Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Is this what the EU stands for?

They are called Hospitality Centres in Greece. In plain English, detention camps. Yet after analyzing what happens in these places, maybe the term "concentration and torture camp" would be more fitting, inside Fortress Europa. Is this what the EU stands for, are these the values that the European Union defends?

The recent riot at one of these facilities at Amygdaleza, northern Athens, was put down by police. The riot was caused, according to the authorities, by the decision to increase the time period a person can be detained in one of these camps from one year to eighteen months. Human rights groups however have a different story - together with the time, there is the element of treatment.

The United Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat (KEERFA) has already spoken out this year about the abominable conditions detainees are held in, during the hunger strikes which broke out in the Greek detention centres in April, denouncing "poor conditions", "mistreatment" and "torture". In Amygdaleza, the treatment has been so bad that there have been suicide attempts among the migrants.

There are widespread claims that police departments are places of abuse for immigrants and refugees in Greece, the country where up to 95% of irregular migrants coming into the European Union arrive (under international law, a migrant is never "illegal", but "irregular" following the precept that the world belongs to everybody and nobody at the same time).

While these claims have to be thoroughly investigated, there is a bottom line running through all of them: detainees have been kicked in the stomach, punched in the face and tortured with electric shocks to the genitals, have been underfed or given rotten food. In many cases detainees complain about being tormented with racist comments by representatives of the Greek authorities.

And now let us examine who is making the claims. Apart from the migrants themselves, held in deplorable conditions and subjected to human rights abuse, an appeal has been made for action by no less than The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) due to acts of torture and harassment by the Greek authorities.

To quote: "The Observatory is concerned by the recent police operation against transgender persons related to the upcoming celebration of Thessaloniki LGBT Pride on June 14 and 15, 2013 and urges the Greek Government to put an end to the extensive use of police profiling against migrants, Roma and transgender persons and to the general climate of impunity".

So, quite apart from migrants, we see the Greek authorities are profiled as being abusive against Roma and the LGBT community as well. These allegations being true, and as we see they come from respected international institutions, Greece is in direct violation of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Article 1 of this document states that "everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels"; Article 12.2  stipulates that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration".

The more research one does, the worse it gets. What about the 487 (mainly) Albanian Roma children thrown into a detention centre by the Greek authorities between 1998 and 2001, who then went missing (Aghia Varvara Case)? There are allegations that the majority were sold for their organs or into child prostitution organizations. If not, then why did these 487 out of 644 street children accommodated in the Aghia Varvara centre disappear between November 1998 and October 2001?

It should be repeated that these are not just allegations made on the Internet by anonymous sources. In 2004, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) expressed its concerns at: "the inadequate measures taken to offer protection to children picked up by the Security Police and taken into State care during the period 1998 - 2003. In particular, with regard to the approximately six hundred children taken to the Aghia Varvara children's institution, five hundred of which went missing, according to reports, and the lack of a prompt investigation into the cases by a judicial authority".

 In 2005, the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, sent an urgent appeal to the Greek authorities on the case, but received not even the courtesy of a reply. The UN Commission on Human Rights was informed of "concern for the children who are still missing and exposed to a high risk of being exploited, trafficked or re-trafficked".

If 23 minutes of research turns up these cases against Greece, one asks whether these are the values the European Union stands for and one wonders what the collective analysis of hundreds of researchers buoyed by this article will reveal.

Fortress Europa, which spent hundreds of years colonizing other peoples and now in its arrogance tortures them or sells their children to be sliced into pieces to have their organs removed and refuses entry to those from countries which were formerly colonies...

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey