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New motivation discouraged by repeated crimes

Unfortunately, the Greek government's human rights abuses continue. But we
continue as well and in May another inspiring and motivating meeting of
the whole OHF team took place in Athens.
Even if not so present in the media lately, the pushbacks in the Aegean Sea continue. In May, parliamentary elections were held in Greece and a few days before the elections, the Greek government had to face renewed criticism of its migration policy. The New York Times published video footage of an Austrian activist showing the forcible expulsion of a group of asylum seekers who had sought refuge in the country. This is extraordinary footage showing an illegal pushback on Lesvos on 11 April.
The New York Times writes: “The Greek government has consistently denied the mistreatment of migrants. The video may be the most damning evidence yet of its violations of international laws and EU rules governing how asylum seekers must be treated.” The 12 refugees, adults, children and a baby, in this group are Somali, Eritrean, and Ethiopian. First, they are driven in an "unmarked" white van to a remote location on the Aegean island, then they are forced into an inflatable boat by masked men. This takes them to a Greek coastguard vessel, which dumps them on a raft in the middle of the Aegean. Left adrift, they are later picked up by the Turkish coast guard. Naima Hassan Aden, the 27-year-old mother of the baby in this group is quoted as saying: "​​We didn’t expect to survive on that day. When they were putting us on the inflatable raft, they did so without any mercy”.
The government admits its migration policy is "harsh" but insists it is "fair". The authorities argue that they have legal powers to repel undocumented migrants who try to enter the country's territory. But the expulsion shown in the video does not take place at sea or in disputed waters, but on land within EU territory, which the asylum seekers had already reached safely. Forcibly repatriating people fleeing war and persecution violates various adopted laws, such as the 1951 Geneva Convention, which regulates the legal protection of refugees and to which Greece, like all EU member states, is a signatory.
Mitsotakis, who has now been elected for a second term, said during the election campaign that the decrease in migrant flows and the arrival of asylum seekers was a major success of his four-year term.
Watch the video and read more here: The Guardian, New York Times

Highlight in Mai

People say that a second film or book is never as good as the first one - but this last month we proved them wrong: our second workshop with MAPS was a very productive and bonding experience. It reminded us why we are doing what we are doing and provided us with the motivation and energy to continue. A year on from our workshop in May 2022, we reflected on the last year and even looked at what OHF might look like in 2026. Not only did the MAPS team help us look into our hopes for the future of OHF, whilst reflecting on the past few years, but they also helped the team to discuss our expectations and the structure of our organisation. As an NGO, in which each team member's views, ideas and skills are valued, it's important to regularly check in with each other, to make sure everyone is on the same page. In order to successfully reject top-down approaches to the way we work, it takes dedication and honesty from each individual, and workshops like these are crucial to helping us speak openly about our approach as a whole team! Thank you MAPS for coordinating an open space for discussion and evaluation, we look forward to the next one!
What is your vision for OHF? We’re happy to hear your input, please send us an email! And remember as well that OHF wouldn’t exist without all of you!
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Thany you very much for your support!
Content: Catherine Mosley, Johanna Käser
Date: 03.06.23
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