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Immigrants on hunger strike in Amygdaleza

By Amygdaleza Hunger Strikers, 20 November 2014

Update: News report and video interviews with detainees recently released from Amygdaleza


'Hunger strike until freedom' [1]

On 17 November, hundreds of refugees detained in the pre-removal centre of Amygdaleza began a hunger strike against their prolonged detention of more than 18 months, the detention of dozens of minors and the conditions that recently led to the death of two detainees. They chose the date of November 17 to commemorate the student uprising against the Colonels’ junta.

On 6 November, the 26-year-old Muhammad Ashfaq died from the consequences of a beating by law enforcement officers at Korinthos detention centre, during one of several detainee uprisings that took place 5-6 months ago. His injuries had not been taken care of adequately. He was only transferred to the hospital after he collapsed. For 15 days he had been begging the police to take him to hospital for his respiratory problems. When being asked for medical care, police officers are said to have even replied: ‘Die, we don’t care’. Only some days after this tragic incident, another detainee from Bangladesh died from lack of sufficient medical treatment.

On the third day of the hunger strike, KEERFA (Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat) reported 90% participation and that 15 detainees had been hospitalised after fainting.

Amygdaleza detention center is 10 kilometres away from Athens and has capacity for 1,000 inmates. In October 2014, the number of detainees was 1,600. The facility has repeatedly come under heavy criticism for the indefinite time of detention as well as the squalid conditions imposed on immigrants. Among the approximately 1,600 detainees, Amygdaleza houses vulnerable groups such as 15-year-old children, asylum seekers, and de facto refugees such as Syrians and Eritreans, whose deportation is not permitted according to UNHCR. There are also close relatives of residents in other EU member-states awaiting family reunification, victims of torture who have never been identified by the authorities and persons with health conditions.

‘We will fight until freedom’, an underage refugee declared, who has been registered as adult.

Meanwhile, 65 migrants are standing trial for an uprising in Amygdaleza on 10 August 2013.

On 21 November, representatives of the Greek Police Force visited Amygdaleza and promised to improve the treatment of detainees. Out of the 180 detainees who have been imprisoned for over 18 months, 30 were released when the hunger strike started, while the files of the remaining 150 are to be examined on an individual basis. In addition, the centre authorities handed back confiscated mobile phones and promised a better quality of food. After this visit, many detainees temporarily stopped the hunger strike for five days. Many wards still continue the hunger strike, however, stating that they do not trust promises unless they see actions.

(Adapted from Infomobile and


Updated List of Demands

- Immediate release of detainees who have completed 18 months of administrative detention

- Free medical treatment

- Unrestricted access to telephones to communicate with next of kin

- Respectful treatment by guards

- Decent food provision

- Provision of Asylum

- Immediate release of 8 detainees whose (asylum seeker) pink cards were destroyed by police officers, imprisoning them arbitrarily

- Immediate release of the fifty-year-old Afghan detainee, Asam Zembri, who, despite having legal papers licensing his stay in Greece, was detained in Amygdaleza because he was unable to pay the rent for the flat where he lived with his wife and their eight-year-old child

(from Athens Indymedia)


Testimonies by Recently Released Amygdaleza Detainees

A video interview with the immigrant workers from Pakistan who were released on Wednesday 19/11/2014, after having been detained for at least two years in one of the ‘hospitality centres’.[2] They speak about the reasons for the hunger strike, the deaths of Muhammad Ashfaq and Muhammad Afizul,[3] and the conditions in the camp. The video has English subtitles (source:



Transcript [4]

Shegad Huram, 26 years old, detained for 2 years and 15 days.
SH: These are not hospitality centres, they are racist concentration camps.
Q: Why do you think you were imprisoned?
SH: I was imprisoned because I had no papers. We went in healthy and came out changed, mentally and physically ill.
Q: Why did you begin the hunger strike?
SH: We started the hunger strike because of the death of our brother Muhammad Ashfaq, and to ask for papers. We can’t spend our whole lives in prison. If you are poor and you do the smallest thing they make you illegal. But is it not illegal to imprison you simply for not having papers?
Q: Do you feel relieved to be out?
SH: Yes, but the deportation paper brings me despair. If they were going to deport me why did they then detain me for 25 months?

Muhammad Rijwan, 26 years old. Detained for 2 years and 29 days.
MR: We began the hunger strike after the death of Muhammad Ashfaq.
Q: How did M.A. die?
MR: He had asthma and could not breathe. They never took him to hospital. This is the reason he died.

Sajjad-Zaman Khan, 34 years old. Detained for 2 years and 17 days.
SZK: I am shattered. I cannot express my sadness in words. I don’t know why they did not give him medicine and why they did not bring a doctor. Ashfaq and I were co-detainees and friends in Korinthos. There, he was beaten badly, and was taken to hospital. And then they were giving him a medication that made him stay asleep for 24-30 hours. I believe this medication was not from the hospital. There should be an inquiry on what they gave him to stop him coughing and protesting.

Mahmad Tenveer, 26 years old. Detained for 2 years and 17 days.
MT: Ashfaq died, and then a Bangladeshi man died. We are humans and we can’t have people dying next to us. We started the hunger strike hoping that someone will listen to us. If someone asks for medicine for the second or third time, the answer is kicks and curses, such as ‘Wanker, get out of here’

Farruk Hassim, 28 years old. Detained for 2 years and 7 days.
FH: The treatment by police and guards has been clearly racist, they swore and they beat us.
Q: They beat you?!
FH: Yes they beat us several times

Ajmal Shahzad, 31 years old. Detained for 2 years and 11 days.
AS: The conditions in Amygdaleza are very bad, but police behaviour is the worst thing about it. They are arrogant, they swear and beat people. Many times they don’t let us get out of the containers in which we live. And if we come out they again swear at us and beat us.
Q: Is there water and electricity in the containers?
AS: About 40% of them have electricity and running water. In the summer, it is 50 degrees Celcius in the iron containers
Q: And the toilet?
AS: The toilets are broken and the drains leak, flooding the rooms where we sleep. As a result we live among mice and cockroaches

Naheem Ahmed, Detained for 2 years and 17 days
Q: Are there mice?
NA: There are lots of mice, and they are this large. The conditions are awful. Those who don’t have money cannot communicate with their families. It can be several months before they find out where we are. Mobile phones are not permitted. As our comrade Sajjad has said, these conditions we lived through are not humane. I can say many things but there are also many I am ashamed to speak about. Μice and cockroaches outnumber people. We have no electricity or running water and drain waters flood into our rooms.

Mahmood Waheed, 26 years old. Detained for 2 years and 17 days.
MW: I feel good to be out, but the deportation order upsets me. They had imprisoned me for 25 months and now they are sending me back to where I cannot go. There are still many people who have spent 25, 26 or 27 months locked up in Amygdaleza, and they are still there. I am in a state of shock. Nobody listened to us in there. How is it possible for someone who is ill to be left without a doctor and medicine?

SZK: Yesterday night when they let us out we were very happy. But when this morning we went to Petrou Ralli, the immigration office, they told us that we have to leave the country in 30 days and present ourselves twice at a police station. With a detention order and without papers, I feel dead inside for having to go back. The detention order is a very harsh and racist decision. What we want is legal papers and for the concentration camps to be closed.

MT: We asked for political asylum and they locked us up in the concentration camp for 25 months. And now they are deporting us. Why did they keep us there for so long? If they wanted to deport us why did they keep us locked up?




Announcement from the immigrants on hunger strike in the Amygdaleza detention camp, Greece. (Transcribed from a telephone conversation, posted to Athens Indymedia, translated by a Mute editor. Background: 'Hunger Strike After Death of Immigrant at Greek Detention Camp'. Also see: 'About the riot in Amygdaleza immigrant detention camp', August 2013)


Our detention time has increased from 18 months to 26. The state puts murderers and drug dealers in jail. How can they legally detain us for 26 months, without having prosecuted us for anything?

In Amydaleza we are 1600 people unjustly incarcerated.

1000 of us are on hunger strike.

On 19/11/2014, 20 persons were taken to hospital in serious condition because of the hunger strike.

When we ask to see a doctor for a health condition they only see us a month later.

When we have a health condition the doctor asks us if we have money or if someone can send us some to buy the medicine we need. There is no other way to get medicine. The only medicine they give us is paracetamol.

On 19/11/2014, TV channels hame to visit us because of the hunger strike, but the police sent them away.

Police officers swear at us, spit at us and assault us continually.

Police officers threaten us to make us stop the hunger strike.

When threats do not work, their superiors promise us that they will free some of us as a reward. Of course they only promise this to 5 or 10 persons in order to divide us.

Six days ago, two persons lost their lives. One was from Bangladesh [TN: Muhammad Afizul], the other from Pakistan [TN: Muhammad Ashfaq]. The second had been asking to see a doctor for a month. After they took him in, they informed us that he died from a health condition. We believe that he died from a police beating during the transfer.

The food they give us is not good even for dogs. It is foul.

When it rains, the water comes into the hovels in which we live.

The stench is unbearable.

There are many among us whom the police have arrested despite us having a red card [TN: licence to remain]. They tore our papers and locked us up here, in the Amygdaleza inferno.

We are humans, not animals, although humans don’t even have rights to abuse animals in this way.

We have no other option than the hunger strike, even if we end up being buried alive in Amygdaleza. What democracy are you all talking about?

We ask for solidarity and the spread of information on what is happening here.


Hunger strikers from Amygdaleza




[1] Slogan written on beddings by Amygdaleza detainees.

[2] The official naming of detention camps in Greece.

[3] Police authorities have not yet confirmed Muhammad Afizul’s death, nor have they stated that he is alive.

[4] The interviewer is journalist Tassos Morfis. The interpreter is Javed Aslam, the president of the Pakistani Community in Greece.