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August 13, 2013
August 13, 2013

Amigdaleza, the Greek Abu Graib

Author: Dimitris Aggelidis Translator: Anna Papoutsi
Source: EfSyn  Category: Borders
This article is also available in: elesfr
Amigdaleza, the Greek Abu Graib

On Saturday night, violent riots broke out in the Detention Centre of Migrants in Amigdaleza, ironically called Guest Centre for Migrants. It is well documented that the detention conditions are horrific and that most of the prisoners are held illegally since they have not committed any crime nor have they been tried and sentenced by any court.

Following the riots, the “guests” in Amygdaleza already count 48 hours locked in containers, running the risk of heat stroke. In most f the containers there is no electricity and no air-conditioning, in some the water supply is cut.


The police is responding to the riot in Amigdaleza with even more crackdown, choosing to set up a nightmarish scene of tension that exacerbates the already deadlocked policies of the Ministry of Public Order and brings even closer the possibility of a new rebellion.

During yesterday’s inspection, the doctor in charge of the Centre, Elpida Efthimiatou, found bruises on many prisoners during the intervention of the riot police, who apparently released their grudge to any prisoner found on their way. There are even unconfirmed allegations of gunfire during the police intervention. According to the police, ten police officers were injured by stones during the revolt.

Signs of beating

The lawyers who saw the apprehended detainees reported allegations of brutal beatings at the Migration Office of the Police, where they were taken. 83 prisoners have been brought so far to the District Attorney´s office, all on the same felony charges (rioting, escape attempt, arson, endangering of human life, grievous bodily harm, verbal abuse). Police arrested yesterday two of the ten prisoners that had escaped and are still looking for the rest.

At the same time, the police and the Ministry of Public Order, with the assistance of the media, is trying to manage the event, brandishing the risk of undocumented immigrants, while failing to mention that the inmates in Amygdaleza are not detained for any criminal offense, but only for administrative reasons –in many cases because they had expired work permits and have not had the chance to renew them, due mostly to bureaucratic obstacles.

The conditions


Spiros Rizakos, NGO Aitima:

As it has repeatedly been decided by European courts, our country subjects the imprisoned refugees and migrants to inhuman and degrading treatment. The result? Prisoner suicides, death of an ill prisoner and repeated riots. Our country is not just ignoring the decisions of the European courts, but is leading the situation to the extreme regardless of the consequences. But respect for international law, human rights, human dignity is ultimately a matter of democracy and civilisation. The question that becomes more and more compelling is whether we will accept, as a country and as citizens, the violation of basic values of democracy and humanity, whether we will enter into this dangerous path.

Yanna Kourtowic, Network for the Political and Social Rights:

The issue is not the conditions of detention. Because even if the conditions were not horrific and the containers were not boiling hot, if there were sheds and trees, if the food was not deplorable (from which some catering company is becoming rich, with 5.87 euros per person daily to provide a piece of bread), even if there were doctors and hygienic and cleaning products, the detention camps of Mr. Dendias[1] would still be places of humiliation and torture according to international courts that have repeatedly condemned Greece over this. Places outside the legal framework, where people are sentenced without having committed any crime, without having been tried and without time-limit on the detention. What judge will try them?

Eva Kosse, Human Rights Watch:

What happened in Amygdaleza was expected. International human rights groups have documented scandalous conditions of detention of migrants and asylum seekers in Greece. While the Greek government has taken some modest steps to improve the conditions of detention, migrants and asylum seekers, including children, are still being held in inappropriate conditions, often characterised as inhumane and degrading. Under international law, migrants who do not have permission to enter or remain in a country may be subject to detention, in some cases. However, the detention should be judged on an individual basis and should not be the rule. Extradition procedures should be followed with due speed and diligence so as to minimise the time of detention. The detention of asylum seekers should remain a last resort. The objective of the detention policy applied by Greece seems to be more the punishment of migrants rather than their extradition, which is expressly prohibited by the international law of human rights.

[1] Nikos Dendias is Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection. He is the political supervisor of a Police Force that openly beats and tortures, the inspirer of pogrom-like operations such as Zeus (against migrants) and Thetis (against drug addicts) and responsible for the eviction of the longest-standing squats of the city (which have been cultural centres and strongholds against the neo-nazi Golden Dawn)

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