Instead they were flown under escort of officers from the EU border agency (Frontex) to Adana, Turkey in a violation of international and EU law.

    “The Greek authorities and the EU have repeatedly insisted that all Syrian refugees arriving in the country are having their asylum claims properly assessed, but the evidence we have now seen clearly strongly suggests otherwise,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    September 30, 2016

    The alleged ill-treatment of five Syrian refugee children who say they were detained, beaten and forced to strip naked by Greek police for carrying plastic toy guns in the street is a deeply disturbing incident that must be properly investigated, Amnesty International said today.

    The children, boys aged between 12 and 16, were seized “on suspicion of being members of an armed group” while they carried the toys as props on their way to perform in a theatre play in central Athens this week.

    “The ridiculous elements of this case should not deflect attention from the extremely serious and deeply disturbing nature of the allegations against Greek police officers, who are accused of committing human rights violations against children in their custody during an identity check,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

    September 21, 2016

    Released 00.01 22 September 2016 CET

             One year on from promises to relocate over 66,000 asylum-seekers from Greece, less than 6% relocated

     

             Press resource pack with case studies, data and photographs

     

             Spokespeople available for interview

     

    A year after EU leaders agreed on an emergency relocation scheme to share responsibility for asylum-seekers, tens of thousands remain stranded in appalling conditions in Greece, Amnesty International revealed in a new briefing published today.

     

    Our hope is broken provides detailed case studies, evidence and data on the ways in which European governments’ lack of political will is condemning extremely vulnerable people to crippling insecurity and hardship. It reveals that less than 6% of the commitments for relocation from Greece have been fulfilled.

     

    August 31, 2016

    One year after the shocking image of Syrian boy Alan Kurdi’s drowned body caused international outcry, world leaders are still failing to respond to the refugee crisis, said Amnesty International today.

    Marking the 2 September anniversary of Alan’s death, the organisation drew attention to the plight of thousands of other refugee children let down by the dismal failure of world leaders to tackle the refugee crisis. In July, negotiations ahead of the 19 September UN Refugee and Migrant Summit put the “Global Compact on Refugee Responsibility-Sharing” proposed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on ice until 2018.

    April 17, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT+1 on Monday 18 April 2016

    With all eyes focused on the implementation of the recently agreed EU-Turkey deal, the plight of more than 46,000 refugees and migrants stuck in squalid conditions across mainland Greece, is in danger of being forgotten, said Amnesty International in a report released today.

    The report, Trapped in Greece: an avoidable refugee crisis, examines the situation of refugees and migrants – the majority women and children –trapped on mainland Greece, following the complete closure of the Macedonian border on 7 March.

    “The decision to close the Western Balkans route has left more than 46,000 refugees and migrants in appalling conditions and in a state of constant fear and uncertainty,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    April 07, 2016

    Thousands of refugees and migrants are being held arbitrarily in appalling conditions amid growing uncertainty, fear and despair over their fate under the new EU-Turkey refugee deal, Amnesty International said, after obtaining access to two highly restricted detention centres on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Chios.

    On 5 and 6 April, an Amnesty International research team were granted access to two closed detention centres, Moria on Lesvos and VIAL on Chios. A total of around 4,200 people are currently detained at the two sites. Most arrived on the Greek islands after the EU-Turkey deal took effect on 20 March. Some of them have been detained for a fortnight or more.

    Among the 89 refugees and migrants Amnesty International’s team interviewed, there were a large number of particularly vulnerable people, including pregnant women, babies, small children and people with disabilities, trauma and serious illnesses.

    April 06, 2016

    Brussels - Proposed reforms to the European asylum system presented by the European Commission today must serve as an opportunity to achieve a fairer distribution and better conditions for refugees within Europe, said Amnesty International.

    “It would be utterly untenable if any proposed reforms were to largely maintain the status quo. Persevering with a system that has stranded 50,000 refugees in Greece in dire conditions is nothing short of madness,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia. “This cannot be yet another missed opportunity to genuinely deal with the challenges refugees arriving in Europe face.”

    “It is completely unfair to expect frontline European countries already struggling to deal with this crisis to bear the highest burden, while others fail to pull their weight in supporting both refugees and the countries hosting them.”

    April 02, 2016

    Amnesty International will send a delegation to Lesvos and Chios in the coming days to monitor the situation as the EU-Turkey refugee deal is set to be implemented, including the expected mass returns of those who attempt to cross the Aegean Sea.

    Amnesty International has called the deal “a historic blow to human rights” and has researched and campaigned extensively on its broad human rights implications in both Greece and Turkey. The returns in particular are a flagrant violation of EU and international law, making a mockery of the global Refugee Convention.

    The delegation will visit Lesvos on 4-5 April and Chios on 6-7 April, and will include the organization’s Deputy Director for Europe Gauri van Gulik and Amnesty International Greece Director Giorgos Kosmopoulos. They will be available for media interviews on the ground.

     

    For futher information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
    (613)744-7667 3236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

    February 27, 2016

    The worsening humanitarian conditions at the Greece-Macedonia border crossing of Idomeni have reached crisis point as an increasing number of refugees and asylum-seekers are stuck in dire conditions after Macedonia and Serbia closed their borders to Afghanis, said Amnesty International experts on the border.

    The discriminatory measures have exacerbated a humanitarian bottleneck in Idomeni and set a dangerous precedent as refugees and asylum-seekers attempt to cross through the Balkans.

    “With the Greek asylum and reception systems under strain, the humanitarian situation here is only getting worse as entire families are sleeping rough, without access to adequate reception conditions,” said Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Director of Amnesty International Greece.

    “EU member states need to immediately step up and share responsibility in responding to this crisis. The situation in Idomeni is at breaking point and EU leaders hold the lives of thousands of asylum-seekers in the balance.”

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