THREE Afghan refugees who survived last Monday’s wreckage of their boat off the Greek island of Farmakonisi in the eastern Aegean, emphatically and repeatedly accused the Greek Coast Guard patrol boat of ramming their boat so as to drown its passengers.
At an open air Press Conference on the pavement opposite the Vouli (Greek parliament) last Saturday, the three men, Abdul Sabur Azizi who lost his wife and child, Fada Mohammed Akhmadi, who lost his wife and three children, and Ekhsada Soufi, who lost his wife and four children, narrated the barbaric actions against them of the Greek Coast Guards that resulted in three women and nine children being drowned.
‘We were 26 persons in the boat, 23 Afghans and three Syrians. We are refugees from Afghanistan where war is fought for the last 38 years.
‘We sailed from the Turkish coast towards the Greek islands but our boat’s engine failed close to an island.
‘The Greek patrol boat appeared and we were glad that we were saved, but they did not want to save us.
‘They started shooting in the air and the Coast Guard patrol boat started ramming our boat to sink it.
‘Two Coast Guards jumped on our boat and put their guns against our necks shouting, “We will kill you! Fuck you, fuck you!” and tied a rope; they started towing us at high speed back to the Turkish coast.
‘We shouted to stop, but they increased speed and sailing in zigzags to sink our boat. Water started flooding our boat. Women and children fell off the boat and the rope was cut.
‘Women shouted “please help us’ but the Coast Guards shouted ‘fuck you’; The patrol boat started ramming our boat once again. We threw ourselves into the sea and we tried to get on the patrol boat to save ourselves.
‘But the Coast Guards started hitting us to prevent us from going onboard. Those who were still on the sinking boat cried out for life-jackets but the Coast Guard men did not give them any life-jacket.
‘The Coast Guards hit a 16-year-old Syrian boy on the head because he threw a wood plank to a woman who was struggling in the water.
‘We men managed to get hold of the Coast Guard boat but the women couldn’t make it. We saw with our own eyes our wives and children being drowned.
‘Then two boats appeared sailing towards us from the Turkish shores and the Greek Coast Guards took us onboard, otherwise they would have drowned us too. They threatened us that if we say anything they will punish us.
‘When we reach the Greek island of Farmakonisi the Coast Guard passed us on to the police who were kicking us.
‘They took us to a luxurious restaurant to show that we were treated well. But we only stayed there for a while.
‘Then they pushed us into a prison without any food or drink and we were still wearing soaked clothes.
‘Next day they interrogated us one by one always with the wrong interpreter.
‘They forced us to sign papers that we did not understand what it was written on them.
‘When a UN representative came into the room they would stop.
‘For the last two days we have been to Athens and we live in a refugee hostel but every time we go out, the Greek police are picking us up and harassing us.
‘All we ask now is for the bodies of our families to be found.
‘The Greek Merchant navy Minister M Varvitsiotis says that the Coast Guards came to rescue us. No, this is a lie, they came to drown us!
‘Let them if they can bring anyone to challenge what we are saying.
‘They (Greek Coast Guard) now say that they brought us to Greece, but if that was the case, the bodies of the drowned women and children would have been found on the Greek shore.
‘Up to now, bodies have been found only on the Turkish shore. They are lying.
‘They (Greek Coast Guard) say that we thanked them for rescuing us! How can you thank those who killed our families?’
Several speakers representing SYRIZA (the Coalition of the Radical Left), ANTARSYA (the anti-capitalist formation), trades unions, migrant organisations and civil liberties committees, demanded that the surviving refugees been given asylum and that there should be an investigation and severe punishment for those responsible for such atrocities against the refugees.
They also demanded trade union action to stop such crimes against migrants and refugees and castigated the European Union policies on migrants and refugees.
The speaker from the Community of Afghan Refugees in Greece said that there have been hundreds of drownings, ‘the whole eastern Aegean between Greece and Turkey is a cemetery,’ he said.
Such barbaric crimes as those carried out by the Greek Coast Guards, as narrated by the Afghan refugees, are a direct consequence of the EU’s policies and of the Greek parliamentary junta’s counter-revolutionary attacks on Greek and migrant workers.
These crimes are parallel to the tortures carried out by the imperialist armies in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and point out to Nazi concentration camps of mass exterminations.
Following the Press Conference, over 1,000 workers, refugees, youth and unemployed marched through Athens city centre shouting, ‘Asylum to all refugees!’ ‘The Minister kills – he should resign now!’ ‘Immigrants are not the reason that we are going hungry – it’s the Prime Minister Samaras!’
and ‘Farmakonisi was not a tragedy – it was a premeditated murder by the government!’
A banner at the front of the march read ‘Fortress Europe kills even children – Locate the political and penal responsibilities now!’
While the Afghan refugees press conference was on, a group of fascist Golden Dawn thugs carried out a provocation at the Keratsini working class district of the port of Piraeus.
With the police absent they attacked the offices of a left-wing organisation and tore down anti-racist and anti-fascist banners near the spot where rapper Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed to death by a Golden Dawn member last September.
A few hours later, hundreds of youth gathered to confront them but the fascists had disappeared