You are currently viewing Pushbacks from Italy to Greece to people seeking safety are not new: a long story of illegal practices

Pushbacks from Italy to Greece to people seeking safety are not new: a long story of illegal practices

By B.Bécares/No Name Kitchen. Pictures by Alesia A. / No Name Kitchen

Since January 2019 No Name Kitchen is present in Patras with the aim of denouncing the ILLEGAL pushbacks of people from Italy back to Greece. The pictures in this post were recently taken on a ferry. As you can see, there is a room called “INMIGRATION ROOM”.

Some weeks ago, a pair of journalists that wrote a report for SRF News as partners of Lighthouse Reports visited No Name Kitchen in Patras, that welcomed them and introduced them to the people living in the factories, by the port. After this visit, the group of journalists made this report. Sadly, there is no mention to No Name Kitchen in this final report, while several members of our team spent time and effort helping out the journalists on their mission. And while NNK is the most active group denouncing this since 2019.

Minors being mistreated in Europe

Everyday, NNK team in Patras visits the factories where people on the move live. We share food, bring mobile hot showers, clean clothes, hygiene items, provide medical support for wounds… And spend time together, drinking tea, chatting about life, sharing our feelings. People know us well, and they know that if they want to report any attack to their rights, we will be there for it. So some of these days, someone would come to us and tell: I have been push back, and I want to report it. People know this will be shared on our social media and online.

As founder members of the Border Violence Monitoring Network, we, from No Name Kitchen have been raising the voice of this illegal pushbacks since 2019, and we upload all testimonies on the BVMN website.

Here you can read this pushback of a minor from Afghanistan that happened recently:

This is the story of a 16-year-old minor from Afghanistan. He left from the “New Port” in Patras on the 23rd of September. He got into a truck and then into the ferry and around 5.30 PM he was on his way to Ancona. The ferry was the Hellenic Champion from Anek airlines. All according to what he has explained to us.

24 hours later on the 24th of September, the boat arrived at its destination. The truck in which the young boy was hidden was supposed to be the first truck to get out of the ferry. However, before starting the engine, the truck driver went to check if everything was okay on his truck, which is when he saw the boy hiding.

The truck driver called the port police and at 4PM two port security guards between 30 and 40 years old and one woman, approximately 25 years old, came to take the young minor. They brought him to a small room on the top of the boat, where it was “incredibly cold”. The boy explained that they were not aggressive, but they didn’t explain anything to him. He said that he was totally lost and started texting some friends in Greece:

“What should I do?”, “What are they doing to me?”, “Where are they taking me? I am terrified, please save me”

The ferry then left Ancona, made a stop in Igoumenitsa and then continued towards Patras. With a little delay, the Hellenic Champion arrived at 6 PM in Patras on the 25th of September. The boy was then reportedly handcuffed and taken to the commando office of Patras. He does not remember how many officers were involved in all the Greek part of the incident. There, he had food and water. A translator explained him that he was to be taken to a shelter for minors. After three days at the commando office, he joined the shelter of Patras.

Not an isolated case

But this is not the only one case. People, many times young boys (only the fact to jump into the port in Patras requires to be very agile), tell us often terrible testimonies of how they have been mistreated by Italian authorities once in any Italian port (like Ancona, Bari or Venice) and on the ferry while being, illegally, pushed back to Greece. We also sometimes visit the Greek city of Igoumenitsa and also there we have collected testimonies of these practices.

All the stories that people share with us are online in the Border Violence Monitoring Network site that is the only database with every single case of illegal pushbacks available free and open to everyone.

We have also worked together with ASGI (Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione or Association for Legal Studies on Immigration) and they have supported us to give more visibility to these illegal practices. Here, you can read more information.

Right now, the number of people living in Patras is not very high. It can be around 30 (depending on the day). But there were periods in which we would meet around 200 people daily and many of them would come to us with the stories of these pushbacks that follow a similar pattern: physical or verbal violence, people being handcuffed, rights not respected (if a person is in Italian land and want to ask for asylum it is his or her right and Italy MUST respect it, and start this legal process, as European Union law) and many times people being kept in rooms with no food or water, even sometimes people are denied of healthcare when they are feeling sick in all this process.

Many of the times these people are minors traveling alone from areas in conflict like Afghanistan or Kurdistan.

You can find more information on our social media and on the database of BVMN where we upload all testimonies. Many media in the last days speak about this as the “far right italian government” practice and, while we will never defend this government already taking decisions to let more people die on the Mediterranean Sea, we remember that this has been happening for years, despite the government ruling the country (and this is happening all over European Union countries with our racist border policies).