Press Release – Attacks against asylum seekers on Leros

Attacks against asylum seekers on Leros

Athens, 11.5.2017 – The Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) condemns the attacks against Palestinian, Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers, including a trans woman, that took place last week on Leros. According to the RVRN recordings, six (6) distinct attacks were perpetrated between midnight of May 2nd and the evening of May 4th. Three (3) incidents took place within a short period of time and targeted groups of persons on their way to the Reception and Identification Center (RIC), at Lepida. In the majority of the incidents, the victims report that they were attacked by motorcycled groups of persons using sharp and other objects. In one incident, a pregnant woman declared that she was targeted due to her hijab. In most of the cases, the victims were hospitalised, while the police were notified and some of the victims gave a deposition.

The RVRN recalls that the modus of taking the victims by surprise and the attacks by motorcycled groups against small groups of refugees on their way to Lepida was recorded and reflected in the 2016 Annual Report. Hence, it seems that it is a practice that reappears when circumstances allow it. It raises serious concerns that the facts of these cases indicate that these are organized attacks with a predetermined modus operandi and motivation.

The RVRN reiterates that in some sensitive areas where the host community, as well as trapped refugees and migrants, are under pressure, inertia or tolerance towards racist attacks with a view to reduce tensions may encourage impunity. As the problems related to the management of the refugee and migrant population remaining in uncertainty at the entry points for a long period of time increase, the risk of a rise in racism increases as well. However, these problems do not justify the perpetration of or the impunity for racist attacks.

The RVRN through its members stands by the victims and will continue to provide them with any possible assistance, including legal aid. The RVRN will monitor the investigation of these cases and will help the authorities to combat racist violence and to investigate the racist motivation of these cases. Finally, the Network RVRN urges the Greek authorities to take all appropriate steps so as to ensure that the victims receive all appropriate support and protection.