PRESS RELEASE: Mytilene, Greece
Today 122 people are on trial in Mytilene, Lesvos, after being arrested in the early morning of 23 April 2018. They are charged with resisting arrest, rioting, and illegal occupation of public property. If convicted they could be imprisoned for two years. In the days prior to their arrest last year, 100-200 refugees and migrants who had been living in the notorious Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, gathered in Sapfous Square, the main square in town, to protest lack of access to medical care, horrible conditions, and delayed asylum procedures that kept them prisoners on the island.
After less than a week of their peaceful protest, on the night of 22 April 2018, they were attacked by a far-right mob. In this organized violent attack, roughly 200 fascists attacked the refugees and migrants, as well as those standing in solidarity with them, with projectiles. While 26 people are now facing criminal charges related to the attack against the migrants, during the night not a single attacker was arrested. Only the 122 people facing trial today were arrested, after facing a night of racially motivated violence against them, which left many people, including migrants, journalists, and children injured.
This case shows a continued policy of the police and courts of Lesvos, Greece of criminalizing migrants who protest against their imprisonment on the Greek Islands and the inhumane conditions in Moria camp, denying them their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
The Legal Centre is joining HIAS Greece which is leading the defense and also represents the refugees in the case against the perpetrators of the racist attack. The Legal Centre is joining in defense of the accused, and as a witness for the accused. Follow @lesboslegal and HIAS Greece for updates.