Last week, Turkey announced – in a cynical play to threaten the EU – that it would no longer stop refugees and asylum-seekers from crossing the border into the EU, and since then, tens of thousands have made the journey by land and sea into Greece.
What followed was an extreme escalation of violence: Camp “Moria” built for 3.000 people currently hosts 19.000 refugees. There have been around 200 arrests so far, as well as the use of water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades against refugees, wanting to apply for asylum in Europe.
The far-right is on the rise in Europe, with a significant mobilisation around Greek island coastal areas where they are targeting arriving asylum seekers, refugee camps and journalists for violent attacks. The Greek coastguard, instead of helping boats in distress, has been spotted conducting ‘pushbacks’ of migrant boats and firing shots at the water.
Everyone has a right to seek asylum and as Jews, a people who have a long history of enduring mass displacement, we have a moral duty of standing up for the rights of asylum seekers, who are shamefully being used as bargaining chips in a deadly political game by Turkey.
The EU must act now, and evacuate the Greek camps where people are forced to live under horrendous conditions.
EUJS stands steadfastly against the escalation of violence by far-right thugs and we send our solidarity to the volunteers at refugee camps, who are working hard to protect asylum seekers and ensure they are treated with the dignity they deserve.
We condemn the Greek government for suspending asylum applications for one month and deporting migrants without due process. Neither of these moves is permitted under EU law and goes against the international protocols on the protection of refugees. We are dismayed that no EU member state is willing to accept refugees.
The violence must stop and governments must comply with the national, EU and international laws and act to ensure that access to asylum procedures is swiftly granted, deportations are ended, and human beings are being treated with the dignity and respect they are entitled to and which are the values on which the European Union was built.
We call on the European Union to take the urgent and necessary action to provide for safe passage for asylum seekers and their evacuation from the Greek islands, so they can be transferred to other EU member states and processed accordingly, with the protection of their human rights emphasised all along the way.