Voices of Freedom: Open Assembly of People With or Without Papers

“Surviving in Moria is hard. 20 days I lived on the streets. They wouldn’t give me a tent, if I didn’t find 7 more. Finally, they gave us one in which we don’t even fit. We literally live the one on the top of the other. And then we wake up and the human lines are starting. Endless waiting in lines is how we pass our days. For food, for our documents, for blankets… and at the end they tell you that ‘the food has finished, there are not enough blankets, come back tomorrow, next week, next month’. And until then you have to stay strong and healthy, because if you get sick you’re gonna have a big problem. At the hospital they say they cannot check on you without papers. In Moria doctors are very few. And how not to get sick when the garbage is piling up next to our tents.”

Testimony from Moria, December 2019

Who we are

We are an open assembly of people with and without papers. We are migrants, international and local activists standing together against discrimination, racism and imprisonment, and fighting together for the freedom of movement and equality.

Living conditions in Moria

The EU presents itself as a place of equality, human rights, and democracy, the “mother of freedom”. People arriving on European shores come in search of this, but what do they find? They find a place where not even their basic needs are met. In order to survive – never mind live with dignity – you need at least to have shelter, food, water and safety. Access to shelter on Lesvos is by far one of the most pressing concerns. In Moria, 17,000 people live in overcrowded conditions in a small, old army field. There is no housing for people who have received asylum, and the so-called “safe-zones” for women and unaccompanied minors are far from safe. Due to the lack of housing, many people also find themselves sleeping in the Olive Grove/Jungle, or in the streets.

The camp is very dirty. Garbage accumulates into small mountains next to tents in which the children then play, leading to them getting sick. There are massive problems with insects. In rainy weather, water comes into the tents and there are not enough blankets or heaters. There are not enough toilets, the toilets available are filthy, and people have to stand in line for over an hour to use them. As there is no proper drainage or canalization, water and shit are flooding through the camp. The electricity is cut off every day at 7pm and the system itself is faulty, leading to power outages and risks of fires and

Every day, people are forced to stand in food lines for 3-4 hours per meal, so as not to suffer from hunger. There is often not enough food and water, and the lines themselves can be dangerous due to fights that sometimes occur. From a medical point of view, the food is unacceptable (no fruit, no cheese, no milk, always the same menu), and people have stomachaches and diarrhea. There is no food for small children, and women who breastfeed often have trouble producing enough milk. People show signs of malnutrition and develop diseases that have not been seen in Europe for ages. Moria Camp is not a safe place. Fights and theft are common, and the police do nothing. When the police do get involved, it is often not in defense of migrants. People are scared of going to the toilet at night, and the showers are often unsafe. The situation in the Olive Grove/Jungle is terrible, especially for women, who face frequent harassment and violence.

Medical care in and outside the camp is disastrous. The few doctors there don’t even have a hope of responding to the need. For any administrative procedure that people are forced to go through, they have to sleep in front of the asylum offices simply to get a place in the line, for even the possibility of an appointment. People wait for months, if not years, in the camp to get asylum – or not. During this time, they rarely have access to basic education, not even for children. While the EU promises these things to people, speaking of human rights, international conventions and asylum laws, it does not even guarantee survival for those who find themselves here. At least 12 people, most probably many more, have died under the protection of the EU.

Causes of Migration

In order to find solutions to this oppression, it is essential to act on causes and not on consequences. We must recognise that immigration today is not the result of chance. For centuries, claiming to “civilize” the rest of the world, European and other western countries established a system of economic exploitation and unequal balances of power. The strongest sought to dominate the weakest, to seize their territory, their wealth, their people and extend their hegemony over it. To do this, injustice spread like a virus, socio-politically destabilizing societies: religious conflict; ethnic division; economic warfare, etc.

Ideologies also had to spread through Europe, in order to justify this exploitation. One of these is racism, an ideology based on the belief in a hierarchy between human groups, the “race”. There is imperialism, an ideology of cultural, economic and military domination, of a state or group of states over another state or group of states. Its consequences are the partition of continents, the division of territories into nations, families separated by borders. Then there is neocolonialism, a policy pursued by developed countries to establish, in new forms, their domination over the “independent” states of the once colonized world. Western countries are still largely in positions of power and wealth through intervening in national and regional politics all over the world to protect their interests, extractive economies that steal natural resources for a fraction of their worth, and capitalist oppression of working classes all over the world. There are countless examples of how this happens today: from western countries selling guns to the Taliban, to the Shell Corporation poisoning the fields of Nigeria in the process of extracting petrol, to the destruction of local economies with pseudo development programs that serve big corporations, and supporting dictatorships all over the world.

Not to mention the famous word “democracy”. European states have intervened all over the world under the guise of exporting democracy. In the mid-20th century, covert plots carried out by former colonizing states undermined democratically elected national independence governments in Congo and Iran. Western states secured their interests through militarily coup d’etats and supported dictatorships. Later, bearing the false promise to liberate people from dictatorship, the West waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of those in Europe today are here because Europe was there.

Discussions of migration into Europe often describe the people coming as a massive “wave” or “flow” of people, comparing this to a natural disaster. A wave or natural disaster does not always have a cause, and cannot be predicted or avoided. Contrary to this image, while the EU describes migration as a “natural disaster”, it is not only complicit in, but in some cases responsible for, the conditions that force people to leave their countries.

When we see European states with increasing development, it is the result of so many years of suffering, of forced labour from colonized countries. So if today, Europe is trying to deal with what it calls the “migration crisis”, it should refresh its memory. It should look at its archives, the texts and memories that have been overpowered by its ideologies, and which now return as a social phenomenon. The governments of the West did not ask permission when they came to our countries; why should we now ask for yours?

The policies of the European Union

The image and reality of the European Union

The European Union has two faces. As we have already seen, the actions of its member states have caused the migration we see today. While it plays a key role in driving migration, at the same time it does anything in its power to keep migrants away. It spends millions of Euros on militarizing the borders. A mercenary army called Frontex supports illegal push-backs in the Aegean sea, which are responsible for deaths and injuries. EU migration policies aim at division, captivity and submission, producing exploitation through fear and insecurity. People are locked up, or forced to live in awful conditions.
Local and international NGOs have taken on the role of managers of poverty. In times of crisis, NGOs emerge as a successful industry. The funds distributed are many and their work provides short-lived solutions and reproduces a consumerist model. Students, military, and administrators are all involved in an expensive experiment.

Using migrants

Migrants are used both as cheap labor, and also as a threat in order to reproduce hierarchy and division. Our brothers and sisters have been exhausted in the agriculture industry in Greece, in conditions in which their labour is worth little and their lives even less. Officially, Europe pretends that it is against the black economy, but its industries depend on cheap migrant labour. At the same time as migrants are used to plug gaps in the economy, the European media promotes the idea that they are stealing jobs from European workers. And those that aren’t employed the media suggests are criminal. Racism and exploitation are the tools used to divide society, allowing those at the top to reproduce hierarchies and maintain power.

Multiple prisons

EU migration policies create a system of multiple prisons. The first prison is the homeland. Those without economic possibilities cannot reach Europe legally and are forced to take life-threatening routes in order to escape.

More prisons are waiting for those who decide to migrate. In detention centres in states such as Turkey, Libya and Morocco, where slavery is an EU-funded reality, migrants are held forcibly held at Europe’s borders. Those who take the next risk and cross the sea aboard expensive deathtraps are arrested and taken to Europe’s “democratic” prisons.
In the Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios, Leros, Kos, and Samos restriction of movement is imposed. Many people stay on these islands for 2 years, sometimes more, with their lives constantly under negotiation.

Even if you manage to leave the islands you cannot leave Greece. Again, you must find a way to survive in a state whose policies deny you the ability to work and the support needed to live. And every day you live with the fear that they will deport you to Turkey or to the country you came from. The rejected must live in hiding, evading capture for fear of detention and deportation.

The New Greek law – changing the mask

The European Union can no longer wear its humanitarian mask. The logic of prevention and punishment that drives EU policy also drives the new migrant legislation in Greece. Since “New Democracy” came to power in July 2019, a new Bill of anti-migrant policies will make the situation even stricter, producing even more “illegal” people without papers, ready to be blackmailed, detained and deported. They have invented new ways to produce negative answers through the asylum process. An example of how this will happen is that psychological criteria like PTSD or being victim of a shipwreck during your journey to Europe will no longer qualify a person for asylum. A new strategy of compliance has been introduced, obliging migrants to follow orders, for example where to live, and to enroll their children in school despite there being no teachers, classes and schools for them. Failure to comply can result in the rejection of an asylum claim. At the same time the power of the police has been strengthened. Responsibility for migration has been handed to the same state department responsible for policing and prisons. Police power has been strengthened through calls for new closed camps and the ability of police officers to conduct asylum interviews.

Fighting back

We believe in a common struggle of the people at the bottom of society. We must fight the existing hierarchy and only united may we have a chance to change this situation. In Greece this is happening with the struggle for housing in Exarchia, where people stand together to defend their space. Hundreds of people live in such places. We can also mention the struggle against imprisonment, the antifascist and antiracist movements, the self-organised health-structures, the self organized theaters, schools, legal assistance, kitchens and many more structures that promotes active solidarity by helping people with unsolved needs irrespective of gender, origin, skin color, cultural background etc.

All these activities are organized by people, for people. They are organized without any fake professionalism or profit. This is what we call active solidarity. These activities help people in their everyday life while including them. Because in the end, we are all living in this reality. All the communities should understand that if we are not divided, we can demand a lot.


Freedom of movement!
Respect of the human will to live a better life!
No more policing in our lives, we don’t want to live in fear and violence!




Posted in About us | Comments Off on Voices of Freedom: Open Assembly of People With or Without Papers