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25/10/2017: IHEU and EHF support asylum application of Iraqi atheist activist

Posted on the 25/10/17

Yesterday, the EHF and its sister organisation the International Humanist and Ethical Union, in collaboration with their Greek member organisation, the Humanist Union of Greece, drafted a letter to call on the Greek authorities to grant asylum to Mr. Karrar Dwood Hamza, a well known Iraqi atheist who is in danger of persecution and even assasination.

Mr. Hamza arrived in Greece on 31 August 2017 and his arrival was registered on 4 September 2017.

You can read the entire letter below.


 

To the Regional Asylum Unit of Kos
85301 Pyli, Kos, Greece
E-mail: aka.ko@asylo.gov.gr

25 October 2017

Dear Sir/Madam,

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and the European Humanist Federation (EHF), along with their Greek member Humanist Union of Greece (HUG), are herein strongly supporting the asylum application of Mr Karrar Dwood Hamza. He is born on 20 February 1987 and his case file number is 56,211. According to the information he provided, he arrived in Greece on 31 August 2017 and his arrival was registered on 4 September 2017.

Mr. Hamza comes from a Muslim country, Iraq. He is a well known atheist activist, with Arab Atheists and the Forum for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Facebook We are aware of his activities to promote the right to freedom of belief and expression in the Middle East and North Africa, and to combat Facebook’s censorship of Arab atheist pages.

We have received credible reports that he had been invited to speak at a July 2017 International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in London, the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history, but, regrettably, hisvisa was denied. Soon after that, he was forced to flee Iraq because of several serious threats to his life, probably ensuing from the knowledge of this invitation. Such threats are a recurrent phenomenon in countries like Iraq, where “apostates” and atheist activists are victims of constant harassment and risk even assassination by Islamists, while governments there are unwilling and/or unable to guarantee the security and in the end the life of such activists.

For those reasons, there is credible danger of persecution or even assassination of Mr Hamza in Iraq. We therefore urge Greek authorities to grant him asylum and protection.

We thank you in advance for your consideration of our appeal.

Andrew Copson
President of IHEU
Giulio Ercolessi
President of EHF
Panayote Dimitras
Spokesperson of HUG

Cambodia: Request to reconvene the Paris Conference on Cambodia, in light of the Cambodian government’s dismantling of democracy

Cambodia: Request to reconvene the Paris Conference on Cambodia, in light of the Cambodian government’s dismantling of democracy

Mr. António Guterres,
Secretary General,
United Nations

Mr. Joko Widodo,
President,
Republic of Indonesia (Co-Chair of the 1991 Paris Conference on Cambodia)

Mr. Emmanuel Macron,
President,
The French Republic (Co-Chair of the 1991 Paris Conference on Cambodia)

23 October 2017

Re: Request to reconvene the Paris Conference on Cambodia, in light of the Cambodian government’s dismantling of democracy

Dear Secretary General Guterres, President Widodo, and President Macron,

We, the undersigned international and regional organizations, write to you on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the 1991 Paris Peace Conference on Cambodia, which was co-chaired by France and Indonesia. The Paris Conference led to the signing of the historic Paris Peace Agreements, and aimed at ending the “tragic conflict and continuing bloodshed in Cambodia”. Twenty-six years later, there is an urgent need for decisive action from the international community, to ensure that the democratic vision for Cambodia outlined in the Paris Peace Agreements is not completely foresaken.

The Paris Peace Agreements created clear legal obligations upon the signatories – including the obligation to immediately undertake appropriate consultations with the members of the Paris Conference – in the event of the agreements being violated.[1] These obligations exist to this day, despite Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recent claim that “the Paris Peace agreement is like a ghost”.[2]

We respectfully submit that your obligation to take concrete action under the Paris Peace Agreements has now been triggered as a result of the severe deterioration in the state of human rights and democracy in Cambodia in recent weeks and months, which has led to clear violations of the Paris Agreements. Specifically, Article 29 of the Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement for Cambodia (the “ACPS”) provides:

Without prejudice to the prerogatives of the Security Council of the United Nations, and upon the request of the SecretaryGeneral, the two Cochairmen of the Paris Conference on Cambodia [France and Indonesia], in the event of a violation or threat of violation of this Agreement, will immediately undertake appropriate consultations, including with members of the Paris Conference on Cambodia, with a view to taking appropriate steps to ensure respect for these commitments.

Since July 2017, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has embarked upon a severe crackdown against the political opposition,  civil society organizations and independent and critical media, as well as individuals exercising their fundamental freedoms. The severity of this crackdown is unprecedented in the post-1991 era, and poses an existential threat to Cambodian democracy.

On September 3, Kem Sokha, the President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was arrested in violation of his parliamentary immunity.[3] He remains in pre-trial detention and has been charged with treason. This action was said to have been taken to counter a broader politically-motivated conspiracy theory, which alleges that  the political opposition and civil society are acting in concert to foment a “color revolution” to overthrow the Cambodian government with the covert support of the United States. No credible evidence supporting the existence of such a plot has been produced, and this accusation has been further used to shut down and harass a number of other organizations and individuals.

Fewer than 40 percent of CNRP members of parliament remain in Cambodia after others were forced to flee the country, having been threatened with arrest as part of the same treason investigation. Now, the party itself faces imminent dissolution. In February and July, the Cambodian government introduced, and the National Assembly quickly passed, two sets of amendments to the Law on Political Parties, giving the Cambodian government sweeping powers to suspend and dissolve political parties.[4] On October 6, the Ministry of Interior filed a complaint to the Supreme Court in order to initiate the dissolution of the CNRP.[5]

This move was followed on October 16 by the passage of further amendments to Cambodia’s election laws – comprising the Law on the Election of Members of the National Assembly, the Law on the Election of Senate Members, the Law on the Election of Commune Councils, and the Law on the Election of the Capital/Provincial and Municipality/District/Khan Councils – through Cambodia’s National Assembly.[6] If adopted, as expected, these amendments would enable (in the event the CNRP is dissolved) the redistribution of the CNRP’s National Assembly seats to parties who received minimal support in the 2013 national election, and transfer all 489 of the CNRP’s Commune Chief seats to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), constituting an outright subversion of the democratic will of the Cambodian people.

While the CNRP won more than 44 percent of the popular vote in the 2013 National Assembly election, compared to the ruling CPP’s 48 percent, the draft amendments to the electoral laws would give the royalist Funcinpec party – which received only three percent of the popular vote – the majority of the CNRP’s seats, with 41. Minor parties which each received one percent, or less, of the popular vote would be awarded the remainder of the seats.

These developments contravene the Paris Peace Agreements, which provide: 

Cambodia will follow a system of liberal democracy, on the basis of pluralism. It will provide for periodic and genuine elections. […] It will provide for voting by secret ballot, with a requirement that electoral procedures provide a full and fair opportunity to organize and participate in the electoral process.[7]

and,

 (a) Cambodia undertakes:

to ensure respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cambodia;

to support the right of all Cambodian citizens to undertake activities that would promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms ;

to take effective measures to ensure that the policies and practices of the past shall never be allowed to return; to adhere to relevant international human rights instruments.[8]

Alongside the assault on the right to political participation and the elimination of all genuine political opposition, the Cambodian authorities have undertaken a severe crackdown against independent and critical media outlets and civil society organizations. The renowned Cambodia Daily newspaper was forced to shut down on September 4 on the basis of a USD6.3 million tax bill, which was suddenly produced despite the absence of any formal audit or due process.[9] A total of 31 independent radio broadcasts were also taken off the air in the space of two weeks, with the government citing vague license infringements.[10] Radio Free Asia has also been forced to shut its Phnom Penh office, and senior government officials threatened their reporters with arrest if they attempted to continue their work inside Cambodia.[11] These developments have had the combined effect of gutting access to independent information for rural Cambodians, who are now almost totally reliant on media sources that actively favour the CPP.

Civil society groups in Cambodia have also faced relentless pressure since the Commune Council elections in June 2017. On July 4, the Ministry of Interior declared that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) would not be allowed to reconvene the civil society election monitoring coalition known as the “Situation Room” for monitoring of the national election in 2018, following an investigation ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen.[12] On August 23, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation ordered the immediate closure of the US-funded NGO, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the expulsion of its international staff members from Cambodia within seven days. The order was based on NDI’s alleged failure to register with the ministry, in contravention of the repressive and heavily-criticized Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO)[13] – despite NDI having submitted all necessary registration documents and received assurances that it could proceed.[14] On September 28, the Ministry of Interior ordered the temporary suspension of Equitable Cambodia, a prominent land rights organization, for 30 working days effective immediately, for alleged non-compliance with LANGO.[15] On September 15, Mother Nature Cambodia, an environmental campaign group, was pressured into de-registering following harassment of its directors by the Cambodian authorities.[16] A number of organizations critical of the government, including the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (COMFREL), have also been targeted by tax investigations.[17] This misuse of the law has been accompanied by a major escalation in intimidation and surveillance of civil society workers and human rights defenders.[18]

The national election scheduled for July 2018 has no chance of legitimacy if present circumstances persist, and far-reaching remedial steps would be required for this election to be deemed genuine, participatory and inclusive.  The rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and political participation, among others, are being systematically violated, in contravention of the Cambodian constitution and Cambodia’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,  and the Paris Agreements.

In light of the alarming and rapidly deteriorating situation for human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Cambodia, we urge you to fulfil your obligations as laid out in the Paris Peace Agreements. We respectfully submit that the most appropriate means of fulfilling these obligations would be to reconvene the members of the Paris Conference on Cambodia, along with other relevant stakeholders, for an emergency summit to discuss the state of Cambodian democracy, and to outline collective actions which could be taken to encourage the RGC to reverse course. Urgent action is required to ensure that the vision of a democratic Cambodia outlined in the Paris Agreements is not betrayed.

Yours sincerely,

  1. AdilSoz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
  2. Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
  3. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
  4. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
  5. Asia Democracy Network (ADN)
  6. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia)
  7. Asian Network for Free Elections(ANFREL)
  8. Boat People SOS
  9. Bytes for All (B4A)
  10. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
  11. Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD) (Mongolia)
  12. Center for Independent Journalist – Romania
  13. Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)
  14. Center for Media Studies & Peace Building (CEMESP)
  15. Centro Prodh (Mexico)
  16. Civil Rights Defenders
  17. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) (Indonesia)
  18. Committee Against Torture (CAT) (Russia)
  19. Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC) (Thailand)
  20. Equality Myanmar (EQMM)
  21. Fortify Rights
  22. Freedom Forum
  23. Global Witness
  24. Globe International
  25. Greek Helsinki Monitor (Greece)
  26. Human Rights Watch
  27. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  28. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  29. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
  30. International Press Centre (IPC)
  31. Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP) (Timor-Leste)
  32. Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS)
  33. Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal (MASUM) (India)
  34. Media Institute of Southern Africa
  35. Media Watch
  36. Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
  37. Mizzima News
  38. National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)
  39. Odhikar (Bangladesh)
  40. P24 Platform for Independent Journalism
  41. PEN American Center
  42. PEN Canada
  43. People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF) (Thailand)
  44. Sohram-Casra (Turkey)
  45. SOS-Torture/Burundi (Burundi)
  46. South East Europe Media Organisation
  47. Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
  48. Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes des Violences Sexuelles (SFVS) (DRC)
  49. UDEFEGUA (Guatemala)
  50. Vietnamese Women for Human Rights (VNWHR)
  51. Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
  52. World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
  53. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
  54. Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI)
  55. Yayasan Sekretariat Anak Merdeka Indonesia (SAMIN)

CC:

  • His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia
  • Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia
  • Kem Sokha, President, Cambodia National Rescue Party
  • Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Retno Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Indonesia
  • Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, France
  • Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia
  • His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei Darussalam
  • Chrystia Freeland, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Canada
  • Wang Yi, Foreign Minister, People’s Republic of China
  • Sushma Swaraj, Ministerof External Affairs, India
  • Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan
  • Saleumxay Kommasith, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laos
  • Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Malaysia
  • Alan Peter Cayetano, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Philippines
  • Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Singapore
  • Don Pramudwinai, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Thailand
  • Sergey Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Russia
  • Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, United Kingdom
  • Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State, United States of America
  • Phạm Bình Minh, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Viet Nam

[1] For an overview of the legal obligations upon the Royal Government of Cambodia, as well as obligations upon the other signatories and the United Nations, created by the Paris Peace Agreements, see: http://cchrcambodia.org/admin/media/factsheet/factsheet/english/2016_10_21_CCHR_fs_dhr_in_the_ppa_ENG.pdf

[2] Bok Sokhean and Erin Handley, ‘Peace accords a ‘ghost’, says Hun Sen, dismissing treaty that established democracy in Cambodia’ (Phnom Penh Post, 12 October 2017) https://goo.gl/w9ekaT

[3] Richard C. Paddock and Julia Wallace, ‘Cambodia Arrests Opposition Leader, Accusing Him of Treason’ (New York Times, 2 September 2017) https://goo.gl/CNm9Yd

[4] See: UN OHCHR in Cambodia, ‘A Human Rights Analysis of the Amended Law on Political Parties (2017)’ (28 March 2017) https://goo.gl/JwWM51 and CCHR, ‘Legal Analysis of the July 2017 proposed amendment to the LLP’ (2017) https://goo.gl/tXFuLR

[5] Mech Dara and Erin Handley, ‘Breaking: Interior Ministry files complaint to dissolve CNRP’ (Phnom Penh Post, 6 October 2017) https://goo.gl/vDN5Gn

[6] Niem Chheng, Ananth Baliga and Erin Handley, ‘CPP rewrites rules again, with amendments planned to political laws to redistribute CNRP seats’ (Phnom Penh Post, 11 October 2017) https://goo.gl/Mf56dv

[7] ACPS Annex 5, ‘Principles for a New Constitution for Cambodia,’ Articles 4 and 5

[8] Agreement on Sovereignty, Independence, Territorial Integrity and Inviolability, Neutrality and National Unity of Cambodia (ASIT) Article 3(2)(a), and ACPS Article 15(2)(a)

[9] The Cambodia Daily, ‘Cambodia Daily Announces Immediate Closure Amid Threats’ (The Cambodia Daily, 4 September 2017) https://goo.gl/NQTaur

[10] Abby Seiff, ‘Cambodia: Switching off independent radio stations’ (Al Jazeera, 22 September 2017) https://goo.gl/Wo45gn

[11] Kann Vicheika, ‘Cambodia Threatens Radio Free Asia Journalists With Arrest’ (VOA, 20 September 2017) https://goo.gl/bKVST9

[12] Ben Sokhean and Ben Paviour, ‘Interior Ministry Issues Stop-Order to Situation Room NGOs’ (The Cambodia Daily, 5 July 2017) https://goo.gl/TUywKr

[13] For a detailed analysis of the LANGO, see: UN Office Of the High Commission for Human Rights Cambodia, ‘A Human Rights Analysis Of The Law On Associations And Non-Governmental Organizations’ < http://bit.ly/2xIh7A4 >

[14] George Wright, ‘NDI Ordered to Halt Operations, Foreign Staff Face Expulsion’, The Cambodia Daily, 23 August 2017.

[15] Ben Sokhean and Kong Meta, ‘Land rights NGO suspended’, Phnom Penh Post, 29 September 2017.

[16] Mech Dara and Ananth Baliga, ‘Environmental NGO Mother Nature dissolved’ (Phnom Penh Post, 18 September 2017) https://goo.gl/iVa6K7

[17] Phan Soumy, ‘Government Rebuts Political Motive for Tax Investigations’ (The Cambodia Daily, 16 August 2017) https://goo.gl/XXLqEg

[18] Brendan O’Byrne, ‘Rights Groups Raise Alarm Over Threats, Surveillance’ (The Cambodia Daily, 16 August 2017) https://goo.gl/UxsqEk

Ελλάδα: Σε άθλιες συνθήκες οι αιτούντες άσυλο στα νησιά – Οι Οργανώσεις πιέζουν τον Τσίπρα για μεταφορές προσφύγων στην Ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα

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Ελλάδα: Σε άθλιες συνθήκες οι αιτούντες άσυλο στα νησιά
Οι Οργανώσεις πιέζουν τον Τσίπρα για μεταφορές προσφύγων στην Ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα

(Αθήνα, 23 Οκτωβρίου 2017) – Ο Πρωθυπουργός οφείλει να βάλει ένα τέλος στη λεγόμενη «πολιτική περιορισμού» των αιτούντων άσυλο στα νησιά του Αιγαίου, είπαν 19 οργανώσεις για τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα και μη κυβερνητικές ανθρωπιστικές οργανώσεις σε μία ανοιχτή επιστολή που δημοσιεύθηκε σήμερα [η επιστολή επισυνάπτεται στο τέλος του κειμένου].

Χιλιάδες άνθρωποι, μεταξύ αυτών και πολύ μικρά παιδιά, γυναίκες μόνες ή εγκυμονούσες, καθώς και άτομα με σωματικές αναπηρίες, είναι εγκλωβισμένοι σε άθλιες συνθήκες με τον χειμώνα προ των πυλών. Ο εξαναγκασμός των αιτούντων άσυλο να διαβιώνουν σε συνθήκες που παραβιάζουν τα δικαιώματά τους και είναι επιζήμιες για την ευημερία, την υγεία και την αξιοπρέπειά τους, δεν μπορεί να δικαιολογηθεί από την εφαρμογή της συμφωνίας μεταξύ ΕΕ και Τουρκίας, είπαν οι οργανώσεις.  

201710eca_greece_unhcrΟι σκηνές προσφύγων βρίσκονται δίπλα στο hotspot της Μόριας στη Λέσβο, όπου χιλιάδες άνθρωποι, συμπεριλαμβανομένων πολύ μικρών παιδιών, έγκυων γυναικών και ατόμων με σωματικές αναπηρίες, είναι παγιδευμένοι/ες σε καταστροφικές συνθήκες καθώς μπαίνει ο χειμώνας. Η Εμίνα Τσερίμοβιτς για το Human Rights Watch. Σεπτέμβριος 2017.

Από την έναρξη εφαρμογής της Δήλωσης ΕΕ – Τουρκίας τον Μάρτιο του 2016, τα ελληνικά νησιά της Λέσβου, της Χίου, της Σάμου, της Κω και της Λέρου έχουν μετατραπεί σε χώρους εγκλεισμού επ’ αόριστον. Χιλιάδες γυναίκες, άντρες και παιδιά είναι παγιδευμένοι σε απαράδεκτες και ασταθείς συνθήκες, ενώ πολλοί από αυτούς στερούνται πρόσβασης σε ικανοποιητικές διαδικασίες ασύλου. Οι αιτούντες άσυλο που έφτασαν στα νησιά κατά τις πρώτες μέρες εφαρμογής της Συμφωνίας ΕΕ – Τουρκίας έχουν εγκλωβιστεί εκεί για τουλάχιστον 19 μήνες.

Η πρόσφατη αύξηση αφίξεων αντρών, γυναικών και παιδιών έχει αυξήσει την ασκούμενη πίεση στα ήδη υπερπλήρη κέντρα υποδοχής και ταυτοποίησης που είναι γνωστά ως hotspot. Οι τρέχουσες αφίξεις είναι ακόμα σχετικά μειωμένες και αναμένεται να είναι ευρύτερα διαχειρίσιμες από την Ελλάδα και την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση, αλλά περιλαμβάνουν σημαντικό αριθμό γυναικών και παιδιών.

Η κατάσταση είναι ιδιαίτερα κρίσιμη στη Σάμο και τη Λέσβο, όπου οι συνολικά 8.300 και πλέον αιτούντες άσυλο και μετανάστες ζουν σε εγκαταστάσεις hotspot χωρητικότητας μόλις 3.000 ατόμων. Η πρόσφατη ανακοίνωση ότι 2.000 αιτούντες άσυλο θα μεταφερθούν από τα δύο νησιά στην ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα κατά τις προσεχείς εβδομάδες ως έκτακτο μέτρο αποσυμφόρησης είναι μία θετική εξέλιξη, ανακοίνωσαν οι οργανισμοί. Ωστόσο, δεν αρκεί ώστε να μετριάσει τον ισχύοντα συνωστισμό στις εγκαταστάσεις και δεν αντιμετωπίζει με βιώσιμο τρόπο τα συστημικά ζητήματα που έχουν προκαλέσει αυτή την κατάσταση έκτακτης ανάγκης – δηλαδή, την πολιτική περιορισμού.

201710eca_greece_hotspotsΗ Ibtissam, 22, μητέρα δύο παιδιών που ελπίζει να επανενωθεί με τον σύζυγό της στη Γερμανία, απεικονίζεται στο στρατόπεδο προσφύγων της Σούδας στη Χίο, 10 Ιουνίου 2017. REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra

Με τον χειμώνα προ των πυλών για τρίτη φορά από τότε που άρχισαν οι αφίξεις μεγάλης κλίμακας στα νησιά, είναι προφανές ότι οι ελληνικές αρχές δεν μπορούν να ανταποκριθούν στις βασικές ανάγκες και να προστατέψουν τους αιτούντες άσυλο όσο αυτοί παραμένουν στα νησιά. Την εφαρμογή της Δήλωσης ΕΕ – Τουρκίας έχουν επικαλεστεί αξιωματούχοι της ΕΕ και της Ελλάδας ως δικαιολογία για την πολιτική περιορισμού. Αλλά το να εξαναγκάζονται οι αιτούντες άσυλο να παραμένουν υπό συνθήκες που παραβιάζουν τα δικαιώματά τους και είναι επιζήμιες για την ευημερία, την υγεία και την αξιοπρέπειά τους, είναι αδικαιολόγητο, δήλωσαν οι οργανώσεις.

Οι οργανώσεις κάλεσαν τον πρωθυπουργό κύριο Τσίπρα να προστατέψει τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα των αιτούντων άσυλο που είναι εγκλωβισμένοι στα νησιά βάζοντας ένα τέλος στην πολιτική περιορισμού. Οι αιτούντες άσυλο θα πρέπει να μεταφερθούν στην ηπειρωτική χώρα και να εξασφαλιστεί ότι θα τους παρασχεθούν κατάλληλα καταλύματα και υπηρεσίες ώστε να καλύψουν τις ανάγκες τους και να διασφαλίσουν ότι οι αιτήσεις ασύλου τους κρίνονται δίκαια.

Δηλώσεις από Συμμετέχουσες Οργανώσεις

«Η Ελλάδα πρέπει να βάλει ένα τέλος στην απάνθρωπη πολιτική του εγκλωβισμού των αιτούντων άσυλο στα νησιά», είπε η Eva Cossé, ερευνήτρια στην Ελλάδα της Human Rights Watch. «Οι άνθρωποι δεν πρέπει να εξαναγκάζονται να υποφέρουν για άλλον ένα χειμώνα σε αντίσκηνα χωρίς θέρμανση και χωρίς τις κατάλληλες υπηρεσίες».

«Η πολιτική περιορισμού θέτει σε κίνδυνο τη ζωή των ανθρώπων που αναζητούν καταφύγιο στην Ευρώπη», είπε η Jana Frey, διευθύντρια του International Rescue Committee για τη χώρα. «Αν και χαιρετίζουμε την ανακοίνωση της κυβέρνησης σχετικά με την αναχώρηση 2.000 ατόμων από τη Λέσβο και τη Σάμο τις προσεχείς ημέρες ως έκτακτο μέτρο, αυτό δεν μπορεί παρά να θεωρηθεί ένα πρώτο βήμα. Πρέπει να γίνουν πολλά περισσότερα τόσο για να βελτιωθούν οι συνθήκες στα νησιά όσο και για να μεταφερθούν οι πιο ευάλωτες ομάδες στην ηπειρωτική χώρα, ώστε να είμαστε βέβαιοι ότι δεν θα έχουμε ανθρώπινες απώλειες αυτό τον χειμώνα».

«Η Συμφωνία μεταξύ ΕΕ – Τουρκίας πρέπει να πάψει να χρησιμοποιείται ως πρόσχημα για την εγκατάλειψη των αιτούντων άσυλο σε απάνθρωπες συνθήκες στα ελληνικά νησιά», είπε η Irem Arf, ερευνήτρια της Διεθνούς Αμνηστίας στο μεταναστευτικό.  «Είναι επιτακτική ανάγκη η ελληνική κυβέρνηση να μεταφέρει κατεπειγόντως τους πρόσφυγες στην ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα».

«Η πολιτική εφαρμογής της Δήλωσης ΕΕ – Τουρκίας παραβιάζει τα δικαιώματα των αιτούντων άσυλο όπως αυτά προβλέπονται από το διεθνές δίκαιο και έχει συμβάλει στην διάρρήξη/διάσπαση της κοινωνικής συνοχής στα επηρεαζόμενα ελληνικά νησιά», δήλωσε ο Σπύρος Ριζάκος, διευθυντής της οργάνωσης  ΑΙΤΗΜΑ «Είναι πλέον καιρός η ΕΕ και οι ελληνικές αρχές να εγκαταλείψουν αυτήν την πολιτική.».

«Η Ευρώπη αρνείται να παρέχει ανθρώπινες συνθήκες υποδοχής και αξιοπρέπεια στους ανθρώπους που έχουν ανάγκη καταφθάνοντας στις ακτές μας», είπε ο Nicola Bay, επικεφαλής της αποστολής της Oxfam στην Ελλάδα. «Οι αρχές της Ελλάδας και της ΕΕ οφείλουν άμεσα να μεταφέρουν μετανάστες στην ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα και όχι να τους αφήνουν εγκλωβισμένους υπό άθλιες συνθήκες στα ελληνικά νησιά».

«Η μετατροπή αυτών των νησιών της Ελλάδας σε ένα τεράστιο κέντρο κράτησης δεν είναι προς όφελος κανενός», είπε ο Gianmaria Pinto, Διευθυντής στην Ελλάδα του Norwegian Refugee Council. «Όλοι μας γνωρίζουμε τι είναι απαραίτητο να γίνει, όπως το γνωρίζει και η κυβέρνηση: πρέπει να παρέχουμε στις ευάλωτες ομάδες των ανθρώπων που παραμένουν εγκλωβισμένοι στα νησιά αξιοπρεπή καταλύματα και κατάλληλες υπηρεσίες, χωρίς να παραβλέπουμε και τη νομική βοήθεια».

H κοινή επιστολή προς τον Πρωθυπουργό Αλέξη Τσίπρα:

Greek Joint NGO Letter. PM Tsipras. 20171023  [word]

Greek Joint NGO Letter. PM Tsipras. 20171023  [pdf]

Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες, επικοινωνήστε:
Στην Αθήνα, για τη Human Rights Watch, Eva Cossé (ελληνικά, γαλλικά, αγγλικά): +30-693-47-90-865 ή +1-718-406-3160 (κινητό) ή cossee@hrw.org. Twitter: @Eva_Cosse
Στο Λονδίνο, για την International Rescue Committee, Lucy Carrigan (αγγλικά): +44 (0) 207 692 0407 (γραφείο) ή +1-917-859-3086 (κινητό) ή lucy.carrigan@rescue.org.
Στην Αθήνα, για την ActionAid, Σίσσυ Γκουρνέλου (ελληνικά, αγγλικά, ισπανικά): +30-210-921-2321 ή +30-693-716-1028 (κινητό) ή sissy.gkournelou@actionaid.org.
Στη Λέσβο, για τo Advocates Abroad, Ariel Ricker (αγγλικά): +30-694-400-3383 ή director@advocatesabroad.org. Twitter: @AdvocatesAbroad
Στην Αθήνα, για τo AITΗMA, Σπύρος Ριζάκος (ελληνικά, αγγλικά): +30-697-72-80-984 ή spyrosr2@gmail.com.
Στην Αθήνα, για τη Διεθνή Αμνηστία, Δήμητρα Σπαθαρίδου (ελληνικά, αγγλικά): +30-210-360-0628
Στην Ελλάδα, για την CARE International, Βαγγή Δώρα (ελληνικά, αγγλικά): +30-697-241-8359 ή vangi@care.de.
Στην Αθήνα, για το Danish Refugee Council Greece, Κυριάκος Γιαγλής (ελληνικά, αγγλικά): +30-694-998-3129 (κινητό) ή country.director@drc-greece.org.
Στο Παρίσι, για το FIDH, Samuel Hanryon (γαλλικά, αγγλικά): shanryon@fidh.org.
Στην Αθήνα, για το Ελληνικό Συμβούλιο για τους Πρόσφυγες (GCR), Δανάη Λειβαδά (ελληνικά, αγγλικά): +30-210-380-0990 ή d.leivada@gcr.gr.
Στην Αθήνα, για το Ελληνικό Φόρουμ Προσφύγων, Yonous Muhammadi (αγγλικά, ελληνικά, φαρσί): +30-213-028-2976 ή +30-694-840-8928 (κινητό), refugeegr@gmail.com. Twitter: @Refugeegr
Στην Αθήνα, για το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι, Παναγιώτης Δημητράς (ελληνικά, γαλλικά, αγγλικά): +30-693-27-46-619 (κινητό) ή panayotedimitras@gmail.com. Twitter: @PDimitras.
Στην Αθήνα, για την Ελληνική Ένωση για τα Δικαιώματα του Ανθρώπου, Γεωργία Σπυροπούλου (ελληνικά, αγγλικά): +30-213-026-4975 ή advocacy.hlhr@gmail.com. Twitter: @georgiasp6
Στη Μυτιλήνη, για το Lesbos Legal Center, Lorraine Leete (αγγλικά): +30-695-507-4724 ή lorraine@legalcentrelesbos.org.
Στην Αθήνα, για το Νορβηγικό Συμβούλιο για τους Πρόσφυγες, Μαρία Πετράκη (ελληνικά, αγγλικά): +30-698-856-5488 ή maria.petrakis@nrc.no.
Στην Αθήνα, για το OXFAM, Άννυ Μητροπούλου (ελληνικά, αγγλικά): +30-213-042-2331 ή +30-694-034-0020 ή anni.mitropoulou@oxfam.org.
Στην Αθήνα, για την Praksis, Μαριανέλλα Κλόκα (ελληνικά, αγγλικά): +30-694-291-3972 ή m.kloka@praksis.gr.
Για το SolidarityNow, Βάλια Σαββίδου (ελληνικά, αγγλικά): +30-210-677-2500, +30-697-041-7260 (κινητό) ή valias@solidaritynow.org.
Στην Κοπεγχάγη, για το Danish Refugee Council Headquarters, Sebastian Juel Frandsen (αγγλικά): +45-337-351-84 ή sjf@drc.dk.

Greece: Asylum Seekers in Abysmal Conditions on Islands – Groups Press Tsipras for Transfers to Mainland

ngo logos

Greece: Asylum Seekers in Abysmal Conditions on Islands
Groups Press Tsipras for Transfers to Mainland

(Athens, October 23, 2017) – Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should end the Greek government’s “containment policy” of confining asylum seekers to the Aegean islands, 19 human rights and humanitarian aid organizations said in an open letter released today [open letter also attached below].

Thousands of people, including very young children, single or pregnant women, and people with physical disabilities, are trapped in abysmal conditions as winter sets in. Forcing asylum seekers to remain in conditions that violate their rights and are harmful to their well-being, health, and dignity, cannot be justified by the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal, the organizations said.

201710eca_greece_unhcrRefugee tents next to the Moria hotspot on Lesbos island, where thousands of people, including very young children, pregnant women, and people with physical disabilities, are trapped in abysmal conditions as winter sets in. Emina Cerimovic for Human Rights Watch. September 2017.

Since the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016, the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos, and Leros have become places of indefinite confinement. Thousands of women, men, and children are trapped in deplorable and volatile conditions, with many denied access to adequate asylum procedures. Asylum seekers who arrived on the islands in the first days of the implementation of the EU-Turkey Deal have been stuck there for almost 19 months.

The recent increase in arrivals of men, women, and children has increased the pressure on the already overcrowded reception and identification centers known as hotspots. Current arrivals are still comparatively quite low and should be manageable for Greece and the EU more broadly, but they include a significant number of women and children.

The situation is particularly critical on Samos and Lesbos, where a total of more than 8,300 asylum seekers and migrants are living in hotspot facilities meant for just 3,000. The recent announcement that 2,000 asylum seekers will be moved from the two islands to the mainland in the coming weeks as an emergency decongestion measure is a positive development, the groups said. But it is not sufficient to alleviate the current overcrowding of the facilities and does not sustainably address the systemic issues that have created this emergency situation – namely the containment policy.

201710eca_greece_hotspotsIbtissam, 22, a mother of two hoping to reunite with her husband in Germany, pictured at the Souda Refugee Camp on Chios island, Greece, June 10, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

With the approach of the third winter since large-scale arrivals on the islands began, it is evident that the Greek authorities cannot meet the basic needs and protect the rights of asylum seekers while they remain on the islands. Implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement has been cited by EU and Greek officials as a justification for the containment policy. But forcing asylum seekers to remain in conditions that violate their rights and are harmful to their well-being, health, and dignity, cannot be justified, the organizations said.

The organizations urged Prime Minister Tsipras to protect the human rights of asylum seekers trapped on the islands by ending the containment policy. They should be transferred to the mainland so that they can be provided with adequate accommodation and services to meet their needs and to ensure that their asylum claims are fairly heard.

Quotes from Participating Groups

“Greece should end its cruel policy of trapping asylum seekers on the islands,” said Eva Cossé, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “People should not be forced to suffer another winter in unheated tents and without proper services.”

“The policy of containment is putting the lives of people who are seeking sanctuary in Europe at risk,” said Jana Frey, the International Rescue Committee’s country director. “While we welcome the government’s announcement to move 2,000 people on Lesbos and Samos off the islands in the coming days as an emergency measure, this can only be seen as a first step. Far more must be done to both improve conditions on the islands, and move the most vulnerable to the mainland, in order to ensure that lives are not lost this winter.”

“The EU-Turkey deal must no longer be used as pretext to strand asylum-seekers in inhuman conditions on the Greek islands’’ said Irem Arf, Amnesty International’s researcher on migration. “It is imperative that the Greek government urgently move people to mainland Greece.”

“The policy of implementing the EU-Turkey Statement has been violating asylum seekers’ rights under international law, and has contributed in disrupting social cohesion in the Greek islands affected,” said Spyros Rizakos, director of Aitima. “It is high time the EU and Greek authorities abandoned this policy.”

“Europe is refusing to offer humane reception conditions and dignity to people in need who arrive on our shores,” said Nicola Bay, head of mission for Oxfam in Greece. “Greek and EU authorities should immediately transfer migrants to the Greek mainland instead of leaving them trapped in abysmal conditions on the Greek islands.”

“Making these Greek islands a huge detention center isn’t in the interests of anyone,” said Gianmaria Pinto, Country Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “We all know what it is needed, including the government: to provide vulnerable people trapped on the islands with dignified accommodation and adequate services, without overlooking legal aid.”

To read the joint letter to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/23/joint-letter-prime-minister-tsipras-re-deteriorating-conditions-asylum-seekers

For more information, please contact:
In Athens, for Human Rights Watch, Eva Cossé (Greek, French, English): +30-693-47-90-865; or +1-718-406-3160 (mobile); or cossee@hrw.org. Twitter: @Eva_Cosse
In London, for the International Rescue Committee, Lucy Carrigan (English): +44-207-692-0407 (work); or +1-917-859-3086 (mobile); or lucy.carrigan@rescue.org.
In Athens, for ActionAid, Sissy Gkournelou (Greek, English, Spanish): +30-210-921-2321; or +30-693-716-1028 (mobile); or sissy.gkournelou@actionaid.org.
On Lesvos, for Advocates Abroad, Ariel Ricker (English): +30-694-400-3383; or director@advocatesabroad.org. Twitter: @AdvocatesAbroad
In Athens, for AITIMA, Spyros Rizakos (Greek, English): +30-697-72-80-984; or spyrosr2@gmail.com.
In Athens, for Amnesty International, Dimitra Spatharidou (Greek, English): +30-210-360-0628
In Greece, for CARE, Vangi Dora (Greek, English): +30-697-241-8359 or vangi@care.de.
In Athens, for Danish Refugee Council Greece, Kyriakos Giaglis (Greek, English): +30-694-998-3129 (mobile); or country.director@drc-greece.org.
In Paris, for FIDH, Samuel Hanryon (French, English): shanryon@fidh.org.
In Athens, for the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), Danae Leivada (Greek, English):
+30-210-380-0990; or d.leivada@gcr.gr.
In Athens, for the Greek Forum of Refugees, Yonous Muhammadi (English, Greek, Farsi): +30-213-028-2976; or +30-694-840-8928 (mobile); refugeegr@gmail.com. Twitter: @Refugeegr
In Athens, for the Greek Helsinki Monitor, Panayote Dimitras (Greek, French, English): +30-693-27-46-619 (mobile); or panayotedimitras@gmail.com. Twitter: @PDimitras.
In Athens, for Hellenic League for Human Rights, Georgia Spyropoulou (Greek, English): +30-213-026-4975; or advocacy.hlhr@gmail.com. Twitter: @georgiasp6
In Mytilene, for Lesbos Legal Center, Lorraine Leete (English): +30-695-507-4724; or lorraine@legalcentrelesbos.org.
In Athens, for Norwegian Refugee Council, Maria Petrakis (Greek, English): +30-698-856-5488; or maria.petrakis@nrc.no.
In Athens, for OXFAM, Anni Mitropoulou (Greek, English): +30-213-042-2331; or +30-694-034-0020; or anni.mitropoulou@oxfam.org.
In Athens, for Praksis, Marianella Kloka (Greek, English): +30-694-291-3972; or m.kloka@praksis.gr.
For SolidarityNow, Valia Savvidou (Greek, English): +30-210-677-2500; +30-697-041-7260
(mobile), or valias@solidaritynow.org.
In Copenhagen, for Danish Refugee Council Headquarters, Sebastian Juel Frandsen (English): +45-337-351-84; or sjf@drc.dk.

Joint NGO Letter. PM Tsipras. 20171023 [word]

Joint NGO Letter. PM Tsipras. 20171023 [pdf]