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Refugees describe dire conditions in migrant detention centres

GlobalPost documentary shows footage recorded inside Corinth camp

Granted political asylum in December, Farhad, detained for 14 months at the detention centre in Corinth, said detainees were packed scores to a room and often beaten by police. In protest at the appalling conditions, he and others sowed their mouths together and went on hunger strike

Police officers patrol a migrant detention centre at Amygdaleza, outside Athens, 30 April 2012 (Photo: Reuters) Police officers patrol a migrant detention centre at Amygdaleza, outside Athens, 30 April 2012 (Photo: Reuters) Former detainees have spoken out about the appalling conditions inside the government’s migrant detention centres, in a short documentary that offers a rare glimpse into what the government calls migrant pre-removal facilities.

In the video, produced for GlobalPost, a Afghan man named Farhad, detained for 14 months at the detention centre in Corinth, said detainees were packed scores to a room and often beaten by police. In protest at the appalling conditions, he and others sowed their mouths together and went on hunger strike.

“We didn't have any choice so we started a hunger strike, we sewed up our mouth and we stopped eating and drinking. Anyone will do whatever it takes to get his freedom. Some people have tried to commit suicide to get free, others went crazy in there,” he told Anna Giralt Gris, who made the documentary.

“In general you are afraid there, terrified,” he told the GlobalPost. “When the police would attack us in there they didn’t care who is who, anyone in front of them could become a victim. We were frightened and everyone was hiding under the beds.”

Farhad, who was just 17 when he made it to Greece, was granted political asylum in December.

Another Afghan asylum seeker, Abbas, said he didn’t see daylight for six months at a detention centre at Aspropyrgos, outside Athens. 

Some 6,500 migrants are currently held in migrant detention centres in Greece, which are co-funded by the European Union as part of an effort to limit immigration.

The European Court of Human Rights, the EU’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and NGOs have repeatedly called conditions in these centres inhuman and degrading.

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